NASA Creates Two Institutes for Critical Engineering and Climate Research

NASA has always been instrumental in creating new technology to advance its exploration goals. To support its effort, the agency announced that it will create two new institutes to develop technology in critical engineering and climate research areas.

Two new Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) will access teams led by U.S. universities to create multidisciplinary research and technology development programs. It combines science and engineering from universities, industry, and non-profits to develop early-stage technology.

One research institute will focus on quantum sensing technology in support of climate research, and the other institute will improve understanding and help enable rapid certification of metal parts created using advanced manufacturing techniques.

Each institute will receive up to $15 million over five years.

 The University of Texas at Austin will lead the Quantum Pathways Institute, advancing quantum sensing technology for next-gen Earth science applications. Quantum sensors could be beneficial for satellites in orbit around Earth to collect mass change data. This measurement tells scientists how ice, oceans, and land water move and change. The quantum sensors have been proven in concept, but work is required to develop them at the precision necessary.

Carnegie Mellon University will lead Institute for Model-based Qualification & Certification of Additive Manufacturing (IMQCAM) to improve computer models of 3D-printed metal parts and expand their use in spaceflight. The institute will be co-led by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Such parts could be helpful in rocket engines or as part of a human outpost on the Moon, where importing prefabricated components would be expensive and limiting. H

Digital twins will allow engineers to understand the parts’ capabilities and limitations, including stress before failure. The institute will develop digital twins for 3D-printed parts made from spaceflight materials commonly used for 3D printing and to evaluate and model new materials.

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