Current spacesuits won’t cut it on the moon. So NASA made new ones.

Neel V. Patelarchive

current-spacesuits-won't-cut-it-on-moon-1
The upper torso of NASA’s xEMU design.NASA

As astronauts get ready to go back to the moon and spend more time in space, they’ll need better gear to help them survive.

A spacesuit is more like a miniature spacecraft you wear around your body than an item of clothing. It’s pressurized, it’s decked out with life support systems, and it’s likely to look pretty cool. But should the suit fail, you’re toast. 

No one has ever died because of a faulty spacesuit, but that doesn’t mean current models are perfect. Whether it’s for launch into space or reentry back to Earth, or for an extravehicular activity (EVA, colloquially known as a spacewalk), astronauts have never been completely satisfied with the gear they are forced to put on for missions. 

Continue reading… “Current spacesuits won’t cut it on the moon. So NASA made new ones.”

NASA offers a $25,000 prize to help design unloading systems for the moon

Shane McGlaun 

NASA-$25,000-prize-moon-unloading

There are many challenges in front of the NASA Artemis mission that will put humans on the moon again for the first time in decades. While lots of aspects of the Artemis mission are still undecided, NASA is hard at work gathering data and companies to help it tackle obstacles to make the missions happen. The space agency recently offered a prize purse worth $25,000 to help design systems for astronauts to use for unloading cargo on the lunar surface.

The NASA Lunar Delivery Challenge$25,000 prize pool can be shared with up to six winning participants. NASA wants to help figure out how astronauts will unload supplies needed to build their base camp and conduct scientific experiments on the moon. Existing cargo unloading systems used on the Earth are too bulky for the moon and aren’t designed to be sent into space.

Continue reading… “NASA offers a $25,000 prize to help design unloading systems for the moon”

For the first time in its history, NASA successfully collects sample from asteroid

7D94489B-80B9-4051-854C-D85D52FB2A9B

Touchdown!

For the first time in its history, NASA has successfully collected samples from the surface of an asteroid, using the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Tuesday.

The small spacecraft has been orbiting Bennu, an asteroid 500 meters across, for almost two years. Around 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, the spacecraft completed a “Touch-And-Go” maneuver before firing its thrusters to get back to a safe distance from the asteroid. The lonely space rock was more than 200 million miles away at the time.

“We did it,” principal investigator Dante Lauretta said during the agency’s live broadcast. “We’ve tagged the surface of the asteroid.”

Continue reading… “For the first time in its history, NASA successfully collects sample from asteroid”

NASA advances plan to commercialize International Space Station

406E920D-FCA1-47CA-8871-47EC88D0D6E8

Axiom Space habitat modules are depicted attached to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s plan to further commercialize work in low Earth orbit.

 

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 12 (UPI) — The planned launch of a private commercial airlock to the International Space Station in November will accelerate NASA’s plan to turn the station into a hub of private industry, space agency officials said.

The commercialization plan also includes the launch of a private habitat and laboratory by 2024 and a project NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Twitter in May in which actor Tom Cruise will film a movie in space.

The 20-year-old space station may even have a private citizen on board again for the first time in years in late 2021, according to Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of commercial spaceflight. It’s part of a plan to wean the space station off NASA’s public funding of $3 billion to $4 billion per year.

“We expanded the scope and range of activities that can be done on ISS,” McAlister said in an interview earlier this year. “We carved out resources — power, oxygen, data — and we know we can support a paying customer, probably twice a year for up to a month.”

Continue reading… “NASA advances plan to commercialize International Space Station”

Project Olympus : ICON chosen by NASA to develop moon base 3D printing tech

5F22920D-5C07-45AE-A3CE-FCC4A974441A

The hype around additive construction continues to grow. Unlike the days in which WinSun would “3D print” a six-story apartment building, we’re seeing numerous projects undertaken by a variety of firms around the world. All of this seems to demonstrate that, despite the hype, there is real technological value there. When that same value will be exhibited for the new space industry and 3D printing buildings on the moon remains unclear, but we can’t rule the possibilities out entirely.

The latest news combining the yet-to-be-fulfilled new space frontier with additive construction is called Project Olympus, a NASA-funded initiative aimed at developing a method for robotic building on the moon. Olympus is being driven by a firm that has been steadily making a name for itself in construction 3D printing: ICON. Adding to its $44 million raised from investors so far is the recent Small Business Innovation Research government contract from NASA to 3D print habitats on the moon using local materials and creating no waste.

Continue reading… “Project Olympus : ICON chosen by NASA to develop moon base 3D printing tech”

Water on Mars: discovery of three buried lakes intrigues scientists

312879B6-627E-4D62-8666-9C72EA93F1EF

Researchers have detected a group of lakes hidden under the red planet’s icy surface.

Scientists have long thought that there could be water trapped beneath the surface of Mars.

Two years ago, planetary scientists reported the discovery of a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some scepticism. Now, researchers have confirmed the presence of that lake — and found three more.

The discovery, reported on 28 September in Nature Astronomy1, was made using radar data from the European Space Agency’s Mars-orbiting spacecraft, called Mars Express. It follows the detection of a single subsurface lake in the same region in 2018 — which, if confirmed, would be the first body of liquid water ever detected on the red planet and a possible habitat for life. But that finding was based on just 29 observations made from 2012 to 2015, and many researchers said they needed more evidence to support the claim. The latest study used a broader data set comprising 134 observations from 2012 to 2019.

Continue reading… “Water on Mars: discovery of three buried lakes intrigues scientists”

Nasa is looking for private companies to help mine the moon

 C0311AAF-D5E2-4D02-927E-99EF09B94C7E

Nasa has announced it is looking for private companies to go to the moon and collect dust and rocks from the surface and bring them back to Earth.

The agency announced it is buying lunar soil from a commercial provider as part of a technology development program,

The American space agency would then buy the moon samples in amounts between 50 to 500 grams for between $15,000 to $25,000.

Continue reading… “Nasa is looking for private companies to help mine the moon”

Dragonfly is a ‘relocatable lander’ drone designed to fly on Saturn’s Titan moon

77B55A1C-B3A9-4FB0-9401-5823841FD4B9

It turns out that Titan, one of Saturn’s many moons, is a relatively optimal place to fly a drone. This is due to the fact that Titan’s atmosphere is four times denser than the Earth’s. So when NASA chose Titan as the next location to “search for the building blocks of life,” they decided to take advantage of that by using a drone instead of a typical rover.

Dragonfly will essentially be a large drone with eight rotors that weighs in at around 1,200 pounds. It will be approximately the same size as the Curiosity rover, only much more maneuverable due to its form factor.

Described as a “relocatable lander,” Dragonfly will travel by flight from location to location much quicker than even the fastest rover to date. NASA describes Dragonfly’s capabilities as being able to “fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.”

Dragonfly was chosen to be part of NASA’s New Frontiers program. The purpose of the program is to “support missions that have been identified as top solar system exploration priorities by the planetary community.”

Continue reading… “Dragonfly is a ‘relocatable lander’ drone designed to fly on Saturn’s Titan moon”

NASA is offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that will work on the moon

BD269E6A-F6CF-46E5-9CE1-1CF6E886A337

NASA is seeking new designs for a toilet that will work on the moon.

(CNN)NASA wants you to help put the loo in lunar, so it’s offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that can be used on the moon.

The space agency has set an ambitious goal of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2024 and the crew will obviously have to go to the bathroom during the mission.

NASA may adapt the toilet design for its Artemis lunar lander, so it will need to work both in the microgravity of space, or “zero-g,” and on the moon, where the gravity is about a sixth of what we feel on Earth, according to the design guidelines posted by NASA and HeroX, which allows anyone to create challenges to solve a problem facing the world.

Continue reading… “NASA is offering $35,000 in prizes to design a toilet that will work on the moon”

Want to leave this planet? NASA is offering some seriously cool virtual space tours right now

46B8CD5E-3684-4046-B804-F644B238F8A3

Get ready to blast off.

The aerospace experts at NASA are helping everyone socially distancing at home to pass the time.

NASA is ready to entertain and educate you all weekend long.

The aerospace experts are pulling out all the stops to help everyone pass the time home socially distancing. That includes releasing some seriously cool virtual tours and highlighting a few of its coolest places. Check out a selection of seven tours available from NASA below.

Continue reading… “Want to leave this planet? NASA is offering some seriously cool virtual space tours right now”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope full mirror deployment a success

24C26979-1784-4DE1-B30C-3F48C4685A77

The primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is planned to be deployed only once more on Earth, before being packaged for delivery to South America.

In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.

As Webb progresses towards liftoff in 2021, technicians and engineers have been diligently checking off a long list of final tests the observatory will undergo before being packaged for delivery to French Guiana for launch. Performed in early March, this procedure involved commanding the spacecraft’s internal systems to fully extend and latch Webb’s iconic 21 feet 4-inch (6.5 meter) primary mirror, appearing just like it would after it has been launched to orbit. The observatory is currently in a cleanroom at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in Redondo Beach, California.

The difficulty and complexity of performing tests for Webb has increased significantly, now that the observatory has been fully assembled. Special gravity offsetting equipment was attached to Webb’s mirror to simulate the zero-gravity environment its mechanisms will have to operate in. Tests like these help safeguard mission success by physically demonstrating that the spacecraft is able to move and unfold as intended. The Webb team will deploy the observatory’s primary mirror only once more on the ground, just before preparing it for delivery to the launch site.

Continue reading… “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope full mirror deployment a success”

Terraforming Mars might be impossible… for now

4BAAA47D-6254-44CC-A370-EB06119F5467

Making Mars more Earth-like would be a gargantuan task. From giant mirrors to tiny microbes, here’s the thinking behind making Mars habitable for humans.

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

At the end of 1990’s sci-fi adventure Total Recall, all it takes is the push of a button. In a matter of minutes, Mars’ sky transforms from a hellish red to an Earth-like blue. After nearly suffocating on the Martian surface just moments before, Arnold Schwarzenegger takes in lungfuls and lungfuls of that sweet, sweet breathable Martian air.

This is terraforming, the concept of making a planet more hospitable to humans, and it’s been cropping up in pop culture since the early 1900s, everywhere from books to movies to video games. Once upon a time, the idea of turning Mars into Earth 2.0 might have been merely a fanciful notion, as theoretical as actually going to the planet at all.

But in 2020, Mars is very much on the agenda. NASA, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic — they all want to put space boots on the ground, and in some cases as soon as the 2030s. But as scientists work toward blastoff, the concept of terraforming will most likely be a case of “failure to launch.”

Continue reading… “Terraforming Mars might be impossible… for now”