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Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge:

Exploring the moon with mini rovers

In April 2020 This challenge was sponsored by

The Challenge

NASA’s Artemis program aims to send humans to the moon for long-term missions. Establishing a lunar base camp and exploring more of the moon than ever before is NASA’s way of preparing for the next leap: a mission to Mars. But transporting water, food and fuel 238,900 miles (384,400 km) to the moon is expensive. Exploratory missions will help better understand what critical resources are already available on the lunar surface, as well as potentially harmful environmental conditions. So NASA plans to send a swarm of tiny rovers to comb over the moon’s surface and inspect the lunar dirt, or regolith while collecting essential data from an extraterrestrial landscape. In the first of a 2 challenge series, the “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge” focused on collecting actionable ideas for instruments that the mini rovers could use to explore the moon.

The Work

This challenge was not the first time that NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) has used HeroX’s platform and challenge design services to create compelling challenges, attract international innovators, and successfully source innovative concepts. Due to the extremely tight timeline, HeroX had to design and launch this challenge faster than it had ever done before. The focus of the challenge went beyond just identifying innovative ideas for the miniature instruments. NASA was also interested in “the merit and credibility of the plans to deliver a qualified instrument that could return valuable measurements on the moon,” says NASA’s Kevin Kempton, who led the challenge. “In this way, the Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge pushes the crowdsourcing envelope by obtaining working flight hardware that will be sent to the moon.”

The Outcome

The Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload challenge received 132 submissions from 29 countries - a number that greatly exceeded NASA’s expectations of 25-50 submissions. The $160,000 prize purse was allotted to 14 winners in two categories — lunar resource potential and lunar environment. Additionally, winners were given the opportunity to meet directly with NASA JPL engineers. To propel the 14 winning teams onto the next stage of development, NASA launched another challenge, Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload, the Sequel, in Fall 2020. This challenge was only open to those 14 winning teams, and winners were announced in May 2022.

Lunar Environment - 1st place

Lunar Resource Potential - 1st place

Lunar Environment - 2nd place

Lunar Resource Potential - 2nd place

Lunar Environment - 3rd place

Lunar Resource Potential - 3rd place

Lunar Resource Potential - Honorable Mention

Ideation
3 months
$160K USD
132
14
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