NASA wants to develop self-healing space suits, Venus landers and spider probes

NASA wants to develop self-healing space suits, Venus landers and spider probes

NASA wants to develop self-healing space suits, Venus landers and spider probes

candle light

The ELaNa XI CubeSat LightSail, a citizen-funded technology demonstration mission launched in 2015. Further development of "lightsail" technology, which uses the sun's energy to traverse space, is just one of the concepts funded by the NASA in the 2019 round of the NIAC awards.

The planetary society

The "energy transmission" robotic landing modules on the surface of Venus, the spider-inspired micro-probes, the auto-retrieval space suit and the lunar pole mining are projects that NASA has recently enlightened for greater developing.

Although many of the projects selected from NASA's Advanced and Innovative Concepts (NIAC) program seem to have been ripped from the pages of the best science fiction novels (I'm watching you, Heinlein and Asimov), there's a chance they will. . Become a reality in the next decade. The NIAC program awards prizes of up to $ 500,000 to develop revolutionary technologies that will benefit the missions of cosmic exploration and human space flight.

In the 2019 round, NIAC has selected 12 projects for the Phase I awards, valued at around $ 125,000, and six Phase II awards, valued at up to $ 500,000. The Phase I studies are nine-month exploratory projects that allow researchers to further develop their ideas, while the Phase II studies provide a two-year window for their technologies to move further and describe how they could give life to ideas.


The floating power stations would send power to the Venus lander in a proposed project of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

The concept of a Venus landing module consists of a "dual vehicle architecture" that would see a floating spacecraft collect energy from the Venusian atmosphere and then descend to the surface of Venus to "transmit" that energy to a lander. The idea would extend the missions to the surface of Venus by supplying the lander with a constant source of energy in a particularly unpleasant environment for terrestrial visitors.

Another project will see Texas A & M engineers working on a new type of space suit they have called SmartSuit. It would be designed to improve movement and dexterity, but it would also contain a series of soft robotics technologies, sensors and a self-healing skin that doubles as a screen. After the fuss over the size of the NASA space suit., this concept could be able to kill two space birds with a space stone.

One of the most interesting concepts is inspired by balloon spiders, the kind that shoots silk in the air to catch a current of wind. The proposed small probes would work together by thousands, weigh about 50 milligrams and float under a rope loop about 200 meters long. The release of spider probes into the atmosphere during future planetary missions would allow researchers to get a better idea of ​​what shapes them and how they came to be.

In addition to that, there are 15 other projects competing to move from idea to reality, including the lunar mining outposts (particularly important with NASA's commitment to return to the Moon by 2024), neutrino detectors, candles of light and nuclear probes for the exploration of deep space.

It's a buffet of science fiction concepts and I'm dining on the potential. Of course, the goal of NIAC is to provide the basis for the advancement of technologies and there is always the possibility that our spider probes and our innovative Venus launchers can not move from an intelligent idea to a tangible reality. Surely some will remain dreams (or sci-fi forages)!

NASA will provide the Phase III grants on June 7, which will provide another two years of concept development for projects with the greatest potential impact for NASA.

You can read the complete list of concepts on the blog of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Originally posted 6.21 p.m. April 10th

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