NASA announces winners for Mars challenge on achieving Earth independence

[USA] NASA invited the public to submit their ideas for developing the elements necessary to establish a continuous human presence on Mars, with an ever decreasing need to be reliant on Earth, approaching Earth independence. Participants were encouraged to consider innovative and creative elements necessary to maintain a permanent human presence in deep space.

NASA awarded $5,000 to each of the three winners who described the development of capabilities and operational events necessary, in both the near- and long-term, to advance this bold journey:

  • Arthur Ruff, from Toronto, Canada, for his entry: Mars Igloo: An ISRU Habitat.
  • Pierre Blosse, from Urbandale, Iowa, for his entry: Starch from the Microalgae Chlorella as the Main Food Source for a Self-Sustaining Martian Colony.
  • Aaron Aliaga from Menifee, California and Maleen Kidiwela from Irving, Texas, for their entry: Mars Settlement Concepts.

Participants were asked to describe one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities and operations that are needed to achieve this goal and, to the greatest extent possible, are technically achievable, economically sustainable, and minimize reliance on support from Earth.

The agency received 771 submissions, which were judged on relevance, creativity, simplicity, resource efficiency, feasibility, comprehensiveness and scalability. NASA awarded $15,000 in total prizes.

“The overwhelming response to this challenge demonstrates that the global community is personally interested in contributing to the continued exploration of deep space,” said Larry Toups, systems engineer within the Exploration Mission Planning Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “While the experience and expertise of engineers, scientists and mission planners within NASA may provide the foundation for this exploration, the creativity uncovered by these types of challenges will enable the larger global community to actively participate in this exploration.”

NASA is embarking on a journey to Mars that will take humans further into deep space than ever before to establish a sustained human presence on a planet 140 million miles away from Earth. Given spacecraft limitations on weight and volume — and a minimum 500 days between resupply opportunities — innovative solutions are required for a mission to Mars that is not dependent on Earth for resources. Going to Mars won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge NASA is excited to take on.

The more technologies that can make us less dependent on supplies from Earth, the closer we become to being able to live and work on Mars. Engineers and scientists around the country today are working hard to develop the capabilities astronauts will use on Mars and to safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity. A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers already are on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The International Space Station is testing systems and is being used to learn more about the health impacts of extended space travel. NASA also is building and testing its next generation of launch and crew vehicles — the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crewed spacecraft.

For more information about NASA’s journey to Mars, see:


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