Innovation Gateway Challenge, presented by BHP

Design and Test a Rover

Be part of the NASA mission. Compete in a new series of challenges through our Innovation Gateway, a community science initiative. Everyday explorers – just like you – have the opportunity to provide useful solutions to further space exploration and our world.

In this challenge, you will design, build, and test a functional rover. This rover needs to be able to move under its own power.

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Wheeled Vehicles through Time

The ability to use tools is one of the skills that has allowed humanity to grow as a species, and one of the most essential tools is the wheel. Throughout history, the wheel has been one of the keystones of technological advancement, allowing us to move goods and people with relative ease. This improved the speed at which ideas could be exchanged, which in turn led to improvements in wheeled vehicles, and so on in a feedback loop. Often, when we think about the future of mobility, the conversation centers around flight, but the wheel will continue to play a significant role in our lives and future for generations to come.

NASA’s Rovers

When we think of NASA, our minds typically think about the incredible rockets designed to take people beyond the Earth. But when a mission calls for exploring the surface of a planet or moon, there is no substitute for the rover. NASA has sent four rovers to Mars, with the fifth expected to land on the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. These rovers have increased our knowledge of the Red Planet by leaps and bounds. Rovers were also essential to our exploration of the moon in the 1970s, and as we plan on returning to the moon in the next few years, crewed rovers will once again be a primary focus of space exploration.

Prizes

Challenge winners can select from two general admission tickets to Space Center Houston or a virtual chat with a NASA astronaut.

Before you begin, review the steps below.

Objective:

Design and build a “self-powered” rover that can carry cargo or a mock astronaut. Engage in the engineering design process to improve your initial design and create a rover that can go farther and carry more cargo.

Deliverables:

Level 1: Design and build a rover that can self-propel itself over one foot.

Level 2: Design and build a rover that can self-propel itself over one foot with a passenger or cargo about the size and weight of a coffee mug.

Level 3: Design and build a rover that can self-propel itself over two yards with a passenger or cargo about the size and weight of a half-gallon milk carton.

Helpful hints for all levels:

  • Explore the resources provided below to find many answers to your questions about rovers, including a NASA Roving on the Moon activity.
  • Work with family and friends to develop your system.
  • Submit your entry by using the submission form on this webpage.
  • Be creative!

Challenge winners will be featured on our challenge webpage.

Submission:

Level 1, 2, & 3
Submit one picture and one video:

  1. A picture that displays your rover as well as any passengers or cargo to be carried.
  2. A 10-second video of your rover in motion with a measuring device along its path to confirm the distance your rover traveled.

Entries must be submitted before 7 p.m. CT March 21 using the submission form on this webpage.

Resources & inspiration

Virtual Campout

Register for our Feb. 20 Virtual Campout to get a step-by-step demonstration of how to build a self-propelled rover using house-hold materials. Virtual Campouts are offered to anyone who would like to participate and are you-pay-what-you-can events.

Register now
To support your research, review these resources to help get you started.

CHALLENGE
WINNERS


Ages 17 & younger

Coming soon

Ages 18 & older

Coming soon

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