Washington: NASA has launched a public competition that asks people to find solutions to turn carbon dioxide into molecules that would help astronauts endure the harsh atmosphere on the Red Planet.

Called the "CO2 Conversion Challenge", the competition asks public to discover ways to develop novel synthesis technologies that use carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source to generate molecules that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including "substrates" for use in microbial bioreactors.

"Because CO2 is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere, such technologies will translate into in-situ manufacturing of products to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet," said NASA in a statement on Sunday.

It will also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric CO2 as a resource, read the information on NASA Conversion Challenge website.

The challenge asks individuals, teams and organisations to design and develop technology that has the potential to be useful on Mars and on Earth.

The NASA competition has two phases, with a total prize of up to $1 million.

In the first phase, which is the concept challenge, five finalists will receive an award of $50,000 each.

In the second phase, where the selected candidates would have to build and demonstrate their solutions, the prize is up to $750,000, said NASA.