NASA selects 16 futuristic space technology concepts |

Long flat track on moon's surface with flat square containers holding piles of lunar soil.

One of many new proposals from is FLOAT, the place a railway system could be used on the moon to maneuver cargo. Magnetic robots would levitate over the observe. Picture by way of Ethan Schaler/ NASA.

Area is a busy place as of late, comparatively talking, with quite a few missions in our voltaic system exploring planets, asteroids, comets and the solar. All the pleasure and insights of the brand new house missions are attainable due to ever-changing advances in know-how. However what in regards to the future? What technological marvels lie forward?

NASA has supplied of glimpse of that future, with the collection of 16 new futuristic house know-how ideas, together with 4 from NASA’s personal Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the house company announced on February 25, 2021.

NASA has accepted grants from the NASA Revolutionary Superior Ideas (NIAC) to be given to over a dozen researchers to check their ideas’ feasibility. This contains scientists from NASA itself, business and academia.

As Jenn Gustetic at NASA’s Area Know-how Mission Directorate (STMD) said:

Fellows are identified to dream huge, proposing applied sciences which will seem to frame and are not like analysis being funded by different company applications. We don’t count on all of them to come back to fruition however acknowledge that offering a small quantity of seed-funding for early analysis may benefit NASA significantly in the long term.

Diagrams and illustrations of small robotic probes in alien oceans.

SWIM is an thrilling new proposal the place centimeter-scale micro-robots could be used to discover the oceans of resembling Europa and Enceladus. Picture by way of Ethan Schaler/ NASA.

STMD has chosen 16 Section I proposals for 2021. Every proposal will obtain an preliminary grant of $125,000 from NASA. Proposals which can be profitable of their 9 month feasibility research are then eligible to use for Section II grants. All proposals are -about to be early-stage know-how growth efforts with no assure of being precise missions.

The 4 JPL proposals embody a “railroad” on the moon known as Versatile Levitation on a Observe (FLOAT), the place cargo would autonomously be transported utilizing magnetic robots that will levitate over a versatile observe. The tracks could be unrolled on the floor relatively than being constructed in-place. FLOAT robots would haven’t any transferring components and levitate over the observe to attenuate lunar mud abrasion/ put on, not like different lunar robots with wheels, legs or tracks.

One other proposal, from the identical researcher, could be Sensing with Impartial Micro-swimmers (SWIM), utilizing centimeter-scale 3-D printed micro-robots to discover the oceans of a number of the water worlds in our photo voltaic system, resembling Europa or Enceladus. The micro-swimmers could be deployed individually or as a swarm from a single SESAME robotic mothercraft. This could enhance the probabilities of discovering proof of life in these alien oceans. How cool would that be?

Large wheeled machine with a long probe drilling deep into reddish ground.

ARD3 could be a deep drilling system used to seek for liquid water and attainable proof of life beneath the Martian floor. The final word objective could be to drill down so far as 0.9 miles (1.5 km). Picture by way of Planet Enterprises/ James Vaughan Illustration/ NASA.

The third JPL proposal is Passively Increasing Dipole Array for Lunar Sounding (PEDALS), a collection of dipole antennas on the moon to check the subsurface composition and construction. PEDALS is delivered to or close to the floor by a lander or orbiter, can survive reasonable impacts if wanted, unrolls passively utilizing form reminiscence supplies on the floor, and later, probes the subsurface composition and construction.

The fourth JPL proposal is the Solar System Pony Express, the place “courier” satellites use optical communications to obtain 1-Three petabits of knowledge from a planetary surveyor not less than as soon as per yr. Then they journey nearer to Earth the place they’re able to shortly downlink the information.

The opposite proposals embody:

Regolith Adaptive Modification System to Support Early Extraterrestrial Planetary Landings

Exploring Uranus: Sustained ChipSat/CubeSat Activity Through Transmitted Electromagnetic Radiation (SCATTER)

Ablative Arc Mining for In-Situ Resource Utilization

Kilometer-Scale Space Structures from a Single Launch

Autonomous Robotic Demonstrator for Deep Drilling (ARD3)

Extrasolar Object Interceptor and Sample Return Enabled by Compact, Ultra Power Dense Radioisotope Batteries

Atomic Planar Power for Lightweight Exploration (APPLE)

Titan Sample Return Using In-situ Propellants

ReachBot: Small Robot for Large Mobile Manipulation Tasks in Martian Cave Environments

FarView: In-situ Manufactured Lunar Far Side Radio Observatory

Making Soil for Space Habitats by Seeding Asteroids with Fungi

Light Bender

View from above of small rocket launching from reddish, rocky terrain.

The Pattern Return Utilizing In-Situ Propellants mission would acquire samples from the floor of Saturn’s largest moon Titan and convey them again to Earth for research. Picture by way of Steven Oleson/ NASA.

ReachBot could be designed to discover caves or vertical cliff partitions on Mars, one thing that present rovers can’t simply do. Who is aware of what is perhaps found?

The Titan Sample Return Using In-Situ Propellants mission would acquire samples from the floor of Saturn’s largest moon Titan and convey them again to Earth for research. This might present essential clues to the origin of life on Earth, since Titan is much like what the primordial Earth was like a couple of billion years in the past. Some scientists even assume that Titan’s methane seas and lakes would possibly be capable to assist some type of very un-earthly life even at present.

Autonomous Robotic Demonstrator for Deep Drilling (ARD3) could be a deep drilling system used to seek for liquid water and attainable proof of life beneath the Martian floor. The final word objective could be to drill down so far as 0.9 miles (1.5 km). The rover would drill beneath the layered deposits on the south pole, the place proof for subsurface lakes has already been discovered.

Large barbell-shaped structure in Earth orbit with inset showing components.

Within the Kilometer-Scale Area Buildings from a Single Launch proposal, one-kilometer lengthy (0.6 miles) deployable constructions could possibly be launched into orbit with a single rocket launch. That may be massive sufficient to supply synthetic gravity for astronauts. Picture by way of Zachary Mancheste/ Tzipora Thompson/ NASA.

Will probably be attention-grabbing to see which of those proposals transfer on to Section II. Some, in fact, is perhaps extra thrilling to the general public than others, however all current essential new concepts to additional advance house know-how within the 21st century. NIAC Program Govt Jason Derleth stated:

There may be an amazing variety of new contributors in this system this yr. All however two of the researchers chosen for Section I awards will likely be first-time NIAC grant recipients, exhibiting that NASA’s early-stage alternatives proceed to interact new inventive thinkers from everywhere in the nation.

Backside line: NASA has chosen 16 new futuristic house know-how ideas for additional research.


Paul Scott Anderson



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