Because CO2 is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere, such technologies will translate into in-situ manufacturing of products to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet, and also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric CO2 as a resource. Teams or individuals who want to participate will need to register by January 24, 2019, and then officially apply by February 28. Experts will review each plan and award up to $250,000 spread across up to five individuals or teams.
The next phase of the competition is still a bit light on details. NASA says it’ll announce the rules and criteria once Phase 1 is complete, but the administration has revealed that it’s ready to award up to $750,000 to the individual, team, or teams that can demonstrate that their system(s) work as intended and could be used by astronauts on Mars.
“Future planetary habitats on Mars will require a high degree of self-sufficiency,” NASA explains. “This requires a concerted effort to both effectively recycle supplies brought from Earth and use local resources such as CO2, water and regolith to manufacture mission-relevant products. Human life support and habitation systems will treat wastewater to make drinking water, recover oxygen from CO2, convert solid wastes to useable products, grow food, and specially design equipment and packaging to allow reuse in alternate forms.”
If you think you’re up to the task of engineering a system that could keep Mars astronauts alive, you only have a few months to apply. Get to it!