Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge

The 2019 RASC-AL Special Edition: Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge solicits eligible undergraduate and graduate students to design and build prototype hardware that can extract water and assess subsurface density profiles from a simulated off-world test bed to advance critical technologies needed on the surface of the moon or Mars.

Up to 10 teams will travel to the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, VA during the summer of 2019 to participate in a multi-day competition where the universities’ prototypes will compete to extract the most water from an analog environment simulating a slice of the Martian surface, while simultaneously using system telemetry to distinguish between overburden layers (i.e., prospecting) and create a digital core of the various layers.
The challenge? Each simulated subsurface ice station will contain solid blocks of ice buried under various layers of overburden (terrestrial materials of varying hardness that represent possible materials found on lunar or Martian surfaces). Harvesting the most water from the ice is still the major goal of this year’s RASC-AL Special Edition Challenge. New this year, teams will also be asked to provide a digital core that represents their knowledge and understanding of where each of the overburden layers are, the general hardness of each different layer, and the thickness of each layer. The total internal depth of the simulated testbed will not exceed 1.0 meter. The water extraction and prospecting system is subject to mass, volume, and power constraints.
In addition to the demonstrating their prototype technology, participation in the Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge includes the submission of a technical paper and poster presentation to NASA and industry judges that details team concept’s “paths-to-flight” (i.e. how the design can be modified for use on the surface of the moon or Mars). The paths-to-flight description will be broken into two distinct sections:
  1. Water extraction on Mars: teams will describe essential modifications that would be required for extracting water from subsurface ice on Mars.
  2. Lunar prospecting for a digital core: teams will describe essential modifications that would be required for prospecting on the Moon.
Interested student teams and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by October 12, 2018 and submit project plan proposals by November 15, 2018.
Based on a review of the project plan proposals, the Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Steering Committee will select up to 10 finalist teams, who will each receive $10,000 to build their prototype and attend the on-site competition at NASA LaRC next June.
For full competition details, including submission guidelines, please visit the RASC-AL Special Edition Website: