New Delhi: NASA's mission to Mars is one of the most anticipated and talked-about space exploration in the world.
The Red Planet has been space agencies' biggest target when it comes to space exploration, to find out its habitability and NASA has been working tirelessly toward a 2020 mission to fulfill it.
In another move which will contribute toward shaping plans for the mission, the American space agency has opened registrations for a new competition – the Space Robotics Challenge.
This event seeks to develop the capabilities of humanoid robots to help astronauts on the journey to Mars.
The competition requires teams to program a virtual robot, modeled after NASA’s Robonaut 5 (R5) robot, along with completing a series of tasks in a simulation that includes periods of latency to represent communications delay from Earth to Mars.
The prize? A whopping $1 million!
“Precise and dexterous robotics, able to work with a communications delay, could be used in spaceflight and ground missions to Mars and elsewhere for hazardous and complicated tasks, which will be crucial to support our astronauts,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “NASA and our partners are confident the public will rise to this challenge, and are excited to see what innovative technologies will be produced,” NASA reported.
Furthermore, the competition will be held in a virtual environment. Each team’s R5 will be challenged with resolving the aftermath of a dust storm that has damaged a Martian habitat. This involves three objectives: aligning a communications dish, repairing a solar array, and fixing a habitat leak.
Registration for the Space Robotics Challenge begins on 17th August, 2016, with a qualifying round running from mid-September to mid-November. Finalists of that round will be announced in December and will engage in open practice from January to early June 2017.
The final virtual competition will be held in June 2017, and winners will be announced at the end of June at Space Center Houston.
The competition will be in partnership with Space Center Houston, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center, and NineSigma, a global innovation consultant organization.