Dismiss Notice
Welcome to IDF- Indian Defence Forum , register for free to join this friendly community of defence enthusiastic from around the world. Make your opinion heard and appreciated.

NASA Updates

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

  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    21,194
    Likes Received:
    5,707
    Country Flag:
    India
    Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover looks to 'jump' sand dune

    The Curiosity Mars rover is to try to drive over a one metre-high dune.

    The sand bank is currently blocking the robot's path into a small valley and a route with fewer of the sharp rocks that lately have been making big dents in the vehicle's aluminium wheels.

    US space agency engineers will take no risks, however. The rover will be commanded initially to climb only part way up the dune to see how it behaves.

    The team is mindful that Nasa's Spirit rover was lost in a sand trap in 2009.

    [​IMG]

    And the Opportunity rover, which has just celebrated 10 working years on the planet, very nearly went the same way in 2005 when it became stuck for several weeks in a deep dirt pile later dubbed "Purgatory Dune".

    Curiosity has already had one scuff at the base of the barrier, using a wheel to test the sand's consistency.

    The robot would have no problem managing the incline but mission planners will be concerned about the potential for any rocks hidden inside the dune to damage or snare Curiosity.

    Engineers believe the path ahead between two scarps referred to as "Dingo Gap" will be kinder on the rover's 50cm-diameter wheels.

    These have been taking a hammering during the one-tonne vehicle's traverse across the base of Mars' equatorial Gale Crater.

    Recent close-up pictures reveal multiple punctures, rips and dimples in Curiosity's metal "tyres".

    Getting through Dingo Gap would allow the rover to access smoother ground as it heads towards future science targets.

    The next of these is a location called KMS-9 where scientists hope to drill into freshly exposed bedrock and look for traces of any complex carbon chemistry that might be present. Such signatures would add to the picture being built of Gale as a place where microbial life could have flourished billions of years ago.

    Curiosity's ultimate goal is to get to the foothills of the big mountain that dominates the crater floor. This is still several kilometres to the south and west of its present location.

    Since landing in August 2012, the robot has clocked almost 5km on its odometer.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    The Moment When Curiosity Breached a Mars Dune

    On Tuesday at precisely 12:55 p.m. EST (17:55 UTC), Mars rover Curiosity successfully breached the crest of the dune in “Dingo Gap.†The 1 meter-high dune stands between the rover and a smoother route to the mission’s next science target.



    The raw image above comes from Curiosity’s front-left Hazard Avoidance Camera (or Hazcam for short) on sol 533 (Feb. 4) of the mission, providing a snapshot of the moment when the rover’s front left wheel reached the peak of the dune. Although there has yet to be official word from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists, Curiosity appears to have conquered the upward slope of the Dingo Gap dune with ease. The timestamps on the raw imagery suggests the short drive up the sandy slope took around 25 minutes. [See an animated gif of the dune drive here]

    [​IMG] During ascent, Curiosity snapped this shot of the surrounding terrain, a view that demonstrates the upward slope of the dune.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


    During Curiosity’s careful approach, the incline of the dune was very clear in a raw photo from the rover’s mast-mounted navigation camera:


    In the run-up to the “dune jump,†mission scientists were cautious to test out the sandy composition of the dune before committing the rover. Evidently, these preliminary observations proved that the dune is structurally sound and could support Curiosity’s six wheels.

    Curiosity appears to have some to rest at the dune’s peak, probably admiring the view and assessing the drive down the dune’s slope and out of Dingo Gap. Hopefully the road ahead provides some smooth driving for the rover’s battered aluminum wheels.

    The Moment When Curiosity Breached a Mars Dune | Space.com
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  3. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    NASA's revived exoplanet-hunter sees its first world




    It's alive! After suffering a critical injury last year, NASA's Kepler space telescope has just observed an exoplanet for the first time in months. The Jupiter-sized world is not a new discovery – it was found by another telescope – but spotting it again with Kepler is solid evidence that, following a few modifications, the famed planet-hunter is ready to get back to work.

    Launched in 2009, Kepler was designed to see planetary transits – the tiny dips in starlight when a planet passes in front of its star, from Earth's perspective. Over four years the mission collected almost 250 confirmed planets and thousands more candidates, boosting our confidence that the galaxy is brimming with alien worlds.

    But observations ground to a halt last year, when mechanical failures killed Kepler's precision steering system and ruined its ability to hold steady enough to see transits. At least, until now. At a meeting in November last year, the Kepler team announced the K2 mission, which would use the radiation pressure from sunlight to hold the craft steady for up to 75 days at a time.

    During a test run in January, the K2 team nabbed their first planet: a previously identified gas giant called WASP-28b. Seeing a clear signal is verification that the Kepler's new mission concept will work as planned.

    "It's a lovely planet transit. If you were in this field you'd look at this and right away say, 'Oh, of course it's a planet!'" says project scientist Steve Howell. "It's very exciting."
    Younger quarry

    WASP-28b is about the size of Jupiter and is in a very tight orbit around its star, with a year that lasts just 3.4 Earth days. Unfortunately, K2 will not be able to carry on with Kepler's original quest to find habitable Earth-sized planets around sun-like stars. To confirm that a planet is real, Kepler needed to see it transit three times, meaning true Earth twins would take about three years to confirm. The modified space telescope won't be able to maintain its lock on a star for that long.

    But the K2 mission will be able to collect data on very young stars and search for planets or planet-forming discs around them. "This will be a window into both star formation and planet formation," says Howell.

    For now K2 is operating on funding reserves from the main Kepler mission, and the team is waiting on approval for NASA funding for another two years. That decision is expected by the end of May. In the meantime, the team is ploughing ahead. The first official science campaign will start on 1 March – and the team has already received requests to observe 110,000 target stars.

    "For us that's great news, not because we can do all of that, but because it's a sign of the interest of the community," says Howell.

    NASA's revived exoplanet-hunter sees its first world - space - 06 February 2014 - New Scientist

     
  4. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    2,905
    Country Flag:
    United States
    NASA bets on private companies to exploit moon's resources

    Washington: NASA - building on successful partnerships with private companies to resupply the International Space Station - is now looking to private entrepreneurs to help exploit resources on the moon.

    In its latest initiative, unveiled in late January, the US space agency is proposing private companies take advantage of NASA's extensive know-how, its engineers and access to its installations to help design and build lunar robots.

    But unlike NASA's contracts with SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to deliver cargo to the ISS, the moon proposal - dubbed CATALYST (Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) - would get no US government economic help.

    Recent missions in the moon's orbit have revealed evidence of water and other interesting substances on the moon, explained Jason Crusan, director of NASA's advanced exploration systems.

    "But to understand the extent and accessibility of these resources, we need to reach the surface and explore up close."

    "Commercial lunar landing capabilities could help prospect for and utilize these resources," permitting both commercial and research activities, he said.

    "As NASA pursues an ambitious plan for humans to explore an asteroid and Mars, US industry will create opportunities for NASA to advance new technologies on the moon," Greg Williams, a top NASA official, added.

    In 2013 NASA reached an agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to develop commercial sector involvement with the space agency, especially focused on plans to build a lunar base.

    Founded by US billionaire Robert Bigelow, the company offers inflatable space modules.
    Big money on the moon

    These partnerships work "very well in lower orbit," said Bigelow's Michael Gold, referring to the re-supply contracts at the International Space Station.

    "There is no reason it won't work just as well on the moon," he told AFP.

    "Additionally, in this austere (budget) environment, it only makes sense to leverage private sector investments and capabilities," he said.

    "It's not only the best option, but, because of the lack of federal money, the best option available to move forward drastically."

    According to Gold, this approach is cheaper than a standard space mission fully paid by the federal government. For a few billion dollars it could even be possible to carry out manned missions to the Moon within a decade, Gold said.

    "I think there is a great commercial potential on the moon," he added, citing significant reservers of helium 3, which is rare on Earth and which could be developed into a clean energy fuel ideal for nuclear fusion.

    The lunar soil is also rich in coveted rare earth elements: 17 chemicals in the periodic table that are in an increased demand because they are heavily used in everyday electronics.

    "There are a vast amount of opportunities for a wide variety of companies not only in America but across the globe," Gold insisted, emphasizing Europe and Japan, as well as the US Congress, are enthusiastic about a return to the moon.

    John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said these private partnerships could be "a way of NASA getting back involved with the moon without violating the president's policy that says we as a government we don't go back to the moon."

    Logsdon was referring to Obama's 2010 decision to cancel the Constellation program - created by his predecessor, George W. Bush - which planed to return Americans to the moon by 2020 before embarking for Mars, but which was deemed too costly.

    NASA chief Charles Bolden said last year his agency would not take the lead on a manned lunar mission, but wouldn't rule out the possibility of participating in one led by a private company or another country.

    More Info
     
  5. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    2,905
    Country Flag:
    United States
    NASA Evolves Student Rocketry Challenge, Enhances Ties to Space Launch System

    [​IMG]

    Student teams from 26 colleges and universities in 16 states and Puerto Rico will design and launch innovative rockets and payloads as part of the 2013-2014 NASA Student Launch rocketry competition.

    The NASA Student Launch will be held May 15-17 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele County, Utah. There, the student teams will undergo a rigorous launch readiness review — just like actual NASA flight missions — and launch their rockets. This historic site has hosted numerous American land-speed tests since 1914 and also was the recovery site for comet and interstellar dust samples returned from NASA’s Stardust mission in 2006.

    “This new engineering competition ties participating students’ work to NASA’s pursuit of new, more demanding missions,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations. “Giving these students exposure to building and launching model rockets to 20,000 feet allows them to recognize the challenges in pushing new limits.”

    The student rocketry challenge is an evolution of the NASA Student Launch Projects, which for 12 years challenged students to build rockets of their own design capable of flying 1 mile high. The challenge was inspired by NASA’s mission to build, test and fly the new Space Launch System, the nation’s next flagship rocket for solar system exploration. This latest competition reaches for even greater heights — taking student-built vehicles more than 3 miles high, into the troposphere.

    Another new feature of this competition is the requirement that the teams build their vehicles with a parachute-based recovery system and provide three payloads capable of delivering data that could shape future NASA missions.

    Of the three payloads, one is mandatory for all teams: a landing hazard detection system, including a camera and customized software to transmit real-time information about surface conditions to operators on the ground. The teams will select the other two payloads from a list of options, all of which support NASA spacecraft development challenges. These range from studying how liquids slosh in microgravity and refining new liquid propulsion systems, to studying the environmental effects of supersonic flight on vehicle paints and coatings. All payloads must be recoverable and reusable.

    Teams must predict the maximum flight altitude of their vehicle based on the research needs of their payloads. No rocket may fly higher than 20,000 feet. The team whose rocket comes closest to their predicted maximum altitude will win the coveted altitude award.

    In addition, each team must prepare detailed preliminary and post-launch reports, and build and maintain a public website about their work. They also must develop an educational engagement program to inspire younger students in their local schools and communities.

    Teams will be judged on their successful launch and payload deployment, as well as the thoroughness of supporting documentation. The winning team will receive a $5,000 prize provided by the corporate sponsor for the rocketry challenge, ATK Aerospace Group of Promontory, Utah. NASA and ATK judges will present a variety of additional awards for winning elements of the challenge, including a new safety award for the team that best integrates safeguards into their vehicle design, launch plan and ground operations.

    The Student Rocket Launch continues NASA’s commitment to using its space missions and programs as launch pads for engaging students in their pursuit of the vitally important STEM career fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    The competition is organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and sponsored by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, with corporate sponsorship by ATK Aerospace Group.

    More Info
     
  6. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    How NASA's MAVEN Probe Will Investigate Mars Atmosphere Mystery

    [​IMG]

    It's almost five times easier to leave Mars than it is to leave Earth or Venus.

    At least, that's the case for many particles in the upper atmosphere. Mars' upper atmosphere is swarming with atoms, ions and molecules actively exiting the planet's sphere of influence. That's why NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN spacecraft, or MAVEN, is headed there: to discover why.

    "The basic goal of MAVEN is to understand what happened to the atmosphere of Mars," said Davin Larson, scientific lead for one of the MAVEN instruments, "It's not understood where the oceans and the atmosphere went to. It could have been absorbed into the regolith — sank down into the dirt — but it's pretty well accepted that Mars itself couldn't hide the entire atmosphere, and that most of it escaped." [NASA's MAVEN Mars Mission in Photos]

    An atmosphere cannot engineer its own exit. Once an atom, ion or molecule has been captured from space or created in situ, securing release from the planet's sphere of influence typically requires an accomplice. The usual suspect in these cases is the sun.

    One mechanism of freeing a captive particle is called Jeans escape. Jeans escape has nothing to do with clothing. It has everything to do with a molecule moving just fast enough to drift away. Jeans escape happens when a planetary atmosphere is heated, often by solar events. Particles that were previously content to hang around begin moving so fast that they attain escape velocity.

    Another scenario of loss is photoionization. In this case, fast-moving photons from the sun knock electrons off atmospheric particles. The affected particles then carry a positive charge. Once particles carry a charge, they are more likely to get caught in magnetic fields or picked up by the solar wind and blown away.

    In the meantime, the newly liberated electrons bounce around and break up other molecules. This process is known as dissociation. Dissociation can result from native Martian electrons bouncing around or directly from the solar wind. Every day, the solar wind's ions and radiation belts knock the atmosphere away, particle by particle, in a process called sputtering.

    Sputtering, dissociation, photoionization, and Jeans escape: any of these mechanisms can cause loss in the ionosphere, or upper atmosphere. This in turns leads to the slow bleeding away of the lower atmosphere. In the absence of a protective magnetic field, these escape phenomena lead to atmospheric loss on a grand scale. Scientists think that Mars lost its planet-wide magnetic field about 3.8 billion years ago, and that the subsequent disappearance of its air and oceans have been largely driven by the sun.

    Measuring the loss

    To examine that hypothesis, MAVEN — which launched in November and is due to arrive at Mars this September — has been equipped with four sensors that measure every aspect of the solar input. Three of them have the word 'solar' in the title: the Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA), the Solar Energetic Particles (SEP), and the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA). Larson, mentioned above, is the science lead on SEP, an instrument named after what it detects.

    Solar energetic particles (SEPs), according to Larson, "are one form of energy that can ionize and heat the gas in the upper atmosphere of Mars." SEPs can arrive as part of large and small events. Small events would be SEPs blown by a light solar wind. Large events launch SEPs directly from the surface of the sun. Small SEP events might only sputter away molecules in the upper ionosphere, close to the boundary with space. During bigger events, SEPs can act like powerful cosmic rays and plow through everything in their path.

    "The more energetic the particle, the deeper it tends to get into the atmosphere," Larson said. "There is more ionization, more excitation, more sputtering, more heating of the atmosphere."

    Heating of the atmosphere gives rise to Jeans escape, which will be observed by other MAVEN instruments. Meanwhile, the SEP instrument sits on either side of the probe's central disk. Poised at the lower margin, the SEP sensors watch patiently for the interplanetary particles that create dissociation, ionization and sputtering.


    Eye of an insect
    The EUV Sensor of MAVEN



    On the other side of MAVEN's golden body, protruding 5 feet (1.5 meters) into space, is another Solar Package instrument: SWEA. With its glistening black patina and thatched circular grating, SWEA resembles the eye of a large insect.

    "There are actually two concentric bug-eye grids," said David Mitchell, SWEA's science lead. "The instrument places a voltage across the inner and outer grids to decelerate incoming electrons without altering their trajectories."

    Once electrons enter the eye, an internal electric field slows them down so SWEA can observe them. SWEA establishes which way the electrons were going and how quickly, and determines if those electrons originated in the sun or are native to Mars. In this way, it can read the solar wind's speed and direction of the ionosphere, where particles from the sun and Mars continually interplay, and contributing to sputtering the atmosphere away.



    The solar wind itself is the object of yet another instrument's examination. With its sensor always turned toward the sun, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer will measure the speed, contents, temperature and density of the solar wind.

    "SWIA is built and designed to measure the incoming solar wind ions, both upstream and after the encounter the magnetosphere of Mars," said SWIA principal investigator Jasper Halekas. "These ions provide an important energy input to the magnetosphere of Mars, and may help determine how much of Mars' atmosphere ultimately escapes." [NASA's MAVEN Mars Probe: 10 Surprising Facts]

    Around the atmosphere of any planet, electrons liberated by photoionization can form a free-flowing cloud called a plasmasphere. Mars' plasmasphere rotates independently from the planet, almost wrapping around it at times. Blobs of plasma trail behind Mars like two tails, blown there by the steady solar wind. The tails trail farther and farther behind Mars and are eventually lost to space.

    While the solar wind's ions and electrons tend to remain in high altitudes near the plasmasphere, photons in the extreme ultraviolent part of the spectrum can ionize atmospheric particles all the way down to the ground. Extreme UV (EUV) radiation may be why Mars has too many heavy isotopes of elements like hydrogen and carbon, and too little air and water. In breaking apart chemical bonds, EUV may have played a part in helping the lighter bit of H2O and CO2 break away and escape.

    [​IMG]
    Solar Wind Ion Analyzer



    "Knowing the amount of EUV going into an atmosphere and how that EUV varies lets scientists understand the temperature, ionization, composition, and escape rates from that atmosphere," said Frank Eparvier, EUV instrument lead.

    By measuring the extreme UV in Mars' atmosphere today, and adding in data about the number of ionized molecules and their rates of escape, we may deduce how much H2O and CO2 existed on Mars four billion years ago. [7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars]

    Like SEP, the EUV sensors were named after what they detect. The EUV sensors sit anchored at the bottom of two 23-foot (7 m) booms. Their presence there rounds out observations of incoming solar particles in the upper atmosphere. SWIA watches the solar wind. SWEA sorts solar electrons, counting how many charges stick in Mars' atmosphere, and how deep into they penetrate. SEP detects ionizing particles and EUV senses ionizing radiation all through the upper atmosphere, brought to Mars largely by coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

    CMEs, SEPs and the solar wind have each played a part in divesting Mars of its atmosphere over the last four billion years. With its Sun, Solar Wind and Storms instruments, MAVEN will tell us how much of each is occurring and where.

    Coupled with measurements from the five other instruments on board, by this time next year we'll have a more complete picture of what's entering in and leaving the ionosphere. We'll have a better idea of what happened to 85-95 percent of Mars' original atmosphere, which likely supported rivers, lakes and shallow oceans. Above all, for the first time ever, we'll know much energy it takes to strip away the sky.

    How NASA's MAVEN Probe Will Investigate Mars Atmosphere Mystery | Space.com
     
  7. Rock n Rolla

    Rock n Rolla Lt. Colonel STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,900
    Likes Received:
    2,787
    NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness

    NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness

    [​IMG]
    Where did North Korea go? Pyongyang looks like a tiny island in a sea of darkness in recent photos captured by NASA

    (CNN) -- Give an astronaut on the International Space Station a digital camera and you're bound to end up with some astounding images -- especially if they're flying above North Korea.

    When the space station passed over East Asia one night recently, a member of NASA's Expedition 38 crew took a series of photographs that show just how off-the-grid the Hermit Kingdom really is.

    While thriving cities and major roads are seen glowing across South Korea and China, the landscape between the two countries is so dark that it's difficult to tell where the sea ends and North Korea begins.

    Pyongyang "appears like a small island," says NASA, noting that the light emission from the North Korean capital is equivalent to the smaller towns of its neighbor to the south.

    The space agency, which turned the images into a timelapse video, says city lights at night are a good indicator of the relative affluence of cities.



    Looking at the images, it's hardly a surprise that energy use is dramatically different on either side of the 38th parallel. In South Korea, per capita power consumption is 10,162 kilowatt hours while in North Korea the figure is 739 kilowatt hours, according to World Bank data.

    NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness - CNN.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  8. Rock n Rolla

    Rock n Rolla Lt. Colonel STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,900
    Likes Received:
    2,787
    NASA’s Latest Robot: A Rolling Tangle of Rods That Can Take a Beating

    NASA's Latest Robot: A Rolling Tangle of Rods That Can Take a Beating

    [​IMG]
    A prototype of NASA's Super Ball Bot. Image: NASA

    Space-bound robots tend look like tanks and are about as flexible as the Tin Man after a rainstorm. Don't get me wrong, the robots NASA sends to, say, Mars are very very smart. But their forms present some limitations; namely, snail-paced research, lumbering motions and proneness to injury.

    Just imagine then, if there was a robot that had the brains of Curiosity but the nimbleness of a tumbleweed. That's exactly what a group of scientists at NASA are looking to create with the Super Ball Bot, a tangle of rods and motors that could revolutionize the way robots work in space and here on Earth.

    The Super Ball Bot, currently deep in the research phase in NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, looks nothing like its robotic predecessors. The spindly sphere is a tensegrity structure, which means to move it relies on a system of rigid components that are connected by flexible joints and cables.

    This allows the bot to evenly distribute stress and pressure over the entire structure, as opposed to concentrating it on specific joints. The idea is that by adjusting the length of the cables, this flexible robot will be able to roll around the surface of a planet or moon with more speed and resiliency than wheeled robots could even dream about.

    An Idea That Sprung Up in Art

    Though tensegrity is built into all sorts of natural systems, as a defined concept it has been only been around since the late 1940s when artist Kenneth Snelson began exploring the idea with his flexible, tension-based sculptures (he preferred to call it "floating compression"). Of course, if you look around you'll see the principles everywhere: baby toys, bridges, circus tents. Hell, even your spine is based on this model.

    "Tensegrity systems are compliant without sacrificing rigidity," explains Adrian Agogino, who along with Vytas SunSpiral is developing the Super Ball Bot. "They naturally kind of change shape as they're touching things so they don't break things, but things also don't break them."



    You can imagine that when applied to robotics, this concept is very appealing to NASA. There are a few obvious benefits, beginning with the simple fact that sending a tensegrity robot into space will eventually be cheaper and safer. NASA is eyeing Titan, one of Saturn's moons, for the ‘bot's first mission. The goal is to use the Super Ball Bot's inherent resiliency to land on Titan without assistance, which frees up space usually taken up by bulky landing gear.

    That same complaisance will allow the robot to access areas of a surface that would normally be too risky for wheeled rovers. "Unfortunately, the very interesting scientific questions are at the most dangerous locations," explains SunSpiral. "Edges of cliffs where rocks are exposed, where people can really see the geology and history."

    The thought of sending multi-million dollar robots to the cliff edges not only makes scientists shudder, but doing so would take the robot days t. Agogino puts it into perspective: "Something that we could do in 20 to 40 seconds is an entire-day operation for robots," he says.

    So what's the hold up? SunSpiral says research has been ongoing in the field for more than a decade, but we're just now at the edge of having the tools to make tensegrity robots a reality. Plus, the scientists add, these types of robots are not exactly first nature for engineers. "This is not very not aligned with traditional engineering where you're trying to break down big parts into little part and compartmentalize them," says Agogino.

    "If you look at how robots have traditionally been made, the classic approach is you have some hunks of metal that you then attach motors to so it can move," adds SunSpiral. "It's a nice linear system; it's easy to model how things will behave. This is a fundamentally new approach to building robots."

    [​IMG]
    Testing the Super Ball Bot. Image: NASA

    It's fun to think about how this concept could be applied outside the realm of space exploration. Drawing on natural systems that adjust and adapt to environments is fascinating, and one that's already being explored in fields like architecture and art. While teaching a class at UC Berkeley, Agogino asked students to come up with 50 potential applications for tensegrity robots and to rank them according to how useful they might one day be.

    "The two highest fits were in home health care and the military," he says. "Two extreme applications." The point being, by its very nature a tensegrity robot is able to be both sturdy and resilient while still being gentle enough to interact with sick people. "This is really at the heart of what we're getting at," says SunSpiral. "Using a system that's much more adaptable to its environment."

    As it stands, The Super Ball Bot won't leave our atmosphere for at least 10 more years, which actually isn't very surprising when you watch the ball twitch and move. Technologies still need to be developed and controls worked out before the bot can function without direct supervision. SunSpiral sums up the challenge this way: "Lots of new design challenges come up when you turn the whole world upside down and do something different."

    NASA's Latest Robot: A Rolling Tangle of Rods That Can Take a Beating | Wired.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2014
    2 people like this.
  9. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    Re: NASA’s Latest Robot: A Rolling Tangle of Rods That Can Take a Beating

    Guess this one will be for Mars/moon. Does not seem to be packed with instruments though so maybe later it will be filled up between the rods?
     
  10. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    Re: NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness

    Looks like they all switched off when NASA flew above:devilwork:
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. Rock n Rolla

    Rock n Rolla Lt. Colonel STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,900
    Likes Received:
    2,787
    Re: NASA images from space show North Korea shrouded in darkness

    Or they're always switched off...or maybe there aren't any lights...:troll:
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    Population of Known Alien Planets Nearly Doubles as NASA Discovers 715 New Worlds

    [​IMG]
    This NASA artist concept depicts multiple-transiting planet systems, which are stars with more than one planet. The planets eclipse or transit their host star from the vantage point of the observer. This angle is called edge-on.


    NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered more than 700 new exoplanets, nearly doubling the current number of confirmed alien worlds.

    The 715 newfound planets, which scientists announced today (Feb. 26), boost the total alien-world tally to between 1,500 and 1,800, depending on which of the five main extrasolar planet discovery catalogs is used. The Kepler mission is responsible for more than half of these finds, hauling in 961 exoplanets to date, with thousands more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up investigations.

    "This is the largest windfall of planets — not exoplanet candidates, mind you, but actually validated exoplanets — that's ever been announced at one time," Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist at NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington, told reporters today. [Kepler's Exoplanet Bonanza Explained (Infographic)]

    About 94 percent of the new alien worlds are smaller than Neptune, researchers said, further bolstering earlier Kepler observations that suggested the Milky Way galaxy abounds with rocky planets like Earth.

    Most of the 715 exoplanets orbit closely to their parent stars, making them too hot to support life as we know it. But four of the worlds are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and reside in the "habitable zone," that just-right range of distances that could allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces.


    The $600 million Kepler spacecraft launched in March 2009 to determine how frequently Earth-like planets occur around our galaxy. The observatory detects alien worlds by noticing the telltale brightness dips caused when they pass in front of, or transit, their parent stars from Kepler's perspective.

    Kepler's original planet-hunting mission ended last May when the second of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed, robbing the spacecraft of its ultraprecise pointing ability. Still, scientists have expressed confidence that they will be able to achieve the mission's chief goals with the data Kepler gathered during its first four years in space.

    Those were very productive years. Kepler has flagged more than 3,600 planet candidates to date, and mission team members expect that about 90 percent of them will end up being the real deal.

    Indeed, the 715 new planets were pulled from just the first two years of Kepler observations, so more big planet-confirmation hauls could be coming as researchers work their way through the rest of the mission's huge database.
    Exoplanet Discoveries
    [​IMG]
    The histogram shows the number of planet discoveries by year for roughly the past two decades of the exoplanet search. The blue bar shows previous planet discoveries, the red bar shows previous Kepler planet discoveries, the gold bar displays the 715 new planets verified by multiplicity.
    Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe
    View full size image

    All of the 715 newfound alien planets reside in multiplanet systems, just like Earth. Taken together, the new planets orbit a total of 305 stars, researchers said. And these systems are generally reminiscent of the inner regions of our own solar system, where planets travel around the sun in circular orbits that are more or less in the same plane, they added.

    "These results establish that planetary systems with mulitple planets around one star, like our own solar system, are in fact common," Hudgins said.

    Scientists validated the newly discovered worlds using a powerful and sophisticated new method called "verification by multiplicity," which works partly on the logic of probability.

    During its original mission, Kepler stared continuously at more than 150,000 stars, finding planet candidates around several thousand of them. If these candidates were distributed randomly, just a few would reside in multiplanet systems. But Kepler has found hundreds of such systems, a fact that helped scientists identify the 715 bona fide new planets.

    "Multiplicity is a powerful technique for wholesale validation that will be used again in the future," said Jason Rowe of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

    The method should help researchers confirm hundreds more Kepler candidates down the road, Rowe and others said. A higher percentage of these future finds should be in the habitable zone, they added, since it takes longer for the spacecraft to detect more distantly orbiting exoplanets than ones that zip around their star in a matter of days or weeks (and researchers haven't analyzed the last two years of Kepler data using the multiplicity technique).

    The studies that detail the discovery of the 715 alien worlds will be published March 10 in The Astrophyiscal Journal.



    Sizes of Known Exoplanets
    [​IMG]
    The histogram shows the number of planets by size for all known exoplanets. The blue bars on the histogram represents all the exoplanets known, by size, before the Kepler Planet Bonanza announcement on Feb. 26, 2014. The gold bars on the histogram represent Kepler's newly-verified planets.
    Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel

    The five main exoplanet-discovery databases, and their current tallies (with the new Kepler finds included), are: the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia (1,790); the Exoplanets Catalog, run by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (1,790); the NASA Exoplanet Archive (1,749); the Exoplanet Orbit Database (1,490); and the Open Exoplanet Catalog (1,714).

    The different numbers reported by the databases reflect the uncertainties inherent in exoplanet detection and confirmation.

    While Kepler's original mission operations have ended, the spacecraft may not be done hunting for alien planets. Team members have proposed a new mission for Kepler called K2, which would allow the observatory to search for a variety of celestial objects and phenomena, including exoplanets, supernova explosions and comets and asteroids in our own solar system.

    NASA is expected to make a final decision about the K2 mission proposal by this summer, officials have said.


    Population of Known Alien Planets Nearly Doubles as NASA Discovers 715 New Worlds | Space.com
     
  13. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    10,970
    Likes Received:
    2,905
    Country Flag:
    United States
    JPL scientists ask industry for CubeSat camera able to take color images of near-Earth asteroid

    [​IMG]

    PASADENA, Calif., 20 Feb. 2014. U.S deep-space researchers are asking industry for ideas on how to develop space-qualified cameras for CubeSat spacecraft. CubeSats, which will be launched on deep-space exploration missions, measure 10 by 10 by 10 centimeters, and are about the size of large softballs.

    Officials of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., earlier this month issued a request for information (MJ-14-01) for the CubeSat-Sized Science Camera project, which is seeking potential electro-optical contractors to provide science cameras for a CubeSat for use on a future deep-space mission.

    JPL is part of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and operates under a prime contract to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Washington.

    Related: NASA looks for companies able to build solar sails for pushing CubeSats through deep space

    The JPL's CubeSat-Sized Science Camera project is trying to judge current manufacturing capabilities and get a rough order of magnitude cost and schedule estimates to develop a science camera for a CubeSat.

    The primary goal of the project is to develop a CubeSat camera to take scientific images of a near-Earth asteroid. From the CubeSat camera, JPL scientists want geological mapping of the asteroid at regional and local scales, volume estimation, rotation characterization, and colors. Operational goals have not been released.

    The CubeSat camera should be ready to demonstrate in space per a technology readiness level (TRL) of 6 or higher, and should be ready for low-risk flight mission qualification. The CubeSat camera also should have a nominal lifetime of 2.5 years, and be able to minimize geometric and chromatic distortions.

    Related: Aerospace chooses semiconductor laser from Avo Photonics for CubeSat small satellites

    JPL space scientists want a CubeSat camera that is smaller than half a liter, or no larger than the entire CubeSat, which takes up one whole liter. The camera's should be no longer than 13 centimeters, weigh no more than 1.1 pounds, consume less than 3 Watts, and have a field of view of at least 15 by 15 degrees.

    The camera should be able to image in the 400 to 900 nanometer wavelength, take pictures at least as quickly as three frames per second, offer windowing capability, and have resolution at least as fine as 10 bits per pixel.

    From companies JPL scientists want short descriptions of product candidates, mass, physical dimensions, preferred operating temperatures, raw data outputs, and any flight heritage.

    Companies should email responses no later than 5 March 2014 to JPL's Michael Jacobs at Michael.H.Jacobs@jpl.nasa.gov, with Science Camera RFI Response in the subject line.

    More Info
     
  14. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    NASA Eyes Ambitious Mission to Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa by 2025

    [​IMG]
    Under a thick crust of ice, Europa might have an ocean warmed by tidal interactions with Jupiter. This tidal flexing could also produce a geologically active core that might in turn create hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.
    Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk
    View full size image

    NASA hopes to launch a mission to the Jupiter moon Europa, perhaps the solar system's best bet to host alien life, a decade or so from now, officials announced Tuesday (March 4).

    The White House's 2015 federal budget request, which was released Tuesday, allocates $15 million to help develop a mission to Europa, which harbors a potentially life-supporting ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell.

    "Europa is a very challenging mission operating in a really high radiation environment, and there's lots to do to prepare for it," NASA chief financial officer Beth Robinson told reporters Tuesday. "We're looking for a launch some time in the mid-2020s." [Photos: Europa, Mysterious Icy Moon of Jupiter]

    [​IMG]
    Infographic: Jupiter's moon Europa has a huge underground ocean.
    Scientists are eager to learn if Europa's huge subsurface ocean harbors alien life. See how Jupiter's icy moon Europa works in this SPACE.com infographic.
    Credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist
    View full size image

    The $15 million — which represents a tiny fraction of the $17.5 billion allocated to the space agency in the 2015 request — would fund very early "pre-formulation" work for a potential Europa mission, Robinson added.

    "I know people have asked about the total size [of the possible mission], and we're frankly just not sure at this point," she said, adding that agency officials will reach out to the scientific community to help map out the mission.
    An artist's illustration of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, with a water geyser erupting in the foreground while Jupiter appears as a backdrop.

    [​IMG]
    An artist's illustration of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, with a water geyser erupting in the foreground while Jupiter appears as a backdrop. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest Europa may have water plumes like Saturn's moon Enceladus. Image released Dec. 12, 2013.
    Credit: K. Retherford, Southwest Research Institute
    View full size image

    Though the 2015 proposal marks the first time Europa was included in a federal budget request, NASA has received funding to study a possible mission to the 1,900-mile-wide (3,100 kilometers) moon in the past. Congress allocated the space agency a total of $155 million toward this end over the last two years.

    Though statements by Robinson and other NASA officials suggest that the Europa mission space is wide open at this point, the best candidate to get off the ground in 2025 or so may be a concept called the Europa Clipper.

    NASA researchers have been developing the Europa Clipper idea for years. The probe would orbit Jupiter but make dozens of flybys of Europa, using a variety of science instruments to study the moon's ice shell and subsurface ocean.

    The Europa Clipper could conceivably cruise through the plumes of water vapor erupting from the moon's south pole — intriguing features that were discovered late last year and have helped build momentum for a Europa mission, since they offer a possible way to sample the ocean from afar.

    It would probably cost about $2 billion to get the Europa Clipper off the ground, officials have estimated. That's a pretty high price tag in these tough fiscal times, so some rethinking may be required to take the Clipper — or something like it — from concept to reality.

    The Europa Clipper "is what we would call a flagship, and right now the budget horizon is such that we're deferring that kind of mission until later in the decade," Jim Green, head of NASA's planetary science division, said in December at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.


    NASA Eyes Ambitious Mission to Jupiter's Icy Moon Europa by 2025 | Space.com
     
  15. sangos

    sangos Lt. Colonel SENIOR MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2013
    Messages:
    4,621
    Likes Received:
    2,068
    Country Flag:
    India
    Donated Spy Satellite Telescope Could Boost NASA Dark Energy Mission: Report

    [​IMG]
    An artist's illustration of one concept for NASA's planned Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, a potentially powerful space observatory.
    Credit: NASA
    View full size image
    Using a donated spy-satellite telescope would improve the science capabilities of a high-priority potential NASA mission, but such gains could come at a significant financial cost, a new report concludes.

    The report, unveiled Tuesday (March 18) by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC), looked into the impacts of a proposed redesign for NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which the NRC deemed the top-priority large space mission in its 2010 astronomy and astrophysics "decadal survey."

    WFIRST would launch in the early or mid-2020s to probe the mysteries of dark energy, hunt for exoplanets and study black holes, among other tasks. Its original design envisioned a telescope with a 4.3-foot-wide (1.3 meters) aperture. [Gallery: Declassifed U.S. Spy Satellites]



    But NASA started thinking bigger in 2012, when it received from the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office hardware for two 7.9-foot (2.4 m) space telescopes — the same size as the agency's iconic Hubble Space Telescope
    Incorporating one of the spy scopes — a design known as WFIRST/AFTA, since NASA calls the gifted hardware Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets — would increase the scientific return of the potential mission, according to the report's authors.

    "The opportunity to increase the telescope aperture and resolution by employing the 2.4-m AFTA mirror will signficantly enhance the scientific power of the mission, primarily for cosmology and general survey science, and will also positively impact the exoplanet microlensing survey," they wrote.

    However, they added, the risks of cost growth are considerably higher if the AFTA hardware is used. For example, a WFIRST/AFTA mission would likely cost around $2.1 billion, compared to $1.8 billion for an earlier design similar to the baseline WFIRST idea.

    [​IMG]
    The evolution of space telescopes is sparking innovation in space observatory design.
    See some far-out space telescope concepts of the future in this Space.com infographic.
    Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com
    View full size image
    The price tag would likely increase even more if WFIRST/AFTA includes a coronagraph, an instrument that blocks out a star's to aid in the study of dim orbiting exoplanets. But it's hard to say just how much costs would increase, since there has been little study about how a coronagraph would be accommodated on the mission, the report states.

    The report's authors therefore recommend that NASA should work hard to mature a coronagraph design and come up with reliable estimates about the technology's cost, performance and development schedule.

    "Upon completion of this activity, and a cost and technical evaluation of WFIRST/AFTA with the coronagraph, an independent review focused on the coronagraph should be convened to determine whether the impact on WFIRST and on the NASA astrophysics program is acceptable or if the coronagraph should be removed from the mission," they wrote.

    The report does not recommend which design NASA should choose for the WFIRST mission.








    http://www.space.com/25125-nasa-donated-spy-telescopes-dark-energy.html
     

Share This Page