NASA Hack Space: October 2012

"NASA has released a Request for Information (RFI) to explore the potential interest and use of its unique facilities, labs and technical expertise for structural testing at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The facilities and capabilities could support commercial, government and academic activities, and possibly lead to new technology developments. The RFI is seeking responses from prospective partners interested in using Johnson's extensive testing facilities to provide high-performance solutions for a variety of structural testing in diverse industries, including aerospace. These solutions can help businesses meet their challenges by helping engineers develop deeper insight in their materials and building processes." More

"The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) invites undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit to experience research in the planetary sciences. As a summer intern, you will work one-on-one with a scientist either at the LPI or NASA Johnson Space Center on a research project of current interest in planetary science. Furthermore, you will participate in peer-reviewed research, learn from top-notch planetary scientists, and preview various careers in science. The 10-week program begins June 3, 2013, and ends on August 9, 2013. Selected students will receive a $5000.00 stipend plus a travel stipend of $1000.00 (U.S. students) (foreign nationals will receive a $1500.00 foreign travel reimbursement)." More

"This year's "Fly Your Thesis!" campaign ended on 25 October. For three days, a specially equipped aircraft flew 31 manoeuvres - or parabolas - that generate microgravity conditions, giving students invaluable experience in how to design, construct and run experiments in a near weightless environment. Three student teams participated along with nine professional teams in the 57th ESA parabolic flight campaign. All investigated phenomena that are virtually impossible to study on the ground under the normal pull of gravity. The campaign began on 15 October and for the first five days the student teams readied their experiments for flight. This included loading the equipment into the body of the specially modified A-300 Airbus, and checking that everything was working." More

"NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., have opened registration and are seeking teams to compete in next year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money. During the 2013 NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth. The competition is planned for June 2013 in Worcester, Mass., attracting competitors from industry and academia nationwide." More

"NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes. Called NASA Wavelength, the site features hundreds of resources organized by topic and audience level from elementary to college, and out-of-school programs that span the extent of NASA science. Educators at all levels can locate educational resources through information on educational standards, subjects and keywords and other relevant details, such as learning time required to carry out a lesson or an activity, cost of materials and more. "NASA Wavelength not only lets users find nearly everything they want to know about NASA science, but it also allows them to provide direct feedback to NASA to enhance our products," said Stephanie Stockman, education lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. "This truly is a living, digital library of resources that will allow educators to find and share the best of NASA science education resources to advance their teaching." More

"NASA has selected 10 university-led proposals for study of innovative, early-stage space technologies designed to improve shielding from space radiation, spacecraft thermal management and optical systems. The 1-year grants are worth approximately $250,000 each, with an additional year of research possible. 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 concepts, could mature into tools that solve the difficult challenges facing future NASA missions. The selected areas address the high-priority technical needs as identified by the National Research Council in its recent report "NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space." "NASA's Space Technology Program is moving out on solving the cross-cutting technology challenges we face as we move beyond low-Earth orbit and head to an asteroid, Mars and beyond," said Michael Gazarik the program's director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our science and human deep space missions need advancements in these technology areas to enable exploration of space. We're excited and proud to partner with the best minds from American universities to take on these tough technical challenges." More

"NASA Ames Research Center and Sustainable Silicon Valley are collaborating to showcase game-changing innovations to regional water and energy use, to protect the regional environment of Silicon Valley and find solutions that are scalable to the planet. The "Call for Solutions" to Planetary Sustainability requests proposals addressing regional and worldwide concerns such as climate change, water management, energy use, transportation, manufacturing and supply chain management. "We are looking for scalable technology and policy solutions to more efficient use of natural resources, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Dr. Steven Zornetzer, NASA Ames Associate Director, Technical." More

"NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon next year. The balloon competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge. NASA is targeting fall 2013 for the next flight opportunity for the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP). HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 instruments built by students A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity. Flights are launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M., and typically achieve 15 to 20 hours' duration at an altitude of about 23 miles." More

"Detections of massive extrasolar moons are shown feasible with the Kepler space telescope. Kepler's findings of about 50 exoplanets in the stellar habitable zone naturally make us wonder about the habitability of their hypothetical moons. Illumination from the planet, eclipses, tidal heating, and tidal locking distinguish remote characterization of exomoons from that of exoplanets. We show how evaluation of an exomoon's habitability is possible based on the parameters accessible by current and near-future technology." More

"NASA Dryden Flight Research Center has released a solicitation entitled "NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO) for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Missions to Flight Readiness Status. The current solicitation cycle, AFO #6, provides access to flights on parabolic flights, suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles (sRLV), and high-altitude balloons. Applications are due on or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time December 21, 2012, and selections will be announced in February 2013 (target)." More

"NanoRacks (NR) today announced the selection of a winning proposal for their Announcement of Opportunity for off the shelf NanoLabs on the International Space Station. Infinity Aerospace was selected for their proposal to design, develop and market an Arduino based, open-source, 1U NanoLab for use on the NanoRacks space station research platforms, as well as all other platforms including Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. "The community was challenged to create an open source, easy to use NanoLab and Infinity Aerospace's proposal hit the target beautifully, both in the technical design and the spirit of the competition," explained Richard Pournelle, senior vice-president of NanoRacks. Under the terms of the AO, the winning entry receives $2,000 in seed funding from NanoRacks, technical assistance on complying with NASA space station safety requirements, and the ability to have their winning products marketed by NanoRacks' to their educational and research customers." More

"ESA and NASA have tested a communications protocol that will allow astronauts to control robots from space stations orbiting planets or asteroids. The test marks the way for a trial-run with an astronaut on the International Space Station next week. Last week a Space Station user centre at the University of Boulder, USA sent a command to a NASA laptop on the International Space Station to start a script that controlled the Mocup robot at ESA's ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The robot was commanded to move forward and take pictures, which it performed as planned. Mocup is one of the robots in ESA's Meteron - Multi-purpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network - initiative for future missions to the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies. Space exploration will most likely involve sending robotic explorers to test the waters on uncharted planets before sending humans to land." More

"The data presented in this paper are the result of the efforts of the Planet Hunters volunteers, without whom this work would not have been possible. Their contributions are individually ac- knowledged at We also acknowledge the following list of individuals who flagged one or more of the transit events on Talk discussed in this paper before or after discovery of the planet: Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr. Johann Sejpka, and Arvin Joseff Tan." More

"A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time." More

"Andrews Space (Andrews) today announced it signed an agreement with ISIS of the Netherlands to begin manufacturing a US version of the ISIPOD, branded the EZPOD, in the United States. Under the terms of the agreement, Andrews will manufacture and integrate the EZPODs domestically with initial units available as early as January 2013. "Until now the United States only had a single CubeSat dispenser solution available. The ISIS ISIPOD product is reliable, proven and lower-cost than similar products on the market and now it's available in the United States, under the brand name EZPOD, as a domestically manufactured solution," said Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Andrews Space. "The EZPOD gives our customers a highly competitive alternative to the status quo." More

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA!

"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA! Crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) will share with students what satellites can be used for. Crew will also explain how these communication devices are launched and carried into space. Students will then be asked to think of other ways to use information gathered from satellites and design their own custom satellite. Topics covered include developing an awareness of outer space, exploring communication devices and understanding data collection. Check out the video with lesson plans here."

Other Lego postings

Weird Facts That You Didn't Know About E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, io9

"6) E.T. was Spielberg's response to the "stalled space program."

That's what Spielberg said in 1981, adding: "If the government won't fund the space program, to allow people's imagination to soar, then all I can do is make movies that bring space down to earth and make it more accessible to the imagination."

Keith's note: Of course, E.T. was also a hacker.

"During this initial phase of TechPort's rollout, NASA users will only be able to access the website through the domain, and not from iPads or computers off the NASA network. The Office of the Chief Technologist will seek employee feedback on the website, and plans to make TechPort publicly available in the future. Users will be able to browse, search, track, analyze and report on the portfolio of technology investments being pursued at program and project levels, with the resulting benefits being the easy access to information about programs and project results.

Technology project data in TechPort was collected through an agency-wide data call for technology project information. This call was conducted earlier this year as part of the development of the Strategic Space Technology Investment Plan. Program and project personnel entered technology project data into TechPort, which was validated by NASA mission directorate/office representatives. Moving forward, TechPort will provide a venue for data owners to easily update technology project information, as well as the tools to conduct analysis and reporting on that data." More

"NASA is seeking applications from graduate students for the agency's Space Technology Research Fellowships. Applications will be accepted from students pursuing or planning to pursue master's or doctoral degrees in relevant space technology disciplines at accredited U.S. universities. The fellowship awards, worth as much as $68,000 per year, will coincide with the start of the fall 2013 term. The fellowships will sponsor U.S. graduate student researchers who show significant potential to contribute to NASA's strategic space technology objectives through their studies. To date, NASA has awarded these prestigious fellowships to 128 students from 50 universities and across 26 states and one U.S. territory." More

"SSEP offers a unique flight opportunity that allows students to experience both the excitement and the challenges inherent in conducting research in a microgravity environment," said Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It really is STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in action, using the International Space Station -- which has America's only orbiting National Laboratory -- to host these students' science experiments. Twenty-three microgravity experiments designed by participants of the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP) will become part of space history Oct. 7. They will be launched to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercially developed and built American spacecraft to fly a resupply cargo resupply mission to the station." More

"Cal Poly's Research and Graduate Programs office entered into a license agreement that allows Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC to develop and sell the patent-pending, small-satellite technology called CubeSat System, Method, and Apparatus. The CubeSat technology represents state-of-the-art miniature low-power electronics. It is a product of Cal Poly's nationally recognized PolySat program. The technology provides a smaller, less costly, more flexible satellite avionics design that is re-usable and easily adaptable across a wide range of satellite missions. Cal Poly's PolySat Project was founded in 1999 and includes a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate engineering students working to design, construct, test, launch and operate small satellite systems, otherwise known as CubeSats." More

"NASA engineers, student interns and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from a small, cube-shaped satellite launched into orbit from the International Space Station Thursday. The satellite, dubbed "TechEdSat," was released at 11:44 a.m. EDT from the new Japanese Small Satellite Orbital Deployer aboard the space station. TechEdSat measures about 4 inches (10 centimeters) on a side and carries a ham radio transmitter. It was developed by a group of student interns from San Jose State University (SJSU) in California with mentoring and support from staff at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. TechEdSat arrived at the space station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle July 21 and the station's Expedition 33 crew processed it for launch." More

NASA Tournament Lab to Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, NASA

"NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Office of Science announced on Wednesday the launch of the Big Data Challenge, a series of competitions hosted through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL). The Big Data Challenge series will apply the process of open innovation to conceptualizing new and novel approaches to using "big data" information sets from various U.S. government agencies. This data comes from the fields of health, energy and Earth science. Competitors will be tasked with imagining analytical techniques and software tools that use big data from discrete government information domains. They will need to describe how the data may be shared as universal, cross-agency solutions that transcend the limitations of individual agencies."

NASA Tournament Lab & TopCoder Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, TopCoder

"NASA and Harvard University have established the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community allow for competitions to create the most innovative, most efficient, and most optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers. The NTL provides an online virtual facility for NASA researchers with a computational or complex data processing challenge to "order" a solution, just like they would order laboratory tests or supplies."

Wyle Takes Part in TechAmerica Report on Big Data, Wyle

"TechAmerica Foundation's much anticipated report "Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide To Transforming The Business of Government," which was released today, gives the federal government a comprehensive roadmap to using "Big Data" to better serve Americans."

"Technology has radically changed the contributions that amateurs can make to the field of astronomy. Using a readily-available 'hobby' telescope, off-the-shelf camera and computer equipment, plus experienced observing skills, Emmanuel I. Kardasis of the Hellenic Amateur Astronomy Association has produced the first amateur albedo map of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This demonstration has implications for the future role of amateur astronomers. The work will be presented at the European Planetary Science Congress in Madrid. An albedo map details higher areas of reflectivity on an object's surface recording where material is brighter or darker. Kardasis' albedo map closely aligns with professional images of Ganymede's surface, indicating features such as Phrygia Sulcus (furrows and ridges 3700km across) and the Nicholson region (a low-lying darker area)." More

"A technology designed for use by astronauts in the hazardous environment of space has found a lifesaving use in another dangerous occupation, but this time on Earth, or rather under it: coal mining. Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., is providing the air revitalization system it matured under a NASA Space Act Agreement to Mine Shield LLC of Lancaster, KY., for use in its underground miner refuge chambers. These air-tight metal chambers are used by miners as lifesaving havens when trapped underground providing air, water, and food until rescued. In 2010, NASA began to invest in the commercial sector's capability to support transport of crew to and from low Earth Orbit. During this initiative through a Space Act Agreement, NASA invested approximately $1.5 million of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 economic stimulus funds in Paragon to mature their air purifying system." More

"The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) is accepting applications for its 2013 Summer Internship Program. This unique program places college students in NASA laboratories working with scientists on research projects focused on protecting astronaut health during spaceflight. The NSBRI-sponsored program gives selected students an opportunity to spend nine weeks in laboratories at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland or Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. In addition to the laboratory work, interns participate in a week-long Summer Bioastronautics Institute at NSBRI Headquarters in Houston. The Summer Bioastronautics Institute offers workshops focusing specifically on the enhancement of research, presentation and mentoring skills." More

"Mobile apps have become a regular part of my daily life. It's safe to say there are enough apps to perform virtually any task you have in mind! I find apps to be a great tool to keep me in touch with friends, daily news, and NASA. The flagship app for NASA is of course the "NASA App", which is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and has been downloaded over 9.9 million times and recently averaged over 2.5 million hits per day. However, NASA has made a wide variety of interactive apps for mobile users, which range from performing a spacewalk to receiving a notification every time the ISS is right above you. These apps give you an opportunity to stay involved and educated on current and future NASA missions. Listed below are all 46 of the NASA-related apps for iOS and Android!" More

"Douglas, Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Israeli-based NSL Satellites Ltd., in partnership with NanoRacks LLC of the U.S., together will fly a number of educational microgravity experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). The next launch of an experiment is scheduled for October 7th on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. Rick Sanford, CEO of Odyssey Moon, said, "We at Odyssey Moon are so excited about this opportunity to give students around the globe access to the NASA U.S national lab. For a start-up space technology company it is very impressive that we have lined up over three successful commercial space missions in a three year period." The three different experiments will look at how cancer cells develop in microgravity, another will determine the direction of the sprouts/roots growth of radish seeds under microgravity, and there is an experiment to examine the hardening of an epoxy resin sample to test the characteristics of the mix in microgravity conditions. These experiments are being developed by Israeli students in Misgav Middle School and OR High School." More