Nasa wants help in proposing sustainable living techniques for a trip to Mars. On 18 January it launched the Waste to Base materials challenge: sustainable reprocessing in space on the crowdsourcing website HeroX. The challenge runs until 15 March, by which time entrants will have to submit their solution for how to turn waste materials into useful items for the mission.
The four waste products Nasa is most keen for entrants to tackle are general trash, faecal matter, foam packaging and exhaled carbon dioxide. Nasa suggests that useful products could be propellants or feedstock for 3D printers.
Any journey to Mars will last for at least two, maybe three years. As such, it will be economically impossible to keep resupplying the mission. Instead, astronauts will have to live in the most sustainable way possible. Nasa aims to develop a robust “materials ecosystem” so these missions can take less and recycle more.
At the time of writing, 27 teams and 373 individuals have indicated an interest in pursuing the challenge. Judging the entries will take about a month, and the winners will be announced on 26 April. A total of $24,000 in prize money will be awarded across numerous entries.