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NASA Hack Space: June 2012


New NanoRacks' Software Platform Speeds Space Customer Payloads to International Space Station

"A new software platform designed to ease the passage of payloads from earth to space was announced today at the AAS Space Station Research and Development Conference by NanoRacks, LLC, the leading company for space utilization. Payload TrackerTM is the first ever user-friendly tool that is specifically designed to allow customers, government officials, launch providers and others to track individual payloads through the myriad NASA safety and procedural requirements involved in launching customer project to the International Space Station."

Photo: Zero Robotics (SPHERES ZR) Flying Inside the Space Station

"Two bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites called Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites Zero Robotics (SPHERES ZR) are pictured during a test session in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station."

Extremely Little Telescope Discovers Pair of Odd Planets

"The KELT team scans those bright stars, and watches to see if the starlight dims just a little -- an indication that a planet has crossed in front of the star. The technique is called the "transit method," and takes advantage of situations such as the recent transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in our own solar system. It's a low-cost means of planet-hunting, using mostly off-the-shelf technology; whereas a traditional astronomical telescope costs millions of dollars to build, the hardware for a KELT telescope runs less than $75,000."

Kids are always told to reach for the stars. Now, NASA is literally giving them a chance to by providing middle and high school students with unprecedented access to the International Space Station and letting them write the programs that control state-of-the-art robots on the International Space Station -- no Ph.D. in astrophysics required!

The NASA Tournament Laboratory, established by NASA and Harvard University, along with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community, have partnered with Tongal to hold a competition with cash prizes for winning ideas, pitches and promotional videos to inspire tomorrow's scientists to see mathematics as more than just digits on a calculator, to further the study of outer space and to push the limits of human knowledge about the worlds (and the space) beyond our planet. The winning videos will help inspire middle and high school students to compete in the Zero Robotics Challenge, which is managed for NASA by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT.

Design a space settlement! Space settlements are permanent communities in orbit, as opposed to being on the moon or other planets. Designing a space settlement involves physics, mathematics, space science, environmental science and many other disciplines.

The NASA Space Settlement Design Contest is intended for students in grades 6-12, although younger students may enter. Individual or teams from anywhere in the world may enter. Grade levels are judged separately, except for the grand prize. All participants will receive a certificate. Submissions must be received by March 15, 2013.

For more information about the NASA Space Settlement Design Contest, visit http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/Contest/. If you have any questions about the contest, please email Al Globus at aglobus@mail.arc.nasa.gov.

ESA Summer Camp Yields Innovative Apps

"This week's ESA App Camp didn't see canoeing or campfires. Developers worked diligently despite the Mediterranean heat to create applications for mobile phones that bring Earth observation and GMES services to the everyday user. Ending today at ESRIN, ESA's centre for Earth observation, in Frascati, Italy, 21 developers from 17 ESA and EU Member States spent the week creating mobile applications - or apps - using satellite data."

NASA Offers Web, Mobile Links to Follow Space Station and Mission Control

"NASA is using the Internet and smartphones to provide the public with a new inside look at what happens aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and in the Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Log onto the agency's Space Station Live! web page or download the companion ISSLive! mobile application to get up-to-the-minute information."

Inspired teams seeking a place to collaborate need look no further. The UK Space Agency is calling forward multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational groups for the Space Collaborative Innovation Team Initiative (Space CITI). Successful teams with innovative ideas will be provided with up to #0.5M funding and world class facilities to call home.

Space CITI is a pilot programme designed to support accelerated innovation and economic growth. Funding will be available for one or more focussed multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational teams to undertake a programme of work which exploits the unique environment of the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell, Oxford.

The Arctic's 24/7 banking ship, We Make Money Not Art

"The event takes place in the early 2040s, when an ex-Soviet Arktika class, one of the nuclear powered icebreakers traditionally used for clearing shipping lanes north of Siberia as well as for scientific and recreational expeditions to the Arctic, is recommissioned to host a barely legal experiment in global finance. The icebreaker would be entirely refitted to welcome highly qualified traders on board and would circle at 88.7 degrees latitude - the heart of the arctic sea. By circumnavigating the world in twenty-four hours, the ship would thus stay in constant contact with trading zones throughout the world."

Stories From The First Transnational Traders, Tobias Revell

Keith's note:To be certain this has a couple of big questions such as does it make any sense? Why not just pay people to stay up all night and stay home. But stop and ponder for a moment: what happens when commerce, finance, industry, and consumption all actually begin to move off of Earth into space to locations that may not necessarily have a national designation - or have many, simultaneously. What is the time zone for outer space? Day and night happen multiple times a day in LEO. On the Moon takes 2 weeks. In deep space there really is no day/night cycle.

NASA Rocket Carrying Student Experiments Launched From Wallops Flight Facility

"A NASA rocket carrying seventeen educational experiments was successfully launched at 6:40 a.m. today from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The experiments built by university instructors and students from across the country were developed through programs conducted with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia. The programs are designed to provide participants an introduction in building small experiments that can be launched on sounding rockets."

ESA Call for Proposals: Supporting Young Scientists

"ESA is offering young postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to address key scientific challenges in Earth science by maximising the use of satellite data. New proposals for the Changing Earth Science Network initiative can now be submitted. The initiative supports young European scientists starting their career in Earth science for a period of two years to undertake innovative research projects that address the key scientific challenges of ESA's Earth observation science strategy."

NASA Set To Host Future Female Explorers

"Eighty-four female high school students from 29 states will plan a simulated mission to Mars and experience life as an engineer or scientist when NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston hosts two events focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in June and July. The Women in STEM High School Aerospace Scholars project, or WISH, is sponsoring two six-day summer camps for rising high school seniors."

"This month, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole hiked to a spot in Trinity County, east of California's rough Bigfoot country. Nestled at the base of a hill of loose rock, peppered by red and purple wildflowers, is Hall City Cave. For part of the winter the cave is infested with large spiders, but is mostly flooded year-round. Locals whisper the cave's deep pools hold a cache of stolen gold, but Mr. Stackpole isn't here to look for treasure. He had, under his arm, what might appear to be a clunky toy blue submarine about the size of a lunchbox. The machine is the latest prototype of the OpenROV-an open-source, remotely operated vehicle that could map the cave in 3D using software from Autodesk and collect water in places too tight for a diver to go. It could change the future of ocean exploration. ... NEEMO caught the eye of NASA after winning a regional International Space Apps Challenge, where 2000 hacker participants gathered across the internet and worked collaboratively on 71 problems over a 48-hour deadline."

More from Brian Lam at The New York Times

NASA Office of Education solicits proposals for the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

"Each funded NASA EPSCoR proposal is expected to establish research activities that will make significant contributions to the strategic research and technology development priorities of one or more of the Mission Directorates or the OCT and contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities, higher education, and economic development of the jurisdiction. If submitted, Notices of Intent are due on July 20, 2012 and proposals are due on August 14, 2012."

Final Frontier Design's 3G Space Suit on Kickstarter

"At FFD, we are working together to bring our vision of a lightweight, inexpensive, and highly functional space suit to the new space industry. Our Kickstarter goal, the FFD Third Generation (3G) Suit, will be built to conform to the standards of NASA flight certification to the best of our ability, and will feature upgrades to our 2011 Second Generation (2G) Suit (pictured with Nik), including a higher operating pressure, a carbon fiber waist ring, a retractable helmet, and improved gloves and glove disconnects. Our plan is to complete construction of this 3G Suit before 2013."

ESA Tests Self-steering Rover in 'Mars' Desert

"ESA assembled a top engineering team, then challenged them to devise a way for rovers to navigate on alien planets. Six months later, a fully autonomous vehicle was charting its course through Chile's Mars-like Atacama Desert. May's full-scale rover field test marked the final stage of a StarTiger project code-named 'Seeker'. Standing for 'Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers', StarTiger involves a multidisciplinary team gathered at a single site, working against the clock to achieve a technology breakthrough."

NASA Sample Return Robot Return Challenge at WPI Concludes

"Autonomous robots roamed across the grassy terrain at Worcester Polytechnic Institute searching for samples to collect at the 2012 Sample Return Robot Challenge in Worcester, Mass., June 14-17. The challenge: design, develop and demonstrate the next generation of robots capable of exploring the landscapes of other worlds. Eleven teams initially registered for the competition. Six teams made it to WPI for the start of the challenge. After weigh-in and inspections, one team (Space Pride -- http://www.spacepride.com) successfully met all requirements and competed in the challenge but did not win a cash prize."

"Our mission is to provide affordable space exploration for everyone! We want to get you into space! Once launched, the ArduSat (Arduino - satellite) will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand, and even broadcast personalized messages back to Earth. By supporting the project you're not only reserving your place at a discounted price at the front of the line to use it once it's in space, but you're helping us develop a platform to make space access affordable and achievable for anyone."

More information at Kickstarter

Conrad Foundation and NanoRacks Team to Fly Student Experiments in Space using American Express Points

"Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, today announced the Foundation has joined forces with NanoRacks LLC, the leading company for low-earth orbit utilization, to launch a new program called DreamUp. The program will assist students in raising money to participate in a unique educational experience - conducting experiments in the microgravity of space. DreamUp is the first program to enable students to use American Express(R) Membership Rewards(R) points to fund student experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS)."

Fund space spin-off at ESA Investment Forum

"Investors will meet with start-up companies using space tech in terrestrial systems to discuss business prospects and partnerships at the seventh ESA Investment Forum on 16 October in Toulouse, France. The Forum is an exceptional platform for exploring investment opportunities and business potential. The selected companies have all built a significant portion of their growth and competitive advantage on the utilisation of technologies and expertise originating from Europe's space programmes. They will discuss their business ideas and products with the investors."

Rocket Week Launching at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility

"Students and educators from across the country will experience what it is like to be a rocket scientist during "Rocket Week," June 16-22, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. More than 100 participants will receive hands-on training in building payloads for spaceflight, learn the basics of rocketry and develop activities for the classroom through the fifth annual RockOn! workshop for university-level participants and the concurrent second annual Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) for high school teachers."

Ohio Workshop Seeks Ideas For Manufacturing Innovation Network

"NASA and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) are sponsoring the second in a series of regional public workshops to gather ideas and suggestions on the design of the proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The workshop will be held July 9 at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. "Designing for Impact II: Workshop on Building the NNMI" is a partnership between the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office in Gaithersburg, Md., and local Cleveland organizations that include NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cuyahoga Community College and Case Western Reserve University. Confirmed workshop speakers are NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, NIST Director Patrick Gallagher and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Invited speakers include congressional, state and local leaders."

Astronomers Map 40 Million Stars

"Astronomers will soon have access to a new map of the sky that accurately measures the brightness and position of over 40 million stars. This map is a result of the AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey, which has completely covered the sky at a level 100 times fainter than any prior stellar catalog. Millions of stars will have their brightness and color measured accurately for the first time in this survey. The survey is predominantly a pro-am volunteer effort. A team of professional astronomers is primarily responsible for the photometry while a team of amateur astronomers is helping with the equipment, purchased with support from the Robert Martin Ayers Sciences Fund."

NASA's Undersea Mission Submerges in the Atlantic

"An international crew of aquanauts is settling into its home on the ocean floor, where the team will spend 12 days testing concepts for a potential asteroid mission. The expedition is the 16th excursion of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO). The crew of four began its mission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., at 11:04 a.m. EDT Monday."

Challenger Center to host Exciting Interactive Webcasts with NASA NEEMO

The Crazy DIY Spaceflight Project That Just Might Work

"Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com, said Copenhagen Suborbitals has yet to convince anyone that they've built something safe to fly in. Spine-severing vibration, blackout-inducing acceleration and catastrophic hardware failures could each doom a would-be passenger. "But the fact that I'm not making fun of this and worrying about detailed technical aspects is fascinating. We don't giggle at it anymore," said Cowing, a former biologist who did payload integration for NASA and has completed suborbital scientist astronaut training. "In the past few years, it's no longer considered lunacy to try and build a rocket ship that you or someone could get into and take you to edge of space," he said. "I think we're watching something that may be bigger than we realize it is. Copenhagen Suborbitals is an extreme example."

What: NASA/MIT Innovative Conceptual Engineering Design 2012 - Innovation Bootcamp - Solving NASA's Epic Challenges

When: June 24-June 29, 2012

Where: Multiple locations over the 1-week period (Burton Conner House, 33-116, 9-057)

Contact: Sydney Do sydneydo@mit.edu

- Are you passionate about solving "epic" multidisciplinary problems, while inspiring and educating high school students in STEM disciplines?

- Want to learn methods for fostering your own creativity as you develop concepts to address tough research problems?

- NASA and MIT AeroAstro are running the ICED2012 Program, aimed at using the creativity of the crowds to address some of NASA's biggest challenges related to the human exploration of Mars

- We are looking for grad students with diverse research backgrounds to come up with out-of-the-box ideas, and teach high school students to do the same

- More information and application details here http://bit.ly/ICED2012

Educators Selected For NASA Explorer Schools Summer Workshops

"NASA has selected 50 elementary, middle and high school educators from across the nation to work side by side with agency scientists and engineers to learn research techniques and identify connections to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The educators were chosen for these workshops because they demonstrated exemplary classroom practices and innovative use of NASA Explorer Schools (NES) resources to engage students in STEM activities. They will participate in one of four workshops that will take place between June 18 and July 26 at various NASA centers."

NASA Video: Morpheus Tether Test #16

"The Morpheus vertical test bed successfully executed a 16th tether test on June 11, 2012. This was the first flight after the team integrated ALHAT (Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology) into the vehicle."

NASA Solicitation: Space Technology Research Opportunities: Erly Stage Innovations

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) solicits proposals from accredited U.S. universities for innovative, early-stage space technology research of high priority to NASA's Mission Directorates and OCT. Eligibility requirements are detailed in the solicitation. ESI-STRO is focused on low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) space technologies. The goal of this low-TRL technology endeavor is to accelerate the development of push technologies (technology development not directed at a specific mission) to support the future space science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector. These Early Stage Innovation technology efforts complement the NASA Mission Directorates' focused technology activities which typically begin at TRL 3 or higher. The TRL of the efforts to be funded as a result of this call will be TRL 1 or TRL 2 at the beginning of the selected effort and TRL 2 or TRL 3 at the end of the effort."

GMES Masters competition 2012

"Following its debut in 2011, the GMES Masters competition is open once again. As one of seven challenges in Europe's innovation competition for Earth observation, the Agency is staging the ESA App Challenge with a prize worth E 60 000. The GMES Masters competition awards prizes for the best projects and business ideas involving commercial Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) applications. Its purpose is to support the development of market-oriented applications that use data from the programme. This year's App challenge will give the entrant behind the most innovative smartphone App, based on the use of GMES data, the opportunity to begin an incubation programme to the value of O60 000 at one of the six ESA Business Incubation Centres in Europe."

Move An Asteroid 2012: International Student and Young Professional Technical Paper Competition

"Thousands of astronomers across the world are on a daily search for undiscovered asteroids and comets, some of which, large or small, may hit the Earth in the future. Thankfully, the kilometer sized asteroids seen in movies that are large enough to cause mass-extinctions are incredibly rare. However, 10 to 100 meter rocks are big enough to destroy a city and hit roughly every 100 years, with the last recorded one 104 years ago (the Tunguska Event). With the latest technology, it is now possible to spot some of these smaller sized objects with enough time for missions to be launched and warnings to be sent out. This competition challenges students and young professionals worldwide to come up with original ideas relating to Earth-threatening Near Earth Objects (NEOs)."

U.S. Agencies Unveil Competition to Develop Personal Pollution Sensor, Science

"In a first, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is jumping into the science prize game. EPA, together with the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, today announced a nationwide competition to develop new, highly portable sensors that can measure air quality while monitoring a person's physiological response to air pollution. Four finalists in the My Air, My Health Challenge will receive $15,000 and the opportunity to present a working prototype to judges, with $100,000 going to the winner."

My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge

"Plans to develop personal devices are required - these must sensitively and frequently measure air quality, along with one or more physiological markers linked to the air quality metric that is measured. The system should be designed with input from a community or target population that would benefit from the solution. A design for a personal integrated system is required, together with a development plan and a proposal for a proof of concept study."

NASA Leads Federal Government In World IPv6 Launch

"NASA is the first U.S. federal agency to participate in the World IPv6 Launch. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will replace IPv4 as the communication protocol used to direct most of the traffic on the Internet. IPv6 will enable an increase in the number of IP addresses, support more devices and users and improve the efficiency of traffic routing the traffic on the Internet. Organized by the Internet Society of Reston, Va., World IPv6 Launch on June 6, 2012 is intended to motivate organizations across the industry - including Internet service providers (ISPs), hardware makers, and web companies - to prepare for and permanently enable IPv6 on their products and services as IPv4 address space runs out."

NASA, State Department and Veteran Affairs Innovation Initiative Host Open Source Summit

"Registration for the second Open Source Summit, hosted by NASA, the U.S. State Department and the Veteran Affairs Innovation Initiative to advance the use of open source software in government, is under way. The event will be held June 20-21 at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. The summit will convene leaders from government and industry as well as software practitioners to discuss the development, release and use of open source software, which is characterized by a collaborative development process and free user access."

Unique Global Competition Encourages Student Teams Worldwide to "Get Their Genius on" and Innovate

"Thanks to the Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge), the world will not have to wait for solutions to affordable water filtration in Haiti, self-regulating temperature fabrics for harsh environments, eco-friendly pop-up toilets for emergency distressed areas, and many other game-changing innovations. It also means that young innovator/ entrepreneurs don't have to graduate from high school before their commercially-viable, technology-based ideas can be realized and applied to real-world issues! The 2012-2013 Spirit of Innovation Challenge invites student teams from around the world, ages 13-18, to innovate new products by combining creative thinking with science and technology skills to solve real-world challenges."

Release of OCT Space Technology Research Opportunities Early Stage Innovations NRA

"NASA is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities focused on innovative, early-stage space technologies that will improve shielding from space radiation, spacecraft thermal management and optical systems. Each of these technology areas requires dramatic improvements over existing capabilities for future science and human exploration missions. Early stage, or low technology readiness level (TRL) concepts, could mature into tools that solve the hard challenges facing future NASA missions. Researchers should propose unique, disruptive or transformational space technologies that address the specific topics described in this new solicitation."