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NASA Is Offering $750K To Whoever Can Turn CO2 Into Other Molecules On Mars

September 3, 2018

As we all know, it's a little difficult to get resources in space at the moment.  So whenever NASA sends people into orbit, they make sure they have as much resources as they need. 

But, if humans are ever going to make it to Mars, astronauts won't be able to bring as much with them as they are currently used to.  That means being able to use resources on Mars, if any are there.  And that's what NASA is after with their new CO2 Conversion Challenge just announced this week.   

NASA is asking anyone with a science background to find a way to turn CO2 into molecules that can produce needed resources.  And the space agency is offering a pretty hefty sum of cash to whoever can do it.  

"Help us discover ways to develop novel synthesis technologies that use carbon dioxide (CO2) as the sole carbon source to generate molecules that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including “substrates” for use in microbial bioreactors.  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."  Anyone who wants to participate in the challenge must register by Jan. 24, 2019 and officially apply by Feb. 28, 2019.  

However, NASA has been a little vague about what the next stage of the competition will entail.  But once Phase 1 is complete, NASA will announce rules and criteria. 

And the reward money?  $750K will be given to the individual, team or teams that demonstrate their system will work and can be used by astronauts while 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.”

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