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NASA Hack Space: January 2013


"Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil. "Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures," said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA. "Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat." Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing 'catenary' dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts. A hollow closed-cell structure - reminiscent of bird bones - provides a good combination of strength and weight." More

6-12th Grade Students, Building 262, Room 180, March 27-28

Since 1994, NASA Ames has hosted an annual Space Settlement Design Contest for 6-12th grade students. Thousands of students and hundreds of teachers from around the world have involved themselves in space settlement, some devoting months of intense effort. Prize winners now find themselves at Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other top universities and at least one flew a zero-gravity experiment for the European Space Agency (ESA). Contestants work at home and send their entries to Ames each March. Extensive reference materials are supplied on the web. All entries are judged in a two-day period by a panel of NASA and contractor personnel. Judges commit to one hour or more anytime on Wednesday and/or Thursday, March 27-28, between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Judging will be in Building 262, Room 180. No experience or specific technical expertise are needed and it is a lot of fun (less expert judges can evaluate entries from the younger students). Contest details are at http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/Contest/

"A new satellite mission designed by university students is entering the advanced stages of development. A new contract appoints ALMASpace, Italy, the prime contractor. The European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) is a micro-satellite mission to low Earth orbit. Newly appointed prime contractor ALMASpace, Italy, will now oversee its final development, integration, testing, and in-orbit commissioning by European university students. The mission's primary goal is to provide students with extensive, hands-on experience of a space project. This will equip them with the necessary skills to confidently enter the high-technology workplace of Europe's future. 'With ESEO, ESA's Education and Knowledge Management Office will continue pursuing its objective of offering hands-on activities to university students across Europe. Working on real space projects has a strong inspirational value and offers the best professional preparation for Europe's future engineers and scientists,' says Piero Galeone, ESA's Head of the Tertiary Education Unit." More

"NASA and government agencies worldwide will host the second International Space Apps Challenge April 20-21, with events across all seven continents and in space. Participants are encouraged to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth. The two-day event will provide an opportunity for government to harness the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges. During the event, representatives of NASA and other international space agencies will gather with scientists and participants to use publicly released open data to create solutions for 50 software, hardware and visualization challenges, including robotics, citizen science platforms and applications of remote sensing data. Challenges selected to be worked on during the event will be published online prior to the event. The 2012 challenge engaged more than 2,000 participants who collaborated on more than 100 open source solutions to 71 featured challenges." More

NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed. NASA's International Space Station National Laboratory and Technology Demonstration offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost.

Inserting new capabilities into a satellite is no simple task. Doing so as that satellite hurdles through space 22,000 miles above the Earth is a bit more challenging still. DARPA's Phoenix program, which hopes to repurpose retired satellites while they remain in orbit, seeks to fundamentally change how space systems could be designed here on earth and then sustained once in space.

"NASA engineer Dan Dietrich and a team of scientists at Glenn developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) to monitor the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates of astronauts exercising during long missions. The portable unit was designed to give the crew the ability to move around the spacecraft without being tethered to a large immovable unit. PUMA measures six components to evaluate metabolic function: oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressure, volume flow rate, heart rate, and gas pressure and temperature. From those measurements, PUMA can compute the oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output and minute ventilation (average expired gas flow rate). A small, embedded computer takes readings of each sensor and relays the data wirelessly to a remote computer via Bluetooth." More

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters Office of Education, in cooperation with the NASA Johnson Space Center and other NASA Centers, is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for NASA Internships. On or about January 16, 2013, this CAN will be available electronically through the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and then clicking the link through the menu listings "Solicitations" to "Open Solicitations." Institutions eligible to respond to this CAN are limited to higher education institutions, nonprogit organizations, and consortia or groups of organizations and institutions serving higher education students, whose mission includes capturing student interest and/or improving student performance in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or related fields. The estimated annual value of the award is $3,000,000 to $10,000,000 per year, for a period of performance not to exceed 5 years." More

"Students from two schools, one in Iowa and the other in New York, are the winners of the International Space Station (ISS) Science Challenge, NASA announced Friday. Challenge winners from North Tama Elementary in Traer, Iowa, and Madison Elementary in Massena, N.Y., are being inspired to learn more about the space station's cutting-edge research by designing programs to teach others about specific experiments and what scientists are hoping to learn. This pilot program was created by Darcie Fregoe and Lisa Chizek, contributing teachers with NASA's Endeavour Science Teaching Certificate Project. The program is part of the Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience (INSPIRE). "I believe it is my responsibility as a middle school Earth science and astronomy teacher to educate students about the very valuable contributions ISS science has made in their lives," Fregoe said. "I want them to get excited about NASA and the International Space Station, and I want them to start thinking about possible futures working for NASA." More

"Imagine a young engineer examining an artifact from the Apollo era that helped send people on humankind's first venture to another world. The engineer has seen diagrams of the rocket engine. She has even viewed old videos of the immense tower-like Saturn V rocket launching to the moon. Like any curious explorer, she wants to see how it works for herself. She wonders if this old engine still has the "juice." Like a car mechanic who investigates an engine of a beloved antique automobile, she takes apart the engine piece by piece and refurbishes it. This is exactly what a small team of young NASA engineers did. The engineers, who have been trained in fields from rocket propulsion to materials science, took apart and refurbished parts from Saturn V F-1 engines--the most powerful American rocket engines ever built. Why resurrect an Apollo-era rocket engine? The answer is simple: to mine the secrets of the F-1 -- an engine that last flew before these engineers were born -- and use it as inspiration for creating new advanced, affordable propulsion systems." More

"Welcome to Planet Four, a citizen science project designed to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don't exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before! We need your help to find and mark 'fans' and 'blotches' on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking 'fans' and 'blotches' over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars' climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change." More

"TopCoder, Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, today announced the Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge, a $30,000, open to the public competition to make the energy-gathering solar arrays of the International Space Station (ISS) more efficient by eliminating the shadows it casts upon itself at different points during orbit. Registration for the three week long competition is now open with competition ending Wednesday, February 6 th at 18:00 GMT. Contestants must be TopCoder members in good standing. Community membership and challenge registration are free. Top prizes include $10,000 for the best solution with second and third placed solutions earning $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. Bonus prizes of mission stickers which have actually orbited the Earth on Space Shuttle Endeavour will be awarded to the top 5 finishers." More

A classically trained composer transforms solar data into tunes on VICE's tech channel's documentary series Spaced Out NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 16, 2013) - MOTHERBOARD today premieres the latest in its Spaced Out series, The Space Composer, investigating the art of turning data from the sun into sound. Sonification specialist Robert Alexander takes us through the solar cycle as it rises and falls, using the solar data to create some of the most interesting and unique music to have ever graced the planet.

"NASA's Space Technology Program is looking for visionary advanced concepts. This year's annual call for NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC) is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new missions or significantly improve current approaches to achieve aerospace objectives. NIAC studies visionary aerospace architecture, system or mission concepts that are exciting and unexplored, yet credible and executable. The concepts are early in development -- generally 10 years or more from operation. They are chosen based on peer review of the potential impact, technical strength and benefits of the proposed study. "While Goddard or Tsiolkovsky envisioned rockets taking humans to space, the rest of the world focused on the industrial revolution and challenges of the early 20th century," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "These visionaries had radical ideas of space travel and exploration that would take dozens to hundreds of years for maturation, but were worth waiting for. NASA's NIAC seeks proposals from today's visionaries who have futuristic concepts that may transform how we live, work and explore the high frontier." More

"Operating droids in space was no obstacle for a German-Italian alliance to reach the finish line of the Zero Robotics tournament. The European winners commanded mini-robots to dodge virtual dust clouds and rendezvous with disabled satellites, all in the weightlessness of the International Space Station. This year's competition gave over 130 high-school students from across Europe the opportunity to operate droids in space by coding software. Six alliances made of teams from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal witnessed how their computer codes worked in the Space Station from ESA's ESTEC space research and technology centre in the Netherlands The RetroSpheres space game involved two mini-robots racing through a course using the least amount of fuel. During the three-minute programmed dance, the volleyball-sized spheres moved using 12 squirts of compressed gas. Competitors could collect extra fuel from decommissioned satellites and deorbit the satellites for extra points while navigating through their opponent's dust clouds." More

"ESA's Proba-V microsatellite is now assembled and midway through testing to ensure it is fully spaceworthy. The miniature Earth-observer, designed to chart global vegetation every two days, will be launched in April. The testing at the specialised Intespace facility in Toulouse, France, includes rigorous simulations of Proba-V's take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and temperature extremes it must endure in orbit. It comes after Proba-V's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month. Building it was a complex operation. Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellites carries a wide-angle telescope for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe." More

"A squadron of mini satellites on the International Space Station will wake up this Friday to obey remote commands from students across Europe. Up until now the students have run their code in a virtual world, but this Friday the high-school finals will be held using the real thing: robotic droids on the International Space Station. This year's RetroSpheres scenario involves using the Spheres, which move using jets of compressed gas, to push simulated space debris out of orbit. Six alliances made of European finalists from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal will confront each other and see their computer code operate robots in space for the first time. ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers will provide commentary from ESA's space research and technology centre, ESTEC, in the Netherlands, as NASA's Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn set up the games on the Station. Over 130 students will be at ESTEC with Andre to learn more about robotics and run their code on the Spheres floating in the Space Station." More

This video of the moon was taken by the NASA GRAIL mission's MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) camera aboard the Ebb spacecraft on Dec. 14, 2012. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the northern hemisphere of the moon's far side, in the vicinity of the Jackson impact crater.

DARPA's SeeMe program aims to give mobile, US warfighters overseas access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide timely imagery to warfighters of their immediate surroundings via handheld devices.

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters is releasing a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for initial studies of visionary aerospace concepts. NNH13ZUA001N, entitled NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts: Phase I Studies, will be available as of January 15, 2013. This solicitation represents continuation of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which issued its first solicitation on March 1, 2011. This NRA will solicit multiple studies, each of which will investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept with the potential to enable a great leap in space or aeronautics. NIAC is part of the Space Technology Program in the Office of Chief Technologist. Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts proposed for NIAC Phase I studies must be exciting, unexplored, far-term, and credible. Proposals for narrow technology or subsystem development, or incremental or near-term advancement, are explicitly out of scope for this program. Finally, while NIAC encourages daring vision and accepts the accompanying risk, proposals must be technically credible and plausibly implementable." More

"We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events." More

"This is a Request for Information (RFI) only and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)/Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) will take procurement action in this matter. Further, neither NASA nor the Government will be responsible for any cost incurred in furnishing this information. NASA recognizes the interest by educational institutions, science museums, and other appropriate organizations in the Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, Flying the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Marketing the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer and 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, and Investing in Deployer Technologies. NASA intends to enter into multiple agreements for technical transfer." More

"NASA/GSFC has a requirement for participation in the PolarTREC (Teachers and Researcher Exploring and Collaborating)program. PolarTREC is a program in which K-12 teachers spend 2-6 weeks participating in hands on field research experience in the polar regions. NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the services from Arctic Research Consortium of The United States (ARCUS). Participating projects, such as IceBridge, are selected through competitive proposals that are selected by a panel. IceBridge submitted a proposal and has been selected to participate in the PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating). The PolarTREC program is manage by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and housed in Fairbanks, Alaska. ARCUS is a member consortium of educational and scientific institution that have a substantial commitment to arctic research. There is no other organization or vendor that offers this kind of specialized education and outreach program for polar research." More

"NASA Television will broadcast the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event also will be streamed live on NASA's website. As in past years, NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants for almost 250 teams and sponsors four regional student competitions, including a FIRST regional competition in Washington that will be held March 28-30." More