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NASA Hack Space: January 2012


World's Largest Rocket Contest Helps Aspiring STEM Leaders Take Off

"Nearly 700 teams of middle and high school students across 48 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands are gearing up for the 2012 Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world's largest student rocket contest and a critical piece of the aerospace industry's workforce development pipeline. The 10th anniversary competition is the most challenging in the history of the event. This year, each team is tasked with designing and building a rocket carrying a two egg payload to 800 feet and back during a 43- to 47-second flight without cracking. A strict limit on liftoff weight forces students to focus on designing the payload bay while building a lighter, stronger rocket. The top 100 teams will advance to the National Finals May 12 at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va."

NASA Releases Sector 33 Air Traffic Control Educational Game App

"NASA has released a new educational game with an air traffic control theme for Apple iPhone and iPad devices. The Sector 33 application is designed to challenge students in middle school and above to use basic math and problem-solving skills. An Android version of the app is in development and will be made available in the Android Marketplace in the coming months."

NASA Releases First Multi-Player Facebook Game

"NASA has launched its first multi-player online game to test players' knowledge of the space program. Who was the first American to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer in Space Race Blastoff. Available on Facebook, Space Race Blastoff tests players' knowledge of NASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players who correctly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASA astronauts, spacecraft and celestial objects. Players also earn points they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets and earn premium badges."

Students Across the US Write Code to Control Zero Gravity Satellites on ISS

"Twenty seven teams of high school students from across the United States competed in the Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge which took place at MIT in Cambridge, MA and aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this week. "Team Rocket" from River Hill High School, Maryland, "Storming Robots" from Storming Robots LLC, of New Jersey and "SPHEREZ of Influence" from Rockledge High School, Florida posted the best cumulative score out of 9 multi team 'alliances' seeing their code tested in space by real astronauts."

Spheres Final Robot competition in Zero-gravity

"School teams from Europe and America have been commanding robots competing in the Spheres ZeroRobotics tournament in space. The arena: 400 km above Earth on the International Space Station. Student teams could send a single piece of instruction software to control the small robotic 'Spheres'. The goal of the tournament was to earn points through masterful operation via guidance and navigation control algorithms as well as choosing the best tactics to win the game."

2012 NASA planetary Science Summer School, Planetary Science NewsLetter

"NASA is accepting applications from science and engineering post-docs, recent PhDs, and doctoral students for its 24th Annual Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two separate sessions this summer (18-22 June and 16-20 July) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. During the program and pre-session webinars, student teams will carry out the equivalent of an early mission concept study, prepare a proposal authorization review presentation, present it to a review board, and receive feedback."

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

"Scientists have developed a new way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves or T-rays - the technology behind full-body security scanners. The researchers behind the study, published recently in the journal Nature Photonics, say their new stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the 'tricorder' scanner used in Star Trek."

European finalists selected in Space Lab student competition

"Sixty space experiment proposals have been selected as finalists in the YouTube Space Lab student science competition, co-sponsored by ESA. Judges must now select the two top entries to be flown on the International Space Station. ESA, NASA, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency have joined Google, YouTube, Lenovo and Space Adventures in an international science competition that challenges students aged 14-16 and 17-18 to design an experiment that can be conducted in microgravity on the ISS."

NASA Joins MIT and DARPA for Out-of-This-World Student Robotic Challenge

"NASA will join the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and high school student teams from the U.S. and abroad for the third annual Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge on Monday, Jan. 23. The event will take place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., and be broadcast live on NASA Television from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST."

NASA Clears The Runway For Open Source Software

"The NASA Open Government Initiative has launched a new website to expand the agency's open source software development. Open source development, which invites the public access to view and improve software source code, is transforming the way software is created, improved and used. NASA uses open source code to address project and mission needs, accelerate software development and maximize public awareness and impact of research."

Montana Students Pick Winning Names for Moon Craft

"Twin NASA spacecraft that achieved orbit around the moon New Year's Eve and New Year's Day have new names, thanks to elementary students in Bozeman, Mont. Their winning entry, "Ebb and Flow," was selected as part of a nationwide school contest that began in October 2011. The names were submitted by fourth graders from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School. Nearly 900 classrooms with more than 11,000 students from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia participated in the contest. Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL-A and -B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft begin science operations in March, after a launch in September 2011."

"Mars Images lets you browse the latest images from the Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover. Scroll through the thumbnails of the latest downlink from Mars and view any image in fullscreen mode. Send interesting images to your family and friends." iPad/iPhone | Android

NASA's Online Radio Station Rocks Smartphones

"NASA's Third Rock Radio just got mobile. Updates to the NASA App for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android now include a feature to listen to the agency's new online alternative rock radio station. "Now you can listen to great music in the same app that still provides all of NASA's amazing content wherever you are," said Jerry Colen, NASA App project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif."

NASA ARC Solicitation: Eye Tracker Systems

"NASA Ames invites responses to this inquiry for the purpose of purchasing three (3) eye tracker systems to support a task order under the Intelligent Systems Research and Development Support contract (ISRDS--NNA08CG83C). The purpose of the task is to undertake advanced development of the first prototype version of the Investigator Aid system. This version shall incorporate both improvements in existing routines and the ability to incorporate foreign language speech to text, visual, and specialized physiological data such as eye tracking and thermal imaging. The work is part of a longer-term research effort for the development of improved information validity assessment."

X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation Set to Revolutionize Healthcare With Launch of $10 Million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE

"The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation today announced the launch of the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, a global competition to revolutionize healthcare. In this competition, teams will leverage technology innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and wireless sensing -- much like the medical Tricorder of Star Trek(R) fame -- to make medical diagnoses independent of a physician or healthcare provider. The goal of the competition is to drive development of devices that will give consumers access to their state of health in the palm of their hand."

NASA Issues Call for Visionary Advanced Technology Concepts

"NASA's Space Technology Program is looking for far-out ideas. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems. NIAC projects are chosen for their innovative and visionary characteristics, technical substance, and early development stage -- ten years or more from use on a mission. NIAC's current portfolio of diverse and innovative ideas represents multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures and avionics."

NASA Solicitation: Edison Small Satellite Flight Demonstration Missions

"NASA, through this BAA, plans to seek proposals for low-cost, flight demonstrations for small satellite technology. This procurement will accelerate the development of small spacecraft capabilities for NASA, commercial, and other space sector users. Successful proposals will provide a compelling infusion strategy that ensures that the proposed technology will find active utility after the completion of the flight demonstration mission. The small spacecraft demonstration missions under the Edison Program are intended to flight- validate one or more small spacecraft subsystem technologies or mission capabilities with game-changing and/or crosscutting potential, specifically maturation from NASA Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 5 or 6 to TRL 7."

Researchers sought by ESA's Advanced Concept team

"The opportunity has arisen to join ESA's team designing the future in space. The Agency's Advanced Concepts Team is currently looking for new researchers. Based in ESA's ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) has its focus on future technologies and advanced space systems of strategic importance for ESA's long-term planning. The ACT performs continuous recruitment of Research Fellows, Young Graduate Trainees and stagiaires using existing European Space Agency channels. ACT positions are all for limited amount of time (one to two years for Research Fellows, a year for YGTs and three months for stagiaires)."

Fifty-Seven Student Rocket Teams to Take NASA Launch Challenge

"More than 500 students from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities in 29 states will show their rocketeering prowess in the 2011-12 NASA Student Launch Projects flight challenge. The teams will build and test large-scale rockets of their own design in April 2012. NASA created the twin Student Launch Projects to spark students' imaginations, challenge their problem-solving skills and give them real-world experience. The project aims to complement the science, mathematics and engineering lessons they study in the classroom."

The 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off Saturday in Cleveland

"The FIRST Robotics Competition kickoff marks the beginning of the season for high school students to design and build a robot to compete in a tournament against a field of competitors. NASA, the largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition, will broadcast the kickoff for over 100 local students at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Cuyahoga Community College, Unified Technologies Center. The event will air nationwide on NASA Television from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester."

McMoons is located Here at NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA. Next to our building (Building 596) is a 50 year old Titan 1 ICBM that we're helping students to restore, upgrade, and transform into a teaching tool. We like to make old stuff work.

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McMoons is located here at NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA. Next to our building (Building 596) is a 50 year old Titan 1 ICBM that we're helping students to restore, upgrade, and transform into a teaching tool. We like to make old stuff work.

More images below

"Today we are launching code.nasa.gov, the latest member of the open NASA web family. Through this website, we will continue, unify, and expand NASA's open source activities. The site will serve to surface existing projects, provide a forum for discussing projects and processes, and guide internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution.

In our initial release, we are focusing on providing a home for the current state of open source at the Agency. This includes guidance on how to engage the open source process, points of contact, and a directory of existing projects. By elucidating the process, we hope to lower the barriers to building open technology in partnership with the public."

More at open.NASA


CryoSatApp: Ice Data at Your Fingertips, ESA

"Discover ESA's ice mission, track it in real time and obtain the latest measurements with the new CryoSat application. CryoSat is measuring the thickness of polar sea ice and monitoring changes in the ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica. The CryoSat iPhone and iPad application - or CryoSatApp - is now available at Apple's App Store. "

Navy Researchers Investigate Small-Scale Autonomous Planetary Explorers

"Robotic exploration to remote regions, to include distant planetary bodies, is often limited by energy requirements to perform, in repetition, even the simplest tasks. With this in mind, researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are looking into a novel approach that could some day aid scientific space and planetary research without the need for power-intense options often used today. Integrating the NRL developed technologies in microrobotics, microbial fuel cells, and low power electronics, space robotics scientist Dr. Gregory P. Scott at NRL's Spacecraft Engineering Department inspires a novel autonomous microrover, weighing in at nearly one-kilogram and powered by an advanced microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology."

SGAC-EIC Space Entrepreneurship Paper Competition

"The Space Generation Advisory Council is pleased to announce its partnership with the International Astronautical Federation's Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee (EIC) to organise and run the 2012 IAF-EIC/SGAC Emerging Commercial Space Paper Competition for Students and Young Professionals - $pace is Business! The competition challenges students and young professionals worldwide to develop new ideas and perspectives on opportunities and challenges facing space entrepreneurs and investors today. SGAC invites paper submissions addressing and engaging themes of interest to the Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee of the International Astronautical Federation."

"This is the culmination of my last year's work. I control the robot's arms through the Kinect and Wii remotes. I control the robot's navigation through the Kinect and treadmill. I control the robot's head through the head mounted display (HMD). I also see through the robot's eyes with the HMD. After doing this exercise, it became apparent that the next feature to add is hearing and speaking through the robot. Luckily both the NAO and my HMD have microphones and speakers so this shouldn't be too difficult." More information.

This about this: In addition to recreating the basic technology depicted in the film "Avatar", this also shos how straightforward it is to create telepresence. One would hope NASA is looking at simple, commercially available and easily adaptable interfaces such as these whereby Robonuat can be controlled - from the ISS and from Earth.

The NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) offers scientists and engineers unique opportunities to conduct research at NASA Centers. Each NPP fellowship opportunity is designed to advance NASA research in a specific project related to space science, earth science, aeronautics, space operations, exploration systems, lunar science, or astrobiology.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in hand before beginning the fellowship, but may apply while completing the degree requirements. U. S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and foreign nationals eligible for J-1 status as a Research Scholar may apply. An H-1B Visa status is not acceptable because the NPP is not an employment program.

Scanadu Raises $2M For Medical Tricorder

"The company just raised $2 million in funding from a group of investors that includes Sebastien De Halleux, co-founder of social network game maker Playfish. The money's an impressive accomplishment considering Scanadu isn't even a year old. Founded in January 2011, the company is staffed with a team of visionaries like Walter De Brouwer. The Belgian futurist co-founded Starlab in 1996 with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. He first got the idea for the Tricorder while at Starlab but the technology wasn't mature enough at the time. In 2006 his son was in a serious accident and hospitalized for three months. De Brouwer again got to thinking about leveraging technology to empower people by allowing them to auto-diagnose and make informed decisions concerning health."

An annotated overview of 98 astronomy applications for smart phones and tablets has been published in the on-line journal "Astronomy Education Review." Compiled by Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College), the list features a brief description and a direct URL for each app.

The listing includes a variety of apps for displaying and explaining the sky above you (some using the GPS function in your device); a series of astronomical clocks, calculators, and calendars; sky catalogs and observing planners; planet atlases and globes; citizens science tools and image displays; a directory of astronomy clubs in the U.S.; and even a graphic simulator for making galaxies collide. A number of the apps are free, and others cost just a dollar or two. A brief list of articles featuring astronomy app reviews is also included.

You can access the article free of charge at: http://aer.aas.org/resource/1/aerscz/v10/i1/p010302_s1

Astronomy Education Review is on-line journal about astronomy education and outreach, published by the American Astronomical Society, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this fall. You can find it at: http://aer.aas.org (Via Planetary Science Newsletter)