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Odysseus Contest for the Explorers category is designed to give students in the EU and around the world an opportunity to showcase their creativity and academic excellence, by addressing a broad spectrum of scientific and technological space challenges.

Ready to take the challenge?...
Join the Explorers!
  • The contest is open to university students from seventeen (17) to twenty two (22) years old. This concerns university students born on or between 1st April 1994 and 31st March 2000.
  • Explorers should be enrolled in a university degree course during the academic year 2016-2017.
  • Explorers compete as individuals, or in pairs and they may choose to be advised by a mentor on scientific and technical aspects of their project entry.
  • All contestants must submit an original space related project based on the themes and challenges specified for Explorers category.
  • Contestants on Explorers category may submit a digital entry between 1st September 2016 and 31st March 2017.
  • All entries submitted must be the contestants’ own work, carried out specifically for this contest.
  • ‘Explorer’ projects will be evaluated in three stages:
    • Nationally, by a panel of judges from the participants’ own country, based on the online submissions. This will take place in April 2017. Submissions from non-EU countries will be assigned by the organizers to one of the panels of judges, according to the language selected by the participants.
    • Regionally, by a selection of judges from the previous round, drawn from all participating countries in the region. Judging will take place at the semi-finals held in each region, which will bring together all the national winners within the region. Contestants may be invited to the regional events on the condition that their entry is marked with at least 10 out of 20 in the first phase. The contestants advanced to the semi-finals will present live their entries to the judges. Regional semi-finals will take place between 20 April and 30 June 2017. Exact dates per region will be announced in the Odysseus website.
    • Internationally, by a panel of prominent space researchers, educators and science personalities. The winners of the regional finals will meet in Toulouse, France to present their projects to the judges. The international final will take place in July 2017.
  • During the judging at national level, the number of winners going onto the next level of judging will be determined by the relative populations of the competing countries and the number of submissions per each topic. The Odysseus II Contest organizers will announce all winners at national and regional level, via the Odysseus website.
  • During the selection of the best projects at international level, honours are awarded without regard to the citizenship or residency of the finalists. i.e. there are no pre-set quotas based on population or rates of contest participation.
  • Judges of the space projects will award points for the following criteria (the exact percentages assigned to each attribute will be announced on the website before the start of registrations):
    • Academic excellence (accuracy, difficulty)
    • Relevance to the stated theme
    • Problem-solving abilities
    • Originality
    • Social relevance
    • Presentation
    • Technical merit and practical skills
    • Sustainability and environmental awareness
  • Each contestant will be provided with a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project at the time of judging. Later requests for further evaluations cannot be honoured.
  • Judges will also distribute a number of special citations to non-winning teams at each stage, for example:
    • Most eye-catching graphic
    • Most original problem
    • Most professional presentation
    • Most artistic submission
    • Best use of music in a science project
    • Most innovative approach to the stated theme
    • Most environmentally aware project
    • Most innovative solution to the problem
    • Best usage of space knowledge basics
  • Every Explorer pair, or solo Explorer contestant, will receive a diploma for participation in the Odysseus II contest.
  • All winning projects will be displayed in full in the Hall of Fame area of the Odysseus II Contest website and all participants advanced to the semi-finals will be awarded a winners medallion and a set of Odysseus II contest memorabilia.
  • It is free to participate in the contest and travel expenses (plane tickets, accommodation, set meals and insurance) for participating in regional and European finals will be covered by the Odysseus II Contest organizers, within reasonable limits.
  • At both the regional and international finals the finalists will participate in a number of space-based activities, events and trips, arranged and paid for by the Odysseus II Contest organizers.

Explorer contestants may seek help from a mentor for technical and scientific advice.

  • Opening of registrations
    1st September 2016
  • Submissions deadline
    31st March 2017
  • Regional phase
    30th April 2017 – 30th June 2017
  • Final phase – Award Ceremony
    July 2017


Step One

Register to the Odysseus II contest and fill in the registration form and accept the rules of the Contest!


Step Two

The second step for the contestants is to choose the topic of their project.

The overarching theme of the challenge is Space Utilization and the submitted projects could focus on missions like Galileo, Copernicus, Rosetta and Gaia, which are supported by the EU, ESA and the space industry and pave the way for the provision of services crucial to modern life or open the door to new knowledge about the Universe.   University students from all disciplines can compete in the Explorers category and therefore, the responses to the listed topics and examples may include contributions not only from engineering, technology and sciences students, but also from social sciences and humanities students.

Within this framework contestants can choose a topic from the list below:

Galileo: daily benefits of space applications

Galileo is the GPS cousin from Europe. It is better, is faster and has a better name. It generates job and other benefits and will enable greater European Independence. How will it influence our live? How space programs change our lives and what benefits do we have now?

  • Optimizing transport
  • Responding to crises
  • Helping regions access knowledge and information services
  • Increasing efficiency in agriculture and fisheries
  • Protecting the environment and tackling climate change
  • Increasing homeland security
  • Improving citizens’ health
  • Observing the Earth
  • Better and faster communication

Copernicus: Earth observations

In XVI century Nicolai Copernicus was looking into the sky. Now ESA Copernicus project is watching opposite way, since it looks from the sky at the Earth. How can we observe Earth? How can we use data from earth observations?

  • Protecting the environment and tackling climate change.
  • Responding to crises.
  • Increasing efficiency in agriculture and fisheries.
  • Increasing homeland security.
  • Light pollution seen from space and from earth.

Rosetta mission: Space Exploration

The first step on the moon was a giant step for the mankind. Another step in space exploration was made by making Philae land on a comet. What will be the next giant jump in space exploration? What can we find in our Universe and how can we explore it further?

  • Rocket systems – a concept of the most fruitful and promising systems for the future;
  • Europe has landed on a comet and on Titan. Which are the scientific benefits?
  • Exploration of the asteroids – a concept to use their natural resources;
  • Exploration of the terrestrial planets – what can we learn for Earth
  • Manned space flight – your personal opinion about perspective for the future missions;
  • A concept for a permanent and self-sufficient lunar city

Gaia mission: Watching the stars

During its five years of observation Gaia will watch the Universe. What will it find there and how can we help her?

  • How the Gaia Mission may modify our perception of our Galaxy in the vicinity of the Sun and of our home planet.
  • Searching for a second Earth – Europe’s effort in exoplanet research;
  • Give arguments for the search for alien civilizations and suggest why institutions should be interested in conducting such research (in the form of an essay).
  • Big space telescopes – why is space a good place to observe the Universe?
  • Observe objects from Gaia alerts list.
  • Discuss what life is, basing on a variety of possible forms of it.

More general: establish links between field data and satellite data

  • Meteo data on the field
  • Data on agriculture (Humidity soil, development of vegetation, sanitary status of vegetation …)
  • Proposal of maps for development of mosquitos …
  • Proposal of maps on flu or other diseases … and link with meteo
  • Proposal of field data on waters rivers levels, soils …
  • Observation of sky: meteorites, clouds, storms …

This list is not exhaustive and any other development of ideas within the framework of the selected themes could be displayed based on the imagination of the students.

The contestants should choose the type of project they want to work on. This could be an experiment, a video, a prototype, a presentation, or any other set up (View Limitations[1]).

Check the submission template, that is provided by the organisers, which is not obligatory but recommended, can be found here.


[1] Electronic files uploaded to document each project can include: illustrated essays, PowerPoint presentations, posters, links to videos, links to dedicated project websites, and audio files.

Allowed file formats are:

  • Documents; .doc .docx, .pdf, .txt  .ps  .ppt, .pptx, .pps,  .ppsx
  • Images: *.png, *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.bmp, *.gif
  • Videos:  All videos should be uploaded in youtube or vimeo and the link should be provided.
  • Audio formats: *.mp3 
  • Compression formats: .tar .gz .zip .7z 

The maximum limit on the total size of uncompressed files for each entry is: 20 MB

Each project may cost no more than 300 € in materials to produce.


Step Three

The contestants should conduct research, focusing on the theme of their project and the design of the solution or the production of the final deliverable of their work.  In this phase participants are encouraged to consult mentors about the feasibility and scientific validity of their ideas.

Contestants are further advised to develop their project in accordance with the Odysseus II contest requirements, to ensure that they avoid plagiarized material and that they provide all the necessary references for their project.


Step Four

The final step is the submission of the project through the Odysseus website. Participants can develop and submit their project in any of the twenty-four (24) official EU languages.

Prizes Take the Space Challenge & Win Awesome Prizes!

Grand Prize

Trip to the Guiana Space Centre (airplane ticket, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, participation in events, visits and tours to the Space Centre and other attractions)

“European Youth Space Ambassador” diploma.

Additional Prize

Internship to ESA or to a European aero-space industry*.  Internships could be from three to six months and the students will be granted with their travel expenses, health insurance and a monthly allowance covering their subsistence costs.

*     The selected contestants should fulfill the criteria of the hosting organization for interns and trainees in order to be granted the additional prize.

Finalists’ Prize

One high quality computerized telescope for the finalist students – winners of the regional semi-finals.

Trip to the location of the International Final (traveling expenses, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, visits and participation to events).

National winners

Trip to the location of the regional semi-finals (traveling expenses, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, visits and participation to events).

Winners’ medallion.

All contestants will receive a certificate of participation in the Odysseus II Contest.

A cash equivalent cannot be substituted for the prizes.

Assessment and Evaluation Criteria

Submitted projects will first be evaluated on a national level. This will be done online after the closing of submissions, in April 2017. If projects are selected to move on to the regional level, the contestants will be invited to take part in the semi-finals with all the other national winners in their region. The regional semi-finals will take place between 30 April and 30 June 2017. The winners of the regional finals will then meet in Toulouse, France for the international final in order to present their projects to a panel of international judges. This final will take place in July 2017.

Projects will be awarded points on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Academic excellence (weight factor 20%)

An entry to the contest demonstrates academic excellence when it provides well-documented arguments, using scientific methods that are credible and verifiable, includes citations, makes critical use of scientific and learning resources and showcases that the participants have acquired knowledge of the relevant contexts of the subject and have a depth of understanding of basic concepts and issues relevant to their project.

  • Relevance to the stated theme (weight factor 10%)

With this criterion it will be assessed the extent to which the proposed project is relevant to the thematic category selected and to the topic’s scope. Relevant theory and literature to the stated theme should be used adequately.

  • Problem-solving abilities (weight factor 15%)

This criterion will assess the contestants’ thinking processes to approach the topic of their entry, in terms of describing the problem, determining the data and information need to be found, planning and carrying out the solution or using alternative solutions and evaluating the selected solutions.

  • Originality (weight factor 20%)

Key criterion for assessing entry’s originality is that the project is the product of contestants’ work and ideas and that it is unique, or novel, or unconventional. Even if the entry will be based on someone else’s work would still count as original if the contestant conceives a new idea, makes an original presentation of the problem, adopts a new approach or method or is implemented in an innovative way.

  • Social relevance (weight factor 10%)

It will be assessed how and the degree to which the entry proposes solutions and ideas that have long-term direct or indirect social benefits and / or the degree to which it relates to a current challenge of our societies (e.g. climate change, tightening supplies of energy, water and food)

  • Presentation (weight factor 10%)

With this criterion will be assessed the structure and format of the overall project and if its objectives, methodology and outcomes are clearly presented. It will also assess the logical organisation and linking of ideas, the clarity of expression and the use of appropriate supporting materials and technology (photos, drawings, slides, audio, video etc.)

  • Technical merit and practical skills (weight factor 10%)

An entry demonstrates technical merit when it delineates a clear conceptual framework or theory that anchors the background literature and informs the design and key variables of the project. The evaluators will also assess practical skills, including observation, precision, communication, ability to record and tabulate results, use of technological tools or pure practical skills such as building, soldering, woodwork.

  • Sustainability and environmental awareness (weight factor 5%)

This criterion will assess how environmental issues were integrated into the entry, through, for example, the exploration and discussion of project’s sustainability or through the use of eco-friendly materials or methods for the implementation or the presentation of the project.

Furthermore, a number of special citations to non-winning projects will be given out by the judges at each stage, which among others could be: most eye-catching graphic, most original problem, most professional presentation, most artistic submission, best use of music in a science project or most environmentally aware project.

Each contestant or pair of contestants will be provided with a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project at the time of judging.

Tips for Success
  • Understand the Contest. Read the contest overview and components carefully.
  • Focus your effort to respond to the specific evaluation criteria. The Scientific Committee consists of professional scientists, researchers and educators. They evaluate each entry against the specified evaluation criteria for that contest. Content, including science accuracy, will guide their decisions. Try to be specific and do not write something you have not previously verified its accuracy and most importantly do not write something you do not understand. Try to be consistent and do not stretch your project too much. Focused projects are most likely to be successful as they are more thorough and explicit. Try to organize your project so it will have a rational sequence and structure. Also, try to create an attractive layout.
  • Work on the basics. The physical appearance of an entry is often an indicator of serious effort by the student(s). Neat, well edited, readable entries, without spelling errors, make any entry a better competitor. If your entry is an essay it is recommended that it would be proofread by someone other than the creator(s).
  • Seek the support of a Mentor. Check the Odysseus II Contest webpage for choosing a Mentor from your country.
  • Plan ahead. Make a blueprint of your project, outlining your main course of action. Manage your time so that your work schedule allows time for reviewing and revising your entry.
  • Use the template provided by the organizers to support and document your project.
  • Pick a topic that’s meaningful to you. This will make it easier to focus and spend time on your project.
  • Develop a research question that will help you define what your entry will answer. Ask yourself, about the relationship between the focus of your project and the outcome you are interested in. Think of it as your entry’s objective or hypothesis stated as a question.
  • Draw diagrams or flow charts to organize the information you would collect on space and particularly on your topic and to help you work out how to translate that information into something meaningful.
  • Read and study the demo projects on the Odysseus II website and the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Ask any clarifying questions to the organizers by completing the relevant contact form.
  • Organize tools, materials and supplies for the contest.
  • Find helpful websites on space and sources of relevant material for your project, but stick with reputable and trustworthy sources (e.g. ESA or NASA websites and sites with an .edu suffix).
  • Spend a lot of time gathering background information on your topic.
  • Make sure that any fact you use in your argument is verifiable by trustworthy sources before considering them to be valid.
  • Go in-depth with your research. Try learning scientific concepts and be as detailed as possible.
  • Do not get discouraged if you run into problems while creating your project. Rome was not conquered in a day.
  • Have fun! Enjoy your travel to space adventure!
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Odysseus II?

Odysseus II is a European project, funded by the European Commission. Its main objective is the organization of a pan-European contest for pupils and students between the age of seven (7) and twenty-two (22) years on Space exploration and Space science. Although a pan-European contest pupils and students from non-EU countries could also participate.

I want to register in the contest – How do I join Odysseus II?

You can REGISTER by submitting your email and your selected password, and by selecting the category (Explorers) and accepting the rules of the Odysseus contest. Then you should verify your account by clicking the link included in the email that you will automatically receive. Then you should LOGIN to your account and fill in your details (and in case of a pair the details of your teammate) in the registration form.

How old do I have to be to participate in the Odysseus II contest?

Participants should be from seventeen (17) to twenty-two (22) years old (i.e. be born on or between 1st April 1994 and 31st March 2000) and should be enrolled in a university degree course during the academic year 2016-2017.

In which language do I have to submit my entry?

You could submit your entry in any of the following languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish. Participants from countries outside the European Union should submit their projects in any of the above languages.

If the entry makes it to the International final of the contest, the participants must provide a full translation into English, if the entry was originally submitted in another language.

Do you have any information about how to create an entry?

You are free to select your own topic within the theme framework of the contest (also see the Instructions section on the Explorers page). You can make your own choice about the form and design of your entry (text, power point presentation, video, prototype, multimedia, experiment etc.), but you are advised to include a Project Worksheet in the template provided, describing the background thinking of your project. You are free to submit as many supporting files as deemed necessary.

How do I submit an entry?

You should upload your entry alongside its summary (in the form provided) by logging in to the Submit your Entry link, and following the instructions.

Can I submit more than one entry?

No. Each participant may submit only one entry to the Odysseus II contest.

What do I do if I forget my password to the Odysseus Platform?

There is a Forgot Your Password link on the Log in page. Click on this link and a new password will be sent to your registered e-mail address for Odysseus account.

When do I have to submit my entry?

You need to submit your entry from 1st September 2016 until 23:59 CET of 31st March 2017. The Odysseus II organizers recommend that you submit your entry upon completion without waiting until the deadline date.

Can you help me uploading my entry to the Odysseus Platform?

Yes; you should follow the instructions provided in the Submit your Entry link. If you have any questions or might need help in uploading an entry, please fill in the relevant contact form and the organizers will help you securing that your entry will be uploaded appropriately.

Will I receive feedback from the evaluators?

All participants will receive a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project at the time of judging.

What evaluation criteria will be used?

For full details on evaluation criteria, please refer to the Assessment and Evaluation Criteria section of the Explorers page.

How many participants will make it to the Regional and International finals?

The number of participants going onto the next level of judging will be determined by the relative populations of the participating countries and the number of submissions from each region and in each theme category. The Odysseus II Contest organizers will announce how many contestants from each country will participate in the semi-finals, via the official website. The top contestants or pairs of the Regional semi-finals will participate in the International Final.

Can I view the other entries submitted in the Odysseus II contest?

Yes all entries could be viewed on the Odysseus website after the expiry of the deadline for submitting an entry.

When will I know if I am selected for the regional final?

The contestants who will qualify to the regional events will be announced after the 20th of April 2017.

How will I be notified if I win at regional phase contest?

The winner in each Regional semi final will be announced at the end of the event after the completion of the judges’ consultations. Regional winners will also be announced on the Odysseus II Contest website.

What are the prizes?

For complete details on the prizes, please visit the Prizes page.