NASA has big plans to get astronauts to Mars and wants to keep them there for a while. To accomplish this, it will need to figure out a way to feed them and just shipping a ton of pre-packed foods will not do.
Dubbed a ‘Deep Space Challenge’, the agency is hosting a million-dollar challenge to solve its challenge of sustainably feeding astronauts on deep-space missions.
The contest sounds simple enough: You and your team must design, build, and demonstrate a successful prototype of “food production technologies” that could be replicated on other cosmic bodies.
“Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home.”
The first round of the challenge launched (see what I did there) last October with 18 teams competing for the prize. The winning teams split $450,000 last time, but the prize pool has increased this time around.
For those interested in participating, you have to supply the necessary registration information by the end of February. You can find more details on how to register, and the requirements, on the challenge’s site here.
“Over time, food loses its nutritional value. That means for a multi-year mission to Mars, bringing along pre-packaged food will not meet all the needs for maintaining astronaut health,” NASA’s description of the challenge reads. “Additionally, food insecurity is a significant, chronic problem on Earth in both urban and rural communities. Disasters that disrupt supply chains further aggravate food shortages. Developing compact and innovative advanced food system solutions through initiatives such as the Deep Space Food Challenge could have applications in home and community-based local food production, providing new solutions for humanitarian responses to floods and droughts, and new technologies for rapid deployment following disasters.”
It is now your time to shine, so get a team of organic science majors and partner up with some engineers to get it solved.
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