NASA Announces Mini Payload Challenge Winners

The winners for the JPL-led “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload” challenge have been announced, and the miniature robotic designs could help the agency explore the Moon.

NASA’s next giant leap
may be aided by tiny lunar robots. These miniature robots would help scout the lunar
surface, collecting key information about the Moon, its resources, and the
environment. Such data would be helpful for the agency’s future lunar endeavors
and NASA’s Artemis program.

In April, NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California ran a public prize

for miniature payload designs for future Moon missions. The “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload” challenge garnered the
interest of hundreds of innovators. Now, the winners have been announced.

“The ideas
generated by the community were outstanding,” said Sabah Bux, a technologist
at JPL. “These designs could help NASA sustain a human presence on the
Moon and enable new science.”

Existing payloads are
often big, heavy, and require a lot of power. Tiny payloads allow for the
development of technologies that can do more prospecting and science on
smaller, more mobile platforms. This challenge sought designs for payloads not
much larger than a bar of soap – 3.9 inches by 3.9 inches by 1.9 inches (10
centimeters by 10 centimeters by 5 centimeters) – and weighing no more than 0.8
pounds (0.4 kilograms).

Submissions were
divided among two categories: lunar resource potential and lunar environment. A
total of $160,000 in prizes was awarded.

Category 1: Lunar Resource Potential

First Prize: $30,000

Second Prize: $15,000

Third Prize: $5,000

Honorable Mentions

Category 2: Lunar Environment

First Prize: $30,000

Second Prize: $15,000

Third Prize: $5,000

For more information
about the winners of this challenge, visit:

You can also
participate in a moderated discussion with the NASA challenge team, hosted by
HeroX, on Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT). Register here.

The challenge is
expected to be followed by new competitions to prototype, test, and deliver the
winning ideas. It is also intended to generate a maturation pipeline of
next-generation instruments, sensors, technologies, and experiments for near-term
lunar exploration.

The challenge was
funded by NASA’s Lunar Surface
Innovation Initiative

within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The initiative
champions technologies needed to live on and explore the Moon. The NASA Tournament Lab, part of STMD’s Prizes and Challenges program,
managed the challenge. The program supports the use of public competitions and
crowdsourcing as tools to advance NASA R&D and other mission needs.

Learn more about
opportunities to participate in your space program via NASA prizes and

Artemis includes
sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to
study the Moon, landing the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by
2024, and establishing a sustained presence by 2028. The agency will leverage
its Artemis experience and technologies to prepare for the next giant leap –
sending astronauts to Mars.

News Media Contact

Ian J. O’Neill

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Sarah Schlieder

NASA Johnson Space Center


Clare Skelly

NASA Headquarters, Washington


Written by Sarah Schlieder


Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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