"NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)… [has selected] a concept for reprogramming microorganisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics [and] a two-dimensional spacecraft with ultra-thin subsystems," the release stated on Friday.
Other projects receiving such exploratory funding include a Fusion-Enabled Pluto Orbiter and Lander, a nano-tech system to ‘harvest’ rocket propellant form icy moons, transforming asteroids into "mechanical automata" as well as urban bio-mining using printable electronics, the release explained.
"The latest NIAC selections include a number of concepts for planetary and robotic exploration," NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk stated in the release. "NASA continues to value early stage concept studies for our future missions."
NIAC Phase I awards are valued at about $100,000 for nine months, and if these feasibility studies are successful, awardees can apply for Phase II awards, valued up to $500,000 for two additional years of concept development, according to the release.
The programs are planned to advance NASA’s goals of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, missions to an asteroid and Mars, the release explained.