This Challenge is only open to the 14 teams that won the first Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge. You can learn more about the teams and apply to join a team here.
In the previous Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge, 14 teams were recognized and awarded for their insightful and creative approaches to developing miniature payloads that will help collect information about the lunar environment and potential lunar resources. This challenge offers those winning teams the opportunity to vie for up to $800,000 in development funds and prizes. There will be an opportunity for teams to build out their ranks and fill in missing areas of expertise. Additionally, in order to help teams be as successful as possible, both phases will include opportunities for NASA to review team plans and/or their progress and to provide specific, individual feedback.
Phase 1 - Project plan development and team building
Phase 2 - Prototyping
Note: Phase 2 is contingent upon NASA receiving highly credible project plans in Phase 1. See the Guidelines section for further details.
Updated November 2, 2020. See track changes here.
The timeline for this challenge is extremely ambitious. But the payoff is considerable - ultimate success in this endeavor could mean that your payload is deployed on the lunar surface!
In order for NASA to meet timelines associated with the Artemis program, it must receive your working prototypes by January 28, 2022. NASA wants you to be successful and will be very participatory in this challenge. NASA has already each team with the internal feedback garnered by their submissions to the preceding ideation challenge so that teams can see where weaknesses have been identified and react accordingly. Additionally, there will be an opportunity during the Phase 1 open submission period to have NASA review your preliminary project plan so that you can strengthen your submission and address any missing elements.
To be successful in this prototype competition, your team will have to provide:
An updated version of the Small Lunar Payload User’s Guide is available under the Resources tab. You are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with this expanded set of specifications. Note: the payload user’s guide may undergo minor revisions, due to the dynamic nature of the CLPS and Artemis programs.
The 14 winning teams of the Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload challenge are all eligible to participate. No new teams will be accepted into this challenge. However, the 14 teams are allowed to recruit new team members to round out their teams with additional competencies and expertise, as needed. If you are interested in joining a team, please visit the Teams tab to review the needs of teams accepting new members. All team members must abide by the eligibility rules, in particular those regarding country of origin (see Rules section for more details).
The deadline to submit complete and final payload project plans is January 4, 2021. NASA wants you to make it tough for them to select Phase 1 winners! So be sure to take advantage of all the tools and resources available. Specifically,
One of the most important things for success in this phase is the development and submission of a comprehensive and realistic timeline to support your activities in the prototyping phase. NASA’s extensive experience in this area has shown them that a highly credible timeline is a key indicator of success in ambitious projects like this one.
If you are an international participant, be sure to allow sufficient time in your timeline for your prototypes to clear customs and arrive at NASA. You are strongly encouraged to start immediate research and planning to ensure that you have all necessary paperwork in place to support your prototype delivery satisfying both US and your country’s import/export rules and regulations. A good place to start is to check with your own country’s state department.
NASA will review the preliminary project plan from any team that has been submitted by November 10, 2020. High-level feedback will be provided by November 20 to each team. This feedback is intended to help teams create the best, most complete version of their project plans possible by helping teams to consider all important factors, highlight any missing elements, and/or more fully address key concerns.
Your preliminary submission should include:
Your complete and final submission to Phase 1 should include:
NASA will select up to four teams to advance to Phase 2. The evaluation criteria are listed below. Advancing teams will win award money to support their prototyping efforts. The specific amount of award money won will be determined by the budget listed within each winning project plan, as well as other factors. The maximum amount awarded to any one team will be $225,000.
If NASA determines that none of the submitted payload project plans are highly credible, providing high confidence levels that working prototypes can be successfully delivered by the end of the Phase 2, then the challenge will conclude at the end of Phase 1. In that case, the top three ranked teams will each receive a $20,000 prize.
Upon being selected as a Phase 1 winner, each winning team will be assigned a NASA project manager. A portion of the award money will be distributed at once, to help development efforts get underway. The remainder of the award money will be distributed upon achievement of two significant milestones, with half of the remaining award money being paid for each milestone achieved. The team and the NASA project manager will determine a set of mutually agreed-upon milestones against which remaining prize payments will be made. It is expected that each team will be in regular contact with its project manager throughout the prototyping period. In addition to development funds, teams will also have up to 40 hours of access to subject matter experts (SMEs). These experts will be drawn from NASA and will vary, depending on the specific expertise required by a team.
NASA is committed to helping Phase 2 teams be as successful as possible. To this end, they are offering valuable support mechanisms that are in addition to 40 hrs SME support. NASA is willing to assist with an initial design review, including a review of the design drawing and the material and equipment list, before teams start payload fabrication. This can be set up through a team’s project manager. Although documentation packages can be submitted for high level feedback (see below), teams should be proactively working with their project managers to identify and address documentation issues on an ongoing basis.
NASA must receive at least 3 identical, working prototypes, accompanied by a full documentation package, an annotated sample data set, and any additional information by January 28, 2022. If a team is able to provide additional prototypes, this is encouraged. The documentation package covers the following topics (see Resources tab for descriptions of each topic):
NASA will review the documentation packages from any team that have been submitted by October 29, 2021. High-level feedback will be provided by November 19, 2021 to each team. Good supporting documentation for prototypes is critical. NASA expects to receive near-final versions of documentation packages. There will be an opportunity to revise your documentation based on NASA’s feedback and any modifications made prior to final submission.
NASA plans to test one to two prototypes to failure and to reserve the remaining one(s) for possible deployment. These prototypes should arrive at NASA ready to undergo several weeks of rigorous testing. They should represent the final instrument design and should be ready for deployment. It is expected that prototypes, including all sub-systems, will be at TRL of 5 or higher. At the conclusion of the testing and evaluation period, NASA will select a winner and a runner up, based on prototype performance, scientific impact, and overall mission confidence. The winning team will receive $100,000, and the runner-up team will receive $25,000. Due to time constraints, only a portion of environmental testing will occur prior to the award decisions. Award decisions will be made primarily on prototype functional test results and analysis showing the design can survive the expected environments, which teams provide in the documentation package. Additional testing that occurs after award decisions will help inform whether or not prototypes are assigned to future missions.
This challenge has a total prize purse of $800,000.
The Phase 1 prize purse of $675,000 will be shared among up to 4 Phase 1 winning teams. NASA will determine the specific amounts won by each advancing team based on the proposed project budgets from each winning submission and other factors. The maximum amount awarded to any one team will be $225,000. The payment of winnings will be tied to progress against each team’s project plan.
At the end of Phase 2, after testing and evaluation of the received prototypes, NASA will award the winning team $100,000 and a runner-up team $25,000.
In addition to the prizes discussed above, winners will also receive the following non-monetary incentives:
Phase 1 Challenge launch - October 15, 2020
Phase 1 Preliminary project plans due - November 10, 2020
Phase 1 Project plans due - January 4, 2021
Phase 1 Submission evaluation period - January 4-25, 2021
Phase 1 Winners announced - January 28, 2021
Phase 2 Development period - Jan 28, 2021 - Jan 3, 2022
(team-specific milestones met throughout this period)
Phase 2 Initial documentation pkg due - October 29, 2021
Phase 2 Payloads must arrive at JPL - January 28, 2022
Phase 2 Evaluation period - January 28 - February 18, 2022
Phase 2 Winners announced - February 23, 2022
Phase 1 Judging Criteria
|Project plan, timeline, risk and risk mitigation|
Quality of project plan, including clear, concise writing and thoughtful and complete responses. Is a realistic timeline provided? Are milestones tied to significant achievements and meaningful progress? Is the development plan credible? Are all necessary resources considered and planned for?
Have all primary risks been identified? Have risk mitigation strategies been provided?
|Team||Likelihood that the proposing team has the expertise, experience, resources, and commitment to successfully deliver at least 3 working prototypes to NASA on time.||15|
|Cost||Is the budget complete? Are the costs provided realistic and complete? Are the proposed milestones reflective of major accomplishments and progress? Are they appropriately tied to award payments?||20|
|Payload impact and capability||The impact of proposed payload if it is successfully prototyped and deployed. Are the stated capabilities realistic? Is successful payload performance in a lunar environment likely? Is the information gathered important and aligned with the objectives of the Artemis program?||25|
|Likelihood of operational success||Is the feasibility of the proposed payload to operate in a lunar environment demonstrated? Do submitters provide a reasonable justification/analysis that provides confidence their payload can operate under the expected lunar environments? Is a credible operations scenario provided?||15|
Phase 2 Judging Criteria
|Operational Testing||Benchtop demonstration - does it work?||25|
|Functional Performance Testing||Does it make the claimed measurements? Are the measurement accuracy, precision, detection limit, and other performance criteria met?||20|
|Likelihood of surviving environmental testing||Will it perform in the lunar environment?||20|
|Scientific and Technical Impact||The impact of proposed payload if it is successfully deployed.||25|
|Quality of supporting documentation package||The documentation package is comprehensive and complete.||10|
Preliminary submission form
Phase 1 submission form
Phase 2 Submission
A complete submission to Phase 2 consists of:
The Prize is open to anyone age 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx).
If you are a NASA employee, a Government contractor, or employed by a Government Contractor, your participation in this challenge may be restricted.
Submissions must originate from either the U.S. or a designated country (see definition of designated country at https://www.acquisition.gov/far/part-25#FAR_25_003), OR have been substantially transformed in the US or designated country prior to prototype delivery pursuant to FAR 25.403(c).
Submissions must be made in English. All challenge-related communication will be in English.
You are required to ensure that all releases or transfers of technical data to non-US persons comply with International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 C.F.R. §§ 120.1 to 130.17.
To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.
Innovators who are awarded a prize for their submission must agree to grant NASA a royalty free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide license in all Intellectual Property demonstrated by the winning/awarded submissions. See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for complete details.
Registration and Submissions:
Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the HeroX.com website, on or before June 1, 2020, at 5:00 pm ET. No late submissions will be accepted.
Selection of Winners:
Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the weighted Judging Criteria section above.
The determination of the winners will be made by HeroX based on the evaluation by relevant NASA specialists.
You can learn about all of the teams participating below. There are six teams recruiting new members have indicated the expertise they are seeking below their project description. Those teams are as follows:
Sun Slicer - Miniaturized XRAY Spectrometer by Team Sun Slicer
Team Sun Slicer is a collection of agile veteran Scientists and Engineers that are passionate about developing flight ready hardware and then performing the enabled science. Phillip Jobson [BSEE UniSa, President Phil Jobson Consulting specializing in rapid hardware development] Competition Team Leader joins the proven Space Flight Hardware team of Dr Garrett Jernigan [PhD Physics MIT, Retired UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab specializing in High Energy Astrophysics], Dr John Doty [PhD Physics MIT, President Noqsi Aerospace specializing in X and Gamma Ray Astronomy Missions and Space Hardware design] and Brian Silverman [BSCS MIT, Co-Founder Playful Invention Company specializing in all aspects of Software and Firmware development].
SunSlicer is an innovative flight ready XRAY Spectrometer and integrated camera adapted for the harsh lunar environment, compact form factor and low power requirements of miniature lunar rover payloads. Sunslicer will perform compelling Heliospheric science with an innovative experiment that can measure Sun Active regions with at least 20x finer angular resolution than similar direct XRAY imaging from satellites. Sun Slicer will also monitor the Lunar Radiation environment and serves as a prototype for a compact in situ XRAY Safety Monitor for Lunar Astronauts. An adapted Sun Slicer could be used for 2024 Artemis Astronaut needs as a portable instrument.
LEA (Lunar surface Energetic neutrals Analyzer) by Bhardwaj Shastri
I recently graduated with a Masters in Space Science & Technology, specialization in space instrumentation, from LTU, Kiruna, Sweden. Like a water droplet in the vast ocean, I always wanted to contribute my knowledge and skills for human’s space exploration, so that we can achieve more giant leaps in the future like the one we did on July 20, 1969. Reading, watching and following all developments of NASA’s Artemis program is always an exciting stuff for me to do. I am honored that my proposed design will somehow help NASA to bridge lunar strategic knowledge gaps, in order to make human presence permanent beyond Earth.
Lunar Radiation Characterization by Christian Haughwout
Radiation is one of the greatest threats to extended human habitation in space. Shielding from and mitigating the effects of this radiation for the Artemis program will require detailed surveys of the radiation environment at the lunar pole. Currently existing devices capable of making the required measurements are too large and too expensive for widespread deployment on Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) rovers and landers. Our team is working to create a miniaturized radiation measuring instrument with many of the same features as the radiation assessment detector (RAD) on the Curiosity rover, but which is size, weight, and power (SWaP) compatible with smaller exploration vehicles.
SEEKING: Our team currently consists of two dedicated individuals with extensive experience building low-cost space hardware for CubeSat missions. In order to ensure we can deliver the best payload possible in the time available, we are looking to augment our team. Specifically, we are looking for individuals with expertise in Geant4 modelling and ARM MCU firmware development in C++. Both of these roles can be done completely remotely from the rest of the team. No space-specific experience required. --> Contact Christian Haughwout to apply.
Laser Based Dust Detector for the Lunar Surface by Ryan Smith
Ryan is an electronic engineer with an eye for electronic systems design. Currently working for RAL Space, just finishing the Graduate scheme, he is working on graduate lead system studies for rovers, all the way through to major scientific mission development for lunar and Earth observation missions. Ryan is pioneering the development of the mind-set of small science instruments based around CubeSat technology, and small low cost rover systems to make human habitation and large science possible on the Moon and eventually Mars. The instrument Ryan has designed is to characterise and understand the situation with lunar dust on the Moon. Lunar dust will be one of the major factors affecting future lunar missions, and understanding how rovers and rockets interact with that dust is a key roadblock for large missions.
Puli Lunar Water Snooper by Puli Space Technologies
Puli Space Technologies is a Budapest (Hungary) based space technology company, with an experienced team of engineers and scientists passionate about the Moon. The team develops a lightweight lunar rover and payload instruments for the harsh lunar environment to explore resources, based on the team's Google Lunar XPRIZE experience.
Hydrogen is one of the most valuable lunar resources, essential for future missions, permanent human presence and habitats on the Moon. Therefore it is crucial to find, characterize and map lunar hydrogen. The Puli Lunar Water Snooper is designed by Puli Space exactly for these tasks: it identifies hydrogen and therefore all hydrogen-bearing volatiles like water ice, it measures quantity and distribution of these resources in the lunar surface regolith, mapping even a large area when mounted on a rover. The payload performs its measurements by detecting cosmic ray and low-energy neutron particles coming from the regolith, using 3 CMOS image sensors with a special, neutron sensitive coating on top, monitoring the lunar radiation environment at the same time. This design is a low-cost, simple and extremely lightweight solution, which are all key features for short-term robotic exploration missions to find and utilize resources on the Moon.
SEEKING: Electronics/Electrical Engineer (with experience in FPGA, MCU and PCB design). --> Contact Tibor Pacher to apply.
KSat Stuttgart e.V. MICU 3D mineral seeker by KSat Stuttgart e.V. MICU 3D mineral seeker Team
The Mineral Investigation Camera using Ultra-violet (MICU) sensor from KSat Stuttgart (Germany) is a 3D optical fluorescence mineral seeker operating in multiple ultra-violet (UV) wavelengths with a stereovision camera setup. It detects the instantaneously emitted photons after UV illumination to discover minerals. Afterwards MICU observes the fluorescent object with its cameras. Due to the instantons response of fluorescence, the MICU seeker can operate at high frame rates and allows to cover larger surfaces in short time. The onboard image processor analyzes the images, detects minerals and then provides compressed reports for downstream to earth for advanced mineral classification. Additional position information from the rover is attached to the reports for large-scale localization.
About us: KSat Stuttgart e.V. is a non-profit student society with a history of successfully developed space missions which includes sounding rocket and balloon experiments and our own small satellite. For more information, please visit: https://www.ksat-stuttgart.de/en/.
M-ELVIS, Locating and Mapping Lunar Volatiles by Curtis Purrington
Micro Expedient Lunar Volatile Identification Surveyor (m-ELVIS), is the little brother of ELVIS. The core components of both sensors are the same. Using a modified penetrometer, force curves are generated while pushing a probe beneath the lunar regolith. Force curves correlate to the ice structure of volatiles and to the mass percentage of volatiles present. Both parameters are important to future resource utilization plans. Below the surface, micro applications of heat provide further evidence of ice structure and to the mass percentage of volatiles in a given area and depth. Once, a pocket of volatiles has been discovered, larger applications of heat (< 4W) incrementally heat a small volume below the surface. Then, sublimated vapor flows through a mass flow sensor. Different volatiles sublimate at different temperatures, thus volatiles are identified. Finally, combining this data with navigational inputs highly detailed volatile maps are generated for future ISRU missions.
Permittivity Analysis of Regolith using SansEC by Nova Rover Payload Team
The Permittivity Analysis of Regolith using SansEC (PARSEC) payload was proposed by the Monash Nova Rover Team, a multidisciplinary undergraduate robotics group from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The team’s main focus is designing and building Mars rover analogues for the annual University Rover Challenge, held at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA.
PARSEC is a novel approach to map the distribution of Iron and Titanium Oxides contained within regolith and rock at the Lunar surface. Utilizing a series of conductive SansEC coils to measure and record changes in dielectric permittivity, PARSEC reveals information on the physical and compositional characteristics of Lunar regolith. PARSEC has been developed to support the goal of a sustainable, permanent human presence on the Moon by providing information on the distribution and quantity of prospective Lunar resources, in preparation for future In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) missions.
LAMPER by Amin Aminaei
A LunAr Microwave PEnetrating Radar (LAMPER) is proposed as a scientific instrument onboard micro-rovers. LAMPER is specifically designed to study the lunar resource potential including regolith and polar resources. LAMPER is an active radar with two separate transmitter and receiver antennas. By sending short pulses and receiving the echoes from the regolith, LAMPER generates a microwave image of the regolith along the rover’s path. The transmitted pulse propagates through the lunar regolith layers and is partially scattered and reflected back. By processing the received signal one could get significant information about the thickness, structure and compositions of the lunar regolith as well as its electrical and magnetic properties. The previous lunar penetrating radars such as Apollo 17 and recent Chang'e-3 studied the lunar regolith and crust in depth in MHz bands. LAMPER would use a GHz ultra-wideband spectrum to study the surface regolith in more details and at higher resolution.
SEEKING: Microcontroller/ FPGA Engineer - RF PCB Designer. Contact Amin Aminaei to apply.
M.E.G.A.M.A.N. by Big Brain, Little Payload Team
Designed by members and friends of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Design Team at the University of Texas at Austin, the Moon Element Gas Absorption to Mark Abundant Nodes (M.E.G.A.M.A.N.) is a payload designed to test atmospheric and regolith compositions. By ablating regolith with a laser, MEGAMAN is able to collect a gas sample and use optical spectroscopy to find elements/compounds that are life-sustaining such as helium, iron, sulfur, nitrogen, and water. The location data and detected samples will be paired to compose a map where eventual moon missions can mine these essential samples to sustain human life. With the large temperature range and durability that MEGAMAN offers, similar payloads could also be used on Mars and other exploratory sites. Ultimately, in situ resource utilization tools such as MEGAMAN on the Artemis program will only be one of many programs that will help establish a human presence on the moon.
SEEKING: We are currently looking for experts in electronics and data transmission. People with software development skills who understand statistics and can apply statistics in code (understanding in coding standards, unit tests, etc.) is encouraged to apply. The role also somewhat overlaps in data communications protocol, command execution vs. physical hardware design, and power design --> Contact Rebecca Lin to apply
Adaptable Science Box for Lunar Rovers by Space Initiatives Inc
Space Initiatives Inc (SII) has developed a multi-purpose experiment package and proposes to adapt it for use in characterizing the radiation and magnetic environment of the terrain at a lunar rover. A region such as the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl region (an early NASA CLPS landing target) could have high and varying magnetic fields which should be measured on the surface. In addition, Reiner Gamma is in one of the regions of the Moon with the highest concentration of KREEP (Potassium, Rare Earth Elements and Phosphorus). KREEP contains an excess of Potassium, Uranium and Thorium, and so can be detected and characterized on the surface using radiation monitors. In addition, dust produced from high density KREEP regions may not be acceptable for long-term human operations; ground-truth observations are needed to characterize this risk as well. These science goals, at Reiner Gamma or in any of the wide-spread Procellarum KREEP Terranes, will be addressed by the proposed use of the SII Adaptable Science Box.
SEEKING: We are looking for people who can complement our existing team, including people familiar with the Lunar charged particle environment or with rapid spacecraft development or with moving to flight operations. We are working on a number of exciting lunar infrastructure and science projects and are looking for people who can help us make an impact in supporting the human exploration and eventual commercial development of the Moon. --> Contact Marshall Eubanks to apply.
Moon soil resources from seismic waves by Drive Me Through The Moon Team
DASS (Distributed Autonomous Seismic Sensor) is a payload that includes a main module, four seismic sensors to be deployed on the Moon to create a mesh to seek local resources with seismic waves
Roberto Chinelli is an electronic engineer based in Italy and has more than 20 years in IT consulting firms. He currently leads the Data and Artificial Intelligence business unit for a multinational company. He is passionate about technology and likes to challenge himself to apply his technology knowledge to concrete complex real cases.
Angelo Costantino is an aerospace engineer based in Belgium and has more than 10 years experience in aerospace structural analysis as a consultant for aircrafts and space companies all over Europe. He is a technology enthusiast with a strong background in problem solving and computational optimization. He is always seeking new and better solutions for everyday life.
We are all full time employed so we work hard at the night time and in the weekend for glory and for the moon :-)
SEEKING: Geophysicist or geologist, electronic engineer, system engineer. --> Contact Roberto Chinelli to apply.
Raman-based Mineral Classification Payload (RMCP) by Top Raman NASA Payload Team
The Raman-based Mineral Classification Payload (RMCP) combines several technological advances in micro-electronics, photonics and machine learning to deliver outsized performance in an undersized package. Our payload is designed to detect and classify chemical compounds within the lunar regolith by shining a laser at the surface and measuring the Raman Shift for analysis. Utilizing deep learning, our payload identifies the constituent elements by way of a convolutional neural network (CNN). The CNN outputs the detected elements in each sample and allows for the calculation of concentrations of each element in the regolith. To survive the harsh environment of the lunar surface, our hardware consists of a field-programmable gate array and a novel thermal regulation design. Our team is confident that RMCP can provide reliable detection capabilities to further NASA's situational awareness of lunar resources