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Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge

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Academic Level:
Undergraduates - First Year
Undergraduates - Sophomore
Undergraduates - Junior
Undergraduates - Senior
Graduate Students (Masters)
Graduate Students (PhD)
Faculty & Administrators

Note: this opportunity encourages applications from community college students.

The BIG Idea Challenge provides undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to design, develop, and demonstrate robotic systems with alternative rover locomotion modalities for use in off-world extreme lunar terrain applications. This competition is intended to be an open innovation challenge with minimal constraints so that proposing teams can genuinely create and develop out-of-the-box solutions. Teams are invited to submit proposals for robots with new mobility solutions in operating scenarios that require access to extreme terrain categories, such as, but not limited to:

Fluffy/high-porosity regolith expected at the lunar poles - Steep, rugged slopes (state of the art for a wheeled rover is ~30 degrees) - Uneven terrain with possible ice content at the bottom of deep-shadowed craters - Subterranean features, such as caves, lava tubes, and pits.

Through this challenge, NASA seeks innovative ideas from the academic community for a wide range of alternative rover locomotion modalities to either enhance or replace traditional wheeled mobility systems that can expand our access to extreme terrain on the Moon and (later) on Mars. Teams should keep in mind that although the lunar surface presents unique challenges for mobility systems, its lower gravity may enable solutions that are not practical on Earth. Interested teams should submit proposals for non-traditional robotic assets with alternative modalities that could be achieved with rigid bodies, soft bodies, or morphing bodies. These modalities can include, but are not limited to: walking on 'legs', slithering, tumbling, hopping, magnetic or electrostatic levitation, ballistically deployed, etc.

Mobility solutions applicable to robots of different sizes, small to large, and that can be scaled for different lunar mission scenarios (and even later missions to Mars) are encouraged. Mobility solutions that could help enable a commercial use case are also encouraged.
upcoming deadline

Application Deadline: 1/18/2022

Participating Institution(s):
(Click an institution to see all programs it hosts)
NASA (Lead)
NASA Langley Research Center (Lead)

Program Materials:
 • Program Website 
movie  Program Video

This Program can be Described by:
Academic Disciplines:
Aerospace Engineering
Applied Mathematics
Computer & Electrical Engineering
Materials Science & Engineering
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
Operations Research
Sensor Science & Engineering

Electrical Engineering
Fuel Cell Science & Engineering
Materials Lifetime Science & Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Software Engineering
Space Exploration
Space Sciences
Systems Engineering

Learn More and Apply!

This program is funded by:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Page last updated 11/10/2021
Click here to submit updates to this program listing!


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