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Teams Compete In NASA’s Rover Challenge

Competition at the Confluence of Mind and Muscle

NASA has selected 72 student teams to undertake an engineering design challenge to build human-powered rovers that will compete and be judged, in April 2024, at Huntsville, Alabama’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center near the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024, the Human Exploration Rover Challenge tasks high school, college, and university students to design and build lightweight, human-powered rovers, then test such on an obstacle course simulating lunar and Martian terrain—all the while completing mission-focused science tasks.

Participating teams represent 42 colleges and universities and thirty high schools from 24 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 13 world nations.

Vemitra Alexander, rover challenge activity lead, Office of STEM Engagement at NASA Marshall, stated: “Throughout this authentic learning challenge, NASA encourages students to improve their understanding of collaboration, inquiry, and problem-solving strategies. Improving these critical real-world skills will benefit our students throughout their academic and professional careers.”

Throughout the nine-month challenge, students will complete design and safety reviews to mirror the process used by NASA engineers and scientists. The agency also incorporates vehicle weight and size requirements conducive to encouraging students to consider lightweight construction materials and stowage efficiency. The challenges arising from the requirements are analogous to the payload restrictions with which NASA engineers must contend when designing actual extraterrestrial exploratory platforms.

Teams earn points throughout the year by successfully completing design reviews and fabricating rovers capable of meeting all established criteria while completing course obstacles and mission tasks. The teams with the highest numbers of points accumulated throughout the project year will win their respective divisions. The challenge will conclude with an event spanning 19-20 April 2024, at the U.S. Rocket and Space Center.

The Human Exploration Rover Challenge is one of nine Artemis Student Challenges and reflects, more or less, the goals of NASA’s Artemis program. It is managed by NASA’s Southeast Regional Office of STEM Engagement at Marshall. NASA uses challenges and competitions to further the agency’s goal of encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/roverchallenge/home/index.html

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