NASA wants your ideas for managing waste on future Mars missions

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NASA is seeking public input to help develop new and innovative ideas for waste management on future Mars missions. The US space agency’s latest challenge calls on the global community to develop an ash disposal process for a waste-to-gas reactor that helps space travel be more sustainable.

Dubbed the “Trash-to-Gas Ash Management Challenge”, it seeks design concepts for an efficient method of removing ash from a large-scale Trash-to-Gas reactor in microgravity for later use or disposal. The challenge will help support the development of a sustainable Trash-to-Gas approach that uses a thermal degradation process to convert waste into a gas that the crew could either reuse on board or dispose of via a venting by- overboard of the spacecraft.

The submission deadline for the Trash-to-Gas Ash Management Challenge is May 12, 2022, and the top three ideas will share a $30,000 scholarship.

In January 2022, NASA launched the “Waste to Base Materials Challenge: Sustainable Reprocessing in Space” which seeks ideas for converting waste into useful resources, such as propellant or raw materials for 3D printing, followed by the Waste Jettison Mechanism Challenge in February 2022 which seeks concepts from the public on ways to safely eject materials from a crewed spacecraft.

Crowdsourcing platform HeroX manages all three challenges for NASA.

“Missions to Mars and back are expected to take two to three years. During these long journeys, astronauts will generate a lot of waste, and unlike our crews aboard the International Space Station, they will not benefit from resupply missions at demand. to deliver supplies or remove waste. Some waste can be repurposed into useful materials, or turned into a gas that the crew could use or vent into space, while others will need to be jettisoned safely. safety or ejected from the spacecraft,” NASA wrote in a blog post earlier this week.

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