An airship for Mars, two spacecraft capable of exploring the hellish environment of Venus, and a fusion-powered orbiter and lander for Pluto are three of the planetary-related research projects recently funded by theNASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.
In all, NIAC funded eight advanced projects focused on Mars, Venus and Pluto in its latest annual funding round. The space agency also funded two proposals aimed at identifying and extracting resources on planets, moons and asteroids. (more…)
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded five grants for the development of new technologies for analyzing asteroids, extracting resources from them, and using the materials for new space products.
Remote Laser Evaporative Molecular Absorption Spectroscopy Sensor System
Gary Hughes California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Amount: up to $500,000 Length of Study: 2 years
We propose a sensor system capable of remotely probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets (asteroids, comets, planets, moons), such as from a spacecraft orbiting the target.
The spacecraft would be equipped with a high-power laser and an infrared spectrometer, both powered by photovoltaics. The laser is directed at a spot on the target, with central flux in the 10 MW/ m2 range.
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is one from Gary Hughes of California Polytechnic State University.
Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets
Gary Hughes California Polytechnic State University
We propose a system capable of probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets such as asteroids, comets, planets and moons from a distant vantage. Our concept utilizes a directed energy beam to vaporize or sublimate a spot on a distant target, such as from a spacecraft near the object. With sufficient flux, our published results indicate that the spot temperature rises rapidly, and evaporation of materials on the target surface occurs (Hughes et al., 2015; Lubin and Hughes, 2015; Lubin et al., 2014).
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 13 proposals through NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), a program that invests in transformative architectures through the development of pioneering technologies.
Among the selected are: a concept for reprogramming microorganisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics; a two-dimensional spacecraft with ultra-thin subsystems that may wrap around space debris to enable de-orbiting; and a method of computational imaging that leverages extrasolar intensity fluctuations to detect “echoes” from planets and other structures orbiting a distant star.