NASA is setting aside money to fund the most ambitious and odd-but-interesting projects that made it through . NIAC or NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is the agency's annual program that welcomes submissions from forward-thinking scientists. The agency has chosen eight from the 13 phase 1 concepts, including a deep sleep chamber that astronauts can use for missions to Mars, the moon and places much farther than Earth's orbit.
NASA is funding a deep sleep chamber and other crazy concepts
One project wants to explore the use of robots to expand habitats when they're already in space, while another plans to use a planet's atmosphere to slow down descending spacecraft to make missions more affordable. There's also one that wants to use a coating that can reflect 99.9% of the sun's energy for long-term cryogenic storage, say to transport liquid oxygen and other chemicals to Mars and other planets. While these concepts sound like they came right out of a sci-fi movie, their creators were able to demonstrate that they're quite feasible. NASA is awarding each one up to $500,000 to develop their concepts further for two more years. Who knows -- someday, our descendants might use one of NIAC's concepts to roam the universe