Nasa has selected 20 projects to advance novel technologies and concepts for space missions, flights, science, aeronautics and exploration.

The projects in the 2009 Innovation Fund include a technique for returning small payloads from the space station, robotic space exploration and new concepts for generating solar power.

The projects also involve research and development of improved instruments for studying the environment, the use of microwave energy for sealing wounds, and nano-materials for scientific instruments and energy storage.

The teams comprise Nasa scientists and engineers, universities and businesses, an air force base and an aerospace institute in Virginia, US.