WASHINGTON-Young minds are being called on to contribute to humanity’s future space exploration, as NASA calls for proposals from students for the agency’s upcoming mission to the moon.

The Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition is now open and accepting applications from undergraduate and graduate students to develop innovative concepts for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land humans on the moon in 2024, as well as the future exploration of Mars.

“This year’s RASC-AL competition directly addresses the agency’s goals for the Artemis program: returning humans to the moon with the intent to prove concepts for sustainably exploring Mars,” Douglas Craig, manager of strategic analysis for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

The competition spans five themes for aerospace design concepts, including designing a lunar rover to explore the moon’s south pole, developing a Mars mission simulation and planning a short crewed mission to the Red Planet’s surface.

The deadline to submit proposals is March 5, 2020. Up to 15 finalist teams will be selected and flown to the RASC-AL forum in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in June. The final two teams will then present their design projects at a major aerospace conference.

“RASC-AL provides an ideal platform for students to do this kind of meaningful, real-world research. It provides us with different perspectives that keep us on our toes, and it occasionally has us rethinking our approaches for exploring the wonders of space,” Patrick Troutman, human exploration strategic assessments lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center, said in the statement.

“Listening to these students present their work and explain their process is always thought-provoking and helps us investigate many unique trade-space scenarios that could be ultimately be included in NASA program planning,” he said.