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NASA Hack Space: July 2012


"DigitalGlobe (DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, today announced an agreement with the Enough Project to continue providing unrivaled imagery and analysis services to monitor evidence of bombings, razed villages and possible threats to civilians in Sudan in an effort called the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). In addition to the imagery and analysis provided under the terms of this new agreement, DigitalGlobe will also contribute additional in-kind services." More

"The competition judges have awarded Space Ground Amalgam, LLC first place in the 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition and the $100,000 prize was presented by competition Project Manager, Tom Olson. Digital Solid State Propulsion, LLC earned second place in the competition, along with a $10,000 prize. In a last minute addition, Honorable Mention is given to Terapio Corporation for providing an unusually commendable technology that will address one of the inherent risks of space settlement. The hosting organization, the Space Frontier Foundation, and judges congratulate the winners and thank all the finalists for their participation. The awards were presented on July 28th at the NewSpace Awards Gala, the culminating event of the NewSpace 2012 Conference." More

Rock on - A charitable foundation is to launch the first private, scientific space mission, Economist

"Budget cuts have hit NASA's science missions hard. NEOCam is not certain to fly, and the foundation worries that, although NASA has already catalogued most of the biggest, civilisation-ending asteroids, thousands of smaller rocks, of similar dimensions to the one that exploded over Siberia, remain undetected. If one were to hit the wrong part of the planet it would cause a catastrophe. Hence the shift in focus from deflection to discovery. Sentinel's mission will be broadly similar to NEOCam's. Both telescopes will have 50cm mirrors. Both will scan the sky in the infra-red spectrum, where dark but comparatively warm asteroids should show up brightly against the cold of deep space. Both will inhabit orbits between Earth and the sun, in order to get the best possible vantage point. The foundation's ambition is to produce an asteroid map that records 90% of near-Earth objects that are more than 140 metres across, and half of those bigger than 50 metres. Armed with data on their orbits and velocities, astronomers should be able to calculate which pose a threat over the coming century or so."

B612 Foundation Announces First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

Donate to B612 Foundation

"Team Phoenicia announced today they have teamed up with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) to work on lunar and interplanetary small satellite and CubeSat launch opportunities. This teaming arrangement covers collaboration on the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE; collaboration on future interplanetary and lunar nanosat Launches; and tapping into each other's knowledge bases for both the competition flights and beyond.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date, challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is one of three active competitions from the X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization for creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions."

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"Imagine a fully-instrumented satellite the size of a half-gallon milk carton. Then imagine that milk carton whirling in space, catching never-before-seen glimpses of processes thought to be linked to lightning. The little satellite that could is a CubeSat called Firefly, and it's on a countdown to launch next year. CubeSats, named for the roughly four-inch-cubed dimensions of their basic building elements, are stacked with modern, smartphone-like electronics and tiny scientific instruments. Built mainly by students and hitching rides into orbit on NASA and U.S. Department of Defense launch vehicles, the small, low-cost satellites recently have been making history. Many herald their successes as a space revolution."

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"Discovered by Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), NEA (near-Earth asteroid) 2002 AM31, an asteroid the size of a city block, will make its close approach to Earth Sunday evening (July 22) -- just 39 days after newly discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 paid an unexpected visit to Earth. Slooh Space Camera will cover its near-approach live on http://www.slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 4:30 p.m. PDT / 7:30 p.m. EDT / 23:30 UTC -- accompanied by real-time discussions by Slooh's Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman."

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"Engineers and student interns at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., are gearing up to support and witness what may be the most thrilling ride a nanosatellite has ever taken. This October, for the first time, a small cubesat - a satellite weighing less than two pounds, housed in a 10 cm cube - will be one of five to jettison into orbit around Earth from the International Space Station.

The pioneering satellite, dubbed TechEdSat, is a collaboration among Ames; San Jose State University; the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) via AAC Microtec, Uppsala, Sweden; and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). TechEdSat is set to launch to the space station along with other experiments and essential supplies in the "Kounotori 3" H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) at 7:06 p.m. PDT Friday, July 20, 2012, from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan."

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"NASA's Office of Education has selected more than 200 organizations across the country to receive Summer of Innovation (SoI) mini-grants. Each award has a maximum value of $2,500. This investment is designed to expand NASA's education network and help the agency keep middle school students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities throughout the summer break and beyond. Last month, NASA announced it was seeking collaborators to infuse NASA-themed STEM content into existing summer and after school programs for middle school students. The agency received more than 500 proposals in response to this solicitation."

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"We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm "1U" CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth's equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world's inhabited regions. SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube's balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You'll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube's balloon isn't just for visibility. It will - within 3 weeks - bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery "grand finale" that avoids any buildup of space debris." More at Kickstarter

"On September 22 we are going to send 1000 student projects to the edge of space. These experiments and projects are made by kindergartners, university professors, high school science classes and home schools kids. All the projects fit inside ping pong balls. We call them PongSats. Students from all over the world send us their PongSats we fly them to 100,000 feet on weather balloons. After the landing the PongSats are returned to their creators along with data from the flight a DVD with video of the launch and on board scenes and a certificate showing they flew."

More at Kickstarter

Nano-satellite offers best hope for Australia's future in space

"A lightweight spacecraft with capabilities that punch above its weight could provide the perfect launching pad for a sustainable Australian space program, a leading engineer says. Dr Steven Tsitas from the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) atUNSW has developed an innovative system design for a new shoebox-sized spacecraft that enables night imaging and agricultural monitoring missions previously requiring much larger crafts. With the right instrumentation, the 8-kilogram spacecraft known as the 6U CubeSat can perform some of the commercial earth-observationmissions of 'microsatellites' that weigh around 100 kg and are roughly the size of a washing machine, he says."

"It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action. "This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life," said scientist Betuel Kacar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech's NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. "The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path." More

A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency's robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D now is available for free on the iPhone and iPad. Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will touch down on Mars on Aug. 5 at 10:31 p.m. PDT (Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT), and the twin GRAIL spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, currently orbiting the moon.

"With Spacecraft 3D and a mobile device, you can put high definition, three-dimensional models literally into the hands of kids of all ages," said Stephen Kulczycki, deputy director for communications and education at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Spacecraft 3D is among the first of what are known as augmented-reality apps for Apple devices. Augmented reality provides users a view of a real-world environment where elements are improved by additional input. Spacecraft 3D uses the iPhone or iPad camera to overlay information on the device's main screen. The app instructs users to print an augmented-reality target on a standard sheet of paper. When the device's camera is pointed at the target, the spacecraft chosen by the user materializes on screen.

A decade of future visions from ESA's Advanced Concepts Team

"Ion beams to clean up space debris, exotic metamaterials, fluid-like spacecraft made up of many tiny fractionated parts and planetary landers borrowing tips from bumblebees - ESA's Advanced Concepts Team looked forward on its tenth anniversary, discussing creative ideas for space's future. Based at ESTEC, ESA's technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the team celebrated its first decade on 2-3 July, gathering former members and research partners from all across Europe, with guests from the US and Japan.... Alastair Reynolds explained the relationship between science and science fiction was really two-way in nature: today's mainstream scientific concepts such as terraforming and wormholes originated in yesterday's science fiction - and the movie 2001 back in 1968 depicted a prototype iPad, highlighted in a copyright court case last year.

ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012 (SOCIS 2012) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It aims at offering student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers.

This is the second edition of SOCIS, the first one (SOCIS 2011) selected 20 mentoring organisations, each one having one project. The program is inspired by (but not affiliated or related in any way to) Google's Summer of Code initiative, and is designed with the following objectives in mind:

* raise the awareness of open source projects related to space within the open source programming community, especially among students;
* raise awareness of ESA within the open-source community;
* improve existing space-related open-source software.

More information

"Explore the innovation behind Samarai, Lockheed Martin's maple seed-inspired UAV. Fly it yourself with the LM Tomorrow® app available on the App Store: http://bit.ly/JzzdDA"

Keith's note: Picture a swarm of these things - sized to function on Mars - powered by the sun.

"Using the same technology that NASA uses in space suits, our proprietary blend of fibers, "Apollo" will literally control your body temperature. Imagine you're outside on a hot day. Apollo uses Phase-change Materials (PCMs) to pull heat away from your body and actually store it in the shirt - like a battery. This way, when you get back into your AC'ed office, the shirt will release the heat back to you and keep your skin at the temperature it should be at. The difference is noticeable, and can change your day. Ministry of Supply is literally bringing this technology down from space." More at Kickstarter

Yuri's Night Announces Pete Worden As Recipient of 2012 Spirit of Yuri's Night Award

"Yuri's Night, the World Space Party, today announced that NASA Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden is the 2012 recipient of the Spirit of Yuri's Night Award. The Spirit of Yuri's Night Award, chosen each year by the Yuri's Night Board of Directors, recognizes "a person or persons that embody the Yuri's Night mission of using space and art to contribute to the future of humanity, both in space and on Earth." The Spirit of Yuri's Night Award will be presented to Dr. Worden at the NewSpace 2012 Awards Gala, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara on July 28, 2012."

NASA Space Tech Program Selects Technologies For Development And Demonstration On Suborbital Flights

"NASA'S Space Technology Program has selected 14 technologies for development and demonstration on commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles. The selected proposals offer innovative cutting-edge ideas and approaches for technology in areas including active thermal management, advanced avionics, pinpoint landing and advanced in-space propulsion. They also address many of the high-priority technology needs identified in the recent National Research Council's Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities report. These payloads will help NASA advance technology development needed to enable NASA's current and future missions in exploration, science and space operations."