Archive for September, 2015

Credit: Mars One

Credit: Mars One

From the Mars One project, sports and underwear brand Björn Borg’s Spring/Summer 2016 (SS16) show at Fashion Week in Stockholm was a tribute to that project’s human mission to the Red Planet.

The catwalk featured a Mars-themed environment with red rocks, dust, and a Martian crater.

“It resulted in what is sure to be one of the most original fashion shows. This amazing brand opportunity enabled Mars One to reach a new audience and excite them about space exploration,” explains the Mars One project.

 

 

Check out the catwalk video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjVTu1HuD2s

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly takes a selfie with the Bahamas from 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station. Credit: Scott Kelly/NASA

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly takes a selfie with the Bahamas from 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station.
Credit: Scott Kelly/NASA

The White House issued today a message from NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly, now onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The posting from Kelly underscores his midway status in a one-year stint onboard the ISS.

Here is that message from Kelly:

Heading into the unknown…

Almost everything we know about living in space ends at six months. Now that I am at the midpoint of my mission, heading into the second half of one year in space aboard the International Space Station, I am looking forward to exploring the science of this uncharted territory and stepping into the unknown.

My Russian colleague Mikhail Kornienko and I are living in space for one year to push the edge of our scientific understanding. To add in another dynamic, researchers are conducting “twin studies” to compare the subtle effects and changes in spaceflight as compared to Earth by studying my twin brother and I, two individuals who have almost identical genetics, but are in different environments for one year. We hope that the knowledge gained on this mission will benefit the Earth and that the data collected will help send humans to new destinations, supporting the next generation of space exploration.

Whether it is living in low Earth orbit for one year or a two year mission to the Red Planet, I have learned that human potential is limitless and we should never stop pushing the boundaries of exploration.

Thank you for supporting me and joining me on this mission. I am posting on social media with the hope that I can bring all of you on Earth along for the ride. I want to inspire you to reach further for your dreams and know that anything is possible.

The people who make International Space Station operations possible, the flight controllers watching over our ship 24-7-365, and the researchers analyzing the data we get back have invested their careers and lives to this mission to serve the United States and inspire the next generation.

I have traveled 72 million miles around Earth in the past 171 days — flying at 17,500mph — and have had the opportunity to experience our home planet from an incredible perspective. When I come home in March, I will have orbited the Earth 5,472 times traveling 141.7 million statute miles and spent more time in space than any U.S. astronaut in history. Please join me for the next six months of my mission — as I reach these milestones and continue NASA’s work off the Earth, for the Earth.

Sincerely,

Scott

Scott Kelly, NASA Astronaut

Artist’s impression depicts the separation of Europe’s ExoMars 2016 entry, descent and landing demonstrator module -- named Schiaparelli -- from the Trace Gas Orbiter Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Artist’s impression depicts the separation of Europe’s ExoMars 2016 entry, descent and landing demonstrator module — named Schiaparelli — from the Trace Gas Orbiter
Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Europe’s ExoMars 2016 mission has slipped its launch window from January of next year to March.

A problem recently discovered in two sensors in the propulsion system of the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module — Schiaparelli — has prompted the recommendation to move the launch to March 14 – still within the launch window of early 2016.

ExoMars 2016 is to be launched via a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

The ESA ExoMars 2016 mission will arrive at the Red Planet in October.

Technology testing

The European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli module will prove key technologies to demonstrate Europe’s capability to make a controlled landing on Mars.

The Schiaparelli will ride to Mars on the ESA Trace Gas Orbiter.

That orbiter is designed to carry out a five-year mission of studying Mars’ atmospheric gases potentially linked to present-day biological or geological activity.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

Once released from the orbiter, Schiaparelli is to aerobrake in the upper Martian atmosphere, with a parachute phase and liquid-propellant thruster system phase following.

Landing site: Meridiani Planum

As the thrusters switch off, the lander will drop onto the Mars landscape. Its impact will be cushioned by a crushable structure built into the module.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

 

The lander is targeted for touchdown in a region known as Meridiani Planum.

Schiaparelli is planned to operate on the surface for only a short time, powered by batteries. The lander will remain a target for future laser ranging studies as it carries a reflector designed for this purpose.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

 

ESA’s ExoMars 2018 mission – also to be launched by a Russian Proton booster — is set to deliver a rover and an instrumented platform on the surface of Mars.

ExoMars is a joint endeavor between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

Outcrop of interest as seen through Curiosity's Navcam Left B camera on Sol 1107, taken September 17, 2015.    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Outcrop of interest as seen through Curiosity’s Navcam Left B camera on Sol 1107, taken September 17, 2015.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A recent drive by the Curiosity Mars rover of 54 feet (16.6 meters) was completed on Sol 1107.

That drive placed the rover in front of a bright outcrop of interest, explains Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Rover planners have found some bright blocks that have been confirmed as good targets for contact science, Herkenhoff reports. The plan is to approach and study these targets over the upcoming weekend.

On tap was use of Curiosity’s ChemCam and Mastcam to observe nearby rock and soil targets named “Sphinx,” “Houle,” and “Utopia.”

Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1104, September 14, 2015  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1104, September 14, 2015
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Earlier this week, the robot made additional contact science on the Murray formation in search of good sandstone for the rover’s next drill target.

Should we stay, should we go?

Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, noted early this week that the bright patch of blocky outcrop was first identified in orbital images.

The question facing rover scientists: was the outcrop a good place to investigate further…or to keep driving?

 Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, took this up-close image on September 16 2015, Sol 1106. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, took this up-close image on September 16 2015, Sol 1106.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Edgar said: “Can’t wait to see what the new images will reveal!”

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Today is Sol 1108 for Curiosity, landing on Mars in early August of 2012.

Business plan for asteroid mining. Credit: Joel Sercel/ICS Associates Inc. and TransAstra

Business plan for asteroid mining.
Credit: Joel Sercel/ICS Associates Inc. and TransAstra

 

A new method to harvest asteroids is being eyed as a possible game changer for space exploration. The ability to tap mega-amounts of water from asteroids could be used directly as propellant in solar thermal rockets to provide inexpensive space transportation.

 

 

 

Rock star status

Experimental work on the Asteroid Provided In-Situ Supplies (Apis) plan makes use of a new patent pending innovation dubbed “optical mining” – a way to excavate and process asteroids and transform them into “rock star” status.

White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico has a large solar furnace. It’ll shed light and heat onto and into the idea of asteroid mining. Credit: Drew Hamilton, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico has a large solar furnace. It’ll shed light and heat onto and into the idea of asteroid mining.
Credit: Drew Hamilton, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

The research has been advanced by a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) fellowship and grant along with a small business contract.

The concept was detailed during a special NIAC session held September 2 during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Space 2015 meeting in Pasadena, California.For more details, take a look a my new Space.com story at:

Asteroid-Mining Plan Would Bake Water Out of Bagged-Up Space Rocks
by Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist
September 18, 2015 07:38am ET

http://www.space.com/30582-asteroid-mining-water-propulsion.html

Credit: NASA History Office

Credit: NASA History Office

 

From the NASA History Program Office, a new monograph in aerospace history is available that’s a fascinating read.

Emblems of Exploration: Logos of the NACA and NASA has been written by Joseph R. Chambers and Mark A. Chambers.

From Emblems of Exploration: Logos of the NACA and NASA.

From Emblems of Exploration: Logos of the NACA and NASA.

This publication concentrates on the rich and interesting history of the conception and implementation of the world-famous NACA and NASA seals and insignias that have been displayed for decades on aeronautics and space research vehicles and facilities, as well as those proudly worn by flight research pilots, astronauts, and the dedicated employees of these two world-class organizations.

NASA seal

NASA seal

But those decades have also been marked by high-sign hullabaloo.

Admired symbol

As the authors note: “The logos became an intimate, ever-present component of activities as NASA achieved the necessary stepping-stones for travel to the Moon during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs,” they write.

NASA meatball

NASA meatball

“The meatball insignia, in particular, became a publicly admired symbol as the nation raced to meet a seemingly impossible schedule for a Moon landing imposed by a President with his eyes on the stars and the immediate Soviet threat.”

Enter the worm

The NASA meatball was retired in 1975 by the artistic worm logotype insignia, “much to the dismay of many NASA employees,” they add.

NASA worm

NASA worm

But NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin retired the worm and brought back the meatball in 1992, “as a reminder of the glory days of the Agency to improve the morale of employees, the logo was welcomed back by many veteran NASA employees,” the authors explain.

 

NASA FREE LOGO

 

 

For a free downloadable E-book of the monograph, go to:

http://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/emblems_of_exploration_detail.html

Special thanks to Debi Shoots/ODRSO Science Department for calling this report to my attention!

Architectural work is on-going to develop a Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments. Credit: SHEE Project

Architectural work is on-going to develop a Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments.
Credit: SHEE Project

On the Moon or Mars, cozy and self-deployable autonomous habitats might rule the day and night given the extreme climes at those extraterrestrial addresses.

Enter the “SHEE project” – the Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments.

The concept is the product of an architecture research idea initiated by architect Ondrej Doule, detailed here August 31 at a session on space habitats at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Space 2015 meeting.

This space habitat work may serve dual purposes — not only for creating off planet, home-away-from-home domiciles – but also useful here on Earth.

Work on extraterrestrial habitats for the Moon and Mars may find down-to-Earth application to help those afflicted by natural or human-made disasters. Credit: SHEE Project

Work on extraterrestrial habitats for the Moon and Mars may find down-to-Earth application to help those afflicted by natural or human-made disasters.
Credit: SHEE Project

 

Videos and other photos

Time-lapse movie sped up 25 times shows a habitat equipped with internal furnishing and subsystems. The folding process was monitored earlier this year during a Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (SHEE) workshop held in Marseille, France.

www.shee.eu

 

 

For more details, go to my new Space.com story:

Future Mars Explorers Could Live in Habitats That Build Themselves
by Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist
September 16, 2015 07:20am ET

http://www.space.com/30553-self-deploying-mars-habitats-shee.html

 

 

Credit: Richard Clar

Credit: Richard Clar

Very special radio signals are slated to bounce off the surface of the Moon on September 26 – one of them a sound produced from the Electrocardiogram (EKG) during Neil Armstrong’s historic “One small step” onto the lunar surface.

The Giant Step and Lune sur la Lune projects pay tribute to Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong’s giant leap on the Moon back in 1969 and also salute the far side of the Moon itself.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

 

Sonification tone

Richard Clar, a new media interdisciplinary artist from Northern California, researched the Apollo Archives coming across an EKG of Neil Armstrong as he took the first step on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Artist Richard Clar. Credit: Art Technologies

Artist Richard Clar.
Credit: Art Technologies

Data scientist, Ryan Compton, created a “sonification tone” from Armstrong’s actual EKG graph. Then prominent Los Angeles-based double-bass jazz performer and composer Roberto Miranda used the tone to create compelling sounds that have been called “edgy and hauntingly beautiful.”

Clar’s interest in the effort was piqued after hearing about an Earth-Moon-Earth bounce (EME) from Italian artist and colleague, Daniela de Paulis, who together with radio specialist Jan van Muijlwijk developed the process of using EME to send images to the moon and back in 2009.

Far side image

For Lune sur la Lune, an image of the far side of the Moon will be transmitted in a poetic gesture onto the Earth-facing side of the Moon.

Dingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands. Credit: ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

Dingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands.
Credit: ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

 

Depending on weather conditions these radio transmissions to the Moon and back will emanate from a radio dish in Italy. The bounce back from the Moon will be received at Dingeloo Radio Observatory in the Netherlands.

In addition, an image of the first footprint on the Moon will be transmitted and bounced back to Dwingeloo.

Rock the moon

“I wanted the art to say something about the first humans to set foot on the moon,” explains Clar. “Think how many living beings have observed the Moon for eons…and now we have made a number of trips to the Moon and back. I want people to have new experiences through my artwork,” he says in a press statement.

Many of Clar’s themes originate in space environment issues, such as orbital debris, war and peace, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and water management on Earth.

Shortly after the sound and image from Giant Step and Lune sur la Lune are received at the Dwingeloo radio receiving site they will be accessible to the world at:

www.rockthemoon.com

For more information on Clar’s artwork over the years, go to:

http://arttechnologies.com

Space entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos. Credit: Blue Origin

Space entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos.
Credit: Blue Origin

Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame announced his plans today during Florida Space Coast festivities.

Here are his prepared remarks released by his rocket company, Blue Origin:

Today we announced that we’ll be flying our orbital launch vehicle from Florida. Cape Canaveral has long been a gateway to humankind’s greatest adventures. As a kid, I was inspired by the giant Saturn V missions that roared to life from these shores. Now we are thrilled to be coming to the Sunshine State for a new era of exploration.

First Developmental Test Flight of New Shepard on April 29, 2015 from his Texas spaceport. Credit: Blue Origin

First Developmental Test Flight of New Shepard on April 29, 2015 from his Texas spaceport.
Credit: Blue Origin

Our new home on the Space Coast is anchored by the launch site at Complex 36. During its 43 years of service, 145 launches thundered into space from this site. The Mariner missions – the first U.S. spacecraft to visit other planets – lifted off from Complex 36. So did Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt; Surveyor 1, the first U.S. spacecraft to land softly on the Moon; and multiple weather, communications and national defense payloads hopped their rides to space from LC-36. The site saw its last launch in 2005 and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years – too long. We can’t wait to fix that.

One of the unique things about our Florida operations is that we aren’t just launching here, we’re building here. At Exploration Park, we’ll have a 21st century production facility where we’ll focus on manufacturing our reusable fleet of orbital launchers and readying them for flight again and again. Locating vehicle assembly near our launch site eases the challenge of processing and transporting really big rockets.

Jeff Bezos unveils future plans for Florida Space Coast. Credit: NASA TV via GeekWire

Jeff Bezos unveils future plans for Florida Space Coast.
Credit: NASA TV via GeekWire

We’ll be launching from here later this decade. You will hear us before you see us. Our American-made BE-4 engine – the power behind our orbital launch vehicle – will be acceptance tested here. Our BE-4 engine will also help make history as it powers the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket.

Residents of the Space Coast have enjoyed front-row seats to the future for nearly 60 years. Our team’s passion for pioneering is the perfect fit for a community dedicated to forging new frontiers. Keep watching.

Gradatim Ferociter!

Jeff Bezos

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

The performance of Virgin Galactic’s air-launched system, LauncherOne, is to be “significantly” increased – nearly doubling the amount of payload customers can deliver to orbit for the same price.

For a price below $10 million, LauncherOne will now be able to launch 440 pounds (200 kilograms) into the standard Sun-Synchronous Orbit most commonly desired by small satellite missions.

That’s the word today at the yearly World Business Satellite Week in Paris, France.

Add to air launch fleet

Customers will also be able to purchase further increases in performance to the same orbit, as well as launches that reach other altitudes or inclinations. To lower Earth orbits the system will be capable of launching over 800 pounds (400 kilograms) of payload.

According to a press statement, Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of acquiring a commercial aircraft to add to its air launch fleet, which includes WhiteKnightTwo. Doing so enables both the increased payload capacity and significantly higher flight rate.

Eye on the small satellite market. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Eye on the small satellite market.
Credit: Virgin Galactic

The company expects to finalize this aircraft acquisition in the coming months.

SmallSat market

With full, private funding already committed to the program, the company said today that LauncherOne “remains on target” to be the most flexible and responsive launch vehicle to offer affordable, dedicated launches to smaller satellites.

“LauncherOne will be ready to meet the rapidly expanding needs of satellite startups, space agencies, and research institutions thanks to the investments we’ve already made in our engines, tanks, avionics, and our production infrastructure,” said George T. Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO.

LauncherOne’s customer base includes firms such as global communications company OneWeb. Virgin Galactic recently signed up with OneWeb to one of the largest commercial launch orders in history for flights of its internet service satellites on LauncherOne.

Griffith Observatory Event