Nasa has selected proposals for development of advanced energy storage systems in a quest for technology that will allow deep space exploration.
Four concepts have been chosen by the agency searching for novel ways to power its spacecraft in future challenging missions to the Moon and other celestial bodies.
The projects include research in lithium-sulphur batteries, which are widely believed to eventually replace currently dominating lithium-ion cells, offering higher energy density and lower cost.
Nasa believes the systems developed as part of the project will allow the agency to send its spacecraft to places previously difficult to access such as the dark polar craters of the Moon, Mars and distant asteroids.
"Nasa's advanced space technology development doesn't stop with hardware and instruments for spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for Space Technology at Nasa Headquarters in Washington. "New energy storage technology will be critical to our future exploration of deep space - whether missions to an asteroid, Mars or beyond. That's why we're investing in this critical mission technology area."
The novel energy storage systems have to be able to survive in extreme environments and show exceptional reliability.
Phase one of the project will see the four teams from the California Institute of Technology, Indiana University, the University of Maryland and private company Amprius, from California, to be awarded $250,000 towards the development and further funding to carry out an eight-month component test and analysis phase.
In the second and third phase, the research centres will receive up to $3m to develop hardware prototypes.