NASA Hack Space: April 2012

DARPA Opens International Dialog on Satellite Servicing

"Current satellites are not designed to be serviced in space. When a communication satellite in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) fails 36,000 kilometers above the earth, typically, it is moved into a "graveyard" orbit where it remains indefinitely. Many of the satellites which are obsolete or have failed still have usable antennas, solar arrays and other components which are expected to last much longer than the life of the satellite, but currently there is no way to re-use them."

NASA Asks Public to Provide Videos and Photos of Meteor (with photos of fresh finds)

"NASA and the SETI Institute are asking the public for more information to help find amateur photos and video footage of the daylight meteor that illuminated the sky over the Sierra Nevada mountains and created sonic booms that were heard over a wide area at 7:51 a.m. PDT Sunday, April 22, 2012."

Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

"The object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion."

NASA NIAC Releases Call For Phase II Visionary Advanced Concepts

"The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program is seeking proposals to continue promising studies for which it has supported the first phase. These cutting-edge concepts have the potential to transform future exploration missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building, and operating aerospace systems. "These transformative concepts have the potential to mature into the new capabilities NASA needs for the challenging space missions in its future," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington."

Partnership Opportunity Document for Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration Missions

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA)Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is considering multiple missions on Cubesat-class platforms to conduct technology demonstrations, which advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of these systems. Systems providing novel in-space primary propulsion as well as spacecraft to ground communication and spacecraft to spacecraft communication cross-links for Cubesats are of interest. GSFC teams will be submitting proposals to the Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration (Edison) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in May 2012."

A Washington State University astrobiologist is leading a group of 20 scientists in calling for a mission to Mars with "a strong and comprehensive life detection component." At the heart of their proposal is a small fleet of sensor packages that can punch into the Martian soil and run a range of tests for signs of ancient or existing life.

NASA Solicitation: Orbital Debris Mitigation Options for Cubesat Missions

"The objectives of this RFI are: 1) to invite industry to submit information that will allow NASA to assess various design alternatives for orbital debris mitigation options applicable to Cubesat missions in Low Earth Orbit (LEO); 2) to improve NASA's knowledge of industry's capability and viability; and 3) to improve the overall understanding of Cubesat mission designs consistent with NPR 8715.6A, NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris, NASA STD 8719.14, Process for Limiting Orbital Debris, and NASA Handbook 8719.14, Handbook for Limiting Orbital Debris."

CubeSat-based Science Missions for Geospace and Atmospheric Research, NSF

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): May 07, 2012

Synopsis of Program: Lack of essential observations from space is currently a major limiting factor in many areas of geospace and atmospheric research. Recent advances in sensor and spacecraft technologies make it feasible to obtain key measurements from low-cost, small satellite missions. A particularly promising aspect of this development is the prospect for obtaining multi-point observations in space that are critical for addressing many outstanding problems in space and atmospheric sciences. Space-based measurements from small satellites also have great potential to advance discovery and understanding in geospace and atmospheric sciences in many other ways. To take full advantage of these developments, NSF is soliciting research proposals centered on small satellite missions.

The overarching goal of the program is to support the development, construction, launch, operation, and data analysis of small satellite science missions to advance geospace and atmospheric research. Equally important, it will provide essential opportunities to train the next generation of experimental space scientists and aerospace engineers.

To facilitate launch of the satellites as secondary payloads on existing missions, the focus of the program is on CubeSat-based satellites. Launch of the satellites will mainly be through the standardized CubeSat deployment system, the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD). Launch of the P-PODS will be as auxiliary payloads on DOD, NASA, or commercial launches. This will be arranged after selection and is not part of this solicitation. This solicitation covers proposals for science missions to include satellite development, construction, testing and operation as well as data distribution and scientific analysis.

The International Space Apps Challenge will take place this weekend, April 21-22, 2012. Nearly 2,000 people are registered to attend in 24 cities around the world.

NASA is working with 8 other government agencies and over 100 organizations world wide to host the two-day technology development event. Solutions to over 60 challenges related to open source software, open hardware, citizen science platforms, and data visualization will be worked on throughout the event, including an opportunity to launch your code to space on NASA's phonesat!

The locations include:

NASA's Ultragreen Building Awarded LEED Platinum

"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced this week that the new ultragreen federal facility, named Sustainability Base, located at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., received the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, LEED Platinum."

AECOM-led Design and Engineering Team Realizes NASA Vision for Sustainability Base on Earth

"An onsite fuel cell, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, a geothermal heat pump, passive and low-energy HVAC systems, and intelligent building controls that interact with users are among the building's advanced engineering features."

William McDonough + Partners Celebrates Dedication of Sustainability Base - NASA's First Space Station on Earth

"The NASA Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building will optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external changes in real time."

Innovative Nanosat Will Test Space Software

"How do you test ground-breaking satellite software under real flight conditions? Why not build a satellite? A new design developed by ESA promises new opportunities for European space industry to test software on an actual mission in space. The popular image of a 21st-century satellite includes a sleek design, gossamer solar arrays, ultra-high-tech components and cutting-edge digital electronics. And the onboard software must be the very latest thing, too, right? Wrong. Or, at least, the reality is much more prosaic: software used in satellites today is certainly good, but it rarely runs the latest operating systems, languages or interfaces. "Space software is generally older because it is selected for its proven, rock-solid reliability rather than its use of the latest and newest programming technologies," says Dave Evans, a mission concept engineer at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. "ESA is still using the Packet Utilisation Standard to control our satellites, which was defined in 1994. "Today, the software for terrestrial computers has completely changed. Who else do you know still using software from 1994? Back then, PCs were running Windows 3.1 with 3.5-inch floppy disks."

NASA OSIRIS-REx Mission Wants Amateur Astronomers To Target Asteroids

"A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. NEOs are asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to the Earth. Starting today, a new citizen science project called "Target Asteroids!" will support NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission objectives to improve basic scientific understanding of NEOs. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will study material from an asteroid."

NASA Competition Challenges Coders to Make Available Huge Store of Space Informatics

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, in collaboration with the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) today announced the second phase of the Planetary Data System (PDS) Challenge series This is an open call competition to create new mobile and web-based apps that will provide easier access for the general public to the Planetary Data System's vast 100 terabyte archive of images and data gleaned from planetary missions from the past 30 years."

Mission-X 2012: Mission Accomplished

"Mission-X is a worldwide educational initiative supported by ESA and national space agencies to encourage healthy and active lifestyles among children aged 8-12 years. Astronauts are inspiring children to eat healthily and exercise regularly. This year's challenge involved 10 300 students exercising hard over six weeks since it was launched from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers on 2 February. The aim: gain points to send Mission-X mascot Astro Charlie to the Moon. Points were earned by completing challenges inspired by astronaut training."

CASIS and NanoRacks Announce Expanded ISS Research Capabilities

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, today announced a deal with NanoRacks, LLC, to reserve space on the first commercial platform available for researchers outside the ISS in the extreme environments of space."

CASIS and NanoRacks Close Deal to Use Commercial Research Platform in the Extremes of Space

"In June, CASIS will issue a formal solicitation to the research community and private enterprise for their proposals to use this one-of-a-kind platform for anything from earth observation to materials, and biological sciences."

Commercial Platform Offers Exposure at Space Station< NASA

"The contributions by NanoRacks and Astrium are the most recent example of NASA efforts to expand the station's research capacity through innovative partnerships with commercial companies."

SPHERES operates inside the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). As shown in the diagram below, we've defined a JEM coordinate system with X forward, Y starboard, Z toward the deck, and the origin in the middle of the module. For our test, Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum velcroed the smartphone to the -X face of the sphere and placed the sphere at the origin of the coordinate system. From a laptop, he ran a program on the sphere to translate it one meter to +X and back to center, one meter to +Y and back, and one meter to +Z and back. Then the sphere made a full rotation about each of the X, Y, and Z axes.

Prepared remarks of Tom Kalil at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation April 12, 2012 Washington, DC

Good morning. Today I am going to be talking about Grand Challenges - ambitious yet achievable goals that capture the public's imagination and that require innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology to achieve. Some historical examples of Grand Challenges are President Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon or the Human Genome Project. More recently, we have seen decentralized, bottom-up efforts as well. Jimmy Wales defined the mission of Wikipedia as giving "freely the sum of the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in the language of their choice." Today Wikipedia has almost 20 million articles in 282 languages and 365 million readers.

NASA to Fly Deep Space Atomic Clock to Improve Navigation Technology

"NASA is preparing to fly a Deep Space Atomic Clock, or DSAC, demonstration that will revolutionize the way we conduct deep-space navigation by enabling a spacecraft to calculate its own timing and navigation data in real time. This one-way navigation technology would improve upon the current two-way system in which information is sent to Earth, requiring a ground team to calculate timing and navigation and then transmitting it back to the spacecraft. A real-time, on-board navigation capability is key to improving NASA's capabilities for executing time critical events, such as a planetary landing or planetary "fly-by," when signal delays are too great for the ground to interact with the spacecraft during the event."

Largest student rocket contest brings diversity and talent to U.S. STEM pipeline, AIA

"With the exception of a shared passion for science, math and engineering, the 100 teams that will compete in the tenth anniversary Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals this year show a stunning diversity of backgrounds and interests. The Aerospace Industries Association today unveiled this year's roster of rocket-building finalists, which includes more than 600 students from 29 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representing a wide cross-section of American youth, TARC teams - including an all-girl team, 4-H club, a rock band and a hockey team - bring varying perspectives and experiences to the annual competition, which is known for sparking careers in science, math and engineering."

DARPA Seeks Robot Enthusiasts (and you) To Face Off for $2 million Prize

"DARPA's Robotics Challenge will launch in October 2012. Teams are sought to compete in challenges involving staged disaster-response scenarios in which robots will have to successfully navigate a series of physical tasks corresponding to anticipated, real-world disaster-response requirements. Robots played a supporting role in mitigating fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, and are used by U.S. military forces as assistants for servicemembers in diffusing improvised explosive devices. True innovation in robotics technology could result in much more effective robots that could better intervene in high-risk situations and thus save human lives and help contain the impact of natural and man-made disasters."

NASA Announces Student Winners in Space Game Design Challenge

"Three school student teams in the fifth through eighth grades have been selected as the winners of NASA's second annual Spaced Out Sports challenge. The students designed science-based games that will be played by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The games illustrate and apply Newton's laws of motion by showing the differences between Earth's gravity and the microgravity environment of the space station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities. To design their game, students use up to five items from a two-page list of objects aboard the ISS. The list includes such items as socks, exercise putty, bungees, cotton swabs, tape, rubber bands, zipper-top bags, chocolate-covered candies and drink bags."

NASA Releases New Open Government Plan

"NASA today released version 2.0 of its Open Government Plan, which includes a flagship initiative to build a new web architecture and a renewed focus on open data sharing, open source development and a variety of technology acceleration efforts. The plan also features a directory of more than 100 participatory, collaborative and transparent projects, offering citizens opportunities to understand, support and engage with the agency. Throughout the next year, NASA will continue to add projects to the directory."

Reporters Invited to Tour NASA's New Ultragreen Building April 19-20

"NASA's newest building also is one of the nation's greenest. News media are invited to tour the facility, called Sustainability Base, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday, April 19, 2012, at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Reporters also are invited to the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. the following day. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building can optimize its performance automatically, in real time, in response to internal and external changes. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating."

NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities #4 Now Open

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) seeks to mature towards flight readiness status crosscutting technologies that perform relevant environment testing and advance multiple future space missions. To facilitate this goal, NASA is providing access to certain flight opportunities available to the Agency, on a no-exchange-of funds basis, to entities that have technology payloads meeting specified criteria. They may be exposed to a near-zero or reduced gravity environment by flying on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on sRLVs that are potentially capable of flying to altitudes above 100 km. For flight tests that do not require microgravity, but do require the temperature, pressure and atmospheric conditions of high altitudes, balloon flights are available."

NASA Office of the Chief Technologist; NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts: Phase II NRA 2012

"This NRA solicits multiple studies, each of which will further investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept that has the potential to change the possible in aeronautics or space. NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is part of the Office of Chief Technologist (OCT). Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts proposed for NIAC Phase II studies must be exciting, unexplored, far-term, and technically credible. Narrow technology or subsystem development, and incremental improvement are explicitly out of scope for this program. Finally, while NIAC encourages great leaps and accepts the accompanying risk, proposals must be technically credible, based on sound scientific principles."

Project Glass, Google

"A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We're sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do."

Kepler Explorer App Puts Distant Planets at Fingertips

"Now available for free from the iTunes App Store, Kepler Explorer was developed through the OpenLab initiative at UC Santa Cruz, which brought together faculty and students in astrophysics, art, and technology for a summer institute last year. The Kepler Explorer team includes astrophysicist Jonathan Fortney, a member of the Kepler science team; two of his graduate students, Eric Lopez and Caroline Morley; artist Kyle McKinley, a recent graduate of the Digital Arts and New Media program; and John Peters, a recent graduate of the computer game design program."

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Design for Robot to Prospect at Moon's Poles

"Astrobotic Technology unveiled its new Polaris lunar rover design, which will prospect for potentially rich deposits of water ice, methane and other resources at the moon's north pole in three years. A powerful Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX will launch Polaris from Cape Canaveral in late October 2015. Four days later Polaris will land during north pole summer, when patches of ground that are in cold shadow most of the year get brief illumination. This is where ice will be found closest to the surface, and when a solar-powered robot will get the sunlight needed to sustain exploration. Polaris will search for ice for the next 12 days until sundown in early November."

NSF Announces New Expeditions in Computing Awards

"The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) today announced four new Expeditions in Computing awards. Each award will provide $10 million in funding over five years, representing the single largest investments in computer science research NSF makes. "Computer science research drives advances in science, engineering and education with significant positive impact on the economy, the achievement of national priorities and improvements in quality of life. The U.S. government has an essential role to play in ensuring that investments in this field are sustained over the long-term," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "With these Expeditions awards, NSF continues its tradition of investing in ambitious, bold ideas. Our economic future and competitiveness depend on them."

NASA Solicitation: Airship Flight Services for NASA Ames Research Center

"NASA/ARC intends to purchase the flight services from Airship Ventures, Inc. of Mountain View, CA to fly its Zeppelin NT107 Airship in support of research. The airship has specific maneuvering, acceleration, and hovering capabilities unavailable through other aircraft and airship companies. The services will also require the installation of research equipment onto the airship, and contractor-support during flights."

2012 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge Winners Announced

"Four teams of high school students unleashed a new wave of product development and entrepreneurism receiving top honors at the 2012 Innovation Summit, the final round of competition for the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge). Winning presentations ranged from a water purifying specialty bicycle that creates potable water while also serving as transportation in under-developed communities to a new lightweight fabric constructed of phase-changing crystals for cooling and ventilation in harsh environments. The conference took place March 29-31 at NASA-Ames Research Center. It gathered 15 finalist teams, who have been competing since fall 2011 to develop innovative products that tackle some of the world's most pressing issues in the areas of aerospace exploration, clean energy, and health and nutrition. The program is hosted by the Conrad Foundation."

The Secret History of OpenStack, the Free Cloud Software That's Changing Everything, Wired

"OpenStack is software anyone can use to build their own version of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, the massively popular web service that gives developers and businesses instant access to virtual servers. The roots of OpenStack stretch back only about four years to a skunk works project inside of NASA, but it has already overturned the status quo in both the private sector and the public. After catching the eye of Vivek Kundra -- the country's first CIO -- it's used not only by NASA but by other operations across the federal government. After it was launched to the rest of the world through an unlikely partnership between the space agency and Rackspace -- the Texas outfit that trails only Amazon in the cloud computing game -- it's now backed by over 150 companies worldwide. And it's shaping the future of such names as HP, Cisco, Dell, and -- if the rumors are true -- IBM."