NASA offers cash prize to anyone who can convert CO2 into other molecules NASA has just announced the groundbreaking CO2 Conversion Challenge. The American space agency is asking teams of scientists to find a method which reliably converts carbon dioxide into other molecules. While the primary focus is glucose, the instructions leave the challenge open-ended. The kicker? There’s a cash prize for those who successfully complete the task. Going Further Means Cutting Weight With space travel entering a new era, NASA has decided to change their approach. In the past, everything required for a mission had to be onboard with the astronauts. Now that missions are going further into space, space agencies are having to cut back on what they send up. The driving factor behind this change is cost. As of September 2018, it costs about $10,000 to send one pound of material into orbit. One way to cut down on cost is to convert abundant molecules into usable ones. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s actually possible. Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact In The Martian, protagonist Mark Watney converted hydrazine and oxygen gas into water. While not as simple as the movie portrays, the principle works in the real world. Using the same concept, carbon dioxide can be manipulated to make many other molecules. CO2 can be built into complex sugars or broken into its component parts to make oxygen. Furthermore, scientists think CO2 can be used to produce a viable fuel source. All of this means carbon dioxide gas would be vital for future missions to Mars. Knowing that CO2 makes up 95 percent of the Martian atmosphere helps drive research. Get Paid for Your Idea But NASA knows this work won’t come easy. So agency experts are prepared to pay out up to $250,000 to no more than five proposals. Once finalists have been identified, they will move on to Phase 2 and compete for an award of up to $750,000. If you think you know how to solve the problem, apply as soon as possible. Registration ends on January 24, 2019, and final applications are due by February 28. .