Here's your chance to design a NASA payload for a mini moon rover

NASA plans to send some Roomba-size robots to the moon, and it wants your help to dream up what they'll carry.

Amanda Kooser
Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
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This NASA illustration shows what the small moon rovers might look like.


Here's your chance to make a mark on the moon. You have the space of a bar of soap to work with. What will you send to our lunar neighbor?

NASA issued a call on Thursday asking for ideas for miniaturized payloads to send to the moon on board Roomba-size rovers. The Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload challenge launched on crowdsourcing platform HeroX with total available prize money of $160,000 (£130,000, AU$250,000) for the top concepts.

NASA is interested in designs that will tie into its Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon in 2024 and eventually establish a permanent presence there.

"Payloads that support prospecting for resources that help support a sustained human presence are highly desirable, in addition to payloads that enable lunar science, demonstrate new technologies and/or advance the use of resources found on the moon," the challenge said.

Payloads must fit into a small space, roughly the size of a bar of soap. NASA offered up an extensive set of guidelines for the challenge. Ideas will be judged based on the quality of the proposal, the suggested payload's technical capabilities, its potential impact, the level of innovation, and the likelihood that it could be developed and deployed within one to four years.

The challenge is open to both individuals and teams. The submission deadline is June 8, and winners will be announced in July. NASA intends to launch future challenges for prototyping, testing and delivering the lunar payloads.

Even if you personally can't set foot on the moon, perhaps a payload you designed will take the epic journey for you.

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