NASA picks Venus as hot spot for two new robotic missions

This image made available by NASA shows the planet Venus made with data from the Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, NASA’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, announced two new robotic missions to the solar system’s hottest planet, during his first major address to employees.

by Marcia Dunn

NASA is returning to sizzling Venus, our closest yet perhaps most overlooked neighbor, after decades of exploring other worlds.

The space agency’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, announced two new robotic missions to the solar system’s hottest planet, during his first major address to employees Wednesday.

“These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface,” Nelson said.

One mission named DaVinci Plus will analyze the thick, cloudy Venusian atmosphere in an attempt to determine whether the inferno planet ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable. A small craft will plunge through the atmosphere to measure the gases.

It will be the first U.S.-led mission to the Venusian atmosphere since 1978.

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NASA Will Pay You To Innovate Food System Ideas For Astronauts

BY MASHABLE NEWS STAFF

It has recently come to light that NASA is offering a $5,00,000 cash prize (Rs 3.6 crore) to people who can come up with innovative food production technologies for space and here on Earth. NASA in coordination with the Canadian Space Agency has invited people to create game-changing food technologies or systems that require minimal inputs and maximize nutritious food outputs for long-duration space missions.

“We are excited to coordinate with the Canadian Space Agency to conduct this challenge and push the boundaries of food technology production that will help keep our future explorers healthy, knowing that some of these technologies could also have great terrestrial applications,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.

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First ‘space helicopter’ set to take to Martian skies

By Tom Metcalfe

First space helicopter set to take to Martian skies

When NASA’s Perseverance rover touches down next week, it will carry one of the strangest devices ever seen on Mars — a drone destined to make the first controlled flights on an extraterrestrial planet.

Dubbed “Ingenuity,” the drone weighs just 4 pounds, and it will stay stored beneath the rover’s belly while Perseverance runs through its initial surface checks and experiments.

But about the middle of April, the rover will scout out a flat area without large rocks to deploy the drone, and soon after that Perseverance will release Ingenuity to make the first flights on Mars.

“It’s pretty unique in that it’s a helicopter that can fly around,” said Tim Canham, the operations lead for the Ingenuity project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

“There was a balloon mission on Venus years ago, so we can’t claim to be the first aircraft,” he said, referring to the two Soviet Vega space probes that deployed balloons attached to scientific instruments in the clouds on Venus in 1985. “But we can claim we’re the first powered aircraft outside Earth.”

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

Neel V. Patelarchive

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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. 

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

Shane McGlaun 

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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.

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

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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.”

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NASA advances plan to commercialize International Space Station

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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.”

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

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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.

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Water on Mars: discovery of three buried lakes intrigues scientists

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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.

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Nasa is looking for private companies to help mine the moon

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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.

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

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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.”

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

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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.

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