NASA is turning to entrepreneurs to help catapult us to space—quite literally and figuratively.

NASA is calling all entrepreneurs through its newly-launched pilot Entrepreneurs Challenge to seek fresh ideas from new participants to bolster the agency’s science and space exploration goals with new tools and technologies, at lower costs.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, based in Washington D.C., is seeking novel ideas from technologists and entrepreneurs in areas including machine learning, artificial intelligence, autonomy, robotics and advanced sensors.

“There’s a lot of energy and fresh thinking as a result of the entrepreneurial spirit that has emerged in our field over the past few years,” said Michael Seablom, NASA’s chief technologist for science in a statement. “We want to be sure we’re not leaving good ideas on the table or missing the contributions some of these potential partners could make to the exciting science missions coming up.”

For its inaugural round, the three focus areas earmarked by the agency are:

  • Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence for autonomous spacecraft and surface rovers, as well as for Earth observation and disaster management
  • Advanced mass spectrometry for life detection and other science applications, using low-power and low-mass instrumentation.
  • Quantum sensors that support high precision assessments of gravity, magnetic fields, dark energy, and other measurements to support NASA science.

The challenge works like this: NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will award $100,000 in prize funding following a three-stage process. Read the full story here.