First off nanotechnology is a new form of science that works on a molecular level that helps to assemble new materials by using the most fundamental of structures. This also means that all the work needs to be done in nano scale, this means that one nanometer is equal to just one billionth of a meter. By applying this kind of new technology to space technology is opening up a whole new world of scientific possibilities. One thing it does is to give the ability to nano-manufacture specialized equipment that is needed in space travel.
Such things like temperature, weight and resistance which are hugely different when out of our Earth's atmosphere can be controlled with nanotechnology. Even how a spacecraft might be constructed can determine how well it's going to stand up against adverse conditions on a mission. So if using nanotechnology you can build a spacecraft molecule by molecule in order to allow for the creation of very high performance materials.
There is also a branch of nanotechnology that is called nanorobotics that can make use of nano sized sensors and microscopes that are capable of analyzing a variety of materials and processes on the molecular level and this comes in handy for the study of organic materials in space. This means that the information is gathered and compiled in space with nano robots and then sent back to Earth via computers.
The effects of radiation on different electronic devices in space can be reduced if the devices they use are smaller. The corrosion, interference and mechanical strain on the devices can all be reduced. To counter these adverse effects they are developing a nano material that will be capable of getting harder when it's exposed to radiation for long periods of time.
They have also been working on making materials that can be used on spacecrafts as well as spacesuits. The materials are carbon nanotubes and boron nanotubes that have been developed. These new materials are very lightweight but stronger than the more conventional materials that are more commonly used today. They are also trying to build nanorobotic devices that can be put right into the covering of a spacecraft and this would allow them to act like computerized sensors that can readjust the actual surface of the craft to accommodate for all environment climate changes.
This nanotechnology is so new that all scientists working with it are still discovering all the new capabilities it has and all the new and different applications that it can have. Some ideas are to develop colonies of nanorobots to place on Mars and Venus as well as building what would be called space elevators that would place spacecraft and satellites into orbit around the Earth.
They can also be used to construct different projects on other planets simply by remote control. Even sensors and cameras could be built by the nanorobots in order to monitor the construction of the projects and they would be able to use all the environmental materials that would be at hand on the planet itself.
At this point in time, no one has any idea just how far nanotechnology will go in advancing space exploration, but for now, it looks like anything could be possible.