Space

September 25, 2013

NASA selects early stage innovation proposals from 10 universities

NASA has selected 10 university-led proposals for study of innovative, early stage space technologies that address high priority technical needs America’s space program must master to enable future missions.

The one-year grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants Program are worth about $250,000 each, with an additional year of research possible. Selected proposals address technology challenges that may improve astrophysics scientific instruments, oxygen recovery for space life support systems, cryogenic propellant storage for long-duration space exploration, our identification, characterization and protection from near-Earth asteroids.

“A critical element of America’s space technology pipeline rests in the cutting edge research in the early stage technologies conducted at the nation’s universities,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Technology, Michael Gazarik, in Washington. “Through this investment NASA will continue to benefit from university-led R and D.”

The selected technology research areas require dramatic improvements over existing capabilities for future science and human exploration missions. Early stage, or low technology readiness level, technologies could mature into tools that solve the difficult challenges facing future NASA missions.

Universities selected for NASA’s early stage innovation grants and the titles of their proposals are:

* Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; “Detection, tracking, and identification of asteroids through on-board image analysis”

* Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.; “A new experiment for determining evaporation and condensation coefficients of cryogenic propellants and development of an efficient computational model of cryogenic film stability in microgravity”

* Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; “Broadband electrically tunable monolithic mid-infrared laser”

* Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; “Innovations in understanding and modeling cryogenic propellants for long-duration spaceflight”

* University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; “Asynchronous A/D converter for in situ instruments operating under extreme environments”

* University of Colorado, Boulder; “Comprehensive modeling of the effects of hazardous asteroid mitigation techniques”

* University of Florida, Gainesville; “Bio-inspired broadband antireflection coatings at long wavelengths for space applications”

* University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; “Broad bandwidth metamaterial antireflection coatings for measurement of the cosmic microwave background”

* University of South Carolina, Columbia; “Oxygen recovery via carbon dioxide electrolysis with microtubular solid oxide cells”

* University of Utah, Salt Lake City; “A lightweight compact multi-spectral imager using novel computer-generated micro-optics and spectral-extraction algorithms”

The selected efforts will explore new science instrument technologies to better understand the history, climates, evidence of past life and future potential habitability of planets and moons within our solar system.

Researchers will investigate advances in optics technologies. These could enable the challenging science measurements that may contribute to the understanding of the first moments of the universe, the characterization of galaxy evolution over time and the characterization of newly found exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.

Researchers also will explore technologies that are needed for future long duration human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, including improvements in the recovery of oxygen from carbon dioxide, as well as greatly increasing the capability to store and transfer cryogenic fluids in a zero gravity environment.

In addition, researchers will develop technologies to better understand and protect our planet from near-Earth asteroids. Advancing early stage technologies will help with characterizing, understanding, and planning how to mitigate the threat of near-Earth asteroids.

The selected areas address high-priority technical needs described in the agency’s 14 Space Technology Roadmaps and reflect the National Research Council’s review of these roadmaps.

Second year funding for these grants will be contingent on technical progress and the availability of appropriated funds.

NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants Program is designed to accelerate the development of technologies originating from academia that support the future science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies and American industry. The program is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying technology for use in NASA’s future missions and the greater aerospace community.

For more information about Space Technology Mission Directorate, as well as a complete list of selected proposals, including principal investigators, visit http://go.nasa.gov/16tPCjJ.




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