This international competition challenges university level students to build a robot capable of tackling the harsh martian environment. The goal is to excavate a martian regolith simulant called Black Point 1 (BP-1), and deliver it to a collection bin opposite the mining area in an enclosed field. This task is more difficult than that, however. BP-1 is extremely silty and easy to sink into, and combined with boulders and craters scattered along the field, it's easy to get stuck and end the mission early. Robots also need to be energy, data transmission, and weight efficient to avoid point penalties, and can make up for losses by collecting icy regolith (gravel) buried deep beneath the BP-1, having a dust tolerant design, and completing the 10 minute run autonomously.
Outside of the robot construction, teams must also submit a technical paper detailing the functionality and construction of their robot. Teams also actively engage with their community through STEM focused events, with a goal to give back as much as possible, and inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists, physicists, and mathematicians. This all culminates in a week-long competition at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with teams participating from all around the world. Here, robots face the simulated competition arena, some touching regolith for the first time, and teams give detailed presentations on their robot, and the results of their outreach efforts and marketing campaign to a panel NASA engineers.