NASA has always driven research and pushed forward projects that have led to advancements in the scientific field. By approving ‘Borebots” for deep drilling, Mars rover and interstellar-object probe, they have proven once again that they are open to funding new concepts.
The Borebots project will help in drilling down the Martian surface as far as a mile in search of water on Mars. Moreover, the interstellar object detector is the nuclear-powered spacecraft that will intercept interstellar objects, which zip through our solar system.
Both the propositions will get funds from NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) to carry out further research and derive concept study as they are approved for the first phase of funding.
NIAC backs early-stage concepts that could bring innovation to aerospace technology and space exploration. There are three phases of funding. In the first phase, the idea receives $125,000 for up to nine months, to enable the researchers to lay out the concept study. If the idea seems promising, it will then get phase 2 approval, which will enable the team to receive $500,000 funding for the further development of the concept study. If the studies and further development phase promises a successful outcome, it will then get the phase 3 funding of about $2 million for about 2 years.
The Borebots idea was initiated by Quinn Morley from Planet Enterprises in Gig Harbor, Washington, and the Interstellar object detector was proposed by Christopher Morrison [a Seattle-based researcher from Ultra Safe Technologies (USNC-Tech)] – both of which have been approved by the NIAC.
Moreover, the NIAC has also approved other projects as well. However, the director of early-stage innovations, Jenn Gustetic believes, it does not expect all of them to be fruitful, but by providing initial funding, NIAC wants to make sure that they give the ideas at least a chance.
The other projects include Regolith Adaptive Modification System, which will support early extraterrestrial planetary landings, Sustained ChipSat Activity through transmitted electromagnetic radiation that will help to explore Uranus, Ablative Arc Mining to extract useful materials from the moon, and Kilometer-Scale Space structures, which will be the backbone of large rotating spacecraft that produces artificial gravity. Other than these, there are PEDALS, which is developing sounding-radar that automatically rolls out to lunar sites, as well as Atomic Planar Power for Lightweight exploration. As you can tell, there are many ideas in the pipeline.
All in all, if the above-mentioned projects including the Borebots project and Interstellar Object detector seem promising to enter into the second phase, not only it will get funds to develop it further, but it will also mark a milestone in the advancement of technology.