I am on the email list about new technologies that “Mr Singularity”, Ray Kurzweil, puts out. And this one caught my eye:
The onslaught of ultra-tiny technology is giving rise to the idea of “printable spacecraft” consisting of electronic circuits, power generation, sensing, fluid handling, propulsion, telecommunications and mobility subsystems — all integrated onto a single substrate, Leonard David at Innovation News Daily reports. The project, if successful, could allow scientists to one day pepper other worlds with atmospheric “flutterflyers” as well as “flutterlanders” — devices the size of postage stamps or confetti that reach a surface imbued with sensor smarts.
Research on the notion of printable spacecraft is being scoped out under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program — one of many novel space initiatives detailed late last month at a NIAC symposium in Pasadena, Calif.
“Flat-sheet spacecraft” with printed chemical sensors can be deployed high above a target world and flutter to the surface like a leaf, eliminating the need for large and complex landing systems. The spacecraft would see a low-G impact at touchdown.