NASA has selected 10 university-led proposals for study of innovative, early-stage space technologies designed to improve shielding from space radiation, spacecraft thermal management and optical systems. The 1-year grants are worth approximately $250,000 each, with an additional year of research possible.
Each of these technology areas requires dramatic improvements over existing capabilities for future science and human exploration missions. Early stage, or low technology readiness level concepts, could mature into tools that solve the difficult challenges facing future NASA missions. The selected areas address the high-priority technical needs as identified by the National Research Council in its recent report "NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space."
"NASA's Space Technology Program is moving out on solving the cross-cutting technology challenges we face as we move beyond low-Earth orbit and head to an asteroid, Mars and beyond," said Michael Gazarik the program's director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our science and human deep space missions need advancements in these technology areas to enable exploration of space. We're excited and proud to partner with the best minds from American universities to take on these tough technical challenges."
Universities selected for early stage innovation grants and the names of their proposals are:
- Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland; "Heat rejection system for thermal management in space utilizing a planar variable-conductance heat pipe"
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins; "Computational approaches for developing active radiation dosimeters for space applications based on new paradigms for risk assessment"
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; "Design and development of a next generation high capacity, light weight, 20-K pulse tube cryocooler for active thermal control on future space exploration missions"
- Pennsylvania State University, University Park; "Integrated control electronics for adjustable X-ray optics"
- Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; "Adaptable single active loop thermal control system (TCS) for future space missions"
- University of Alabama in Huntsville; "Advanced scintillating fiber technology in high energy neutron spectrometers for exploration"
- University of Arizona, Tucson; "Wavefront control for high performance coronagraphy on segmented and centrally obscured telescopes"
- University of Houston; "High hydrogen content nanostructured polymer radiation protection system"
- University of New Hampshire, Durham; "Small active readout device for dose spectra from energetic particles and neutrons (DoSEN)"
- Oregon State University, Corvallis; "Enabling self-propelled condensate flow during phase-change heat rejection using surface texturing"
The selected efforts will explore new approaches to protect crews from ionizing space radiation and develop new technologies to measure and characterize the ionizing particle environment wherever humans may travel beyond Earth orbit.
Researchers also will explore technologies to greatly increase the capability to store cryogenic fluids and investigate heat rejection technologies capable of operating reliably and efficiently through a wide range of thermal conditions.
In addition, researchers will develop technologies that could lead to new classes of X-ray telescopes and explore techniques aimed at direct imaging and characterization of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
Second year funding for these grants will be contingent on technical progress and the availability of appropriated funds. The selections are part of NASA's Space Technology Research Grants Program. The 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 Program, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying technology for use in NASA's future missions and the greater aerospace community.