Each year, the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge features an engineering design challenge to engage students worldwide in the next phase of human space exploration. The annual event is a more complex follow-up to the successful NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race. The competition challenges high school and college students to create a vehicle designed to traverse the simulated surface of another world.

During its 20-year run, NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race engaged more than 10,000 students and demonstrated that these budding scientists and engineers were capable of complex work. The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge continues that tradition by providing an authentic engineering experience. Student teams design, build and test technologies that enable rovers to perform in a variety of environments. The Rover Challenge inspires participants to become the engineers to design NASA’s next-generation space systems.

Explorers can learn from the challenges of our predecessors as we pursue future missions. In 1971, Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell launched on Apollo 14, an extraordinary, complex mission to the Moon. Like other missions, their story is one of man’s battle against almost impossible odds, a story of highs and lows.

While Roosa remained in orbit aboard the capsule, one task assigned to Shepard and Mitchell was to explore the Cone Crater to better understand the Moon’s early history. Scientists believed that rocks near the crater’s edge would yield some of the oldest material. At one point during the trek, Shepard’s heart rate reached 150 beats per minute (bpm). Both astronauts were stopping to take breaks, perspiring and gulping intakes of oxygen, and the internal temperature of their suits was rising dramatically. The crew had been gone from the lunar module Antares for two hours, and were running out of time and oxygen. They had difficulty navigating the slopes and fell 30 minutes behind schedule. As a result, they reached a point within 50 feet of the rim of the crater before turning back toward Antares. The crew gathered 99 pounds (45 kilograms) of lunar material and achieved the goal of reaching the vicinity of the crater.

As in the past, teams design and create rovers capable of traversing a challenging exoplanetary-like landscape. These engineering challenges, however, are motivated by the assignment of mission objective tasks to be accomplished along the way. Just as in the Apollo 14 surface mission described above, teams have to make real-time decisions about which mission objectives to attempt and which to leave behind—all driven by a limited, virtual eight-minute supply of oxygen. Instead of time penalties, teams earn points as they progress through all stages of the competition. The competition course requires two students, one female and one male, to traverse a terrain of approximately 0.50 miles that includes a simulated field of asteroid debris—boulders from 5 to 15 inches across; an ancient stream bed with pebbles approximately 6 inches deep; and erosion ruts and crevasses of varying widths and depths. The challenge’s weight and time requirements encourage the rover’s compactness, light weight, high performance and efficiency. As part of the competition—before teams’ first time on the course—rover entries are tested to see that they would fit into a lander equipment bay, a maximum 5 feet long by 5 feet tall by 5 feet in volume. Teams earn points by assembling the rover in the allotted time; designing a rover that is lightweight; successfully completing course obstacles; performing tasks throughout the mission; and meeting pre- and post-challenge requirements. Each team is permitted two excursions: The greater score of the two excursions will be used for the final team score.

NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge aligns with the Artemis mission to return to and explore the Moon by 2024. The competition emphasizes designing, constructing and testing technologies, including tools, mobility devices and traversing in unique environments. The Artemis program will prepare us for the Moon and propel us on to Mars. NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, and develop human presence by 2028. Like Artemis, NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge sends one female and one male on the excursion to discover unknown terrains. Lunar science on the surface of the Moon will be conducted by 2024 with polar and nonpolar landers and rovers to explore areas not investigated by Apollo. This student design challenge encourages the next generation of scientists and engineers to aid in the design process by providing innovative designs and unique perspectives. The challenge also continues the agency’s legacy of providing valuable experience to students who, someday, may be responsible for planning future space missions, including crewed missions to other worlds.

2019 Teams

Teams are listed in alphabetical order with their race order posted to the left of their name. 

* Denotes rookie team

70.    Academia Cristiana Discípulos de Cristo* – High School Division

17.    Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology, Reno, Nevada – High School Division

59.    Alabama A&M University, Normal, Alabama – College/University Division

68.    Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama – College/University Division

53.    Arab High School, Arab, Alabama – High School Division

6.      Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama – College/University Division

71.    B You Academy* –  High School Division

63.    Bearden High School – Team 1, Knoxville, Tennessee –  High School Division

64.    Bearden High School – Team 2, Knoxville, Tennessee –  High School Division

72.    Beheira Traning Centre* –  High School Division

73.    Blue Ridge High School* –  High School Division

47.    Bolfuturo SRL, Santa Cruz, Bolivia – College/University Division

74.    Caguas Learning Academy* – High School Division

75.    Cameron University – College/University Division

76.    Campbell University – Team 1*  – College/University Division

77.    Campbell University – Team 2*  – College/University Division

78.    CED BOLFUTURO* – High School Division

66.    Central Connecticut State University – Team 1, New Britain, Connecticut – College/University Division

35.    CETED Centro de Tecnologia em Educação, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – High School Division

67.    Christian Brothers University – Team 1, Memphis, Tennessee – College/University Division

56.    Colégio Santa Terezinha São, Gonçalo, Brazil – High School Division

81.    Drexel University – College/University Division

4.      Escambia High School, Pensacola, Florida – High School Division

83.    Escuela Especializada en Bellas Artes* – High School Division

18.    Escuela Petra Mercado Bougart, Humacao, Puerto Rico – High School Division

82.    Equipe A * – High School Division

30.    Fairhope High School – Team 1, Fairhope, Alabama – High School Division

31.    Fairhope High School – Team 2, Fairhope, Alabama – High School Division

84.    Finfine Aerospace and Robotics International* – College/University Division

85.    Groupe Scolaire Bourgogne* – High School Division

87.    Instituto Tecnologico De Las Americas* – College/University Division

88.    Instituto Tecnológico De Santo Domingo (INTEC)* – College/University Division

1.      International Space Education Institute, Leipzig, Germany – High School Division

91.    KIET Group of Institutions* – College/University Division

5.      Liceo Cientifico Dr. Miguel, Canela Lázaro, Dominican Republic – High School Division

39.    Lima Senior High School – Team 1, Lima, Ohio – High School Division

40.    Lima Senior High School – Team 2, Lima, Ohio – High School Division

32.    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana – College/University Division

65.    Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India – College/University Division

92.    Mariscal José Ballivian – A* – High School Division

7.      Mayfield High School, Las Cruces, New Mexico – High School Division

93.    Memphis Academy of Science & Engineering* – High School Division

27.    Middle Tennessee State University – Team 1, Murfreesboro, Tennessee – College/University Division

28.    Middle Tennessee State University – Team 2, Murfreesboro, Tennessee – College/University Division

37.    Mount Juliet High School – Team 1, Mount Juliet, Tennessee – High School Division

38.    Mount Juliet High School – Team 2, Mount Juliet, Tennessee – High School Division

95.    North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota – College/University Division

62.    North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh – College/University Division

42.    Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio – College/University Division

13.    Owensboro Community and Technical College – Team 1, Owensboro, Kentucky – College/University Division

14.    Owensboro Community and Technical College – Team 2, Owensboro, Kentucky – College/University Division

43.    Parish Episcopal School – Team 1, Dallas, Texas – High School Division

44.    Parish Episcopal School – Team 2, Dallas, Texas – High School Division

48.    Pittsburg State University – Team 1, Pittsburg, Kansas – College/University Division

49.    Pittsburg State University – Team 2, Pittsburg, Kansas – College/University Division

55.    Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru – College/University Division

98.    Purdue University – College/University Division

50.    Purdue University Northwest – Team 1, Hammond, Indiana – College/University Division

51.    Purdue University Northwest – Team 2, Hammond, Indiana – College/University Division

26.    Rafaelina E. Lebron Flores, Patillas, Puerto Rico –  High School Division

99.    Rajshahi University of Engineering & Technology* – College/University Division

24.    Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island – College/University Division

100.  Saint Thomas Academy* –  High School Division

15.    Southern Illinois University – Team 1, Carbondale, Illinois – College/University Division

16.    Southern Illinois University – Team 2, Carbondale, Illinois – College/University Division

12.    Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, Oklahoma – College/University Division

61.    SVKM’s NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering, West Mumbai, India – College/University Division

41.    Tecnológico de Monterrey, Xochitepec, Mexico – College/University Division

103.   Tecnological Vocational High School, Manuel Mediavilla* – High School Division

8.      Tennessee Technological University – Team 1, Cookeville, Tennessee – College/University Division

9.      Tennessee Technological University – Team 2, Cookeville, Tennessee – College/University Division

52.    Trine University, Angola, Indiana – College/University Division

57.    Universidad Aeronautica en Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico – College/University Division

104.  Universidad Catolica Boliviana San Pablo – Regional Santa Cruz* – College/University Division

105.  Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería* – College/University Division

58.    Universidade Federal Fluminense Niterói, Brazil – College/University Division

25.    University Gardens High School, San Juan, Puerto Rico – High School Division

2.      University of Alabama in Huntsville – Team 1, Huntsville, Alabama – College/University Division

3.      University of Alabama in Huntsville – Team 2, Huntsville, Alabama – College/University Division

33.    University of Central Missouri – Team 1, Warrensburg, Missouri – College/University Division

34.    University of Central Missouri – Team 2, Warrensburg, Missouri – College/University Division

106.  University of Evansville* – College/University Division

46.    University of Houston – Team 1, Houston, Texas – College/University Division

107.  University of Memphis,* Memphis, Tennessee – College/University Division

108.  University of Miami,* Miami, Florida – College/University Division

19.    University of PR at Humacao – Team 1, Humacao, Puerto Rico – College/University Division

20.    University of PR at Humacao – Team 2, Humacao, Puerto Rico – College/University Division

21.    University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus – Team 1, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico – College/University Division

22.    University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus – Team 2. Mayagüez, Puerto Rico – College/University Division

11.    University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. – College/University Division

110.  University of West Florida* – College/University Division

115.  William Rainey Harper College* – College/University Division


The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge does not host pre-competitions or competitions conducted by any organization other than NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Office of STEM Engagement. NASA is neither affiliated with, nor sponsors or endorses any Rover competition other than the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. Outside competitions have no bearing on the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge registration process, and representation to the contrary is strictly prohibited. No competition may imply any affiliation with NASA or use the NASA logo without permission of NASA Headquarters. Any assertions made by organizations that represent themselves as a “NASA Outreach Program Europe Director,” “Official NASA Rover Ambassador,” or any similar titles suggesting a tie to NASA are unauthorized. Representations or suggestions that any organization or individual can assure teams of being accepted for registration or participation in the challenge are unauthorized. The only way to register for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge is at NASA.gov/roverchallenge per the requirements outlined in the guidebook. Teams that attempt to register through other means or participate in advertised pre-events are not guaranteed a position in the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. Teams violating these rules may be removed from participating in the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. 

Recent and Future Rover Links

Course Curriculum

Prototype Formation
Image Transmission
Cost Analysis
Funding Opportunities


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