Albuquerque – An 18-year-old Albuquerque Academy senior has won the top award of $100,000 in the Intel Science Talent Search.
Erika DeBenedictis won the prize Tuesday night from the Intel Foundation for developing a software navigation system to help improve travel of spacecraft through the solar system.
Her research found the gravity and movement of planets create routes that ultimately will help spacecraft move faster and with less fuel.
Intel says it's the first time a New Mexican has won the competition.
Some 300 of the 1,736 students who entered the contest became semifinalists in January.
Forty finalists were invited to Washington, D.C., to compete for the top 10 awards.
Over the past 68 years, Science Talent Search finalists have gone on to win seven Nobel Prizes and other prestigious awards.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.