Text Size

Related Links


For more information, contact:

Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.
(Phone: 301 286 5017)

Abstracts and images of funded proposals

NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts

Viewable Images

Image Captions:

Item 1:

This is an artist's concept of a liquid-mirror telescope deployed at the south pole of the moon. An astronaut is shown on the left for scale. The mirror is the disk-shaped object shown inside the telescope shroud. The mirror is made of a reflective liquid, and rotates at a uniform rate. In the same way that coffee piles up against the side of a cup when stirred, the mirror liquid piles up against the side of its container when rotated. The rotation, in combination with lunar gravity, gives the mirror an extremely precise curvature to focus light at the detector.

Image Credit: University of Arizona/Dr. Roger J. Angel

Item 2:

This is an artist's concept of an electrostatic radiation shield deployed over a future lunar base. The spheres on the poles generate positive and negative electric charges, which deflect incoming electrically-charged space radiation.

Image Credit: ASRC Aerospace Corporation/Dr. Charles R. Buhler

Item 3:

This is a diagram of a lunar space elevator. Solar-powered capsules carry material up a tramway attached to a rigid cable. One end of the cable is anchored in the lunar surface at the equator, while the opposite end, far out in space, has a counterweight. Like a child twirling a ball on the opposite end of a string, the moon's rotation causes the counterweight to pull the cable tight against the moon's gravity, preventing the cable from falling to the lunar surface.

Image Credit: Star Technology and Research, Inc./Jerome Pearson

Story Archives

The Top Story Archive listing can be found by clicking on this link.

All stories found on a Top Story page or the front page of this site have been archived from most to least current on this page.

For a list of recent press releases, click here.

September 27, 2004 - (date of web publication)



liquid-mirror telescope on moon

Item 1


Humanity's future in space could include deployment of giant liquid-mirror telescopes at the south pole of the moon, electrostatic radiation shields over lunar bases, and designer plants that can survive the extreme conditions on Mars if some of the proposals under study by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) become reality.




radiation shield over moonbase

Item 2


NIAC selected its 2004 Phase 1 awards in August. Twelve proposals to boldly go beyond the frontiers of space exploration were chosen for a six-month study period beginning October 2004.




lunar space elevator

Item 3


NIAC was created in 1998 to solicit revolutionary concepts that could greatly advance NASA's missions from people and organizations outside NASA. The proposals push the limits of known science and technology, and thus are not expected to be realized for at least decade or more. NIAC's intention is to discover ideas which may result in beneficial changes to NASA's long-range plans.

"We are thrilled to team up with imaginative people from industry and universities to discover innovative systems that meet the tremendous challenge of space exploration and development," said Dr. Robert Cassanova of the Universities Space Research Organization (USRA), NIAC director. USRA runs NIAC for NASA.

"NIAC employs a team of experts in science and technology to review proposals, and successful ones are highly imaginative but grounded in reality," said Sharon Garrison, NIAC Program Coordinator and the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) for the NIAC contract, administered at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NIAC sponsors research in two phases. Proposals selected for Phase 1 awards typically receive up to $75,000 for a six-month study that validates the viability of the concept and identifies challenges that must be overcome to make the proposal a reality.

The results of the Phase 1 studies are evaluated, and the most promising are selected for further research into the major feasibility issues associated with cost, performance, development time, and technology through a Phase 2 award. Phase 2 studies can be up to two years long and receive as much as $400,000.

Proposals selected for the 2004 Phase 1 awards include:

- A Deep-Field Infrared Observatory near the Lunar Pole (PI: Dr. Roger J. Angel of the University of Arizona, Tucson)

- Extremely Large Swarm Array of Picosats for Microwave/RF Earth Sensing, Radiometry, and Mapping (PI: Ivan Bekey of Bekey Designs Incorporated, Annandale, Va.)

- Redesigning Living Organisms to Survive on Mars (PI: Dr. Wendy F. Boss of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.)

- Analysis of a Lunar Base Electrostatic Radiation Shield Concept (PI: Dr. Charles R. Buhler of ASRC Aerospace Corporation, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.)

- New Worlds Imager (PI: Dr. Webster Cash of the University of Colorado, Boulder)

- Efficient Direct Conversion of Sunlight to Coherent Light at High Average Power in Space (PI: Dr. Richard Fork of the University of Alabama, Huntsville)

- Use of Superconducting Magnet Technology for Astronaut Radiation Protection (PI: Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass.)

- Wide-Bandwidth Deep-Space Quantum Communications (PI: Ricky Morgan of Morgan Optics Corporation, San Diego, Calif.)

- Lunar Space Elevators for Cislunar Space Development (PI: Jerome Pearson of Star Technology and Research, Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C.)

- Large-Product General-Purpose Design and Manufacturing Using Nanoscale Modules (PI: Chris Phoenix of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

- Magnetized Beamed Plasma Propulsion (PI: Dr. Robert M. Winglee of the University of Washington, Seattle)

- A Self-Sustaining, Boundary-Layer-Adapted System for Terrain Exploration and Environmental Sampling (PI: Dr. Craig A. Woolsey of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)

NIAC also recently selected the following proposals for Phase 2 research:

- The Plasma Magnet (PI: Dr. John Slough of the University of Washington, Seattle)

- Bio-Nano-Machines for Space Applications (PI: Dr. Constantinos Mavroidis of Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.)

- Robotic Lunar Ecopoiesis Test Bed (PI: Dr. Paul Todd of Space Hardware Optimization Technology (SHOT), Inc., Greenville, Ind.)

- Tailored Force Fields (PI: Dr. Narayanan Komerath of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta)

- Sailing the Planets: Science from Directed Aerial Robot Explorers (PI: Alexey Pankine of Global Aerospace Corp., Altadena, Calif.)



Back to Top