Ratnakumar Bugga, a scientist of Indian origin from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, is among 13 other researchers who will be awarded nearly $100,000 for nine months to support the initial definition and analysis of their concepts in NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, the US space agency said in a statement.
The Indian-born scientist, who has PhD in electrochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, is currently involved in the development of low temperature lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and the ultra-low temperature lithium primary batteries for Mars probes. Bugga was also the task manager for the Mars Exploration Rover Thermal, Rover and Lander batteries.
Other selected concepts include a proposal for reprogramming micro-organisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics and a two-dimensional spacecraft with ultra-thin subsystems that may wrap around space debris to enable deorbiting.
The award winners can apply for Phase-2 awards, valued up to $500,000 for two additional years of concept development, if their basic studies are successful.