Here’s a new Curiosity rover report from NASA JPL:
Here is NASA video about the “newly-discovered Comet ISON, which could become visible in broad daylight later this year”
Here’s a new Curiosity rover report from NASA JPL:
Here is NASA video about the “newly-discovered Comet ISON, which could become visible in broad daylight later this year”
A reader points to this article about the struggles the Canadian Space Agency is having: Canada’s space agency spirals towards Code Red: CSA battered by funding cuts, criticism from government, and loss of leader – Greg Weston/CBC News.
NASA is sponsoring a $30k competition to develop the best algorithm for orienting the ISS solar arrays so as to maximize power output during its orbit, particularly during portions of the orbit with difficult orientations with respect to the sun, but without damaging the longeron structures of the arrays:
Here is a video outlining the contest:
And here is the official announcement
GLASTONBURY, Conn., Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — TopCoder®, Inc., the world’s largest competitive Community of digital creators, today announced the Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge, a $30,000, open to the public competition to make the energy-gathering solar arrays of the International Space Station (ISS) more efficient by eliminating the shadows it casts upon itself at different points during orbit.
Registration for the three week long competition is now open with competition ending Wednesday, February 6th at 18:00 GMT. Contestants must be TopCoder members in good standing. Community membership and challenge registration are free. Top prizes include $10,000 for the best solution with second and third placed solutions earning $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. Bonus prizes of mission stickers which have actually orbited the Earth on Space Shuttle Endeavour will be awarded to the top 5 finishers. Complete challenge rules and more information are available at www.topcoder.com/iss.
The challenge is sponsored by NASA through the TopCoder Community-built and powered NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), an online virtual facility that harnesses the capabilities of the TopCoder Community to create innovative, efficient solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by the space agency’s researchers.
“These are the types of complex low risk/high reward problems that get our Community of creators excited,” said Rob Hughes , President and COO of TopCoder, Inc. “The solutions brought forth for this problem can move the needle for NASA and provide a roadmap for other agencies to tackle stubborn challenges.”
ISS Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge
The TopCoder Community has been tasked by the Vehicle Integrated Performance, Environments and Resources (VIPER) office of NASA, at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas to come up with a method of optimizing the ISS solar array positions for the period of time that the ISS is in solar beta angles greater than +/- 70 degrees. The optimization will allow for increased power generation on the ISS while minimizing the shadowing on the ISS longerons. These beta angles represent the most difficult geometry to generate power on the solar arrays. This power is essential to continue to perform the science activities on this world class orbiting laboratory.
The energy used to power the ISS is generated by 8 solar arrays. Each solar array consists of two blankets with 41 strings evenly spaced along the length of the blanket. The orientation of the solar arrays is controlled in two axes using the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ) and the Beta Gimbal Assembly (BGA) to face the solar cells directly at the sun. Portions of the solar array mast (called longerons) are very sensitive to temperature changes. These longerons, if partially shadowed, expand when they are hot, and contract when they are cold. When one or three (out of four) of these longerons are shadowed, it can cause the solar array mast to buckle and create a hazard to the space station. The goal of this challenge is to control the ISS during a single orbit which is 92 minutes so that no longerons fail; the minimum limits on power produced by each solar array are maintained; the total amount of energy produced by the station is as large as possible; and the total rotation of BGA axes is not too big.
Competitors can completely solve the task online on the NTL platform testing servers, but as the challenge has no data, it is also possible to solve the problem offline on a home computer and then plug in the result into code submitted for evaluation on the NTL servers. A tester/visualizer will be provided to perform all 3D power and shadow calculations and can produce images and animations of solutions.
TopCoder: Community+ Process + Platform
Groundbreaking results are being achieved by the TopCoder Community in a fraction of the time and cost traditionally associated with difficult or unusual scientific and business challenges. In many cases community-generated solutions reach a theoretical maximum. While TopCoder members are not always fully versed in domain-specific knowledge, abstracting a problem into general algorithmic and mathematical terms allows the full power of non-domain experts in the Community to address extremely complex problems. TopCoder’s global members bring their existing expertise or newly found skills to problems, yielding a far more diverse range of technical approaches than would be available to organizations internally. Accessing such diversity is a powerful attribute of the community based approach to problem solving.
The TopCoder Open Innovation process allows U.S. government agencies to conduct challenges in an open and transparent environment with predictable cost, measurable outcomes-based results and the potential to move quickly into unanticipated directions and new areas of software technology.
The TopCoder platform supports the entire end-to-end digital creation lifecycle – from idea conception to implementation and support through a true collaborative open innovation model. Almost any type of content, application, algorithm or digital asset can be built entirely through the platform – whether a standalone mobile app through to enhancements or additions to large, existing enterprise systems to the development of entirely new cloud based offerings for customers to testing and support through small enhancements and bug fixes. All areas of digital creation are covered through one easy to use cloud based Innovation as a Platform (IaaP) offering accessing TopCoder’s renowned community of over 445,000 members – from business analysis to creative asset creation, analytics and sophisticated processes for API, software design and development as well as digital content.
About NASA Tournament Lab
NASA and Harvard University have established the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community allow for competitions to create the most innovative, most efficient, and most optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers. The NTL provides an online virtual facility for NASA researchers with a computational or complex data processing challenge to “order” a solution, just like they would order laboratory tests or supplies. Learn more at the official NTL Website.
About TopCoder, Inc.
TopCoder is the world’s largest competitive community of digital creators with more than 440,000 members representing algorithmists, software developers and creative artists from over 200 countries. The TopCoder Community creates digital assets including analytics, software and creative designs and solutions for a wide-ranging client base through a competitive, rigorous, standards based methodology. Combined with our extremely talented community this groundbreaking methodology results in superior outcomes for our clients. For more information about sponsoring TopCoder events and utilizing TopCoder’s software services and platforms, visit www.topcoder.com.
The explosion of a Russian Proton Briz-M upper stage last October resulted in a huge debris field in orbit: Upper Stage Explosion Places LEO Satellites at Risk – Space Safety Magazine
The explosion of a failed launch vehicle upper stage on 16 October created thousands of new debris which pose collision risks to hundreds of satellites operating in low Earth orbit (LEO), including the International Space Station (ISS). Fortunately, the threat will be relatively short-lived with the majority of the debris expected to reenter the atmosphere within one year.
During this week’s Hotel Mars segment on John Batchelor radio program, Gerald Nordley talked with Batchelor and David Livingston “about Kepler Space Telescope extrasolar planet discoveries, the habitable zone, Earthlike planets, the Kepler naming and identification system and more”: John Batchelor Show Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 1-16-13 – Thespaceshow’s Blog.
Bob Zimmerman gave his latest science/space news report on the Batchelor show on Wednesday (instead of his usual Tuesday time) : Wednesday 01/16/13 – Batchelor Fourth Hour | John Batchelor Show.
In this show Bob talked about an ice drilling project at Lake Whillans in Antarctica, wildfire damage to an astronomy observatory in Australia, and the announcement of the plan to install a Bigelow expandable module on the ISS.
See the iTunes free Podcast for links to the latest John Batchelor shows.
Update: Here are the topics that Bob discussed during this segment on the Thursday, Jan. 17th show:
1. Robot demo on ISS delayed due to software issue.
2. An expensive Frankenstein in space.
3. Global warming scientitst James Hansen teams up with Occupy Wall Street!
Segment 2: private aviation and space
1. A river on Mars.
2. 11 pound gold nugget found in Australia.
3. More details about Bigelow’s deal with NASA (and others!) to launch privately-built space station modules.
4. Private space stations vs the Outer Space Treaty.
In the latest entry in his series on the Columbia disaster, former Space Shuttle flight directory and program manager Wayne Hale writes about the actual day of the accident: After Ten Years: The Moment of Truth – Wayne Hale’s Blog.
See also the links to two of his previous posts.
The latest open lines episode of The Space Show is now available on line: Open Lines, Tuesday, 1-15-13 – Thespaceshow’s Blog.
They covered a wide range of topics including ITAR reform, resumption of manufacturing Plutonium 238, space budget, economic and sequestration issues.
A multi-national team led by a group at Rice University have made “strands of carbon nanotube fibers that look and feel like textile thread”: New nanotech fiber: Robust handling, shocking performance – Rice University (via Transterrestrial Musings).
Rice University’s latest nanotechnology breakthrough was more than 10 years in the making, but it still came with a shock. Scientists from Rice, the Dutch firm Teijin Aramid, the U.S. Air Force and Israel’s Technion Institute this week unveiled a new carbon nanotube (CNT) fiber that looks and acts like textile thread and conducts electricity and heat like a metal wire. In this week’s issue of Science, the researchers describe an industrially scalable process for making the threadlike fibers, which outperform commercially available high-performance materials in a number of ways.
“We finally have a nanotube fiber with properties that don’t exist in any other material,” said lead researcher Matteo Pasquali, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry at Rice. “It looks like black cotton thread but behaves like both metal wires and strong carbon fibers.”
The research team includes academic, government and industrial scientists from Rice; Teijin Aramid’s headquarters in Arnhem, the Netherlands; the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio.
“The new CNT fibers have a thermal conductivity approaching that of the best graphite fibers but with 10 times greater electrical conductivity,” said study co-author Marcin Otto, business development manager at Teijin Aramid. “Graphite fibers are also brittle, while the new CNT fibers are as flexible and tough as a textile thread. We expect this combination of properties will lead to new products with unique capabilities for the aerospace, automotive, medical and smart-clothing markets.”
The Curiosity rover has selected a rock into which it will do its first drilling investigations: Mars Science Laboratory: NASA Mars Rover Preparing To Drill Into First Martian Rock – NASA
PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers’ approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
The size of a car, Curiosity is inside Mars’ Gale Crater investigating whether the planet ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life. Curiosity landed in the crater five months ago to begin its two-year prime mission.
“Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission’s most challenging activity since the landing. It has never been done on Mars,” said Mars Science Laboratory project manager Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don’t control. We won’t be surprised if some steps in the process don’t go exactly as planned the first time through.”
Curiosity first will gather powdered samples from inside the rock and use those to scrub the drill. Then the rover will drill and ingest more samples from this rock, which it will analyze for information about its mineral and chemical composition.
The chosen rock is in an area where Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) and other cameras have revealed diverse unexpected features, including veins, nodules, cross-bedded layering, a lustrous pebble embedded in sandstone, and possibly some holes in the ground.
The rock chosen for drilling is called “John Klein” in tribute to former Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager John W. Klein, who died in 2011.
“John’s leadership skill played a crucial role in making Curiosity a reality,” said Cook.
Find more on Curiosity’s activities in these items:
Mars rover Curiosity. The rover’s right Mast Camera (Mastcam), equipped with a telephoto lens, was about 16 feet (5 meters) away from the site when it recorded this mosaic’s component images, between 3:10 and 3:33 in the afternoon of the 153rd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (Jan. 10, 2013).
The area is shot full of fractures and veins, with the intervening rock also containing concretions, which are small spherical concentrations of minerals. The scale bar on the left image is 19.7 inches (50 centimeters) long. On the annotated version, three boxes, each about 4 inches (10 centimeters) across, designate enlargements on the right that illustrate attributes of the area.
Here’s the latest episode of MOTHERBOARD Spaced Out series of space related video reports:
MOTHERBOARD PRESENTS THE SPACE COMPOSER:
TURNING SOLAR ACTIVITY INTO SOUND
A classically trained composer transforms solar data into tunes
on VICE’s tech channel’s documentary series Spaced Out
NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 16, 2013) – MOTHERBOARD today premieres the latest in its Spaced Out series, The Space Composer, investigating the art of turning data from the sun into sound. Sonification specialist Robert Alexander takes us through the solar cycle as it rises and falls, using the solar data to create some of the most interesting and unique music to have ever graced the planet.
Watch past episodes of Spaced Out here:
Motherboard’s Spaced Out series is a 360-degree look at space and the people who love it, who explore it, who wonder about it.
Motherboard is an online magazine and video channel dedicated to the intersection of technology, science and humans. Launched by VICE in 2009, Motherboard raises its eyebrows at the people and things that are making our weird and wonderful present and future, with news, commentary, in-depth reporting, photos, and original video documentaries. Dipping liberally into politics, art, sex, drugs, war, design, nature, space, history and sci-fi, Motherboard skips the useless tech hype to keep its cascade of tabs open to the stuff you should know.
VICE was launched in 1994 as a ‘punk zine’ and has since expanded into a leading global youth media company with bureaus in over 30 countries. VICE operates the world’s premier original online video destination, VICE.COM, an international network of digital channels, a television production studio, a magazine, a record label, an in-house creative services agency and a book-publishing division. VICE’s digital channels include The Creators Project, dedicated to the arts and creativity, Motherboard, covering cultural happenings in technology, and Noisey, a music discovery channel. To date, VICE boasts over 60 established shows that cover everything from current events to sex to investigative reporting to music to kittens.
Sociologist William S. Bainbridge, author of The Spaceflight Revolution and Goals in Space), needs input from space enthusiasts for his latest study. He is asking space blogs to post the following announcement about two apps available at Surveyor II (Android Apps).
Surveyor II: Space Futures:
We invite you to have a voice in defining the future of space exploration! Can you predict the future of space exploration, fifty years in the future? Our other online questionnaire, Space Opinions, asks people what the space program means to them today. This one, Space Futures, asks you to imagine the possibilities for tomorrow!
100 predictions about the future were drawn from earlier open-ended online surveys and NASA reports. Think forward FIFTY YEARS and decide how likely it is each one will actually happen during that period (on a scale of 1=very unlikely to 8=very likely), and how good it would be if it did (on a scale from 1=very bad to 8=very good). Send your judgments to us, and we will send you confidential feedback on how your own views compare with others. The combined results of this Space Futures survey and the Space Opinions survey will be published online very quickly to help guide leaders of the world’s space programs, governments, aerospace industries, and young people studying related areas of science and engineering.
This is not a random-sample public opinion survey, but a scientific questionnaire study designed to understand how a range of possibilities fit together in the minds of a variety of people. For example, statistical analysis can identify underlying values reflected in different future possibilities, and tell us how optimists and pessimists conceptualize the issues differently. It was designed by Dr. William Sims Bainbridge, a prominent social scientist who pioneered this approach in his book, Goals in Space, and in his textbook, Survey Research: A Computer-Assisted Introduction.
We invite you to think forward FIFTY YEARS, and have a voice in defining the future direction of space exploration.
In this SETI Institute lecture, former astronaut Ed Lu of the B612 Foundation talks about the Sentinel Mission, which aims to launch a privately financed space telescope to survey near earth asteroids:
Planet Four is a citizen science project from Zooniverse, which is accumulating a plethoria of projects for public participation: Scientists need you to analyze unseen images of Mars – Gizmag (via Behind The Black).
Planet Four invites you
to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don’t exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before!
The goal is
to find and mark ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars’ climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change.
The images come from the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which has been circling the Red Planet since 2006 and sending back a continuous stream of images of the surface with its high resolution camera.
A couple of space policy items from Jeff Foust:
And some Russian space policy items:
Every so often there is another article on the history of the Fisher Space Pen and the myth that NASA paid big bucks for it instead of having the astronauts use pencils in space: The Fisher Space Pen Boldly Writes Where No Man Has Written Before – Design Decoded/Smithsonian – Jan.11.13.
See other articles on the pen here.
Andrew Chaikin talked about “Neil Armstrong & his One small step for man lunar comment, space policy, space media, and more” on The Space Show yesterday: Andrew Chaikin, Sunday, 1-13-13 – Thespaceshow’s Blog
Res Communis post the latest collection of space and aviation law, regulation and policy links:Library: A Round-up of Reading.
Elliot Pulham, CEO of The Space Foundation, spoke on The Space Show last Friday about the Foundation’s white paper, Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space, and about other aspects of space policy: Elliot Pulham, The Space Foundation, Friday, 1-11-13 « Thespaceshow’s Blog
Former Space Shuttle flight directory and program manager Wayne Hale has two more installments in his series on the Columbia disaster:
Some comments here: Too Little, Too Late – Transterrestrial Musings.
Copenhagen Suborbitals posted this video of tests of a model capsule taken with their new high speed camera:
Update:Kristian von Bengtson has also posted a report on development of their Tycho capsule: Public DIY Space Capsule Development Report – Wired Science/Wired.com