NASA is trying to figure out how future astronauts will survive the long trip to Mars. The agency is asking for ideas and offering a $500,000 prize.
NASA's Vascular Tissue Challenge is part of the agency's citizen inventor prize program.
"We are looking at people that are not normally associated with NASA in solving NASA problems to come and help us get to Mars," says NASA's Monsi Roman.
She says the agency wants to test the effects of deep space on humans without actually using humans. Creating thick tissue that function like organs in the human body will help NASA test how to mitigate radiation and other hostile environments.
Roman says the challenge could also speed up new research and development in the field of organ transplants.
"We could potentially help people that need organs on earth by taking their cells and growing tissue that functionally works like what they need," says Roman.
The $500,000 prize will be divided among the first three teams that successfully create thick, metabolically-functional human vascularized organ tissue.