Impact the Future with NASA

Being an astronaut isn’t the only cool thing about space. Interns use their creativity and innovation to work on projects impacting NASA missions such as returning to the Moon. NASA interns work with leading experts and gain valuable experience in research and mission projects.

NASA has begun accepting applications for internships for the Spring of 2022. Internships are available from high school to graduate level. Applicants must be U.S. citizens.

Find out more and apply here .

What’s New on

Jonathan Blutinger and his team at Columbia University can make an impressive, layered graham cracker cake. While delicious, according to Chef Blutinger, the dessert is also noteworthy because of the tools used to make it: lasers and a 3D printer. Go to to see how close we really are to digitizing the cooking process and bringing lasers to the kitchen. Send your comments and suggestions to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Next Month in Tech Briefs

Next month, you can begin casting your vote for the annual Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year. In the December issue, find out more about the 12 nominees for the 2021 awards and how to submit your vote online.

Durable Fabrics for the Moon

Engineers pummeled potential spacesuit materials with mock Moon rocks made of basalt, like these, to see how the fabrics would hold up on the lunar surface.

The surface of the Moon is a harsh environment with no air, low gravity, dust, and micrometeorites flying faster than 22,000 mph. These conditions can pose a hazard to astronauts, their dwellings, and spacecraft. Engineers at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Ballistic Impact Lab are working to help select materials for future Artemis missions and predict how they will perform while on the lunar surface.

In the first series of tests, the team evaluated materials NASA is considering for habitats, which are designed to be relatively soft and flexible but very stiff if struck. To assess the potential fabrics and gauge how many layers would be needed to stop micrometeorite penetration, engineers used the facility’s air gun to fire steel ball bearings at various fabrics. A suite of sensors and high-speed cameras measured how each material absorbed or deflected energy.

The composite materials were a combination of substances that include fibers for strength and bonding resins to allow transfer of stress and energy. To evaluate these potential materials, engineers used the lab’s vertical-impact-drop tester to hurl mock simulated Moon rocks made of basalt onto potential spacesuit materials.

Learn more about NASA’s Artemis program .

BIG Ideas for Moon Rovers

Traditional wheeled rovers cannot reach many of the unexplored areas of the Moon and Mars. The BIG Idea Challenge competition sponsored by NASA and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), invites university teams to develop innovative and cost-effective robots that go beyond wheeled rovers capable of exploring other worlds. The challenge is aligned with the Artemis program goals of exploring more of the lunar surface than ever before.

Adaptive locomotive modality, or the ability to move in different ways, is integral to extreme terrain exploration on the Moon and Mars. Lessons learned exploring more of the Moon will lower the costs, improve safety, and increase the performance of deep space exploration, enabling more robust Mars missions.

“To fully explore the Moon and Mars, NASA will need more than traditional wheeled rovers,” said Niki Werkheiser, director of technology maturation within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “We’re looking to university students for cutting-edge alternative ideas that will enable us to explore extreme terrestrial terrain on the Moon and later on Mars.”

Proposals and video submissions are due January 18, 2022.

For full competition details, visit here .