Language selection

Search

Top of page

Contributions for Activities in Lunar Rover Science and AI-Enabled Robotics for Youth

On this page

  1. KEY INFORMATION
  2. INTRODUCTION
  3. AO OBJECTIVE
  4. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
  5. APPLICATIONS
  6. EVALUATION
  7. FUNDING
  8. FUNDING AGREEMENTS
  9. PRIVACY NOTICE STATEMENT
  10. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
  11. Annex A – Scoring
  12. Annex B – Categories Descriptions

Class Grant and Contribution Program to Support Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology - Space Awareness Element

Announcement of Opportunity (AO)

Publication date:

Deadline:

1. KEY INFORMATION

  • Eligible Recipients: Canadian post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations established and operating in Canada
  • Type of transfer payments: Non-Repayable Contributions
  • Maximum Amount per Project submitted for Youth Lunar Rover Science : $400,000
  • Maximum Amount per Project submitted for Youth AI-Enabled Space Robotics : $400,000
  • Estimated Total Amount of the AO: $1.6M
  • Maximum Duration of the Project: up to 36 months from the agreement signature
  • Estimated Projects Start Date:

2. INTRODUCTION

In , the Government of Canada announced an investment of $2.05B related to Canada's involvement in the Lunar Gateway. This investment included youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities linked to Lunar Gateway. Shortly thereafter, the Government released a new Space Strategy for Canada entitled "Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada" (PDF, 1.66 MB), which laid out the CSA's commitment to inspiring young Canadians through space.

In order to reach youth through STEM, it is important to consider educators who have an influence on their learning, future education, and career choices. Educators can include parents, teachers, volunteers, and youth group leaders through various organizations (e.g. schools, school boards, teachers' associations, science centers, youth organizations, youth associations, clubs, community groups, etc.).

The contributions provided through this Announcement of Opportunity (AO) aim to support the development, promotion and delivery of a series of activities related to lunar science linked to lunar rover missions or to AI-enabled robotics to increase awareness and interest about space, and more specifically in STEM space, for an audience of youth from grade six (6) to twelve (12) (Cégep 1 in Québec) from across Canada. These activities are also expected to provide hands-on experience for youth, support to the educators, and make young Canadians aware of CSA projects and activities.

This Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is consistent with the terms and conditions of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Class Grant and Contribution Program for Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology (Class G&C Program) – Space Awareness Element.

Applicants are asked to read the following AO thoroughly before submitting their applications. This AO was prepared to help applicants complete the application process, and outlines key elements, including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project, the latter document(s) will take precedence.

3. AO OBJECTIVE

The objective of this AO is to invest in the development, the delivery and the promotion of hands-on, inquiry-based activities that will engage youth across Canada in space-STEM activities to increase their level of interest and involvement in STEM.

4. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

In this section

4.1 Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients will include:

The application should be submitted by one eligible organization which will be fully liable and the only signatory of the contribution agreement.

4.2 Eligible Projects

The proposals should be submitted under one of the following categories (an eligible organization can submit a different proposal under each category):

To be eligible, the proposals must include the following elements:

Activities such as, but not limited to, the following will be considered eligible for these contributions:

Activities will be delivered at no cost during the contribution agreement period and should be available in both official languages.

The proposal should include a clear description and justification of how the content of the activities could be integrated to provinces or territories curricula for grades six (6) to nine (9) for projects under Category A and for grades six (6) to twelve (12) (Cégep 1in Québec) for projects submitted under Category B.

The goal of this initiative is also to offer support for development of space-related activities of maximum interest to educators across all provinces and territories and that are easy to integrate into their work plans.

The activities should include adaptations for in-class or extracurricular use (museums, STEM organizations, youth groups, etc.) as well as be accessible, inclusive, and easily available to everyone who wishes to use these activities. The adaptations for in-class or extracurricular use should include a "support the teacher" component with resources and support for educators before, during, and after running the activity, including the possibility of real-time support, if applicable to the activity. To maximize accessibility, the activities requiring complex technologies should be also be designed and offered with a low-technology, accessible option.

A promotion plan is required and will focus on all educators and youth identified in the target audience across Canada, and must include a variety of platforms such as virtual engagement, in-person engagement, science fairs, email blasts, social media posts, etc.

The recipients of the contributions will have access to the same services that the CSA Communications and Public Affairs group offers to all Canadians, such as information on CSA activities and missions.

If a proponent requests, as part of the proposal, access to and/ or use of the CSA's resources (such as facilities, equipment, technical expertise), an additional collaborative agreement might have to be signed between the CSA and the recipient, provided that the proposal has been selected for funding.

4.3 Links to CSA Priorities

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to the CSA's commitment to inspiring young Canadians through space as highlighted in the Government's Space Strategy for Canada entitled "Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy for Canada" (PDF, 1.66 MB).

In support of the strategy, the Canadian Space Agency invites applications for initiatives that promote space and STEM to Canada's young people, particularly to groups such as girls and Indigenous peoples or other under-represented groups in scientific and engineering careers.

4.4 Links to the Class G&C Program Objectives

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to the achievement of the following objective:

5. APPLICATIONS

In this section

5.1 Required Documentation

The Application must include the following:

For the not-for-profit organizations, the financial statements for the last two years may be requested in a later phase of the evaluation process, as a condition to signing the contribution agreement. It is not required to submit the financial statements with the application.

The Application must be prepared as a single PDF-formatted file containing all of the above requested documents with all security features disabled. Please order the document with the application form and proposal first. If there are any accessibility issues with the submitted PDF file, all consequences reside with the Applicant.

Any missing supporting document or any incoherence between the requested documents and the information provided within the documents may lead to the rejection of the proposal on that sole basis.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application complies with all relevant federal, provincial and territorial legislation and municipal bylaws.

Applications can be submitted either electronically or mailed:

  1. To upload the application electronically (recommended), please follow the steps below:
    • Prepare the Application in a single PDF –formatted file as per instructions above;
    • Submit an account creation request to use the CSA Electronic proposal portal. Please note that Google Chrome is the browser of choice for submissions; Internet Explorer is also supported with some restrictions. Applicants using the electronic portal are encouraged to create their account several days before the submission deadline, in order to address any technical difficulties that could arise. If the technical issues cannot be resolved, Applicants can submit their application by mail (before the deadline);
    • Upon account creation, the CSA will send an email with instructions on how to connect to the CSA secure filer system to allow you to upload documents securely. Applicants are strongly encouraged to upload their applications well before the submission deadline;
    • In the "Proposal title" field of the Electronic Proposal Portal, please use the following formatting standard: ORGANIZATION NAME_PROJECT TITLE_CSA ROVER/AI .
  2. Mail the Applications to the CSA at the following address:

    Youth STEM
    c/o Iulian Martin
    Communications and Public Affairs Directorate
    Canadian Space Agency
    6767 Route de l'Aéroport
    Saint-Hubert
    , Quebec J3Y 8Y9

Applications must be received at the CSA no later than 14:00 (ET) on .

IMPORTANT NOTES:

If CSA receives the same application by both ways acceptable for submission, the latest valid version received will be considered.

If the applicant chooses to submit the applications electronically, the applicant must keep one hard copy of the Application with the original (inked) signatures. The CSA may require from the applicants who successfully passed the stages described in Sections 6.1 and 6.2 to send a hard copy of their complete application with the original signatures.

5.2 Service Standards – Complete Applications

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions regarding their application. Selected applications will be announced on the CSA website. The CSA has set the following service standards for processing times, acknowledgement of receipt, funding decisions and payment procedures.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely manner. Service standards may vary by Announcement of Opportunity.

6. EVALUATION

In this section

6.1 Eligibility Criteria

Applications will first be submitted to an eligibility assessment by the CSA to verify whether they comply with the eligibility criteria listed in Section 4. Only applications that have passed the eligibility assessment will be given further consideration.

6.2 Evaluation Criteria

Once the eligibility criteria are confirmed, the CSA's evaluators will assess the screened applications submitted in each category according to the criteria presented in Table 2. below.

The Table 2 shows the definition and a breakdown of all the evaluation criteria, which are further described in Annex A. Applicants should address each criterion in their application. Please note that only applications that obtain an overall minimum score of 60 and achieve the minimum specified thresholds for each criterion will be given further considerations.

Table 2
Criterion Description Poor Avg. Good Excellent Minimum
Score
1. Benefits to Canada Relevance to Canadian space activities, increase awareness of youth 0 7 12 15 7
2. Knowledge transfer mechanism Activity design and delivery method 0 10 20 30 10
3. Feasibility Project definition and management 0 7 12 15 7
4. Resources Project budget, schedule and team 0 7 15 20 7
5. Results and Risks Reach, sustainability, risks and mitigation measures 0 7 15 20 7

6.3 Evaluation and Selection Process

Only applications that have passed the eligibility assessment listed in Section 6.1 will be given further consideration.

Once the eligibility criteria are confirmed, evaluators will assess the screened applications according to the criteria listed in Section 6.2 for each Category. Evaluators shall be experts in the fields relevant to the applications and may include representatives of Canada and other countries, and representatives of other government and non-government agencies and organizations. If applicable, a multidisciplinary evaluation committee will be formed when applications from several different disciplines are competing in order to provide a uniform final score and ranking of proposals.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Manager responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations, including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations.

For the final selection, the CSA will consider the applications having the highest final scores. The CSA could also take into consideration factors linked to priorities of the Governmentsuch as, but not limited to, the representativeness of the following underrepresented groups in STEM: girls, Indigenous, youth from socio-economically disadvantaged communities, members of a visible minority.

7. Funding

In this section

7.1 Available Funding and Duration

The total maximum funding available for this AO is approximatively $1.6M. There are two funding categories, as follow:

The proponent may submit a proposal under each category. However, in such case, the two applications should be submitted completely separate, clearly indicating the Category each application is submitted for. All applications failing to clearly prove this requirement will be automatically rejected.

The CSA reserves the right to reject any proposals or reduce the amount of the contributions at its entire discretion.

The approved proposal(s) will be eligible for a total amount of government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

The number of projects under this AO will depend on funding availability.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated and the number of projects funded, consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, and the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant.

Applicants must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in the funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the recipient must also disclose all sources of funding.

7.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs for contributions will be direct expenses associated with the delivery of approved projects that are required to achieve the results to which they relate. Costs will include one or a combination of the following eligible costs:

8. Funding Agreements

In this section

8.1 Payments

The CSA and each successful applicant (the recipient) will sign a funding agreement. This is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project.

Payments for contribution agreements (including advance payments if applicable) will be made in accordance with the process and the reporting requirements described in the signed funding agreement. Upon notice of a successful application, the CSA will have no liability until a funding agreement is signed by both parties. Only eligible costs incurred after the funding agreement is signed and indicated in the agreement will be reimbursed.

8.2 Audit

The recipient of a funding agreement shall keep proper records of all documentation related to the funded project, for the duration of the project and for six (6) years after the completion date of the project, in the event of an audit. This documentation shall be available upon request.

8.3 Conflict of Interest

In the funding agreement, the recipient will certify that any current or former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector respectively.

8.4 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.

8.5 Organizations in Quebec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, R.S.Q., Chapter M-30.

Under Sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in the meaning of the Act, such as municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain authorization from the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes (SQRC), as indicated by the Act, before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency.

Consequently, any entity that is subject to the Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation form with their application.

8.6 Performance Measurement

The CSA will ask the recipients to report on certain aspects of their projects such as:

9. Privacy Notice Statement

The CSA manages and protects the information provided by the applicant under the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act. By submitting your personal information, you consent to its collection, use and disclosure in accordance with the following Privacy Statement, which explains how the information about the applicant will be processed.

The information is collected under the CSA Class Grant and Contribution Program in Support of Awareness, Research and Learning - Awareness and Learning Component (ASC PPU 040) and Research Component (ASC PPU 045). This information will be used for administration and application evaluation purposes. Personal information (such as name, contact information and biographical information) will be kept for 6 years and destroyed. According to the Privacy Act, any individual may, upon request,

  1. have access to his or her personal data and
  2. request correction of the incorrect information.

Applicants should also note that information relating to the Funding Agreement could be disclosed publicly in accordance with the laws, policies and directives of the Government of Canada.

For additional information regarding this statement, please contact:

Office of Access to Information and Privacy
Canadian Space Agency
Tel. : 450-926-4866
Email: aiprp-atip@asc-csa.gc.ca

10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application.

For any questions related to the AO, applicants shall use the following email address stimjeunesse-youthstem@asc-csa.gc.ca . Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this AO. The CSA will respond to questions received before at 14:00 (ET).

Question 1: Are the proposals submitted under this AO reviewed and selected on a rolling intake or the AO closing date should be followed?

Answer 1: The proposals under this AO should be submitted to CSA only during the opening period of the AO. All the requirements regarding how to submit a proposal, including the deadline, are presented in Section 5.1. All proposals received by the CSA after the deadline will be automatically rejected. The evaluation and the selection process begins after this deadline.

Question 2: In the AO, the estimated start date of the projects is , however as per the number of weeks stated in the Service Standards (Section 5.2), the start date of the project is more likely in . Could the CSA clarify which timeline is anticipated for the projects to start?

Answer 2: The Service Standards in Section 5.2 represents the maximum number of weeks that the CSA needs to respect for the different phases of the process. The estimated start date of the projects is a tentative date that the CSA targets for this AO. However, it could vary depending on several factors, such as the number of applications received.

Question 3: What's the expected target group reach? How will the evaluation criteria be applied to proposals where the target audience might be smaller and might be limited geographically (not all or most of Canada), but would have a greater impact in youth?

Answer 3: The ultimate objective of this AO is to have Canadian youth engaged in space STEM domains and with an increased interest in these domains. Thus, the level of engagement and the impact of the activity will prevail. The reach to youth from various provinces and territories remains an important factor in the evaluation.

Question 4: Given the topics of focus for this AO and the interest in reaching youth in groups underrepresented in STEM fields, organizations may have different approaches to the types of activities and seek out different partners to participate in the development and delivery. How will the evaluation criteria be applied to proposals where the target audience might be smaller or limited geographically, but would have a greater impact to reach the CSA's objectives on underrepresented groups in STEM?

Answer 4: As mentioned in the AO, the main objective of this funding opportunity is "the development, the delivery and the promotion of hands-on, inquiry-based activities that will engage youth across Canada in space-STEM activities (…)". The evaluation criteria definitions (Section 11 of the AOP) don't include any reference to underrepresented groups in STEM. However, in the final selection from proposals that achieve scores above the minimum threshold, the CSA may also take into consideration their reach to the following underrepresented groups: girls, Indigenous, youth from socio-economically disadvantaged communities, members of a visible minority.

Question 5: In the application form for this AO, the budget breakdown requested by the CSA has been divided into three fiscal years (-, -, -). Can the applicants add a fourth column for the 2024-2025 fiscal year as some projects may continue after ?

Answer 5: The CSA funding is available for the fiscal years listed in the application form. All eligible costs that will be charged against the CSA contribution should be planned within this period. If an additional column for - is added to reflect the entire project cost, it should only include funds from other sources.

Question 6: Can the same Principal Investigator (PI) submit an application to both Category A and Category B of this AO?

Answer 6: As described in Section 7.1 of the AO, a proponent (eligible organization) may submit a proposal under each category. However, the two proposals should be submitted separately and a complete separation between the two projects should be evident. As these are not research projects, there is no principal investigator involved and the proponent (eligible organization) decides who leads the project(s) and resources allocation.

11. Annex A – Scoring

A numerical score is associated with each criterion. It is strongly recommended that applicants include in their applications information related to each highest score.

1. Benefits to Canada

This criterion will be used to evaluate

Scoring - Criterion 1. Benefits to Canada
Poor (Score: 0) The content related to space is very limited and the links to Canadian space missions, sciences or technologies are very weak. The participation in the activities is expected to have little to no influence to make youth aware of space STEM.
Average (Score: 7) The content is space focused, but the level of Canadian space STEM content is limited or linked to terminated missions. Despite a minimal influence on making youth aware of space STEM, it is not expected to make a change on the target group's interest in the field. The space science and technologies concepts present gaps and weaknesses to be accurate and current.
Good (Score: 12) Links between the activity content and on-going or future Canadian space missions, sciences or technologies are clearly demonstrated. The activity content is related to one of the CSA priority domains (robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) or science lunar rovers) and it is linked to science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). The planned outputs will have an influence on making youth aware of space STEM, and it is expected that it will potentially make a change on the target group interest in the field. The science or technology concepts included need some improvements to become accurate and current.
Excellent (Score: 15) The activity content is strongly based on on-going or future Canadian space missions, sciences or technologies. It is related to one or several CSA priority domains (robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), lunar rovers) and has clear links with space STEM. The planned outcomes will clearly have a strong influence on making youth aware of space STEM, and the probability to make a significant change on the target group interest and engagement in space STEM is very high. The science or technology presented is accurate and current.

2. Knowledge transfer mechanism

This criterion will be used to evaluate

Scoring - Criterion 2. Knowledge transfer mechanism
Poor (Score: 0) The proposed activity has no original or innovative concepts or methods for the planned activities. The proposed content is based on an old activity that criteria didn't demonstrate its attractiveness to youth. No adaptability to different characteristics of the target group is described.
Average (Score: 10) The proposed activity is based on existing concepts and methods with limited success demonstrated in reaching and increasing youth interest in STEM. The adaptability to different characteristics of the target groups (ability levels, learning/teaching types, pre-activity knowledge, age appropriateness) is limited and/or requires substantial additional work/effort from the educators.
Good (Score: 20) The proposed activity contains elements of originality and attractiveness with high chances to attract youth interest and to be adopted by educators. The proposals presents how the content and methods may be adapted to different characteristics of the target group (ability levels, learning/teaching types, pre-activity knowledge, age appropriateness). It includes the description of the educator guide that will be developed. The proposed visual design and/ or chosen media, as well as the technical requirements to deliver the activity are described and effective for the type of the activity.
Excellent (Score: 30) The proposed activity is clearly original and attractive, and has elements that stand out from classical approaches. The proposals clearly presents how the content and methods used are adapted to different characteristics of the target group (ability levels, learning/teaching types, pre-activity knowledge, age appropriateness) and includes detailed description of the educator guide that will be developed. The proposal shows evidence on how the activity will be tested, assessed and tuned before delivery (e.g. focus groups). The proposed visual design and/ or chosen media, as well as the technical requirements to deliver the activity are very effective and attractive.

3. Feasibility

This criterion will be used to evaluate

Scoring - Criterion 3. Feasibility
Poor (Score: 0) The project objectives are very poorly defined, they are not SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-oriented) and there is no coherence between resource allocations, timelines, resources and final deliverables in the project plan.
Average (Score: 7) The project objectives are defined, but they are not very clear and they present only a part of SMART characteristics. The project plan is realistic, but it is lacking major coherency between some elements. The promotional plan is presented, but covers only some elements of an efficient promotion campaign.
Good (Score: 12) The objectives are well defined, and they are presented following the SMART characteristics. The project plan is realistic, and coherent in most of the its elements. The organization has some experience in carrying similar projects demonstrated by clear examples. The promotional plan is well described, but is lacking detail for some elements.
Excellent (Score: 15) The objectives are very well defined, and they are presented following the SMART characteristics. Many details are provided in a coherent project plan regarding, in particular, the breakdown of the work, scheduled milestones, and the organization of team members' time to carry out the project. The organization has demonstrated experience in successfully carrying similar projects. The promotional plan is very well described, with extensive reach and diversity of communication channels.

4. Resources

This criterion will be used to evaluate:

Scoring - Criterion 4. Resources
Poor (Score: 0) The project team members do not have any experience and/or expertise in carrying out K-12 STEM awareness projects. The duties and responsibilities are briefly presented. The budget is not realistic and without any additional in-kind and cash funding sources or resources.
Average (Score: 7) The project team members have limited experience in developing K-12 STEM awareness activities. The team lacks expertise in some key areas required in their duties and responsibilities. The budget appears to be adequate for the proposed work and a rationale is provided, but there are still questions about some cost items. Reduced other financial or in-kind contributions may be available, but the probability to access them is low.
Good (Score: 15) The project team members have demonstrated experience in developing K-12 STEM awareness activities. The team is made up of experts from various educational fields of study with a variety of expertise. The budget appears to be adequate and reasonable and a good rationale is provided for most budget items. The physical resources and infrastructure required to achieve the project's goals are identified and supported by rationales. Additional in-kind and cash funding is planned, the probability to access them is high, no confirmed amounts.
Excellent (Score: 20) The project team members have a considerable demonstrated experience in developing K-12 STEM awareness and learning activities, with clear examples provided. The team is made up of experts from various educational fields of study and there is clear complementarity between them. The budget appears to be adequate and reasonable for all components of the proposed work and a credible rationale is provided for all budget items. The physical resources and infrastructure required to achieve the project's goals and objectives are identified in detail, supported by rationales, and planned in order to be used efficiently and effectively. Additional funding is planned, the probability to access them is very high, some funding already confirmed or available.

5. Results, sustainability and risks

This criterion will be used to evaluate:

Scoring - Criterion 5. Results, sustainability and risks
Poor (Score: 0) The expected reach is very limited to a city or small region, and the level of engagement with youth is low. No process to measure the results is presented. There is no evidence presented to support a continuation of the proposed activities after the termination of the CSA contribution. No project-related risk has been clearly identified in the proposal and no mitigation presented.
Average (Score: 7) The expected reach is limited to some cities/regions. The level of engagement with youth relative to the project scope is acceptable. Processes to measure some results are presented. The project presents a very brief plan, but no credible evidence is presented to support a continuation of the activities after the termination of the CSA contribution. The application mentions a few of the main risks but there are no credible mitigation strategies.
Good (Score: 15) The expected reach covers several Canadian provinces or territories. The level of engagement with youth is high relative to the project scope. Processes to measure most of the results are presented. There are some evidences presented to support a possible continuation of the activities after the termination of the CSA contribution, such as long term plan and outcomes, resources identification and allocation, partnerships, but the availability of resources is unclear. The main risks and some associated mitigation strategies are described and relevant.
Excellent (Score: 20) The expected reach covers most of the Canadian provinces and territories. The level of engagement with youth are very high relative to the project scope. The processes to measure all the results are presented. There is a very strong and credible plan to continue after the termination of the CSA funding, with credible resources availability. The main risks are well described and relevant mitigation strategies are proposed for each risk. The information provided to assess the probability of the risks materializing are deemed to be realistic.

12. Annex B – Categories Descriptions

For Category A: Lunar Rover Science

Rovers are an essential tool in space exploration. A rover is an off-road mobile robot that can be remotely controlled to gather scientific data from the scientific instruments it carries. If on board equipment allows, rovers can also collect scientific samples of extraterrestrial terrain such as rocks, dust, and soil and data collected with the scientific instruments can help target the samples to be collected. Rover and rover technology activities are also a powerful catalyst to inspire the widespread interest in science and technology.

Examples of science to be conducted by a rover and the instruments it carries are:

The use of rovers to gather scientific data and collect samples on the Moon would involve the two phases each including tasks as outlined below.

  1. Mission planning:
    1. identification of problem to be solved (i.e. science to be conducted);
    2. identification of the landing site;
    3. identification of scientific instruments that will provide the data necessary to solve the problem; and
    4. traverses planning, where path that the rover will undertake can be defined as well as approximate number of analyses with each instruments and sequence in which these would be taken.
  2. Mission operations:
    1. rover performance check, where operations testing will be carried out once the rover has reached its destination to ensure all its components are functioning before starting its exploration journey;
    2. data acquisition, where the rover will then follow the planned traverses (1d) and start gathering data with its scientific instruments;
    3. using data collected in 2b, samples can be:
      1. selected by a science team for further on site analyses (i.e. rove closer to the target and collect more data),
      2. collected to be brought back for to Earth for further study or
      3. left on site if they would not help to solve the problem identified in 1b.
    4. sample retrieval and transfer, where another rover would go to the selected site to pick up the samples and bring them back to a rocket, or ascent vehicle; and
    5. sample return, where the rocket would send the samples into orbit to be captured by another spacecraft for return to Earth.

For Category B: AI-Enabled Robotics

During the last decades, the "classical" robotics domain has focused mainly on developing robots to execute some repetitive tasks automatically. To complete these tasks, the robots' decisions and actions were based on predictable, verifiable and rather simple hypothesis. The integration of the latest technological developments related to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables the robotics to support much more complex interactions or solve ambiguous situations that previously required human intervention. Unlike the classical robotics, the AI-Enabled Robotics provide the robots with the capability of learning and self-development based on their environments, the new situations that they are required to solve and from the failures they have experienced.

The AI has been adopted in several fields related to robotics, such as artificial vision, motion control or decision-making algorithms, and it imposed a sustainable paradigm shift in terrestrial robotics. However, the AI has not been adopted at the same level in space robotics yet, mainly due to the limited availability of energy in space. The modern deep-learning based AI requires large amount of energy to power the robots computing units. To overcome this issue, the robots on Mars or Moon can transfer the data (e.g. the images from the cameras) to the control centers on Earth and all the AI calculations are executed on ground without limitations related to the availability of energy. Future space robots developed to operate in the environments that may offer sufficient energy, such as the next space station Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway, will be able to fully deploy all their AI capabilities without any support from Earth.

Examples of the space operations supported by AI-Enabled Robotics:

Date modified: