NASA Future Engineers Challenge Involves Mars Astronauts' Health

The Mars Medical Challenge is the fifth in a series of Future Engineers Challenges where students submit a digital 3-D model that is intended to be 3-D printed and could be used for a wide range of medical needs, including diagnostic, preventative, first aid, emergency, surgical, and/or dental purposes.

NASA is challenging students in grades K-12 to design objects that could be used by an astronaut to maintain physical health on a three-year mission to Mars. The Mars Medical Challenge is the fifth in a series of Future Engineers Challenges where students submit a digital 3-D model that is intended to be 3-D printed and could be used for a wide range of medical needs, including diagnostic, preventative, first aid, emergency, surgical, and/or dental purposes, the agency said Oct. 26.

The health challenges are significant and have been researched by NASA for decades, including aboard the International Space Station, where astronauts have health-related supplies and equipment. NASA's In-Space Manufacturing Project is demonstrating the capability of utilizing 3-D printers and recyclers for in-space additive manufacturing technology aboard the station.

"This is the first step toward realizing a fabrication capability to print on demand, or a 'fab lab,' for long-duration missions and sustaining human exploration of other planets. As humans venture farther from Earth supplies won't be readily available and will be expensive to ship to astronauts, so we are looking at designs that can be printed off-planet using a 3-D printer and recycled when they are no longer needed," according to the agency.

Students ages 5-19 years old are invited to use 3-D modeling software to submit their designs; they can win prizes ranging from a Mars prize pack to a 3-D printer for their school or a trip to Houston for a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center. The challenge closes on Jan. 25, 2017 with winners announced on March 28, 2017.

NASA is doing a series of these challenges in conjunction with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation. For more information on the challenge, visit http://www.futureengineers.org/marsmedical.

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