Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO)

Funding Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

This National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Research Announcement (NRA), entitled “Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO)–2019”, solicits applied research in support of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP). The research will fall into one or more categories corresponding to HRP’s five Elements: Space Radiation, Human Health Countermeasures, Exploration Medical Capability, Human Factors and Behavioral Performance, and Research Operations and Integration. This NRA covers all aspects of research to provide human health and performance countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration.

Awards generally range from under $100K per year for focused, limited efforts (e.g., data analysis) to $1M per year for extensive activities (e.g., development of scientific hardware) and will be made as grants. The funds available for awards in each research opportunity offered in this NRA range from less than one million to several million dollars. This range of available funds allows a range in the number of proposals accepted, depending on the research opportunity’s objectives and the submission of meritorious proposals. The period of performance for an award can range from one to five years. All categories of United States (U.S.) institutions are eligible to submit proposals in response to this NRA. Any changes or modifications to any of these guidelines will be specified in the descriptions of the relevant research opportunities in the solicited research response area appendices (i.e., HERO appendices) of this solicitation. 

NASA’s HRP investigates and mitigates the highest risks to astronaut health and performance in exploration missions. The goal of the HRP is to provide human health and performance countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human space exploration. The scope of this goal includes both the successful completion of exploration missions and the preservation of health over the astronaut’s lifetime. The HRP contains five Elements: Space Radiation, Human Health Countermeasures, Exploration Medical Capability, Human Factors and Behavioral Performance, and International Space Station Medical Projects. 

Close: Sep. 4, 2020


Agency Website

Areas of Interest

HERO Appendix A: NASA Research and Technology Development to Support Crew Health and Performance in Space Exploration Missions

Required Step-1 Proposals Due: September 5, 2019

Step-2 Proposals Due: December 2, 2019

To be responsive to this research solicitation, proposed studies should lead to specific products that address at least one of the three specific objectives outlined in the Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO) Overview document, section B.2, Goal and Specific Objectives. The proposed studies should lead to new knowledge within accepted scientific standards. Proposals should take into account the impact of sex, age, nutrition, stress, genetic predisposition, or sensitivity on other factors of importance. A thorough statistical section must be included which includes a power analysis for the estimate of sample size. When archival samples are available, the comparison of males and females should be included in the statistical section unless compelling evidence is provided that shows that no sex differences are expected. 

Since very little is known about the lunar and Martian gravity effects on the neurovestibular and sensorimotor systems, this topic seeks proposals that focus on the immediate sensorimotor and neurovestibular effects of various G-levels between 0 and 1 in order to establish a dose-response curve between sensorimotor- and neurovestibular-controlled performance outcomes versus the G-levels. This will allow us to detect G-thresholds for preliminary predictions of how much of a decrement in G is needed to affect these neural control systems, and at which G-level the systems are protected by gravity. Since G-transitions occur during parabolic flight, the neurovestibular effects of transitions from an immediate high (1.8) to various immediate low-G levels can also be established, which might be informative for understanding disruptions during landings on various planetary surfaces.


HERO Appendix B: NASA Human Research Program Omnibus Opportunity

Required Step-1 Proposals Due: September 5, 2019

Step-2 Proposals Due: December 2, 2019

To expedite progress in various research areas in a short period of time, NASA is requesting proposals for short-term investigations or technology development projects that provide innovative approaches to any of the risks and associated knowledge gaps contained in the Human Research Program (HRP) Integrated Research Plan (IRP). Proposers may access the most current Web-based version of the IRP at the Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Web site at The results of these short-term investigations are anticipated to deliver new tools, techniques, or knowledge that could lead to novel breakthroughs addressing one or more of the risks and gaps in the IRP. These short-term investigations may provide initial results testing a new scientific approach, or they may provide the initial proof-ofconcept for a new technology or method that has not yet been proven as a means to address a risk or gap in the IRP. All short-term investigations are expected to produce novel scientific knowledge or technology development that can stand alone to address a risk or gap in the IRP, but these investigations may also provide the necessary preliminary results to justify a full proposal to a future NASA solicitation. Proposers that request NASA archived data should fill out the Retrospective Data Request Study Feasibility Assessment Form posted alongside this Appendix at

Grants issued in response to this Omnibus opportunity are expected to last one year and cost no more than $150,000 total per award. Due to the fact that these Omnibus investigations are expected to last for only one year, and the total funding is limited, the proposed scope of work must accurately conform to the reduced cost and the accelerated schedule intended to expedite progress toward risk and gap closure for the HRP. 

Proposals solicited through this Appendix will be designated as 1) ground-based, 2) analog definition, or 3) flight definition. Section E.1 of the HERO Overview document describes these designations in detail. In addition, proposers will identify, through answers to questions prompted by NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES), which of the three types of research products best characterizes the proposed research: 1) quantification of a crew health and performance risk, 2) countermeasure development, or 3) technology development. Section E.2 of the HERO Overview document, Types of Research Products, contains a description of each type of research product

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

September 4, 2020