NASA Tournament Lab


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 6

Challenge Updates

Announcing the Winners of the Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge!

July 14, 2020, 9 a.m. PDT by Kyla Jeffrey

We are proud to announce the winners in the $160,000 Challenge, Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload!

This challenge tasked innovators from around the world to propose miniaturized payloads, similar in size to a bar of soap, to make lunar exploration using micro-rovers more effective.

By the submission deadline, we received 132 entries from 29 countries. In total, NASA is awarding $160,000 USD across 14 different entries and recognizing an additional 3 entries with an honorable mention award. You can view more details on the winning entries here. We will also be hosting a panel discussion with NASA and the two first-place winners - register here.

Prizes are awarded in two categories, based on the two strategic knowledge gaps presented in the challenge.

The award recipients in the Lunar Resource Potential category are as follows:

The award recipients in the Lunar Environment category are as follows:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who entered the challenge. While we were only able to recognize a small fraction of those who entered, there were so many other insightful solutions, we are confident that many of the participants will do great things in the future. Thank you all for helping make this challenge a huge success.

We would also like to thank all of our supporters, partners, judges, and anyone else who in any way contributed to our competition community. Without you, we would not have had the challenge that we did.

Only one day left

June 7, 2020, 2 p.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell

It's not too late! There is still one more day to submit your innovative ideas to the Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload challenge. As a final reminder, you must finalize your submission prior to the deadline, which is tomorrow at 5pm ET. 

Please also make sure your submission meets the requirements outlined in the Guidelines section.

You can view a general how to submit your entry video here.

We are excited to review all your designs!

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

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