Washington: The US space agency NASA has announced the opening of registration for its "Mars Balance Mass Challenge" and the launch of its new website - "NASA Solve".
"NASA is committed to engaging the public, and specifically the maker community, through innovative activities like the Mars Balance Mass Challenge," said NASA chief technologist David Miller.
"NASA Solve is a great way for members of the public, makers and other citizen scientists to see all NASA challenges and prizes in one location," he added.
The "Mars Balance Mass Challenge" seeks design ideas for small science and technology payloads that could potentially also serve a dual purpose as ejectable balance masses on spacecrafts entering the Martian atmosphere.
The payloads will, thus, serve two roles: Perform scientific or technology functions that help us learn more about the Red Planet and provide the necessary weight to balance planetary landers.
"We want people to get involved in our journey to Mars. This challenge is a creative way to bring innovative ideas into our planning process, and perhaps help NASA find another way to pack more science and technology into a mission," informed Lisa May, the lead programme executive for NASA's Mars exploration programme.
The last date for submissions is Nov 21.
A winner will be announced in mid-January 2015 and receive an award of $20,000.