From the Moon to Pluto, these innovations could solve huge mysteries about our universe.
Every year, the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program awards grant money to scientists and engineers to explore new technology concepts that could boost future space missions.
These new technologies aren’t a reality yet. But with financial support from the competition, teams hope to actually build and test them.
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Lunar regolith contains almost 45 percent oxygen.
Traveling between planets — or even deep into the Solar System — takes a long time. But one team wants to design a particle beam that can push vehicles into hyperdrive.
Getting building materials to the Moon and Mars will be incredibly costly, which is why one team wants to grow them instead, using synthetic lichen.
For future missions to Saturn’s moon, Titan, one team envisions a seaplane-like vehicle that can soar through the atmosphere and sail on lakes and rivers.
Titan is the only world besides Earth known to have liquid on its surface.
The vehicle, called TitanAir, could collect information about the moon’s strange chemistry from air and sea.