Nasa is calling students in the age group from five to 19 to help the space agency design 3D containers that could be used in space.

Nasa, along with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, has launched a series of “Future Engineers” 3D Space Challenges for students focused on solving real-world space exploration problems.

The 3D Space Container Challenge is the second in the series where students will create and submit a digital 3D model of a container that they think astronauts could use.

Containers are vital to plant growth in space. Plant containers have to help roots get water and leaves get CO2 – even in zero gravity.

Astronauts use containers to study fruit flies too. The disease genes in those little bugs closely match humans.

“Since they only live about 50 days, we can study them to predict the effects of spaceflight on us over a lifespan or even over multiple generations,” the US space agency posted on its website.

On the International Space Station (ISS), everything needs to be neatly stored or tied down, otherwise it will float away. That’s why astronauts have containers for everything — spare parts, trash, food.

In the future, astronauts will need to collect all sorts of stuff on missions to an asteroid, Mars or other deep space destinations