NASA Announces $20,000 Prize For New Mars Balance Mass Challenge
NASA has announced a new competition that tasks the public with designing devices to help stabilize future NASA spacecraft as they enter the atmosphere of Mars. The Mars Balance challenge was announced by NASA Chief Technologist, David Miller, at this weekend's Maker Faire in Queens, New York and will see $20,000 in prize money going to the designer of the chosen device.
"The Challenge is to develop ideas for how NASA can turn available entry, descent, and landing balance mass on a future Mars mission into a scientific or technological payload," reads the official NASA release. "Proposed concepts should indicate uses for ejectable mass up to 150 kg prior to Mars atmospheric entry and/or another 150 kg during the entry and landing phases of the mission. NASA is seeking concepts that expand scientific knowledge or technological capabilities while exhibiting a high degree of practicality."
Balance Mass Devices traditionally see the jettisoning of weights from the spacecraft upon entry into a planetary atmosphere. For example, when the Curiosity Rover approached Mars, two tungsten weights totalling 150kgs were expelled from the spacecraft. The jettisoning of such weights help to shift the center of balance of the spacecraft, placing it at an angle on its approach to the planet's surface. This angled entry helps the spacecraft to generate lift, which subsequently aids in a more controlled landing.
NASA's Mars Balance Mass Device Challenge opens for registration today and closes on 1st November 2014.
For more information on specs and how to enter, visit https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933607.