One of the research areas that NASA is involved in is the Asteroid Redirect Mission. This happens to be one of the key elements of study that hope to put humans on Mars. Although they have their own resources to explore the options, NASA is throwing open their doors to new ideas and creative solutions from folks involved in studies that can help them in their mission.
If you happen to be involved in such research, NASA asks that you visit their original Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) listings. The announcement states that the agency is looking for concept studies in areas like “asteroid capture systems, rendezvous sensors and adapting commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Mission”. They are also hoping to connect and form partnerships with those involved in “feasibility studies for secondary payloads” and crewed missions.
To give you a brief background on what NASA's Asteroid Initiative is, the agency has broken the mission into two parts: the Asteroid Grand Challenge and the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The former is focused on developing new partnerships that will expedite the prevailing planetary defense work and the latter focuses on how to “collect and redirect an asteroid” to a point where astronauts can probe and explore it.
In short this daredevil mission involves identifying an asteroid, sending in a robotic mission that can ‘capture and redirect’ it to an orbit beyond the moon, and finally sending in astronauts in NASA's Orion spacecraft to work on the asteroid and send back samples to mother earth. All of this ties in with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars.
According to William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, the agency is hoping to tap into the vast creative pool of ideas from outside that align with their man-on-mars vision. Only twenty-five proposals will make the cut, with $6 million reserved for their funding. You can find more details on this mission through NASA's official portal, and keep yourself updated through the NASA forum - and through SlashGear as well, of course.
NASA hopes to keep the general public engaged in the ongoing Asteroid Redirect Mission and keep them abreast with the Asteroid Grand Challenge as well. So much so that NASA Television and an online stream is a part of the coverage, for which you can register and stay updated.