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Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), under a grant from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, is running a public challenge to develop an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future Venus rover. Venus is an extreme world. With a surface temperature in excess of 840 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface pressure 92 times that of Earth, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and crush a nuclear-powered submarine with ease. While many missions have visited our sister planet, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of Venus before succumbing to the oppressive heat and pressure after just about more than an hour. Powered by wind, AREE is intended to spend months, not minutes, exploring the Venus landscape. AREE could collect valuable, long-term longitudinal scientific data. As the rover explores the planet, it must also detect obstacles in its path, such as rocks, crevices and steep terrain. The “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover” challenge is seeking the public’s designs for a sensor that could be incorporated into the design concept. The winning sensor could be the primary mechanism by which the rover detects and navigates around obstructions.

Award: 1st Place – $15,000; 2nd Place – $10,000; 3rd Place – $5,000

Open Date: February 18, 2020

Close Date: May 29, 2020

Frequency: Once

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