NASA is once again funding innovative early-stage space concepts for a total of $175,000, including a proposal for a suite of probes that could explore the closest exoplanet to Earth. Now the US space agency has announced this and listed the 10 projects that will receive funds from NASA's NIAC (Innovative Advanced Concepts) programme. The funding doesn't mean these concepts will become a reality, but technology already in use, such as the Ingenuity helicopter flying on Mars, can be traced back to them.
Future concepts for space travel
The concept is now funded, among other things, “Proxima Centauri swarms“It plans to send a swarm of small probes aboard massive solar sails toward Proxima Centauri b by mid-century. Using a 100-gigawatt laser, they could be accelerated to relativistic speeds and travel a distance of four light-years in about 20 years,” writes Thomas Eubanks, who came up with this Concept. He writes that technology must be developed that would enable the swarm to operate as a single unit. Then it could send signals back to Earth like a giant antenna, which would be much easier.” It could examine the exoplanet from different viewpoints.
Other concepts that NASA is now funding for further development include a solar-powered aircraft to explore Mars. This can cover a distance of 180 kilometers in one trip and explore vast areas. Another concept suggests planning to develop an optical interferometer on the Moon. Such a facility could later be expanded to enable very high-resolution astronomical observations. A coherent radio telescope involving sensors at the edge of the solar system could revolutionize cosmic distance measurements, according to another concept. The full list of funded projects can be found here In a NASA statement.
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