NASA’s 2019 BIG Idea Challenge: Marsboreal Greenhouse Design

The Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge is one of NASA’s premier university-level engineering design competitions driving innovation in space exploration.


In the 2019 BIG Idea Challenge, NASA is calling for multi-disciplinary teams of 3-8 students to submit robust proposals for innovations in the design and operation of a Mars greenhouse. 
In this cutting-edge challenge, designers are asked to complement the unique design of NASA’s Mars Ice Home and adapt some of the innovative features for a “greenhouse” to help support a crew of 4 on a 600-day surface mission. Because a 600-day mission requires a lot of food, the primary purpose of this greenhouse will be food production.

Designs should propose a habitat size, form, and systems design concept which provides the surface area and volume needs for efficient plant production balanced with the volume and mass constraints of an inflatable structure-based construction.

We have created a printable 2019 BIG Idea Challenge Flyer that contains more information about this year’s challenge and is ideal for posting in classrooms and departmental bulletin boards.

For full competition details, specific design constraints and submission guidelines, please visit the BIG Idea Website:

Written and video proposals are due on January 6, 2019. Five (5) finalist teams will be invited to continue developing their concepts and prototypes, which they will present to NASA and industry judges at the 2019 BIG Idea Forum, to be held April 9 – 10, 2019 at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.

Did we mention the team stipends and exclusive NASA internship opportunities?

·     Each of the 5 finalist teams will receive a $6,000 stipend to facilitate full participation in the Forum.

·     NASA is setting aside up to 5 summer internships for eligible students on teams that advance to the BIG Idea Forum. Selections will be merit-based.  

Interested student teams and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by October 5, 2018 and submit proposals and videos by January 25, 2019.

We hope you will consider involving your students in this exciting competition that could potentially revolutionize our ability to cultivate crops on the surface of Mars.

Be a part of something BIG!

If you have any questions, please contact the BIG Idea team:

Kindest Regards,

The BIG Idea Program Team: Shelley Spears, Stacy Dees, and Victoria O’Leary


Important Dates for the 2019 BIG Idea Challenge:

October 5, 2018 – Notice of Intent (NOI) deadline

January 6, 2019 – Proposal & video deadline

January 25, 2019 – Selection notifications will be made

March 25, 2019 – Technical paper deadline for 5 qualifying teams

April 9 – 10, 2019 – 2019 BIG Idea Forum

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