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June 15, 2006

Other tech: new NASA advanced concept studies

11 new studies have been funded

Bioelectric space exploration will be studied by Matthew Silver This is work at the intersection of synthetic biology, space systems design, space operations, and electrical engineering. Proteins such as Prestin in the inner ear, or mechanosensitive ion channels found in almost all living organisms, translate nanometer movements into milli-volts of electricity. Scaling such ultra-sensitive piezo-electric mechanisms opens the door to space suits or bases covered in electricity generating Power Skins, charged by the Martian winds or the movement of astronauts through the Martian air. In a different direction, microorganisms such as Rhodoferax have been shown to convert Glucose or waste into electric potential, leading to the possibility for microbial fuel cells. One can imagine modifying such bacteria for integration in Electric Greenhouses that produce electricity and food while treating waste on space vehicles or exploration bases.

Roger Angel investigates the feasability of a 2000 kilometer solar shield at L1 to counter global warming (if global warming problems become serious enough to justify it this megascale intervention

Preliminary concept of free flyer solar shield

Photonic Muscle Telescopes: laser actuated material to control large (20-40m) aperture telescopes like the Terrestrial Planet Imager.

Module spacecraft held in place with superconductors This would blur the distinction between modules and formation flying.

Superconductors holding modules in place in orbit

Exploring the use of high voltage structures to protect against orbital radiation. This could protect solar panels on orbiting spacecraft and solar power satellites from degradation



Inflated bubble structures that could make very large structures in space. The bubbles would be lighter than prior balloon inflation proposals

Ponderomotive propulsion using high energy particles generated by lasers It could make high thrust,high ISP propulsion. Here is a description of a previously proposed ponderomotive plasma thruster.

Plasma magnetic shield for lightweight protection for crews on spaceships

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