NASA just greenlit the study of several futuristic tech concepts, including one that could let you breathe on Mars. The projects are part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The program wants to foster the exploration of tomorrow. As such, it has approved funding for early-stage studies on multiple types of futuristic tech, including new spacesuits and spacecraft designed to explore outer planets.
NASA is studying tech that will let us breathe on Mars
One of the most intriguing pieces of tech that NASA has approved early-stage funding for is portable O2 generation meant to make air on Mars breathable. Essentially, the generator would be both stationary and portable. When set up, it would use a process called thermal swing sorption/desorption (TSSD) to generate Oxygen from the Martian atmosphere.
If proven possible, TSSD could be a solid basis for getting air on Mars breathable. This would open entirely new doors for exploring the Martian surface. Plus, since the design would allow for portable and stationary setups, it would allow astronauts to move it around as needed. Furthermore, the tech would allow for more flexibility in landing zones, as well as longer journeys to explore the surface of the planet. Oxygen is one of the key things holding us back from putting a person on Mars. If NASA can solve that problem and make it so we can breathe on Mars, putting boots on the ground will become a lot more feasible.
“NASA’s mission to explore the universe requires new technologies and new ways of doing things,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, wrote in a statement. “Studying these creative ideas is the first step to turn science fiction into science fact.”
NASA has approved studies for even more sci-fi movie ideas
Most of the tech that NASA has approved grants for feels like something straight out of a science fiction movie. While some go for lofty goals like making it so we can breathe on Mars, others offer new approaches to the spacecraft we build. One concept would allow us to study Venus better. Sara Seager, an astronomer from MIT, proposed the idea. Essentially, it would let us parachute a probe into the Venusian atmosphere. Once there, it would capture samples of the gas and clouds that make up the planet. Then, those samples would be transported back to Earth for more in-depth studying.
Other concepts approved include a small climbing robot that could help explore subsurface caves on the Martian surface. It isn’t quite as impressive as making Mars breathable. However, it would give us a new understanding of the planet itself. Another concept for a versatile spacecraft would open the door to study the Venusian atmosphere. It could also be used to study the atmospheres of other celestial bodies. It’s all very interesting tech, though we probably won’t see full results on any of it for years to come.