Microbots, laser-suspended telescopes, Martian crops

NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts always has some interesting ideas up its sleeve.

At DefenseTech, Noah Schachtman notes that the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts has released its latest round of funding for "far-out ideas," as Noah puts it.

* "Microbots for Large-Scale Planetary Surface and Subsurface Exploration," a plan to scatter thousands of hopping, 10-centimeter, spherical machines into the Moon's lava tubes.

* "Investigation of the Feasibility of Laser Trapped Mirrors in Space." Can a set of lasers create a force field that'll hold a 100-nm thick, 35-meter diameter telescope in orbit?

* "Redesigning Living Organism to Survive on Mars." Let's breed hybrid plants that can survive the Red Planet's radiation, lack of oxygen, and extreme temperatures, so our astronauts have something to eat up there.