The idea is that small robots will in future be used to explore the surface, and such miniaturized Moon rovers could only carry a small payload.
Dubbed the “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload” challenge, it is seeking instrument designs that could play a part in its Artemis programme. Specifically, to “help support a sustained human lunar presence, demonstrate and advance the use of resources found on the Moon, and enable new science”.
Existing payloads are often large or heavy thus require a lot of power. This competition is looking more for payload designs similar in size to that of a bar of soap.
They should measure no more than 100 millimeters by 100 millimeters by 50 millimeters, and should weigh no more than 0.4 kg.
“Smaller payloads are game changing,” said Sabah Bux, a JPL technologist. “They will allow us to develop technologies to do more prospecting and science on smaller, more mobile platforms.”
Described as an “ideation challenge” it will be followed by other competitions to prototype, test and deliver the miniaturized payloads, Nasa suggests.
“The competition is intended to generate a maturation pipeline of next-generation instruments, sensors, technologies and experiments for near-term lunar exploration.”
What is the prize involved? Participants will have an opportunity to win a share of $160,000 in prizes across several categories.
Note that JPL is working with the NASA Tournament Lab to execute the challenge on the heroX crowdsourcing platform.
For more information about the challenge and how to enter, visit: www.herox.com/NASApayload. You can also read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about the full requirements and rules.
According to its Timeline, the competition opened yesterday, and the deadline for submission is June 8, with the winners announced on 14 July.
Image credit: Nasa – The JPL-led challenge is seeking tiny payloads no larger than a bar of soap for a miniaturized Moon rover
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