NASA is pushing hard to make the Artemis mission scheduled to launch in a few years come off without a hitch. HeroX, a social network for crowdsourced solutions, and NASA have announced the new price competition called “NASA’s Watts on the Moon Challenge.” NASA wants to incentivize the development of energy solutions to power sustained human presence on the moon’s surface in support of the Artemis program.
The challenge for moon exploration is that while solar energy is abundant when the sun is out, knights on the moon can last 350 hours at a time. Along with an extended night with no access to solar power, there are also extreme temperature changes on the moon’s surface, making the use of solar power challenging. NASA is looking for energy management, distribution, and storage solutions to help sustain long-term human presence on the moon.
It’s possible that solutions proposed by teams could be used in addressing energy challenges on Earth and could lead to commercial development here as well. The Watts on the Moon Challenge offers the winning team up to $5 million in total prizes. Participants may have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their solutions at NASA facilities and see their solution flight and the moon.
The first phase of the challenge presents a mission scenario with three active missions. Teams have to choose one or more activities to address by proposing an energy distribution, management, and/or storage solution to meet that activity’s needs. Teams are eligible for price resubmission activity they address.
Prizes for phase 1 will total up to $500,000 with up to three first-place teams, one for each mission activity, awarded $100,000 each. Up to four runner-up teams will receive up to $50,000 each. Depending on the results of Phase 1, NASA could proceed to Phase 2 focused on developing prototype systems. Prizes for Phase 2 could total up to $4.5 million.
Once a Phase 2 completes, one or more teams could be invited to work with NASA to design and build flight-rated hardware for an operational demonstration on the lunar surface. Individuals must be US citizens or permanent residents of the US to participate and at least 18 years old. Organizations have to be entirely incorporated in the US and maintain a primary place of business in the country. Full details on the challenge can be found here.