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NMSU receives NASA engineering grant


New Mexico State University has been 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.

Krishna Kota, associate professor of thermal sciences and energy in the NMSU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, will lead the project to conduct fundamental research toward 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,’” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi. “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. 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.”

“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,” Kota said. “Similarly, heat exchangers are used in numerous cooling and heating applications. For example, in cloud data centers, automobiles, air-conditioning units and power plants, among others. Owing to their wide applicability, this research has the promise to make an impact beyond space and impact our everyday lives in the future. This project also will 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 lightweight 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 www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/esi/esi2020/NASA_Selects_Early_Stage_Innovations_from_US_Universities.

Contact Kota at 575-646-5720 and kkota@nmsu.edu.

Contact Tiffany Acosta at 575-646-3929 and tfrank@nmsu.edu.

New Mexico State University, NASA Early Stage Innovations, NMSU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering