Topic outline

  • A University Student & Citizen-Scientist Contest of the

    National Space Society (NSS) Space Health and Medicine Committee

    in Cooperation with

    Mars Academy USA (MAU)

    The Two Winners Presented Their Papers on the August  6, 2020, NSS Forum. The links to their presentations will be posted here soon.                                                                              ___________________________Updated August 8, 2020.

    The First place winner, Ms. Alix Hughes (left), is a native of Ireland and lives in Dublin.  She is  a  Master of Science candidate in Space Physiology and  Health at King's College, London.  Second prize winner, Mr. Stellie Ford (right), of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a citizen scientist with  a Master of Science degree in Tissue Engineering from Drexel University.  You will find their papers and their presentations below.

    Alix Hughes, First Place WinnerMAU Logo@2x.png

  • Introduction

    Health professionals agree that diet and the composition of diet is a key to a healthy prolonged life.  "Keto” is currently a hot diet topic in the clinical research and social media communities.  We must “strike while the iron is hot” to fold this broad interest in diet into preparing for long-duration space flight (LDSF).  All sorts of diets and variations of diets are being considered. So...Are you ready to figure out what to eat for our next great adventure into outer space?  

    We want you to explore and share your passion about LDSF and the challenges it poses.  Imagine yourself traveling in space for several months or years. What challenges might you encounter and how would you meet those challenges?  The topic of the contest is 'PLAN A DIET TO SUPPORT LONG DURATION SPACE FLIGHT” Do you support the use of a ketogenic diet for a model mission to Mars?  If so, describe the body of evidence to support your conclusion. If not, then propose an alternative diet that addresses the known health issues associated with LDSF.

    Profesor Thomas N. SeyfriedAs a place to start with your evidence search, look at the work of Prof. Thomas N. Seyfried who, contrary to the conventional model of carcinogenesis, has demonstrated that cancer initiates in abnormally functioning mitochondria. The genetic damage commonly found in the nuclei of cancer cells is secondary to the mitochondrial dysfunction, and is not entirely due to external factors like ionizing radiation and reactive toxins that directly damages genetic material.

    The substance of the challenge to you is: Can we protect against the damaging effects of radiation the same way we are learning to protect against the damaging effects of food choices and toxins commonly ingested in daily life on earth? 

    New and Simplified! Rationale and Complete Guidelines for the Contest

    • 2020 Prizes and Schedule

      Note:  The 2020 Contest is now complete. We will be announcing a new Contest for 2021 

      • View the 2020 forms below.  The 2021 Contest forms will be similar.
      • The 2020 Contest had the following timeline: 
      • April 30, 2020: Submission Deadline.
      • May 25, 2020: Winner(s) announced.
      • August 6, 2020: NSS Space Forum virtual presentation of winners
      First place and second place prizes:
      • $1000 scholarships have been awarded to the winning individuals. The scholarship prize will be applied to the mission participation fee to join a Mars Academy USA (MAU) low-fidelity analog mission in 2021.  An administrative fee of $350.00 is the responsibility of each participant and must be paid prior to beginning the mission.
      •  In addition to the scholarship, a $3,500 cash prize is being awarded to the first place winner, Ms. Alix Hughes.  $2000 of the $3,500 prize will be awarded upon presentation of the winning paper at an on-line webinar scheduled for August 6, 2020, in lieu of the cancelled 2020 ISDC conference.  The balance of $1500 will be awarded after completion of the MAU analog mission.
      • In addition to the scholarship, a $1000 cash prize is being awarded to the second-place winner, Mr. Stellie Ford.  $600 will be awarded upon presentation of the winning paper at an on-line webinar scheduled for August 6 in lieu of the cancelled 2020 ISDC conference.  The balance of $400 will be awarded after completion of the MAU analog mission.
      • Missions are seven days consisting of two days pre-mission, four days in mission and one day post mission.  There are three levels of missions: low fidelity (entry level), mid-fidelity, and high fidelity.  The awarded mission is a low fidelity mission conducted in the Los Angeles area.  Subsequent mid- or high-fidelity  missions require completion of the low fidelity mission. Follow the MAU link (below) for full details.
      • The winners will be published or profiled in Ad Astra magazine, the official publication of the National Space Society.
      • Winners will be assisted to publish and present in academic or other prominent scientific publications.
      • Other prizes are listed below.

      IMPORTANT:  All scholarship amounts exclude the additional costs for:  administration fees, mandatory accommodations and travel costs for Pre-/Post- Analog Mission Training days and cost of purchasing flight suits.  Scholarship prizes must be redeemed when the analog mission takes place or when rescheduled.




      Teams (limited to 5 members) There were no 2020 team entries


      1 $1,000 scholarship

      1 cash prize to the first place of $3,500

      1 cash prize to the second place of $1000

      1 ISDC registration ro each

      1 NSS Membership to each

      Awards given as described above

      Publication in Ad Astra magazine

      May be invited to present paper at future ISDC

      1 $2,500 scholarship

      1 cash prize $3,500 to be divided evenly among the team

      1 ISDC registration

      Up to 5 NSS Memberships

      Award given at ISDC

      Publication in Ad Astra magazine

      May present paper at ISDC


      • Instructions to Enter the Contest


        1.  Go back to the top and create an account in your name. This will register you. You must register in order to upload your Contest documents. You will also begin receiving periodic updates and helpful information. 

        2.  Download, read, sign, and upload the Entry Requirements and Rules (Step 1 and Step 2). To upload: when the link comes up, click on it and your file will be uploaded.

        3.  Download, read, sign, and upload the Terms and Conditions (Step 3 and Step 4). To upload: when the link comes up, click on it and your file will be uploaded.

        4.  Enter/Edit/Upload your contest submission (Step 5).

      • Resources and Hot Topics