NASA is willing to pay up to $1 million to anyone who finds an effective way to convert CO2(Carbon dioxide) into other molecules, especially sugar on the Martian surface.

In this CO2 Conversion Challenge, NASA asks researchers, inventors and anyone who has a good idea to use this element to produce compounds such as glucose, which will be used to produce “food” for microbial bioreactors.

In the official message, NASA explains that “future habitats on Mars will require a high degree of self-sufficiency”, which will depend on the ability to effectively recycle what is taken from the land and the use of local resources, such as CO2, water and regolith to create products that are important for the manned missions.

They gonna need support and stabilization systems to turn the wastewater into drinking water, recover oxygen from CO2, convert solid waste into usable products, allow the cultivation of food and design equipment and packaging to be reused in alternative ways.

Interestingly, you can observe the same phenomenon in the 2015 Hollywood movie, Martian.

Convert CO2 Challenge

NASA intends to judge the two-stage competition with total prizes of up to $ 1 million.

  • Phase 1 (current) is one in which concepts are collected and provides up to $ 250,000 in cash prizes
  • Phase 2 includes demonstrations and a prize pool of up to $ 750,000 for each of the five teams (or individuals) that are able to demonstrate that their idea works as expected and that it could be used by astronauts on Mars.

The rules of the competition and the evaluation criteria are not clear at this time; they will be announced by NASA only once Phase 1 has been completed.

Can Pakistanis Apply?

All Pakistanis having the US citizenship or a green card are eligible to apply through NASA dedicated website. Interested parties must register no later than January 24, 2019, and then submit an official request before February 28.

NASA also instates in rules that foreign citizens may apply through the US entities if they are working with them. That makes all Pakistanis working with any US organizations like USAID, Embassies, and others eligible for the challenge.

One of the most interesting aspects of this competition is that if you find a really effective system to convert CO2 into useful compounds, you can also use it here on Earth, transforming what is currently a waste into a resource.

NASA is working extensively to explore the space and other planets. This year, first they launched a mission to the sun, then they showed plans for lunar settlements and now they are progressing towards colonizing the Mars.