Archive for May, 2016

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

There’s a new sky-high idea floating about concerning the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo.

Perhaps the opening ceremony in that 2020 event will feature “Sky Canvas” – artificial shooting stars launched from a satellite.

Credit: Games of the XXXII Olympiad

Credit: Games of the XXXII Olympiad

 

Lab setting

The shooting stars on demand idea stems from Tokyo-based ALE Co., Ltd.

“In a laboratory setting, our artificial shooting stars have already achieved an apparent magnitude of -1. Even Sirius, the brightest star that can be observed in the night sky, has an apparent magnitude of -1.5,” the firm’s website explains. “There’s no doubt that artificial shooting stars by ALE can clearly be seen anywhere, even in the city.”

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Color me bright

Turning an artificial shooting star into different colors is done by loading a satellite with various materials, thereby turning shooting stars into any color.

“Our shooting star travels slower and longer across the sky than a natural shooting star. This makes it possible for more people to enjoy the spectacle for a longer period of time,” adds the ALE website.

“In the ‘Sky Canvas Project,’ numerous source particles can be continuously emitted, which allows us to create not only a single shooting star, but a real meteor shower.”

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Coming to a sky near you?

As noted in the company’s business plan, the Sky Canvas service can provide a shooting star in all parts of the world. The ground viewing area is 400 times wider than a fireworks bursting at an altitude of 1,640 feet (500 meters).

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

When the service is initially offered, ALE planners say there will be limitations on locations of the shooting stars. However, they may plan to launch multiple satellites in orbit. With more satellites, shooting stars can be freely created in different directions and locations.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting stars

Any worry about artificial meteors hitting another space object?

The firm has developed software that calculates the probability of their particles colliding with other objects.

“The particles will not be discharged unless safety is confirmed. In a rare case that there remains a question in safety based on the simulation, we will abort the discharge to prevent a possible disaster,” the website explains.

A SkyCanvas Promotion Movie is available here:

 

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1347, May 20, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1347, May 20, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is now in Sol 1348.

The robot continues to measure the variations in silica abundance around large fractures, poking around in what’s been called “Fracture Town”.

Opposition party

BTW: Here’s how to visually celebrate Mars opposition on Sunday, May 22nd:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ-qbykREXE&feature=youtu.be&t=1m15s

New Map

A new map shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 1346 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (May, 20, 2016).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up.

From Sol 1344 to Sol 1346, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 31.55 feet (9.62 meters).

Since touching down in Bradbury Landing in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 7.95 miles (12.80 kilometers).

 

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1344, May 18, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1344, May 18, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1346, May 20, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1346, May 20, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on May 18, 2016, Sol 1344. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on May 18, 2016, Sol 1344.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

 

 

 

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on May 19, 2016, Sol 1345. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on May 19, 2016, Sol 1345.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

 

A U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space Hearing — “Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitats” — took place on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

Witnesses at the hearing included Andy Weir, Author of The Martian, joined by a NASA spokesman and key commercial space players from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Orbital ATK.

 

To read the prepared testimony of the witnesses, go to:

  • Jason Crusan, Director, Advanced Exploration Systems, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-JCrusan-20160517.pdf

  • John Elbon, Vice President and General Manager, Space Exploration, Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, The Boeing Company

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-JElbon-20160517.pdf

  • Wanda Sigur, Vice President and General Manager, Civil Space, Lockheed Martin Corporation

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-WSigur-20160517.pdf

  • Frank Culbertson, President, Space Systems Group, Orbital ATK

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-FCulbertson-20160517.pdf

  • Andy Weir, Author, The Martian

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-AWeir-20160517.pdf

Note: The hearing was streamed live on May 18, 2016 from the location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building and can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-22hUz2vI8

— Statement of Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitats

Go to:

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-S000583-20160518.pdf

— Statement of Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas)
Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitats

Go to:

https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-B001291-20160518.pdf

 

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has launched its campaign to establish a “Mars Base Camp” – a vision for sending humans to Mars by 2028.

The Mars Base Camp concept is to transport astronauts from Earth to a Mars-orbiting science laboratory where they can perform real-time scientific exploration, analyze Martian rock and soil samples, and confirm the ideal place to land humans on the surface.

This orbiting science station is envisioned to be launched in 2028, setting the stage for a human landing mission in the 2030s.

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Key elements

The elements are:

  • Orion: The deep-space crew capsule, built with deep space life support, communications and navigation.
  • Space Launch System: Super heavy lift designed to send critical labs, habitats and supplies to Mars.
  • Habitats: Deep space habitats will give astronauts room to live and work on the way to Mars.
  • Solar Electric Propulsion: Based on technology already in place on satellites, this advanced propulsion will pre-position key supplies in Mars orbit.
Credit: Lockheed Martin

Credit: Lockheed Martin

 

Interplanetary ship

As detailed by Lockheed Martin, the major components of the architecture will be launched separately. Some are pre-positioned in Mars orbit ahead of time.

Other components are assembled in cis-lunar space for the journey to Mars.

Six astronauts would launch on Orion, which serves as the heart of the Mars Base Camp interplanetary ship.

For more information, go to:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/ssc/mars-orion.html

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

For all you future settlers of Mars, a new technical report is now available to plan your stay on the Red Planet.

The technical paper, Frontier In-Situ Resource Utilization for Enabling Sustained Human Presence on Mars, has been written by Robert Moses and Dennis Bushnell of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Massive resources

The currently known resources on Mars are massive, including extensive quantities of water and CO2 and therefore C, H2 and O2 for life support, fuels and plastics and many other items. The regolith is replete with all manner of minerals.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1301, April 3, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1301, April 3, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) applicable frontier technologies include robotics, machine intelligence, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, 3-D printing/additive manufacturing and autonomy. These technologies combined with the vast natural resources should enable serious, pre- and post-human arrival ISRU to greatly increase reliability and safety and reduce cost for human colonization of Mars.

Center of trade

Various system-level transportation concepts employing Mars produced fuel would enable Mars resources to evolve into a primary center of trade for the inner solar system for eventually nearly everything required for space faring and colonization.

Credit: Dan Durda

Credit: Dan Durda

Mars resources and their exploitation via extensive ISRU is the key to a viable, safe and affordable, human presence beyond Earth.

Reshape thinking

The purpose of this paper is four-fold:

  • To highlight the latest discoveries of water, minerals, and other materials on Mars that reshape thinking about the value and capabilities of Mars ISRU;
  • To summarize the previous literature on Mars ISRU processes, equipment, and approaches;
  • To point to frontier ISRU technologies and approaches that can lead to safe and affordable human missions to Mars; and
  • To suggest an implementation strategy whereby the ISRU elements are phased into the mission campaign over time to enable a sustainable and increasing human presence on Mars.

To access this new and informative paper, go to:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160005963.pdf

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1344, May 18, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1344, May 18, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

The Mars Curiosity rover drive planned last weekend was completed successfully, moving MSL less than 20 feet (6 meters) into position for contact science on the rocks broken by the rover wheels.

That’s the word from Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity is just about to enter Sol 1345.

Touch and go

This week, planning is restricted for rover activities.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1342, May 16, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1342, May 16, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Plans called for Sol 1344 to include a “touch and go” that requires extra Rover Planner staffing, as both arm activities and a drive are planned.

“It’s great to be able to do so much in one plan, but we had to cram a lot of stuff into Sol 1344 because the drive has to be completed before the afternoon MRO communications relay to allow another drive to be planned on Wednesday,” Herkenhoff reports.  “So we had to decide which scientific observations were most important and work to fit them into the plan.

Broken rocks

A target was selected for a Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) observation of “Impalila,” one of the freshly-exposed rock surfaces.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 1344, May 17, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 1344, May 17, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Mastcam was to acquire a multispectral observation of the broken rocks before the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) snapped pictures of “Stampriet,” Impalila, “Narubis,” and “Swartmodder.”

After MAHLI imaging is completed, the plan called for the robotic arm to be stowed. Curiosity was then slated to drive toward the west, “hopefully getting back to the Sol 1311 location, where the rover was before we decided to return to the Lubango area,” Herkenhoff adds.

Curiosity Rover's Location for Sol 1342 This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 1342 Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (May, 16, 2016). Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. From Sol 1329 to Sol 1342, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 10.30 feet (3.14 meters). Since touching down in Bradbury Landing in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 7.92 miles (12.75 kilometers). The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Curiosity Rover’s Location for Sol 1342
This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1342 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (May, 16, 2016).
Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. From Sol 1329 to Sol 1342, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 10.30 feet (3.14 meters). Since touching down in Bradbury Landing in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 7.92 miles (12.75 kilometers).
The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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

 

Credit: Paul Hudson/NASA

Credit: Paul Hudson/NASA

NASA’s quest to place boot prints on Mars in the 2030’s is advancing, bolstered by new studies on a multi-function next-generation Mars Orbiter and how best to use Red Planet resources to sustain expeditionary crews on the planet.

Last year, nearly 50 locations on Mars were proposed by scientists as future locales for human landings. Those landing zone sites also flag “regions of interest” that can be reached from touchdown spots.

Credit: NEX-SAG

Credit: NEX-SAG

Now the call is out for a multi-functional next-generation Mars Orbiter that carries advanced telecommunications gear and makes use of powerful radar to scout out and better classify Martian resources for human landing parties. If approved, the spacecraft might be headed for Mars as early as 2022.

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

Humans on Mars: Scouting Needed for Red Planet Resources

http://www.space.com/32882-nasa-crewed-mars-missions-resources-orbiter.html

Courtesy of Mafic Studios, Inc.

Courtesy of Mafic Studios, Inc.

A petition is gaining momentum to prompt the President of the United States to lead the transition to space-based energy.

Among items, the call to action urges the establishment of “congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.”

The petition is to be delivered to the President of the United States, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shedding light

Father of solar power satellite idea, Peter Glaser. Credit: AD Little, Inc.

Father of solar power satellite idea, Peter Glaser.
Credit: AD Little, Inc.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) consists of orbiting solar power satellites continuously harvesting the Sun’s intense energy in space.

The energy is beamed wirelessly to rectifying antennas on the Earth, and then transmitted to existing electrical power grids. Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, space-based solar power is nearly infinitely scalable. It is also continuous, so it can supply the planet’s baseload energy requirements.

Not a new idea

Space-based solar power is not a new idea.

Credit: U.S. Patent Office

Credit: U.S. Patent Office

 

Peter Glaser, an American scientist and strong advocate of the concept, obtained U.S. Patent Number US003781647 for SBSP back in 1973.

Since then, the idea has been studied by NASA, the Department of Energy and other government agencies, academic groups, private organizations, and individuals.

Power beaming from space to Earth is attracting technologists. Credit: John Mankins

Power beaming from space to Earth is attracting technologists.
Credit: John Mankins

“Every technology required for the implementation of SBSP exists, and they are each well understood,” claim advocates.

The petition can be found here at:

https://www.change.org/p/president-of-the-united-states-usa-must-lead-the-transition-to-space-based-energy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To reach and read from an informative site on the ins and outs of collecting solar energy in space for broadcast to Earth, go to Citizens for Space Based Solar Power at:

https://c-sbsp.org/

Video Resources:

1)

Space Based Solar Power – a solution to the carbon crisis at:

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

2)

Space Solar Proposal Presentation at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dQsRv1XDg

3)

Boeing video takes a glimpse into the future – the next 100 years – and envisions such concepts as power beaming from space and elevators to space. Take a look at “You Just Wait” at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEjPLHmFAM8

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1338, May 11, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1338, May 11, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Word is that there’s a change of plans for using the wheeled robot. An over the weekend long drive of the robot has been put off.

Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona reports why that’s the case.

Fresh rock surfaces

“There was enough interest in the fresh rock surfaces exposed near the rover that we decided to investigate them instead,” Herkenhoff explains. Before the Mars science team could decide whether to “bump” the rover to the rocks that were broken when it drove over them, scientists had to make sure they could be well imaged by the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

“Taking MAHLI images of nearly vertical faces is difficult, because the turret at the end of the arm must be placed close to the ground,” Herkenhoff adds. “While the Strategic Rover Planner worked to find ways to get MAHLI close to the fresh surfaces, we planned pre-drive remote sensing and arm activities.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right Sol 1333 May 6, 2016

Bedrock brush off

On Sol 1341, the plan calls for the Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) to observe its calibration target, a bedrock target named “Kobos 3,” and the wall of the Okoruso drill hole.

Mastcam is then to provide context for the ChemCam observations and take stereo mosaics of “Naob” and other bedrock near the rover.

Later in the day on Mars, the Dirt Removal Tool (DRT) is scheduled to be used to brush dust off a brighter layer in the bedrock. MAHLI imagery will be taken before and after that brushing, Herkenhoff points out.

The plan also calls for close-up MAHLI images to be taken of a nearby bedrock target dubbed “Mariquita” and a lower-resolution MAHLI mosaic of the area including Mariquita.

Also on tap is use of the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) to measure the chemistry of the brush spot overnight, before another busy sol begins.

Broken rocks

Curiosity’s robotic arm is to be stowed, making possible a Mastcam multispectral observation of the brush spot before the rover bumps over to the broken rocks.

During the drive, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument is to actively measure the subsurface hydrogen content by turning on its neutron generator.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1333, May 6, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1333, May 6, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

After acquiring post-drive images, the rover will take a nap before the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) performs another overnight analysis of the Okoruso drill sample.

Autonomous software

Early on the morning of Sol 1343, Navcam will search for clouds and dust devils, and Mastcam will measure the optical thickness of dust in the atmosphere.

Later that sol, ChemCam will use the NASA-created, newly-validated Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) software to acquire ChemCam Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) data that identifies rock composition.

Concludes Herkenhoff : “Of course, we are hoping that the software continues to work well!”

Apollo astronaut tripping his way across the Moon. Credit: NASA/Image elaboration Schlacht and Umhof.

Apollo astronaut tripping his way across the Moon.
Credit: NASA/Image
elaboration Schlacht and Umhof.

The problem of walking – and falling — on the Moon is gaining renewed attention by a research team.

Principal Investigator, Irene Lia Schlacht of the Politecnico di Milano and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, along with her colleagues, are asking some key questions: How crewmembers will walk inside and outside a lunar habitat. How high does a person jump off the Moon? Should Moon architecture have steps or should a facility support climbing to move about?

“The hypogravity will lead to vestibular system malfunction, loss of muscular mass, and stiffness of the legs, negatively affecting a person’s balance: Yes, we can climb, but we can also easily lose our balance and trip up,” the research team explains in an abstract prepared for the Fourth European Lunar Symposium to be held May 18-19 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Gait and balance

To avoid all of this, there is work to be done to appreciate gait and balance on the Moon, the research team suggests. Their investigation will address balance and deconditioning, for the first time getting much closer to the real conditions that will affect astronauts during Moon and Mars missions.

Interpretation of Moon walking posture and sight-line image. Credit: NASA/Apollo 14/M. Masali

Interpretation of Moon walking posture and
sight-line image.
Credit: NASA/Apollo 14/M. Masali

Also, a methodology is to be devised that focuses on the collection of basic anthropometrical and postural data.

A “Walking on the Moon” experiment aims to measure the walking pattern of astronauts during space walks and strutting around within the confines of a spacecraft.

Avoid tripping

“On the Moon, the research group advises, “it is very important to avoid tripping by increasing one’s balance in order to assure the safety required in those extreme contexts. Balance is a factor that depends on many variables, such as: visual field, sensorimotor system, vestibular system.”

These variables are all affected by the different environmental constraints of Moon and Mars environments.

Trio of techniques

To simulate the same conditions of a Moon/Mars mission, the team has formulated ways to attain their data.

Partial gravity can be achieved with a vertical treadmill, deconditioning achieved with bed rest, and artificial gravity as a physiological countermeasure. Making use of this trio of techniques, a realistic reduced gravity effect can be obtained to simulate and analyze Moon and Mars walking patterns.

ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility. Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015

ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility.
Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015

 

Another data gathering tool consists of using the swimming pool of the European Space Agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Centre located near Cologne, Germany.

Also engaged in the study: J. Rittweger of the German Aerospace Center, B. Foing of ESA/ESTEC, M. Daumer of the Human Motion Institute, and M. Masali of the Universitá di Torino.

 

While awaiting the results of this research, go to this video collection of Moonwalkers losing their lunar legs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEdYf4SGhuI

Griffith Observatory Event