Blue Dot: Exploring the future: latest proposals from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program
NASA recently announced seed funding for a set of fascinating and futuristic proposals that may someday become reality. Like something out of science fiction, these ideas are on the cutting edge of what we can do. But they are doable, which is one of the main criteria for selecting them. Dave talks to two of the researchers whose proposals have been selected as well as the acting executive overseeing the program for NASA HQ.
Ethan Schaler from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains the ideas behind how to best explore ocean worlds like Europa using tiny (think phone size) robotic swimmers to someday finally unravel what the oceans of this icy satellite of Jupiter is actually like. Mike LaPointe, acting executive director for the NIAC program then tells Dave about how projects get chosen and goes through a few of the more interesting ones.
Finally, Dave is joined by MIT Planetary Science professor Sara Seager to talk about her team's plans to use balloons to collect and then return samples from the atmosphere of Venus which have recently shown tantalizing signals that there may be microbial life there.