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NASA Hack Space: September 2012


"Do you know of a small company developing a medical product that could be adapted to solve a health or human performance challenge in space? Have you developed a biomedical product for the space program that could also improve health on Earth? The National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for the Space Medicine and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) award that provides support in moving a selected product toward commercialization. The 2013 SMARTCAP award will be for a maximum of $250,000 for a one-year period. The deadline for submitting Stage-1 applications for this competitive two-stage proposal process is Nov. 5, 2012." More

"Marc Smotherman, ATA's task manager for the STAT's chamber data acquisition and control system, said, "One of the requirements for the STAT facility was to install a government-furnished microsatellite in the STAT chamber during final system tests. "The satellite earmarked for this effort became unavailable. The Air Force approached ATA for a solution. An ATA team composed of John Prebola, Carrie McInturff (ATA's STAT project engineer and lead for the facility's distributed mission operation system) and I developed requirements for the microsatellite." The main requirements were that all the microsatellite components had flown in space and that the instrumentation be included with the microsatellite so that it could measure certain environmental parameters it would encounter in the STAT chamber. "Carrie and I developed a software and hardware design for the microsatellite that includes not only the microsatellite design," Smotherman said, "but design of ground support systems to monitor the status of the microsatellite in the STAT chamber." The design drawings for the microsatellite and ground support hardware were given to Roger Johnson, an ATA instrumentation technician expert." More

"Astronomers in Germany have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to help them chart and explain the structure and dynamics of the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy. The team, led by Francisco Kitaura of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, report their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Scientists routinely use large telescopes to scan the sky, mapping the coordinates and estimating the distances of hundreds of thousands of galaxies and so enabling them to create a map of the large-scale structure of the universe. But the distribution that astronomers see is intriguing and hard to explain, with galaxies forming a complex 'cosmic web' showing clusters, filaments connecting them, and large empty regions in between." More

UKube-1 - the UK's first cubesat mission - has 'booked' its journey into space on a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket. The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan is expected to take place in March 2013. The UKube-1 nanosatellite is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, industry and academia. It will allow the UK to fly educational packages, test new technologies and carry out new space research quickly and efficiently. It is envisaged as the pilot for a full national CubeSat programme. Dr David Williams, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said, "UKube-1 is almost ready to fly; the platform is nearly complete, 4 of the missions 5 payloads are mission-ready and we have now secured a launch with Roscosmos. We are eagerly awaiting the start of the innovative experiments that this small but mighty satellite will perform once in orbit around our planet." More

"Astronaut health is a huge concern, as studies have shown muscle and bone mass are at risk on longer missions; that's just what we know about, too. The problem is how to fit out a space station or future moon base with medical equipment compact and safe enough to do the job. Now, thanks to researchers in Canada, there is a compact magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) machine that could one day head to space to help astronauts." More at DVICE

"NASA successfully tested a new suborbital sounding rocket today from the agency's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launched at 7:00 a.m. EDT, the Talos-Terrier-Oriole flew to an altitude of 167.4 miles and then reentered in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Wallops Island. The payload was not planned to be recovered. This was the first flight of the 65-foot tall Talos-Terrier-Oriole that is being developed to support high-altitude space science research." More

"NASA successfully launched four university experiments this morning on a Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket from the agency's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launched at 7:16:30 a.m. EDT, the rocket lofted the experiments to an altitude of 95.4 miles. The experiments have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and they will be delivered to the university teams this afternoon at Wallops. The launch was part of the RockSat-X educational project, which is designed to provide students hands-on experience in designing, fabricating, testing and conducting experiments for space flight. The project is a joint effort between NASA and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. The participating schools for this year's RockSat-X launch are from Baylor University in Waco, Texas; University of Colorado at Boulder; the University of Puerto Rico; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg." More.

MakerBot(R) Industries introduces the MakerBot(R) Replicator(TM) 2 Desktop 3D Printer, the company's easiest, fastest, and most affordable tool yet for making professional-quality models. Designed for the desktop of an engineer, researcher, creative professional, or anyone who loves to make things, the MakerBot Replicator 2 features 100-micron layer resolution, setting a new standard in professional looking models and true-to-life replicas. In addition, the MakerBot Replicator 2 enables users to make big objects, up to 410 cubic inches in volume (11.2" L x 6.0" W x 6.1" H).

"Teachers from six NASA Explorer Schools (NES) have been selected to receive the 2012 School Recognition Award for their contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. In April 2013, three teachers from each school will travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. There they will have the opportunity to fly aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft and conduct experiments designed by their students. The experiments will examine the acceleration and inertia of objects, how fluids with different viscosities behave in microgravity, and how the absence of gravity affects mass and weight." More

"Students in different age groups are being invited by ESA to participate in three educational programmes that will take place during 2013. Each programme is an exciting opportunity to design an experiment and conduct scientific research. ESA is now inviting proposals for the Spin Your Thesis! campaign. This programme enables university students to carry out experiments in hypergravity, using the Large Diameter Centrifuge at the Agency's ESTEC space research and technology centre in the Netherlands. It is open to undergraduate students and those following a Masters or PhD course. Up to four teams will be selected. The deadline for proposal submissions is 10 December. Another call is for the European CanSat competition. The CanSats, similar in volume and shape to a soft-drink can, will be launched on a small rocket from the Netherlands. The primary task of each CanSat will be to measure atmospheric temperature and pressure during the flight." More

"This paper will begin with a short review of the Alcubierre warp drive metric and describes how the phenomenon might work based on the original paper. The canonical form of the metric was developed and published in [6] which provided key insight into the field potential and boost for the field which remedied a critical paradox in the original Alcubierre concept of operations. A modified concept of operations based on the canonical form of the metric that remedies the paradox is presented and discussed. The idea of a warp drive in higher dimensional space-time (manifold) will then be briefly considered by comparing the null-like geodesics of the Alcubierre metric to the Chung-Freese metric to illustrate the mathematical role of hyperspace coordinates. The net effect of using a warp drive "technology" coupled with conventional propulsion systems on an exploration mission will be discussed using the nomenclature of early mission planning. Finally, an overview of the warp field interferometer test bed being implemented in the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory: Eagleworks (APPL:E) at the Johnson Space Center will be detailed. While warp field mechanics has not had a "Chicago Pile" moment, the tools necessary to detect a modest instance of the phenomenon are near at hand." More

Announcing "Space Place Prime," the new NASA iPad magazine. This brand new app gathers some of the best and most recent web offerings from NASA. It taps engrossing articles from The Space Place website, enlightening NASA videos, and daily images such as the Astronomy Picture of the Day and the NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/space-place-prime/id543935008?mt=8 Space Place Prime targets a multigenerational audience. Kids, teachers, parents, space enthusiasts, and everyone in between will find fascinating features on this new, free NASA app. Look for it in the Apple Store today.

"World Maker Faire, at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in Queens, N.Y., on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30, is excited to announce a special pavilion focused on Young Makers. Whether a clever creation or a product almost market-ready, these under-18 makers will present their latest projects illustrating the depth of talent and innovation that lies within the next generation."We are all makers, particularly young people," said Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine and co-creator of Maker Faire. "Kids learn by doing and when they're making something, they're having fun and learning. More opportunities need to be made available to students to make -- whatever it is they want to make. Getting kids making is critical to their development as well as the future of innovation in our nation. Maker Faire is proud to provide many opportunities for young makers, enabling them to explore their creativity and ingenuity and then showcase their creations." More

"NASA's space missions cost millions and millions of dollars, but a British teenager has managed to get some stunning shots of planet Earth using just a camera he bought on eBay and a do-it-yourself spacecraft. Nineteen-year-old Adam Cudworth spent just 40 hours and about $600 to grab the images you see above, according to a Telegraph report. He placed the camera, a simple Canon A570, in an insulated box with a GPS device, radio transmitter and microprocessor. Then he used a balloon to send the makeshift spacecraft more than 20 miles into the sky -- high enough, his photos show, to capture dramatic views of the Earth's curvature." More at Mashable

"NASA is announcing opportunities for academia, industry and government agencies to develop and carry out research and technology demonstrations on the International Space Station using the newly installed Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN) testbed. There are two announcements of opportunity. The SCAN Testbed Experiment Opportunity invites industry and other government agencies to enter into Space Act Agreements with NASA to use the space station's SCAN platform. The SCAN Testbed Cooperative Agreement Notice invites academia to develop proposals to use the orbiting laboratory's SCAN testbed research capabilities. NASA expects the first demonstrations by late 2013 or early 2014. These opportunities will allow researchers to develop new software according to the Space Telecommunications Radio Standard (STRS) architecture for radios and reconfigure how radios communicate in space." More

"NASA has selected eight advanced robotics projects that will enable the agency's future missions while supporting the Obama administration's National Robotics Initiative. The projects, ranging from technologies for improving robotic planetary rovers to humanoid robotic systems, will support the development and use of robots for space exploration, as well as by manufacturers and businesses in the United States. Robots can work beside, or cooperatively, with people to enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety in space as well as here on Earth. Co-robotics, where robots work cooperatively with people to enhance their individual human capabilities, performance and safety, is a valuable tool for maintaining American leadership in aerospace technology and advanced manufacturing. "Robonaut, NASA's robotic crewmember aboard the International Space Station, is being tested to perform tasks to assist our astronauts and free them up to do the important scientific research and complex engineering taking place each day on our orbiting national lab," said NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Selected through our participation in the National Robotics Initiative, these new projects will support NASA as we plan for our asteroid mission in 2025 and the human exploration of Mars around 2035." More

"An international research team using ESA's Optical Ground Station in the Canary Islands has set a new distance world record in 'quantum teleportation' by reproducing the characteristics of a light particle across 143 km of open air. Funded by ESA, researchers from Austria, Canada, Germany and Norway transferred the physical properties of one particle of light - a photon - onto its 'entangled' partner via quantum teleportation, thereby bridging a distance of 143 km between the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope on La Palma and ESA's Optical Ground Station on adjacent Tenerife. Their results have been published in this week's Nature Magazine. Once entangled, the measurement of a certain property - such as polarisation or spin - will yield the same result for both particles, no matter how far apart the particles are located, and without any further signal being physically passed between them. Quantum teleportation is not copying in the strictest sense however, since the act of transference destroys the original particle - its characteristics passing to its entangled counterpart." More

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, today announced that the next Zero Robotics High School Tournament will take place this Fall, offering high school students the opportunity to design experiments that will be tested in space. The popular Zero Robotics program, created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Space Systems Laboratory and its partners, challenges high school student teams to write their own algorithms to fly the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The competition starts online where teams compete to solve an annual challenge guided by mentors. Students can create, edit, share, save, simulate and submit code, all from a web browser. After several phases of virtual competition, finalists are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the International Space Station!" More.

"OSTP is interested in working with SBIR program managers to ensure that the President's interest in hands-on STEM education is reflected in future SBIR solicitations as a topic. The specific opportunity that OSTP is interested in is the development of a set of affordable tools, equipment and kits that will allow students to (1) engage in citizen science; and (2) design and build manufactured products. These tools also have the ability to create opportunities for entrepreneurship in manufacturing, in the same way that the Web and cloud computing have made it less expensive for software entrepreneurs to launch a new business. This initiative could be implemented as a series of agency topics as opposed to a joint solicitation." More.

"Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return the first samples to Earth. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). Samples returned from the primitive surface of the near-Earth asteroid currently called (101955) 1999 RQ36 could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. NASA also is planning a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025. A closer scientific study of asteroids will provide context and help inform this mission. The competition is open to students under age 18 from anywhere in the world. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. The contest deadline is Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012." More

"The Naval Research Laboratory supported the 8th Annual CanSat competition where 26 college rocket teams came together from all over the world to compete. This year's "mission" was to launch an autonomous CanSat (a satellite in a can) with a deployable lander containing one large raw hen egg that cannot be damaged on landing. The "CanSat " refers to the complete system-the carrier and the lander. The event was held on June 8-10, 2012, in Abilene and Burkett, Texas.

The CanSat is deployed from a rocket at an altitude of about 610 meters (2001 feet). Once released from the rocket, the CanSat descends between 10 and 20 meters per second using any type of descent control system or device. At an altitude of 200 meters, the CanSat reduces the descent rate to within 4 and 6 meters per second. At 91 meters altitude, the CanSat carrier releases the lander that contains one large raw hen's egg. The lander hopefully lands without damaging the egg. The lander cannot free fall. It must contain a descent control system or device to reduce the descent rate to less than 5 meters per second. The carrier telemetry data may be stored on-board for post processing in the event of a communications failure. Teams must build their own ground station. Telemetry from the carrier is displayed, in real-time, on a team-developed ground station." More.