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A train on the Moon? NASA’s new space tech includes lunar railways, Martian rockets and more

A train on the Moon? NASA’s new space tech includes lunar railways, Martian rockets and more
Is the only thing that’s keeping you from leaving Earth and its gazillion problems behind to move to Mars the commute time? Worry not, NASA’s got you.

NASA has set its sights on six mind-blowing tech concepts that seem ripped straight from science fiction. These visionary ideas, chosen for further development by the NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) program, could revolutionise space exploration as we know it.
A telescope made of liquid
The FLUTE, or Fluidic Telescope, project proposes a massive space observatory that uses special fluids to create its shape, allowing for a much larger viewing area than ever before. This could unlock secrets of distant galaxies and even Earth-like exoplanets.
Need a quicker ride to Mars?
The Pulsed Plasma Rocket might be the answer. This innovative engine uses powerful fission-generated packets of plasma to propel spacecraft, potentially slashing travel times between Earth and other planets.
Mega constellation of satellites
The GO-LoW (Great Observatory for Long Wavelengths) project envisions a network of thousands of tiny satellites working together as one giant radio telescope. This could revolutionise our understanding of the early universe and alien worlds.
Solar power gets an upgrade
The Radioisotope Thermoradiative Cell offers a new, potentially more efficient way to power spacecraft. This could be a game-changer for smaller missions venturing far from the sun's rays, like probes exploring the outer reaches of our solar system or rovers scouting the icy moons of Jupiter or Saturn.
Picture a lunar railway!
The FLOAT (Flexible Levitation on a Track) project proposes a futuristic transportation system on the Moon. Imagine cargo gliding effortlessly across a track, supporting the construction and daily operations of future lunar bases. This efficient and reliable transport system could ferry supplies and materials around the lunar surface, paving the way for a sustainable human presence on the Moon.
ScienceCraft takes sails to a whole new level
Imagine a solar sail unfurling not just to capture the sun's energy for propulsion, but also to gather invaluable scientific data as it journeys past distant objects! This concept involves embedding tiny, quantum dot-based sensors into a solar sail, transforming it into a giant space imager. This lightweight design could send powerful scientific observatories across the solar system at a fraction of the cost.

Overall, NASA's vision for the future is looking brighter than ever. John Nelson, who oversees the NIAC program, is impressed by the latest round of futuristic ideas. He sees them as a springboard for groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come.

With continued development, these concepts could transform space travel, scientific discovery, and our understanding of the cosmos.


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