NASA Launches CO2 Conversion Challenge
When it comes to sending crewed missions to Mars NASA wants to send them along with a technology that can convert carbon dioxide into an energy source.
So, the agency has begun their CO2 Conversion Challenge as a way to rally the public to find a way to turn the abundance of carbon dioxide found on the red planet into a useful source of energy for the astronauts.
This competition can yield promising results that will help Asgardia achieve their goal of setting up habitable platforms in low-Earth orbit.
Monsi Roman, a Centennial Challenges program manager explained that to sustain human life on another planet necessitates vast resources and we cannot possibly bring everything we will need. Roman added that if we can transform an existing and plentiful resource such as carbon dioxide into numerous helpful products, space — and terrestrial — applications are limitless.
The competition is aimed at producing glucose, a compound composed of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. On our planet, glucose or soluble sugar is copious and cheap since they are produced by plants.
But, due to the extreme conditions on Mars, recreating that method is virtually impossible. Resources like water, energy, and even the crew needed to oversee the creation of glucose via plants are extremely limited.
The press release about the competition stated that glucose is the target sugar product in this challenge since it is the easiest to metabolize and it will optimize conversion efficiency. It could be used as the feedstock for systems that can efficiently produce a variety of other products.
Whichever design wins could also be used here on Earth as a way to lessen the carbon dioxide given off into the atmosphere and hopefully, reverse the effects of global warming.
There will be two phases to competition entries: Phase 1 is the submission of the idea and Phase 2 is construction and demonstration.
Those who want to participate must submit a design with a description of their approach, including the process that will turn the carbon into glucose. Up to five teams will be chosen and each team will receive $50,000 to fund their idea.
Phase 2 or the demonstration portion is where the chosen team builds and demonstrates their design. The most promising method will win $750,000.
Registration is now open through the NASA CO2 Conversion Challenge website. The space agency will continue to accept submissions until Feb. 28, 2019.
If you have an idea that can help turn the dream of living in space into a practical reality then join Asgardia today and let your voice be heard!
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