NASA offers challenge with $750,000 reward to further Mars goal

NASA is ready to pay up to a million dollars to come up with a way to turn CO2 into other molecules on Mars

If you think you could’ve outlasted Matt Damon on Mars, well, NASA has just the competition for you. For a lofty reward of almost $1m, the US government space agency is inviting the public to submit ideas about how to turn a plentiful resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products in order to make trips to Mars possible.

More precisely, with the “CO2 Conversion Challenge,” NASA hopes to implement successful methods of converting CO2 to glucose at home, as such advancements could put waste and atmospheric CO2 to good use. The main goal is to allow astronauts to visit Mars with fewer materials and ultimately “to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet.” On Earth, plants can easily and inexpensively turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar. However, scientists say this approach would be difficult to replicate in space because of limited resources, such as energy and water.

“Enabling sustained human life on another planet will require a great deal of resources and we cannot possibly bring everything we will need. We have to get creative,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, continuing that if scientists could learn to transform “resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products, the space — and terrestrial — applications are endless.”

Those who are up for the challenge need to register by Jan. 24, 2019, and then officially apply by Feb. 28, 2019. The competition itself is divided into two phases. During the first phase, individuals or teams would submit a design and description of their proposal, with up to five teams winning $50,000 each. In the second phase, the finalists would build and present a demonstration of their proposals, with the winning individual or team earning $750,000.

And if CO2 conversion is not exactly your cup of tea, you can still participate in the process of helping humans to get to Mars. Through the Centennial Challenges Program, which aims to stimulate innovation inside and outside the traditional aerospace community, NASA has also asked for help controlling a humanoid robot in a simulated mission to Mars and with building “sustainable housing for deep space.”

NASA isn’t the only organization trying to get people on Mars. Boeing and SpaceX are also working on plans to get humans to travel to and colonize Mars, and Elon Musk says SpaceX could begin a mission to Mars as early as 2022.

Similar articles