NASA has announced that it has selected 23 potentially revolutionary projects through NIAC, its investment program in advanced and innovative research projects at an early stage, presented by the industrial and academic sectors.
Under the 2020 edition of the program, which has a total allocation of 7 million dollars, 16 new projects and seven investigations were selected, which had already received at least one NIAC award.
The selection process in the NIAC program includes awards in Phase I and Phase II of the project. In the first phase, the prize of approximately 125 thousand dollars, a value intended to help researchers to define and analyze the proposed concepts within a period of nine months.
Studies that prove to be feasible can present proposals for the second phase, which already has some previously chosen projects. Researchers selected for Phase II receive grants of 500,000 dollars to develop their projects within up to two years.
Phase III, in turn, is designed with the strategic transition of concepts with the greatest potential for impact, meanwhile developed, for others, government agencies or NASA commercial partners. Phase III researchers receive grants of two million dollars to develop and mature their mission concepts over two years.
"NIAC is an innovative program that encourages researchers – and NASA itself – to think outside the box, looking for solutions that can overcome the challenges of future science and space exploration missions," says Walt Engelund, associate deputy program administrator of NASA's Space Technology Missions Directorate (STMD). "We are excited about the new concepts and how to move forward, with additional time and resources, for the following Phase II and III".
Among the projects of the 2020 edition is a proposal that suggests a mission to record images of exoplanets outside the solar system, by a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who will thus receive two million dollars to be able to develop the concept and the technologies necessary to achieve it.