Each year, NASA awards funding to series of futuristic concepts, with the hope that some of them might result in fully-fledged missions in the near future. Referred as the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, past ideas have included a hopping Pluto lander and a steampunk Venus rover. Currently, NASA has announced the latest batch of these ideas and they do not disappoint.
In this year selections, there are twenty-five proposals, which have been chosen. At least half are specified Phase 1 funding that includes of at least $125,000 over 9 months. The other half are specific Phase II funding, approximately $500,000 over 2 years. This 2018’s entries were carved down from 230 schemes. The NASA Advanced Concepts program offers NASA the chance to discover visionary concepts that could change future NASA missions.
A few of the standout include a transmuting robot created to explore Titan termed as Shapeshifter, a rolling life-support network is known as BioBot created for assist humans explores Mars on foot as well as a laser-powered engine meant to assist humans to explore interstellar travel.
Shapeshifter is a robot rover, which can transform into a ball and move around the surface of a planet, change into a hovering flyer, which can roam through caves and transform into a torpedo-like vehicle, which can dive over interplanetary oceans.
On top of being mobile and versatile, Shapeshifter can deal with transporting heavy and big objects, traversing long distances with less power consumption and making communication networks to connect to surface from deep hard-to-access regions.
Meanwhile, the BioBot helps fix the issue of EVA missions on the surface of planets, particularly Mars. BioBot takes all the pressure of an astronaut’s shoulder by bringing the bulky life-support system and following them around with umbilical cord, which offers them with oxygen. According to the creators, instead of walking around on the Moon or Mars for a few days, BioBot could enable EVA missions and geologist to work for weeks at a time.
Titan is 50% bigger than the moon of the Earth and is considered to be Earth-like in the way it has volcanoes, rain, wind and other climatic attributes. Nonetheless, while it behaves and looks somewhat to Earth, Titan is considered to be full of ethane and methane that are not breathable by humans.
That is why NASA is drawing up plans to send a shapeshifting robot to the celestial planet to look for any alien file, which may be able to endure harsh conditions. NIAC is also planning funding the development of group of robotic bees to buzz nearby Mars to search for aliens.