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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Professor kick-starts a board game about space exploration

    Patrick O’Connor

    The “Xtronaut” board game was created by Dr. Dante Lauretta, a UA professor of planetary sciences and principal investigator of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. Lauretta based the game on his experiences working in space exploration.

    Dr. Dante Lauretta, a UA planetary sciences professor, has recently invented a board game called “Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration.” The game is in its final stages of entering the commercial market and is currently raising money on Kickstarter.

    Lauretta teaches courses about meteorites and the origins of the solar system to undergraduate and graduate students. He originally began his planetary science path when he received a NASA Undergraduate Research Space Grant in 1992, which propelled his career. 

    Currently, his Kickstarter campaign has met its funding goal and raised over $20,000. Lauretta plans to use funding from the campaign to improve the graphic art of the game. 

    The board game is a table-top game involving a deck of cards. The objective is to build a rocket and launch a spacecraft somewhere in the solar system. The players earn points for how the spacecraft is built and for the target of where it launched. Players in the game can also use event cards that help them draw more parts for their spacecraft or can sabotage other players. 

    These events, and the board game itself, are based upon Lauretta’s experience with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. Lauretta is the principal investigator of the mission that is launching in September 2016 to collect a sample of an asteroid called Bennu and return it to Earth. 

    “The board game is a good way to combine my board-game playing hobby with my education mission,” Lauretta said. 

    For over five decades, the UA has been a leader in solar system exploration, and this game helps to highlight these accomplishments. Lauretta hopes the game will raise awareness about planetary exploration to the Tucson community, and ultimately to a much larger audience worldwide. 

    “Xtronuat” can be preordered on Kickstarter, where customers can purchase exclusive rewards. The campaign ends on Oct. 12, and the game is scheduled to ship in May 2016.  

    Follow Varuska Patni on Twitter.

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