NASA opens Nighttime Precision Landing Challenge to help future moon missions

NASA wants your help to safely land future lunar spacecraft in the dark, including permanently shadowed craters that may be icy.

The agency’s new Nighttime Precision Landing Challenge No. 1 plans to award as many as three prizes of up to $650,000 each. The challenge asks applicants to create sensors able to detect hazards from at least 820 feet (250 meters) high and to process the information as the landing is taking place, allowing for a safe touchdown.

Registration is due May 5 and full applications are due May 19. The agency notes that this technology will assist with its goals of long-term lunar exploration. Its main programs include the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program to put small commercial spacecraft on the moon as soon as this year, and the Artemis program aiming to eventually send humans; the uncrewed Artemis 1 is set to fly around the moon this spring if the schedule holds.