Artist's concept of a mechanical rover on Venus

Diagram of maker challenge No. 1


Contest Deadline: January 30, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. (PST)



Target Audience:

Undergraduate and graduate students


With its sulfuric acid clouds, temperatures over 450°C, and 92 times the surface pressure of Earth, Venus is one of the most hostile planetary environments in the solar system. Prior missions have only survived hours! But an automaton (or clockwork mechanical robot) could solve this problem. By utilizing high-temperature alloys, the clockwork rover would survive for months, allowing it to collect and return valuable long-term science data from the surface of Venus. Learn more about the automaton rover, here.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we are turning this innovative concept into reality under a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts funded study. We’ve been working hard on this project, but we could use YOUR help to address some of our toughest mechanical design challenges! The Mechanical Maker Challenges are a series of challenges seeking to engage your creativity to invent mechanical ways of performing traditionally electrical tasks. Challenges will be released in series, one at a time.

First up: Create a clockwork mechanical camera for Venus. Are you up for the challenge?

Submit your entry by Jan. 30, 2019!

Visit to learn more and participate. Stay tuned for details on the next challenges in the series, to be announced on March 1 and July 1, 2019.

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