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Propelling NASA Closer to the Moon and Mars with Open Innovation
This artist’s concept depicts astronauts and human habitats on Mars. https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA23302 NASA is leading humanity’s return to the Moon through Artemis. Artemis will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, using innovating technologies for scientific discovery and establishing a long-term presence. The technologies developed and knowledge gained through Artemis will contribute to our next ambitious target: sending humans to Mars. These efforts are fueled by partnerships between NASA, other government agencies, and industry innovators for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiring a new generation of explorers.
In addition to these partnerships, NASA also invites the national and global community to participate in Moon to Mars planning through open innovation initiatives. These initiatives tap into the creativity and passion of individuals of all ages and walks of life, helping us explore out-of-the-box solutions to address the agency’s mission-critical needs.
Innovating for Power and Energy
On the Moon, most exploration activities, life-support systems, and daily operations will require a great deal of energy. The Lunar Tele-Operated Rover-based Configurable Heliostat (Lunar TORCH) Challenge sought designs for a mobile lunar heliostat to redirect solar energy where it is most needed to support Artemis operations. Many of the submitted concepts demonstrated creative and efficient deployable technologies that could supply power to the Moon’s darkest regions.
The ORIGAS design won second place in the Lunar TORCH challenge. The $5 million, multiphase Watts on the Moon Challenge sought solutions for power systems that can store energy and deliver continuous, reliable power while also withstanding the Moon’s extreme environment. Early phases of the challenge asked solvers to design system concepts, and Phase 2 Level 1 winners each received $200,000 along with an invite to participate in Level 2 to develop and test key parts of their solutions. The final level of Phase 2 culminated in a demonstration of the developed technologies. Four teams won $400,000 each and moved on to the final level of Phase 2.
Sustaining Life on the Moon
Water is a vital resource for space exploration and habitation, but it is also scarce; fortunately, lunar ice could serve as a source of water for humans away from home. With a $3.5 million prize pool, the Break the Ice Lunar Challenge seeks innovative approaches to excavating lunar ice and delivering it from a permanently shadowed region near the Moon’s South Pole. Redwire Space, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, placed first in Phase 1 of the challenge for its proposed two-rover system designed for simplicity and robustness. Phase 2 of the challenge focuses on developing and prototyping technologies that can excavate and transport large loads of icy lunar dirt and can continuously operate for up to 15 days.
How astronauts use the bathroom on the Moon is both a common curiosity and a real challenge for NASA to solve. The popular Lunar Loo Challenge and its concurrent Junior challenge for students and younger audiences asked the global community to conceptualize compact toilets that could operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity. The challenge received 2,953 entries from 107 countries, with ideas spanning from a bladeless fan that minimized crew interaction with waste bags to a foldable dry toilet.
Almost every submission had innovative ideas, giving NASA a sourcebook for future concept development work.
NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Payloads, Deliveries, and Storage
A critical component of Artemis success is delivering payloads of varying mass and volume to the lunar surface and, eventually, Mars. With $25,000 in total prizes, the Lunar Delivery Challenge sought ideas for unloading payloads from commercial lunar landers. The winners conceptualized delivery systems that accounted for conditions on the Moon, the limitations of space delivery, and the different sizes of lunar landers.
Through the Advanced Lightweight Lunar Gantry for Operations (ALLGO) Challenge, NASA sought computer-aided design models of a mobile lunar gantry—or support structure—for unloading cargo at a safe distance away from the Artemis Base Camp. Competitors tackled designing the gantry with inflatable components, which could be compactable and easily deployed to the lunar surface. “Almost every submission had innovative ideas, giving NASA a sourcebook for future concept development work,” said Kevin Kempton, the ALLGO study and challenge lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Miniature payloads on the lunar surface could play a key role in supporting a sustained lunar presence at a lower cost. For operations on the Moon, small instruments that identify minerals and measure environments could play a key role in supporting a sustained lunar presence, providing valuable information at a lower cost. The Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload Challenge was open to the public in 2020 and resulted in 14 teams awarded a total of $160,000 for proposing small science instruments, similar in size to a bar of soap, that could fit on a miniature rover. In the challenge’s second phase, with a prize pool of $800,000, the previously winning teams each delivered one flight unit and two qualification units to NASA for testing. “This challenge was a great opportunity to work with the public to develop miniature payloads for our science and exploration missions,” said Josh Ravich, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, who provided expertise for the challenge teams.
Regarding sample storage, NASA has a mission-critical need for cryogenic containment solutions. The ideal model would be lightweight and require low or no power to enable long-term storage and transportation of lunar material samples back to Earth. The $40,000 Lunar Deep Freeze Challenge sought cryogenic containment concepts in two categories: Small Transportable Cryogenic Containment Systems and Innovations for Long-Term Cryogenic Stowage and Transportation. The proposed solutions could support scientific discovery and contribute to our sustained lunar presence.
Preparing for a Leap Beyond
While many of these challenges have implications for Mars, the MarsXR Challenge specifically targets research on the red planet. This $70,000 challenge asked solvers to develop a new Virtual Reality (XR) environment to help prepare for experiences and situations astronauts could encounter on Mars. After a successful first run, the MarsXR challenge launched a new iteration in 2023.
The Cube Quest competition calls for teams to design, build, and deliver flight-qualified small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon. The competition offers $5 million in prizes across three stages, with opportunities that could help open deep space exploration to non-government spacecraft for the first time. This challenge seeks to establish precedence for subsystems that could perform deep-space exploration using small spacecraft.
Winners; left to right are Steve Jurczyk, HQ, Second Place; CU-E3, First Place Cislunar Explorers, Third place -Team Miles, and Eugene Tu, Ames Center Director. Share
Last Updated Nov 07, 2023 Related Terms
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By European Space Agency
Video: 00:03:03 On Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 October 2023, the European Space Agency opened the doors to the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, in the Netherlands. Where science meets science fiction, the theme of this year's open day was ‘Science Fiction Gets Real’, highlighting how science fiction has inspired scientists and engineers to join ESA, and turn once imaginary concepts into science fact. The single largest ESA establishment invited the public to meet astronauts, view spacecraft, and peer behind the scenes of Europe’s space adventure, along with a full schedule of events and talks from Space Rocks, celebrating the art and culture of science and space.
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NASA’s “Spacey Casey” welcomes visitors to NASA Langley Research Center.NASA 2 min read
News Media Invited to NASA Langley’s Open House
HAMPTON, Virginia – Members of the media are invited to cover the Open House at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The event takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.
Media will have photo, video, and interview opportunities. Center Director Clayton Turner and NASA astronaut Victor Glover will be available to answer media questions at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
This is the first time since 2017 Langley has opened its gates and doors to the public, inviting them to learn more about the center’s innovative aerospace research.
Event: Open House
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
RSVP Deadline: Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 at 2 p.m.
Please note! In order to cover the event and have access to parking on center, media outlets must RSVP with Brittny McGraw at 757-769-3763 or firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20. Media who attempt to come to the center without an RSVP will not have vehicle access.
Media interested in interviewing Clayton Turner and Victor Glover should follow the procedures listed above, but must arrive no later than 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21.
NASA Langley Research Center: https://www.nasa.gov/langley/
NASA Langley’s Open House: https://openhouse.larc.nasa.gov/
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
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By European Space Agency
If you are interested in applying for a job at ESA, curious to know what opportunities we have for you or would like to hear about the projects our teams are working on, then mark your calendar for 9 November 2023! For this fully online event, we will be streaming a programme packed full of sessions giving you an insider’s look at STEM careers at ESA.
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MEDIA ADVISORY: J23-006
Oct. 6, 2023
NASA will open its gates to the public Saturday, Oct. 14, celebrating the agency’s 65th anniversary, the International Space Station’s 25th anniversary, and upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon.
Media interested in participating in the event at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston must request credentials from the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 or email@example.com, no later than 12 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. Media must check in upon arrival at the Johnson newsroom in Building 2N, where additional background materials will be available, and interviews may be requested.
To help ensure an enjoyable visit for everyone when they drive through the center’s main gate from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CDT, NASA Johnson is asking visitors to abide by the following guidelines:
Small, clear bags are allowed No backpacks, drones, coolers, food, or beverages (including alcohol) are permitted No pets (unless certified service dog) No firearms, weapons, or ammunition (includes license to carry) Motorcycle helmets are required on NASA property Entry into, continued presence on, or exit from the facility is contingent upon your consent to inspection of person or property Download the NASA SAFE app for information on parking, entry process, policies, maps, frequently asked questions, and emergency response During the open house, visitors will get a free, behind-the-scenes look at some of the agency’s most historic accomplishments, and the exciting work happening right now as NASA returns humans to the Moon and ultimately prepares for exploration of Mars. The incoming gate will close at 2:30 p.m. and visitors will be allowed to remain on site until 3 p.m.
See a full list of what will be open and a map that includes parking, at:
Visitors will have access to a variety of exhibits and hardware, ranging from Moon rocks collected during the Apollo missions, to full-size mockups of the International Space Station, NASA’s Orion spacecraft, and Gateway lunar space station. Guests also will have opportunities to meet astronauts and learn more about how human spaceflight missions are managed from Mission Control, Houston.
Guests may also take advantage of an exciting opportunity to view an annular eclipse — also known as a “ring of fire” eclipse — of the Sun.
In addition to facilities and exhibits, the center’s Teague Auditorium will feature programs and speakers from 9:30 a.m. through 3 p.m.
NASA opened for business Oct. 1, 1958, following the signing of the agency’s founding legislation on July 29, 1958. After four decades that saw dozens of short-duration missions to the Moon and low Earth orbit, NASA and its international partners launched the first element of the International Space Station on Nov. 20, 1998, setting the stage for continuous human presence in space, which began in 2000.
Visitors are welcomed year-round through Johnson’s official visitor center, Space Center Houston, which provides tram tours and visits inside several key facilities. However, this open house will allow visitors to have access to several locations not accessible during visitor center tours.
Connect with Johnson Space Center on social media at:
Kelly Humphries / Dylan Connell
Johnson Space Center, Houston
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