NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, carefully selects participants from a broad range of studies and grants them each $100,000 to fund a nine-month initial definition and analysis of their proposed concepts. Proposals that make it past the initial phase are then awarded upwards of $500,000 for two additional years of concept development. The program was established to encourage the development of futuristic technologies NASA can use in its exploration of Earth and space, so it might not be surprising that many of the projects selected seemed like they were straight out of science fiction. Here are 11 of those concepts that NASA wants to try and make a reality.
11. Pulsar-Based Navigation Systems
Michael Hecht of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is working on a project that can detect quasars, pulsars, and masers and use them as navigational beacons for deep space missions. Currently, the project is still in early development with the team working on building a catalogue of sources; but, if the project is a success, it would basically be the equivalent of an interplanetary GPS system.