A team from Rafaelina E. Lebron Flores of Patillas, Puerto Rico, won the high school division of the 2016 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. Credits: NASA

NASA is all set to begin the most awaited and also the toughest rover challenge. The competition challenges students to solve engineering problems, design rovers and much more.

NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge,  highlights NASA’s goals for future exploration to Mars and beyond. Nearly 99 high school and college teams will put their skills to the test from March 30 to April 1. Participating teams come from all over the world including 23 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico. Countries, such as Brazil, Germany, India and Mexico are too ready for this challenge.

The lunar roving vehicles of the Apollo moon missions inspired the agency to put forth this challenge. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will play host in the ‘Rover Challenge’.  Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office will manage the event.

NASA’s Rover Challenge logo.
Credits NASA

In this race, student teams are required to design, build, test and also race human-powered rovers. One male and one female team member will drive the designed rover. But this challenge does not stop with this. NASA has also added several obstacles. They are similar to the ones on Mars, moons, asteroids and also other planets. The nearly three-quarter-mile course boasts 17 such grueling obstacles.

This year’s race also has a new optional feature, called the “Drive Train Technology Challenge”. Teams can develop reliable systems such as belts, drive shafts or direct drives to replace commonly used chains.

The prize is divided into several categories and divisions. The event concludes with an awards ceremony, where corporate sponsors will present awards for best design, rookie team and also other accomplishments.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center, 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, is the venue.

The teams will arrive in Huntsville on March 30 for on-site registration. The race will take place between 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT on two days, March 31 and April 1. NASA will also provide real-time updates on Ustream and the Rover Challenge Twitter account.