NASA is hoping to send humans to Mars in the next couple of decades. Undoubtedly, the space agency has the know-how to launch manned missions to the Red Planet, and now, it has announced a public challenge in the hopes of gathering more ideas on futuristic missions to Mars.
The latest NASA challenge is inviting the public to write detailed plans for developing the elements needed for continuous human presence on Mars. The plan should include important aspects of sustaining life on the Red Planet, such as food, shelter, medicine, social interactions, physical activity, breathable air, water and communication.
While these elements are necessities, NASA is encouraging people to consider ideas beyond these examples. NASA wants participants to describe one or more operations or capabilities that will be required to achieve a continuous human presence on the planet with the least reliance from the Earth.
"What do you need to bring, and how do you minimize the need for delivery of future supplies in order to establish a sustained human presence on a planet 140 million miles away from Earth?" asks NASA on the webpage announcing the challenge. "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."
NASA has also announced a cash reward for the challenge that three people can win.
"Awards will be paid out in increments of $5,000 (minimum) up to a potential total award pool of $15,000. The awards are not guaranteed, however; the Seeker expects to pay out 1-3 awards in total assuming the submissions meet the criteria," states NASA on its challenge page on Innocentive.
NASA's plans of sending humans to Mars are already underway. The space agency already has a number of rovers exploring the Martian surface and spacecraft hovering the planet to gather as much information needed to send humans to the Red Planet soon.
Until now, humans have only landed on the moon, and NASA as well as other space agencies are working hard to land the first humans on Mars. A previous report suggests that NASA is planning to send the first humans to Mars in 2030.
The challenge is purely theoretical and only a written submission is required. Participants have only a couple of months to develop a written plan and make a submission before the challenge deadline of July 6, 2015.