We just learned of NASA's
end-of-decade plans to rocket astronauts into deep space
for exploratory missions to Mars and beyond. Now, we're getting a peek at the Purdue University-designed
lander tech that'll plant our space fleet's feet firmly on terra incognita. What originally started as a senior research project for grad students Thomas Feldman and Andrew Rettenmaier, has now blossomed into a joint research endeavor for the federal space agency's Project Morpheus -- a think tank for trips to heretofore unexplored celestial bodies. The in-development propulsion tech, now undergoing testing at the university's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, is required to "meet stringent design and performance" standards, but most importantly, needs to lift the fuel-depleted lander post-descent. You'd think scientific work of this magnitude would come with a hefty paycheck, but the student team behind it all's just doing it for the hands-on knowledge. Sure beats your summer internship at that magazine, huh?