Blog Archives

Check out the NASA Ion Engine

Ion Engine

This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.

This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Source: NASA

NASA’s new Space suit will take you to Infinity and Beyond!

NASA spacesuit

NASA have unveiled their new prototype space suit, the Z-1. As you can see there is a little bit of Buzz Lightyear to it.

The new suit is a lot more mobile than previous space suits. It also has a large port on the back which means it is easier to put on and take off. The port also docks with a spacecraft or space station meaning there is no need for an airlock.

It has been designed to suit a number of different mission types.

The Z-1 prototype suit is also mobile. Bearings in the suit’s joints will give astronauts the flexibility to hop over lunar or martian soil with more grace than the explorers who wore older NASA exosuits. But the basic technology remains the same as existing space suits, meaning astronauts will still fight against the balloons of air inside their suits to move, expending extra energy with every step or bend of the arm. Of course, since those balloons of air are keeping them alive, the trade-off is worthwhile.

A focus on radiation protection will make the Z-1 suitable for longer spacewalks, but there’s a good chance NASA’s astronauts will look little like Buzz Lightyear by the time they actually were the next-generation suit into space. Despite being named one of Times’ best inventions of the year, Z-1 is just a prototype that NASA will be building on with Z-2 and Z-3 revisions. NASA recently finished testing the suit, which means work on the Z-2 can’t be far off.

It is great that NASA are pushing forward with a new space suit. Doing this shows they are still planning on the exploration of space which will benefit all of us and help push forward many different aspects of design and technology.

NASA plans to have the Z-3 spaceworthy and up on the ISS by 2017.

Source: Tested

NASA May Be Building A Moon Base

It has been many years since Man last walked on the Moon.

Now that the US Election has taken place and Obama is still in the White House, it appears that NASA have big plans.

The space agency are planning to set up a manned outpost beyond the moon’s far side, both to establish a human presence in deep space and to build momentum toward a planned visit to an asteroid in 2025.

The Outpost, or Gateway Spacecraft, would house a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars.

The Outpost would be situated at a Lagrangian point, a place where the gravitational pull of two large bodies—in this case the Earth and the Moon—are at an equilibrium. NASA wants to put its base at Earth-Moon L-Point 2, on the far side of the Moon, according to reports from several news sites.

That would place the spacecraft about 277,000 miles from Earth and about 38,000 miles from the Moon’s surface.

In order to spread the costs this could end up being a joint venture with the European Space Agency.

Source: Space.com

Bits and Pieces – Neil Young, Build A Bear, Sony save Olympus and more

The Slingshot

– Neil Young has developed and audio player. The Pono player uses digital-to-analogue conversion technology which is, apparently, intended to “present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions” according to Rolling Stone.

– The Build A Bear shops are going high-tech – engadget

– The Slingshot mobile phone grip and tripod (pictured) means perfect photos from your phone could happen – Photojojo

– Sony have invested $645 million to save Olympus – Sony

– Camera+ is now available for the iPad – iTunes

– NASA’s Curiosity rover has found an ancient streambed on Mars – NASA

– Old iOS Music Accessories Should Work With Apple’s New Lightning Dock Connector – Gizmodo

– Intel Clover Trail is the next-generation Intel Atom chip that will be used in Windows 8 tablets and laptops – Intel

NASA’s Smartphone Nanosatellite

At the moment NASA are in the news with the Mars Curiosity Rover and with the sad news that the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, has passed away. He was 82. The cause was complications from heart surgery three weeks ago.

NASA do have many more projects on the go.

One involves micro satellites that use Android phones as their core component.

NASA’s PhoneSat project will demonstrate the ability to launch the lowest-cost and easiest to build satellites ever flown in space – capabilities enabled by using off-the-shelf consumer smartphones to build spacecraft.

A small team of engineers working on NASA’s PhoneSat at the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., aim to rapidly evolve satellite architecture and incorporate the Silicon Valley approach of “release early, release often” to small spacecraft.

To achieve this, NASA’s PhoneSat design makes extensive use of commercial-off-the-shelf components, including an unmodified, consumer-grade smartphone. Out of the box smartphones already offer a wealth of capabilities needed for satellite systems, including fast processors, versatile operating systems, multiple miniature sensors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers, and several radios.

NASA engineers kept the total cost of the components to build each of the three prototype satellites in the PhoneSat project to $3,500 by using only commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and keeping the design and mission objectives to a minimum for the first flight.

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Curiosity’s landing from the Point of View of one of its creators

This excellent video takes us through the emotional journey of one of the creators involved in getting Curiosity to Mars.

Very inspiring.

I was able to work on NASA JPL’s Curiosity Mars Rover for 7 years. This video is an attempt to capture what it felt like to have 7 years of your life vindicated in the 7 minute landing. Honestly one of the coolest moments of my life so far.

Curiosity’s Mission to Mars should begin today

By the time you read this NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft should have safely delivered its Curiosity rover on Mars.

Time of landing was due for 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). NASA’s most recent report said that Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected. Yesterday, the flight team uplinked and confirmed commands to make minor corrections to the spacecraft’s navigation reference point parameters.

Below is the full press release with lots more info on the mission:
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