By Hallie Detrick
September 3, 2018

If you think you could’ve outlasted Matt Damon on Mars, NASA has just the competition for you.

For a potential prize of $1 million, the government space agency is inviting the public to submit ideas about how to turn carbon dioxide, which is plentiful on the red planet, into glucose, which is more useful for human consumption. The goal is to allow astronauts to visit Mars with fewer materials and ultimately “to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet.”

Earth, meanwhile, could also use some CO2 innovation. CO2 levels here are higher than they’ve ever been, and that’s contributing to climate change. As such, NASA hopes to implement successful methods of converting CO2 to glucose at home as well; such advancements could put waste and atmospheric CO2 to good use.

If CO2 conversion isn’t your thing, you can still help get humans to Mars. Through the Centennial Challenges Program, which aims to stimulate innovation inside and outside the traditional aerospace community, NASA has also asked for help controlling a humanoid robot in a simulated mission to Mars and with building “sustainable housing for deep space.”

NASA isn’t the only organization trying to get people on Mars. Boeing and SpaceX are also working on plans to get humans to travel to and colonize Mars, and Elon Musk says SpaceX could begin a mission to Mars as early as 2022.

Entries for the CO2 Conversion Challenge are open through January 24, 2019.

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