NASA is seeking ideas from the world on how to send small payloads on miniatures Moon rover under what has been called the "Honey I Shrunk the Payload" project. Launched on the crowdsourcing platform HeroX, the winner of the challenge is expected to win a prize money of $160,000.
The ideas is to build miniature payloads that can be fit on small, Roomba-sized rovers meant to explore the surface of the moon.The small rovers are part of the ambitious Artemis project that aims to send humans to the moon once again by 2024 with an intention to establish a more permanent presence this time.
As per the challenge's description on HeroX, the focus of the challenge is "In situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)" or using the resources available on the lunar surface and transform them into items that are essential for human use and survival.
"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," NASA wrote on the HeroX website.
Launched on April 9, the global project aims to reduce the size of the rugged instruments, sensors and experiments possible on the lunar surface. Candidates will need to build 100 mm by 100 mm rovers complete with external dimensions. The payloads have to be small enough, in fact, to fit into a soap box.
The challenge comes amid the global coronavirus pandemic which has infected over 1,780,433 and killed 108,834 people. The space research agency has also given out worldwide calls for ideas to fight the COVID-19 crisis.