Monday Jan 30, 2023

It’s Not Science Fiction: NASA Funds These Mind-Blowing Projects

Astronaut in Outer Space

MIKE LAPOINTE has the enviable task of figuring out how to bring space exploration into the future of science fiction.

He and his colleagues are supporting critical, high-paying projects through NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, a program that last week announced grants to 14 teams investigating critical concepts. Most of them won’t. But some – perhaps a lunar oxygen pipe or a space telescope mirror installed in space – could be a game changer. “We look at everything from floor-of-the-cloth ideas to things that have been designed and not yet built,” LaPointe says. “These are things that are waiting 20 to 30 years down the road to see how we can improve or enable new types of NASA missions.” For example, while the effort to make an efficient rocket engine work would be great, it is not enough for the program. Plans for an entirely new system that could replace chemical rockets would fall into it.

NASA awards these awards every year, mostly to university researchers in the United States. The new pool of competition is for 1 project, each receiving $175,000 to conduct a nine-month study in which researchers will develop their plans in detail, conduct testing, and design type. A few of the most promising will reach the 2nd round and receive $600,000 for a two-year study. After that, NASA will award $2 million to an outstanding project to support a two-year Phase 3 study.

Some competitors may eventually find a home with NASA or a commercial partner; others may have had an indirect impact on space exploration by opening the door to breakthrough technology. For example, the flyable space antenna from the Freefall Aerospace startup started as a NIAC project. NIAC plans for rotorcraft on the Red Planet 카지노사이트 주소 inspired Mars helicopter intelligence. One of this year’s winners is a design proposal for a habitat assembled from building materials grown on Mars, produced by fungi and bacteria. It is difficult to send a large, heavy object, such as a building, into space. The cost of the launch is prohibitive, and you have to force it onto a rocket and land on Mars.

But this project, developed by materials engineer Congrui Jin and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska, explores the concept of a growing house. These fungi or bacteria start out small, but they slowly develop filaments and tendrils to fill the space. “We call them self-healing materials,” says Jin, whose research team has used them to create synthetic materials. what makes the things that make things up inside the things that make things. “We want to continue to create something that grows personally.”

In a bioreactor on Mars, these materials will be solid bricks. This process will be expensive on Earth, but since the Red Planet does not have workers and builders, it can make more economic sense there. During his NIAC study, Jin plans to determine whether the growth process can be accelerated from months to days, and how long those elements can survive in the Martian environment.

This is not the first time that NIAC has supported an experiment with the use of voice growing in space – another “mycotecture” project was one of the winners last year. But the team’s work will focus on using different parts of the fungus: the minerals it produces under certain conditions, such as calcium carbonate, instead of root-like filaments called mycelia .

Another NIAC winner is proposing the creation of a large pipeline based on the moon that could deliver much-needed oxygen to astronauts on future lunar bases. As a result of NASA‘s ongoing Artemis program, astronauts will arrive as early as 2026. Longer missions in the future will require oxygen supplies that will last for weeks or moon, and possibly for use as rocket fuel. Transporting an oxygen tank into space is as problematic as building a building, but making gas on the moon may be a better option. Oxygen is produced from water ice using a process called electrolysis. However, there is an immediate problem: lunar mining may not be near the park.

The moon’s ice is filled with permanent craters, but these are also the coldest places on the moon, and communication to and from them can be difficult. One option is to make oxygen in space and return it to the background on the rover, said Peter Curreri, a former NASA scientist and co-founder and chief scientist of the Lunar Resources Corporation. But, he explains, “creating oxygen in one place and transporting it, using cans or dewars and robots, is expensive and inefficient.”

Marianne Kaiser

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