Here is the latest TMRO program: Scott Manley and Kerbal Space – TMRO
An artist programs a robot to lay out pretty patterns on the beach : Robot sand artist turns beach into giant canvas – New Scientist
This got me to thinking about the growing concern that as robots and AI systems become smarter and more mechanically capable, they will replace more and more people in a greater range of jobs. On the other hand, perhaps by using a robot assistant as this artist does, a person can accomplish much more than they would on their own. This in turn would greatly expand the types of products and services an individual or a small company can provide.
Automation reduces the labor needed to provide a particular product or service. Along with economies of scale and other factors, this has been key to increasing productivity and raising our standard of living. New types of products and services have always arisen to absorb the labor freed up as older industries became more automated.
There’s no reason this process cannot continue. For example, instead of an artist and a robot scraping sand, an entrepreneur and a fast-moving, intelligent robot mower could cut all the lawns in the neighborhood in a day at low-cost while doing enough lawns in total to make good money.
There is essentially an infinity of services and products that can be created and sold. Robots will allow many that were too expensive or impractical before to become affordable. Robots should be seen as partnering with people, not replacing them.
Here’s an interesting collection of natural and man-made features as seen from space : 40 Bizarre and Cool Google Earth Photos – noupe.
Justin Gomersall dropped me a note about SARA – South African Rocketry Association. He says that they
have been around since the early 90’s and have been experimenting in amateur rocketry ever since.
In 2013 we built, launched, tracked and recovered an N-class hybrid rocket (Vulcan 2) to 9.5 kilometers. We will have another attempt this year hopefully in March to go higher with Vulcan 3 – More info on www.sarocketry.co.za and on Facebook – SARA rocketry.
NASA’s PlanetQuest website, which provides info on the search for earth-like exoplanets, now offers beautiful posters in the Exoplanet Travel Series. The set currently includes posters for three distant planets of particular interest:
Kepler-186f is the first Earth-size planet discovered in the potentially ‘habitable zone’ around another star, where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. Its star is much cooler and redder than our Sun. If plant life does exist on a planet like Kepler-186f, its photosynthesis could have been influenced by the star’s red-wavelength photons, making for a color palette that’s very different than the greens on Earth. This discovery was made by Kepler, NASA’s planet hunting telescope.
Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between “Super-Earth” and “mini-Neptune” and scientists aren’t sure if it has a rocky surface or one that’s buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. One thing is certain though: at eight time the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.
Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn. Prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice. But the discovery indicates that the movie’s iconic double-sunset is anything but science fiction.
A number of projects are showing that finding and studying exoplanets can be done with relatively low cost systems: : Brave new world-hunters spot exoplanets on the cheap – New Scientist.
Such systems do not replace the space-based observatories like Kepler or the ground-based work by giant telescopes. These systems can look at thousands of stars with high resolution and sensitivity. Instead, the small guys can focus for long periods on just a handful of star systems. This can be done to hunt for new exoplanets or to gather more information on those found by the big systems.
Since Kepler’s staggering number of finds implied most stars probably have planets, astronomers are increasingly aiming for detailed planet studies instead of just making discoveries, Johnson says.
“This is no longer the day of swashbuckling scientists trying to get as many kills as possible,” [Greg Laughlin, an astronomer at the University of California at Santa Cruz,] says. “There is so much great science just sitting on the floor… with the Kepler statistics in hand, we’re no longer in the area of planet hunting. We’re in the era of planet gathering.”
For example, there is the Minerva exoplanet observatory, which describes itself as follows –
Minerva will be an array of small-aperture robotic telescopes outfitted for both photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy. It will be the first U.S. observatory dedicated to exoplanetary science capable of both precise radial velocimetry and transit studies. The multi-telescope concept will be implemented to either observe separate targets or a single target with a larger effective aperture. The flexibility of the observatory will maximize scientific potential and also provide ample opportunities for education and public outreach. The design and implementation of Minerva will be carried out by postdoctoral and student researchers at Caltech.
The primary science goal of Minerva is to discover Earth-like planets in close-in (less than 50-day) orbits around nearby stars, and super-Earths (3-15 times the mass of Earth) in the habitable zones of the closest Sun-like stars. The secondary goal will be to look for transits (eclipses) of known and newly-discovered extrasolar planets, which provide information about the radii and interior structures of the planets….
Aqawan 1 and Telescope 1 at the Caltech
commissioning site. Image credit: M. Wong
Such a system is even accessible for (wealthy) amateurs. From the NS article:
Minerva uses four 0.7-metre-wide, 2.5-metre-tall commercial telescopes built by a company called PlaneWave, which also sells them to hobbyists for about $200,000 – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought one just before Minerva’s team.
There is also the HATNet Exoplanet Survey (Hungarian-made Automated Telescope Network) project.
HATNet telescopes located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO)
on Mount Hopkins in Arizona, USA (5 telescopes),
A citizen-science project with NASA’s WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey) mission has been a quite successful:
A NASA-sponsored website designed to crowdsource analysis of data from the agency’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has reached an impressive milestone. In less than a year, citizen scientists using DiskDetective.org have logged 1 million classifications of potential debris disks and disks surrounding young stellar objects (YSO). This data will help provide a crucial set of targets for future planet-hunting missions.
“This is absolutely mind-boggling,” said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the project’s principal investigator. “We’ve already broken new ground with the data, and we are hugely grateful to everyone who has contributed to Disk Detective so far.”
Combing through objects identified by WISE during its infrared survey of the entire sky, Disk Detective aims to find two types of developing planetary environments. The first, known as a YSO disk, typically is less than 5 million years old, contains large quantities of gas, and often is found in or near young star clusters. The second planetary habitat, known as a debris disk, tends to be older than 5 million years, holds little or no gas, and possesses belts of rocky or icy debris that resemble the asteroid and Kuiper belts found in our own solar system. Vega and Fomalhaut, two of the brightest stars in the sky, host debris disks.
Planets form and grow within disks of gas, dust and icy grains surrounding young stars. The particles absorb the star’s light and reradiate it as heat, which makes the stars brighter at infrared wavelengths — in this case, 22 microns — than they would be without a disk.
Computer searches already have identified some objects seen by the WISE survey as potential dust-rich disks. But software can’t distinguish them from other infrared-bright sources, such as galaxies, interstellar dust clouds and asteroids. There may be thousands of potential planetary systems in the WISE data, but the only way to know for sure is to inspect each source by eye.
Kuchner recognized that searching the WISE database for dusty disks was a perfect opportunity for crowdsourcing. He worked with NASA to team up with the Zooniverse, a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop and manage citizen science projects on the Internet.
At DiskDetective.org, volunteers watch a 10-second “flip book” of a disk candidate shown at several different wavelengths as observed from three different telescopes, including WISE. They then click one or more buttons that best describe the object’s appearance. Each classification helps astronomers decide which images may be contaminated by background galaxies, interstellar matter or image artifacts, and which may be real disks that should be studied in more detail.
In March 2014, just two months after Disk Detective launched, Kuchner was amazed to find just how invested in the project some users had become. Volunteers complained about seeing the same object over and over. “We thought at first it was a bug in the system,” Kuchner explained, “but it turned out they were seeing repeats because they had already classified every single object that was online at the time.”
Some 28,000 visitors around the world have participated in the project to date. What’s more, volunteers have translated the site into eight foreign languages, including Romanian, Mandarin and Bahasa, and have produced their own video tutorials on using it.
Many of the project’s most active volunteers are now joining in science team discussions, and the researchers encourage all users who have performed more than 300 classifications to contact them and take part.
One of these volunteers is Tadeáš Černohous, a postgraduate student in geodesy and cartography at Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic. “I barely understood what scientists were looking for when I started participating in Disk Detective, but over the past year I have developed a basic sense of which stars are worthy of further exploration,” he said.
Alissa Bans, a postdoctoral fellow at Adler Planetarium in Chicago and a member of the Disk Detective science team, recalls mentioning that she was searching for candidate YSOs and presented examples of what they might look like on Disk Detective. “In less than 24 hours,” she said, “Tadeáš had compiled a list of nearly 100 objects he thought could be YSOs, and he even included notes on each one.”
Speaking at a press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle on Tuesday, Kuchner said the project has so far netted 478 objects of interest, which the team is investigating with a variety of ground-based telescopes in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Argentina and Chile. “We now have at least 37 solid new disk candidates, and we haven’t even looked at all the new telescope data yet,” he said.
Disk Detective currently includes about 278,000 WISE sources. The team expects to wrap up the current project sometime in 2018, with a total of about 3 million classifications and perhaps 1,000 disk candidates. The researchers then plan to add an additional 140,000 targets to the site.
“We’ve come a long way, but there’s still lots and lots more work to do — so please drop by the site and do a little science with us!” added Kuchner.
WISE has made infrared measurements of more than 745 million objects, compiling the most comprehensive survey of the sky at mid-infrared wavelengths currently available. With its primary mission complete, the satellite was placed in hibernation in 2011. WISE was awoken in September 2013, renamed the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), and given a new mission to assist NASA’s efforts in identifying the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs).
Facilities involved in follow-up studies of objects found with Disk Detective include Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico; Palomar Observatory on Palomar Mountain, California; the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins, Arizona; the Leoncito Astronomical Complex in El Leoncito National Park, Argentina; and Las Campanas Observatory, located in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
NASA is exploring our solar system and beyond to understand the universe and our place in it. We seek to unravel the secrets of our universe, its origins and evolution, and search for life among the stars. Today’s announcement shares the discovery of our ever-changing cosmos, and brings us closer to learning whether we are alone in the universe.
The latest news from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):
Where Did All the Stars Go?
Dark cloud obscures hundreds of background stars
7 January 2015: Some of the stars appear to be missing in this intriguing new ESO image. But the black gap in this glitteringly beautiful starfield is not really a gap, but rather a region of space clogged with gas and dust. This dark cloud is called LDN 483 — for Lynds Dark Nebula 483. Such clouds are the birthplaces of future stars. The Wide Field Imager, an instrument mounted on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, captured this image of LDN 483 and its surroundings.
This visible-light wide-field image of the region around the dark nebula
LDN 483 was created from photographs forming part of the
Digitized Sky Survey 2. LDN 483 appears at the centre.
Credit: ESO and Digitized Sky Survey 2
LDN 483  is located about 700 light-years away in the constellation of Serpens (The Serpent). The cloud contains enough dusty material to completely block the visible light from background stars. Particularly dense molecular clouds, like LDN 483, qualify as dark nebulae because of this obscuring property. The starless nature of LDN 483 and its ilk would suggest that they are sites where stars cannot take root and grow. But in fact the opposite is true: dark nebulae offer the most fertile environments for eventual star formation.
Astronomers studying star formation in LDN 483 have discovered some of the youngest observable kinds of baby stars buried in LDN 483’s shrouded interior. These gestating stars can be thought of as still being in the womb, having not yet been born as complete, albeit immature, stars.
In this first stage of stellar development, the star-to-be is just a ball of gas and dust contracting under the force of gravity within the surrounding molecular cloud. The protostar is still quite cool — about –250 degrees Celsius — and shines only in long-wavelength submillimetre light . Yet temperature and pressure are beginning to increase in the fledgling star’s core.
This earliest period of star growth lasts a mere thousands of years, an astonishingly short amount of time in astronomical terms, given that stars typically live for millions or billions of years. In the following stages, over the course of several million years, the protostar will grow warmer and denser. Its emission will increase in energy along the way, graduating from mainly cold, far-infrared light to near-infrared and finally to visible light. The once-dim protostar will have then become a fully luminous star.
As more and more stars emerge from the inky depths of LDN 483, the dark nebula will disperse further and lose its opacity. The missing background stars that are currently hidden will then come into view — but only after the passage of millions of years, and they will be outshone by the bright young-born stars in the cloud .
This video gives a close-up view of an image of the dark nebula LDN 483 as seen with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory. The object is a region of space clogged with gas and dust. These materials are dense enough to effectively eclipse the light of background stars. Credit: ESO. Music: movetwo
Here’s a video from ESA and the architectural firm Foster & Partners showing how a lunar structure could be built with a robotic rover using a 3D printing
See also this earlier item: ESA: Building a lunar base with 3D printing.
Further analysis of data from the Kepler space observatory results in another big batch of candidate exoplanets plus eight former candidates are moving to the verified category. Several new candidates are in the earth sized range and orbit in their star system’s habitable zone where water can remain liquid if the atmosphere is dense enough.
How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study — the 1,000th of which was recently verified.
Using Kepler data, scientists reached this millenary milestone after validating that eight more candidates spotted by the planet-hunting telescope are, in fact, planets. The Kepler team also has added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun.
Three of the newly-validated planets are located in their distant suns’ habitable zone, the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of the three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth.
“Each result from the planet-hunting Kepler mission’s treasure trove of data takes us another step closer to answering the question of whether we are alone in the Universe,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “The Kepler team and its science community continue to produce impressive results with the data from this venerable explorer.”
To determine whether a planet is made of rock, water or gas, scientists must know its size and mass. When its mass can’t be directly determined, scientists can infer what the planet is made of based on its size.
Two of the newly validated planets, Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, are less than 1.5 times the diameter of Earth. Kepler-438b, 475 light-years away, is 12 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 35.2 days. Kepler-442b, 1,100 light-years away, is 33 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 112 days.
Both Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b orbit stars smaller and cooler than our sun, making the habitable zone closer to their parent star, in the direction of the constellation Lyra. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
“With each new discovery of these small, possibly rocky worlds, our confidence strengthens in the determination of the true frequency of planets like Earth,” said co-author Doug Caldwell, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. “The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.”
With the detection of 554 more planet candidates from Kepler observations conducted May 2009 to April 2013, the Kepler team has raised the candidate count to 4,175. Eight of these new candidates are between one to two times the size of Earth, and orbit in their sun’s habitable zone. Of these eight, six orbit stars that are similar to our sun in size and temperature. All candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets.
“Kepler collected data for four years — long enough that we can now tease out the Earth-size candidates in one Earth-year orbits”, said Fergal Mullally, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at Ames who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been to finding Earth twins around other sun-like stars. These are the planets we’re looking for”.
These findings also have been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.
Work is underway to translate these recent discoveries into estimates of how often rocky planets appear in the habitable zones of stars like our sun, a key step toward NASA’s goal of understanding our place in the universe.
Scientists also are working on the next catalog release of Kepler’s four-year data set. The analysis will include the final month of data collected by the mission and also will be conducted using sophisticated software that is more sensitive to the tiny telltale signatures of small Earth-size planets than software used in the past.
Ames is responsible for Kepler’s mission operations, ground system development and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
For more information about the Kepler mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/kepler
Another release from the ESA/Hubble program:
Andromeda in HD
Hubble captures the sharpest ever view of neighbouring spiral Galaxy
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest and biggest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as Messier 31. The enormous image is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years.
This sweeping view shows one third of our galactic neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy, with stunning clarity. The panoramic image has a staggering 1.5 billion pixels — meaning you would need more than 600 HD television screens to display the whole image . It traces the galaxy from its central galactic bulge on the left, where stars are densely packed together, across lanes of stars and dust to the sparser outskirts of its outer disc on the right.
The large groups of blue stars in the galaxy indicate the locations of star clusters and star-forming regions in the spiral arms, whilst the dark silhouettes of obscured regions trace out complex dust structures. Underlying the entire galaxy is a smooth distribution of cooler red stars that trace Andromeda’s evolution over billions of years.
The Andromeda Galaxy is a large spiral galaxy — a galaxy type home to the majority of the stars in the Universe — and this detailed view, which captures over 100 million stars, represents a new benchmark for precision studies of this galaxy type . The clarity of these observations will help astronomers to interpret the light from the many galaxies that have a similar structure but lie much further away.
Because the Andromeda Galaxy is only 2.5 million light-years from Earth it is a much bigger target on the sky than the galaxies Hubble routinely photographs that are billions of light-years away. In fact its full diameter on the night sky is six times that of the full Moon. To capture the large portion of the galaxy seen here — over 40 000 light-years across — Hubble took 411 images which have been assembled into a mosaic image.
This panorama is the product of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) programme. Images were obtained from viewing the galaxy in near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths, using the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard Hubble. This view shows the galaxy in its natural visible-light colour as photographed in red and blue filters.
This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.
The image was presented today at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Another spectacular image from the Hubble space telescope:
Revisiting an icon
Hubble captures the Pillars of Creation twenty years on
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured many breathtaking images of the Universe, but one snapshot stands out from the rest: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. In 1995 Hubble’s iconic image revealed never-before-seen details in the giant columns and now the telescope is kickstarting its 25th year in orbit with an even clearer, and more stunning, image of these beautiful structures.
The three impressive towers of gas and dust captured in this image are part of the Eagle Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 16. Although such features are not uncommon in star-forming regions, the Messier 16 structures are by far the most photogenic and evocative ever captured. The Hubble image of the pillars taken in 1995 is so popular that it has appeared in film and television, on tee-shirts and pillows, and even on postage stamps.
Now Hubble has revisited the famous pillars, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks with the newer Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009. The visible-light image builds on one of the most iconic astronomy images ever taken and provides astronomers with an even sharper and wider view.
In addition to this new visible-light image, Hubble has also produced a bonus image. This image is taken in infrared light, which penetrates much of the obscuring dust and gas and unveils a more unfamiliar view of the pillars, transforming them into wispy silhouettes set against a background peppered with stars. Here newborn stars, hidden in the visible-light view, can be seen forming within the pillars themselves .
Although the original image was dubbed the “Pillars of Creation”, this new image hints that they are also pillars of destruction. The dust and gas in these pillars is seared by intense radiation from the young stars forming within them, and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars in the visible-light view is material that is being heated by bright young stars and evaporating away.
With these new images come better contrast and clearer views of the region. Astronomers can use these new images to study how the physical structure of the pillars is changing over time. The infrared image shows that the reason the pillars exist is because the very ends of them are dense, and they shadow the gas below them, creating the long, pillar-like structures. The gas in between the pillars has long since been blown away by the winds from a nearby star cluster.
At the top edge of the left-hand pillar, a gaseous fragment has been heated up and is flying away from the structure, highlighting the violent nature of star-forming regions.
These massive stars may be slowly destroying the pillars but they are also the reason Hubble sees the structures at all. They radiate enough ultraviolet light to illuminate the area and make the clouds of oxygen, hydrogen and sulphur glow.
Although structures like these exist throughout the Universe, the Pillars of Creation — at a distance of 6500 light-years away — provide the best, and most dramatic, example. Now, these images have allowed us to see them more clearly than ever, proving that at 25 years of age, Hubble is still going strong.
This image and the associated results were presented today at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, USA.
1. Monday, Jan. 5, 2015: 2:00-3:30PM PST (5:00-& 6:30 PM EST, 4:00-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. JOHN BRANDENBURG re his new book, Death On Mars: The Discovery of a Planetary Nuclear Massacre.
2. Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015:,7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back PAUL TURNER to complete his discussion regarding his book The Space Trade. Find out more about his book and ideas at www.thespacetrade.com.
3. Friday, Jan. 9 2015; , 9:30 -11 AM PST (12:30-2 PM EST; 11:30-1 PM CST): Dr. HAYM BENAROYA is back to do a reality check with us regarding lunar habs, settlements & more. This will be a most exciting & informative program.. .
4. Sunday, January 11, 2015: 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 12-1:30 PM CST): We welcome KELVIN LONG from the UK to discuss interplanetary spaceflight and his new book, Beyond The Boundary.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Amersfoort, 5th January 2015 – Mars One is proud to present the winner of the Mars One University Competition: Seed. The Seed team is an important step closer to sending their payload to Mars. The winning payload will fly to the surface of Mars on Mars One’s 2018 unmanned lander mission. Seed was selected by popular vote from an initial 35 university proposals and this is the first time the public has decided which payload receives the extraordinary opportunity to land on Mars.
“We were generally very pleased with the high quality of the university proposals and the amount of effort associated with preparing them,” said Arno Wielders, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Mars One. “Seed itself is uniquely inspiring since this would be the first time a plant will be grown on Mars.”
The Winning Team – Seed aims to germinate the first seed on Mars in order to contribute to the development of life support systems and provide a deeper understanding of plant growth on Mars. The payload will consist of an external container, which provides protection from the harsh environment, and interior container, which will hold several seed cassettes. The seeds will stem from the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which is commonly used in space plant studies. After landing, the seeds inside the cassette will be provided with conditions for germination and seedling growth. The growth will then be recorded using images transmitted back to Earth.
“We are really pleased to be the selected project among so many excellent ideas. We are thrilled to be the first to send life to Mars! This will be a great journey that we hope to share with you all!” said Teresa Araújo, Seed team member.
Seed consists of four bioengineering students from the University of Porto and two PhD students from MIT Portugal and the University of Madrid. The team is supported by Dr. Maria Helena Carvalho, plant researcher at IBMC and Dr. Jack van Loon, from the VU Medical Center, VU-University in Amsterdam, and support scientist at ESTEC-ESA. Seed benefits from scientific and technical support from several advisers, whose expertise range from biological systems to spacecraft development and validation. Read more about Seed here.
An in-depth technical analysis of the winning proposal will be conducted to ensure that the winner has a feasible plan and that their payload can be integrated on the 2018 Mars lander. Mars One and its advisers will contribute to the analysis by thoroughly and critically examining the Seed proposal.
If Seed runs into any issues regarding feasibility or can not stick to the schedule, Mars One will fall back on the runner ups of the university competition. The second and third placed projects are Cyano Knights and Lettuce on Mars.
About Mars One
Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.
JP Aerospace, based near Sacramento, California, recently flew two high altitude balloons for a UAE bank promotion campaign and national day celebration: Video from the UAE Mission – JP Aerospace Blog –
In celebration of the UAE’s 43rd national day JPA flew the UAE flag to the edge of space. It was a great mission and adventure. The first vehicle, Away 111, verified winds aloft and the second vehicle, Away 109 was our largest Away vehicle ever at just over nine feet long. It carried carried a huge 8 X 4 foot flag, signs from our sponsor, four HD cameras and the first 50 PongSats from the middle east.
See also the video at Video: UAE flag in space by Al Hilal Bank ~ Frequency.
• Dawn has entered its approach phase toward Ceres
• The spacecraft will arrive at Ceres on March 6, 2015
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has entered an approach phase in which it will continue to close in on Ceres, a Texas-sized dwarf planet never before visited by a spacecraft. Dawn launched in 2007 and is scheduled to enter Ceres orbit in March 2015.
This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft heading
toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Dawn recently emerged from solar conjunction, in which the spacecraft is on the opposite side of the sun, limiting communication with antennas on Earth. Now that Dawn can reliably communicate with Earth again, mission controllers have programmed the maneuvers necessary for the next stage of the rendezvous, which they label the Ceres approach phase. Dawn is currently 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Ceres, approaching it at around 450 miles per hour (725 kilometers per hour).
The spacecraft’s arrival at Ceres will mark the first time that a spacecraft has ever orbited two solar system targets. Dawn previously explored the protoplanet Vesta for 14 months, from 2011 to 2012, capturing detailed images and data about that body.
“Ceres is almost a complete mystery to us,” said Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Ceres, unlike Vesta, has no meteorites linked to it to help reveal its secrets. All we can predict with confidence is that we will be surprised.”
The two planetary bodies are thought to be different in a few important ways. Ceres may have formed later than Vesta, and with a cooler interior. Current evidence suggests that Vesta only retained a small amount of water because it formed earlier, when radioactive material was more abundant, which would have produced more heat. Ceres, in contrast, has a thick ice mantle and may even have an ocean beneath its icy crust.
Ceres, with an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers), is also the largest body in the asteroid belt, the strip of solar system real estate between Mars and Jupiter. By comparison, Vesta has an average diameter of 326 miles (525 kilometers), and is the second most massive body in the belt.
The spacecraft uses ion propulsion to traverse space far more efficiently than if it used chemical propulsion. In an ion propulsion engine, an electrical charge is applied to xenon gas, and charged metal grids accelerate the xenon particles out of the thruster. These particles push back on the thruster as they exit, creating a reaction force that propels the spacecraft. Dawn has now completed five years of accumulated thrust time, far more than any other spacecraft.
“Orbiting both Vesta and Ceres would be truly impossible with conventional propulsion. Thanks to ion propulsion, we’re about to make history as the first spaceship ever to orbit two unexplored alien worlds,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The next couple of months promise continually improving views of Ceres, prior to Dawn’s arrival. By the end of January, the spacecraft’s images and other data will be the best ever taken of the dwarf planet.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science.
More information about Dawn: dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Here’s a video showing Dawn’s images of Vesta in a manner that provides a 3D like view of the asteroid:
The Moon Society and the National Space Society (NSS) offer the tenth issue of the To The Stars International Quarterly (pdf). The 170 page file is “loaded with space news, color photos, and interesting articles”.
In addition to the Moon Society and the NSS, contributing organizations include Space Renaissance Initiative, The Mars Foundation, Open Luna Foundation, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).
Here is the Table of Contents:
2 Co-sponsoring Organizations
NEWS SECTION pp. 3-119
3-26 Earth Orbit and Mission to Planet Earth
27-29 Space Tourism
30-48 Cislunar Space and the Moon
76-89 Asteroids & Comets
90-107 Other Planets & their moons
ARTICLES, ESSAYS pp 120-160
120 Are we ever going to Settle the Moon? – Peter Kokh
A fresh look at the idea of “Spinning-up” Industries Needed on the Moon – Peter Kokh
122 Exports to Earth need to be greater in value than imports from Earth; The “MUS/cle.” Equation
123 Biospheric Technologies needed on the Moon – and on Earth – Peter Kokh
124 We Need More Good & Realistic Moon & Mars Outpost & Settlement Art – Peter Kokh
125 SHIELDING: “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” > ”The Drab, the Nice, the Beautiful“- Peter Kokh
127 Fun Time About Names: “Sun” “Earth” “Moon” – Peter Kokh
128 Meeting the Threat of Orbital Debris Authors – Al Anzaldua and David Dunlop
151 From Power Beaming at the International Space Station to Tethered Balloons, Proposed Cubesats and a Growing Network of First Nations° Connected Organizations – Dave Dunlop,
158 The Emerging Lunar Reconvergence – Dave Dunlop
162 Online Op-Ed Articles from other writers worth reading
STUDENTS & TEACHERS pp 161-164
165 NASA Launches Student Contest for 3D-Printed Astronaut Tools
166 Contestant gets to name new ISS “Droid”;
167 PISCES to host winning mooniest team; The “Cities at Night Project” is asking for your help.
167 NASA Selects student teams for High Powered Rocket Challenge
169 Feature Articles and Essays in our sister publications: Ad Astra and Moon Miners’ Manifesto
ATTSIQ #10 page 1 JANUARY 2015