Cosmonauts on the ISS have a small garden now:
- Orbital Farming: Space Station Greenhouse Bears Fruit -Discovery News
- Russian Space Farmers Harvest Wheat, Peas and Greens – RIA Novosti
One type of cancer cells becomes less aggressive in microgravity: Cancer Cells Tamed By Trip To Outer Space: Low-grav experiments may point the way toward more effective treatments on Earth - Popular Science.
Check out the latest space lift news and developments in the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) Newsletter – January 2014.
ANS 033 Weekly AMSAT Bulletin – February 1, 2014:
* January/February 2014 AMSAT Journal is Ready
* AMSAT-NA at Orlando HamCation 2014 Next Weekend!
* AMSAT SKN Best Fist Winners
* Von Karman Institute QB50 Precursor Flights to Carry Ham Transponders
* HamTV Article Available From AMSAT Journal Sample Downloads Page
Via SpaceX (SpaceX) on Twitter comes a pointer to this rather humbling depiction of our place in the universe:
From the caption:
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.
Data: Digital Universe, American Museum of Natural History
She has also written a book about the subject : Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science.
Of the many covers of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song Rocketman, this version by Iron Horse is one of the most unusual that I’ve heard : This Bluegrass ‘Rocketman’ Cover by Iron Horse is Awesome (Video) – Space.com
Some recent space policy related webcasts:
- Bob Zimmerman on the radio:
- Chuck McMurray, Tuesday, 1-28-14 | Thespaceshow’s Blog - Topics discussed with McMurray of the Mars Society included the Space Exploration Alliance Legislative Blitz on Capitol Hill, Feb.23-25.
More space policy/politics related links:
- Space casualties a necessary tragedy – Rand Simberg/USA Today
- Is the Relationship Between NASA and Private Space About to Sour? 2014 will be the year when the space agency and private companies must find a way to work together to get astronauts safely into orbit. For boosters of the private space, there’s plenty to worry about. - Popular Mechanics
- Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane passes 400 days in orbit – Space.com/Fox News
- Challenger and the Diminishment of the NASA Space Program – Wired Science
- NASA marks progress on JWST, but concerns remain – Space Politics
- NASA’s Day of Remembrance 2014 Honoring Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia Crews – spacepolicyonline.com
- Getting ready for asteroids – ESA
- U.S. Air Force Claims Big Savings on EELV Block Buy – SpaceNews.com
- Four Delta 4-Heavy rockets part of ULA block buy deal – Spaceflight Now
- NASA Education Goes Dark – Citizens in Space
- NASA Education Chief Resigns – Citizens in Space
The latest episode of NASA’s Space to Ground videos, “your weekly update on what’s happening aboard the International Space Station”.
- Herschel discovers water vapour around dwarf planet Ceres – Herschel/ ESA
- Herschel Telescope Detects Water on Dwarf Planet – Dawn
From the last item:
Scientists believe Ceres contains rock in its interior with a thick mantle of ice that, if melted, would amount to more fresh water than is present on all of Earth. The materials making up Ceres likely date from the first few million years of our solar system’s existence and accumulated before the planets formed.
Until now, ice had been theorized to exist on Ceres but had not been detected conclusively. It took Herschel’s far-infrared vision to see, finally, a clear spectral signature of the water vapor. But Herschel did not see water vapor every time it looked. While the telescope spied water vapor four different times, on one occasion there was no signature.
Here is what scientists think is happening: when Ceres swings through the part of its orbit that is closer to the sun, a portion of its icy surface becomes warm enough to cause water vapor to escape in plumes at a rate of about 6 kilograms (13 pounds) per second. When Ceres is in the colder part of its orbit, no water escapes.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will reach Ceres in the summer of 2015. Launched in September 2007, Dawn investigated the asteroid Vesta until July 2012 and then began moving towards Ceres, where it will have a lot of interesting science to pursue.
Here’s a discussion of the Ceres finding and teh significance of so much water among the asteroids: Why It Matters That There’s So Much Water in the Asteroid Belt – Popular Mechanics
Asteroid specialist Humberto Campins spoke about the Ceres findings with David Livingston and John Batchelor on Wednesday : John Batchelor Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 1-29-14 – Thespaceshow’s Blog
Here’s another interesting video posted by the SETI Institute. Dr. Alfonso Davila talks about the search of life in the solar system outside of Earth, particularly in Mars but also other sites such as the Jupiter moon Europa:
The search for life on Mars is a priority for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, a pivotal question of the Astrobiology Program, and the ultimate goal of the Mars Exploration Program (MEPAG, 2008). Also, assessment of the presence or absence of life on Mars is a prerequisite for human exploration in that it will allow mitigation of potential threats to planetary protection. Nevertheless, the Viking missions remain the first, and only, attempt to search for life on the planet (or anywhere else beyond the confines of Earth). Robotic missions to Mars since Viking have focused on characterizing the physical, chemical, and geological environment, and future missions will attempt to search for evidence of past life,perhaps after samples have been returned to Earth.
In this talk Dr. Davila will propose an alternative strategy to how we search for life in the Solar System. This strategy is centered on the search for biochemistry, and stems from decades of research experience in Mars Analogue Environments, a deeper understanding of the environmental limits of life, and the drive to understand the fundamental principles and the origin of life.
The mechanical problem with the Chinese lunar rover may be serious, even fatal: China’s Jade Rabbit rover may be victim of moon dust – New Scientist.
Pretty amazing for one lunar orbiter to capture an image of another one: NASA moon mission captures fleeting view of sister craft – Spaceflight Now.
Here’s the NASA release:
(LROC NAC image M1144387511LR. Image width is 821 meters, or about 898 yards.)
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
LADEE is in an equatorial orbit (east-to-west) while LRO is in a polar orbit (south-to-north). The two spacecraft are occasionally very close and on Jan. 15, 2014, the two came within 5.6 miles (9 km) of each other. As LROC is a push-broom imager, it builds up an image one line at a time, so catching a target as small and fast as LADEE is tricky. Both spacecraft are orbiting the moon with velocities near 3,600 mph (1,600 meters per second), so timing and pointing of LRO must be nearly perfect to capture LADEE in an LROC image.
LADEE passed directly beneath the LRO orbit plane a few seconds before LRO crossed the LADEE orbit plane, meaning a straight down LROC image would have just missed LADEE. The LADEE and LRO teams worked out the solution: simply have LRO roll 34 degrees to the west so the LROC detector (one line) would be in the right place as LADEE passed beneath.
smeared view of LADEE. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
As planned at 8:11 p.m. EST on Jan. 14, 2014, LADEE entered LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) field of view for 1.35 milliseconds and a smeared image of LADEE was snapped. LADEE appears in four lines of the LROC image, and is distorted righttoleft. What can be seen in the LADEE pixels in the NAC image?
Step one is to minimize the geometric distortion in the smeared lines that show the spacecraft. However, in doing so the background lunar landscape becomes distorted and unrecognizable (see above). The scale (dimension) of the NAC pixels recording LADEE is 3.5 inches (9 cm), however, as the spacecraft were both moving about 3,600 mph (1,600 meters per second) the image is blurred in both directions by around 20 inches (50 cm). So the actual pixel scale lies somewhere between 3.5 inches and 20 inches. Despite the blur it is possible to find details of the spacecraft, which is about 4.7 feet (1.9 meters) wide and 7.7 feet (2.4 meters) long. The engine nozzle, bright solar panel and perhaps a star tracker camera can be seen (especially if you have a correctly oriented schematic diagram of LADEE for comparison).
LADEE was launched Sept. 6, 2013. LADEE is gathering detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and determining whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky.
with a computer-generated image of LADEE.
LRO launched Sept. 18, 2009. LRO continues to bring the world astounding views of the lunar surface and a treasure trove of lunar data.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the LRO mission. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages the LADEE mission.
I mentioned yesterday that radiation shielding material for in-space transports could one day be supplemented with magnetic shielding. By chance, Universe Today has a post linking to the EU sponsored project - SR2S (Space Radiation Superconducting Shield) - which is investigating the use of toroidal coils with high-temp superconductors for shielding: Can A Mega-Magnetic Field Protect Astronauts From Radiation? – Universe Today.
Here is a video by the project leader:
The site provides this poster:
Here is a description of the project on their site:
EU Space Project will allow astronauts to undergo deep space travel
Head of project says shield based on super conducting magnets will protect astronauts.
Head of EU Project Space Radiation Superconductive Shield (SR2S) Professor Roberto Battiston believes that the SR2S project will solve the issue of radiation protection in three years and has called on his fellow academics in space research to develop the technology to allow both male and female astronauts to undertake deep space missions. Battiston believes that there is no reason why space technology cannot be sufficiently developed to allow both genders to withstand a long duration stay in space and thus increasing the number of astronauts available to undertake missions.
Professor Battiston, Project Coordinator of SR2S said “We have already made significant progress since the beginning of the project and believe we will succeed in this goal of solving the radiation protection issue. In the last few months the international teams working at CERN have solved two major technical issues relevant to the superconducting magnets in space (i) how to make very long high temperature superconducting cables join together in a shorter segment without losing the superconducting properties and (ii) how to ensure protection of long high temperature cables from a quench. These developments open the way to larger and more effective space radiation shields and in turn facilitates deep space travel for female astronauts”
The SR2S superconducting shield will provide an intense magnetic field, 3,000 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field and will be confined around the space craft. The magnetic fields will extend to about 10 metres in diameter and ionizing particles will be deflected away. Only the most energetic particles will penetrate the superconducting shield but these will contribute the least to the absorbed radiation dose as their flux is negligible. This will address the issue of suitability of people for space travel as it will open up eligibility for space travel regardless of gender.
Professor Battiston continued “This situation is critical. According to our present knowledge only a very small fraction of NASA’s active astronauts are suitable to stay on the ISS for a one year mission regardless of the fact that the exposure to radiation is two times less than the exposure during deep space travel. Researchers must focus on both genders in current and future studies. The next exploration challenges, deep space travel to Near Earth Asteroids and long duration stay on Mars and on the moon, require an effective way to actively shield astronauts.”
The collaborative programme has a specialist team exploring the development of magnetic shield technology based on super conducting magnets to protect astronauts on deep space missions. The development of such technology would help further space science and exploration and enable long human permanence in space, the next stage in space travel, and enable more astronauts to travel, regardless of gender.
See also EU Space Project Team Announced – SR2S.
Find more resources about radiation shielding, including electrostatic and magnetic schemes, in the HobbySpace Living in Space section.
A selection of space policy/politics related links:
- NASA to buy more Soyuz seats for space station crews – Spaceflight Now
- Is now the time to start working on space property rights? – Space Politics
- California offers tax break jackpot for space companies; New Mexico wants better use of spaceport tax – Space Politics
- California weighs giving tax break to space exploration firms – Reuters/Yahoo Finance
- Bill would halt spending of leftover Spaceport America tax money – Las Cruces Sun-News
- $1.5M sought for temporary visitor center at spaceport - ABQJournal Online
- NM State Senator: Two state authorities misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars - KFOX14 El Paso
- Web life: Space Politics – physicsworld.com
- First Look at ‘Challenger: An American Tragedy’ – Space.com
- Experts: China Boosts Space Warfare Capabilities – Washington Free Beacon
- Is Projek Angkasawan Lost In Space? – MalaysianDigest.com
- House Science Committee to examine “necessary updates” to commercial launch law – Space Politics
- House SS&T Hrg on Commercial Space Launch Act, Feb 2014, DC – SpacePolicyOnline.com
- How to Get Back to Earth From Space – Hello Kitty, Ballutes, Parachutes and Airbag Detonations. – Wired Science
- A Bastard Named Ballute – Wired Science
- Got Nomex? – Wired Science
On March 1st they will test the 1st stage of the HEAT 2X rocket, which they plan to launch this summer: Raketmotortest – Denmark.
The danish space pioneers Copenhagen Suborbitals are again testing the worlds most powerful amateur rocket engine, and you have the chance to experience the test onsite !
This time we test the complete, stacked 16 meter tall HEAT 2X rocket stage with full load of 1,200 kg of propellant and full burn time. The test will be conducted in the new 160 ton VTC-3 test stand.
The rocket engine TM65LE will be releasing its full power in a test bench, strongly bolted down to the thick concrete at the former shipyard B&W dock area.
We guarantee an extraordinary experience, so come join us at this rare event !
The discussion ranged widely over Dr. Drake’s career and current thinking, and included reminiscences of Project OZMA, the very first experiment searching for signals from civilizations among the stars, and his current view of the Drake Equation (estimating the chances of intelligent life out there). He also reflects on a number of modern developments, including the discovery of numerous planets orbiting other stars and new ways of searching for extra-terrestrial civilizations.
Also from the caption:
Special Note: The audience at this special event received a reprint of Frank Drake’s personal history of the Drake Equation, published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in a series edited by Andrew Fraknoi. Because of its historical importance, this article is now available freely on the web at: http://www.astrosociety.org/wp-conten…
Speaking of exercise and diet to prevent bone loss in space, here is a video showing how astronaut Mike Hopkins goes about exercising during his stay on the International Space Station:
Astronaut Mike Hopkins, a lifelong athlete, worked closely with his strength and conditioning coach Mark Guilliams to develop these specially-designed workouts in orbit. Shown here, Hopkins is using the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device to perform this challenging workout. (100 Pull Ups, Push Ups, Sit Ups and Air Squats each.)
As part of his mission, Hopkins is a participant in a number of going medical studies and research experiments.
Pro K is one area of research Mike is helping with. For this study, the astronauts eat a low protein diet in an effort to minimize bone mineral loss. This will not only help future astronauts on long duration missions, but given the dietary trends in the U.S., this research will have direct public health significance helping us better understand protein-rich diets. Learn more about Pro K: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sta…
Numerous benefits are already being realized from space station science such as vaccine development research, imagery that aids disaster relief and farming, and education programs that inspire future scientists, and engineers are just some examples. To learn more about benefits from ISS, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/iss-science
Staying healthy is important for all astronauts going to space, but lifelong fitness is particularly important to Mike. To follow along with his workouts and other Astronaut workouts and activities, check out: http://www.facebook.com/TrainAstronaut
You can follow Astronaut Mike Hopkins on Twitter at: @AstroIllini
I don’t post many items about biology but this developments sounds quite significant if it holds up:
- Stem cell power unleashed after 30 minute dip in acid – New Scientist
- Stem cell breakthrough could reopen clone wars – opinion/New Scientist
The research will now be subject to yet more scrutiny as other teams try to replicate it. Cracks may yet appear. But right now it looks like that rarity: an actual breakthrough.
If so, the implications are huge. First and foremost, it promises an almost ridiculously simple route to regenerative medicine. There is a lot of work still to do, and many potential pitfalls before it could be applied to human patients, but in principle almost any illness caused by damaged or ageing tissue – heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dozens of others – could be fixed this way.
That’s an exciting prospect, but as so often with stem cells, ethical concerns are lurking.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is described as follows:
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. Designed as a model U.S. national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education initiative, the program gives typically 300+ students across a participating community the ability to design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit, first aboard the final flights of the Space Shuttle, and then on the International Space Station (ISS) – America’s newest National Laboratory. SSEP is suitable for students in pre-college grades 5-12, 2-year community colleges, and 4-year colleges and universities. SSEP also affords a participating community a high level of media exposure at a time when STEM education is of national strategic importance.
In 2012, SSEP was extended to international communities through the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, NCESSE’s new international arm.
SSEP is about immersing and engaging students and their teachers in every facet of real science—on the high frontier—so that students are given the chance to be scientists—and experience science firsthand.
This report includes videos showing ISS astronaut Koichi Wakata starting and stopping SSEP experiments recently delivered to the station : VIDEOS: Astronaut Koichi Wakata Activating SSEP Mission 3b/4 Experiments on ISS – SSEP
These are video records of on-orbit activations, de-activations and other interactions associated with the SSEP Mission 3b and Mission 4 experiments by assigned astronaut Koichi Wakata (Japan). The videos were taken on the two (of six) scheduled SSEP Crew Interaction Days that have thus far taken place since the Cygnus spacecraft berthed at ISS on January 12, 2014, with the SSEP Mission 3b Falcon II and Mission 4 Orion experiment payloads.
Koichi’s activities are reported to all student flight teams via the SSEP Mission 4 and 3b to ISS: Experiments Log page, so that flight teams can mirror all activities in their vital ground truth experiments.
The next scheduled crew interaction with the experiment payloads is to take place on the third scheduled Crew Interaction Day, January 30, 2014 (Crew Interaction Day A+17). You can see the list of all expected January 30 crew interactions on the Experiment Log page.
This title is quite misleading: Beings Not Made for Space – NYTimes.com.
Human beings are also not made for living on the sea but we’ve learned how to do it for indefinite periods. We are learning how to live in space as well. For example, the degradation of bone density has long been a serious problem but has indicated in the article is now largely preventable with improved exercise and nutrition regimes.
The eye issue mentioned in the article has only recently started to receive serious research attention and already there are signs that it might be solvable with simple nutritional anti-oxidants: Orbital Samples With Sight-Saving Potential – NASA.
Note that living in space and living in microgravity are not synonymous. I don’t know of any space settlement advocate who has promoted long term residency in microgravity. As the article hints at, habitats in space can rotate to provide spin gravity, which can reduce or eliminate the effects of microgravity. The large wheel-shaped space station seen in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey is the iconic approach to this.
2001: A Space Odyssey film poster
For long distance transports, a centrifuge could be added to provide some fraction of a G, which should be sufficient to prevent or ameliorate microgravity problems. A recent version of such a vehicle is the Nautilus-X concept, which was designed by Mark Holderman and Edward Henderson of NASA Johnson Space Center. If NASA was not wasting vast amounts of money on SLS/Orion, in-space infrastructure systems like this could be under development today.
Nautilus-X concept for in-space transport.
Radiation protection requires shielding, not magic. Habitats on the Moon or Mars are easily shielded with regolith. In-space transports may not get radiation levels down to that of the earth at sea level but a lot can be done by surrounding living areas with all the water, foodstuffs, equipment, propellants, waste, etc that are coming along on the trip as well. Space transports should be designed from the start with radiation exposure reduction has a key goal. Eventually, material shielding may be supplemented with magnetic shielding as well.
People are almost certainly going to live in space permanently at some point. The human spaceflight programs of today are learning how to make that happen.
See the HobbySpace Living in Space section for lots of resources on the microgravity health effects, radiation shielding, etc.
Update Jan.31.14: Some comments about this post: Beings Making Space Livable – Transterrestrial Musings