NASA SBIR/STTR 2017 Program Solicitation Details | STTR Research Topics | Modeling And Estimation Of Integrated Human-Vehicle Design Influences

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  • Subtopic Pointers
  • Subtopic has been amended

Introduction

The SBIR and STTR subtopics are organized into groupings called “Focus Areas”.  Focus areas are a way of grouping NASA interests and related technologies with the intent of making it easier for proposers to understand related needs across the agency and thus identify subtopics where their research and development capabilities may be a good match. Proposers should think of the Subtopic Lead Mission Directorates and Lead/Participating Centers as potential customers for their proposals. Multiple MDs and Centers may have interests across the subtopics within a Focus Area.

Subtopic numbering conventions from previous year’s solicitations have been maintained for traceability of like-subtopics from previous solicitations. The mapping is as follows:

A – Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

H – Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

S – Science Mission Directorate

Z – Space Technology Mission Directorate

T – Small Business Technology Transfer

 Related subtopic pointers are identified when applicable in the subtopic headers to assist proposers with identifying related subtopics that also potentially seek related technologies for different customers or applications. As stated in Section 3.1, an offeror shall not submit the same (or substantially equivalent) proposal to more than one subtopic. It is the offeror’s responsibility to select which subtopic to propose to.

STTR Research Topics by Focus Area

    • NASA is interested in technologies for advanced in-space propulsion systems to reduce travel time, reduce acquisition costs, and reduce operational costs for exploration and science spacecraft.  The future will require demanding propulsive performance and flexibility for more ambitious missions requiring high duty cycles, more challenging environmental conditions, and extended operation.  This focus area seeks innovations for NASA propulsion systems in chemical, electric, and nuclear thermal propulsion systems related to human exploration, sample return missions to Mars, small bodies (like asteroids, comets, and Near-Earth Objects), outer planet moons, and Venus.  Propulsion technologies will focus on a number of mission applications included ascent, descent, orbit transfer, rendezvous, station keeping, and proximity operations.

      • T1.01Affordable Nano/Micro Launch Propulsion Stages

          Lead Center: MSFC

          Participating Center(s): AFRC, KSC

          Technology Area: TA1 Launch Propulsion Systems

          There has been recent significant growth in both the Quantity and Quality of Nano and Micro Satellite Missions:      The number of missions has outpaced available ride share opportunities.  Dedicated access to space increases small sat mission capability & allows new & emerging low-cost… Read more>>

          There has been recent significant growth in both the Quantity and Quality of Nano and Micro Satellite Missions:     

          • The number of missions has outpaced available ride share opportunities. 
          • Dedicated access to space increases small sat mission capability & allows new & emerging low-cost technologies to be flight qualified. 

          Stage concepts are sought that can be demonstrated within the scope & budget of a Phase II STTR project:   

          • MSFC is actively pursuing multiple technologies to significantly reduce orbital access cost. 
          • The scale of many Nano and Micro Launch vehicles allows stages to be completed within the scope and budget of a Phase II proposals.
          • Accepted proposals will be limited to stages that plug and play into existing or proposed architectures for orbital launch vehicles with payload capabilities from 5-50 kg. A flight test is expected in Phase II.
          • The university/small business partnership is ideal to provide the correct technology combination allowing for this affordable access to space. 

          State of the Art 

          Small launch vehicles are targeting a total launch cost of ~$1-2M. Proposed stages must demonstrate significant cost savings over state of the art. 

          What is the compelling need for this subtopic? 

          • This subtopic is necessary because there are currently no available rides for experimental propulsive stages.
          • Technological advancements like additive mfg. must be demonstrated to produce aerospace quality parts at low fixed cost. These technologies must be validated for use in propulsive stages.
          • The correct combination of new technologies and approaches will enable affordable, dedicated, on-demand access to space.
          • Technologies that are demonstrated and validated at the nano/micro scale can be robustly infused into large launch vehicles where loads and vibrations are not as severe.
          • The success of Nano/Micro Launch vehicles benefit every NASA center by enabling unprecedented experimental access to space.
          • Commercial development opportunities abound since the small satellite market is robust and growing. 

          STMD/NASA/NARP/National-Affordable access to space is a key objective for NASA.  The Nano/Micro Launch scale is an affordable avenue that will enable the development and validation of key technologies and approaches to reduce fixed cost, recurring costs and range costs.

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        • T1.02Detailed Multiphysics Propulsion Modeling & Simulation Through Coordinated Massively Parallel Frameworks

            Lead Center: MSFC

            Participating Center(s): SSC

            Technology Area: TA1 Launch Propulsion Systems

            Detailed modeling and simulation to assess combustion instability of recent large combustors while successful to a degree showed the need for significant advances in two-phase flow, combustion, unsteady flow, and acoustics.  Additionally, simulation of water spray systems for launch acoustic sound… Read more>>

            Detailed modeling and simulation to assess combustion instability of recent large combustors while successful to a degree showed the need for significant advances in two-phase flow, combustion, unsteady flow, and acoustics.  Additionally, simulation of water spray systems for launch acoustic sound suppression and test stand rocket engine acoustic sound suppression showed the need for advances in two-phase flow, droplet formation, and particulate trajectory.  In these cases, and others, the need for improved physics based models is accompanied by the requirement for high fidelity and computational speed. 

            Rocket combustion dynamic simulations are 3D, multiphase, reacting computations involving the mixing of hundreds of individual injection elements which require a long time history to be computed. Methods are sought (VOF, SPH, DNS/LES, PIC, etc.) to accurately capture the physics of the injection elements in a computationally efficient manner. Experimental validation of individual submodels are required. 

            NASA successfully leveraged advances/ innovation in computer science technology to leapfrog the barriers to massive parallelism via the adoption of the Loci framework in the late 1990's.  Computer science has evolved in the last two decades with respect to technology of massive parallelism.  The intent of this subtopic is to infuse newest technologies, i.e., improved physics based models accompanied by the requirement for high fidelity and computational speed, into tools for propulsion related fluid dynamic simulation.  This solicitation seeks simultaneously coordinated computer science (CS) technology advances, multi-physics (MP) simulation, and high fidelity (HF) models.  The value and requirement for proposals is this coordinated CS-MP-HF framework.  Ideally, technologies that are up to this point only Lower TRL demonstrations are strong candidates if they are developed to fit in a coordinated CS-MP-HF framework that can be applied to propulsion system fluid dynamics. 

            Tools developed in this framework are expected to enable propulsion system production & DDT&E cost reductions.  

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          • T2.01Advanced Nuclear Propulsion

              Lead Center: SSC

              Participating Center(s): GRC, MSFC

              Technology Area: TA2 In-Space Propulsion Technologies

              The objective of this subtopic is to advance low TRL (<3) nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential to transform space transportation and space exploration to Mars and other planets/moons in our solar system. Radical improvements in in-space propulsion technologies beyond the… Read more>>

              The objective of this subtopic is to advance low TRL (<3) nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential to transform space transportation and space exploration to Mars and other planets/moons in our solar system. Radical improvements in in-space propulsion technologies beyond the current state of the art (SOA) are required to enable new missions that safely transport humans and/or robotic systems with increased reliability to meet mission requirements, transport them quickly to reduce transit times and provide quicker scientific results, increase the payload mass to allow more capable instruments and larger crews, and reduce the overall mission cost. SOA in-space transportation systems typically employ chemical propulsion or electric propulsion systems.  In parallel, thought must go into how best to ground test these concepts to allow a smoother, more efficient and safer path for future development.

              This subtopic specifically seeks proposals for innovative research and development of advanced nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential for significant improvement over the current SOA, primarily to achieve:

              • High specific impulse (Isp) and thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W) to consume less propellant and provide shorter trip times.

              Other design requirements to consider in the proposed concept include:

              • Low system mass and volume (includes propellant, power system, thermal control/radiators) to reduce the total mass and number of launches to orbit.
              • Safety, affordability, and reliability

              Most of the known advanced nuclear propulsion candidate technologies are listed in the 2015 NASA OCT Roadmap TA02: In-Space Propulsion Technologies (http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html). Advanced nuclear propulsion technologies are identified in section 2.3.3 Fusion Propulsion, section 2.3.5 Antimatter Propulsion, and section 2.3.6 Advanced Fission. Technology SOA and technical challenges are included for each.

              Other advanced nuclear propulsion technologies not listed in the 2015 OCT TA02 Roadmap are welcome and within the scope of the subtopic (e.g., various nuclear hybrid concepts), including novel system and component ground test approaches and associated supporting/enabling technologies.

              Proposed technologies must be theoretically credible and proposals must describe how the technology will make a significant improvement over SOA in-space propulsion systems. Proposals must describe the ultimate objective of the effort and detail the planned investigative approach. The planned experimentation should be described, including the test equipment to be used and/or developed. The proposal should describe the development risks and mitigation plans.

              Proposals should strive to advance the proposed technology to TRL 3: perform experimental critical function and/or proof-of-concept. If a significant increase in the TRL of a particular propulsion technology is not realizable, the proposal should clearly indicate the value proposition of the proposed effort to mature the candidate technology in the context of an overall development plan, describing how the award would support the maturation of the technology through phase II.

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          • Power is a ubiquitous technology need across many NASA missions.  Within the SBIR Program, power is represented across a broad range of topics in human exploration, space science, space technology and aeronautics.  New technologies are needed to generate electrical power and/or store energy for future human and robotic space missions and to enable hybrid electric aircraft that could revolutionize air travel.  A key goal is to develop technologies that are multi-use and cross-cutting for a broad range of NASA mission applications. In aeronautics, power technologies are needed to supply large-scale electric power and efficiently distribute the power to aircraft propulsors. In the space power domain, mission applications include planetary surface power, large-scale spacecraft prime power, small-scale robotic probe power, and smallsat/cubesat power. Applicable technology options include photovoltaic arrays, radioisotope power systems, nuclear fission, thermal energy conversion, motor/generators, fuel cells, batteries, power management, transmission, distribution and control. An overarching objective is to mature technologies from analytical or experimental proof-of-concept (TRL3) to breadboard demonstration in a relevant environment (TRL5). Successful efforts will transition into NASA Projects where the SBIR deliverables will be incorporated into ground testbeds or flight demonstrations.

            • T3.01Energy Harvesting, Transformation and Multifunctional Power Dissemination

                Lead Center: SSC

                Participating Center(s): GRC, JSC, KSC, MSFC

                Technology Area: TA3 Space Power and Energy Storage

                The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. As such, novel energy harvesting technologies are critical toward supporting future power generation… Read more>>

                The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. As such, novel energy harvesting technologies are critical toward supporting future power generation systems to begin to meet these challenges. This subtopic addresses the potential for deriving power from waste engine heat, warm soil, liquids, kinetic motion, piezoelectric materials or other naturally occurring energy sources, etc. Development of energy harvesting (both capture and conversion) technologies would also address the national need for novel new energy systems and alternatives to reduce energy consumption.  Conversion and transformation technologies for gathering energy naturally occurring in conjunction with induced energies are being pursued, and novel technologies capable of artificially saturating an environment with energy for storage and power dissemination along with non-conventional transmission via the surrounding environments such as wireless power are also applicable. Energy gathering is limited by the quantity of energy available within a system’s immediate environment, and often the environment’s energy contains prolonged periods of lulls in harvestable energy. Technologically bridging power from a distance would fundamentally alleviate issues with low energy environments by allowing energy to be supplementally broadcast through preexisting structures and environments while simultaneously reducing docking and interfacing for power transfer. 

                Technology development should support powering small remotely located equipment such as wireless instrumentation, or support power gathering for independently providing supplementary power to centralized equipment such as control consoles. Distributed Nano energy generating technologies are applicable for gathering scattered environmental energies into significant amounts of accumulated power along with supplementation for long-duration power utilization. This kind of distributed power should also be able to recover waste energy from rocket, nuclear, fission, and electrical propulsion devices while providing enhanced protection from energies contained within the work environment through transformation and consumption.  Transforming harmful radiation, elevated temperatures, unwanted vibrations etc. into usable energy will support increased scope and duration of missions while enhancing protection from the waste energies (mitigation by transformation and consumption). Waste energies from warm soil, liquids (water, oils, hydraulic fluids), kinetic motion, piezoelectric materials, or various naturally occurring energy sources, etc. should also be transformable.  

                Areas of special focus for this subtopic include consideration of: 

                • Innovative technologies for the efficient broadcast, capture, regulation, storage and/or transformation of acoustic, kinetic, radiant (including radiation), electric, magnetic, radio frequencies and thermal energy types.
                • Technologies which can work either under typical ambient environments for the above energy types and/or under high intensity energy environments for the above energy types as might be found in propulsion testing and launch facilities.
                • As above, energy capture, transmission and transformation technologies that can work in very harsh environments such as those which are very hot and/or ablative (e.g., in the proximity of rocket exhaust) and/or very cold (e.g., temperatures associated cryogenic propellants) may be of interest.
                • Innovations in miniaturization and suitability for manufacturing of energy capture, transmission and transformation systems so as to be used towards eventual powering of assorted sensors and IT systems on vehicles and infrastructures.
                • High efficiency and reliability for use in environments that may be remote and/or hazardous and having low maintenance requirements.
                • Employ green technology considerations to minimize impact on the environment and other resource usage. 
                • Reliable nano-engineered concept designs for generating charge and charge storage devices powering miniature (or “nano”) devices, such as members of a “swarm” are needed for exploration purposes.  Designs should be capable of easy integration to miniaturize systems, subsystems, satellites, or “swarm” elements without compromising capability.
                • Designs should maximize high energy density for charge storage with very low mass. 

                Rocket propulsion test facilities within NASA provide excellent test beds for testing and using the innovative technologies discussed above because they offer a wide spectrum of energy types and energy intensities for capture and transformation. Additional Federal mandates require the optimization of current energy use and development of alternative energy sources to conserve on energy and to enhance the sustainability of these and other facilities.Specific emphasis is on technologies which can be demonstrated in a ground test environment and have the ability/intention to be extrapolated for in-space applications such as on space vehicles, platforms or habitats. Energy transformation technologies to generate higher power output than what is presently on the market are a highly desired to an expected outcome from this subtopic. 

                Phase I will develop feasibility studies and demonstrate through proof-of-concept demonstrations. Phase II will develop prototypical hardware and demonstrate infusion readiness to be incorporated into other products.

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              • T3.02Intelligent/Autonomous Electrical Power Systems

                  Lead Center: GRC

                  Participating Center(s): JPL

                  Technology Area: TA3 Space Power and Energy Storage

                  Missions to Mars and beyond experience communication delays with Earth of between 3 to 45 minutes.   Due to this, it is impractical to rely on ground-based support and troubleshooting in the event of a power system fault or component failure.  Intelligent/autonomous systems are required that can… Read more>>

                  Missions to Mars and beyond experience communication delays with Earth of between 3 to 45 minutes.   Due to this, it is impractical to rely on ground-based support and troubleshooting in the event of a power system fault or component failure.  Intelligent/autonomous systems are required that can manage the power system in both normal mode and failure mode.

                  In normal mode, the system would predict energy availability, perform load scheduling, maintain system security and status on-board and ground based personnel.  One aspect of overall system autonomy would be solar array characterization, for spacecraft utilizing this technology.  One drawback of current satellite systems is the lack of adequate means of determining solar panel or cell status.  Being able to automatically characterize solar panel status can enhance energy availability prediction.  Similar technology to access that status of battery systems would further enhance these predictions.

                  In failure mode, the system must identify a fault or failure and perform contingency planning to react or reconfigure the system appropriately to move it back into normal mode of operation, without human involvement.   The technologies to detect and identify specific failures in both the generation, distribution and storage systems are needed along with strategies to utilize the failure data to identify recovery strategies for the power system.

                  With the potential of future manned missions to Mars, this technology will become increasingly important for electrical power management and distribution.   Specific areas of interest include:

                    • Autonomous/intelligent PMAD.
                    • Failure detection strategies.
                    • Recovery strategies.
                    • Generation and storage characterization.
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              • The exploration of space requires the best of the nation's technical community to provide the technologies that will enable human exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO): to visit asteroids, and to extend our reach to Mars. Autonomous Systems technologies provide the means of migrating mission control from Earth to spacecraft and habitats. This is enhancing for missions in the Earth-Lunar neighborhood and enabling for deep space missions. Long light-time delays, up to 42 minutes round-trip between Earth and Mars, require time-critical control decisions to be closed on-board autonomously through automation and astronaut-automation teaming rather than through round-trip communication to Earth mission control. 

                Long-term crewed spacecraft and habitats, such as the International Space Station, are so complex that a significant portion of the crew's time is spent keeping it operational under even under nominal conditions in low-Earth orbit, while still requiring significant real-time support from Earth. The considerable challenge is to migrate the knowledge and capability embedded in current Earth mission control, with tens to hundreds of human specialists ready to provide instant knowledge, to on-board automation that teams with astronauts to autonomously manage spacecraft and habitats. The autonomous agent subtopic addresses this challenge by soliciting proposals that leverage the growing field of cognitive computing to advance technology for deep-space autonomy. 

                The technology challenge for autonomous crewed systems in off-nominal conditions is even more critical. In the majority of Apollo lunar missions, Earth mission control was needed to resolve critical off-nominal situations ranging from unexplained computer alarms on Apollo 11 to the oxygen tank explosion on Apollo 13 that required executing an 87 hour free return abort trajectory around the moon and back to earth. Through creative use of Lunar Module assets, Apollo 13 had sufficient resiliency to keep the three astronauts alive despite loss of the oxygen tank and many of the capabilities of the service module. In contrast to a lunar mission, a free return abort trajectory around mars and back to earth is on the order of two years – requiring a leap in resiliency.  To prevent Loss of Mission (LOM) or Loss of Crew (LOC) in deep space missions, spacecraft and habitats will require long-term resiliency to handle failures that lead to loss of critical function or unexpected expenditure of consumables. Long communication delays or accidents that cause loss of communication will require that the initial failure response be handled autonomously. The subtopic on resilient autonomous systems solicits technology for the design and quantification of resiliency in long-duration missions. The subtopic on sustainable habitats solicits technology for long-term system health management that goes beyond short-term diagnosis technology to include advances machine learning and other prognostic technologies. 

                Enhancing the capability of astronauts is also critical for future long-duration deep space missions. Augmented reality technology can guide astronauts in carrying out procedures through various sensory modalities. The augmented reality subtopic within the human research program topic area is very relevant to autonomous systems technologies, and proposers are encouraged to review that subtopic description. 

                • T11.01Machine Learning and Data Mining for Autonomy, Health Management, and Science

                    Lead Center: ARC

                    Technology Area: TA11 Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing

                    Nearly all engineered systems in all of NASA's areas of interest have one key aspect in common---they generate substantial data. These data represent: Science and scientific applications. The operations of the data collecting instruments and their platforms. The health of these instruments and… Read more>>

                    Nearly all engineered systems in all of NASA's areas of interest have one key aspect in common---they generate substantial data. These data represent:

                    • Science and scientific applications.
                    • The operations of the data collecting instruments and their platforms.
                    • The health of these instruments and platforms.
                    • In some cases, other related data such as the performance and health of the humans involved in operations.

                    Machine learning, data mining, big data, and related methods have been used to study data in these four areas individually for offline study, with the goal of understanding how the system really operates, as distinct from how it was designed and intended to operate. However, these data-driven methods have not been used so far to study data across more than one of these four areas, and not during operations, with the goal of enabling a human and/or autonomous system to make adjustments to the system's operations on the fly. Allowing both online and offline learning would allow for both online (tactical) and offline (strategic) adjustments to operations. Allowing humans and autonomous systems to interact in making strategic and tactical decisions, including user interfaces that allow the autonomous system to show the human what it has learned and the human to specify high-level objectives and/or low-level actions, is a key problem to be addressed. Increasing the scope of the data covered to all of the four areas above would allow autonomous systems and human operators to account for both science and system health drivers in operations, and identify the trade-offs between increasing science operations, increasing availability, maintaining systems health, minimizing maintenance costs, and other considerations. Some of these considerations may extend to improvements in on-demand system responsiveness through optimal resource sharing of the computational burden between online and offline computing platforms. Integration of learning autonomous systems into existing mission operations and systems is a key problem that will need to be addressed.

                    The utilization of the above types of data to optimize all aspects of operations is important for missions/projects in all of NASA's areas of interest such as space science (e.g., Kepler, TESS), space exploration (human and autonomous rovers), Earth science (satellite-based and airborne instruments and platforms), and aeronautics (e.g., UAS in the NAS) to operate them in as cost-effective a manner as possible. This becomes more critical as NASA increasingly moves towards operating multiple platforms in a coordinated manner (e.g., Distributed Spacecraft Missions, airborne Earth science platforms coordinating with satellite instrument platforms) where the volume of relevant data will increase and autonomy will be needed to properly operate the multiple platforms.

                    This subtopic has three goals:

                    • Increase the scope of machine learning, data mining, and big data methods within NASA to encompass both online and offline learning.
                    • Use data across as many of the above four areas of data as possible.
                    • Explore the trade-offs in operational efficiency, energy efficiency, health management, and operational performance/goal achievement between onboard and offboard computational resource platforms.

                    Proposed solutions may have characteristics including but not limited to:

                    • Ability to incorporate human feedback into the learning algorithms.
                    • Ability for machine learning algorithms to generate results for direct use by autonomous systems and human operators.
                    • Ability to learn a controller (covering strategic and tactical operations) from data representing human expert operations.
                    • Demonstration of a core set of tools that works across different domains.
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                  • T11.02Distributed Spacecraft Missions (DSM) Technology Framework

                      Lead Center: GSFC

                      Participating Center(s): ARC

                      Technology Area: TA11 Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing

                      A Distributed Spacecraft Mission (DSM) is a mission that involves multiple spacecraft to achieve one or more common goals; some DSM Instances include Constellations, Formation Flying missions, or Fractionated missions. Apart from Science goals that can only be attained with DSM, distributed missions… Read more>>

                      A Distributed Spacecraft Mission (DSM) is a mission that involves multiple spacecraft to achieve one or more common goals; some DSM Instances include Constellations, Formation Flying missions, or Fractionated missions. Apart from Science goals that can only be attained with DSM, distributed missions are usually motivated by several goals, among which: increasing data resolution in one or several dimensions (e.g., temporal, spatial, spectral or angular), decreasing launch costs, increasing data bandwidths, as well as ensuring data continuity and inter-mission validation and complementarity. Constellations have been proposed in several NASA Decadal Surveys and recent studies; in Earth Science (e.g., a multi-spacecraft Landsat for increasing temporal resolution), in Heliophysics (e.g., the Geospace Dynamics Constellation) or in Planetary Science (e.g., the Lunar Geophysical Network). Many constellations and Formation Flying missions have also been proposed more recently in cubesat-related research projects. For the purpose of this subtopic, we do not assume the spacecraft to be of any specific sizes, i.e., we do not restrict this study to cubesats or smallsats. 

                      The goal of this subtopic is to mature NASA capabilities to formulate and implement novel science missions based on distributed platforms. Technologies solicited in this call are the following: 

                      • Novel DSM-enabling technologies such as:
                        • Technologies for high-bandwidth and efficient inter-satellite communication.
                        • Metrology systems capable of sensing and controlling relative position and/or orientation of multi-element DSMs to sub-milli-arcsecond angular resolution and sub-micro-meter positional accuracy.
                        • Autonomous and scalable ground-based constellation operations approaches including science operations and data management, and compatible with the Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC) (open source software developed at NASA Goddard).
                      • Scalable DSM flight software systems such as:
                        • Software components compatible with the Core Flight System (CFS) (open source software developed at NASA Goddard), enabling to control and navigate DSM formations and constellations; for example, discrete event supervisors offering a means to autonomously control systems based on selected mission metrics (e.g., spacecraft separation distance, number of active spacecraft, etc.).
                        • Technologies for onboard collaborative processing and intelligence, including but not limited to, inter-spacecraft collaboration for collecting, storing and downloading data as well as multi-platform Science observation coordination and event targeting. 

                      Research proposed to this subtopic should demonstrate technical feasibility and should discuss how it relates to NASA programs and projects. Proposed work is expected to be at an entry Technology Readiness Level (TRL) between 2 and 5, and to demonstrate a TRL increase of at least one level during each phase of the project. Proposals will be evaluated based on their degree of innovation and their potential for future infusion. 

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                    • T12.01Advanced Structural Health Monitoring

                        Lead Center: LaRC

                        Participating Center(s): ARC, GSFC, JSC, KSC

                        Technology Area: TA12 Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing

                        Future manned space missions will require spacecraft and launch vehicles that are capable of monitoring the structural health of the vehicle and diagnosing and reporting any degradation in vehicle capability.  This subtopic seeks new and innovative technologies in structural health monitoring (SHM)… Read more>>

                        Future manned space missions will require spacecraft and launch vehicles that are capable of monitoring the structural health of the vehicle and diagnosing and reporting any degradation in vehicle capability.  This subtopic seeks new and innovative technologies in structural health monitoring (SHM) and integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) automated systems and analysis tools.  Techniques sought include modular/low mass-volume systems, low power, low maintenance systems, and complete systems that reduce or eliminate wiring, as well as smart-sensor systems that provide processed data as close to the sensor and systems that are flexible in their applicability.  Examples of possible automated sensor systems are: Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)-based sensors, passive wireless sensor-tags, flexible sensors for highly curved surfaces, flexible strain and load sensors for softgoods products (broadcloth, webbing or cordage), direct-write film sensors, and others.  Damage detection modes include leak detection, ammonia detection, micrometeoroid impact and others.  Reduction in the complexity of standard wires and connectors and enabling sensing functions in locations not normally accessible is also desirable.  Proposed techniques should be capable of long term service with little or no intervention. Sensor systems should be capable of identifying material state awareness and distinguish aging related phenomena and damage conditions in complex composite and metallic materials.  Techniques and analysis methods related to quantifying material properties, density, microcrack formation, fiber buckling and breakage, etc. in complex composite, metallic and softgoods material systems, adhesively bonded/built-up and/or polymer-matrix composite sandwich structures are of particular interest.  Some consideration will be given to the IVHM /SHM ability to survive in on-orbit and deep space conditions, allow for changes late in the development process and enable on orbit modifications.  System should allow NASA to gain insight into performance and safety of NASA vehicles as well as commercial launchers, vehicles, inflatable structures and payloads supporting NASA missions. Inclusion of a plan for detailed technical operation and deployment is highly favored.

                        State of the Art 

                        Current tools for SHM are rudimentary and or need development for future space missions.  Current data analysis methods are frequently non-ideal for the large scales of data needed for SHM analysis and/or require expert involvement in interpretation of data.

                        This technology enables: 

                        • Monitoring of advanced structures/vehicles.
                        • Cost-effective methods for optimizing SHM techniques.
                        • Feasible methods for validating structural health monitoring systems.

                        Once developed this technology can be infused in any program requiring advanced structures/vehicles Aerospace companies are very interested in this enabling technology.

                        STMD/NASA/NARP/National - Directly aligns with NASA space technology roadmaps and Strategic Space Technology Investment plan.

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                    • This focus area includes development of robotic systems technologies (hardware and software) to improve the exploration of space. Robots can perform tasks to assist and off-load work from astronauts. Robots may perform this work before, in support of, or after humans. Ground controllers and astronauts will remotely operate robots using a range of control modes, over multiple spatial ranges (shared-space, line of sight, in orbit, and interplanetary) and with a range of time-delay and communications bandwidth. Technology is needed for robotic systems to improve transport of crew, instruments, and payloads on planetary surfaces, on and around small bodies, and in-space. This includes hazard detection, sensing/perception, active suspension, grappling/anchoring, legged locomotion, robot navigation, end-effectors, propulsion, and user interfaces.

                      In the coming decades, robotic systems will continue to change the way space is explored. Robots will be used in all mission phases: as independent explorers operating in environments too distant or hostile for humans, as precursor systems operating before crewed missions, as crew helpers working alongside and supporting humans, and as caretakers of assets left behind. As humans continue to work and live in space, they will increasingly rely on intelligent and versatile robots to perform mundane activities, freeing human and ground control teams to tend to more challenging tasks that call for human cognition and judgment.

                      Innovative robot technologies provides a critical capability for space exploration. Multiple forms of mobility, manipulation and human-robot interaction offer great promise in exploring planetary bodies for science investigations and to support human missions. Enhancements and potentially new forms of robotic systems can be realized through advances in component technologies, such as actuation and structures (e.g. 3D printing). Mobility provides a critical capability for space exploration. Multiple forms of mobility offer great promise in exploring planetary bodies for science investigations and to support human missions. Manipulation provides a critical capability for positioning crew members and instruments in space and on planetary bodies, it allows for the handling of tools, interfaces, and materials not specifically designed for robots, and it provides a capability for drilling, extracting, handling and processing samples of multiple forms and scales. This increases the range of beneficial tasks robots can perform and allows for improved efficiency of operations across mission scenarios. Manipulation is important for human missions, human precursor missions, and unmanned science missions.  Sampling, sample handling, transport, and distribution to instruments, or instrument placement directly on in-place rock or regolith, is important for robotic missions to locales too distant or dangerous for human exploration.

                      Future space missions may rely on co-located and distributed teams of humans and robots that have complementary capabilities. Tasks that are considered "dull, dirty, or dangerous" can be transferred to robots, thus relieving human crew members to perform more complex tasks or those requiring real-time modifications due to contingencies. Additionally, due to the limited number of astronauts anticipated to crew planetary exploration missions, as well as their constrained schedules, ground control will need to remotely supervise and assist robots using time-delayed and limited bandwidth communications.  Advanced methods of human-robot interaction over time delay will enable more productive robotic exploration of the more distant reaches of the solar system.  This includes improved visualization of alternative future states of the robot and the terrain, as well as intuitive means of communicating the intent of the human to the robotic system.

                      • T4.01Information Technologies for Intelligent and Adaptive Space Robotics

                          Lead Center: ARC

                          Technology Area: TA4 Robotics, Telerobotics and Autonomous Systems

                          The objective of this subtopic is to develop information technologies that enable robots to better support space exploration. Improving robot information technology (algorithms, avionics, software) is critical to improving the capability, flexibility, and performance of future NASA missions. In… Read more>>

                          The objective of this subtopic is to develop information technologies that enable robots to better support space exploration. Improving robot information technology (algorithms, avionics, software) is critical to improving the capability, flexibility, and performance of future NASA missions. In particular, the NASA "Robotics and Autonomous Systems" technology roadmap (T04) indicates that extensive and pervasive use of robots can significantly enhance future exploration missions that are progressively longer, complex, and operate with fewer ground control resources.

                          The performance of space robots is directly linked to the quality and capability of the information technologies that are used to build and operate them. Thus, proposals are sought that address the following technology needs:

                          • Advanced robot user interfaces that facilitate distributed collaboration, geospatial data visualization, summarization and notification, performance monitoring, and physics-based simulation. The primary objective is to enable more effective and efficient interaction with robots remotely operated with discrete commands or supervisory control. Note: proposals to develop user interfaces for direct teloperation (manual control) are not being solicited and will be considered non-responsive.
                          • Navigation systems for mobile robot (free-flying and wheeled) operations in man-made (inside the International Space-Station) and unstructured, natural environments (Earth, Moon, Mars). Emphasis on multi-sensor data fusion, obstacle detection, and localization. The primary objective is to radically and significantly increase the performance of mobile robot navigation through new sensors, avionics (including COTS processors for use in space), perception algorithms and software. Proposals for small size, weight, and power (SWAP) systems are particularly encouraged.
                          • Robot software systems that support system-level autonomy, instrument/sensor targeting, downlink data triage, and activity planning. The primary objective is to facilitate the creation, extensibility and maintenance of complex robot systems for use in the real-world. Proposals that address autonomy for planetary rovers operating in rough terrain or performing non-traditional tasks (e.g., non-prehensile manipulation) are particularly encouraged.

                          Proposers are encouraged to target the demonstration of these technologies to existing NASA research robots or current projects in order to maximize relevance and potential for infusion.

                          Deliverables to NASA:

                          • Identify scenarios, use cases, and requirements.
                          • Define specifications based on design trades.
                          • Develop concepts and prototypes.
                          • Demonstrate and evaluate prototypes in real-world settings.
                          • Deliver prototypes (hardware and/or software) to NASA.
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                        • T4.02Regolith Resources Robotics - R^3

                            Lead Center: KSC

                            Participating Center(s): ARC, LaRC

                            Technology Area: TA7 Human Exploration Destination Systems

                            The use of robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in outer space on various planetary bodies is essential since it uses large quantities of regolith that must be acquired and processed. In some cases this will happen while the crew is not there yet, or it will take place at a remote… Read more>>

                            The use of robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in outer space on various planetary bodies is essential since it uses large quantities of regolith that must be acquired and processed. In some cases this will happen while the crew is not there yet, or it will take place at a remote destination where the crew cannot spend much time doing Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) due to radiation exposure limits.  Large communications latencies mandate autonomous robotics applications. Proposals are sought which provide solutions for the following regolith resources and robotics related technology areas:

                            Robotic Site Preparation and Construction for Civil Engineering Infrastructure

                            Future human bases on planetary surfaces, moons and asteroids will require infrastructure to ensure the survival of the crew as well as to prolong the life times of equipment operating in harsh and extreme environments. Since humans will not be at the destination in the early phases of the base construction, robotic equipment that operates autonomously will be required. Civil engineering infrastructure such as landing pads, berms, roads, equipment hangars, dust free zones, thermal wadis, shelters, radiation shielding and habitats will be needed.  Regolith handling systems, fully autonomous site preparation, paver laying robots, inter-locking brick stacking robots, modular structure assembly robots and regolith 3D additive construction systems are encouraged. Proposals are sought for innovative robotic site preparation and construction mission concepts, technology development, and demonstrations. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of mass, power, volume, feasibility of the concept of operations and complexity. 

                            Regolith Derived Feed Stocks for In-Situ Robotic Manufacturing

                            By manufacturing spare parts, structures and surface systems on planetary surfaces, moons and asteroids, large logistics reductions can be achieved by avoiding the transportation of raw materials, commodities and goods from Earth.  The regolith contains many minerals that can be processed to extract resources for manufacturing such as metals, organics, ceramics, glasses and polymers.  In addition, the regolith can be used as a bulk aggregate which can be melted, sintered, or consolidated with a binder material such as in-situ manufactured polymers or other naturally occurring binder materials to form concrete like materials.  Proposals are sought for regolith derived feed stocks that can be used to manufacture spare parts, structures or surface systems. Digital materials and associated regolith derived materials for use in voxel based manufacturing and innovative additive manufacturing methods are also encouraged. Other innovative manufacturing methods such as automated casting, materials deposition or automated assembly methods are also in scope. The emphasis in Phase I shall be on proving that a viable material can be developed with a proof of concept demonstration and related materials properties shall be provided. In Phase II a full scale robotic manufacturing demonstration shall be accomplished which would show how the feedstock could be used to make useful parts, structures or surface systems. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of material accessibility, economic viability of the ore, feasibility of extraction or processing, materials properties, the concept of manufacturing and applications.

                             Proposals are sought for associated innovative resource utilization mission concepts, technology development, and demonstrations but must be based on regolith materials, robotic methods and highly innovative technologies.

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                        • This Focus Area seeks key capabilities and technologies in areas of Habitation Systems, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), Environmental Monitoring, Radiation Protection and Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Systems.

                          For future crewed missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) and into the solar system, regular resupply of consumables and emergency or quick-return options will not be feasible, and spacecraft will experience a more challenging radiation environment in deep space than in LEO. Technologies are of interest that enable long-duration, safe and sustainable deep-space human exploration with advanced extra-vehicular capability.

                          Habitation systems encompass process technologies, equipment and monitoring functions necessary to provide and maintain a livable environment within the pressurized cabin of crewed spacecraft. Vehicle outfitting provides the equipment necessary for the crew to perform mission tasks as well as provide a comfortable and safe habitable volume.  Three of the largest logistics consumables in spacecraft include logistical packaging, clothing, and food.  Special emphasis is placed on developing technologies that will fill existing gaps, reduce requirements for consumables and other resources including mass, power, volume and crew time, and which will increase safety and reliability with respect to the state-of-the-art.  Environmental control and life support focus in this solicitation includes aspects of atmosphere revitalization and environmental monitoring for air, water and microbial contaminants.

                          Advanced radiation shielding technologies are needed to protect humans from the hazards of space radiation. All space radiation environments in which humans may travel in the foreseeable future are considered, including the Moon, Mars, asteroids, geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and low Earth orbit (LEO). Radiation of interest includes galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), solar energetic particles (SEP), and secondary neutrons.  Computational tools for the evaluation of the transport of space radiation through highly complex vehicle architectures as represented in detailed computer-aided design (CAD) models are needed.  Processing and construction that utilize in situ resources for radiation shielding for habitation systems on Mars are of interest.

                          Advanced Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) needs include innovative, robust, lightweight pressure structures for the hard upper torso of the spacesuit, oxygen-compatible gas flow meters for in-suit operation, and advanced sensors to measure space suit interactions with the human body.

                          Please review each subtopic for specific details on content of interest within this solicitation.

                          • T6.01Closed-Loop Living System for Deep-Space ECLSS with Immediate Applications for a Sustainable Planet

                              Lead Center: ARC

                              Participating Center(s): MSFC

                              Technology Area: TA6 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems

                              NASA's plans to explore space beyond Low Earth Orbit will push the performance of life support systems toward closed loop living systems. Deep space missions will require life support systems that will be self-sustaining since we cannot expect to carry enough spares and consumables for year-long… Read more>>

                              NASA's plans to explore space beyond Low Earth Orbit will push the performance of life support systems toward closed loop living systems. Deep space missions will require life support systems that will be self-sustaining since we cannot expect to carry enough spares and consumables for year-long missions. Achieving the development of such systems will provide the understanding for managing the limited availability of resources. The parallel with earth planetary resources management is useful as the world population grows and resources and infrastructure availability decreases. We anticipate that technologies developed for closed loop living systems could be made available to provide near term planetary sustainability as well. 

                              State of the Art 

                              An immediate example of such endeavors exists in the form of the NASA Ames Sustainability Base where technologies for deep space exploration have been used to create one of the greenest buildings in the federal building inventory. These technologies include power generation with fuel cells, water recovery systems, advanced HVAC, automated environmental control, recyclable materials and use of local resources. Even though these technologies are readily available for deep space travel, each has its own set of challenges for adaption to earth application along with integration challenges. 

                              Closed-loop living systems are based on the thermodynamics laws of the conservation of mass and energy. We hope to maximize the conservation so that only a minimal amount of spare resources needs to be taken on crewed deep space missions.

                              Innovations are sought to enable: 

                              • Development of processes and technologies to allow for closed loop living applications in space and on earth.
                              • Transfer of advanced deep space life support technologies and systems to earth based applications.
                              • Development of viable off-the-gridhabitation in remote areas where infrastructure is inexistent. 

                              Potential deliverables include a demo of ECLSS concept(s), enhanced process and control techniques for multiple life support subsystems (e.g., environment, water recovery, power usage, etc.), or prototype(s) of relevant hardware and/or software.

                              For integrated system health management and monitoring capabilities that support sustainable systems, respondents are encouraged to consider SBIR subtopic - H6.01.

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                            • T6.02Liquid Quantity Sensing Capability

                                Lead Center: JSC

                                Technology Area: TA6 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems

                                In the current design of the Advanced Space Suit, the water necessary to provide cooling to the human and avionics is stored in the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) which resides inside the habitable volume of the Space Suit. The FSA is a flexible reservoir which takes advantage of the suit pressure… Read more>>

                                In the current design of the Advanced Space Suit, the water necessary to provide cooling to the human and avionics is stored in the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) which resides inside the habitable volume of the Space Suit. The FSA is a flexible reservoir which takes advantage of the suit pressure as the means of maintaining water loop pressure at operation conditions. During the EVA timeline, it is paramount that crew member cooling is uninterrupted. An interruption could cause overheating of the crew member.  Therefore, insight in to the quantity of water remaining is important.

                                The ability to determine the quantity of a consumable liquid (e.g., water for cooling) remaining in a soft-walled, flexible reservoir via the use of one (ideally) or more sensors presents a difficult challenge for spaceflight applications.  It presents a problem because the reservoir is flexible and it will be in micro-gravity during operation.

                                Typically, flexible reservoirs in micro-gravity are maintained at a relatively constant external pressure. Therefore, they will collapse as the liquid is consumed from the reservoir.  This occurs as such a low rate, it has presented a challenge for traditional flow rate sensors.  Also, numerous conditions contribute to the challenge.  These challenges include the potential for gas(s) to be entrained in the liquid, the presence or lack of a gravity gradient, and motion of the liquid within the reservoir.  Additionally, the constraints of spaceflight cause even more challenges such as:

                                • Sensor systems must be optimized for minimal mass, volume, and power consumption.
                                • They must be highly reliable and require minimal maintenance.
                                • Must cause minimal hazards to the vehicle, crew, and mission.
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                              • T6.03Modeling And Estimation Of Integrated Human-Vehicle Design Influences

                                  Lead Center: JSC

                                  Participating Center(s): MSFC

                                  Technology Area: TA6 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems

                                  The development of human space exploration vehicles and habitats requires an understanding of the relationships and interactions among the technical and human crew aspects of the system. This STTR subtopic seeks to enable creation of modeling and estimation capabilities that will inform system… Read more>>

                                  The development of human space exploration vehicles and habitats requires an understanding of the relationships and interactions among the technical and human crew aspects of the system. This STTR subtopic seeks to enable creation of modeling and estimation capabilities that will inform system design decisions for enhancing mission success, crew task performance, and crew safety while reducing technical resource demands such as those on mission mass, power, volume and crew time. Currently there is no integrated framework in which to perform system design trades among various vehicle design capabilities taking into account the wide range of roles of the human crewmembers such as mission task performers, vehicle inhabitants, and even medical patients and caregivers. Life support inputs and outputs are accommodated in design considerations; however, this scope provides incomplete coverage of the human interactions with the system design. Just as vehicle and component life-cycle issues must be considered in system design, human adaption throughout a mission in areas such as individual and team behavioral health, physiological performance and clinical health must be folded in to inform vehicle and habitat system design decisions. Innovative approaches to modeling the mutual influences between the technical and human aspects of the exploration system are sought in to inform design trades and prioritization of system technology development. Methods are sought to systematically model and estimate impacts to the behavioral, physiological and clinical outcomes on crewmembers relative to vehicle design options, incorporating how the vehicle and humans will evolve and interact over the course of a mission. It is anticipated these methods will reveal attributes, or groups of attributes, of a system design as influential that would not otherwise be detected in the design phases of mission development. Model validation is not included in this topic call. Methods and demonstrations of application to informing system trade studies and technology development prioritization are included in the scope.

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                                • T7.01Advanced Bioreactor Development for In Situ Microbial Manufacturing

                                    Lead Center: ARC

                                    Technology Area: TA7 Human Exploration Destination Systems

                                    NASA’s future long-duration missions require a high degree of materials recovery and recycling as well as the ability to manufacture required mission resources in-situ. While physico-chemical methods offer potential advantages for the production of many products, biological systems are able to… Read more>>

                                    NASA’s future long-duration missions require a high degree of materials recovery and recycling as well as the ability to manufacture required mission resources in-situ. While physico-chemical methods offer potential advantages for the production of many products, biological systems are able to manufacture a wide range of materials that are not yet possible with abiotic systems.  Microbial systems are currently being developed by academic institutions, industry, and government agencies to produce a wide array of products that are applicable to space missions.  Relevant mission resources include, but are not limited to, food, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, polymers, fuels and various chemicals.

                                    While current space-based research involves engineering of organisms to produce targeted compounds as well as the in-situ production of microbial media to support larger scale operations, additional enabling research is needed to develop specialized bioreactors that are highly efficient, reliable, low volume and mass, and that otherwise meet the unique rigors of space.

                                    Advanced bioreactor research and development has been primarily focused on terrestrial applications, particularly pharmaceutical, food and chemical production systems. Some space bioreactor work regarding flight experiments and life support applications has been conducted, such as algal reactors for CO2/O2 management.  However, little to no effort has been conducted on the bioreactor design and operations that are required to enable in-situ microbial manufacturing. Therefore, innovations are sought to provide:

                                    • Bioreactors that minimize mass, power and volume, maintenance, process inputs and waste production.
                                    • Bioreactors that are capable of operating in the space environment, including reduced gravity.
                                    • Bioreactors that incorporate novel microbial biomass separation/harvesting/purification methods, and materials recycling/recovery.
                                    • High-density bioreactors that are capable of producing extremely high levels of microbial biomass and/or product.
                                    • Advanced bioreactor monitoring and control systems, including oxygen, temperature, pH, nutrients.
                                    • Experimental bioreactors that exhibit the ability to scale upwards.
                                    • Bioreactors that maximize reliability, component miniaturization, materials handling ability, gas management and overall performance.

                                    The Phase I STTR deliverable should include a Final Report that captures any scientific results and processes as well as details on the technology identified. The Final Report should also include a Feasibility Study which defines the current technology readiness level and proposes the maturation path for further evolution of the system.  Opportunities for commercial and government infusion should be addressed. Other potential deliverables include bioreactor system designs, hardware components and prototypes, and system control approaches and software.

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                                  • T7.02Space Exploration Plant Growth

                                      Lead Center: KSC

                                      Participating Center(s): JSC

                                      Technology Area: TA7 Human Exploration Destination Systems

                                      Producing food for crew consumption is an important goal for achieving Earth independence and reducing the logistics associated with future exploration missions.  NASA seeks innovative technologies to enable plant growth systems for food production for in-space and planetary exploration missions… Read more>>

                                      Producing food for crew consumption is an important goal for achieving Earth independence and reducing the logistics associated with future exploration missions.  NASA seeks innovative technologies to enable plant growth systems for food production for in-space and planetary exploration missions.     

                                      Nutrient Recycling

                                      NASA seeks technologies that would enable generation and use of essential nutrients for plant growth (P, N, K) that would otherwise have to be provided by time release fertilizers shipped from Earth.  Separation of targeted useful nutrients or sequestration of sodium from solution to leave useful nutrients are both desired.  Sources of nutrients could include urine, urine that has been pretreated with strong acids or oxidizers, waste biomass from the inedible portions of plants, other spacecraft wastes, or possibly planetary surface regolith.

                                      Cultivation and Growth Systems

                                      Spacecraft systems are constrained to utilize minimal volume and require minimal crew time for management and operation.  NASA seeks innovative systems for plant growth and cultivation that are volume efficient, flexible for a range of plant types and sizes (examples: tomatoes, wheat, beans, potatoes), are adaptive for the entire life cycle (from anchoring the seed, managing the plant growth from seedling through harvest), and is reusable across multiple harvests.  Concepts need to address integration with watering and nutrient/fertilizer systems (whether soil/media based, hydroponic, or aeroponic).  Systems should address whether they are microgravity compatible, surface gravity compatible, or both.

                                      Greenhouse Films

                                      NASA seeks new materials that are flexible, transparent to light used by plants, and survive pressurization.  They need to survive the challenges of a Mars surface environment, such as UV, temperature extremes, and exterior particulate and dust damage and accumulation.

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                                  • NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) (http://nasascience.nasa.gov/) encompasses research in the areas of Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics and Planetary Science. The National Academy of Science has provided NASA with recently updated Decadal surveys that are useful to identify technologies that are of interest to the above science divisions. Those documents are available at the following locations:

                                    A major objective of SMD instrument development programs is to implement science measurement capabilities with smaller or more affordable spacecraft so development programs can meet multiple mission needs and therefore make the best use of limited resources. The rapid development of small, low-cost remote sensing and in situ instruments is essential to achieving this objective. For Earth Science needs, in particular, the subtopics reflect a focus on instrument development for airborne and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. Astrophysics has a critical need for sensitive detector arrays with imaging, spectroscopy, and polarimetric capabilities, which can be demonstrated on ground, airborne, balloon, or suborbital rocket instruments. Heliophysics, which focuses on measurements of the sun and its interaction with the Earth and the other planets in the solar system, needs a significant reduction in the size, mass, power, and cost for instruments to fly on smaller spacecraft. Planetary Science has a critical need for miniaturized instruments with in situ sensors that can be deployed on surface landers, rovers, and airborne platforms. For the 2017 program year, we are restructuring the Sensors, Detectors and Instruments Topic, adding new, rotating out, splitting and retiring some of the subtopics. Please read each subtopic of interest carefully. There are two new subtopics for this year.  The first solicits development of in situ instrument technologies and components to advance the maturity of science instruments focused on the detection of evidence of life, especially extant of life, in the Ocean Worlds.  The second seeks instruments and component technologies that will enable unambiguous determination of whether extant life is present in target environments on other solar system bodies. The microwave technologies subtopic has been split this year into two subtopics one focused on active microwave remote sensing and the second on passive systems such as radiometers and microwave spectrometers.  A key objective of this SBIR topic is to develop and demonstrate instrument component and subsystem technologies that reduce the risk, cost, size, and development time of SMD observing instruments and to enable new measurements. Proposals are sought for development of components, subsystems and systems that can be used in planned missions or a current technology program. Research should be conducted to demonstrate feasibility during Phase I and show a path towards a Phase II prototype demonstration. The following subtopics are concomitant with these objectives and are organized by technology.

                                    • T8.01Technologies for Planetary Compositional Analysis and Mapping

                                        Lead Center: JPL

                                        Participating Center(s): GSFC, LaRC

                                        Technology Area: TA8 Science Instruments, Observatories & Sensor Systems

                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for both orbital and in-situ compositional analysis and mapping that can be proposed to future planetary missions. Technologies that can increase instrument resolution, precision and sensitivity or achieve new and innovative… Read more>>

                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for both orbital and in-situ compositional analysis and mapping that can be proposed to future planetary missions. Technologies that can increase instrument resolution, precision and sensitivity or achieve new and innovative scientific measurements are solicited. For example missions, see (http://science.hq.nasa.gov/missions). For details of the specific requirements see the National Research Councils, Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/2013decadal/).

                                        Possible areas of interest include:

                                        • Improved sources such as lasers, LEDs, X-ray tubes, etc. for imaging and spectroscopy instruments (including Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, Deep UV Raman and Fluorescence spectroscopy, Hyperspectral Imaging Spectroscopy, and X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy).
                                        • Improved detectors for imaging and spectroscopy instruments (e.g., flight-compatible iCCDS and other time-gated detectors that provide gain, robot arm compatible PMT arrays and other detectors requiring high voltage operation, detectors with improved UV and near-to-mid IR performance, near-to-mid IR detectors with reduced cooling requirements).
                                        • Technologies for 1-D and 2-D raster scanning from a robot arm.
                                        • Novel approaches that could help enable in-situ organic compound analysis from a robot arm (e.g., ultra-miniaturized Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization Mass Spectrometry).
                                        • "Smart software" for evaluating imaging spectroscopy data sets in real-time on a planetary surface to guide rover targeting, sample selection (for missions involving sample return), and science optimization of data returned to earth.
                                        • Other technologies and approaches (e.g., improved cooling methods) that could lead to lower mass, lower power, and/or improved science return from instruments used to study the elemental, chemical, and mineralogical composition of planetary materials.
                                        • Projects selected under this subtopic should address at least one of the above areas of interest. Multiple-area proposals are encouraged. Proposers should specifically address:
                                          • The suitability of the technology for flight applications, e.g., mass, power, compatibility with expected shock and vibration loads, radiation environment, interplanetary vacuum, etc.
                                          • Relevance of the technology to NASA's planetary exploration science goals.

                                        Phase I contracts will be expected to demonstrate feasibility, and Phase II contracts will be expected to fabricate and complete laboratory testing on an actual instrument/test article.

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                                      • T8.02Photonic Integrated Circuits

                                          Lead Center: GSFC

                                          Technology Area: TA8 Science Instruments, Observatories & Sensor Systems

                                          Integrated photonics generally is the integration of multiple lithographically defined photonic and electronic components and devices (e.g., lasers, detectors, waveguides/passive structures, modulators, electronic control and optical interconnects) on a single platform with nanometer-scale feature… Read more>>

                                          Integrated photonics generally is the integration of multiple lithographically defined photonic and electronic components and devices (e.g., lasers, detectors, waveguides/passive structures, modulators, electronic control and optical interconnects) on a single platform with nanometer-scale feature sizes.  The development of photonic integrated circuits permits size, weight, power and cost reductions for spacecraft microprocessors, communication buses, processor buses, advanced data processing, and integrated optic science instrument optical systems, subsystems and components. This is particularly critical for small spacecraft platforms. On July 27, 2015 - Vice President Joe Biden, at an event in Rochester, NY, announced the New York consortium has been selected to lead the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. For details see (http://manufacturing.gov/ip-imi.html).  Proposed as part of President Obamas National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the IP-IMI was established to bring government, industry and academia together to advance state-of-the-art photonics technology and better position the United States relative to global competition in this critical field.  The use of the IP-IMI for work proposed under this topic is highly encouraged.  This topic solicits methods, technology and systems for development and incorporation of active and passive circuit elements for integrated photonic circuits for:

                                          • Integrated photonic sensors (physical, chemical and/or biological) circuits: NASA applications examples include (but are not limited to): Lab-on-a-chip systems for landers, Astronaut health monitoring, Front-end and back-end for remote sensing instruments including trace gas lidars Large telescope spectrometers for exoplanets using photonic lanterns and narrow band filters.  On chip generation and detection of light of appropriate wavelength may not be practical, requiring compact hybrid packaging for providing broadband optical input-output and also, as means to provide coupling of light between the sensor-chip waveguides and samples, unique optical components (e.g.,  Plasmonic waveguides, microfluidic channel) may be beneficial.
                                          • Integrated Photonic Circuits for Analog RF applications: NASA applications include new methods due to Size, Weight and Power improvements, passive and active microwave signal processing, radio astronomy and TeraHertz spectroscopy.  As an example, integrated photonic circuits having very low insertion loss (e.g., ~1dB) and high spur free dynamic range for analog and RF signal processing and transmission which incorporate, for example, monolithic high-Q waveguide microresonantors or Fabry-Perot filters with multi-GHz RF pass bands.   These components should be suitable for designing chip-scale tunable opto-electronic RF oscillator and high precision optical clock modules.
                                          • Integrated photonic circuits for very high speed computing: Advanced computing engines that approach TeraFLOP per second computing power for spacecraft in a fully integrated combined photonic and electronic package.

                                           

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                                        • T13.01Intelligent Sensor Systems

                                            Lead Center: SSC

                                            Participating Center(s): KSC, MSFC

                                            Technology Area: TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing

                                            Rocket propulsion development is enabled by rigorous ground testing in order to mitigate the propulsion system risks that are inherent in spaceflight. Test articles and facilities are highly instrumented to enable a comprehensive analysis of propulsion system performance.  This topic area seeks to… Read more>>

                                            Rocket propulsion development is enabled by rigorous ground testing in order to mitigate the propulsion system risks that are inherent in spaceflight. Test articles and facilities are highly instrumented to enable a comprehensive analysis of propulsion system performance.  This topic area seeks to develop advanced instrumentation technologies which can be embedded in systems and subsystems.  The goal is to provide a highly flexible instrumentation solution capable of monitoring remote or inaccessible measurement locations.  All this while eliminating cabling and auxiliary power.  It is focused on near-term products that augment and enhance proven, state-of-the-art propulsion test facilities.  Rocket propulsion test facilities within NASA provide excellent test beds for testing and using the innovative technologies discussed above.  The technologies developed would be capable of addressing multiple mission requirements for remote monitoring such as vehicle health monitoring.

                                            Embedded sensor systems have the potential for substantial reduction in time and cost of propulsion systems development, with substantially reduced operational costs and evolutionary improvements in ground, launch and flight system operational robustness.  Sensor systems should provide an advanced diagnostics capability to monitor test facility parameters including simultaneous heat flux, temperature, pressure, strain and near-field acoustics. Applications encompass remote monitoring of vacuum lines, gas leaks and fire; where the use of wireless/self-powered sensors to eliminate power and data wires would be beneficial.

                                            Sensor technologies should be capable of being embedded in structures and systems that are smaller, more energy efficient allowing for more complete and accurate health assessments including structural health monitoring for long-duration missions.  Structural health monitoring is one of the Top 83 Technical Challenges (12.3.5).  Nanotechnology enhanced sensors are desired where applicable to provide a reduction in scale, increase in performance, and reduction of power requirements.  Specific technology needs include the following:

                                            • Sensor systems should have the ability to provide the following functionality:
                                              • Measurement.
                                              • Measure of the quality of the measurement.
                                              • Measure of the “health” of the sensor.
                                            • Sensor systems should enable the ability to detect anomalies, determine causes and effects, predict future anomalies, and provides an integrated awareness of the health of the system to users (operators, customers, management, etc.).
                                            • Sensors are needed with capability to function reliably in extreme environments, including rapidly changing ranges of environmental conditions, such as those experienced in space.  These ranges may be from extremely cold temperatures, such as cryogenic temperatures, to extremely high temperatures, such as those experienced near a rocket engine plume.  Collected data must be time stamped to facilitate analysis with other collected data sets.
                                            • Sensor systems should be self-contained to collect information and relay measurements through various means by a sensor-web approach to provide a self-healing, auto-configuring method of collecting data from multiple sensors, and relaying for integration with other acquired data sets.
                                            • The proposed innovative systems must lead to improved safety and reduced test, and space flight costs by allowing real-time analysis of data, information, and knowledge through efficient interfaces to enable integrated awareness of the system condition by users.
                                            • The system provided must interface with existing data acquisition systems and the software used by such systems.
                                            • The system must provide NIST traceable measurements.
                                            • The system design should consider an ultimate use of Space Flight sensor systems, which could be used for multi-vehicle use.
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                                          • T15.02Bio-inspired and Biomimetic Technologies and Processes for Earth and Space

                                              Lead Center: GRC

                                              Participating Center(s): ARC, LaRC

                                              Technology Area: TA15 Aeronautics

                                              Biomimicry is the imitation of life, natural systems and life's principles characterized by reduced use of energy, water and raw materials. Energy and material use is minimized through information and structure. The goal of this topic is to focus efforts on system driven technology development… Read more>>

                                              Biomimicry is the imitation of life, natural systems and life's principles characterized by reduced use of energy, water and raw materials. Energy and material use is minimized through information and structure. The goal of this topic is to focus efforts on system driven technology development that draws from nature to solve technical challenges in aeronautics and space exploration. While most of the areas described here pertain to aeronautics, biological models have multiple applications and cross cutting solutions are also welcomed that apply to space technology. 

                                              Proposals must demonstrate that the proposed technology complies with natural principles, patterns and mechanisms. 

                                              Some resources are provided here: NASA workshop: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/vibe; www.asknature.org;   http://toolbox.biomimicry.org/

                                              Technology is sought in the following areas: 

                                              Bio-inspired air breathing propulsion technology to mitigate engine and airframe icing, to reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions (ARMD Strategic Thrust 3) 

                                              Community performance goals for subsonic transports include specific levels of reduction in energy consumption, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO ), and noise, represented as N+1, N+2, and N+3 performance levels. These goals support reductions in carbon emissions expressed in an IATA resolution that calls for a 1.5% average annual fuel efficiency improvement between 2010 and 2020, carbon neutral growth from 2020 onward, and a reduction of 50% in net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. 

                                              This subtopic calls for proposals to reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions through bio-inspired propulsion system technology including but not limited to blade design, coatings, combustor lining, fuel injectors. Some areas of interest are: 

                                              • Management of 'leakage' flow (over blade tips and from purge cavities) in engines that becomes increasingly significant as engine core sizes decrease below 2.5lbm/s compressor exit corrected flow.
                                              • Cooling technology for turbines that must withstand 3000° F inlet temperature. More generally, technology that can enable OPRs (Overall Pressure Ratios) higher than 60 are sought with linkages clearly demonstrated.
                                              • Acoustic liners and turbomachinery concepts to reduce engine noise to reach ARMD's targeted 52dB reduction by 2025 (TRL 4-6 in 2025).
                                              • Some common biological models are shark skin, owl wings and nautilus shell. 
                                              • Bio-inspired icephobic materials and structures for aeronautics (ARMD Strategic Thrust 1). ARMD plans for continued research in engine and airframe icing to enable air vehicles to safely fly into various types of icing environments. This research will include validated computational and experimental icing simulations, as well as complementary on-board icing sensing radar to enable avoidance of icing conditions and to facilitate safe operation of current and future air vehicle concepts. Icing mechanisms on airframes and in engines differ significantly from each other. Icing is also dependent on flight speed and atmospheric conditions. Thus, methods used for refrigerators may not be applicable to aeronautics. Proposals sought include materials or structures that delay ice formation relative to state of the art, that are relatively low energy to de-ice and multifunctional de-icing or icephobic systems. Well known biological systems or models should not be proposed unless the technology proposed is using a known biological model in a novel way. Examples of such models include shark skin, lotus leaves, pitcher plants. 

                                              Bio-inspired power generation, energy storage, power management and distribution 

                                              The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. It is essential to be able to harness, store and distribute energy while maintaining minimal system mass and complexity. Biological models such as the oriental hornet or electric eel may be obvious candidates. Methods to improve solar cell efficiency or to create structural solar cells are of interest. Goals of this subtopic overlap with subtopic T3.01 Energy Transformation and Multifunctional Power Dissemination.

                                              Power generation and management systems are also of interest to the growing Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion Project under ARMD. There is specific interest in motor thermal management and low loss power distribution and storage. New concepts for electric motors and hybrid systems are desirable. 

                                              Cross cutting technology making use of bio-inspired processes in conjunction with 1 or more of big data analytics, synthetic biology and additive manufacturing.  

                                              Specific areas of interest include: 

                                              • Demonstrations of advantages in mass savings made possible through bioinspired topologies enabled by additive manufacturing methods.
                                              • Controlled synthesis of lightweight engineering materials due to bioinspired synthesis methods.
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                                          • As NASA strives to explore deeper into space than ever before lightweight structures and advanced materials have been identified as a critical need for NASA space missions. The Lightweight Materials, Structures and advanced Assembly and Construction focus area seeks innovative technologies and systems that will reduce mass, improve performance, lower cost, be more resilient and extend the life of structural systems. Improvement in all of these areas is critical to future missions. Applications include structures and materials for launch, in-space, deployable nondestructive evaluation, integrated structural health monitoring (SHM) and surface systems. Since this focus area covers a broad area of interests, specific topics and subtopics are chosen to enhance and or fill gaps in the space and exploration technology development programs as well as to complement other mission directorate structures and materials needs.

                                            Specific interests include but are not limited to:

                                            • Improved performance and cost from advances in composite, metallic and ceramic material systems as well as nanomaterial and nanostructures. 
                                            • Improved performance and mass reduction in innovative lightweight structural systems, extreme environments structures and multifunctional/multipurpose materials and structures. 
                                            • Improved cost, launch mass, system resiliency and extended life time by advancing technologies to enable large structures that can be deployed, assembled/constructed, reconfigured and serviced in-space or on planetary surfaces.
                                            • Improved life and risk mitigation to damage of structural systems by advancing technologies that enhance nondestructive evaluation and structural health monitoring.

                                            The specific needs and metrics for this year’s focus technology needs are requested in detail in the topic and subtopic descriptions.

                                            • T12.02Technologies to Enable Novel Composite Repair Methods

                                                Lead Center: KSC

                                                Participating Center(s): JSC, MSFC

                                                Technology Area: TA12 Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing

                                                As composite structures become more prevalent on launch vehicles, it will become necessary to have the capability to inspect and repair these structures during ground processing prior to launch. Current composite repair methods developed for the aviation industry are time consuming and require… Read more>>

                                                As composite structures become more prevalent on launch vehicles, it will become necessary to have the capability to inspect and repair these structures during ground processing prior to launch. Current composite repair methods developed for the aviation industry are time consuming and require complex infrastructure in order to restore the structural strength. Aerospace structures have structural and thermal profiles which are different than aircraft and require different considerations; for example, unlike a commercial aircraft, a launch vehicle sees high loading but is only a one time use vehicle. Advancements are needed to repair materials and methods which allow for a structural repair to be performed in locations with minimal access and in a short time frame. Small damages may be accepted by analysis with no repair. Large damages may require extensive repair or component replacement. This subtopic focuses on developing novel composite repair methods for damages that fall in between these two categories. These novel materials and methods should consider the following:

                                                • Use of out of autoclave composite materials and processes, which are being investigated for large launch vehicle components, such as fairings, skirts and tanks on the Space Launch System vehicle. Advancements in these material systems has begun to approach properties of autoclave materials but allow for larger structures to be fabricated. 
                                                • Simplified preparation of the damaged structure. Current methods require very precise methods, which is time consuming and can be a risk for further damage.
                                                • Material systems and methods which reduce or eliminate the need for external heat and/or vacuum. These require complex infrastructure, which can be difficult to accommodate at the launch pad, and can be time consuming, which could cause a launch delay.
                                                • Ability to acquire data on the state of the repair, during repair and/or during the launch. This may include data such as temperature at the bondline during cure, strain across the repair patch, etc. 

                                                Development of a material system and repair method which increases the performance of the repair and reduces the complexity and time required to perform a repair increases the launch capability and success rate. Improvements or modifications to current materials and processes can be made to meet NASA requirements. This technology can also be expanded to develop methods for in-situ repairs to spacecraft on long missions.

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                                              • T12.03Thin-Ply Composites Design Technology and Applications

                                                  Lead Center: LaRC

                                                  Technology Area: TA12 Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing

                                                  The use of thin-ply composites is one area of composites technology that has not yet been fully explored or exploited by NASA.  Thin-ply composites are those with cured ply thicknesses below 0.0025” and commercially available prepregs are now available with ply thicknesses as thin as 0.00075”… Read more>>

                                                  The use of thin-ply composites is one area of composites technology that has not yet been fully explored or exploited by NASA.  Thin-ply composites are those with cured ply thicknesses below 0.0025” and commercially available prepregs are now available with ply thicknesses as thin as 0.00075”.  By comparison, a standard-ply-thickness composite would have a cured ply thickness of approximately 0.0055”.  Thin-ply composites hold the potential for reducing structural mass and increasing performance due to their unique structural characteristics, which include (when compared to standard-ply-thickness composites):

                                                  • Improved damage tolerance.
                                                  •  Resistance to microcracking (including cryogenic-effects).
                                                  • Improved aging and fatigue resistance.
                                                  • Reduced minimum-gage thickness.
                                                  • Increased scalability.

                                                  These characteristics can make thin-ply composites attractive for a number of applications.  For example, preliminary analyses show that the notched strength of a hybrid of thin and standard ply layers can increase the notched tensile strength of laminates by 30%.  The resistance to microcracking makes thin-ply composites an excellent candidate for a deep-space habitation structure where hermeticity is critical.  Additionally, since a deep-space habitat may need to be pre-positioned in space for a long period of time prior to crew arrival, the enhanced aging and fatigue resistance and resistance to cryogenic-induced microcracking will also be a benefit.  Finally, since the designs of these types of pressurized structures are typically constrained by minimum gage considerations, the ability to reduce that minimum gage thickness offers the potential for significant mass reductions.  For these reasons, NASA is interested in exploring the use of thin-ply composites for applications requiring very high structural efficiency, and for pressurized structures (such as habitation systems and tanks) for deep-space exploration systems. There are many needs in development, qualification and deployment of composite structures incorporating thin-ply materials – either alone or as a hybrid system with standard ply composite materials.  The particular capabilities requested for in a Phase I proposal in this subtopic are: initial process development in using thin-ply prepregs for component fabrication using automated tape layup or other robotic technologies, contributing to the development of the design and qualification database though testing and interrogation of the structural response and damage initiation/progression at multiple scales including evaluation of environmental durability and ageing, and/or analysis and design tool validation and calibration to ensure that the technology to appropriately design and certify thin-ply composite components is matured sufficiently to be used for NASA applications.  The intention of a Phase II follow-on effort would be to develop or to further mature the necessary design/analysis codes, and to validate the approach though design, build, and test of an article representative of the component/application of interest to NASA.

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                                                • T12.04Experimental and Analytical Technologies for Additive Manufacturing

                                                    Lead Center: MSFC

                                                    Participating Center(s): GSFC

                                                    Technology Area: TA12 Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing

                                                    Additive manufacturing is becoming a leading method for reducing costs, increasing quality, and shortening schedules for production of innovative parts and component that were previously not possible using more traditional methods of manufacturing. In the past decade, methods such as selective laser… Read more>>

                                                    Additive manufacturing is becoming a leading method for reducing costs, increasing quality, and shortening schedules for production of innovative parts and component that were previously not possible using more traditional methods of manufacturing. In the past decade, methods such as selective laser melting (SLM) have emerged as the leading paradigm for additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic components, promising very rapid, cost-effective, and on-demand production of monolithic, lightweight, and arbitrarily intricate parts directly from a CAD file. In the push to commercialize the SLM technology, however, the modeling of the AM process and physical properties of the resulting artifact were paid little attention. As a result, commercially available systems are based largely on hand-tuned parameters determined by trial and error for a limited set of metal powders. The system operation is far from optimal or efficient, and the uncertainty in the performance of the produced component is too large. This, in turn, necessitates a long and costly certification process, especially in a highly risk-aware community such as aerospace. Modeling and real time process control of selective laser melting is needed coupled with statistically significant correlations and understanding of the important process parameters and the resultant microstructural and mechanical properties, validated with detailed metallurgical investigations of the as-fabricated structures. 

                                                    State-of-the-Art 

                                                    This topic seeks technologies that close critical gaps between SOA and needed technology in both experimental and analytical areas in materials design, process modeling and material behavior prediction to reduce time and cost for materials development and process qualification for SLM. 

                                                    Technological advancements are needed in the areas of: 

                                                    • Real-time additive manufacturing process monitoring for real-time material quality assurance prediction. 
                                                    • Reduced-order physics models for individual phases of additive manufacturing technique.
                                                    • Analytical tools to understand effects of process variables on materials evolution.
                                                    • Digital models to standardize the use of structured light scanning or equivalent within manufacturing processes.
                                                    • Software for high-fidelity simulation of various SLM phases for guiding the development, and enabling the subsequent verification.

                                                     

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                                                • Ground processing technology development prepares the agency to test, process and launch the next generation of rockets and spacecraft in support of NASA’s exploration objectives by developing the necessary ground systems, infrastructure and operational approaches.

                                                  This focus area seeks innovative concepts and solutions for both addressing long-term ground processing and test complex operational challenges and driving down the cost of government and commercial access to space. Technology infusion and optimization of existing and future operational programs, while concurrently maintaining continued operations, are paramount for cost effectiveness, safety assurance, and supportability.

                                                  A key aspect of NASA’s approach to long term sustainability and affordability is to make test, processing and launch infrastructure available to commercial and other government entities, thereby distributing the fixed cost burden among multiple users and reducing the cost of access to space for the United States. Unlike previous work focusing on a single kind of launch vehicle such as the Saturn V rocket or the Space Shuttle, NASA is preparing common infrastructure to support several different kinds of spacecraft and rockets that are in development. Products and systems devised at a NASA center could be used at other launch sites on earth and eventually on other planets or moons.

                                                  • T1.03Real Time Launch Environment Modeling and Sensing Technologies

                                                      Lead Center: KSC

                                                      Participating Center(s): SSC

                                                      Technology Area: TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing

                                                      Launch and landing operations through the atmosphere of a planet are strongly affected by environmental and atmospheric conditions.  Even the most robust vehicle design has physical limits that restricts the conditions through which it can be launched.  Divergent fluid dynamics, lightning, and… Read more>>

                                                      Launch and landing operations through the atmosphere of a planet are strongly affected by environmental and atmospheric conditions.  Even the most robust vehicle design has physical limits that restricts the conditions through which it can be launched.  Divergent fluid dynamics, lightning, and other severe conditions can overstress vehicle structures and cause a mishap. In addition, the safety of personnel performing launch preparations must be protected from extreme weather such as lightning in a manner that minimizes risk to the launch schedule.  A key metric of launch architecture is the overall system’s launch availability, which is in turn impacted by the accuracy with which the environmental conditions can be characterized.  Advanced technologies are being solicited to improve the accuracy of launch and landing environment forecasting and evaluation.  This technology is of interest not only for earth-based launches, but also to enable routine launch and landing activity on other planets such as Mars, where range infrastructure will be extremely limited.  Specific areas of interest include the following: 

                                                      Remote Sensing

                                                      During launch preparations, an acceptable launch environment that does not impart vehicle damage during ascent is critical. Currently, launch environment conditions such as wind direction, speed, temperature, humidity, and pressure are measured by launching several balloons with rawinsondes on launch day.  The data is then used to construct a vertical profile initializing meteorological models that derive atmospheric stresses on a launch vehicle.  Current technology is used for remote measurements of wind speed and direction as a function of altitude; however, there is no current capability to measure temperature and humidity as a function of altitude remotely in a cloudy environment.  This capability needs to be satisfied by remote methods in order to improve accuracy by measuring overhead and improving timeliness by reducing the lag time to make the measurement and reducing the interval between measurements.  In addition, a remote sensing approach would enable a lower cost simplified launch environment analysis with less infrastructure by eliminating the need for balloons and rawinsondes.

                                                      Technology is being sought which provides a remote sensing capability to measure thermodynamic data with respect to altitude from 300 meters to at least 10 km.  The technology must have a vertical measurement resolution of 150 m or smaller and a full vertical profile of the thermodynamic data at least once an hour.  The sensor must provide valid data in both cloudy and clear environments.  Phase I should include a design for remote measurement of at least temperature and humidity as a function of altitude.  Phase II should be prototype development, testing, and evaluation of the sensing technology in a subtropical environment as well as continued development to measure, or derive all three temperature, humidity, and pressure.  Locally available rawinsonde data should be used to verify system accuracy.

                                                      Three-Dimensional Launch Window Modeling

                                                      During launch countdown, data from several disparate meteorological systems are used to evaluate environmental hazards such as triggered lightning during vehicle ascent. There are several rules based upon radar data, lightning location, electric field and the presence of clouds. For example, in certain circumstances, the launch vehicle cannot pass through a radar echo greater than 7.5 dBz. NASA is seeking a capability to simultaneously, and in real-time, visualize three-dimensional (3D) atmospheric data, and rocket/vehicle trajectories. The region in which a rocket/vehicle trajectory can safely travel through will be a 3D solid shape based upon the launch trajectory with allowable trajectory variations, and user-determined standoff distance. E.g., for a given rocket with trajectory variations of 4.5 miles and a safety standoff distance of 10 miles, a 3D shape such as a tube would be centered around the nominal trajectory line, and at all locations occupy the space 10 + 4.5 miles along the nominal trajectory. Atmospheric data will include: satellite, radar, and lightning data as well as meteorological model products (i.e., forecasts of radar data). The user must be able to manipulate the display to change orientation, scale and products/layers within the intersecting area. 

                                                      At a minimum, the system should be able to identify areas where the trajectory shape intersect or enclose lightning data from 3D lighting data sources, and cloud data as identified by radar and a local Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Any data used for the technology or verification will be from the meteorological instrumentation used at KSC and owned by the USAF.  Phase I would be development of requirements, proposed capabilities, and demonstration of sample products. Phase II would be development of application to ingest NASA and USAF meteorological data and products, and manipulate the data within the volume of interest.

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                                                  • This focus area includes tools and technologies that contribute to meeting metrics derived from a definitive set of Technical Challenges responsive to the goals of the National Aeronautics Research and Development (R&D) Policy and Plan, the National Aeronautics R&D Test and Evaluation (T&E) Infrastructure Plan (2011), and the NASA Aeronautics Strategic Implementation Plan (2015). In 2012 ARMD introduced more focused solicitations by rotating some of the subtopics every other year. The reduction in the scope of some of our solicitations does not imply a change in interest in a given year. For example, in 2014 we solicited proposals for quiet performance with an emphasis on propulsion noise reduction technology, then in 2015 we focused our quiet performance subtopic on airframe noise reduction. In 2016 we returned to quiet performance – propulsion noise reduction technology.

                                                    • T15.01Distributed Electric Propulsion Aircraft Research

                                                        Lead Center: AFRC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC, GRC, LaRC

                                                        Technology Area: TA15 Aeronautics

                                                        Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Aircraft employ multiple electric propulsors to achieve unprecedented performances in air vehicles.  The propulsor could be ducted/un-ducted fans, propellers, cross-flow-fans, etc.  Some of the benefits identified using this propulsion system are reductions in… Read more>>

                                                        Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Aircraft employ multiple electric propulsors to achieve unprecedented performances in air vehicles.  The propulsor could be ducted/un-ducted fans, propellers, cross-flow-fans, etc.  Some of the benefits identified using this propulsion system are reductions in fuel burn/energy usage, noise, emissions, and/or field length.  Addressing ARMD’s Strategic Thrust #3 (Ultra-Efficient Commercial Vehicles) and #4 (Transition to Low-Carbon Propulsion), innovative approaches in designing and analyzing the DEP aircraft are investigated and encouraged.  In support of these two Strategic Thrusts, the following DEP aircraft research areas are to be considered under this solicitation. 

                                                        • Explore Subsonic Fixed Wing Aircraft Concepts with the DEP System - Vehicle classes are to be from small on-demand aircraft to large subsonic transport aircraft.  The study shall include vehicle system level assessment including feasibility, design, and benefits assessment.
                                                        • Develop Analytical Tools and Methods to Assess DEP Aircraft Concepts – Assessing a feasibility of vehicle concept requires reliable analytical, computational, experimental, and/or simulation tools and methods.  Since the DEP aircraft involve multi-disciplinary subjects, some form of optimization process will be preferred and needed.
                                                        • Assess Propulsion Airframe Integration (PAI) Benefits – Synergistic benefit assessment capability needs to be established for aircraft with the DEP system.  Some of the PAI examples include boundary layer ingestion (BLI), aero-propulsive acoustics, induced drag reduction using wing-tip propulsor, use of DEP coupled aeroelasticity effects to improve vehicle performance, etc.
                                                        • Develop Aircraft Control Concept using DEP – Aircraft control using differential and/or thrust vectoring of distributed electric propulsors shall be explored.  This may allow reduction or elimination of conventional aerodynamic control surfaces.  

                                                        Expected outcome (TRL 2-3) of Phase I awards, but not limited to: 

                                                        • DEP aircraft concept definition and system level assessment.
                                                        • Initial development of analytical/computational/experimental/simulation tools and methods in assessing DEP concepts and aircraft. 

                                                        Expected outcome (TRL 4-6) of Phase II awards, but not limited to: 

                                                        • Detailed feasibility study and demonstration of the subscale hardware.
                                                        • Refinement of tools and methods in assessing DEP concepts and aircraft.
                                                        • Experimental (e.g., wind tunnel) results that assess the validity of the DEP/aircraft concept.
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                                                    • NASA’s technology, science, exploration, and space operations organizations are identifying a growing number of potential applications for very small spacecraft. Such spacecraft can accomplish missions at a fraction of the cost of larger conventional spacecraft and can be developed quickly and more responsively. In some cases, their small size and ability to be delivered in relatively large numbers may enable mission applications not possible with larger satellites. A small spacecraft can also serve as a low-cost platform for spaceflight testing of new technologies that are appropriate for spacecraft of any size.

                                                      Small spacecraft, for the purpose of this solicitation, are defined as those with a mass of 180 kilograms or less and capable of being launched into space as an auxiliary or secondary payload. Small spacecraft are not limited to Earth orbiting satellites but might also include interplanetary spacecraft, planetary re-entry vehicles, and landing craft.  Cubesats are a special category of small spacecraft and are of particular interest because launch opportunities tend to be more frequent and affordable compared to other small spacecraft, due to the standard sizes and containerization of cubesats.

                                                      Specific innovations being sought in this solicitation will be outlined in the subtopic descriptions. Proposed research may focus on development of new technologies but there is particular interest in technologies that are approaching readiness for spaceflight testing.  NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program will consider promising SBIR technologies for spaceflight demonstration missions and seek partnerships to accelerate spaceflight testing and commercial infusion.

                                                      Some of the features that are desirable for small spacecraft technologies across all system areas are the following:

                                                      • Simple design.
                                                      • High reliability.
                                                      • Low cost or short time to develop.
                                                      • Low cost to procure flight hardware when technology is mature.
                                                      • Small system volume or low mass.
                                                      • Low power consumption in operation.
                                                      • Suitable for rideshare launch opportunities or storage in habitable volumes (minimum hazards).
                                                      • Tolerant of extreme thermal and/or radiation environments.
                                                      • Able to be stored in space for several years prior to use.
                                                      • High performance relative to existing system technology.

                                                      The following references discuss some of NASA’s small spacecraft technology activities:

                                                      www.nasa.gov/smallsats.

                                                      Another useful reference is the Small Spacecraft Technology State of the Art Report at:

                                                      http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/small_spacecraft_technology_state_of_the_art_2015_tagged.pdf.

                                                      • T4.03Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles

                                                          Lead Center: JPL

                                                          Technology Area: TA4 Robotics, Telerobotics and Autonomous Systems

                                                          This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for coordination and autonomous control of teams and swarms of space systems including but not limited to spacecraft and planetary rover teams in a dynamic environment.  Possible areas of interest include but are not limited… Read more>>

                                                          This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for coordination and autonomous control of teams and swarms of space systems including but not limited to spacecraft and planetary rover teams in a dynamic environment. 

                                                          Possible areas of interest include but are not limited to: 

                                                          • Coordinated task planning, operation, and execution.
                                                          • Relative localization in space and on planet surface.
                                                          • Close proximity operations of spacecraft swarms including sensors required for collision detection and avoidance.
                                                          • Fast, real-time, coordinated motion planning in areas densely crowded by other agents.
                                                          • Human-Swarm interaction interfaces for controlling the multi-agent system as an ensemble.
                                                          • Distributed fault detection and mitigation due to hardware failures or compromised systems.
                                                          • Communication-less coordination by observing and estimating the actions of other agents in the multi-agent system. 

                                                          Phase I awards will be expected to develop theoretical frameworks, algorithms, software simulation and demonstrate feasibility (TRL 2-3). Phase II awards will be expected to demonstrate capability on a hardware testbed (TRL 4-6).

                                                           

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                                                    Introduction

                                                    In this view, the STTR subtopics are organized by technology area in alignment with NASA’s Space Technology Roadmap.

                                                    Subtopic numbering conventions from previous year’s solicitations have been maintained for traceability of like-subtopics from previous solicitations. The mapping is as follows:

                                                    A – Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

                                                    H – Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

                                                    S – Science Mission Directorate

                                                    Z – Space Technology Mission Directorate

                                                    T – Small Business Technology Transfer

                                                    Related subtopic pointers are identified when applicable in the subtopic headers to assist proposers with identifying related subtopics that also potentially seek related technologies for different customers or applications. As stated in Section 3.1, an offeror shall not submit the same (or substantially equivalent) proposal to more than one subtopic. It is the offeror’s responsibility to select which subtopic to propose to.

                                                    STTR Research Topics by Technology Area

                                                      • T1.01

                                                        T1.01Affordable Nano/Micro Launch Propulsion Stages

                                                        Lead Center: MSFC

                                                        Participating Center(s): AFRC, KSC

                                                        There has been recent significant growth in both the Quantity and Quality of Nano and Micro Satellite Missions:      The number of missions has outpaced available ride share opportunities.  Dedicated access to space increases small sat mission capability & allows new & emerging low-cost… Read more>>

                                                        There has been recent significant growth in both the Quantity and Quality of Nano and Micro Satellite Missions:     

                                                        • The number of missions has outpaced available ride share opportunities. 
                                                        • Dedicated access to space increases small sat mission capability & allows new & emerging low-cost technologies to be flight qualified. 

                                                        Stage concepts are sought that can be demonstrated within the scope & budget of a Phase II STTR project:   

                                                        • MSFC is actively pursuing multiple technologies to significantly reduce orbital access cost. 
                                                        • The scale of many Nano and Micro Launch vehicles allows stages to be completed within the scope and budget of a Phase II proposals.
                                                        • Accepted proposals will be limited to stages that plug and play into existing or proposed architectures for orbital launch vehicles with payload capabilities from 5-50 kg. A flight test is expected in Phase II.
                                                        • The university/small business partnership is ideal to provide the correct technology combination allowing for this affordable access to space. 

                                                        State of the Art 

                                                        Small launch vehicles are targeting a total launch cost of ~$1-2M. Proposed stages must demonstrate significant cost savings over state of the art. 

                                                        What is the compelling need for this subtopic? 

                                                        • This subtopic is necessary because there are currently no available rides for experimental propulsive stages.
                                                        • Technological advancements like additive mfg. must be demonstrated to produce aerospace quality parts at low fixed cost. These technologies must be validated for use in propulsive stages.
                                                        • The correct combination of new technologies and approaches will enable affordable, dedicated, on-demand access to space.
                                                        • Technologies that are demonstrated and validated at the nano/micro scale can be robustly infused into large launch vehicles where loads and vibrations are not as severe.
                                                        • The success of Nano/Micro Launch vehicles benefit every NASA center by enabling unprecedented experimental access to space.
                                                        • Commercial development opportunities abound since the small satellite market is robust and growing. 

                                                        STMD/NASA/NARP/National-Affordable access to space is a key objective for NASA.  The Nano/Micro Launch scale is an affordable avenue that will enable the development and validation of key technologies and approaches to reduce fixed cost, recurring costs and range costs.

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                                                      • T1.02

                                                        T1.02Detailed Multiphysics Propulsion Modeling & Simulation Through Coordinated Massively Parallel Frameworks

                                                        Lead Center: MSFC

                                                        Participating Center(s): SSC

                                                        Detailed modeling and simulation to assess combustion instability of recent large combustors while successful to a degree showed the need for significant advances in two-phase flow, combustion, unsteady flow, and acoustics.  Additionally, simulation of water spray systems for launch acoustic sound… Read more>>

                                                        Detailed modeling and simulation to assess combustion instability of recent large combustors while successful to a degree showed the need for significant advances in two-phase flow, combustion, unsteady flow, and acoustics.  Additionally, simulation of water spray systems for launch acoustic sound suppression and test stand rocket engine acoustic sound suppression showed the need for advances in two-phase flow, droplet formation, and particulate trajectory.  In these cases, and others, the need for improved physics based models is accompanied by the requirement for high fidelity and computational speed. 

                                                        Rocket combustion dynamic simulations are 3D, multiphase, reacting computations involving the mixing of hundreds of individual injection elements which require a long time history to be computed. Methods are sought (VOF, SPH, DNS/LES, PIC, etc.) to accurately capture the physics of the injection elements in a computationally efficient manner. Experimental validation of individual submodels are required. 

                                                        NASA successfully leveraged advances/ innovation in computer science technology to leapfrog the barriers to massive parallelism via the adoption of the Loci framework in the late 1990's.  Computer science has evolved in the last two decades with respect to technology of massive parallelism.  The intent of this subtopic is to infuse newest technologies, i.e., improved physics based models accompanied by the requirement for high fidelity and computational speed, into tools for propulsion related fluid dynamic simulation.  This solicitation seeks simultaneously coordinated computer science (CS) technology advances, multi-physics (MP) simulation, and high fidelity (HF) models.  The value and requirement for proposals is this coordinated CS-MP-HF framework.  Ideally, technologies that are up to this point only Lower TRL demonstrations are strong candidates if they are developed to fit in a coordinated CS-MP-HF framework that can be applied to propulsion system fluid dynamics. 

                                                        Tools developed in this framework are expected to enable propulsion system production & DDT&E cost reductions.  

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                                                      • T2.01

                                                        T2.01Advanced Nuclear Propulsion

                                                        Lead Center: SSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): GRC, MSFC

                                                        The objective of this subtopic is to advance low TRL (<3) nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential to transform space transportation and space exploration to Mars and other planets/moons in our solar system. Radical improvements in in-space propulsion technologies beyond the… Read more>>

                                                        The objective of this subtopic is to advance low TRL (<3) nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential to transform space transportation and space exploration to Mars and other planets/moons in our solar system. Radical improvements in in-space propulsion technologies beyond the current state of the art (SOA) are required to enable new missions that safely transport humans and/or robotic systems with increased reliability to meet mission requirements, transport them quickly to reduce transit times and provide quicker scientific results, increase the payload mass to allow more capable instruments and larger crews, and reduce the overall mission cost. SOA in-space transportation systems typically employ chemical propulsion or electric propulsion systems.  In parallel, thought must go into how best to ground test these concepts to allow a smoother, more efficient and safer path for future development.

                                                        This subtopic specifically seeks proposals for innovative research and development of advanced nuclear propulsion technologies that have the potential for significant improvement over the current SOA, primarily to achieve:

                                                        • High specific impulse (Isp) and thrust-to-weight ratio (T/W) to consume less propellant and provide shorter trip times.

                                                        Other design requirements to consider in the proposed concept include:

                                                        • Low system mass and volume (includes propellant, power system, thermal control/radiators) to reduce the total mass and number of launches to orbit.
                                                        • Safety, affordability, and reliability

                                                        Most of the known advanced nuclear propulsion candidate technologies are listed in the 2015 NASA OCT Roadmap TA02: In-Space Propulsion Technologies (http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html). Advanced nuclear propulsion technologies are identified in section 2.3.3 Fusion Propulsion, section 2.3.5 Antimatter Propulsion, and section 2.3.6 Advanced Fission. Technology SOA and technical challenges are included for each.

                                                        Other advanced nuclear propulsion technologies not listed in the 2015 OCT TA02 Roadmap are welcome and within the scope of the subtopic (e.g., various nuclear hybrid concepts), including novel system and component ground test approaches and associated supporting/enabling technologies.

                                                        Proposed technologies must be theoretically credible and proposals must describe how the technology will make a significant improvement over SOA in-space propulsion systems. Proposals must describe the ultimate objective of the effort and detail the planned investigative approach. The planned experimentation should be described, including the test equipment to be used and/or developed. The proposal should describe the development risks and mitigation plans.

                                                        Proposals should strive to advance the proposed technology to TRL 3: perform experimental critical function and/or proof-of-concept. If a significant increase in the TRL of a particular propulsion technology is not realizable, the proposal should clearly indicate the value proposition of the proposed effort to mature the candidate technology in the context of an overall development plan, describing how the award would support the maturation of the technology through phase II.

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                                                      • T3.01

                                                        T3.01Energy Harvesting, Transformation and Multifunctional Power Dissemination

                                                        Lead Center: SSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): GRC, JSC, KSC, MSFC

                                                        The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. As such, novel energy harvesting technologies are critical toward supporting future power generation… Read more>>

                                                        The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. As such, novel energy harvesting technologies are critical toward supporting future power generation systems to begin to meet these challenges. This subtopic addresses the potential for deriving power from waste engine heat, warm soil, liquids, kinetic motion, piezoelectric materials or other naturally occurring energy sources, etc. Development of energy harvesting (both capture and conversion) technologies would also address the national need for novel new energy systems and alternatives to reduce energy consumption.  Conversion and transformation technologies for gathering energy naturally occurring in conjunction with induced energies are being pursued, and novel technologies capable of artificially saturating an environment with energy for storage and power dissemination along with non-conventional transmission via the surrounding environments such as wireless power are also applicable. Energy gathering is limited by the quantity of energy available within a system’s immediate environment, and often the environment’s energy contains prolonged periods of lulls in harvestable energy. Technologically bridging power from a distance would fundamentally alleviate issues with low energy environments by allowing energy to be supplementally broadcast through preexisting structures and environments while simultaneously reducing docking and interfacing for power transfer. 

                                                        Technology development should support powering small remotely located equipment such as wireless instrumentation, or support power gathering for independently providing supplementary power to centralized equipment such as control consoles. Distributed Nano energy generating technologies are applicable for gathering scattered environmental energies into significant amounts of accumulated power along with supplementation for long-duration power utilization. This kind of distributed power should also be able to recover waste energy from rocket, nuclear, fission, and electrical propulsion devices while providing enhanced protection from energies contained within the work environment through transformation and consumption.  Transforming harmful radiation, elevated temperatures, unwanted vibrations etc. into usable energy will support increased scope and duration of missions while enhancing protection from the waste energies (mitigation by transformation and consumption). Waste energies from warm soil, liquids (water, oils, hydraulic fluids), kinetic motion, piezoelectric materials, or various naturally occurring energy sources, etc. should also be transformable.  

                                                        Areas of special focus for this subtopic include consideration of: 

                                                        • Innovative technologies for the efficient broadcast, capture, regulation, storage and/or transformation of acoustic, kinetic, radiant (including radiation), electric, magnetic, radio frequencies and thermal energy types.
                                                        • Technologies which can work either under typical ambient environments for the above energy types and/or under high intensity energy environments for the above energy types as might be found in propulsion testing and launch facilities.
                                                        • As above, energy capture, transmission and transformation technologies that can work in very harsh environments such as those which are very hot and/or ablative (e.g., in the proximity of rocket exhaust) and/or very cold (e.g., temperatures associated cryogenic propellants) may be of interest.
                                                        • Innovations in miniaturization and suitability for manufacturing of energy capture, transmission and transformation systems so as to be used towards eventual powering of assorted sensors and IT systems on vehicles and infrastructures.
                                                        • High efficiency and reliability for use in environments that may be remote and/or hazardous and having low maintenance requirements.
                                                        • Employ green technology considerations to minimize impact on the environment and other resource usage. 
                                                        • Reliable nano-engineered concept designs for generating charge and charge storage devices powering miniature (or “nano”) devices, such as members of a “swarm” are needed for exploration purposes.  Designs should be capable of easy integration to miniaturize systems, subsystems, satellites, or “swarm” elements without compromising capability.
                                                        • Designs should maximize high energy density for charge storage with very low mass. 

                                                        Rocket propulsion test facilities within NASA provide excellent test beds for testing and using the innovative technologies discussed above because they offer a wide spectrum of energy types and energy intensities for capture and transformation. Additional Federal mandates require the optimization of current energy use and development of alternative energy sources to conserve on energy and to enhance the sustainability of these and other facilities.Specific emphasis is on technologies which can be demonstrated in a ground test environment and have the ability/intention to be extrapolated for in-space applications such as on space vehicles, platforms or habitats. Energy transformation technologies to generate higher power output than what is presently on the market are a highly desired to an expected outcome from this subtopic. 

                                                        Phase I will develop feasibility studies and demonstrate through proof-of-concept demonstrations. Phase II will develop prototypical hardware and demonstrate infusion readiness to be incorporated into other products.

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                                                      • T3.02

                                                        T3.02Intelligent/Autonomous Electrical Power Systems

                                                        Lead Center: GRC

                                                        Participating Center(s): JPL

                                                        Missions to Mars and beyond experience communication delays with Earth of between 3 to 45 minutes.   Due to this, it is impractical to rely on ground-based support and troubleshooting in the event of a power system fault or component failure.  Intelligent/autonomous systems are required that can… Read more>>

                                                        Missions to Mars and beyond experience communication delays with Earth of between 3 to 45 minutes.   Due to this, it is impractical to rely on ground-based support and troubleshooting in the event of a power system fault or component failure.  Intelligent/autonomous systems are required that can manage the power system in both normal mode and failure mode.

                                                        In normal mode, the system would predict energy availability, perform load scheduling, maintain system security and status on-board and ground based personnel.  One aspect of overall system autonomy would be solar array characterization, for spacecraft utilizing this technology.  One drawback of current satellite systems is the lack of adequate means of determining solar panel or cell status.  Being able to automatically characterize solar panel status can enhance energy availability prediction.  Similar technology to access that status of battery systems would further enhance these predictions.

                                                        In failure mode, the system must identify a fault or failure and perform contingency planning to react or reconfigure the system appropriately to move it back into normal mode of operation, without human involvement.   The technologies to detect and identify specific failures in both the generation, distribution and storage systems are needed along with strategies to utilize the failure data to identify recovery strategies for the power system.

                                                        With the potential of future manned missions to Mars, this technology will become increasingly important for electrical power management and distribution.   Specific areas of interest include:

                                                          • Autonomous/intelligent PMAD.
                                                          • Failure detection strategies.
                                                          • Recovery strategies.
                                                          • Generation and storage characterization.
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                                                      • T4.01

                                                        T4.01Information Technologies for Intelligent and Adaptive Space Robotics

                                                        Lead Center: ARC

                                                        The objective of this subtopic is to develop information technologies that enable robots to better support space exploration. Improving robot information technology (algorithms, avionics, software) is critical to improving the capability, flexibility, and performance of future NASA missions. In… Read more>>

                                                        The objective of this subtopic is to develop information technologies that enable robots to better support space exploration. Improving robot information technology (algorithms, avionics, software) is critical to improving the capability, flexibility, and performance of future NASA missions. In particular, the NASA "Robotics and Autonomous Systems" technology roadmap (T04) indicates that extensive and pervasive use of robots can significantly enhance future exploration missions that are progressively longer, complex, and operate with fewer ground control resources.

                                                        The performance of space robots is directly linked to the quality and capability of the information technologies that are used to build and operate them. Thus, proposals are sought that address the following technology needs:

                                                        • Advanced robot user interfaces that facilitate distributed collaboration, geospatial data visualization, summarization and notification, performance monitoring, and physics-based simulation. The primary objective is to enable more effective and efficient interaction with robots remotely operated with discrete commands or supervisory control. Note: proposals to develop user interfaces for direct teloperation (manual control) are not being solicited and will be considered non-responsive.
                                                        • Navigation systems for mobile robot (free-flying and wheeled) operations in man-made (inside the International Space-Station) and unstructured, natural environments (Earth, Moon, Mars). Emphasis on multi-sensor data fusion, obstacle detection, and localization. The primary objective is to radically and significantly increase the performance of mobile robot navigation through new sensors, avionics (including COTS processors for use in space), perception algorithms and software. Proposals for small size, weight, and power (SWAP) systems are particularly encouraged.
                                                        • Robot software systems that support system-level autonomy, instrument/sensor targeting, downlink data triage, and activity planning. The primary objective is to facilitate the creation, extensibility and maintenance of complex robot systems for use in the real-world. Proposals that address autonomy for planetary rovers operating in rough terrain or performing non-traditional tasks (e.g., non-prehensile manipulation) are particularly encouraged.

                                                        Proposers are encouraged to target the demonstration of these technologies to existing NASA research robots or current projects in order to maximize relevance and potential for infusion.

                                                        Deliverables to NASA:

                                                        • Identify scenarios, use cases, and requirements.
                                                        • Define specifications based on design trades.
                                                        • Develop concepts and prototypes.
                                                        • Demonstrate and evaluate prototypes in real-world settings.
                                                        • Deliver prototypes (hardware and/or software) to NASA.
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                                                      • T4.03

                                                        T4.03Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles

                                                        Lead Center: JPL

                                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for coordination and autonomous control of teams and swarms of space systems including but not limited to spacecraft and planetary rover teams in a dynamic environment.  Possible areas of interest include but are not limited… Read more>>

                                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for coordination and autonomous control of teams and swarms of space systems including but not limited to spacecraft and planetary rover teams in a dynamic environment. 

                                                        Possible areas of interest include but are not limited to: 

                                                        • Coordinated task planning, operation, and execution.
                                                        • Relative localization in space and on planet surface.
                                                        • Close proximity operations of spacecraft swarms including sensors required for collision detection and avoidance.
                                                        • Fast, real-time, coordinated motion planning in areas densely crowded by other agents.
                                                        • Human-Swarm interaction interfaces for controlling the multi-agent system as an ensemble.
                                                        • Distributed fault detection and mitigation due to hardware failures or compromised systems.
                                                        • Communication-less coordination by observing and estimating the actions of other agents in the multi-agent system. 

                                                        Phase I awards will be expected to develop theoretical frameworks, algorithms, software simulation and demonstrate feasibility (TRL 2-3). Phase II awards will be expected to demonstrate capability on a hardware testbed (TRL 4-6).

                                                         

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                                                      • T6.01

                                                        T6.01Closed-Loop Living System for Deep-Space ECLSS with Immediate Applications for a Sustainable Planet

                                                        Lead Center: ARC

                                                        Participating Center(s): MSFC

                                                        NASA's plans to explore space beyond Low Earth Orbit will push the performance of life support systems toward closed loop living systems. Deep space missions will require life support systems that will be self-sustaining since we cannot expect to carry enough spares and consumables for year-long… Read more>>

                                                        NASA's plans to explore space beyond Low Earth Orbit will push the performance of life support systems toward closed loop living systems. Deep space missions will require life support systems that will be self-sustaining since we cannot expect to carry enough spares and consumables for year-long missions. Achieving the development of such systems will provide the understanding for managing the limited availability of resources. The parallel with earth planetary resources management is useful as the world population grows and resources and infrastructure availability decreases. We anticipate that technologies developed for closed loop living systems could be made available to provide near term planetary sustainability as well. 

                                                        State of the Art 

                                                        An immediate example of such endeavors exists in the form of the NASA Ames Sustainability Base where technologies for deep space exploration have been used to create one of the greenest buildings in the federal building inventory. These technologies include power generation with fuel cells, water recovery systems, advanced HVAC, automated environmental control, recyclable materials and use of local resources. Even though these technologies are readily available for deep space travel, each has its own set of challenges for adaption to earth application along with integration challenges. 

                                                        Closed-loop living systems are based on the thermodynamics laws of the conservation of mass and energy. We hope to maximize the conservation so that only a minimal amount of spare resources needs to be taken on crewed deep space missions.

                                                        Innovations are sought to enable: 

                                                        • Development of processes and technologies to allow for closed loop living applications in space and on earth.
                                                        • Transfer of advanced deep space life support technologies and systems to earth based applications.
                                                        • Development of viable off-the-gridhabitation in remote areas where infrastructure is inexistent. 

                                                        Potential deliverables include a demo of ECLSS concept(s), enhanced process and control techniques for multiple life support subsystems (e.g., environment, water recovery, power usage, etc.), or prototype(s) of relevant hardware and/or software.

                                                        For integrated system health management and monitoring capabilities that support sustainable systems, respondents are encouraged to consider SBIR subtopic - H6.01.

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                                                      • T6.02

                                                        T6.02Liquid Quantity Sensing Capability

                                                        Lead Center: JSC

                                                        In the current design of the Advanced Space Suit, the water necessary to provide cooling to the human and avionics is stored in the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) which resides inside the habitable volume of the Space Suit. The FSA is a flexible reservoir which takes advantage of the suit pressure… Read more>>

                                                        In the current design of the Advanced Space Suit, the water necessary to provide cooling to the human and avionics is stored in the Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) which resides inside the habitable volume of the Space Suit. The FSA is a flexible reservoir which takes advantage of the suit pressure as the means of maintaining water loop pressure at operation conditions. During the EVA timeline, it is paramount that crew member cooling is uninterrupted. An interruption could cause overheating of the crew member.  Therefore, insight in to the quantity of water remaining is important.

                                                        The ability to determine the quantity of a consumable liquid (e.g., water for cooling) remaining in a soft-walled, flexible reservoir via the use of one (ideally) or more sensors presents a difficult challenge for spaceflight applications.  It presents a problem because the reservoir is flexible and it will be in micro-gravity during operation.

                                                        Typically, flexible reservoirs in micro-gravity are maintained at a relatively constant external pressure. Therefore, they will collapse as the liquid is consumed from the reservoir.  This occurs as such a low rate, it has presented a challenge for traditional flow rate sensors.  Also, numerous conditions contribute to the challenge.  These challenges include the potential for gas(s) to be entrained in the liquid, the presence or lack of a gravity gradient, and motion of the liquid within the reservoir.  Additionally, the constraints of spaceflight cause even more challenges such as:

                                                        • Sensor systems must be optimized for minimal mass, volume, and power consumption.
                                                        • They must be highly reliable and require minimal maintenance.
                                                        • Must cause minimal hazards to the vehicle, crew, and mission.
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                                                      • T6.03

                                                        T6.03Modeling And Estimation Of Integrated Human-Vehicle Design Influences

                                                        Lead Center: JSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): MSFC

                                                        The development of human space exploration vehicles and habitats requires an understanding of the relationships and interactions among the technical and human crew aspects of the system. This STTR subtopic seeks to enable creation of modeling and estimation capabilities that will inform system… Read more>>

                                                        The development of human space exploration vehicles and habitats requires an understanding of the relationships and interactions among the technical and human crew aspects of the system. This STTR subtopic seeks to enable creation of modeling and estimation capabilities that will inform system design decisions for enhancing mission success, crew task performance, and crew safety while reducing technical resource demands such as those on mission mass, power, volume and crew time. Currently there is no integrated framework in which to perform system design trades among various vehicle design capabilities taking into account the wide range of roles of the human crewmembers such as mission task performers, vehicle inhabitants, and even medical patients and caregivers. Life support inputs and outputs are accommodated in design considerations; however, this scope provides incomplete coverage of the human interactions with the system design. Just as vehicle and component life-cycle issues must be considered in system design, human adaption throughout a mission in areas such as individual and team behavioral health, physiological performance and clinical health must be folded in to inform vehicle and habitat system design decisions. Innovative approaches to modeling the mutual influences between the technical and human aspects of the exploration system are sought in to inform design trades and prioritization of system technology development. Methods are sought to systematically model and estimate impacts to the behavioral, physiological and clinical outcomes on crewmembers relative to vehicle design options, incorporating how the vehicle and humans will evolve and interact over the course of a mission. It is anticipated these methods will reveal attributes, or groups of attributes, of a system design as influential that would not otherwise be detected in the design phases of mission development. Model validation is not included in this topic call. Methods and demonstrations of application to informing system trade studies and technology development prioritization are included in the scope.

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                                                      • T4.02

                                                        T4.02Regolith Resources Robotics - R^3

                                                        Lead Center: KSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC, LaRC

                                                        The use of robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in outer space on various planetary bodies is essential since it uses large quantities of regolith that must be acquired and processed. In some cases this will happen while the crew is not there yet, or it will take place at a remote… Read more>>

                                                        The use of robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) in outer space on various planetary bodies is essential since it uses large quantities of regolith that must be acquired and processed. In some cases this will happen while the crew is not there yet, or it will take place at a remote destination where the crew cannot spend much time doing Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) due to radiation exposure limits.  Large communications latencies mandate autonomous robotics applications. Proposals are sought which provide solutions for the following regolith resources and robotics related technology areas:

                                                        Robotic Site Preparation and Construction for Civil Engineering Infrastructure

                                                        Future human bases on planetary surfaces, moons and asteroids will require infrastructure to ensure the survival of the crew as well as to prolong the life times of equipment operating in harsh and extreme environments. Since humans will not be at the destination in the early phases of the base construction, robotic equipment that operates autonomously will be required. Civil engineering infrastructure such as landing pads, berms, roads, equipment hangars, dust free zones, thermal wadis, shelters, radiation shielding and habitats will be needed.  Regolith handling systems, fully autonomous site preparation, paver laying robots, inter-locking brick stacking robots, modular structure assembly robots and regolith 3D additive construction systems are encouraged. Proposals are sought for innovative robotic site preparation and construction mission concepts, technology development, and demonstrations. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of mass, power, volume, feasibility of the concept of operations and complexity. 

                                                        Regolith Derived Feed Stocks for In-Situ Robotic Manufacturing

                                                        By manufacturing spare parts, structures and surface systems on planetary surfaces, moons and asteroids, large logistics reductions can be achieved by avoiding the transportation of raw materials, commodities and goods from Earth.  The regolith contains many minerals that can be processed to extract resources for manufacturing such as metals, organics, ceramics, glasses and polymers.  In addition, the regolith can be used as a bulk aggregate which can be melted, sintered, or consolidated with a binder material such as in-situ manufactured polymers or other naturally occurring binder materials to form concrete like materials.  Proposals are sought for regolith derived feed stocks that can be used to manufacture spare parts, structures or surface systems. Digital materials and associated regolith derived materials for use in voxel based manufacturing and innovative additive manufacturing methods are also encouraged. Other innovative manufacturing methods such as automated casting, materials deposition or automated assembly methods are also in scope. The emphasis in Phase I shall be on proving that a viable material can be developed with a proof of concept demonstration and related materials properties shall be provided. In Phase II a full scale robotic manufacturing demonstration shall be accomplished which would show how the feedstock could be used to make useful parts, structures or surface systems. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of material accessibility, economic viability of the ore, feasibility of extraction or processing, materials properties, the concept of manufacturing and applications.

                                                         Proposals are sought for associated innovative resource utilization mission concepts, technology development, and demonstrations but must be based on regolith materials, robotic methods and highly innovative technologies.

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                                                      • T7.01

                                                        T7.01Advanced Bioreactor Development for In Situ Microbial Manufacturing

                                                        Lead Center: ARC

                                                        NASA’s future long-duration missions require a high degree of materials recovery and recycling as well as the ability to manufacture required mission resources in-situ. While physico-chemical methods offer potential advantages for the production of many products, biological systems are able to… Read more>>

                                                        NASA’s future long-duration missions require a high degree of materials recovery and recycling as well as the ability to manufacture required mission resources in-situ. While physico-chemical methods offer potential advantages for the production of many products, biological systems are able to manufacture a wide range of materials that are not yet possible with abiotic systems.  Microbial systems are currently being developed by academic institutions, industry, and government agencies to produce a wide array of products that are applicable to space missions.  Relevant mission resources include, but are not limited to, food, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, polymers, fuels and various chemicals.

                                                        While current space-based research involves engineering of organisms to produce targeted compounds as well as the in-situ production of microbial media to support larger scale operations, additional enabling research is needed to develop specialized bioreactors that are highly efficient, reliable, low volume and mass, and that otherwise meet the unique rigors of space.

                                                        Advanced bioreactor research and development has been primarily focused on terrestrial applications, particularly pharmaceutical, food and chemical production systems. Some space bioreactor work regarding flight experiments and life support applications has been conducted, such as algal reactors for CO2/O2 management.  However, little to no effort has been conducted on the bioreactor design and operations that are required to enable in-situ microbial manufacturing. Therefore, innovations are sought to provide:

                                                        • Bioreactors that minimize mass, power and volume, maintenance, process inputs and waste production.
                                                        • Bioreactors that are capable of operating in the space environment, including reduced gravity.
                                                        • Bioreactors that incorporate novel microbial biomass separation/harvesting/purification methods, and materials recycling/recovery.
                                                        • High-density bioreactors that are capable of producing extremely high levels of microbial biomass and/or product.
                                                        • Advanced bioreactor monitoring and control systems, including oxygen, temperature, pH, nutrients.
                                                        • Experimental bioreactors that exhibit the ability to scale upwards.
                                                        • Bioreactors that maximize reliability, component miniaturization, materials handling ability, gas management and overall performance.

                                                        The Phase I STTR deliverable should include a Final Report that captures any scientific results and processes as well as details on the technology identified. The Final Report should also include a Feasibility Study which defines the current technology readiness level and proposes the maturation path for further evolution of the system.  Opportunities for commercial and government infusion should be addressed. Other potential deliverables include bioreactor system designs, hardware components and prototypes, and system control approaches and software.

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                                                      • T7.02

                                                        T7.02Space Exploration Plant Growth

                                                        Lead Center: KSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): JSC

                                                        Producing food for crew consumption is an important goal for achieving Earth independence and reducing the logistics associated with future exploration missions.  NASA seeks innovative technologies to enable plant growth systems for food production for in-space and planetary exploration missions… Read more>>

                                                        Producing food for crew consumption is an important goal for achieving Earth independence and reducing the logistics associated with future exploration missions.  NASA seeks innovative technologies to enable plant growth systems for food production for in-space and planetary exploration missions.     

                                                        Nutrient Recycling

                                                        NASA seeks technologies that would enable generation and use of essential nutrients for plant growth (P, N, K) that would otherwise have to be provided by time release fertilizers shipped from Earth.  Separation of targeted useful nutrients or sequestration of sodium from solution to leave useful nutrients are both desired.  Sources of nutrients could include urine, urine that has been pretreated with strong acids or oxidizers, waste biomass from the inedible portions of plants, other spacecraft wastes, or possibly planetary surface regolith.

                                                        Cultivation and Growth Systems

                                                        Spacecraft systems are constrained to utilize minimal volume and require minimal crew time for management and operation.  NASA seeks innovative systems for plant growth and cultivation that are volume efficient, flexible for a range of plant types and sizes (examples: tomatoes, wheat, beans, potatoes), are adaptive for the entire life cycle (from anchoring the seed, managing the plant growth from seedling through harvest), and is reusable across multiple harvests.  Concepts need to address integration with watering and nutrient/fertilizer systems (whether soil/media based, hydroponic, or aeroponic).  Systems should address whether they are microgravity compatible, surface gravity compatible, or both.

                                                        Greenhouse Films

                                                        NASA seeks new materials that are flexible, transparent to light used by plants, and survive pressurization.  They need to survive the challenges of a Mars surface environment, such as UV, temperature extremes, and exterior particulate and dust damage and accumulation.

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                                                      • T8.01

                                                        T8.01Technologies for Planetary Compositional Analysis and Mapping

                                                        Lead Center: JPL

                                                        Participating Center(s): GSFC, LaRC

                                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for both orbital and in-situ compositional analysis and mapping that can be proposed to future planetary missions. Technologies that can increase instrument resolution, precision and sensitivity or achieve new and innovative… Read more>>

                                                        This subtopic is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for both orbital and in-situ compositional analysis and mapping that can be proposed to future planetary missions. Technologies that can increase instrument resolution, precision and sensitivity or achieve new and innovative scientific measurements are solicited. For example missions, see (http://science.hq.nasa.gov/missions). For details of the specific requirements see the National Research Councils, Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/2013decadal/).

                                                        Possible areas of interest include:

                                                        • Improved sources such as lasers, LEDs, X-ray tubes, etc. for imaging and spectroscopy instruments (including Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, Deep UV Raman and Fluorescence spectroscopy, Hyperspectral Imaging Spectroscopy, and X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy).
                                                        • Improved detectors for imaging and spectroscopy instruments (e.g., flight-compatible iCCDS and other time-gated detectors that provide gain, robot arm compatible PMT arrays and other detectors requiring high voltage operation, detectors with improved UV and near-to-mid IR performance, near-to-mid IR detectors with reduced cooling requirements).
                                                        • Technologies for 1-D and 2-D raster scanning from a robot arm.
                                                        • Novel approaches that could help enable in-situ organic compound analysis from a robot arm (e.g., ultra-miniaturized Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization Mass Spectrometry).
                                                        • "Smart software" for evaluating imaging spectroscopy data sets in real-time on a planetary surface to guide rover targeting, sample selection (for missions involving sample return), and science optimization of data returned to earth.
                                                        • Other technologies and approaches (e.g., improved cooling methods) that could lead to lower mass, lower power, and/or improved science return from instruments used to study the elemental, chemical, and mineralogical composition of planetary materials.
                                                        • Projects selected under this subtopic should address at least one of the above areas of interest. Multiple-area proposals are encouraged. Proposers should specifically address:
                                                          • The suitability of the technology for flight applications, e.g., mass, power, compatibility with expected shock and vibration loads, radiation environment, interplanetary vacuum, etc.
                                                          • Relevance of the technology to NASA's planetary exploration science goals.

                                                        Phase I contracts will be expected to demonstrate feasibility, and Phase II contracts will be expected to fabricate and complete laboratory testing on an actual instrument/test article.

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                                                      • T8.02

                                                        T8.02Photonic Integrated Circuits

                                                        Lead Center: GSFC

                                                        Integrated photonics generally is the integration of multiple lithographically defined photonic and electronic components and devices (e.g., lasers, detectors, waveguides/passive structures, modulators, electronic control and optical interconnects) on a single platform with nanometer-scale feature… Read more>>

                                                        Integrated photonics generally is the integration of multiple lithographically defined photonic and electronic components and devices (e.g., lasers, detectors, waveguides/passive structures, modulators, electronic control and optical interconnects) on a single platform with nanometer-scale feature sizes.  The development of photonic integrated circuits permits size, weight, power and cost reductions for spacecraft microprocessors, communication buses, processor buses, advanced data processing, and integrated optic science instrument optical systems, subsystems and components. This is particularly critical for small spacecraft platforms. On July 27, 2015 - Vice President Joe Biden, at an event in Rochester, NY, announced the New York consortium has been selected to lead the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. For details see (http://manufacturing.gov/ip-imi.html).  Proposed as part of President Obamas National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the IP-IMI was established to bring government, industry and academia together to advance state-of-the-art photonics technology and better position the United States relative to global competition in this critical field.  The use of the IP-IMI for work proposed under this topic is highly encouraged.  This topic solicits methods, technology and systems for development and incorporation of active and passive circuit elements for integrated photonic circuits for:

                                                        • Integrated photonic sensors (physical, chemical and/or biological) circuits: NASA applications examples include (but are not limited to): Lab-on-a-chip systems for landers, Astronaut health monitoring, Front-end and back-end for remote sensing instruments including trace gas lidars Large telescope spectrometers for exoplanets using photonic lanterns and narrow band filters.  On chip generation and detection of light of appropriate wavelength may not be practical, requiring compact hybrid packaging for providing broadband optical input-output and also, as means to provide coupling of light between the sensor-chip waveguides and samples, unique optical components (e.g.,  Plasmonic waveguides, microfluidic channel) may be beneficial.
                                                        • Integrated Photonic Circuits for Analog RF applications: NASA applications include new methods due to Size, Weight and Power improvements, passive and active microwave signal processing, radio astronomy and TeraHertz spectroscopy.  As an example, integrated photonic circuits having very low insertion loss (e.g., ~1dB) and high spur free dynamic range for analog and RF signal processing and transmission which incorporate, for example, monolithic high-Q waveguide microresonantors or Fabry-Perot filters with multi-GHz RF pass bands.   These components should be suitable for designing chip-scale tunable opto-electronic RF oscillator and high precision optical clock modules.
                                                        • Integrated photonic circuits for very high speed computing: Advanced computing engines that approach TeraFLOP per second computing power for spacecraft in a fully integrated combined photonic and electronic package.

                                                         

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                                                      • T11.01

                                                        T11.01Machine Learning and Data Mining for Autonomy, Health Management, and Science

                                                        Lead Center: ARC

                                                        Nearly all engineered systems in all of NASA's areas of interest have one key aspect in common---they generate substantial data. These data represent: Science and scientific applications. The operations of the data collecting instruments and their platforms. The health of these instruments and… Read more>>

                                                        Nearly all engineered systems in all of NASA's areas of interest have one key aspect in common---they generate substantial data. These data represent:

                                                        • Science and scientific applications.
                                                        • The operations of the data collecting instruments and their platforms.
                                                        • The health of these instruments and platforms.
                                                        • In some cases, other related data such as the performance and health of the humans involved in operations.

                                                        Machine learning, data mining, big data, and related methods have been used to study data in these four areas individually for offline study, with the goal of understanding how the system really operates, as distinct from how it was designed and intended to operate. However, these data-driven methods have not been used so far to study data across more than one of these four areas, and not during operations, with the goal of enabling a human and/or autonomous system to make adjustments to the system's operations on the fly. Allowing both online and offline learning would allow for both online (tactical) and offline (strategic) adjustments to operations. Allowing humans and autonomous systems to interact in making strategic and tactical decisions, including user interfaces that allow the autonomous system to show the human what it has learned and the human to specify high-level objectives and/or low-level actions, is a key problem to be addressed. Increasing the scope of the data covered to all of the four areas above would allow autonomous systems and human operators to account for both science and system health drivers in operations, and identify the trade-offs between increasing science operations, increasing availability, maintaining systems health, minimizing maintenance costs, and other considerations. Some of these considerations may extend to improvements in on-demand system responsiveness through optimal resource sharing of the computational burden between online and offline computing platforms. Integration of learning autonomous systems into existing mission operations and systems is a key problem that will need to be addressed.

                                                        The utilization of the above types of data to optimize all aspects of operations is important for missions/projects in all of NASA's areas of interest such as space science (e.g., Kepler, TESS), space exploration (human and autonomous rovers), Earth science (satellite-based and airborne instruments and platforms), and aeronautics (e.g., UAS in the NAS) to operate them in as cost-effective a manner as possible. This becomes more critical as NASA increasingly moves towards operating multiple platforms in a coordinated manner (e.g., Distributed Spacecraft Missions, airborne Earth science platforms coordinating with satellite instrument platforms) where the volume of relevant data will increase and autonomy will be needed to properly operate the multiple platforms.

                                                        This subtopic has three goals:

                                                        • Increase the scope of machine learning, data mining, and big data methods within NASA to encompass both online and offline learning.
                                                        • Use data across as many of the above four areas of data as possible.
                                                        • Explore the trade-offs in operational efficiency, energy efficiency, health management, and operational performance/goal achievement between onboard and offboard computational resource platforms.

                                                        Proposed solutions may have characteristics including but not limited to:

                                                        • Ability to incorporate human feedback into the learning algorithms.
                                                        • Ability for machine learning algorithms to generate results for direct use by autonomous systems and human operators.
                                                        • Ability to learn a controller (covering strategic and tactical operations) from data representing human expert operations.
                                                        • Demonstration of a core set of tools that works across different domains.
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                                                      • T11.02

                                                        T11.02Distributed Spacecraft Missions (DSM) Technology Framework

                                                        Lead Center: GSFC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC

                                                        A Distributed Spacecraft Mission (DSM) is a mission that involves multiple spacecraft to achieve one or more common goals; some DSM Instances include Constellations, Formation Flying missions, or Fractionated missions. Apart from Science goals that can only be attained with DSM, distributed missions… Read more>>

                                                        A Distributed Spacecraft Mission (DSM) is a mission that involves multiple spacecraft to achieve one or more common goals; some DSM Instances include Constellations, Formation Flying missions, or Fractionated missions. Apart from Science goals that can only be attained with DSM, distributed missions are usually motivated by several goals, among which: increasing data resolution in one or several dimensions (e.g., temporal, spatial, spectral or angular), decreasing launch costs, increasing data bandwidths, as well as ensuring data continuity and inter-mission validation and complementarity. Constellations have been proposed in several NASA Decadal Surveys and recent studies; in Earth Science (e.g., a multi-spacecraft Landsat for increasing temporal resolution), in Heliophysics (e.g., the Geospace Dynamics Constellation) or in Planetary Science (e.g., the Lunar Geophysical Network). Many constellations and Formation Flying missions have also been proposed more recently in cubesat-related research projects. For the purpose of this subtopic, we do not assume the spacecraft to be of any specific sizes, i.e., we do not restrict this study to cubesats or smallsats. 

                                                        The goal of this subtopic is to mature NASA capabilities to formulate and implement novel science missions based on distributed platforms. Technologies solicited in this call are the following: 

                                                        • Novel DSM-enabling technologies such as:
                                                          • Technologies for high-bandwidth and efficient inter-satellite communication.
                                                          • Metrology systems capable of sensing and controlling relative position and/or orientation of multi-element DSMs to sub-milli-arcsecond angular resolution and sub-micro-meter positional accuracy.
                                                          • Autonomous and scalable ground-based constellation operations approaches including science operations and data management, and compatible with the Goddard Mission Services Evolution Center (GMSEC) (open source software developed at NASA Goddard).
                                                        • Scalable DSM flight software systems such as:
                                                          • Software components compatible with the Core Flight System (CFS) (open source software developed at NASA Goddard), enabling to control and navigate DSM formations and constellations; for example, discrete event supervisors offering a means to autonomously control systems based on selected mission metrics (e.g., spacecraft separation distance, number of active spacecraft, etc.).
                                                          • Technologies for onboard collaborative processing and intelligence, including but not limited to, inter-spacecraft collaboration for collecting, storing and downloading data as well as multi-platform Science observation coordination and event targeting. 

                                                        Research proposed to this subtopic should demonstrate technical feasibility and should discuss how it relates to NASA programs and projects. Proposed work is expected to be at an entry Technology Readiness Level (TRL) between 2 and 5, and to demonstrate a TRL increase of at least one level during each phase of the project. Proposals will be evaluated based on their degree of innovation and their potential for future infusion. 

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                                                      • T12.01

                                                        T12.01Advanced Structural Health Monitoring

                                                        Lead Center: LaRC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC, GSFC, JSC, KSC

                                                        Future manned space missions will require spacecraft and launch vehicles that are capable of monitoring the structural health of the vehicle and diagnosing and reporting any degradation in vehicle capability.  This subtopic seeks new and innovative technologies in structural health monitoring (SHM)… Read more>>

                                                        Future manned space missions will require spacecraft and launch vehicles that are capable of monitoring the structural health of the vehicle and diagnosing and reporting any degradation in vehicle capability.  This subtopic seeks new and innovative technologies in structural health monitoring (SHM) and integrated vehicle health management (IVHM) automated systems and analysis tools.  Techniques sought include modular/low mass-volume systems, low power, low maintenance systems, and complete systems that reduce or eliminate wiring, as well as smart-sensor systems that provide processed data as close to the sensor and systems that are flexible in their applicability.  Examples of possible automated sensor systems are: Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)-based sensors, passive wireless sensor-tags, flexible sensors for highly curved surfaces, flexible strain and load sensors for softgoods products (broadcloth, webbing or cordage), direct-write film sensors, and others.  Damage detection modes include leak detection, ammonia detection, micrometeoroid impact and others.  Reduction in the complexity of standard wires and connectors and enabling sensing functions in locations not normally accessible is also desirable.  Proposed techniques should be capable of long term service with little or no intervention. Sensor systems should be capable of identifying material state awareness and distinguish aging related phenomena and damage conditions in complex composite and metallic materials.  Techniques and analysis methods related to quantifying material properties, density, microcrack formation, fiber buckling and breakage, etc. in complex composite, metallic and softgoods material systems, adhesively bonded/built-up and/or polymer-matrix composite sandwich structures are of particular interest.  Some consideration will be given to the IVHM /SHM ability to survive in on-orbit and deep space conditions, allow for changes late in the development process and enable on orbit modifications.  System should allow NASA to gain insight into performance and safety of NASA vehicles as well as commercial launchers, vehicles, inflatable structures and payloads supporting NASA missions. Inclusion of a plan for detailed technical operation and deployment is highly favored.

                                                        State of the Art 

                                                        Current tools for SHM are rudimentary and or need development for future space missions.  Current data analysis methods are frequently non-ideal for the large scales of data needed for SHM analysis and/or require expert involvement in interpretation of data.

                                                        This technology enables: 

                                                        • Monitoring of advanced structures/vehicles.
                                                        • Cost-effective methods for optimizing SHM techniques.
                                                        • Feasible methods for validating structural health monitoring systems.

                                                        Once developed this technology can be infused in any program requiring advanced structures/vehicles Aerospace companies are very interested in this enabling technology.

                                                        STMD/NASA/NARP/National - Directly aligns with NASA space technology roadmaps and Strategic Space Technology Investment plan.

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                                                      • T12.02

                                                        T12.02Technologies to Enable Novel Composite Repair Methods

                                                        Lead Center: KSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): JSC, MSFC

                                                        As composite structures become more prevalent on launch vehicles, it will become necessary to have the capability to inspect and repair these structures during ground processing prior to launch. Current composite repair methods developed for the aviation industry are time consuming and require… Read more>>

                                                        As composite structures become more prevalent on launch vehicles, it will become necessary to have the capability to inspect and repair these structures during ground processing prior to launch. Current composite repair methods developed for the aviation industry are time consuming and require complex infrastructure in order to restore the structural strength. Aerospace structures have structural and thermal profiles which are different than aircraft and require different considerations; for example, unlike a commercial aircraft, a launch vehicle sees high loading but is only a one time use vehicle. Advancements are needed to repair materials and methods which allow for a structural repair to be performed in locations with minimal access and in a short time frame. Small damages may be accepted by analysis with no repair. Large damages may require extensive repair or component replacement. This subtopic focuses on developing novel composite repair methods for damages that fall in between these two categories. These novel materials and methods should consider the following:

                                                        • Use of out of autoclave composite materials and processes, which are being investigated for large launch vehicle components, such as fairings, skirts and tanks on the Space Launch System vehicle. Advancements in these material systems has begun to approach properties of autoclave materials but allow for larger structures to be fabricated. 
                                                        • Simplified preparation of the damaged structure. Current methods require very precise methods, which is time consuming and can be a risk for further damage.
                                                        • Material systems and methods which reduce or eliminate the need for external heat and/or vacuum. These require complex infrastructure, which can be difficult to accommodate at the launch pad, and can be time consuming, which could cause a launch delay.
                                                        • Ability to acquire data on the state of the repair, during repair and/or during the launch. This may include data such as temperature at the bondline during cure, strain across the repair patch, etc. 

                                                        Development of a material system and repair method which increases the performance of the repair and reduces the complexity and time required to perform a repair increases the launch capability and success rate. Improvements or modifications to current materials and processes can be made to meet NASA requirements. This technology can also be expanded to develop methods for in-situ repairs to spacecraft on long missions.

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                                                      • T12.03

                                                        T12.03Thin-Ply Composites Design Technology and Applications

                                                        Lead Center: LaRC

                                                        The use of thin-ply composites is one area of composites technology that has not yet been fully explored or exploited by NASA.  Thin-ply composites are those with cured ply thicknesses below 0.0025” and commercially available prepregs are now available with ply thicknesses as thin as 0.00075”… Read more>>

                                                        The use of thin-ply composites is one area of composites technology that has not yet been fully explored or exploited by NASA.  Thin-ply composites are those with cured ply thicknesses below 0.0025” and commercially available prepregs are now available with ply thicknesses as thin as 0.00075”.  By comparison, a standard-ply-thickness composite would have a cured ply thickness of approximately 0.0055”.  Thin-ply composites hold the potential for reducing structural mass and increasing performance due to their unique structural characteristics, which include (when compared to standard-ply-thickness composites):

                                                        • Improved damage tolerance.
                                                        •  Resistance to microcracking (including cryogenic-effects).
                                                        • Improved aging and fatigue resistance.
                                                        • Reduced minimum-gage thickness.
                                                        • Increased scalability.

                                                        These characteristics can make thin-ply composites attractive for a number of applications.  For example, preliminary analyses show that the notched strength of a hybrid of thin and standard ply layers can increase the notched tensile strength of laminates by 30%.  The resistance to microcracking makes thin-ply composites an excellent candidate for a deep-space habitation structure where hermeticity is critical.  Additionally, since a deep-space habitat may need to be pre-positioned in space for a long period of time prior to crew arrival, the enhanced aging and fatigue resistance and resistance to cryogenic-induced microcracking will also be a benefit.  Finally, since the designs of these types of pressurized structures are typically constrained by minimum gage considerations, the ability to reduce that minimum gage thickness offers the potential for significant mass reductions.  For these reasons, NASA is interested in exploring the use of thin-ply composites for applications requiring very high structural efficiency, and for pressurized structures (such as habitation systems and tanks) for deep-space exploration systems. There are many needs in development, qualification and deployment of composite structures incorporating thin-ply materials – either alone or as a hybrid system with standard ply composite materials.  The particular capabilities requested for in a Phase I proposal in this subtopic are: initial process development in using thin-ply prepregs for component fabrication using automated tape layup or other robotic technologies, contributing to the development of the design and qualification database though testing and interrogation of the structural response and damage initiation/progression at multiple scales including evaluation of environmental durability and ageing, and/or analysis and design tool validation and calibration to ensure that the technology to appropriately design and certify thin-ply composite components is matured sufficiently to be used for NASA applications.  The intention of a Phase II follow-on effort would be to develop or to further mature the necessary design/analysis codes, and to validate the approach though design, build, and test of an article representative of the component/application of interest to NASA.

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                                                      • T12.04

                                                        T12.04Experimental and Analytical Technologies for Additive Manufacturing

                                                        Lead Center: MSFC

                                                        Participating Center(s): GSFC

                                                        Additive manufacturing is becoming a leading method for reducing costs, increasing quality, and shortening schedules for production of innovative parts and component that were previously not possible using more traditional methods of manufacturing. In the past decade, methods such as selective laser… Read more>>

                                                        Additive manufacturing is becoming a leading method for reducing costs, increasing quality, and shortening schedules for production of innovative parts and component that were previously not possible using more traditional methods of manufacturing. In the past decade, methods such as selective laser melting (SLM) have emerged as the leading paradigm for additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic components, promising very rapid, cost-effective, and on-demand production of monolithic, lightweight, and arbitrarily intricate parts directly from a CAD file. In the push to commercialize the SLM technology, however, the modeling of the AM process and physical properties of the resulting artifact were paid little attention. As a result, commercially available systems are based largely on hand-tuned parameters determined by trial and error for a limited set of metal powders. The system operation is far from optimal or efficient, and the uncertainty in the performance of the produced component is too large. This, in turn, necessitates a long and costly certification process, especially in a highly risk-aware community such as aerospace. Modeling and real time process control of selective laser melting is needed coupled with statistically significant correlations and understanding of the important process parameters and the resultant microstructural and mechanical properties, validated with detailed metallurgical investigations of the as-fabricated structures. 

                                                        State-of-the-Art 

                                                        This topic seeks technologies that close critical gaps between SOA and needed technology in both experimental and analytical areas in materials design, process modeling and material behavior prediction to reduce time and cost for materials development and process qualification for SLM. 

                                                        Technological advancements are needed in the areas of: 

                                                        • Real-time additive manufacturing process monitoring for real-time material quality assurance prediction. 
                                                        • Reduced-order physics models for individual phases of additive manufacturing technique.
                                                        • Analytical tools to understand effects of process variables on materials evolution.
                                                        • Digital models to standardize the use of structured light scanning or equivalent within manufacturing processes.
                                                        • Software for high-fidelity simulation of various SLM phases for guiding the development, and enabling the subsequent verification.

                                                         

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                                                      • T1.03

                                                        T1.03Real Time Launch Environment Modeling and Sensing Technologies

                                                        Lead Center: KSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): SSC

                                                        Launch and landing operations through the atmosphere of a planet are strongly affected by environmental and atmospheric conditions.  Even the most robust vehicle design has physical limits that restricts the conditions through which it can be launched.  Divergent fluid dynamics, lightning, and… Read more>>

                                                        Launch and landing operations through the atmosphere of a planet are strongly affected by environmental and atmospheric conditions.  Even the most robust vehicle design has physical limits that restricts the conditions through which it can be launched.  Divergent fluid dynamics, lightning, and other severe conditions can overstress vehicle structures and cause a mishap. In addition, the safety of personnel performing launch preparations must be protected from extreme weather such as lightning in a manner that minimizes risk to the launch schedule.  A key metric of launch architecture is the overall system’s launch availability, which is in turn impacted by the accuracy with which the environmental conditions can be characterized.  Advanced technologies are being solicited to improve the accuracy of launch and landing environment forecasting and evaluation.  This technology is of interest not only for earth-based launches, but also to enable routine launch and landing activity on other planets such as Mars, where range infrastructure will be extremely limited.  Specific areas of interest include the following: 

                                                        Remote Sensing

                                                        During launch preparations, an acceptable launch environment that does not impart vehicle damage during ascent is critical. Currently, launch environment conditions such as wind direction, speed, temperature, humidity, and pressure are measured by launching several balloons with rawinsondes on launch day.  The data is then used to construct a vertical profile initializing meteorological models that derive atmospheric stresses on a launch vehicle.  Current technology is used for remote measurements of wind speed and direction as a function of altitude; however, there is no current capability to measure temperature and humidity as a function of altitude remotely in a cloudy environment.  This capability needs to be satisfied by remote methods in order to improve accuracy by measuring overhead and improving timeliness by reducing the lag time to make the measurement and reducing the interval between measurements.  In addition, a remote sensing approach would enable a lower cost simplified launch environment analysis with less infrastructure by eliminating the need for balloons and rawinsondes.

                                                        Technology is being sought which provides a remote sensing capability to measure thermodynamic data with respect to altitude from 300 meters to at least 10 km.  The technology must have a vertical measurement resolution of 150 m or smaller and a full vertical profile of the thermodynamic data at least once an hour.  The sensor must provide valid data in both cloudy and clear environments.  Phase I should include a design for remote measurement of at least temperature and humidity as a function of altitude.  Phase II should be prototype development, testing, and evaluation of the sensing technology in a subtropical environment as well as continued development to measure, or derive all three temperature, humidity, and pressure.  Locally available rawinsonde data should be used to verify system accuracy.

                                                        Three-Dimensional Launch Window Modeling

                                                        During launch countdown, data from several disparate meteorological systems are used to evaluate environmental hazards such as triggered lightning during vehicle ascent. There are several rules based upon radar data, lightning location, electric field and the presence of clouds. For example, in certain circumstances, the launch vehicle cannot pass through a radar echo greater than 7.5 dBz. NASA is seeking a capability to simultaneously, and in real-time, visualize three-dimensional (3D) atmospheric data, and rocket/vehicle trajectories. The region in which a rocket/vehicle trajectory can safely travel through will be a 3D solid shape based upon the launch trajectory with allowable trajectory variations, and user-determined standoff distance. E.g., for a given rocket with trajectory variations of 4.5 miles and a safety standoff distance of 10 miles, a 3D shape such as a tube would be centered around the nominal trajectory line, and at all locations occupy the space 10 + 4.5 miles along the nominal trajectory. Atmospheric data will include: satellite, radar, and lightning data as well as meteorological model products (i.e., forecasts of radar data). The user must be able to manipulate the display to change orientation, scale and products/layers within the intersecting area. 

                                                        At a minimum, the system should be able to identify areas where the trajectory shape intersect or enclose lightning data from 3D lighting data sources, and cloud data as identified by radar and a local Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Any data used for the technology or verification will be from the meteorological instrumentation used at KSC and owned by the USAF.  Phase I would be development of requirements, proposed capabilities, and demonstration of sample products. Phase II would be development of application to ingest NASA and USAF meteorological data and products, and manipulate the data within the volume of interest.

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                                                      • T13.01

                                                        T13.01Intelligent Sensor Systems

                                                        Lead Center: SSC

                                                        Participating Center(s): KSC, MSFC

                                                        Rocket propulsion development is enabled by rigorous ground testing in order to mitigate the propulsion system risks that are inherent in spaceflight. Test articles and facilities are highly instrumented to enable a comprehensive analysis of propulsion system performance.  This topic area seeks to… Read more>>

                                                        Rocket propulsion development is enabled by rigorous ground testing in order to mitigate the propulsion system risks that are inherent in spaceflight. Test articles and facilities are highly instrumented to enable a comprehensive analysis of propulsion system performance.  This topic area seeks to develop advanced instrumentation technologies which can be embedded in systems and subsystems.  The goal is to provide a highly flexible instrumentation solution capable of monitoring remote or inaccessible measurement locations.  All this while eliminating cabling and auxiliary power.  It is focused on near-term products that augment and enhance proven, state-of-the-art propulsion test facilities.  Rocket propulsion test facilities within NASA provide excellent test beds for testing and using the innovative technologies discussed above.  The technologies developed would be capable of addressing multiple mission requirements for remote monitoring such as vehicle health monitoring.

                                                        Embedded sensor systems have the potential for substantial reduction in time and cost of propulsion systems development, with substantially reduced operational costs and evolutionary improvements in ground, launch and flight system operational robustness.  Sensor systems should provide an advanced diagnostics capability to monitor test facility parameters including simultaneous heat flux, temperature, pressure, strain and near-field acoustics. Applications encompass remote monitoring of vacuum lines, gas leaks and fire; where the use of wireless/self-powered sensors to eliminate power and data wires would be beneficial.

                                                        Sensor technologies should be capable of being embedded in structures and systems that are smaller, more energy efficient allowing for more complete and accurate health assessments including structural health monitoring for long-duration missions.  Structural health monitoring is one of the Top 83 Technical Challenges (12.3.5).  Nanotechnology enhanced sensors are desired where applicable to provide a reduction in scale, increase in performance, and reduction of power requirements.  Specific technology needs include the following:

                                                        • Sensor systems should have the ability to provide the following functionality:
                                                          • Measurement.
                                                          • Measure of the quality of the measurement.
                                                          • Measure of the “health” of the sensor.
                                                        • Sensor systems should enable the ability to detect anomalies, determine causes and effects, predict future anomalies, and provides an integrated awareness of the health of the system to users (operators, customers, management, etc.).
                                                        • Sensors are needed with capability to function reliably in extreme environments, including rapidly changing ranges of environmental conditions, such as those experienced in space.  These ranges may be from extremely cold temperatures, such as cryogenic temperatures, to extremely high temperatures, such as those experienced near a rocket engine plume.  Collected data must be time stamped to facilitate analysis with other collected data sets.
                                                        • Sensor systems should be self-contained to collect information and relay measurements through various means by a sensor-web approach to provide a self-healing, auto-configuring method of collecting data from multiple sensors, and relaying for integration with other acquired data sets.
                                                        • The proposed innovative systems must lead to improved safety and reduced test, and space flight costs by allowing real-time analysis of data, information, and knowledge through efficient interfaces to enable integrated awareness of the system condition by users.
                                                        • The system provided must interface with existing data acquisition systems and the software used by such systems.
                                                        • The system must provide NIST traceable measurements.
                                                        • The system design should consider an ultimate use of Space Flight sensor systems, which could be used for multi-vehicle use.
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                                                      • T15.01

                                                        T15.01Distributed Electric Propulsion Aircraft Research

                                                        Lead Center: AFRC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC, GRC, LaRC

                                                        Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Aircraft employ multiple electric propulsors to achieve unprecedented performances in air vehicles.  The propulsor could be ducted/un-ducted fans, propellers, cross-flow-fans, etc.  Some of the benefits identified using this propulsion system are reductions in… Read more>>

                                                        Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) Aircraft employ multiple electric propulsors to achieve unprecedented performances in air vehicles.  The propulsor could be ducted/un-ducted fans, propellers, cross-flow-fans, etc.  Some of the benefits identified using this propulsion system are reductions in fuel burn/energy usage, noise, emissions, and/or field length.  Addressing ARMD’s Strategic Thrust #3 (Ultra-Efficient Commercial Vehicles) and #4 (Transition to Low-Carbon Propulsion), innovative approaches in designing and analyzing the DEP aircraft are investigated and encouraged.  In support of these two Strategic Thrusts, the following DEP aircraft research areas are to be considered under this solicitation. 

                                                        • Explore Subsonic Fixed Wing Aircraft Concepts with the DEP System - Vehicle classes are to be from small on-demand aircraft to large subsonic transport aircraft.  The study shall include vehicle system level assessment including feasibility, design, and benefits assessment.
                                                        • Develop Analytical Tools and Methods to Assess DEP Aircraft Concepts – Assessing a feasibility of vehicle concept requires reliable analytical, computational, experimental, and/or simulation tools and methods.  Since the DEP aircraft involve multi-disciplinary subjects, some form of optimization process will be preferred and needed.
                                                        • Assess Propulsion Airframe Integration (PAI) Benefits – Synergistic benefit assessment capability needs to be established for aircraft with the DEP system.  Some of the PAI examples include boundary layer ingestion (BLI), aero-propulsive acoustics, induced drag reduction using wing-tip propulsor, use of DEP coupled aeroelasticity effects to improve vehicle performance, etc.
                                                        • Develop Aircraft Control Concept using DEP – Aircraft control using differential and/or thrust vectoring of distributed electric propulsors shall be explored.  This may allow reduction or elimination of conventional aerodynamic control surfaces.  

                                                        Expected outcome (TRL 2-3) of Phase I awards, but not limited to: 

                                                        • DEP aircraft concept definition and system level assessment.
                                                        • Initial development of analytical/computational/experimental/simulation tools and methods in assessing DEP concepts and aircraft. 

                                                        Expected outcome (TRL 4-6) of Phase II awards, but not limited to: 

                                                        • Detailed feasibility study and demonstration of the subscale hardware.
                                                        • Refinement of tools and methods in assessing DEP concepts and aircraft.
                                                        • Experimental (e.g., wind tunnel) results that assess the validity of the DEP/aircraft concept.
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                                                      • T15.02

                                                        T15.02Bio-inspired and Biomimetic Technologies and Processes for Earth and Space

                                                        Lead Center: GRC

                                                        Participating Center(s): ARC, LaRC

                                                        Biomimicry is the imitation of life, natural systems and life's principles characterized by reduced use of energy, water and raw materials. Energy and material use is minimized through information and structure. The goal of this topic is to focus efforts on system driven technology development… Read more>>

                                                        Biomimicry is the imitation of life, natural systems and life's principles characterized by reduced use of energy, water and raw materials. Energy and material use is minimized through information and structure. The goal of this topic is to focus efforts on system driven technology development that draws from nature to solve technical challenges in aeronautics and space exploration. While most of the areas described here pertain to aeronautics, biological models have multiple applications and cross cutting solutions are also welcomed that apply to space technology. 

                                                        Proposals must demonstrate that the proposed technology complies with natural principles, patterns and mechanisms. 

                                                        Some resources are provided here: NASA workshop: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/vibe; www.asknature.org;   http://toolbox.biomimicry.org/

                                                        Technology is sought in the following areas: 

                                                        Bio-inspired air breathing propulsion technology to mitigate engine and airframe icing, to reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions (ARMD Strategic Thrust 3) 

                                                        Community performance goals for subsonic transports include specific levels of reduction in energy consumption, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO ), and noise, represented as N+1, N+2, and N+3 performance levels. These goals support reductions in carbon emissions expressed in an IATA resolution that calls for a 1.5% average annual fuel efficiency improvement between 2010 and 2020, carbon neutral growth from 2020 onward, and a reduction of 50% in net emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. 

                                                        This subtopic calls for proposals to reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions through bio-inspired propulsion system technology including but not limited to blade design, coatings, combustor lining, fuel injectors. Some areas of interest are: 

                                                        • Management of 'leakage' flow (over blade tips and from purge cavities) in engines that becomes increasingly significant as engine core sizes decrease below 2.5lbm/s compressor exit corrected flow.
                                                        • Cooling technology for turbines that must withstand 3000° F inlet temperature. More generally, technology that can enable OPRs (Overall Pressure Ratios) higher than 60 are sought with linkages clearly demonstrated.
                                                        • Acoustic liners and turbomachinery concepts to reduce engine noise to reach ARMD's targeted 52dB reduction by 2025 (TRL 4-6 in 2025).
                                                        • Some common biological models are shark skin, owl wings and nautilus shell. 
                                                        • Bio-inspired icephobic materials and structures for aeronautics (ARMD Strategic Thrust 1). ARMD plans for continued research in engine and airframe icing to enable air vehicles to safely fly into various types of icing environments. This research will include validated computational and experimental icing simulations, as well as complementary on-board icing sensing radar to enable avoidance of icing conditions and to facilitate safe operation of current and future air vehicle concepts. Icing mechanisms on airframes and in engines differ significantly from each other. Icing is also dependent on flight speed and atmospheric conditions. Thus, methods used for refrigerators may not be applicable to aeronautics. Proposals sought include materials or structures that delay ice formation relative to state of the art, that are relatively low energy to de-ice and multifunctional de-icing or icephobic systems. Well known biological systems or models should not be proposed unless the technology proposed is using a known biological model in a novel way. Examples of such models include shark skin, lotus leaves, pitcher plants. 

                                                        Bio-inspired power generation, energy storage, power management and distribution 

                                                        The NRC has identified a NASA Top Technical Challenge as the need to "Increase Available Power". Additionally, a NASA Grand Challenge is "Affordable and Abundant Power" for NASA mission activities. It is essential to be able to harness, store and distribute energy while maintaining minimal system mass and complexity. Biological models such as the oriental hornet or electric eel may be obvious candidates. Methods to improve solar cell efficiency or to create structural solar cells are of interest. Goals of this subtopic overlap with subtopic T3.01 Energy Transformation and Multifunctional Power Dissemination.

                                                        Power generation and management systems are also of interest to the growing Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion Project under ARMD. There is specific interest in motor thermal management and low loss power distribution and storage. New concepts for electric motors and hybrid systems are desirable. 

                                                        Cross cutting technology making use of bio-inspired processes in conjunction with 1 or more of big data analytics, synthetic biology and additive manufacturing.  

                                                        Specific areas of interest include: 

                                                        • Demonstrations of advantages in mass savings made possible through bioinspired topologies enabled by additive manufacturing methods.
                                                        • Controlled synthesis of lightweight engineering materials due to bioinspired synthesis methods.
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                                                    • Subtopic Pointers
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