NASA says it could send tiny rovers to the Moon one day in addition to its water ice-hunting VIPER robot that’s scheduled for launch in 2022. Before the agency can do so, though, it has to develop tiny scientific payloads for its tiny rovers — and it needs your help to make that happen. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has launched a crowdsourcing project on HeroX aptly entitled “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload.” In particular, it’s seeking instrument designs that can provide support for sustained human presence on the Moon and can help us use the resources we find on it.
The instrument ideas must be similar in size to a bar of soap. They must weigh no more than 0.8 pounds and must have max dimensions of 3.9 inches by 3.9 inches by 1.9 inches. These smaller payloads won’t just be more affordable than their bigger counterparts, they’ll also require less energy. JPL technologist Sabah Bux explained: