NASA’s BIG Idea Challenge in Engineering Design
The Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge is an initiative supporting NASA’s Game Changing Development Program (GCD) efforts to rapidly mature innovative/high impact capabilities and technologies for infusion in a broad array of future NASA missions. This GCD-sponsored engineering design competition seeks innovative ideas from the academic community for Mars surface solar arrays. Supplying reliable electric power for human missions on the Martian surface is a critical technology need. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provide a viable option but require creative engineering design and judicious operational approaches to assure successful use on Mars.
Participation in the BIG Idea Challenge is open to teams of undergraduate and graduate students studying in fields applicable to human space exploration (i.e., aerospace, electrical, and mechanical engineering; and life, physical, and computer sciences). The BIG Idea challenge allows students to incorporate their coursework into real aerospace design concepts and work together in a team environment. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged.
Based on a review of proposed Mars surface solar array concepts submitted by interested teams, up to 4 teams will be chosen to compete at the 2018 BIG Idea Forum at either the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, VA or the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, OH. Each team will receive a monetary award to facilitate full participation in the BIG Idea Forum. The top winning team members will receive NASA internship offers for the following summer and be hosted by either NASA LaRC or NASA GRC.
This solicitation seeks innovations in the following areas for Mars solar arrays:
- ⇒ Novel packaging, deployment, retraction, and dust-abatement concepts
- ⇒ Lightweight, compact components including booms, ribs, substrates, and mechanisms
- ⇒ Optimized use of advanced ultra-lightweight materials and high efficiency solar cells
- ⇒ Validated modeling, analysis, and simulation techniques
- ⇒ High-fidelity, functioning laboratory models and test methods
ALL BIG IDEA PROJECTS SHOULD GIVE SPECIAL ATTENTION TO:
- ⇒ Innovative Design
- ⇒ Creative operational approaches
- ⇒ Use of technologies that could be ready for use on Mars in the early 2030s
- ⇒ Effective packaging for launch and Mars landing
- ⇒ Viable lander-based deployment methods
- ⇒ Reliable, long-term power generation in the Mars environment