Thank You To All Our Students K-12 (age 5-18) Participants Globally

Explore Mars Innovation Challenge Announces Tie for Winners and the Semi-Finalists in 2023 Mars Innovation Challenge

The Explore Mars Innovation Challenge, a STEM/STEAM initiative aimed at fostering creativity and problem-solving skills among young minds, had a tie for the overall winners of this year's competition. With 221 students from 19 countries, defining an overall winner proved an arduous task. In addition, a distinguished list of semi-finalists has been unveiled across various age groups, showcasing the exceptional talent and ingenuity of participants.

The Mars Innovation Challenge, organized by Explore Mars, Inc. called upon aspiring innovators in grades K-12 to tackle the daunting task of conceptualizing future innovations to help humans thrive on Mars and problem solve for Earth. Participants were encouraged to think beyond conventional boundaries and present groundbreaking ideas that could potentially revolutionize human exploration of the Red Planet.

After a rigorous evaluation process, the panel of esteemed judges faced an extraordinary situation where two submissions stood out as exceeding Martian expectations! As a result, the Explore Mars Innovation Challenge proudly announces a tie for the winners of this year's competition. Both projects impressed the judges with their innovative thinking, technical prowess, and potential impact on future Mars missions.

The winners, A. J. C. and Rohan D. from the U.S. with their “Ridge Solar Gardens,” and Barnabas P. from Turkey with his “MarsMallow2in1” split the $2400 dollar cash prize and will have a chance to Zoom with an expert to further discuss their winning entries. Their exceptional achievements and groundbreaking ideas exemplify the spirit of exploration and innovation that the Explore Mars Innovation Challenge aims to foster.

In addition to the winners, the Explore Mars Innovation Challenge recognizes the outstanding efforts of the following Semi-Finalists in each age group:

These Semi-Finalists have demonstrated exceptional creativity, scientific acumen, and a deep understanding of the challenges involved in Mars exploration.

Grades K-2

Pandy A.

Draco B.

Ale R.

Hedy and Tootie

Elli N and Devin M

Team Energy

Team Mars

Watch Video Pitch K-2(age 5-8)

Grades 3-5

Nicole H.

Martina G.

Sezin School

Anthony N.

Team Perseverance

Team Project Underground

Team Mission Ares

Algaes Explicación

Watch Video Pitch 3-5(AGE 9-11)

Grades 6-9

Eric Y

Sage K.

Noah F.

Cartas Team 213

Casa Marte

Team Opportunity

Mariana R.

Watch Video Pitch 6-9(AGE 12-15)

Grades 10-12

Ensayo Mars

Planeta Rojo Columbia

Hella Prima

Project Aegis

Martian Sheep

Watch Video Pitch 10-12(AGE 16-18)

Explore Mars, Inc. (“Explore Mars”) invites you to participate in The Mars Innovation Challenge, a solo or team-based challenge for students K-12 (age 5-18) globally.  Students can enter individually or register as a team to solve a real-world problem faced by future explorers to Mars and present an innovation to help problem solve for humans surviving, living, and thriving on Mars

Anticipate, Innovate, & Solve 1 of the 3 mission critical needs:

  • Surface Habitats, Survivability, Sustainability and Environmental Control/Life Support System (ECLSS)
  • Biological and Physiological Impacts on Humans
  • Habitat and Research Infrastructure and Architecture

Submission & Registration Is Now Closed for MIC 2023

Thank You To All Our Students K-12 (age 5-18) Participants Globally

Registration and Who Can Enter:

  • Students can register individually, as a team, or teachers can register their entire class.
  • The contest is open globally to students K-12 (age 5-18).

Grades (Participants/Teams will be grouped via the following Grade Level or Age)

K-2 (age 5-8)     3-5 (age 9-11)    6-9 (age 12-15)    10-12 (age 16-18)


Anticipate, Innovate, & Solve by selecting from one of the three topic areas below and choose one specific challenge to use for your Mars Innovation Challenge “Solution.”

ex. Topic area = 1. Surviving Mars  | Challenge = Food - How will science help us grow food on Mars?


Research and develop your teams solutions.  **Subject Matter Expert Videos are available in each of the three topics to help with research and design. 

Please also create a drawing, CAD drawing, and/or illustration to visualize your innovation and include it in your submission. 


Prepare your or your teams submission to include an essay of the proper word count (indicated below) for your age and grade level. Your essay is a written summary explaining how your idea or design works on Mars, outlining and describing your Mars Innovation, listing how it solves a challenge on Mars, and what you will build to solve that challenge. Please also include an image of your innovation/design.

K-2 150-200 words    3-5 250-400 words    6-9 500-750 words   10-12 1000-1200 words 

You and your team don’t have to actually build your innovation/design, but you are asked to imagine a Mars Innovation that answers these questions:

  • How does your physical design operate on the Red Planet?
  • How does your Mars Innovation rely on existing resources, aka what we find on Mars or re-use what we’ve already sent to Mars? (In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU))
  • How does your Mars Innovation also benefit humans on Earth?
  • How does the design and operation of your Mars Innovation Solution meet the big challenges of living on Mars?

Please record a 2-5 minute video of yourself/crew explaining how your Mars Innovation works, how it will be implemented, and how it has positive repercussions for humans on Earth.

For extra Martian points, create a slogan for your product and a 30-second commercial for your product!


Using the designated submission buttons for your challenge group (k-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-12), Submit all materials, essay with minimum word count, image/drawing/illustration, video, and signed and complete Media Consent form included in your Welcome kit and available for download here

Submission & Registration Is Now Closed for MIC 2023

Thank You To All Our Students K-12 (age 5-18) Participants Globally

Explore Mars, Inc. uses Google Non-Profits to manage our logistics. The Submission forms used  in the “Mars Innovation Challenge'' require that you have or create a free Google Account in order to upload your Challenge submissions. Please refer to the link here to create your free Google account. If you are unable to sign up please contact and we’ll work with you to assist  with your participation in the Mars Innovation Challenge. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to being inspired by your brilliance! Ad Ares!


25%: How it will work, how it will help humans on Mars, and how it will help benefit humans on Earth

25%: Creativity of your Mars Innovation

25%: Feasibility of your Mars Innovation and how it will advance human space exploration 

25%: Quality of your written essay about your Mars Innovation


1) Please give your innovation a name and title.

2) All material to be original to the submitter. No plagiarism, and no entering copyrighted material. Your entry must be original and 100% created by YOU.

3) No inappropriate content. Submissions that violate this rule will be ineligible and will not be considered for judging. 

4) Do not include your full name, address, school name, phone number, or place of residence in your submission. This information should only be entered in the Media Consent Release filled out by your grown-up or guardian. Submissions will be reviewed for eligibility, compliance, privacy, and student safety prior to being displayed in the gallery.



AWARDS:  All eligible teams will receive an Explore Mars Completion Certificate. In addition, Presentations/Art/Images/Essays will be shared on social media platforms including Explore Mars and Janet’s Planet. 

Ten semifinalists will receive a group Zoom with Mars Subject Matter Experts, and the finalist from each category will win a one-on-one virtual session with a Mars Subject Matter Expert.

The top five innovation challenge winners and ideas will have their videos played during the Humans2Mars Summit 2023.

The overall (1st place) winner (individual/team) of the Mars Innovation Challenge will receive a cash award of $2400 and an invitation for the student/team and one chaperone to present their winning Mars Innovation Challenge Solution in person at the 2023 Humans to Mars Summit (H2M 2023), May 16-18, 2023 at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington D.C. (Admission fees for the winning student/team and one chaperone to the H2M 2023 conference are waived, but any and all travel, accommodations, and other expenses to attend the conference are the responsibility of the winning student/team and chaperone.)

All eligible participants are invited as guests (admission fees waived) of Explore Mars, Inc. to attend H2M 2023!


Winners will be announced on or about May 12, 2023.