NASA is challenging people throughout the United States to come up with a new and efficient way to convert carbon dioxide into glucose, a simple sugar. CO2 dominates the thin atmosphere of Mars, and energy-rich glucose is a great fuel for microbe-milking "bioreactors" that could manufacture a variety of items for future settlers of the Red Planet, NASA officials said.
"Enabling sustained human life on another planet will require a great deal of resources, and we cannot possibly bring everything we will need. We have to get creative,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, which is running the new $1 million "CO2 Conversion Challenge."
"If we can transform an existing and plentiful resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products, the space — and terrestrial — applications are endless," Roman said in a NASA statement.