NMSU Receives NASA Early Stage Innovations Grant

Date: 02/09/2021
Writer: Tiffany Acosta, 575-646-3929, tfrank@nmsu.edu

New Mexico State University was selected to receive a NASA Early Stage Innovations grant to conduct game-changing space technology research. NMSU’s proposal was one of 14 university-led research proposals chosen to receive up to $650,000 from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program for up to three years.

Man sitting at a desk in front of a laptop.

New Mexico State University has received an Early Stage Innovations grant from NASA for research and development. Krishna Kota, associate professor of thermal sciences and energy in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, leads NMSU’s team that was one of 14 university-led research proposals selected. (NMSU photo)

Krishna Kota, associate professor of thermal sciences and energy in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, will lead the project to conduct fundamental research toward the development of compact, high performance heat exchanger technology for cryocoolers intended for long duration space missions. Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Sarada Kuravi and Professor Vimal Chaitanya are co-principal investigators on the project.

“We are very pleased and proud of Dr. Kota and his team’s accomplishment in their work on what NASA deems ‘game-changing space technology.’ This research award stands among other recipients of NASA Early Stage Innovations research awards representing some of the nation’s leading universities: Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University and others,” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi. “This is indicative of the high-quality of our faculty and our research programs and what we have to offer students here at the NMSU College of Engineering.”

Kota said he was excited to receive the grant that provides an opportunity to collaborate with NASA and industry.

“The excitement is also in part due to the chance the grant provides for pursuing an intriguing idea that has been on my mind for some time now,” Kota said.

“Inventions such as infrared thermometers and invisible braces were collaboratively developed by NASA and industry for specific applications and they are now being widely used in everyday life,” he said. “Similarly, heat exchangers are used in numerous cooling and heating applications, for example, in cloud data centers, automobiles, air-conditioning units, power plants and process industry among others. Owing to their wide applicability, this fundamental research has the promise to make an impact beyond space and impact our everyday lives in the future. This project will also provide a valuable opportunity to train and nurture our students into becoming engineers and scientists who would contribute to our nation’s space research.”

This award is NMSU’s first Early Stage Innovations grant since the program began in 2012.

“This research has the potential to make space heat exchangers light-weight and compact,” Kota said. “At present, these heat exchangers are very bulky and large but they are necessary for enabling long duration space missions beyond the low Earth orbit. Compact heat exchangers will lower the cost of space missions. They will help in saving space and reducing the weight in the spacecraft and these savings can be used for carrying other mission-critical components.”

To read more about the projects selected visit https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/esi/esi2020/NASA_Selects_Early_Stage_Innovations_from_US_Universities.


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