Topic outline

  •       Write a paper to answer:

    How would changes to food selection, nutrition, and nutrient timing promote a healthy lifespan?

    Paper Guidance

    Complete Timeline and Prizes

    Previous winning Papers

    Email contest entry paper/questions to

     by August 28, 2022

    Winners will receive the first half of the prize money when they present their paper at an NSS live event to be scheduled

    • MMAARS logo

      Updated 8/4/22


  • Contest Timeline and Prizes

    Contest Timeline:
    • Early submissions will be accepted 
    • August 28, 2022 submission deadline
    • September 30, 2022 winner(s) announced
    • NSS live presentation to be scheduled
    First place prizes for individuals:
    • $1,000 scholarship/s will be awarded to the winning individual/s and will be applied to the mission participation fee to join a Mars-Moon Astronautics Academy and Research Science (MMAARS) low-fidelity analog mission.
    • $3,500 cash prize
    •        $1,750 will be awarded upon presentation of the winning paper at a live NSS event
    •        $1,750 will be awarded after completion of the MMAARS analog mission
    Second place prizes for individuals:
    • $1,000 scholarship/s will be awarded to the winning individual/s and will be applied to the mission participation fee to join a Mars-Moon Astronautics Academy and Research Science (MMAARS) low-fidelity analog mission.
    • $1,000 cash prize
    •       $500 will be awarded upon presentation of the winning paper at an on-line webinar to be scheduled. 
    •       $500 will be awarded upon completion of the MMAARS analog mission.
    Team prizes (teams are limited to five members):
    • $2,500 team scholarship
    • $3,500 cash prize to be divided evenly among the team
    • NSS Webinar or Forum presentation
    • NSS Memberships for each team member
    • Publication in Ad Astra magazine
    Winners may be invited to present their paper at a future NSS International Space Development Conference (ISDC).

    MMAARS Analog Missions are conducted near the Mojave Spaceport.  Mission description:

    Mission Descriptions
    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 Mojave area. Subsequent mid- or high-fidelity missions require completion of the low fidelity mission. Follow the MMAARS link, , for full details. The winners will be published or profiled in Ad Astra magazine, the official publication of the National Space Society, will be assisted to publish and present in academic or other prominent scientific publications.

    All scholarship amounts exclude the additional costs for: administration fee of $550 , 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. The administrative fee includes on-line (virtual) preparation for the mission.
  • Judging Guidelines- for Judges and Administrators- Open to Guests

  • Contest Motivation

    Food selection, nutrition, nutrient timing, and lifestyle changes will be a blueprint to improve healthy lifespan ("healthspan") on Earth and Mars. The best blueprint will receive a cash award and a scholarship toward an MMAARS analog mission in Mojave, California, to test their blueprint. 

    The topic of the contest is "Blueprint Your Healthy Lifespan for Earth and Mars."  We invite you to explore space flight to Mars and the challenges space flight poses.  Are you ready to blueprint a healthy lifespan for our next adventure in outer space? Imagine yourself traveling in space for several months or years. What challenges might you encounter and how would you meet those challenges?

    Metabolic syndrome severely limits healthspan. Dr. Benjamin Bikman, Professor of Pathophysiology, Brigham Young University Medical School, a renowned expert on ketogenic diet and insulin resistance, states "between 50% and 80% of the American public has one or more symptoms of metabolic inflexibility, otherwise known as metabolic syndrome." The hallmark of metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance limits our capacity for production and use of energy. Fats are a more efficient and less damaging source of energy for the body than sugars.

    Cancer risk from radiation on exploration class space missions is high on the list of NASA's "red risks" for long-duration space flight. Reducing this risk is a major objective of this contest via changes in food composition, nutrition, and the timing and frequency of meals. They are considering varieties and variations of diets. Health professionals agree that composition of diet and the timing and frequency of meals is a key to a healthy life with potential for longevity. Presentations from health professionals who support these conclusions are in the Resources section.

    As a place to start, look at the work of Professor Thomas N. Seyfried who, contrary to the conventional model of carcinogenesis, has demonstrated that cancer initiates in abnormally functioning mitochondria. He recognized the early work of Professor Otto Warburg who recognized cancer results from failure of tissues cells to use oxygen for metabolism. This is now broadly recognized as the Warburg Effect. The genetic damage commonly found in the nuclei of cancer cells is secondary to the mitochondrial dysfunction. The genetic damage is not entirely due to external factors like ionizing radiation and reactive toxins, but to food content we "voluntarily" or habitually ingest.  Cancer initiates in abnormally functioning mitochondria.  Professor Seyfried advocates intermittent fasting and/or reducing carbohydrates.

    Dr. Robert H. Lustig, professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of San Francisco, has demonstrated through his clinical practice and research that processed foods high in such things as vegetable oils, fructose and other chemicals introduced with our food, cause injury to mitochondria in the cells throughout the body and compromise their energy generating capacity. NASA researchers in late 2020 published a paper: "Comprehensive Multi-omics Analysis Reveals Mitochondrial Stress as a Central Biological Hub for Spaceflight Impact."

    In your paper you will answer a variety of questions including the question "What biomarkers of healthy metabolism associated with healthy lifespans might be monitored?"

  • Resources

  • Webmaster: William W. Bill Gardiner

  • 2021 Winners

    2021 Contest Winners

    First place winner: 

    Zsuzsanna Benyo

     Zsuzsanna Benyo a B.Sc. student of Dietetics at

    Semmelweis  University of Health Sciences, Budapest, Hungary. 

    Read her paper"IF is not an 'if' but a MUST with Ketogenic-Mediterranean Diet to

     prepare and safeguard  astronauts and humanity for deep-space missions"

    Second place winner: 

    Ms. Katarina Heyden

    Katarina Heyden, a PhD candidate at Cornell University

    studying Molecular Nutrition

    Read her paper:  "A Balanced, Plant-Rich, and Time-Restricted Diet to

    Minimize Health Risks from Space and Improve Metabolic Health" 


  • 2020 Contest Winners

    A University Student & Citizen-Scientist Contest of the

    National Space Society (NSS) Space Health and Medicine Committee

    in Cooperation with

    Mars-Moon Astronautics Academy & Research Science (MMAARS)

    The two 2020 winners presented their papers on the August  6, 2020, NSS Forum.  The links to their presentations are posted below.  (Updated December 14, 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 Kings 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.