Educational Grants

From ‘Magnetoshells’ to Growable Habitats, NASA Invests in Next Stage of Visionary Technology Development

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Credit: NASA

 

NASA has selected eight technology proposals for investment that have the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

Awards under Phase II of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program can be worth as much as $500,000 for a two-year study, and allow proposers to further develop concepts funded by NASA for Phase I studies that successfully demonstrated initial feasibility and benefit.

“The NIAC program is one of the ways NASA engages the U.S. scientific and engineering communities, including agency civil servants, by challenging them to come up with some of the most visionary aerospace concepts,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “This year’s Phase II fellows have clearly met this challenge.” 

Phase II studies allow awardees to refine their designs and explore aspects of implementing the new technology. This year’s Phase II portfolio addresses a range of leading-edge concepts, including: an interplanetary habitat configured to induce deep sleep for astronauts on long-duration missions; a highly efficient dual aircraft platform that may be able to stay aloft for weeks or even months at a time; and a method to produce “solar white” coatings for scattering sunlight and cooling fuel tanks in space down to 300 °F below zero, with no energy input needed.


The selected concepts are:

  • Advancing Torpor Inducing Transfer Habitats for Human Stasis to Mars, John Bradford, Space Works, Inc. in Atlanta
  • Cryogenic Selective Surfaces, Robert Youngquist, Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Directed Energy Interstellar Study, Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Experimental Demonstration and System Analysis for Plasmonic Force Propulsion, Joshua Rovey, University of Missouri in Rolla
  • Flight Demonstration of Novel Atmospheric Satellite Concept, William Engblom, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements, Melville Ulmer, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
  • Magnetoshell Aerocapture for Manned Missions and Planetary Deep Space Orbiters, David Kirtley, MSNW, LLC in Redmond, Washington
  • Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat, Robert Skelton, Texas Engineering Experiment Station in La Jolla, California


NASA selected these projects through a peer-review process that evaluated innovativeness and technical viability.

“Phase II decisions are always challenging, but we were especially challenged this year with so many successful Phase I studies applying to move forward with their cutting-edge technologies,” said Jason Derleth, the NIAC program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Whether it’s tensegrity habitats in space, new ways to get humans to Mars, delicate photonic propulsion, or any one of the other amazing Phase II studies NIAC is funding, I’m thrilled to welcome these innovations and their innovators back to the program. Hopefully, they will all go on to do what NIAC does best – change the possible.”

All projects are still in the early stages of development, most requiring 10 or more years of concept maturation and technology development before use on a NASA mission.

NIAC is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which innovates, develops, tests, and flies hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. Through programs such as NIAC, the directorate is demonstrating that early investment and partnership with scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the nation can provide technological dividends and help maintain America’s leadership in the new global technology economy.

For a complete list of the selected proposals, and more information about NIAC, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/niac-2016-phase-i-and-phase-ii-selections

For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

NASA Announces Education Research Program Award Recipients 

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June 04, 2015 
NASA RELEASE 15-110

NASA is awarding a total of approximately $11.25 million to universities in 15 states to conduct basic research and technology development in areas critical to the agency’s mission.

NASA’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program is awarding up to $750,000 to colleges and universities for research and development in areas, such as remote sensing, nanotechnology, astrophysics and aeronautics, all of which are applicable to NASA’s work in Earth science, aeronautics, and human and robotic deep space exploration.

The award covers a three-year period. Results from the research will be provided to NASA for possible inclusion in its programs.

The awardees and the title of their winning proposals are:

  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks: A Vertical Comet Assay for Measuring DNA Damage to Radiation
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville: Arkansas NASA EPSCoR – SiGeSn Based Photovoltaic Devices for Space Applications
  • University of Hawaii, Hilo: Developing a Capability at the University of Hawaii for Multiple UAV Observations of Active Volcanism
  • Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas: Active Wing Shaping Control for Morphing Aircraft
  • Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: Investigating Terrestrial Gamma Flash Production from Energetic Particle Acceleration in Lightning using TETRA-II
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla: Learning Algorithms for Preserving Safe Flight Envelope under Adverse Aircraft Conditions
  • University of Mississippi, Oxford: GEANT4 Simulations for Astronaut Risk Calculations
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks: Multi-Purpose Research Station in North Dakota in Support of NASA´s Future Human Missions to Mars
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Large Volume Crystal Growth of Superoxide Dismutase Complexes in Microgravity for Neutron Diffraction Studies
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham: Responsive Autonomous Rovers to Enable Polar Science
  • New Mexico State University, Las Cruces: Virtual Telescope for X-ray Observations
  • University of Nevada, Reno: Advanced Transport Technologies for NASA Thermal Management/Control Systems
  • University of Oklahoma, Norman: Extracting the Photonic Spectrum for the Long Range Exploration of Space: A Hybrid Photovoltaic Photon Upconversion and Biological System for Energy Production and Life Support
  • College of Charleston, in partnership with the University of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charleston, South Carolina: Using NASA’s Ocean Color Sensors to Identify Effects of Watershed Development and Climate Change on Coastal Marine Ecosystems of the US Virgin Islands
  • South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City: Development of Direct-Write Materials, and Electronic and Electromagnetic Devices for NASA Printable Spacecraft

Go to EPSCor Abstracts (PDF) To read more details on the projects listed above. 

In the next week or two I will have either a story on each, or I will provide 1-2 paragraphs for each. Looking at the EPSCor Abstracts, a favorite of mine is Wichita State University’s, Active Wing Shaping Control for Morphing Aircraft among many others.

EPSCoR is managed by NASA’s Office of Education in Washington, and in each participating jurisdiction by a program director who oversees the process of submitting grant proposals and the work performed with the grant funding.

In addition to funding research that can further NASA’s current and future mission, these grants provide the added benefit of improving science and technology research and development capabilities at recipient universities.

To learn more about EPSCoR and to view an abstract from each of the 2015 EPSCoR education research selectees, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/epscor

For more information about NASA’s education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education