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Bored highschoolers at home? Have them design a race car for the Moon

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Have you ever looked up at the Moon and thought “hmm, pretty good, but maybe our closest celestial companion could use some extra racing?” If so, your wish may well become a reality next year. That’s thanks to a partnership between an STEM group called Moon Mark and the space company Intuitive Motion, which has a NASA contract to deliver a since payload to the Moon’s surface in 2021. Part of that payload? A pair of small lunar rovers, which will conduct the Moon’s first race. And if you’re a high school student, you’ve got a chance to design one of those moon racers.

Moon Mark is looking for submissions from teams of up to six students (between grades 9-12). Teams only have to design the rovers, not actually build them, and the winners will be rewarded with $1,000 donations to the charities of their choice, with the possibility of their designs actually being built and sent into space.

The design criteria are quite interesting. For starters, there’s an 11lb (5kg) weight limit. But 3.6lbs (1.6kg) are already spoken for thanks to a standardized battery and power-control module, solar panel, UHF radio and antenna, Wi-Fi module, and a single-board computer that will run the rover. All of these components were chosen by Moon Mark as suitable for the extreme temperatures experienced on the lunar surface, which can range between -173˚C and 126˚C.

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