NASA presents six groundbreaking space technologies for tomorrow

NASA presents six groundbreaking space technologies for tomorrow

A collection of artist concepts highlighting new approaches proposed by the 2024 NIAC Phase II winners for potential future missions. Image source: NASA, from left to right: Edward Balaban, Mary Knapp, Mahmuda Sultana, Brianna Clements, Ethan Schaller

NASAThe Innovative Advanced Concepts Program is developing six “sci-fi-like” space technology projects, including a lunar railway and a liquid telescope.

Six visionary concept studies have been selected by NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program for additional funding and development. Each study has already completed NIAC's initial phase, showing that their future ideas — such as a lunar railway system and fluid-based telescopes — can offer new perspectives and methods as NASA explores the unknown in space.

NIAC's Phase II conceptual studies will receive up to $600,000 to continue work over the next two years to overcome remaining major budgetary and technical hurdles and pave the way for their development. Once Phase II is complete, these studies can advance to NIAC's final phase, receiving additional funding and development considerations to become a future space mission.

“These different, science-fiction-like concepts represent a fascinating class of Phase 2 studies,” said John Nelson, NIAC program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Our colleagues at NIAC never cease to amaze and inspire, and this course certainly gives NASA a lot to think about in terms of what is possible in the future.” »

The six concepts selected for the 2024 NIAC Phase II Awards are:

Fluidic Telescope (FLUTE): Enabling the next generation of large space observatories would create a large optical observatory in space using the fluid formation of ionic liquids. These space observatories can help study NASA's highest priority astrophysical targets, including Earth-like exoplanets, first-generation stars and young galaxies. The FLUTE study is led by Edward Balaban of NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

Pulse Plasma Rocket: The protected and rapid transit of humans to Mars is an innovative propulsion system based on the use of particle beams generated by fission. plasma For orientation. This innovative system could dramatically reduce travel times between Earth and any destination in the solar system. This study was led by Brianna Clements of Howe Industries in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Large Long Wave Observatory (GO-LoW) could change the way NASA manages astronomy. This massive constellation low-frequency radio telescope uses thousands of small, independent satellites capable of measuring magnetic fields emanating from exoplanets and cosmic dark ages. GO-LoW is led by Mary Knapp Massachusetts Institute of Technology In Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Radioisotope Thermal Radiation Cell Power Generator is exploring new energy sources in space, potentially operating more efficiently than NASA's older power generators. This technology could enable future small-scale exploration and scientific spacecraft that are unable to carry large solar or nuclear power systems. This conceptual study of electricity production was conducted by Stephen Pauley of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

Floating: The flexible flyby on the track will serve as a lunar railway system, providing reliable, autonomous and efficient payload transportation on the Moon. This rail system could support day-to-day operations of a sustainable lunar base as early as the 2030s, as Ethan Schaller leads FLOAT at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

ScienceCraft for Outer Planet Exploration distributes quantum dot-based sensors over the entire surface of a solar sail, enabling it to become an innovative imaging tool. Quantum physics will allow NASA to take scientific measurements by studying how dots absorb light. By exploiting the surface area of ​​a solar sail, it allows a lighter, more cost-effective spacecraft to transport imaging instruments across the solar system. ScienceCraft is piloted by NASA's Mahmouda Sultana at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the NIAC program because it is responsible for developing new comprehensive technologies and capabilities for the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

To learn more about NIAC and the 2024 Phase II studies, visit:

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