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Saturday, September 9, 2006


NASA's Space Elevator Competition

Structural diagram of a space elevator.
Structural diagram of a space elevator.
Credit: Wikipedia
"Construction of it will begin 50 years after everyone stops laughing." - Arthur C. Clarke

It may take more than 50 years, but progress has begun. In about a week, NASA is holding a competition, in New Mexico, to encourage companies to create the technology that would be used to build a space elevator. Some of the entries include solar-powered, teather-climbing robots; mile long cables with high tensiel strengths, and other sattelite probes designed to test other technologies. "I think there are going to be lots of people that rise to this challenge," said Michael Laine, president of the Washington-based company LiftPort. "We're at the beginning of something really great."

For more detailed information on Space Elevators, read Kevin Reimund's article.

(More info: The Observer)


- posted by Jim @ 12:52 EST

(permanent link)


Atlantis Lifts Off

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Cente
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Cente
Credit: NASA
STS-115 launchd today at 11:15 a.m. EDT. The crew consists of Commander Brent W. Jett Jr., Pilot Christopher J. Ferguson and Mission Specialists Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steven G. MacLean, of the Canadian Space Agency. The crew will add the P3/P4 integrated truss and a second set of solar arrays on the space station. After 5 delays because of weather, the shuttle lifted off without any problem. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said, "Once again, it's an honor to be associated with this program and with this team and to watch them work. What you saw today was a flawless count and a majestic launch."

(More info: NASA)


- posted by Jim @ 14:31 EST

(permanent link)

Monday, September 11, 2006


Martian Clouds

Clouds on mars
Clouds on mars
Credit: NASA
Noctilucent clouds thought to only exist on Earth were detected by the Mars Express orbiter. These clouds thought to only exist on Earth have now been detected on Mars. It is thought that these clouds form with the help of extramartian dust hitting the planet's atmosphere. If instead of water crystals, as is in Earth's Noctilicent clouds, there were ice; it would explain the Mariner 6 and 7 results of CO2 ice in the atmosphere. Mars Express' SPICAM spectrometer has confirmed these findings. It is not known at this time if the process of their creation.

(More info: New Scientists)


- posted by Jim @ 0:35 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


China looking for high yield crops

Shijian-8
Shijian-8
Credit: china.org.cn
The Chinese, faced with increasing population and diminishing farm land, has launched its 23rd recoverable satelite, Shijian-8, containing seeds. The first seed specific satelite, it will expose 2000 seeds from 9 different families to cosmic radiation and microgravity. Previous experiments with wheat and rye have incresed yield after being exposed to space. The reason for this result was not given. Besides enabling the Chinese feed themselves without having to depend on other nations, their results could show which plants might grow well en-route to Mars.

(More info: DNA India)


- posted by Jim @ 8:18 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, September 13, 2006


MRO reaches planned orbit

MRO above mars
MRO above mars
Credit: BBC News
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has finished the final stages of its setting low altitude orbit around the Red Planet. "This maneuver puts us into our science orbit," said Dan Johnston, deputy mission manager at JPL. "Getting to this point is a great achievement." The MRO will hopefully begin studying the surface and atmosphere of Mars in November, after the main antenna is deployed and a lens cap on a spectrometer is removed. The data sent back from the MRO should give Earth its finest look at Mars yet, giving us an even better look at our neighboring planet.

(More info: NASA )


- posted by Jim @ 00:12 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Spherical micro-robots could explore Mars

Proposed Robo Spheres
Proposed Robo Spheres
Credit: Newscientistsspace
Steven Dubowsky of MIT with financial backing from NASA has proposed utilizing small spherical robots to explore Mars and other planets. The robots would move by rolling and bouncing, powered by artificial muscles that alter their overall shape.Though a mission ustilizing these bots may be 10 or more years away scientists are almost ready to begin testing the robots. Such robots would be able to go places regular robots cannot such as caves and small fissures in the ground. The robots can be aligned to relay messages from one to another so communication outside the cave can be possible with a probe as deep as a kilometer. The proposed robots would be able to work like a swarm meaning if a few robots fail it still wouldnt effect the mission as a whole. Since the robots would communicate with each other and potentially determine their own next objective, "The role of ground control crews would change", Dubowsky predicts.

(More At Newscientists )


- posted by Jim @ 19:18 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, September 16, 2006


New material improves efficency

At the Challenges for the Hydrogen Economy symposium during the 232nd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, James McGrath, Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech, announced his group's development of a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) material that retains conductivity during low humidity. "Up to now, a lot of water has been needed to assist the proton transfer process," said McGrath. "But, in the desert, that is pretty inefficient." The new polymer, alternating hydrophilic (SO3H) and a hydrophobic monomers sets, has an affinity to transport water that is 2 or 3 times higher than commercially available membranes. The group is also working on a method to easily produce using common equipment and methods.

(More info: PhysOrg)


- posted by Jim @ 20:31 EST

(permanent link)

Friday, September 29, 2006


Mars Science Laboratory may cary RTG

NASA is holding public hearings to inform and learn the publics opinion on using Plutonim RTG's on the Mars Science Laboratory, which is set to launch in Nov. 2009. NASA has launched 2 other RTG probes in the past, Cassini and New Horizons. There is a small chance of any explosion happening, and, because of reactor design, and even smaller chance that any radioactive debris may escape. RTG's would allow for more power to do experiments and the rovers would not be subject to as great energy, weather, or time constraints; as are the MER's.

(More info: Florida Today)


- posted by Jim @ 8:16 EST

(permanent link)

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