Archives

NASA Hack Space: March 2012


Star Trek-like open-source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more, MSNBC

"A person with that level of smarts, apparently, has enough brain power leftover in his spare time to invent tricorders, not to mention the greedlessness to share the blueprint with DIYers who want their own. Instructions are available from his Tricorder Project website. Like the Trek devices, Jansen's gadgets will measure the environment, things such as ambient temperature, humidity and magnetic fields, as well as take spatial readings for distance, location and even motion. They won't, however, identify aliens for you."

How to make your own tricorder, Smart planet

"Take one part open-source code, two parts OLED display, mix in a generous helping of curiosity and serve with a side of extra-delicious geekiness. That's your basic recipe for a real-life tricorder, as envisioned and modeled by Dr. Peter Jansen. The result is a handheld device with sensors for reading atmospheric, electromagnetic and spacial properties in the surrounding environment. Dr. Jansen's tricorder won't necessarily detect alien life-forms, but there's plenty of room to expand on his open-source design. Your mileage may vary."

Researcher publishes specs for real Linux-powered Star Trek tricorder, Ars Technica

"The Mark 2 tricorder, which is the more sophisticated of the two devices, runs Debian Linux on an ARM920T-based Amtel microcontroller. It is designed in a clamshell form factor, with a pair of OLED resistive touchscreen panels on the inside. Jansen's Mark 2 tricorder is powered by a lithium polymer battery (more energy efficient than the Mark 2 EMH, which is powered by Andy Dick) that fits inside the device's housing. The built-in sensors can measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level, GPS location, and distance to a surface."

National Robotics Competition Arrives in Washington March 30

"Media representatives are invited to attend an international student robotics competition sponsored by NASA and other organizations Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, in Washington. The competition, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, provides access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering, and possibly become the nation's next generation of technical leaders."

"This year, we are giving everyone the chance to attend the Innovation Summit - virtually. We'll stream live footage of the Summit's opening remarks, daily fireside chats, interactive student workshops, and opening and closing ceremonies."

Live webcast Link

Today, in a message from the International Space Station, Astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank welcomed students to the Conrad Foundation Innovation Summit at NASA Ames Research Center. Burbank refered to a comment made by President Obama to participants at the Second Annual Science Fair at the White House: "Don't be bored - make something!". Video (go to 00:35)

Book Review: "Crater" By Homer Hickam

"Crater" by Homer Hickam, is aimed at younger readers and manages to deliver quite a well-paced adventure. The book focuses on the adventures of Crater Trueblood a 16 year old blue collar kid who lives on the Moon complete with a mysterious past and a penchant for invention. He also has a knack of stumbling into one mini-adventure after another as he makes his way across the lunar surface to catch a ride on a spaceship to obtain a secret object for his boss. In a nutshell, "Crater" is sort of like Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones on the Moon - with some John Guest thrown in for good measure."

NASA's Grail MoonKAM Returns First Student-Selected Lunar Images

"One of two NASA spacecraft orbiting the moon has beamed back the first student-requested pictures of the lunar surface from its onboard camera. Fourth grade students from the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., received the honor of making the first image selections by winning a nationwide competition to rename the two spacecraft. The image was taken by the MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students. Previously named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) A and B, the twin spacecraft are now called Ebb and Flow. Both washing-machine-sized orbiters carry a small MoonKAM camera. Over 60 student-requested images were taken aboard the Ebb spacecraft from March 15-17 and downlinked to Earth on March 20."

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium March 27-29

"NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium will be held March 27-29 at the Westin Pasadena Hotel, 191 North Los Robles Ave., in Pasadena, Calif. The NIAC examines early stage concepts that may lead to advanced and innovative space technologies critical for NASA to enable missions 10 to 100 years from today. Panel topics during the symposium include space debris elimination, fission fragment rocket engine propelled spacecraft, and the potential for ambient plasma wave propulsion systems."

NASA Astronaut to Name Global Winners in YouTube Space Lab Contest

"NASA astronaut Suni Williams will announce Thursday the two winners of the YouTube Space Lab contest, a global science competition that challenges 14-18 year-old students to design a science experiment for the International Space Station. Thousands of individuals and teams from more than 80 countries entered the competition to have their experiment flown in space. Williams will perform the two winning YouTube Space Lab contest experiments 250 miles above Earth during the Expedition 32 and 33 missions on the space station later this year."

Ron Garan Receives 2011 Spirit of Yuri's Night Award

"NASA Astronaut Ron Garan was officially presented with the 2011 Spirit of Yuri's Night Award on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, after a day of special events welcoming him back to his childhood home of Yonkers, NY. "This is a great honor, and especially personal for me since I traveled to the International Space Station in a Soyuz spacecraft dubbed "Gagarin", launched from the same launch pad that Yuri Gagarin launched from more than 50 years ago," said Garan."

NASA Calls for Student-Designed Deep Space Habitat Proposals

"NASA is offering college and university students a chance to help design a deep space habitat. The Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is accepting applications for the 2013 challenge, inviting students to design, manufacture, assemble and test systems for use on NASA's deep space habitat prototype. Past projects have included an inflatable loft for crew sleeping quarters, plant growth systems and sample handling tools. This year, students in multiple disciplines can choose projects from a variety of possibilities, including photovoltaic solar arrays, a workstation to support human-robotic collaboration or a telepresence and holodeck conceptual system. Students will work together on potential solutions to needs future astronauts might have living and working outside Earth."

Through MoonMappers The Public Is Offered a Chance to be Part of NASA Lunar Science

"The MoonMappers citizen science project at CosmoQuest.org invites the public to become part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's science team. Through this project, the public is invited to explore high-resolution lunar images and map out scientifically interesting features. MoonMappers was designed and programmed at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in collaboration with scientists from around this world. The focus of MoonMappers is two-fold: To determine the most effective way to map craters on the Moon, and to use those maps to define areas for follow-up study."

NASA Selects Next Class of Student Ambassadors

"NASA recently inducted 100 high-performing interns into the 2012 NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community. Their selection is part of the agency's effort to engage undergraduate and graduate students in science, engineering, mathematics and technology, or STEM, research and interactive opportunities. This fourth group of student ambassadors, known as Cohort IV, includes interns from 34 states and 73 universities. Members of this virtual community will interact with NASA personnel, share information, make vital professional connections, collaborate with peers, represent NASA in a variety of venues, and help inspire and engage future interns. Through the community's website, participants access tools needed to serve as a student ambassador, blog, announcements, member profiles, forums, polls, and career resources."

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Human Use

"General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA's Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station."

3D-Printer with Nano-Precision (with video), Vienna University of Technology

"Printing three dimensional objects with incredibly fine details is now possible using "two-photon lithography". With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a major breakthrough in speeding up this printing technique: The high-precision-3D-printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster than similar devices (see video). This opens up completely new areas of application, such as in medicine."

Conrad Foundation: Cast Your Vote for Prestigious Student Award

"It is the power of the people that will select the 2012 winner of the People's Choice Award which is bestowed on the student team with the most innovative new product in the Conrad Foundation's annual Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge). Through March 23, the public is invited to review the profiles of the 15 finalist teams, view their product videos and cast a vote. One vote is allowed per person per challenge category."

NASA CTO Peck Visits Pasadena's Honeybee Robotics Wednesday

"NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck will visit Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday, March 14. Peck's visit will highlight how government can partner with small business to help create the jobs of the future through investment in science and technology. Honeybee Robotics has been a technology supplier to the last three Mars missions. It has received multiple NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to develop mechanisms that could be used on future NASA missions, many of which also have potential in the commercial marketplace. These include excavation and drilling tools for potential use in harsh environments on Earth and other planets."

Academy of Art University and NASA Announce Design Partnership

"This semester, Academy of Art University Industrial Design students will collaborate with the NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, California) to design a user interface that will allow future astronauts in space to remotely operate a robot on Earth. A number of thesis level students have been chosen and will use a variety of design skills to complete the project, including storyboarding, task analysis, ideation, brainstorming, sketching and rendering. The students' work will be used to create the user interface elements, including icons wireframes and glyphs. Simultaneously the team is identifying opportunities for additional design disciplines to be integrated into the experience. Already the team is starting conceptual work on interior architecture, product design, and apparel."

"Hello my name is Nick Centera and I have put together a small team of independent filmmakers bound together by a project called "From The Sky". This is a short film sparked by the idea of interplanetary communication that Nikola Tesla claimed as reality as early as 1899. From the Sky is a short film about a young man's journey to develop one of Nikola Tesla's greatest ideas, interplanetary communication. While alone in a field one night, he has an encounter with something not of this world." They are crowd sourcing funding for this project - more at indiegogo

NASA Launches International Competition to Develop Space Apps

"NASA, governments around the world and civil society organizations will co-host the International Space Apps Challenge on April 21-22 with events across seven continents and in space. The apps competition will bring people together to exploit openly available data collected by space agencies around the world to create innovative solutions to longstanding global challenges. An initiative of the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, the challenge will showcase the impact scientists and citizens can have by working together to solve challenging problems that affect every person on Earth. Events will take place in San Francisco; Exeter, U.K.; Melbourne, Australia; Sao Paulo; Nairobi, Kenya; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo; McMurdo Station, Antarctica; and the International Space Station."

NASA Solicitation: Scientific Payload for Multipoint Space Physics Measurements: Nansoat Cubesat

"NASA/ARC plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a minimum of 14 units, with options for up to 6 additional units, for a maximum of 20, identical flight-qualified payload instrument packages. These packages must be designed to interface with the Government-furnished EtherSat bus for the purpose of demonstrating distributed multipoint space physics measurements hosted by the Ethersat constellation. A provision of 25% spare parts/units (detailed in Delivery section of the draft Statement of Work) is additionally to be provided. One "engineering development unit"(EDU) (for evaluation purposes) is also to be delivered, near mid-term. The period of performance is to be less than 7 months total duration, with delivery required in November 2012 to meet NASA's satellite integration schedule."

NASA Solicitation: Space Technology Research Opportunities for Early Career Faculty

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) and the Space Technology Research Grants Program, in particular, seek proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of faculty members beginning their independent careers. This solicitation is focused on supporting outstanding faculty researchers early in their careers as they conduct space technology research of high priority to NASA's Mission Directorates and OCT. NASA is seeking proposals that plan to pursue innovative, early-stage space technology research in the topic areas specifically enumerated in the solicitation."

Autonomous Space Capture Challenge Opens Algorithmic Crowdsourcing to General Public

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators and MIT, today announced registration has opened for the Autonomous Space Capture Challenge, an algorithm competition from Zero Robotics which seeks computationally efficient code solutions for a hypothetical mission scenario which models autonomous docking or satellite servicing procedures. The online challenge is open to all eligible participants but especially teams from high schools and colleges. Four winning submissions will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the recently established SPHERES national laboratory by astronauts. Successful teams will be invited to watch the event live onsite at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or via webcast feed remotely."

Citizen Scientists Reveal a Bubbly Milky Way

"A team of volunteers has pored over observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and discovered more than 5,000 "bubbles" in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. Young, hot stars blow these bubbles into surrounding gas and dust, indicating areas of brand new star formation. Upwards of 35,000 "citizen scientists" sifted through the Spitzer infrared data as part of the online Milky Way Project to find these telltale bubbles. The volunteers have turned up 10 times as many bubbles as previous surveys so far."

NASA Ames RFI: Compact Technology to Detect Health-related Biomarkers or Analytes in Space

"NASA Ames Research Center is exploring the state-of-the-art in technologies to detect health-related biomarkers/analytes in space. For this Request for Information (RFI), NASA is seeking detailed information regarding compact technologies currently available that can analyze health-related biomarkers/analytes in breath, saliva, dermal emanations, blood, and urine using a single compact device. The specific biomarkers/analytes to be detected are currently under evaluation by NASA, but include a broad range of molecules and cells associated with health status, impact of the space environment on individual astronauts, and prediction of future health events. Analyses and analytes of interest include cell profiles, proteins and peptides, and small organic molecules."

High School Students to Show off Design and Engineering Talent at First Robotics Competition

"More than 1,500 high school students from across Ohio, the U.S. and Canada, will compete in the 11th annual Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Admission is free and open to the public. The event runs Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24, at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., in Cleveland. Practice rounds will be held March 22, and Friday and Saturday are competition days. During the event, 60 teams of 15-25 students will compete with their robots for honors and recognition. There will be forty teams from schools and community organizations from Ohio, and 20 out-of-state teams representing Canada, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania."

"My Lego tribute to the end of the space shuttle era. Proving that although retired, this machine can still fly, albeit in toy form. The launch took place from central Germany and reached a max altitude of 35000m. A 1600g meteo balloon filled with helium was used alongside a GoPro Hero, Spot GPS and of course Lego Space Shuttle model 3367." More

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Spring Symposium

"The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program is proud to announce its first annual Spring Symposium at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena, California on March 27-29, 2012. All are invited to attend this meeting which will feature research presentations from our NIAC Phase I Fellows. Topics will include: Propulsion & Power, Space Debris Removal, NEO Mitigation, Humans in Space and on Planetary Surfaces, Robotics & Space Probes, and Imaging & Communications. Keynote presentations will be given from experts in aeronautics and advanced technologies and further information will be discussed regarding the latest news about NIAC's exciting progress and plans."

Community College Scholars Selected to Design Robotic Rovers

"Community college students will have the chance to design robotic rovers in cooperation with NASA. Ninety-two students from schools in 24 states have been selected to travel to a NASA center to develop rovers through the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. The initiative provides hands-on opportunities to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Students will visit either NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., from May 1-3, or NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston from May 9-11. The teams will establish fictional companies pursuing Mars exploration. Each team will develop, design and build a prototype rover, then use their prototypes to navigate a course, collect rocks and water and return to a home base."

Student Teams to Conduct Microgravity Experiments at Glenn Research Center

"NASA-selected student teams will test their science experiments in the 2.2-second drop tower at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland from March 15-20. While in free fall, the students' experiments will experience microgravity conditions similar to those on the International Space Station. The selections are part of two national science competitions: Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) for high school student teams and What If No Gravity? (WING) for student teams in fifth through eighth grades. The four winning DIME teams will receive a stipend to support a visit to Glenn to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel and tour Glenn's facilities."

Hacking Curiosity: Adding an aftermarket sample collection capability to the Mars Science Lab, Doug Mohney

"NASA's withdrawal from a joint ExoMars 2016/2018 mission has left the planetary science community grieving the at loss of the first step in a sample return mission: collection of samples. However, there's a $2.5 billion rover with a mechanical arm and plenty of power scheduled to land on Mars in August. Can the Mars Science Lab (MSL) Curiosity be fitted with a couple of "aftermarket" sample collection racks once it completes its primary mission of one Martian year? The author believes there is the potential to do so."