Exoplanet Competition Conclusion Draft

🌍 Participants from all over Earth!

One of the things we absolutely love about the Planet Minecraft community is that it is very true to its name in being global. We saw participants from so many parts of our earth, ranging from just kids to retirees, first-time creators and professionals, and astronomy aficionados and aspiring explorers. We are honored and humbled to receive and review all of your talent and work!

Speaking of, did everyone see the recent 🪐 Exoplanet discoveries from the James Web Space Telescope? If not go look, they’re super cool! Oh, and you can see JWST in Minecraft, too!

Table of Contents

    🔭 Imagination AND Science

    Given the topic and range of participants we chose to really emphasize two of the requirements in this competition:

    🖼️ Creativity and imagination. The world’s ability to provoke wonder and awe, as well as inspire visitors to ask questions and explore. Clever and unexpected uses of blocks, terrain shaping or scenery props please!

    🌌 Scientific Accuracy. Does your creation reflect what this world would really be like? Think in terms of scientific concepts like atmospheric and ground composition, geological formations, presence of life, nearby visible stellar or planetary bodies, gravity or vision effects, features of any explorer habitats and more.

    As such entries that referenced real-world science variables, existing data and exoplanet examples were the strongest entries. That said we also wanted to leave space for fun and inspiration, after all science fiction is often what first triggers our interest in outer space!

    🏆 Winners!

    Some folks might’ve been wondering why it took us so long to review all the entries. We wanted to make sure we gave them all a chance and had multiple reviewers offer perspectives on as many submissions as possible. After all of this we can say with certainty: it was so hard to pick out the best ones! There were so many good worlds!

    but without further ado…

    Advanced 1st Place

    Icarus IV – An Open-World Survival Adventure

    “The scientific breakdown in the project description is very well done. This is a fun and creative way to explore a similar world to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, wile maintaining a good level of scientific accuracy.”

    “We’re so excited to visit the icy moons in the outer solar system, like Europa and Enceladus, and it’s so exciting to see your imagined version of what a world like that could be. Fantastic!!”

    “Nice images inside the planet!”

    “I absolutely loved the cut-away diagram explaining the composition of the planet. Not only is it scientifically plausible but it makes reference to Enceladus and has a fun thematic overview video.”

    “Very ‘cool’ planet. We have seen in our own solar system that liquid oceans can form under huge sheets of ice. This world is very exoplanet-like in the sense that it is terrestrial as seen from the mountains and can maintain liquid water at some level on the surface of the planet. And that is all you really need for life to form. Great Job!”

    Advanced 2nd Place

    Soahiri – The eroded bubbles

    “The explanation of geological surface shaping by wind and call out to the oxidation process are nice touches here. I believe wind can be (at least indirectly) affected by gravity but in this case makes the claim sense with no water and an assumed speedy rotation. I appreciate you sharing what you learned, we’re glad it inspired you to go digging!”

    “Nice topography!”

    “I was struck by the scale of mountains/valleys and I found that the creator’s description of the winds and erosion present on the planet served that sense of awe well. The patterns on the surface do a nice job of conveying the strength of the winds. I would be interested to see if the “chemical weathering” that was described would result in chemical snow on the mountain tops. This does not necessarily happen if the temperature on the planet is too hot, but that would be a fun way to continue exploring the different possible environments on the planet.”

    “I really enjoyed this planet. If it weren’t for the color of the surface of the planet, this world reminds me of Mars in a lot of different ways. Sort of rolling hills and mountainous terrain, with the color pallet that you used placing some lighter blocks in the recesses of the mountain made it look like evidence of erosion and possible water on the planet (or at least surface water in the past). Astronomers hypothesize that a good number of exoplanets are failed Earths. In the sense that the planet could not maintain its temperature and either became too hot and lost its water or too cold and all of its water froze. This is a very sweet build, great job!”

    Advanced 3rd Place

    [RIFLOR-1] Trinary Star System Exoplanet Exploration

    “The Star Wars inspiration of clear and this entry does a wonderful job at recreating that with its own uniqueness here. As for scientific accuracy, the description of the different biomes is sound and the visuals of the daytime and night sky are stunning with views of the system’s host stars and other planets. This entry was a privilege to review. The level of detail is remarkable, from the surface of the showcased planet to the visibility of the other planets in the system in the night sky. Truly a project to be proud of.”

    “Star wars is such a fun inspiration! The variance in surface conditions based on location as well as the likelihood of volcanic activity due to high gravitational pull of orbiting bodies is pretty scientifically sound. I also really like that you’ve created a texture pack and a whole series of worlds, it shows the power of your imagination.”

    “What a sweet world build! I really liked all of the custom buildings, they all fit the environment very well. The environment itself is very impressive and much like Earth, this world has a large diversity of different environments. If an exoplanet is even remotely similar to earth then we expect there to be distinctive differences in the various environments on the planet surface. Excellent!”

    Beginner 1st Place

    Roche’s Dying Dragon – Exoplanet RS-13d

    “What a creative world! I enjoyed reading the short story that you sent along with the submission. It made the entire world come to life with this extraordinary story telling. The way that you designed the world is extremely innovative. From my understanding you built the world in a ‘zoomed out’ perspective, allowing you to use minimal block placement to build an entire world with a backstory rather than just another planet using world edit shenanigans. Fantastic!”

    “Stories are how we make meaning out of our universe and scientists often tell stories with data. Though the story of this world is thoroughly science-fiction it bridges some of the spatial and render pitfalls that a close-up game like Minecraft imposes. Shrinking the scale is not only clever it helps illustrate movement and formation of planetary bodies that might otherwise not be possible to do for a beginner builder. Solid work.”

    Beginner 2nd Place

    B32o The planet of rain

    “As far as exoplanets go this is one of their hypothesized states, well done on your research. A planet with a thick enough atmosphere to facilitate rain and cold enough for ice to form. The exposed basalt says the most about the planet as basalt is a volcanic rock that, when present, represents an extensive history that the planet surface many years ago. Very nice job!”

    “Did you know Mars more than likely has significant basalt deposits that we might use for 3D-printed habitats there someday? Most exoplanets would be inhospitable and thick toxic atmosphere is one of the ways rain and surface complexity could be possible. We also appreciated you thinking about the cold-side difference that’s common on so many eye-ball planets we find out there. For fun – did you know atmospheric wind isn’t the only kind astronomers care about? Look up solar wind and see if you can figure out why this exoplanet would have kept its harsh atmosphere 🙂 Keep up the good work!”

    Beginner 3rd Place

    Exoplanet entry (Unnamed)

    “Realistically this is how we presume many exoplanets to look like. Very rocky and terrestrial. The small pockets of “tropicalness” are actually how scientists and astronomers hypothesize life being able to start on other worlds. For Earth we are spoiled and have an atmosphere so life was able to form in our oceans due to the friendly temperatures and plant life. The pockets of life are a great way to simulate a much smaller environment for life to form. This allows for smaller regions where a more hospitable environment/atmosphere can form for life to then take advantage of and flourish. Well done!”

    “Protection from radiation is realistic and key to life surviving. Finding it is most of the fun, too! Good job.”

    🚀 Honorable Mentions

    Many worlds were really outstanding but fell just short of inclusion for award. We still wanted to recognize these authors for their significant efforts – many just needed a little more (accurate) science information! We’ve left comments from our judges on many of them to help authors think about how to improve their work.

    🎁 Instructions for Winners

    Winners of either track should contact the WHIMC Planet Minecraft account to let us know the following:

    • If you’re like to have your world featured on our server
    • A physical mailing address where we can send the book and poster
    • An email we can send a registration key for Space Engine (a game!)

    ✨ We may contact honorable mentions to see if they too would like to have their world hosted as well. We might even be able to pair them up with and entry from NASA’s Hubble Focus: Strange New Worlds to come up with some scientifically-accurate renditions!

    World will go live on our server in September after we conclude summer camps!

    📱 What if I don’t have Java Edition?

    The Ateneo Laboratory for the Learning Sciences in the Philippines has made some Minecraft Education Edition versions of our worlds! We’re planning to do more of these in the next iteration of our grant. Check them out on Planet Minecraft here.

    Remember you can always learn more about how we discover, study and understand exoplanets by playing the Nova Exoplanet Lab – a free, online interactive experience from the producers of the popular PBS science series. It works just fine on Chromebooks!