Press Release

NIAC 8th Annual Meeting In Tucson Focuses in Visionary Space Projects

By SpaceRef Editor
October 5, 2006
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NIAC 8th Annual Meeting In Tucson Focuses in Visionary Space Projects

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) — a NASA-funded institute that supports researchers with creative approaches to space exploration — will hold its 8th annual meeting in Tucson Oct. 17 – 18. It is expected to draw about 75 aeronautics and space exploration experts from around the country.

The meeting will be held at the Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second Street, Tucson. The meeting is free and open to the public. Those who plan to attend are asked to register by Friday, Oct. 6. Registration can be made by e-mail with Katherine Reilly,, per instructions on the NIAC Website,

Keynote speakers are William J. Pomerantz, director of space projects for the X PRIZE Foundation; Anthony Tether, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); and California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, formerly with the University of Chicago.

Regents Professor Roger Angel of the University of Arizona Steward Observatory is among the presenters who will give status reports on their NIAC-funded projects. Angel’s project is “A Deep Field Infrared Observatory Near the Lunar Pole.” NIAC has also funded Angel to further develop his concept for a “Solar Shield in Space to Counter Global Warming.”

Among several other NIAC-funded projects to be discussed are the “New Worlds Imager,” an “Astronaut Bio-Suit System for Exploration Class Missions,” a project for “Redesigning Living Organisms for Mars” and “Microbots for Large-Scale Planetary Surface and Subsurface Exploration.” The complete list of talks and their times is included in the meeting agenda online at

Two UA undergraduates are among a total five 2006-2007 NIAC Student Fellows. All five undergraduates will present posters on their projects at the NIAC meeting in Tucson.

UA engineering physics major Daniella Della-Giustina was awarded $9,000 to study the use of near-Earth asteroids as radiation shielding during a human journey to Mars. UA optical sciences and engineering senior Rigel Woida was awarded $9,000 to study the use of large aperture, lightweight orbital mirrors for “terraforming” an area of the martian surface so humans could affordably colonize the Red Planet.

NIAC Associate Director Diana E. Jennings will present Della-Guistina the John McLucas Astronaut Safety Research Prize at the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The $400 prize is sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation and the Space Shuttle Children’s Fund for research that increases astonaut safety.

NIAC seeks proposals for revolutionary aeronautics and space concepts that could dramatically affect how NASA develops and conducts its missions, said NIAC Director Robert Cassanova. Cassanova and Jennings will convene the meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The institute encourages proposers to think decades into the future in pursuit of concepts that will “leapfrog” the evolution of current aerospace systems. Although NIAC seeks advanced concept proposals that stretch the imagination, the concepts are to be based on sound scientific principles and attainable within a 10 to 40-year time frame.

SpaceRef staff editor.