A concept for reprogramming microorganisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics has secured backing from NASA.

Image © NASA

A concept for reprogramming microorganisms that could use the Martian environment to recycle and print electronics has secured backing from NASA.

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program that invests in transformative architectures through the development of pioneering technologies.

NASA said that the NIAC Phase I awards are valued at approximately $100,000 for nine months, to support initial definition and analysis of their concepts. If these basic feasibility studies are successful, awardees can apply for Phase II awards, valued up to $500,000 for two additional years of concept development.

The concept, ‘Urban bio-mining meets printable electronics: end-to-end at destination biological recycling and reprinting’ was one of 13 selected.

The concept was the brainchild of Lynn Rothschild, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

The 2016 portfolio of Phase I concepts cover a wide range of innovations selected for their potential to revolutionize future aerospace missions.

According to NASA such breakthroughs hold the promise of accelerating its progress toward its goals of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, missions to an asteroid and Mars.

Other concepts selected included a two-dimensional spacecraft with ultra-thin subsystems that may wrap around space waste to enable de-orbiting, and a method of computational imaging that leverages extrasolar intensity fluctuations to detect “echoes” from planets and other structures orbiting a distant star.

“NASA continues to value early stage concept studies for our future missions,” commented Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington.

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