A group of researchers at the University of California, Merced has received $5 million from NASA to establish the school’s largest extramurally funded research and education center to date. The Merced Nanomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing (MACES) will take advantage of the university’s nanomaterial-based research programs and help farm highly qualified workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
Meanwhile, NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) developed a space engineering design contest, the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Competition, to find fresh ideas for the future of space travel. The contest hosted 16 teams of undergraduate and graduate students who were asked to develop a mission with innovative approaches and new technologies allowing astronauts to be less dependent on resources transported from Earth. Over the course of three days, the contestants presented their ideas to a panel of NASA and industry judges in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
The winning team was made up of students from the University of Maryland, College Park. They presented a space architecture using the moon as a fueling stop for Mars-bound spacecraft by creating fuel from lunar surface materials. The same team also placed first in the undergraduate division. The second- and third-place teams each presented entry, decent, and landing concepts for a pathfinder mission to demonstrate placing a 20 metric ton payload on the surface of Mars. The Georgia Tech team took first overall in the graduate division.
NASA has also awarded over $11 million in grants to universities in 15 states, through its Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program. The purpose of the award money is for the institutions to conduct basic research and technology development in areas critical to the agency’s mission. The award covers a three-year period.
The awardees and the title of their winning proposals are:
- University of Alaska, Fairbanks: A Vertical Comet Assay for Measuring DNA Damage to Radiation
- University of Arkansas, Fayetteville: Arkansas NASA EPSCoR – SiGeSn Based Photovoltaic Devices for Space Applications
- University of Hawaii, Manoa: Developing a Capability at the University of Hawaii for Multiple UAV Observations of Active Volcanism
- Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas: Active Wing Shaping Control for Morphing Aircraft
- Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: Investigating Terrestrial Gamma Flash Production from Energetic Particle Acceleration in Lightning using TETRA-II
- Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla: Learning Algorithms for Preserving Safe Flight Envelope under Adverse Aircraft Conditions
- University of Mississippi, Oxford: GEANT4 Simulations for Astronaut Risk Calculations
- University of North Dakota, Grand Forks: Multi-Purpose Research Station in North Dakota in Support of NASA´s Future Human Missions to Mars
- University of Nebraska, Omaha: Large Volume Crystal Growth of Superoxide Dismutase Complexes in Microgravity for Neutron Diffraction Studies
- University of New Hampshire, Durham: Responsive Autonomous Rovers to Enable Polar Science
- New Mexico State University, Las Cruces: Virtual Telescope for X-ray Observations
- University of Nevada, Reno: Advanced Transport Technologies for NASA Thermal Management/Control Systems
- University of Oklahoma, Norman: Extracting the Photonic Spectrum for the Long Range Exploration of Space: A Hybrid Photovoltaic Photon Upconversion and Biological System for Energy Production and Life Support
- College of Charleston, in partnership with the University of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charleston, South Carolina: Using NASA’s Ocean Color Sensors to Identify Effects of Watershed Development and Climate Change on Coastal Marine Ecosystems of the US Virgin Islands
- South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City: Development of Direct-Write Materials, and Electronic and Electromagnetic Devices for NASA Printable Spacecraft