NASA's Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge, at which five engineering teams from across the country compete for an agency-funded prize of $1.5 million, kicks off at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver headlining the event's opening ceremonies on Saturday, June 16. The Sample Return Robot Challenge is to design and develop the next generation of autonomous robots to explore the landscapes of other worlds by locating, collecting and returning simulated "planetary samples." Competitors pursue whatever design approach they like, and are awarded the cash prizes by NASA only if they're successful. Centennial Challenges, part of NASA's Space Technology Program, stimulate private sector investment many times greater than the cash value of the prize by addressing a particular problem or technological need of national or international significance. www.nasa.gov/challenges
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