Planet Challenge

Lise Meitner award money used to develop educational iPad game

September 22, 2014
On 19 September, Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University and External Scientific Member at MPE) was awarded the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award 2014. This is awarded annually to a scientist who made a breakthrough discovery in physics. Van Dishoeck receives the award for the identification of the molecular pathways that allow the formation of stars and planets from dilute gas and microscopic dust particles. At the award ceremony in Gothernburg, Sweden, Van Dishoeck presented the Swedish version of the educational iPad game Planet Challenge, Planetresan. The “Planet Challenge” takes children from the age of six on a journey through our solar system. The game has been released in English, German, French, Spanish and Swedish and can be downloaded for free for the next three days (and for 0.89€ after that).  

A group of twenty young children were the first to play the educational game at the Universeum, the biggest science center in the Nordic countries, together with Ewine Van Dishoeck. She is enthusiastic about the educational game: "Through this game, young children become aware of our fascinating universe in a playful way. They learn about our Solar System by a fun game with a unique design. It is an honor to receive the prestigious Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award and thereby be able to introduce the next generation to science."


The Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) has released the educational iPad game Planet Challenge internationally. In the game, kids are taken on an exciting scavenger hunt passing the eight planets of our Solar System, dwarf planet Pluto and our Moon. The children learn about the characteristics of the planets and distances in our solar system while playing. The goal of the mission is to bring the ice from Pluto back to Earth.


About the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award:


The Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award is awarded by the Gothenburg Physics Centre since 2006. Lise Meitner was a physicist from Berlin who was forced to flee to Sweden because of the Second World War. She was an outstanding researcher, but had trouble getting a getting a regular academic position because she was a women. Even so, she and her nephew Otto Frisch were the first to explain nuclear fission.


About the Planet Challenge game:


More information on the game Planet Challenge can be found on


Planet Challenge was developed by Game Oven commissioned by NOVA and Moon Uitgevers with a contribution from Marijn Franx (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University). The translations were possible thanks to a contribution from Ewine van Dishoeck's Meitner award (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University). The game was awarded third prize in the Meester App contest of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The jury on the game Planet Challenge: "It is a real scavenger hunt, you learn by doing. There is a team behind it with great understanding (…) And the design is exceptionally beautiful."

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