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NASA Updates

Discussion in 'Education & Research' started by layman, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA Wants Investigations for a Mars 2020 Rover

    NASA has released its announcement of an open competition for the planetary community to submit proposals for the science and exploration technology instruments that would be carried aboard the agency’s next Mars rover, scheduled for launch in July/August of 2020.

    The Mars 2020 rover will explore and assess Mars as a potential habitat for life, search for signs of past life, collect carefully selected samples for possible future return to Earth, and demonstrate technology for future human exploration of the Red Planet.

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    Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, but with new science instruments selected through competition for accomplishing different science objectives.

    Officially called the Mars 2020 Mission Investigations Announcement of Opportunity (AO), this competition solicits flight investigations for which each principal investigator or scientist is responsible for a complete space flight investigation, including instrument hardware, mission operations and data analysis. The total allocated cost for development of all the investigations selected and funded by NASA is approximately $130 million.

    The competitively selected instruments will be placed on a rover similar to Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August 2012. Using Curiosity’s design will help minimize mission costs and risks and deliver a rover that can accomplish the mission objectives. The Mars 2020 mission also would build upon the scientific accomplishments of Curiosity and other previous Mars missions.

    So what is different about Mars 2020?

    In January 2013, NASA appointed a Science Definition Team to outline objectives for the Mars 2020 mission. The team, composed of 19 scientists and engineers from universities and research organizations, proposed a mission concept that could accomplish several high-priority planetary science goals and be a major step in meeting President Obama’s challenge to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

    According to the Science Definition Team, looking for signs of past life is the next logical step.

    “The Mars 2020 mission will provide a unique capability to address the major questions of habitability and life in the solar system,†said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “The science conducted by the rover’s instruments also would expand our knowledge of Mars and provide the context needed to make wise decisions about whether to return any collected samples to Earth.â€

    This rover will make measurements of mineralogy and rock chemistry down to a microscopic scale, so that we might be able to understand the Martian environment surrounding the rover’s landing site and identify evidence of possible past life.

    The 2020 rover could also make measurements and conduct technology demonstrations to help designers of a human expedition understand any hazards posed by Martian dust and demonstrate how to collect carbon dioxide, which could be a resource for making oxygen and rocket fuel.

    “The Mars 2020 rover will test technologies that are key to one-day landing human explorers on the Red Planet,†said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division. “New technologies could allow astronauts to live off the land as they explore the ancient valleys of Mars. The capability to manufacture breathable air, rocket fuel, water and more may forever change how we explore space.â€

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  2. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA preparing to launch 3-D printer into space

    [​IMG]

    Moffett Field, California: NASA is preparing to launch a 3-D printer into space next year, a toaster-sized game changer that greatly reduces the need for astronauts to load up with every tool, spare part or supply they might ever need.

    The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools. Doctors use them to make replacement joints and artists use them to build exquisite jewelry.

    In NASA labs, engineers are 3-D printing small satellites that could shoot out of the Space Station and transmit data to earth, as well as replacement parts and rocket pieces that can survive extreme temperatures.

    "Any time we realize we can 3-D print something in space, it's like Christmas," said inventor Andrew Filo, who is consulting with NASA on the project. "You can get rid of concepts like rationing, scarce or irreplaceable."

    The spools of plastic could eventually replace racks of extra instruments and hardware, although the upcoming mission is just a demonstration printing job.

    "If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that's where 3-D printing in space comes in," said Dave Korsmeyer, director of engineering at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

    For the first 3-D printer in space test slated for fall 2014, NASA had more than a dozen machines to choose from, ranging from $300 desktop models to $500,000 warehouse builders.

    All of them, however, were built for use on Earth, and space travel presented challenges, from the loads and vibrations of launch to the stresses of working in orbit, including microgravity, differing air pressures, limited power and variable temperatures.

    As a result, NASA hired Silicon Valley startup Made In Space to build something entirely new.

    "Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station," said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space. "Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3-D printed when they needed them?"

    When staffing his start up in 2010, Kemmer and his partners warned engineers there would be ups and downs - nauseating ones. In more than a dozen flights in NASA's "vomit comet" reduced-gravity aircraft, Made In Space scientists tested printer after printer.

    Last week at their headquarters on NASA's campus, Made In Space engineers in lab coats and hair nets tinkered with a sealed 3-D printer in a dust free cleanroom, preparing the models for further pre-launch tests.

    As proof of its utility, the team revisited the notorious 1970 moon-bound Apollo 13 breakdown, when astronauts were forced to jerry-rig a lifesaving carbon dioxide filter holder with a plastic bag, a manual cover and duct tape. A 3-D printer could have solved the problem in minutes.

    "Safety has been one of our biggest concerns," said strategic officer Michael Chen. Sparks, breakages and electric surges can have grave consequences in the space station. "But when we get it right, we believe these are the only way to manifest living in space," he said.

    Space-bound printers will also, eventually, need to capture gasses emitted from the extruded plastics, be able to print their own parts for self-repairs and have some abilities to recycle printed products into new ones.

    Scott Crump, who helped develop 3-D printing technology in 1988 by making a toy frog for his daughter with a glue gun in his kitchen, said he never conceived how pivotal it could be for space travel. But he said that until metal becomes commonly used in 3-D printers, the applications will be limited.

    "The good news is that you don't have to have this huge amount of inventory in space, but the bad news is now you need materials, in this case filament, and a lot of power," he said.

    NASA and other international space agencies are pressing forward with 3-D printing. Mastering space manufacturing, along with finding and producing water and food on the moon or other planets, could lead to living on space.

    Last month, the space agency awarded Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited $500,000 toward a project to use 3-D printing and robots to build massive antennas and solar power generators in space by 2020. It replaces the expensive and cumbersome process of building foldable parts on Earth and assembling them in orbit.

    For Made In Space's debut, when it's shuttled up to the space station aboard a spaceflight cargo resupply mission, the initial prints will be tests - different small shapes to be studied for strength and accuracy. They're also discussing with NASA about what the first real piece that they should print will be.

    Whatever it is, it will be a historic and symbolic item sure to end up in a museum someday.

    "It's not something we're discussing publicly right now," said CEO Kemmer. Then, Jason Dunn, the chief technology officer, beckoned, dropping his voice as he grinned.

    "We're going to build a Death Star," he joked softly, referring to the giant space station in the "Star Wars" movies that could blow up planets. "Then it's all going to be over."

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  3. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    The Nasa probe keeping tabs on our turbulent Sun

    Brett Sapper has the unique responsibility of controlling Nasa's eye on the Sun.

    From a modest office in the agency's Goddard Space Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, Sapper is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite equipped with high-speed cameras capable of registering the Sun's activity nearly without interruptions.

    Launched in 2010 from Cape Canaveral, SDO has already been able to beam back 140 million images of the Sun, and some estimates predict that it will end up transmitting as much as 50 times more scientific information than any other mission in Nasa's history.

    Researchers hope this massive amount of data will help them forecast the effects of our turbulent star's behaviour on Earth. Intense solar activity can knock out power grids, GPS navigations and radio communications.

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    From SDO's mission operation centre and surrounded by computers showing event logs and colourful displays of the satellite, Sapper says his work is fascinating because he is able to control "a robot in space" that he can't see and is located 36,500km (22,600 miles) above the Earth.

    But he immediately adds a caveat: "We are like fire fighters. We want to be bored, because if it's exciting it means there's a big problem."

    Up to now, according to this electrical engineer, there have not been any moments of fear, and he has been able to swiftly work with eight other scientists to control the mission's daily operations.

    They send commands and instructions to the satellite to tell it where to move, get all the "housekeeping information" back and also control two satellite dishes located at the White Sands Facility, in New Mexico, that are entirely dedicated to tracking the SDO while it collects scientific information.

    "We do all that from here instead of having to call someone and have him do it for us", says Sapper. "That's something new here at Goddard and we are the only mission that does that: control the ground station from the mission operation centre".

    The satellite has got three instruments used by scientists to analyse not only the stellar surface, but also the star's interior. The possibility of looking inside the Sun is of vital importance to heliophysicists as they aim to decipher the very source of solar activity - the solar dynamo. This refers to the plasma currents that generate the Sun's unpredictable magnetic field.

    Scientists are now able to peer into the Sun by analysing the star's own acoustic waves, which are generated by its boiling turbulence. Using one of SDO's instruments, researchers are capable of turning those waves into clear pictures of the Sun's inner structures, just as geologists analyse the Earth's interior by studying earthquakes.

    Of course, Sapper and his colleagues at the mission operation centre cannot do all that work by themselves. In Goddard, his team only controls the technical aspects of the satellite and the antennas, whereas the science is done mainly by laboratories and universities across the country.
    Predicting the Sun

    One of Brett Sapper's colleagues at Goddard is helioseismologist William Dean Pesnell, whose job consists of interacting with the science groups. In other words, Pesnell is responsible for transforming Sapper's technical work into concrete results that may shed light on the solar dynamics that have an impact on the Earth's environment.

    "We look at our satellite 24 hours a day and we get the data very quickly, so we can use it for immediate space weather purposes," says Dr Pesnell.

    This is important because the Sun's unpredictable behaviour could wreak havoc on the Earth: Nasa cites a 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences, according to which a century-class solar storm could cause 20 times more economic damage than hurricane Katrina, considered the costliest US hurricane on record.

    It is therefore relevant for Dr Pesnell and his scientific team to try to understand what the Sun will do next.

    "The goal of all our research is to predict what the magnetic field is going to do," he says.

    "We aim to tell people: 'a flare is going to happen and if that is a concern to you, you should take steps to protect yourself'."

    But in order to accomplish their goal, both Sapper and Pesnell still have a lot of work ahead of them. SDO set out on a five-year mission, but mission scientists hope Nasa will extend the spacecraft's life by a few more years after 2015.

    After all, they know that a priceless treasure is at stake: the desire to understand the behaviour of our explosive star.
     
  4. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Re: The Nasa probe keeping tabs on our turbulent Sun

    Sun is in the down period for another 10K years so we are not going to expect some huge solar flares or burst of atoms from sun. NASA is doing a great job in monitoring. It becoz of them that most sats are still operational with their prior warnings most sats are able to shutdown during the solar outburst so that their circuits are not fried. :tup:
     
  5. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Nasa spacecraft zips by earth en route to Jupiter

    LOS ANGELES: A Nasa spacecraft bound for Jupiter will swing by earth on Wednesday to get the boost it needs to arrive at the giant gas planet in 2016.


    Using earth as a gravitational slingshot is a common trick since there isn't a rocket that's powerful enough to catapult a spacecraft directly to the outer solar system.

    Launched in 2011, the Juno spacecraft zipped past the orbit of Mars and fired its engines to put it on course for a momentum-gathering flyby of earth. During the maneuvre, Juno will briefly pass into earth's shadow and emerge over India's east coast. At closest approach, Juno will fly within 350 miles (563 kilometers) of the earth's surface, passing over the ocean off the coast of South Africa shortly before 12.30pm.

    The rendezvous was designed to bump Juno's speed from 78,000 mph (125,500 kph) relative to the sun to 87,000 mph (140,000 kph) _ enough power to cruise beyond the asteroid belt toward its destination.

    During the gravity assist, the spacecraft's JunoCam, a wide-angle color camera, will snap pictures of the earth and moon. Weather permitting, skywatchers in India and South Africa with binoculars or a small telescope may see Juno streak across the sky. Ham radio operators around the globe were encouraged to say "hi'' in Morse code — a message that may be detected by one of the spacecraft's instruments.

    By space mission standards, Juno's flyby was expected to be low-key compared with the Curiosity Rover's nail-biting landing on Mars last year.

    "Our expectation is we will come through nice and clean,'' said project manager Rick Nybakken of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $1.1 billion mission.

    Despite a government shutdown that has prevented NASA from updating its website or tweeting, the space agency's missions continue to operate. Earlier this week, NASA's newest spacecraft, LADEE, slipped into orbit around the moon.

    Since the 1970s, spacecraft have visited or flown past Jupiter including the Voyagers, Pioneers, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini and, most recently, the Pluto-bound New Horizons. Juno promises to venture closer than previous spacecraft for an in-depth study of Jupiter's cloud-socked atmosphere and mysterious interior to better understand how the gas giant formed.

    Juno was scheduled to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016 after journeying 1.7 billion miles (2.74 billion kilometers). Chief scientist, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute, said he's pleased with Juno's performance so far.

    "The mission is going great and after this flyby of Earth, our next stop is Jupiter,'' he said.

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  6. Anees

    Anees Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speeds†That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in

    NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speeds†That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in Two Weeks Even Though the System is 4.3 Light-Years Away

    NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speeds†that Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in Two Weeks — Even Though the System is 4.3 Light-Years Away.



    A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive.

    His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks — and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity.



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    The above image of a Vulcan command ship features a warp engine similar to an Alcubierre Drive. Image courtesy CBS.

    The Alcubierre Drive

    The idea came to White while he was considering a rather remarkable equation formulated by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. In his 1994 paper titled, “The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity,â€

    Alcubierre suggested a mechanism by which space-time could be “warped†both in front of and behind a spacecraft.

    Michio Kaku dubbed Alcubierre’s notion a “passport to the universe.†It takes advantage of a quirk in the cosmological code that allows for the expansion and contraction of space-time, and could allow for hyper-fast travel between interstellar destinations.

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    Essentially, the empty space behind a starship would be made to expand rapidly, pushing the craft in a forward direction — passengers would perceive it as movement despite the complete lack of acceleration.

    White speculates that such a drive could result in “speeds†that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.

    In terms of the engine’s mechanics, a spheroid object would be placed between two regions of space-time (one expanding and one contracting).

    A “warp bubble†would then be generated that moves space-time around the object, effectively repositioning it — the end result being faster-than-light travel without the spheroid (or spacecraft) having to move with respect to its local frame of reference.

    “Remember, nothing locally exceeds the speed of light, but space can expand and contract at any speed,â€

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    â€However, space-time is really stiff, so to create the expansion and contraction effect in a useful manner in order for us to reach interstellar destinations in reasonable time periods would require a lot of energy.â€

    “However,†said White, “based on the analysis I did the last 18 months, there may be hope.†The key, says White, may be in altering the geometry of the warp drive itself.

    A new design

    “My early results suggested I had discovered something that was in the math all along,†he recalled. “I suddenly realized that if you made the thickness of the negative vacuum energy ring larger — like shifting from a belt shape to a donut shape — and oscillate the warp bubble, you can greatly reduce the energy required — perhaps making the idea plausible.â€

    White had adjusted the shape of Alcubierre’s ring which surrounded the spheroid from something that was a flat halo to something that was thicker and curvier.

    [​IMG]

    He presented the results of his Alcubierre Drive rethink a year later at the 100 Year Starship conference in Atlanta where he highlighted his new optimization approaches — a new design that could significantly reduce the amount of exotic matter required.

    And in fact, White says that the warp drive could be powered by a mass that’s even less than that of the Voyager 1 spacecraft.

    “We’re utilizing a modified Michelson-Morley interferometer — that allows us to measure microscopic perturbations in space time,†he said. “In our case,

    we’re attempting to make one of the legs of the interferometer appear to be a different length when we energize our test devices.†White and his colleagues are trying to simulate the tweaked Alcubierre drive in miniature by using lasers to perturb space-time by one part in 10 million.

    Of course, the interferometer isn’t something that NASA would bolt onto a spaceship. Rather, it’s part of a larger scientific pursuit.

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    “Our initial test device is implementing a ring of large potential energy — what we observe as blue shifted relative to the lab frame — by utilizing a ring of ceramic capacitors that are charged to tens of thousands of volts,â€

    â€We will increase the fidelity of our test devices and continue to enhance the sensitivity of the warp field interferometer — eventually using devices to directly generate negative vacuum energy.â€

    He points out that Casimir cavities, physical forces that arise from a quantized field, may represent a viable approach.

    And it’s through these experiments, hopes White, that NASA can go from the theoretical to the practical.

    “This loophole in general relativity would allow us to go places really fast as measured by both Earth observers, and observers on the ship — trips measured in weeks or months as opposed to decades and centuries,†he said.

    NASA's Warp Drive Project: "Speeds" That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in Two Weeks Even Though the System is 4.3 Light-Years Away | Space
     
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  7. gslv

    gslv REGISTERED

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Cool stuff but i think it is hard to implement.
     
  8. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Thing is with the USA you never know.

    Who would have thought the USA would have had men on the moon 30 years ago, stealth aircraft 30 years ago, or a one ton vehicle operating for years on Mars.
     
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  9. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    And who would have thought your government will shut down just a few days ago?
     
  10. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    i wanna see it in my life time
     
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  11. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    :LMAO: Indeed
     
  12. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Only difference from most countries we can do it with out a revolution.

    Another thing you never know where research like this will lead. Lot of times its new toys and then weapons.
     
  13. Skull and Bones

    Skull and Bones Doctor Death Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Ahh Physics! You beautiful **********.
     
  14. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Almost 75% technology around us
    be it in our homes, offices or anything else
    is a result of a Military research.
     
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  15. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Re: NASA’s Warp Drive Project: “Speedsâ€￾ That Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centaur

    Actually for warp bubble we need humungous power source current power source cannot be used for this venture. The moment we invent anti matter power source or some other power source which can pack a huge punch in compact form then we can achieve greater levels in space exploration.

    Steps to interstellar space travels would be.

    1. Power regeneration capability in Space
    2. Invention of small batteries that can pack several hundred volts of charge and deep cycle discharges.
    3. Invention in anti matter or other propulsion systems to power the space crafts.
    4. Invention in composites and metallurgy to withstand the stress.
    5. Hyper fast star mapping systems.


    There is a lot to be done even before thinking of warp bubble.
     

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