NASA Tournament Lab

Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload

Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload

Give a tiny bot a new set of tools to explore the moon. Share your ideas for a mini payload to make lunar exploration more effective.

Challenge Overview

The moon has fascinated people from time immemorial. We have all spent nights staring up at the starry sky, looking at the moon in wonder.  For most of us, travel to the moon is out of reach. But now, you have the opportunity to send your tech to the moon!  

NASA’s new lunar exploration program is the Artemis Program.  As human space exploration evolves toward a permanent presence on the lunar surface, In situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) will become increasingly important. Resupply missions are very expensive.  We need to develop practical and affordable ways to identify and use lunar resources, so that our astronaut crews can become more independent of Earth. Future astronauts have to be able to locate and collect lunar resources and then transform them into the essentials for life: breathable air, water for drinking and food production, building materials for shelter, rocket propellants, and more.  Our mission capabilities will rapidly increase when useful products can be created from in-situ resources.

The ability to prospect, map, and characterize these in-situ resources not only increases NASA’s progress towards a sustained presence on the moon, but also could revolutionize mining, purification systems, the pharmaceutical industry, and other commercial industries - much as we realized enormous technological benefits and advances from the Apollo Program. NASA has issued this challenge to the global community to develop miniaturized payloads that can be sent to the moon in the next 1-4 years and bridge lunar strategic knowledge gaps.

Payloads that support prospecting for resources that help support a sustained human presence are highly desirable, in addition to payloads that enable lunar science, demonstrate new technologies and/or advance the use of resources found on the moon (in-situ resource utilization, ISRU). 

Imagine a rover the size of your Roomba® crawling the moon’s surface. These small rovers developed by NASA and commercial partners provide greater mission flexibility and allow NASA to collect key information about the lunar surface. However, existing science payloads are too big, too heavy, and require too much power for these rovers and new, miniaturized payload designs are needed. Payloads need to be similar in size to a new bar of soap to fit cleanly inside the rover (maximum external dimensions: 100mm x 100mm x 50mm).

This ideation challenge will award $160,000 total in prizes across two categories. This ideation challenge is expected to be followed by new challenges to prototype, test, and deliver these miniaturized payloads. This larger effort will generate a maturation pipeline of next-generation instruments, sensors, and experiments that can be used for lunar exploration over the next few years. 

What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough

  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about the requirements and rules
  • Share this challenge. Show your friends, colleagues, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery
  • Start a conversation in our Forum, or join an existing conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators
Updates 4

Challenge Updates

Don’t delay! Seven days until the submission deadline

June 1, 2020, 12:15 p.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell


There is 1 week left until we need your submissions for the Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload challenge.

To be considered eligible for the judging stage, you must complete and finalize your submission before the deadline (June 8th at 5pm ET) and meet the requirements outlined in the Guidelines section.

In case you need assistance, you can view a How-To video on completing your submission here.

Submit any questions you may have to the forum or 

We can’t wait to see the solutions you’ve developed!

Webinar Recording

May 29, 2020, 11:42 a.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

Did you miss the "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" Q&A webinar yesterday? JPL provided an excellent introduction to the challenge and then spent over 45 minutes answering questions from the audience. You can check out the recording here:


Register now for a Q&A Webinar with NASA

May 26, 2020, 12:01 p.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

Join us this Thursday, May 28th at 2 pm Eastern Time (New York) for a Q & A webinar with NASA on the "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" Challenge!

Please submit your questions in advance of the webinar here.


Register Now

Challenge Webinar

May 22, 2020, 12:01 p.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

You are invited to the "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" Challenge Webinar, happening next Thursday, May 28 at 2 pm Eastern Time (New York).

This will be your opportunity to learn from the team at NASA that is sponsoring this challenge and get answers to your burning questions.

By attending this webinar, you can expect to come away with:

  • What you need to consider to craft a successful entry
  • Why this challenge is crucial to NASA
  • Answers to commonly (and uncommonly) asked questions.

Please submit your questions here and vote up your favourite questions.


Register Now

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