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A rocket ship called the IM-1 lander (AKA Odysseus, or Odie) had unexpected problems hours before landing on the moon in February 2024, causing it to fall on its side. The ship is phone booth sized and traveled 1 million kilometers before arriving in the moon's orbit. The craft, which carried no people and was used to collect scientific data, was destined to land on Malapert A, a crater near the moon's South Pole that is very flat. The reason for landing there is that the South Pole of the moon stores water in the form of ice, which could be used for drinking water or rocket fuel for future missions. The ship landed at 6:23 pm on Thursday, February 23rd and has since been repositioned to be upright.

Odie was the first craft to land on the moon after the Apollo mission over 50 years ago, but the landing was challenging. NASA became aware that there were problems with Odie’s navigation system. To land on the moon, the ship converted to its backup navigation system which was experimental and NASA did not intend for it to be used on this mission.  Once Odie communicated with NASA about the shift to the back-up system, NASA quickly made a plan to upgrade the system to ensure that the spacecraft would still land. The odds of success were very small, but the ship landed! Odie operated for seven days on the moon and there was a camera in the ship, so videos and photos could be put onto the Internet for others to see. NASA wants people to be on a spaceship like that one by 2026.

Thinking about the flexibility of NASA workers, I realized I also have to show flexibility in my daily life. For example, I recently competed in a robotics competition and for our first face off, our robot lost a wheel and began to drive strangely. Our team had to pause during the race and fix it. Even though we didn’t get the time that we wanted, our team was ultimately still in the running. I learned that if you don’t succeed the first time, you should adapt and try again. This lesson also connects to my recent science project. I was experimenting with training fish to respond to food, but our fish sadly kept dying even though we cared for them quite well. We had to move away from this project and quickly design a new experiment so that we could enter the class science competition.  This all ties into Odie because, just like me, they had to formulate a new plan quickly and act on that plan. They used fast thinking to get the ship back up, just like I used fast thinking to fix my robot and find a new science project.

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