NASA just invested in 10 new visionary space technologies

Revolutionary space technology that'll take us into the future.

NASA just invested in 10 new visionary space technologies
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program invests in new space technology concepts every year.
  • This year's technologies range from smart space suits to Venus aircraft.
  • These concepts will be put to the test to see if they are viable.

Nuclear propulsion and lunar mining conjure up wild visions of a new space age. Our best minds are currently working on making these speculative space inventions a reality. Those are just two of the technologies that NASA has selected to research and invest in as part of their NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for 2019.

The program is funding a total of 18 studies of which they'll determine the feasibility of early-stage technologies that could contribute greatly to the advancement of space exploration.

From space debris cleanup to interstellar fly-bys, the technologies have the potential to usher in great innovative feats in outer space.

Here is a selection of 10 of the most exciting new NASA space tech investments.

Nuclear electric propulsion

Howe Industries LLC

SPEAR Probe - An Ultra Lightweight Nuclear Electric Propulsion Probe for Deep Space Exploration

Nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) systems could become an effective and vast travel mechanism to get to celestial bodies out of the range of our sun. Often the need for a heavy power source and big nuclear radiators, makes an NEP too large to be launched. Troy Howe of Howe Industries LLC, is leading the development on the SPEAR probe, "an ultra lightweight nuclear electric propulsion probe for deep space exploration." The spacecraft would use a lightweight reactor with advanced thermoelectric generators (ATEGs) to reduce the overall mass. While this reduced mass will have lessened propulsion power, it will create an inexpensive nuclear electric spacecraft.

Howe Industries intend on keeping the mass and volume low enough so that they can launch on a Minotaur IV rocket, while using low enriched uranium to fuel the reactor. With a set of 10 Cubesats, they'd like to fly over Europa and examine the moon's plumes, which break through the icy crust, for signs of extraterrestrial life.

How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

Credit: Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
  • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

Designer uses AI to bring 54 Roman emperors to life

It's hard to stop looking back and forth between these faces and the busts they came from.

Meet Emperors Augustus, left, and Maximinus Thrax, right

Credit: Daniel Voshart
Technology & Innovation
  • A quarantine project gone wild produces the possibly realistic faces of ancient Roman rulers.
  • A designer worked with a machine learning app to produce the images.
  • It's impossible to know if they're accurate, but they sure look plausible.
Keep reading Show less

Dark matter axions possibly found near Magnificent 7 neutron stars

A new study proposes mysterious axions may be found in X-rays coming from a cluster of neutron stars.

A rendering of the XMM-Newton (X-ray multi-mirror mission) space telescope.

Credit: D. Ducros; ESA/XMM-Newton, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Surprising Science
  • A study led by Berkeley Lab suggests axions may be present near neutron stars known as the Magnificent Seven.
  • The axions, theorized fundamental particles, could be found in the high-energy X-rays emitted from the stars.
  • Axions have yet to be observed directly and may be responsible for the elusive dark matter.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Put on a happy face? “Deep acting” associated with improved work life

    New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.

    Credit: Columbia Pictures
    Personal Growth
  • Deep acting is the work strategy of regulating your emotions to match a desired state.
  • New research suggests that deep acting reduces fatigue, improves trust, and advances goal progress over other regulation strategies.
  • Further research suggests learning to attune our emotions for deep acting is a beneficial work-life strategy.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Surprising Science

    World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

    Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast