NASA to Host Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Media are invited to watch as almost 80 teams from the United States, Italy, Germany, India, Mexico, Colombia and Russia, as well as Puerto Rico, compete in NASA’s annual Human Exploration Rover Challenge, April 8-9 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

The Greenfield Central High School Rover Team from Greenfield, Indiana, crosses the finish line during the 2015 Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

The rover challenge requires student teams to design, construct, test and race human-powered rovers through an obstacle course that simulates the terrain potentially found on distant planets, asteroids or moons. Teams race to finish the three-quarter-mile-long obstacle course in the fastest time, vying for prizes in various divisions.

The event concludes with a ceremony at 6 p.m. CDT, April 9 in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration in Huntsville, where event sponsors will present awards for best design, rookie team, pit crew award and other accomplishments.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Angela Storey of the Marshall Public and Employee Communications Office at 256-544-0034 no later than 4 p.m. April 7.

The two-day event and awards ceremony will stream live online at:

This year’s event incorporates two new and important changes. Teams now are required to design and fabricate their own wheels. Any component contacting the course surface for traction and mobility, including, but not limited to wheels, tracks, treads or belts cannot be purchased or considered an off-the-shelf product. As in years past, teams are not allowed to incorporate inflated, or un-inflated, pneumatic tires.

The second new feature is an optional Sample Return challenge. Teams competing in this separate competition will collect four samples — liquid, small pebbles, large rocks and soil samples — using a mechanical arm or grabber they design and build.

Hosted by Marshall, the Human Exploration Rover Challenge highlights NASA’s goals for future exploration to Mars and beyond. Inspired by the lunar roving vehicles of the Apollo moon missions, the competition challenges students to solve engineering problems, while highlighting NASA’s commitment to inspiring new generations of scientists, engineers and explorers.

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