Ingenuity and inspiration drive NASA’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge.
And there’s some fun involved, too.

NASA wants to inspire the next generation of astronauts with its Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC), which invites high school and university students from across the world to participate.

The agency also hopes HERC competitors provide inspiration for space exploration in using their own ingenuity to design and build rovers for the 28th annual event, which will be held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, April 28-30.

On Thursday, NASA announced the 91 U.S. and international teams that will compete in the 2022 event. HERC, managed by the Southeast Regional Office of STEM Engagement at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, encourages students to build upon Apollo missions while using the goals of the Artemis program to pilot human-powered rovers over a challenging half-mile course simulating the terrain of the Moon, Mars and other rocky bodies in our solar system.

“We congratulate each of the teams selected to compete in HERC 2022,” said Miranda Fike, senior education specialist at Marshall. “Everyone involved with the challenge looks forward to seeing the remarkably creative designs and strategies teams develop each year.”

This year’s grueling course comprises 12 challenges and five tasks. Two drivers from each participating school must complete the challenge in 8 minutes. They must also think like mission planners, selecting tasks to complete along the path to gain the maximum amount of points available. This encourages teams to develop strategies that balance efficiency with speed to simulate real-world conditions astronauts would face in completing their space mission.

HERC organizers reduced the number of course obstacles from 14 to 12 to give teams more time to focus on the five unique mission tasks, which includes collecting samples, taking photographs, or conducting other simulated science objectives.

The primary objective of HERC is for teams of students to design, develop, build, and test human-powered rovers capable of traversing challenging terrain and task tools for completion of various mission tasks. Teams must also meet size and weight requirements to ensure their rovers would fit into a lander storage area.

Teams earn points throughout the process with successful completion of design reviews as they develop and assemble a rover that meets all challenge criteria and accomplishing course obstacles mission tasks. Winning teams (high school and college/university) are those that accumulate the highest number of points throughout the project year in each category.

“Our goal is to make real-world connections between student ingenuity and the vital work NASA is doing right now to return explorers to the Moon and prepare the way for crewed missions to Mars,” said education specialist Catherine Shelton of the Office of STEM Engagement at Marshall.

In the event the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forces modifications to the competition – including changes to planned in-person activities – competitors and audiences will be notified.

HERC reflects the goals of the Artemis program, which seeks to put the first woman and person of color on the Moon. It is one of the seven Artemis Student Challenges. NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement uses to further the agency’s goal of encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

For more information about the 2022 Human Exploration Rover Challenge, visit:

For more information about other NASA engineering challenges, visit: