Competition Basics

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Design Constraints and Requirements

BASIC CHALLENGE

The BIG Idea Challenge seeks new concepts for the design, installation, and sustainable operation of a large solar power system on the surface of Mars. The design aspects should consider lightweight structures, compact stowage, and high PV efficiency. The installation aspects should consider lander integration, robust deployment/retraction mechanisms, and fast/reliable deployment. The sustainable operation aspects should consider array performance under varying Mars environmental conditions including solar flux changes due to daily sun angle, season, and landing site latitude as well as impacts of extended dust storms on array power output. A key objective is to identify practical methods to prevent dust accumulation on the array surface or methods to remove dust once it has collected. These solar array systems are expected to supply reliable electric power for multiple crew campaigns that may span 10 years or more. Successful proposals will include appropriate levels of engineering design and power system analysis to validate the concept.

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

The 2018 BIG Idea Challenge seeks novel concepts that emphasize innovative mechanical design, low mass and high efficiency, with viable operational approaches that assure sustained power generation on the Mars surface over the Martian year and during extended dust storms. Since the cargo landers will have limited battery power after touchdown, the solar arrays must be deployed and producing power soon after landing. The deployment analysis should include estimates of required power and the time duration for the array deployment. If solar tracking is proposed, arguments should be provided to justify why this approach is superior to fixed solar arrays based on performance, cost, and risk. Of special interest are modular array designs that are self-supporting in 1-g and can be autonomously deployed, and optionally retracted, relocated, and interfaced with other power sources on the Mars surface. The overall Concept of Operations (ConOps) should be clearly described including all design assumptions.

CONSTRAINTS

NASA has developed a preliminary set of design guidelines for autonomously deployed Mars solar arrays that could be delivered on a single cargo lander, as follows:

      At least 1000 m2 total PV cell area per lander.
      Less than 1500 kg total array mass including all mechanical and electrical components and less than 10 m3 total launch volume.
      Launch Loads of 5 g axial, 2 g lateral, and 145 dB Overall Sound Pressure Level (OASPL).
      Up to 50 m/s Mars surface winds. Ideally greater than 1-g deployed strength to allow unconstrained Earth deployment qualification.
      Deployment/retraction at -50 deg C on terrain with up to 0.5 m obstacles and 15 deg slopes.
      Operating height greater than 0.5 m to avoid wind-blown sand collection.
      Positive power output within 1 Martian Sol of landing.
      Integrated dust mitigation and abatement methods. (Dust accumulation is the #1 design risk issue for sustained PV power production on Mars.)
      Tolerant of daily thermal cycling from -100 C to 25 C over a lifetime of 10 years.

For all BIG Idea Projects, attention should be given to the following:

      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
Eligibility

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). Teams may include senior capstone students, clubs, multi-university teams, or multi-disciplinary teams.

UNIVERSITY DESIGN TEAMS MUST INCLUDE

      Team sizes vary widely, but must contain, at a minimum, one US citizen faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation at a U.S.-based institution, and 3 US Citizen students from a U.S.-based university who work on the project and present at the BIG Idea Forum, each of whom must be U.S. citizens.
      A faculty advisor is required to attend the Forum with each team, and is a condition for acceptance into the competition

        Teams who do not have a faculty advisor present at the BIG Idea Forum will be disqualified from competing and stipends will be subject to return to NIA.

TEAM SIZE LIMIT

Team size is limited to a maximum of 5 team members. (Minimum of 3 students)

      Team size is limited to a maximum of 5 student team members.
      Teams will be comprised of a minimum number of 3 US citizen students.

        Up to 2 participating team members may be foreign nationals if they are attending the U.S.-based university submitting a proposal.
        Please note that due to prohibitive restrictions and ever-changing NASA security regulations, foreign nationals will not be able to attend the BIG Idea Forum on-site at NASA. There will be no exceptions to this policy.
        Additionally, because NASA has a strict policy that all interns must be U.S. Citizens, foreign nationals are ineligible to receive the top prize (a NASA internship offer).

FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES

Because this is a NASA-sponsored competition, eligibility is limited to students from universities in the United States. Foreign universities are not eligible to participate in the 2018 BIG Idea Challenge.

Evaluation/Scoring

JUDGES/STEERING COMMITTEE

The judges’ panel is comprised of NASA and industry experts who will evaluate and score the competition between participating teams. Design projects will be evaluated and judged based on adherence to the guidelines and constraints and the published evaluation criteria.

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

PROPOSAL EVALUATION CRITERIA

Guidelines for writing and submitting the Proposal can be found on the Requirements and Forms page. The evaluation criteria is listed below:

      Feasibility of proposed design, including low system mass, design simplicity, Mars environmental resiliency, and Earth ground testability (Max 40 pts)
      Innovation of proposed ConOps for unattended installation/deployment and sustained, long-term power generation in the Martian environment (Max 30 pts)
      Adequacy of proposed engineering analysis to support structural design and power output predictions (Max 20 pts)
      Ability to fabricate an affordable proof-of-concept experimental prototype that addresses the key design and operational challenges (Max 10 pts)

FINAL EVALUATION CRITERIA: TECHNICAL PAPER & ORAL PRESENTATION

Guidelines for creating and submitting the final Technical Paper and Oral Presentation can be found on the Requirements and Forms page. The evaluation criteria is listed below:

      Feasibility of proposed design, including low system mass, design simplicity, Mars environmental resiliency, and Earth ground testability (Max 40 pts)
      Innovation of proposed ConOps for unattended installation/deployment and sustained, long-term power generation in the Martian environment (Max 30 pts)
      Adequacy of proposed engineering analysis to support structural design and power output predictions (Max 20 pts)
      Impact of knowledge gained from proof-of-concept experimental prototype (Max 10 pts)
Prizes & Stipends

Teams presenting at the 2018 BIG Idea Forum will receive up to a $6,000 stipend to facilitate full participation in the Forum.

The students in the top overall winning team will be awarded with offers for paid winning NASA internship offers.

Resources


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