A plane on Titan and pipelines on the Moon: what space projects are NASA preparing
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NASA has chosen 14 interesting projects that may be implemented on other planets and satellites.
The future of space exploration requires sometimes very unusual technological solutions, and NASA is turning to various companies and scientists to submit their space projects. To date, NASA has selected 14 works worthy of initial study, which have already been allocated research money. Edition Gizmodo offers to get acquainted with some of them.
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NASA has selected 14 space projects, each of which has already received $175,000 for further development. Some of these projects will receive additional funding in 9 months. And only after 2 years, only the best technological solutions will be selected for further possible implementation in space. So, what technological innovations do scientists propose to implement on other planets and satellites of the solar system?
Airplane on Titan
The AirTitan project was proposed by scientist Quinn Morley and it involves the creation of an autonomous aircraft that will fly on Saturn's moon Titan. According to the project, this plane will not only be able to navigate through Titan's dense atmosphere, but will also be able to swim in its methane lakes.
This device will be able to conduct scientific research, including looking for potential signs of organic chemistry, which may indicate the origin of living organisms. NASA is interested in this project despite the fact that the space agency is preparing its DaragonFly helicopter to fly to Titan. Focus already wrote about this project in detail.
Satellites to search for a new Earth
The GO-LoW space observatory project was proposed by Mary Knapp of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This space observatory will consist of thousands of identical satellites that will be located at the fifth Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system.
This satellite array will be able to study the magnetic fields of distant exoplanets and find rocky planets that are similar to Earth.
Oxygen pipeline to the Moon
As early as 2025, NASA plans to land astronauts on the Moon, and after that, start creating the first permanent base on our satellite. For a long-term human presence on the Moon, it is necessary to use local resources. For example, it is possible to extract oxygen from lunar regolith or water ice.
But the process of transporting this oxygen can be very expensive. For example, this concerns the transportation of oxygen from the place of extraction in special tanks using lunar rovers to the base itself or to a plant for its processing.
So engineer Peter Curreri of Lunar Resources proposes to build a pipeline at the South Pole of the Moon, where most of the water ice is located. Such a pipeline will provide settlers with constant access to oxygen, and will also be able to connect different bases and entire lunar settlements.
Growing bricks on Mars
Scientist Kongrui Grace Jean of the University of Nebraska suggests growing building materials on Mars rather than shipping them from Earth. The settlers will need to build structures on Mars, but this will require constantly sending space cargo ships with everything they need, and this is very expensive. A scientist suggests growing microbes on Mars that can produce biominerals and polymers to glue Martian regolith into building bricks.
These concepts are still at the initial stage of consideration at NASA, and if experts decide that they cannot be implemented, then they will remain only at the level of ideas.
As for planets that are similar in size to the Earth, scientists have discovered a new such object. There may be water on this planet, it is only 5% smaller than the Earth and is practically nearby – 100 light years from us, as Focus already wrote.
And on Mars, another spacecraft encountered a serious problem. As Focus already wrote, the Chinese rover did not wake up from sleep mode, in which it stayed for six months. What happened to him is not yet known, but there are certain assumptions.