When we first heard of this challenge, we weren't aware of what a lava tube was and thought it may be the same for most people so we decided to make an accessible game, that's easy to play, but efficient in transmitting information.
You, the main character, a.k.a. Robbie the robot, have landed on Mars and have to collect information and resources to help humans colonize the planet. This game has two stages :
First, you're on Mars' ground, subject to radiation, dust storms and frostiness. Due to these threats, you are constantly losing life, so you must hurry to find shelter! And what can be better shelter on Mars than pre-existing lava tubes, already deep underground? On a map generated with real pictures of Mars' surface, you must try to find access to lava tubes by drilling surface incongruities, like noticeable holes and bumps. If this place really is an entrance, then CONGRATULATIONS! You're going into stage two!
When you're underground, you'll have to collect resources in order to stay alive, repair yourself, or to finally find suitable places for humans to live. Avoid encounters with bearstronauts, swimming in lava, and these lava tubes could totally embrace human life! Once you've completely discovered all resources in a level of a zone, you get an upgrade allowing you to explore another zone on the Martian surface to find an another entrance, while flagging these entrances "fully explored"!
Beyond gaming, people will learn simple but useful things about Mars exploration.
While collecting resources, explanations will appear to explain how these resources would be used, the possibilities for using the lava tubes in order to create a fully functional human society and the threats people will have to fight and how.
While searching for entrances, the game will collect the real coordinates of the incongruities picked by people, and if they are picked by an enough people, this data will be sent to NASA, who will have the opportunity to verify this information. It's named crowd-sourcing, and it's using the most powerful computer in the world: the human brain.
It's simple, it's competitive - with a score to compare with your peers, and also helping real research for possible human colonization.