NASA offers Phase II funding for five space concepts

GREENBELT, Md., 13 Oct. 2005. A space telescope that could resolve weather patterns and continents on Earth-like planets around other stars is among five promising ideas selected for more detailed study by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) with its 2005 Phase II awards – each worth as much as $400,000.

GREENBELT, Md., 13 Oct. 2005. A space telescope that could resolve weather patterns and continents on Earth-like planets around other stars is among five promising ideas selected for more detailed study by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) with its 2005 Phase II awards – each worth as much as $400,000.

The five proposals selected for the 2005 Phase II studies are:

* Redesigning Living Organisms for Mars, Principle investigator (PI): Dr. Wendy F. Boss of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.
* New Worlds Imager, PI: Dr. Webster Cash of the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
* Microbots for Large-Scale Planetary Surface and Subsurface Exploration, PI: Prof. Steven Dubowsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
* Investigation of the Feasibility of Laser Trapped Mirrors, PI: Dr. Elizabeth McCormack, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Penn.
* A Deep Field Infrared Observatory near the Lunar Pole, PI: Dr. Simon P. Worden, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

"These awards will encourage NIAC Fellows to continue the development of their concepts that may have a revolutionary impact on future missions for the exploration of space," said Dr. Robert Cassanova of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), the NIAC director. "These concepts may not only directly impact future missions, but will inspire other creative members of the technical community to leap vast intellectual distances to set a new course for others to follow."

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 a decade or more. NIAC's intention is to discover ideas which may result in beneficial changes to NASA's long- range plans.

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. The performance period for these latest awards is from Sept. 1, 2005 to Aug. 31, 2007.

"These NIAC Phase II awards have overcome their initial obstacles and fit well into possible long term NASA plans," said Sharon Garrison, NIAC Coordinator for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "NASA integration beyond Phase II will ultimately be necessary for the successful fusion of these concepts into NASA's missions."

USRA runs NIAC for NASA. For more information, see www.niac.usra.edu.

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