FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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The RASC-AL Special Edition: Mars Ice Challenge is open to full-time undergraduate and graduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and related disciplines at an accredited U.S.-based university. Teams may include senior capstone courses, robotics clubs, multi-university teams, multi-disciplinary teams, etc. Undergraduate and graduate students may work in collaboration together on the same team.
Foreign universities are not eligible to participate in the Mars Ice Challenge. However, foreign students who are attending a U.S.-based university are eligible to participate with their team. Please note there is always the possibility that foreign nationals may not be granted access to attend the on-site competition at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC), due to ever-changing NASA security regulations.
Yes, multiple teams from the same university can submit separate proposals for the Mars Ice Challenge, and multiple teams from the same university may move on to the next round of the competition if their project plans merit selection into the program.
Yes, absolutely. We understand that sometimes things change between the time abstracts were submitted and the time the written report is due. We just ask that you list every person who contributed to your project in the final report.
Yes, industry collaboration is certainly acceptable – and encouraged! The RASC-AL competitions are unique university competitions, because they focus on garnering real ideas and concepts that can be incorporated into NASA Human Exploration Operations planning. RASC-AL teams that perform well are often ones that have true support of their faculty advisors and collaborations with industry. We encourage your team to utilize all of the resources you have at your disposal to submit a top-notch abstract response to one of the four RASC-AL themes.
Each team will receive a monetary award to facilitate full participation in the RASC-AL Mars Ice Challenge Forum.
One Faculty Advisor is required to attend the Forum with each team, and is a condition for acceptance into the RASC-AL Mars Ice Challenge. Advisors can provide guidance and insight into the team's decisions, as well as acting as a primary contact point between the RASC-AL coordinators and the universities.
Teams who do not have a faculty advisor present at the RASC-AL Mars Ice Challenge Forum will be disqualified from competing and participation awards will be subject to return to NIA.
No, it will be conducted at 1 atmosphere.
It’s a 22 qt. (20 L) bucket.
Remote crew controlled allows for the use of a computer distinct from the drilling system (but, if desired, connected by a cable to the drilling system) to operate the drilling system (e.g. to control the speed of the drill). Autonomous control is “hands-off”: once the system starts, no further operation from any crew is required. Either is acceptable.
The physical system you build and bring to the competition does not. However, in your paper, you must describe the changes and accommodations that would need to be made such that your system could be used in the Martian environment.
The power limitation applies to the full drilling system, with the exception of the independent remote crew controlled computer (if used). Likewise, batteries are not allowed for any part of the system.
Technically, on-site is used to refer to the entire competition at NASA Langley Research Center. We will have to address this question after the final 8 teams have been determined.
It will not be compressed using machinery – it will be hand packed (but loosely packed)
It does not include captions
Yes, you may have multiple drills within the system, but the total mass and volume of the entire system must meet the stated design constraints.
The power restrictions apply to the entire drill system, including the heating and filtration subsystems
The weight on bit pertains to the entire downward force of all components operating in the ice hole. The total maximum downward force simultaneously exerted (sum of all the parts pressing down) on the test bed is limited to 100N.
So, for instance, if you use the rotor to move the dirt, and it operates alone, it can exert 100N. A cutting tool that then works alone to drill into the ice could also exert 100N. However, if these two devices were ever operating simultaneously, then the total combined force would be limited to 100N, and each tool would be limited to exerting less than 100N individually.
Our intent was to have a height limit of 2m above the lid, for safety reasons.
We will take measurements of your drill while it is sitting on the floor, before it is mounted to the test stand. Your drill system should be set up to allow us to measure the maximum potential dimensions (i.e., the drill bit will need to be raised to the maximum height that it would reach during the competition) – which should not exceed 2 meters tall.
You don't need to include receipts for how you've spent your stipends for the mid point progress report. You will be asked to include a budget in your final technical paper, however.
This is fine so long as there is a guard/safe-proof that will keep the drill from going through the cooler. No more than 38.5 inches of the drill may enter the cooler.
Ultimately, we want you to stick to the Design Constraints requirement that says your power cannot exceed 10 amps. If you do go above, you’ll receive the stated penalty – but we also want you to understand that going above the 10 amps puts your team (and your fellow competitors and other workers in the hangar) at a large risk. Overloading the system by exceeding 10 amps has the serious potential to trip the breakers in the hangar – causing major issues for everyone in the hangar.
An occasional minor deviation that dips above 10 amps will likely not be a major issue. However, it is not acceptable to try to pull 20 amps for a while and then 1 amp for a while to “fix” your average.
Based on the ways the rules are written this year, you are limited to 8 pages total, including appendices.