To support the U.S. space program, NASA challenges intrepid student engineering and design teams to work like never before.
Registration is now open for U.S. student teams to take part in the next NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, set for April 28-30, 2022, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The 28th edition of the annual event – one of NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville – will task high school, college, and university students around the world to design, build, test, and compete their lightweight, human-powered rovers on a course simulating lunar and Martian terrain, while completing mission-focused science tasks.
The competition is designed to immerse teams in the practical challenges of planning and executing exploratory missions on the surface of other worlds.
“Our goal is to make real-world connections between student ingenuity and the vital work NASA is doing right now to return explorers to the Moon and prepare the way for crewed missions to Mars,” said education specialist Catherine Shelton of NASA’s Southeast Regional Office of STEM Engagement at Marshall, which organizes the Rover Challenge for the agency.
Teams seeking to register for the challenge should visit https://www.nasa.gov/stem/roverchallenge/registration/index.html.
The contest, which annually draws about 100 student teams from around the world, reflects the goals of NASA’s Artemis Program, which seeks to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon by 2024.
Two drivers from each participating school must pilot their lightweight rover across a half-mile course full of scientific tasks and obstacles that simulate otherworldly landscapes. In years past, schools could field up to two rovers. To encourage wider participation, NASA this year will limit each school to one rover.
Teams must finish the course in 8 minutes or less, negotiating its obstacles and science tasks to earn points and potentially win awards provided by NASA and its partners.
Organizers have streamlined the course, shaving off two obstacles to reduce the total count to 12. The change is intended to give teams more opportunity to focus on the five unique mission tasks, which includes taking samples or photographs or conducting other simulated science objectives.
In keeping with COVID-19 health and safety concerns, masking and social distancing requirements will be enforced during the on-site event.
Teams also will face periodic review milestones along the path to competition, and must plan and conduct their own public STEM engagement activities, primarily aimed at local middle schools in their communities.
NASA hopes the experience will inspire participants – and fellow students throughout their communities back home – to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all of which are vital to the nation’s goals in space.
U.S. team registration for 2022 closes Oct. 7. International teams selected by NASA to compete also will be announced on that date.
The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge is one of the agency’s highest-profile Artemis Student Challenges, providing hands-on experience to future scientists and engineers who one day may plan new NASA science and discovery missions. Learn more about other Artemis Student Challenges at https://stem.nasa.gov/artemis.
NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement works to bring real-world applications of science, technology, engineering and math curricula to students, helping to mold future leaders in the aerospace workforce.