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25 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Selected for 2018

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-04-01 10:07:14

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program is funding another round of studies [] of space technology concepts, including shapeshifting robots that can adapt to multiple terrains, a small rover that can carry the bulky life equipment that an astronaut would normally carry on their back, a combined particle and laser beam for accelerating small payloads [], space habitats constructed using fungal mycelium, a modular self-assembling space telescope with a large aperture [], and a radioisotope positron propulsion system.

Some of the Phase 2 concepts that were selected for further study include a space telescope with a 1 kilometer aperture, a Triton [] "hopper", a harvester that can manufacture propellant from ice in order to launch a sample return, and a Mach Effect [] thruster.

Several of the proposals mention the goal of getting a space telescope to at least 548.7 AU away from the Sun to perform astronomy using the Sun as a gravitational lens []. For example, the Breakthrough Propulsion Architecture for Interstellar Precursor Missions could get a payload out to 550 AU in 15 years, although it would require a multi-hundred-megawatt phased-array laser.

Projects in Phase 1:

Shapeshifters from Science Fiction to Science Fact: Globetrotting from Titan's Rugged Cliffs to its Deep Seafloors []
Aliakbar Aghamohammadi, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California

Biobot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration []
David Akin, University of Maryland, College Park

Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric Venus Sensors (LEAVES) []
Jeffrey Balcerski, Ohio Aerospace Institute, Cleveland

Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (MIDEA) []
Sigrid Close, Stanford University, California

On-Orbit, Collision-Free Mapping of Small Orbital Debris []
Christine Hartzell, University of Maryland, College Park

Marsbee – Swarm of Flapping Wing Flyers for Enhanced Mars Exploration []
Chang-kwon Kang, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Rotary Motion Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS) []
John Kendra, Leidos, Inc., Reston, Virginia

PROCSIMA: Diffractionless Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions []
Chris Limbach, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, College Station

SPARROW: Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds []
Gareth Meirion-Griffith, JPL

BALLET: Balloon Locomotion for Extreme Terrain []
Hari Nayar, JPL

Myco-Architecture off Planet: Growing Surface Structures at Destination []
Lynn Rothscild, NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

Modular Active Self-Assembling Space Telescope Swarms []
Dmitry Savransky, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Astrophysics and Technical Study of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft []
Nickolas Solomey, Wichita State University, Kansas

Advanced Diffractive MetaFilm Sailcraft []
Grover Swartzlander, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York

Spectrally-Resolved Synthetic Imaging Interferometer []
Jordan Wachs, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colorado

Radioisotope Positron Propulsion []
Ryan Weed, Positron Dynamics, Livermore, California

Phase 2 projects that were previously in Phase 1:

Pulsed Fission-Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion Concept []
Robert Adams, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

A Breakthrough Propulsion Architecture for Interstellar Precursor Missions []
John Brophy, JPL

Kilometer Space Telescope (KST) []
Devon Crowe, Raytheon, El Segundo, California

Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with AoES (Area-of-Effect Soft-bots) []
Jay McMahon, University of Colorado, Boulder

Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune's Captured Kuiper Belt Object []
Steven Oleson, NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland

Spacecraft Scale Magnetospheric Protection from Galactic Cosmic Radiation []
John Slough, MSNW, LLC, Redmond, Washington

Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an Exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission []
Slava Turyshev, JPL

NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester []
Michael VanWoerkom, ExoTerra Resource, Littleton, Colorado

Mach Effect for in space propulsion: Interstellar mission []
James Woodward, Space Studies Institute, Inc., Mojave, California

Original Submission