Topic outline

  •   2023 Contest:

    Healthy Humans in Healthy Places 

    What  and when would you eat to live well in space and  return to earth?

    New! The 2023 Timeline and Prizes have been updated

    Previous winning Papers

     The 2022 Winner was Dr. Maria Kuman, Ph.D

    Her winning paper will be made available on an NSS Forum soon to be announced.

    Email inquiries or comments to

    The winner 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 4/18/23


  • Contest Entry Instructions:

     1.  Go to the Log-in banner and Log in.

                  Select "First Time Here?" and complete the form.

    Who's eligible to enter? Anyone18 years or older, anywhere in the world.                        

     A Welcome email message will be sent within 24 hours.

    Step 2. Read Rationale and Guidelines

    Step 3Read and Print "Information about Entering the Contest:" Disclaimer, Rights Granted and Liability

    Step 4. Download and sign Terms and Conditions

    Step 5. Upload signed Terms and Conditions

    Step 6. Download and sign Entry Requirements and Rules

    Step 7. Upload signed Entry Requirements and Rules

    Step 8. Write your white Paper

    Step 9. Submit completed white paper

  • Contest Timeline and Prizes

    Contest Timeline for 2023:
    • Early submissions will be accepted 
    • July 16 2023 submission deadline
    • August 21, 2023 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 are a means for establishing a healthy universe. The best paper on this subject will receive a cash award and a scholarship toward an MMAARS analog mission in Mojave, California, to test their plan. 

    We invite you to explore space flight to Mars and the challenges space flight poses.  Are you ready to make a healthy entry into a healthy universe for our next space adventure? Imagine yourself traveling in space for several months or years. What health challenges might you encounter and how would you meet those challenges? The contest topic is "A HEALTHY UNIVERSE"  

    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, which 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 a healthy universe do yourecommend?"

  • 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.