NASA Selects University Teams to Build Technologies for the Moon’s Darkest Areas
Through the competitive Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge and the Space Grant project, NASA has awarded nearly $1 million to eight university teams to build sample lunar payloads and demonstrate innovative ways to study the Moon’s darkest areas.
“It’s an exciting time for NASA and students across the country,” said Drew Hope, Game Changing Development program manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “Thanks to our partnership with the Office of STEM Engagement, this is the most money NASA has awarded in a student challenge directly connected to Artemis. I look forward to seeing the inventive designs come to life as well as how they can advance our exploration capabilities in permanently shadowed craters on the Moon.”
The selected teams will develop ways to collect data in and around permanently shadowed regions, generate wireless power for future infrastructure, enable autonomous mobility even in the most extreme environments, and more. Such systems could benefit NASA’s Artemis program and be used to study the Moon ahead of a human landing in 2024 or help establish a sustained presence by 2028.
The award values vary and are based on each team’s proposed concept and budget. Among the 2020 BIG Idea Challenge awardees is Michigan Tech.
Michigan Technological University in Houghton – $161,074
A small rover to lay lightweight, superconducting cable that tethers to a lander as it traverses craters in permanently shadowed regions. Once in its final destination, the rover acts as a recharging hub and communication relay for other robots working in the area, providing continuous power without requiring direct sunlight.
The grants will be used to develop and test the technologies in simulated environments over the next 10 months, demonstrating their readiness for a potential lunar mission as early as 2023. The teams will present the results of their research and development to a panel of NASA and industry experts at a face-to-face design review in November 2020.
NASA Unveils Student-Made Technologies For Exploring Moon’s Dark Side
NASA has partnered with different universities to develop technologies that it will use for its upcoming mission to the Moon. The agency confirmed that these new technologies would be used to explore the lunar surface’s dark side.
The other universities involved in the upcoming lunar mission are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan Technological University, Northeastern University and the University of Virginia. Teams from these universities will help NASA in collecting valuable data from the dark regions of the Moon.