Thursday, February 12, 2015

Far out! NASA's to-do-list is out of this world

The design of the proposed submarine to explore the seas on one of Titan's moons in 2040 was developed for the Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, by Nasa Glenn’s Compass Team. Other proposals include:  
Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (Herts)A propellant-less propulsion concept for deep space missions. Herts is like an electric solar sail - it is an array of wires extending out up to 20 miles (30km) from a rotating spacecraft that would gather energy from the sun. It would be capable of reaching speeds more than 430 miles (700km) per second - and at top speed could travel from the sun to Neptune in a year.
Swarm Flyby Gravimetry A method for working out the gravity and mass of small solar system bodies (such as asteroids and comets) using a swarm of small, low-cost probes.
The Aragoscope: Ultra-High Resolution Optics at Low Cost A giant disc that could boost the viewing power of space telescopes by up to a factor of 1,000.
Exploration Architecture with Quantum Inertial Gravimetry and In-Situ ChipSat SensorsSpacecraft-on-a-chip systems, ChipSats, would be deployed on other planets or moons such as Europa to perform science at reduced time and risk.
3D Photocatalytic Air Processor for Dramatic Reduction of Life Support Mass & Complexity A device to be used on manned spacecraft that could turn light from the sun into oxygen.
Wrangler: Capture and De-Spin of Asteroids and Space Debris This nanosatellite-scale sub-satellite, called the Weightless Rendezvous And Net Grapple to Limit Excess Rotation (Wrangler) System, will capture and de-spin a space object such as an asteroid using a large ‘net’, in tandem with a tether deployer and winch mechanism.
Titan Aerial Daughtercraft     A small rotorcraft weighing under 10kg (22lbs), not too dissimilar to small portable quadracopter drones on Earth, that would be deployed on Titan by a balloon to acquire close-up, high resolution imagery and mapping data of the surface.

Using the Hottest Particles in the Universe to Probe Icy Solar System Worlds A method to measure the ice depth on outer planet moons such as Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus using experimental techniques adapted from high-energy physics.
Periscope: Periapsis Subsurface Cave Optical Explorer A proposed method to map subsurface structure on the moon using a ‘seeing-around-the-corner’ imaging technique adapted from periscopes.
Mars Ecopoiesis Test Bed A device for studying the survival of terrestrial life forms on the surface of Mars. It would take life from Earth and see if it can live on the red planet as a precursor to one day terraforming Mars.
Comet Hitchhiker: Harvesting Kinetic Energy from Small Bodies to Enable Fast and Low-Cost Deep Space Exploration A tethered spacecraft that hitches rides on comets to tour the solar system. This would be done by firing a ‘harpoon’ with a tether attached that would reel the spacecraft in, like a sort of cosmic fishing rod.

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