NIAC Announces Five Phase II Funded Concepts, SpaceRef Business
"Looking ahead to an exciting future, NASA is continuing to invest in concepts that may one day revolutionize how we live and work in space with the selection of five technology proposals for continued study under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program."
The five studies chosen to advance to Phase II of the NIAC program include:
-- A concept for a 10-meter, sub-orbital large balloon reflector that might be used as a telescope inside a high-altitude balloon. The concept uses part of the balloon itself as a reflector for the telescope. The principal investigator is C.K. Walker of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
-- A spacecraft-rover hybrid concept for the exploration of small solar system bodies. The small spacecraft would be deployed from a "mothership" onto the surface of a low-gravity object, such as an asteroid or planetary moon. The machines, ranging in size from a centimeter to a meter, would use spinning flywheels to allow the robotic explorers to tumble and hop across the surface of a new frontier. The principal investigator is Marco Pavone of Stanford University in California.
-- A concept for deep mapping of small solar system bodies, such as asteroids, using subatomic particles to map the interior and small surface features. These data could be used to better characterize asteroids and gather data about potential resources that could be mined or otherwise used by explorers. The principal investigator is T.H. Prettyman of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson.
-- A concept for a low-mass planar photonic imaging sensor, an innovative sensor and spectrometer design to replace traditional, bulkier telescopes. This concept may provide a higher-resolution, persistent imaging capability for outer planetary missions while reducing costs and development time because no large optics are required. The principal investigator is S.J. Ben Yoo at the University of California, Davis.
-- A granular media imager concept called "Orbiting Rainbows" would use an orbiting cloud of dust-like matter as the primary element for an ultra-large space aperture -- the space through which light passes during an optical or photographic measurement -- that could potentially be used to image distant astronomical objects at extremely high resolution. The principal investigator is Marco Quadrelli of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.