NASA gives $ 7 million for long-term research, from moon mining to solar lenses – TechCrunch | Instant News

NASA The Innovative Advanced Concepts program is about making high-risk bets, high prizes on unique ideas – and sometimes raising eyebrows – for space exploration and observation. This year’s total grant is $ 7 million and is one of the most realistic projects. Maybe even made!

The NIAC award is divided into three levels: Phases I, II, and III. Roughly speaking, the first was given $ 125K and 9 months basically to show their concept of not a bed. The second is given $ 500K and two years to show how it actually works. And the third one gets $ 2 million to develop the concept into a real project.

This speaks to, should we say, the openness of the NIAC program that until this year there were only two recipients of the total Phase III award, the rest had fallen by the wayside as impractical or theoretically unsound. This year brought the third, a project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that we first noted among the 2018 NIAC choices.

The artist’s concept of how the resulting image will look.

The project “sun’s gravitational lens” involves observing the way light that comes from explanations is far bent around our sun. The result, when the team has spent the past two years reinforcing the theory behind, is the ability to create high-resolution images of objects that are very far and dark. So, instead of having one or two pixels that show us a planet in the neighboring star system, we can get million pixels – a very detailed picture.

“Because this mission is the only way to look at potentially potentially habitable extrasolar planets, we have seen significant public interest and enthusiasm that can motivate the necessary government and private funds,” the researchers wrote.

Some Phase II projects are just as interesting. Someone proposed to mine the moon-rich ice land in a permanently dark area using power collected from permanently bright areas only a few hundred meters across the tall “Sunflower” tower. Others are a concept vehicle to explore the vents on Saturn’s watery moon, Enceladus. We also see that in 2018 the aim is to dismantle the tough life support systems some kind of robot friend who will follow the astronauts around.

Phase Is a little less consistent: antimatter propulsion, extreme solar screens, and others are not so unrealistic because there is no knowledge about them.

A complete list of NIAC awards is here – They make very interesting readings, even those on the edges. They were created by the cerebrum and examined by experts, after all.

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