On Monday, NASA released the draft 2015 Technology Roadmaps, a clearcut, ambitious and proactive series of documents designed to aid the agency pinpoint technological advances for the next 20 years and meet its goals. Cutting budgets, becoming even more cost-efficient, avoiding overlapping of tasks and budgets in providing technological breakthroughs are the underlying motivations of the newly released Roadmaps.
At large, the 2015 Technology Roadmaps provide an overview of NASA’s anticipated missions and the technological advancements needed to meet these goals. The documents are based on the 2012 Roadmaps.
At a quick glance, the 2015 Technological Roadmaps are divided as follows: Launch Propulsion System, In-Space Propulsion Technologies, Space Power and Energy Storage, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Communications, Navigation and Orbital Debris Tracking and Characterization Systems, Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems, Human Exploration Destination Systems, Science Instruments, Observatories and Sensor Systems, Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems.
In addition, the following can be found in the draft: Nanotechnology, Modeling, Simulation and Information Technology. Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing, Ground and Launch Systems, as well as Thermal Management Systems and Aeronautics are analyzed.
How will the guidelines provided in the roadmaps be measured for success? By using TechPort which is a web-based system comparing the Agency’s tech portfolio and projects to what NASA has set as its goals and objectives.
Among cloud supercomputing or cognitive computing and serious robotics advancement, the most anticipated project of NASA is the trip on Mars planned in approximately 2030.
With the imagination of the public wired, the more down-to-earth needs of the agency in order to accomplish this project have been also mapped in the released documents. Solar power technology and energy storage feature among the top priorities. Clean technologies are thus the keyword. Developing a performant Solar Electric Propulsion system ranks high within the range of needs for the proposed mission.
A cargo of people will be travelling to Mars, therefore the SEP needs to operate at high voltage and outstandingly deal with the radiation waves of the Van Allen radiation belt. In stark contrast with the technology now used by NASA which under the circumstances would prove costly, heavy and an intensive workload investment, SEP is expected to be cost-effective, to convert energy at an efficiency rate of 50 per cent and generate multiple megawatts.
At this point, one of the issues that was envisioned by NASA is that of energy generation while the cargo is furthering from the Sun. To counter this impending issue, the new technology needs to perform under poor lightning and low temperature conditions. An alteranative that featured in the 2015 Technological roadmaps is the development of nuclear-power systems that would allow for quick, risk reduced trips to Mars, as well as increased autonomy.
Coming back to Earth, the technological advancements that are being on track of development for the Mars mission could be of great use here. The development and appliance of clean technologies is definitely fundamental to counteracting the disastrous effects of climate change. From this stand, NASA reclaims its place as frontrunner of technological advancement.
“NASA believes sharing this document with the broader community will increase awareness, generate innovative solutions to provide the capabilities for space exploration and scientific discovery and inspire others to get involved in America’s space program”, the plan states.
Therefore if you’re looking for more information on the buzzing new roadmaps, NASA has them posted on their website. All enthusiasts are welcome to take a look. At the same time, feel free to comment. Until June 10th, the draft Roadmaps are under the scrutiny of the wide public.
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