Science and Health

NASA wants students to solve its Pi Day Challenge

Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. That number is rounded to 3.14, which is why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14.

The ratio for pie written on a board goes on well beyond 3.14.
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Thursday marks Pi Day, otherwise known as 3.14, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. While the average person can easily remember the rounded 3.14 ratio, the exact ratio has an infinite number of digits. 

If you want a more precise pi ratio, it is 3.141592653589793238462643383279.

That info might be useful if participating in NASA's Pi Day Challenge. The space agency is challenging students, and the public as a whole, to solve four problems. 

- Determine where the DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) technology demonstration aboard NASA’s Psyche spacecraft should aim a laser message containing a cat video so that it can reach Earth (and set a NASA record in the process).

- Figure out the change in asteroid Dimorphos’ orbit after NASA intentionally crashed its DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft into its surface.

- Measure how much data will be captured by the NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite each time it orbits our planet, monitoring Earth’s land and ice surfaces in unprecedented detail.

- Calculate the distance a small rover must drive to map a portion of the lunar surface as part of NASA’s CADRE (Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration) technology demonstration that’s headed to the Moon.

NASA has issued similar challenges in recent years. 

10 fascinating things to know about pi on Pi Day
10 fascinating things to know about pi on Pi Day

10 fascinating things to know about pi on Pi Day

In 2015, Rajveer Meena set the world record by reciting 70,000 decimals of pi. It took 10 hours! How many can you recite?

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Having a more exact number of pi helps scientists at NASA conduct more precise experiments and calculations and lends precision to projects such as landing rovers on Mars, sending spacecraft into deep space or tracking the movement of asteroids. To see many of the ways NASA uses pi, click here .

The answers to this year's challenge will be given on March 15.