NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) invite your teams to participate in the 2020 Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge! Through this challenge, teams have the opportunity to demonstrate unique methods for harvesting resources on lunar and Martian surfaces.

The 2020 RASC-AL Special Edition: Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge asks eligible undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S. 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 and Mars.

Up to 10 teams will travel to NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, VA during the summer of 2020 to participate in a multi-day competition where the universities’ prototypes will compete to extract the most water from an analog environment simulating lunar and Martian surfaces, while simultaneously using system telemetry to distinguish between overburden layers (i.e., prospecting) and create a digital core of the various layers. 

To see what the challenge is like, please watch our Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge video.

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). 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 water extraction and prospecting system is subject to mass, volume, and power constraints.

Interested student teams and their faculty advisors should submit an online Notice of Intent by October 4, 2019 and submit project plan proposals by November 24, 2019.

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 test its capabilities at the on-site competition at NASA LaRC next June.

In addition to the demonstrating their prototype technology, Moon to Mars Ice & Prospecting Challenge finalists will submit a technical paper and give a poster presentation to NASA and industry judges detailing their concept’s “paths-to-flight” (i.e. how the design can be modified for use on the surface of the Moon or Mars).

For full competition details, including submission guidelines, please visit the RASC-AL Special Edition Website:

If you have any questions, please contact the RASC-AL Program Team:

Kindest Regards,

The RASC-AL Program Team: Shelley Spears, Stacy Dees, Victoria “Tori” O’Leary