One project, Robotic Technologies Enabling the Exploration of Lunar Pits. Led by Carnegie Mellon University, the project wants to use high-res images to create 3D models. Ideally, that data should be used to determine if humans or robots can explore the craters.
The second project, Mini Bee Prototype, seeks to explore optical mining, which excavates asteroids and extracts water and other volatiles into an inflatable bag. That project is being led by California-based TransAstra Corporation.
NASA says both concepts are in early phases of development. Next, they'll receive up to $ 2 million and spend two years being refined. While these are the first Phase III projects, they're certainly not the last. Going forward, the NIAC program plans to award one Phase III project per year. Current Phase II projects include concepts for a flexible telescope and a shield that could be used to get closer to the sun than ever before.