Showing posts with label Space programme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space programme. Show all posts

Saturday 7 April 2018

TESS to Search the Sky for New Worlds

The Search for New worlds begins with TESS

Is earth the only inhabitable planet or are there more planets out there that could potentially become a home far away from home for us? Scientists are all ready to launch TESS or Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which will reportedly look for planets outside the solar system that could potentially support life on their surfaces. TESS will look at the atmospheric compositions of these planets and determine whether they could support life.

TESS is all set for an April 16 launch, with scientists making the final preparations for its two year stint in space. TESS will look for planets around nearby starts that give hints of a livable atmosphere.
TESS will analyze Atmospheric compositions of planets:

Scientists believe that atmospheric compositions hold clues as to whether a planet can hold life or not and this is what TESS will be sent out to do.

TESS is tasked with finding exoplanets by analyzing something that is known as “transit”. Transit is when a planet passes in front of a start causing a dip in the brightness of that star. In the past, scientists have discovered many exoplanets using the technique of transit. Most of these planets are 300 to 3000 lightyears away from us.

TESS’s follow up program will look at the mass of various planets some 4 times the radius of the earth and others smaller than earth.

How will Transit Help scientists? 

With transit, TESS will be able to identify exoplanets and then scientists will use a technique known as “spectroscopy” which is the study of the absorption and emission of light, to determine the mass, density and atmospheric composition of a specific planet.

The water content and other molecules present in the atmosphere of a planet will give key clues as to the possibility of a planet to harbor life.

The Follow-up Observations: 

Follow- up observations of TESS’s findings will be made by scientists using MEarth telescopes which are robotically controlled observatories. Another way scientists plan on observing findings is through a KeplerCam present on a 48 inch telescope. MEarth and Kepler cam will be used to confirm the star that TESS identifies in the transit period.

TESS Guest Investigator Program: 

The worldwide scientific community will be able to participate in this mission through TESS Guest Investigator Program. This participation will maximize the return expected from the mission and contribute in the study of stellar astrophysics, exoplanet characterization and general solar system science.

Launch of TESS: 

TESS is expected to launch on April 16 of this year for its two year mission. The launch will be from Space Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located in Florida.

With the help of gravity from the moon, TESS will begin a 13.7 day orbit of the earth and sixty days after its launch and after checking all its instruments it will begin its two year mission in space. TESS will be all set to discover planets that could potentially hold human life.

Friday 1 December 2017

MIT Team Wins Mars City Design Contest

Redwood Forest idea by MIT team helps them win Mars City Design contest

We aren’t going to Mars anytime soon but NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) are simply giving wings to our aspiration with a unique competition. A competition conducted by these two premium space research organization has asked the participants to bring innovative solution for problems likely to be faced while journeying to the Mars. This particular competition focused on building design habitats which can be utilized on the Red Planet in future and it has been aptly titles International Mars City Design competition. Winner for 2017 edition of this completion is a bunch of engineers and architects from the Massachusetts of Technology (MIT).

Aiming for Mars City

A number of contests are conducted all round the world by different space research organization and private players to solve the problems associated with journeying or living on the Red Planet. The Mars City Design competition is quite well known and notable as it exclusively aims to some up with such solutions which help in building livable and sustainable spaces on Mars. It is also looking forward that the participants will come up with some solution which will allow astronauts to make a return journey with unique and exotic Martian resources with limited cargo.

Redwood Forest is a design for Mars city

MIT team has termed their winning design ‘Redwood Forest’ which as the name suggests has a collection of tree habitats and it is connected together using a system of tunnels termed ‘roots’. These roots effectively helps in navigating through the Redwood Forest as one can move from one tree habitat to another safely. It will also feature a number of private spaces along with a unique and amazing ‘shirtsleeve transportation’ system. Making use of the tunnels in the Mars City design will help in providing the residents the much needed protection against the abundant cosmic radiation, extreme atmospheric changes and other calamities present on the Martian surface.

The Redwood Forest wouldn’t be going to find itself as a sprawling habitat rather it will be made in the form of dome housing as many as 50 people. MIT engineers are looking forward to get 200 of just domes constructed which will be more than enough to support the group of 10,000 first settlers on the Red Planet. The best thing about this structure is that it easily offers private and public spaces along the possibility of harvesting plants and water on the northern plains of Mars.

MIT Engineers has stated that their Mars City will mimic the functionality and feel of the forest to its very core and it will utilize the existing Martian soil called regolith and ice or water along with the ‘sun’ to support life on the planet. This team even spiritually defines that having a design of forest brings the potential to showcase the outward growth which is seen in the nature and it will help in spreading the habit across the Red Planet in the future.

Saturday 14 October 2017

NASA Contracts with BWXT Nuclear Energy to Advance Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Technology


NASA wants to reach Mars with nuclear power

How powerful does a space rocket have to get to Mars? Apparently, rather more than the more modern we have. This is what NASA thinks, which has reopened the door to Advance Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Technology whose possibilities in space exploration seemed forgotten: nuclear fusion.

Nuclear power propulsion is a fairly popular idea in science fiction. NASA has already done some experiments with it in the 1970s, although the risks of using it outweighed the benefits. Instead, he sent Apollo missions to the Moon with conventional fuel, much less powerful and efficient. The tests will take place at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Its ultimate goal is to provide enough energy on the surface of the Red Planet for the production of fuel, habitats and other equipment, when humans settle there.

The last time NASA tested a fission reactor was during the 1960s Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) program, which developed two types of nuclear power systems. The first system - thermoelectric generators of radioisotopes, or RTGs - takes advantage of the heat released from the natural decomposition of a radioactive element, such as plutonium. RTGs have fueled dozens of space probes over the years, including the explorer Curiosity currently exploring Mars.

The second technology developed under SNAP was an atom division fission reactor. SNAP-10A was the first - and so far, only - US nuclear power plant to operate in space. Launched on April 3, 1965, the SNAP-10A operated for 43 days, producing 500 watts of electrical power, before an unrelated equipment failure ended the show. The spacecraft remains in Earth orbit.

Russia has been much more active developing and flying spacecraft powered by small fission reactors, Radar Ocean Reconnaissance including 30 Satellites, or RORSAT, which flew between 1967 and 1988, and increased power TOPAZ systems. TOPAZ is an acronym for Thermionic Experiment with Conversion in Active Zone.

However, if the agency wants to meet its goal of sending a manned mission to Mars, it must get a whole rabbit out of the hat. It needs an energy source that will shorten the journey to the red planet for several months, thus reducing the exposure of astronauts and spacecraft to space radiation. The options are not too many, so they have ended up turning a blind eye to nuclear power.

To investigate whether it is possible to equip Advance Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Technology by testing such a motor in a manned spacecraft, NASA has awarded a contract worth 18 million to BWXT, a company specializing in generating atomic energy. His challenge is to create an atomic engine powerful enough to go and return to Mars without risking - at least not too much - the life of astronauts.

On the previous occasion they encountered a seemingly insurmountable problem: for an engine of this type to work, it should be heated to more than 2,000 degrees centigrade, a fairly high temperature that can cause an explosion.

The dilemma is there: if we want to explore the Solar System we need a better source of energy for our rockets. Otherwise, they will never be able to go beyond Mars with the greatest possible risks.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Space Farming: Satellite's Greenhouses to Simulate Moon, Mars Gravity

Space Farming
 The space science has crossed over a long way and registered some memorable achievements, which have changed the scenario and the basic approaches to the scientific research and applications. Almost half a century ago, the first step of a human was made on the lunar surface and now people, attached to the space research, are planning for Mars and beyond to stretch the horizon of the study and to touch newer feats. One of the major issue in the space research is the quest for the presence of life in other planet and or in somewhere in this universe and there are some magnificent achievements have already been acquired by the team of scientists, working in various space research agencies.

Today, there are in-depth studies are being carried out to ascertain the condition or creating an atmosphere, where life can be sustained and a favorable condition for the sustenance of the living bodies may be possible in one way or other. As part of this mission, there is a planning to launch a satellite, in the later part of the year, which will conduct an experiment on plant growth in both the lunar and also on the Martian gravity, to provide some useful assistance in the preparation of the future settlements for the human, along with, other living creatures and bodies.

Some Important Features

  • As per the plan, the EU: CROPIS space capsule will be rotating around the own axis in the low-Earth orbit and at an approximate altitude of 600 km. In the initial stage of first six months, the satellite will produce almost the same gravitational force of the moon and after that, in the next six months, it will replicate the Martian gravity. 
  • It can be noted that at this time in space, tomato seeds be germinated and the same will grow into tiny space tomatoes and this incident will be covered by 16 nos. of onboard cameras, which will capture and document the progress of these tomatoes. To support this program, microorganisms, which are contained in a drip filter, will use an ingredient like synthetic urine that would produce effective fertilizer for those important tomatoes. 
  • As said by the EU: CROPIS team members; the Euglena microbes will provide support in producing oxygen for the entire system and it would be supplied with necessary protection against the presence of excess ammonia. The Euglena microbes and tomatoes are requiring day/ night rhythm and to make it possible, LED lights will be used to get the perfect ambiance and condition and also a pressure tank is being used, which is having the potential of replicating Earth’s atmosphere. 
  • In essence, the principal plan is to simulate and test the greenhouses, which will be assembled inside the Martian or Lunar habitat and provide localized source of fresh food for the crew members. The entire process of farming will be supported, managed and controlled by the theme of "Waste to Fertilizer"- as mentioned by Hauslage, the head of the scientific component of this much hyped EU: CROPIS mission.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Why DARPA is Pursuing the Reusable Military XS-1 Spaceplane


SpaceX to Inspect Rockets – Plans to Re-Fly

Elon Musk, the optimistic and according to some a visionary, the founder of SpaceX has plans of colonizing Mars. Heading the considered technology office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Brad Tousley, had stated on May 15 that Elon wants to go beyond that. Musk, after landing three first stage rockets, had said that SpaceX would inspect the rockets with plans to re-fly most of them later. Tousley supervises DARPA’s space programs that tend to handle the Defense Department’s most complex expansion challenges.

He defined the landing of first stage rockets by SpaceX as well as Blue Origin as `a very impressive accomplishments’. The agency had added that DARPA had pointed out that the satellite launches on rockets need to be scheduled well in advance and tends to cost a lot of money. `DARPA developed its Experimental Spaceplane – XS-1 program in order to overcome challenges, creating a new model for more routine, responsive as well as affordable space operations. However, Tousley, during a speech at the GEOINT 2016 conference said that the XS-1 which was the experimental spaceplane of the agency, also had ambitious plans and he wants to launch again in 24 hours.

Launch 10 Times in Ten Days

DARPA’s XS-1 spaceplane preferably would launch 10 times in 10 days, carrying payloads that tend to weight as much as 1,369 kilograms in low earth orbit for $5 million. DARPA has been confirming a request for proposals for the second phase of the XS-1 progress program. That acquisition document could be released by the agency as early as this month, according to DARPA officials. As part of a public-private partnership, a contract award may come as early as 2017 with the first flight tests in 2020.

 Tousley has mentioned that DARPA would be contributing `a healthy fraction’ towards the growth of the spaceplane. The agency’s top funded space program has been XS-1, the last two years. White House had asked for $50 million for the program for fiscal year 2016, in its budget request. Three industry teams seemed to have worked on the first phase of the program, namely Boeing and Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems and XCOR Aerospace and Northrop Grumman and Virgin Galactic.

XS-1 – As Warning for Defense Department

During his speech, Tousley had emphasized on the importance of the quick turnaround for the spaceplane. He had stated that `one of the critical parameters coming out of the solicitation of the Phase 2, for XS-1, is the need that before the launch of this asset for the first time, vendors would be proving to DARPA through ground test of the propulsion system 10 times in 10 days and that they were going to burn a lot of risk down’. Tousley had also mentioned that XS-1 could also act as a warning for the Defense Department as threats to national security satellites have occurred in recent years.

He added that `if you have the ability to launch an asset in 24 hours, essentially on a moment’s notice, then it could cause an adversary to think twice about justwhat is it they want to do from a threatening standpoint. We think just having that competence as being of a preventive value’.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Kepler Spacecraft in Emergency Mode


Kepler Entered Mode on April 6

According to an update of April 8 from Charlie Sobeck, mission manager at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California, Kepler seemingly entered the mode on April 6. Kepler had burnt more of its dropping supplyof fuel in an emergency mode, which is essential to ignite its thrusters and position the spacecraft in communicating with Earth.

The turning manoeuvre which would have begun the new planet hunt had not yet been executed by the spacecraft. Kepler, till now had discovered planets by observing the slight dimming of starlight triggered by an orbiting planet that passed in front of a star. The investigation has been enthusiastically successful, discovering over 1,040 confirmed planets as well as more than 4,700 planet candidates since the launch of 2009.

The new campaign is said to have run from April 7 to July 1 and it would have looked out for the temporary brightening of star due to a different effect known as gravitational microlensing. The gravity of an intervening object, in microlensing, like in the case of planet, tends to focus and intensify the light from a background star, causing it to brighten.

Microlensing Targets Big Planets at Great Distances

Contrasting to Kepler’s other discoveries that seem to be smaller planets comparatively close to their host stars, microlensing tends to target big planets at great distances from their stars or even lonely planets seem to bewandering on their own through the depth of space. Ground-based telescopes have revealed 46 planets through microlensing and the astronomers expect that Kepler would discover 10 or more during the campaign.

 These kinds of discoveries would be helpful in narrowing the statistics on how common free-floating planets could be throughout the Galaxy. Astronomers have synchronized an intricate plan wherein around two dozen ground-based telescopes that have been spread across six continents, would be gazing at the same area of the sky at the same time as Kepler.

 They comprise the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment – OGLE survey that tends to hunt for microlensing events from the Las Campanas Observatory, in Chile. OGLE intended to shift its observing strategy slightly to overlap with the same fields which Kepler had been looking at. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was to have joined in the hunt too, in late June.

Kepler’s Microlensing Campaign Presently on Hold

It could have been the first microlensing survey directed at the same time from the ground as well as from space. The different vantage points could have enabled astronomers to research the potential microlensing planets much more easily than just utilising one or two ground-based telescopes. Andrew Cole, astronomer at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia had stated that `there is a strong feeling like it’s Christmas morning and we were all set to unwrap a shiny new toy and then we had to put everything on hold owing to power outage or something’.

His team had scheduled to use a 1.3-metre telescope in Tasmania in order to track on microlensing alerts from Kepler. The start of Kepler’s microlensing campaign presently is on hold till engineers tend to get the telescope working again. It is presently about 120 million kilometres from Earth, which means that each message tends to take 13 minutes to reach Kepler and back. Days that are lost from the microlensing campaign would be difficult to make up later.

 NASA’s director of astrophysics, Paul Hertz, had touted that the Kepler microlensing survey is a step towards the next big space telescope of the agency, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, that is intended to do microlensing searches after it launches in 2020.

Monday 21 March 2016

Nasa Starts Work on Super Quiet Supersonic Jet


American space agency Nasa has finally given nod to development of new age breed of supersonic jets inquest to win over the sky. NASA has started development for so called low boom supersonic jets which will be much better on every scale against the traditional supersonic jets. These jets are aimed to be quieter, safer as well as greener than the current form of air transportations.

NASA supersonic jet plane is currently under development through the X Plane programme. It should be noted that Nasa’s X Plane programme was established way back in 1940’s with the goal of creating new age jets for the future. However over the years this program was left to eat dust due to the shortage of funds. Nasa has finally found a partner in name of Aviation Horizons which will be funding the development of supersonic jets till 2017.

Nasa aims to bring greener jets

Aviation Horizons has made it clear to the Nasa that they are looking forward to development of greener supersonic jets which doesn’t cause too much strain on the fossil fuels for power. These jets will feature reduced fuel usage, emissions along with revolutionary innovation basically in the aircraft design which can also reduce the noise emission to a great extent.

Nasa is working towards bringing a new age in supersonic jets

The current form of air travesl are not only a huge guzzler of natural resources in order to derive power but also happens to great noise emitter. Nasa’s X Plane programme is almost seventy years old and during this Nasa has performed huge number of test which has push forwarded its understanding and technological expertise in the arena of supersonic jets development. It all started seventy ago when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier and opened a new world of opportunities to the super-aircraft development.

Charles Bolden one of the Nasa administrator has stated that they are looking forward to continue the legacy of the X Plane by carefully working towards the development of first of its kind quieter supersonic jets. Hopefully these will find their way into the aviation industry and one day it will cater the needs of millions of people flying worldwide.

The biggest problem faced by the engineers is to reduce the sound emission along with the fuel emission is a challenging task for the Nasa. New age supersonic jets will likely to have a ‘sonic heatbeat’ rather than the booming sounds.

Nasa pioneering commercial space flights with experimentation

The development of new supersonic jets is among the some of the great experiments undertaken by Nasa to improve the aviation industry. Nasa has even unveiled an unique one of kind ten engine drone which has the design ala helicopter. Nasa is also experimenting with various kind of wing shapes in order to improve the fuel usage ratio along with coming with an option of removing wide wings on the aircrafts. In order to open the space for commercial flights it is necessary to decrease the weight which will ensure faster flight with reduced use of fuel.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

New Virgin Galactic Space Plane Unveiled


Virgin Galactic `Back on Track’ to take Tourist in Space

Online News had been informed by Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire tycoon, that he was of the belief that Virgin Galactic is `back on track’ in the race to take the tourists in space. Branson had been speaking during the unveiling of Virgin’s latest SpaceShipTwo in Mojave Desert in California. It is said that the six-seater vehicle would be replacing the earlier SpaceShipTwo that had broken up high in October 2014, over the same desert.

On investigation, it was observed that the pilot Michael Alsbury had organized a braking mechanism earlier resulting in the failure of the vehicle. Mr Alsbury had died in the crash and his co-pilot PeteSiebold had been injured badly. Virgin Galactic states that it expects to `democratise space’ by taking fee-paying passengers on momentary trips to the edge of space.

However it tends to face competition from competitors in its efforts of developing a `commercial space line’. Sir Richard informed Sky New at the unveiling that `all of us have tears in our eyes today. Eighteen months back was a difficult day to say the least for everybody picked themselves up and got straight back to work the next day, creating this beautiful spaceship and now we are back on track again. There is so much that can be achieved to the benefit of earth by exploring space’.

New Vehicle Virgin Spaceship Christened `Unity’

The naming ceremony for the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship – VSS, was performed with his one year old granddaughter Eva-Deia with a bottle of milk and was christened Unity. The spaceship tends to feature an image of the eye of physicist Stephen Hawking.

Hawking in an audio message had stated that Sir Richard had offered him a seat aboard one of the first flights in orbit. He further added that since that day he had never changed his mind and that if he was able to go and Richard would still take him, he would be very proud to fly on this spaceship. He had been an enthusiastic supporter of human space flight for long, making this huge human achievement more accessible and the first private astronauts would be pioneers.

Branson had stated according to a company press release, that the beautiful new spaceship VSS Unity seems to be the embodiment of his goal and a great testament to what can be achieved when true teamwork, great skill with deep pride are mingled with a common purpose.

Ferry Passengers up to 50 Miles above Earth’s Surface

Recently the company had informed that due to the fatal crash, the new spaceship would not blast off and head straight to space, anytime soon and faces a wide testing period. When the craft has been totally checked, Virgin Galactic intends to utilise it in ferrying passengers up to 50 miles above Earth’s surface, a height which the company states would qualify them as bona fide space tourists.

To book a seat, hundreds of people have already paid $250,000 with Virgin Galactic including stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga and Brad Pitt who have joined the list. The first flights had been scheduled for 2009; however the end of 2017 seems to be the earliest probable date.

The testing of the SpaceShipTwo would now be stepped up though the company seems to be uncooperative in setting the deadlines. It has stated that the lessons have been learned from what had occurred to the earlier craft. Sir Richard had commented that they have been working on it for the last 10 years and that they would not give up till they have achieved their dream.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

After SpaceX Sticks its Landing, Elon Musk Talks about a City on Mars


Elon Musk Space Company did everything right this time to successfully launch a rocket in the space and bring it back to the earth. It seems like SpaceX is riding on the success of the Star Wars: Force Awakens, pun intended. It should be noted that last time SpaceX launched a rocket it blew up like a fireball which left Elon Musk red faced.

SpaceX writes a new chapter in space history

This time rocket has a flawless launch then it reappeared in the hemisphere and quietly settled down on the landing pas at Cape Canaveral. It was the first time that rocket has been able to successfully land after delivering the required devices in the orbit. This rocket even created the sonic boom, which was a deafening sound to be heard across the station. This speed sound was created when rocket started travelling through the air than the speed of sound.

Features of the iconic SpaceX rocket

SpaceX rocket, which created a sensation in the space exploration towers some 15 stories tall. A number of people and agencies in the space community have appreciated the SpaceX achievement in shooting a rocket into the space and bringing its back on the earth. It will help in commercializing space with such rockets, which can be used again and again with better precision and control.

Incidentally, the ability recover and reuse the first stage of rockets is the most expensive part as it houses the engines. This feature will certainly help in dramatically lowering the cost of the space travel and it will help in making the space travel much more accessible. Elon Musk went say that it will be much like having an aircraft, which can be used many while other aircraft can only be used once.

SpaceX rocket key to lowering costs of space travel and rocket development

The savings brought by the reusing the rockets in upcoming will help in lowering both the space travel costs along with lowering the cost of building rockets. The Falcon 9 rocket which was used by SpaceX costs around $60 million to build and the fuel costs around $200,000. Given the fact it can be reused again the cost of building a new rocket is simply taken out of the equation.

Musk has revealed its main aim of colonizing the Mars and the successful launch & landing of Flacon 9 shows that the same technology can be used to build powerful rocket in upcoming future. Elon Musk was hopeful that with more advancement and better use of technology he will be able to build a city on Mars someday.

Currently SpaceX is focusing on perfecting the landings and other aspect of the rockets. Along with Boeing, SpaceX happened to have contract with NASA to launch astronauts to the International Space Station. The first flight for this purpose is expected to take place in 2017 and it will mark the first time when US has launched astronauts into the space from the American soil.

Saturday 5 December 2015

Blue Origin’s Surprise Rocket Launch and Safe Landing


Blue Origin Launched Un-crewed Rocket in Space & Back on Earth

The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has announced that his rocket company Blue Origin has launched an un-crewed rocket to the edge of the space prior to landing it back on Earth. The rocket had performed a surprising and a historic rocket launch and landing from their facility in Van Horn, Texas. A video had revealed how the launch vehicle had reached the edge of space before it returned back to Earth in a controlled landing.

In a statement, Bezos had mentioned that `rockets have always been expendable but not anymore. Safely tucked away at their launch site in west Texas is the rarest of beast, a used rocket. Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle had flown a flawless mission, soaring to 329,839 feet and returned through 119-mph high altitude crosswinds making a gentle controlled landing just four and a half feet from the centre of the pad.

Fuel reuse is a game changer and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again’. The launch vehicle and the firm’s New Shepard capsule had reached an altitude of around 100 kilometres before separating. It had deployed its parachutes, drifting to the rocket while the rocket utilised controlled firings to descend before deploying its landing leg for a successful return.

Reusable Rockets – Important Development for Space Travel

The rocket had travelled significantly, to a height which was officially beyond the boundary space of 100 kilometres high known as the Karman line, making it the first rocket to land successfully after journeying to space.

This is the second surprise test of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule and launch vehicle, this year after a launch in April and due to loss of hydraulic pressure it meant that Blue Origin would not recover the rocket for that flight.

This competition has placed the firm in direct competition with SpaceX that had conducted successful ground landings from altitude of 1 kilometre and is now making efforts in landing its Falcon 9 rocket on barges in the sea once they tend to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Reusable rockets have been viewed as an important development for space travel and it is said that reusable rockets could be bringing down the cost of space flight with the provision of new opportunities.

Blue Origin – Opened Important Space Tourism Avenues

Presently all rockets are expendable which means that new one need to be built for every launch. SpaceX and Blue Origin are making attempt to develop reusable rockets so that the same equipment could be utilised again and again thereby decreasing the cost of going to space. This has opened up important space tourism avenues for Blue Origin.

As for SpaceX, they are more dedicated in getting humans and equipment in orbit. So far, Blue Origin has launched its capsules without a crew, however in the video of the launch, it shows a reproduction of what paying passengers would one day tend to enjoy. The vehicle tends to carry six people who would enjoy four minutes of weightlessness and sight of the Earth from space. Bezos comments that they `are building Blue Origin to seed an enduring human presence in space in order to move beyond this blue planet which is the origin of all that we know’.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Hypersonic Rocket Engine Could 'Revolutionize' Air Travel


Breakthrough Aerospace Engine Technology – Revolutionize Air Travel

BAE Systems, British aerospace giant, is staking big on hypersonic travel, something which its prospective new partner states could be a reality in two decades. BAE has plans of investing around £20.6 million in a 20% stake of a UK based engineering firm, Reaction Engines which has invented a breakthrough aerospace engine technology that could probably be utilised for a new generation of reusable space vehicle as well as a commercial offshoot that could revolutionize air travel.

BAE’s website states that the partnership would enable alliance on SABRE technology of Reaction Engines, a new aerospace engine class which tends to combine jet as well as rocket technologies with the capabilities of transforming hypersonic flight and the economics of space access.

Together with hypersonic air travel, Reaction Engines’ managing director, Mark Thomas informed CNN’s Richard Quest that reusable space plane which takes off like an aircrafts is said to be one of the concepts which would be made available by this engine. SABRE – Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, is an air-breathing engine that tends to use ultra-lightweight heat exchangers in order to cool off very hot air streams like those faced at hypersonic speeds

Technology Empowers Aircraft

According to Reaction Engines conveyed in a press release on its website, the technology tends to empower the aircraft to operate at speeds of up to five times the speed of sound or fly directly into Earth orbit, easily. With its capacity to utilise atmospheric oxygen for thrust, the engine’s design denies the need for heavy fuel reserves on boards thereby reducing the weight of a SABRE powered vehicle.

As per BAE’s statement, it says that SABRE can also transition to a rocket mode enabling spaceflight at speed up to orbital velocity or 25 times the speed of sound. The design has been described as an absolutely revolutionary, visionary concept by Thomas.

He has clarified that `SABRE is a rocket engine at heart but can breathe air whenever it is in the atmosphere and hence it is not essential to carry so much liquid oxygen on board the vehicle. It enormously decreases the weight and one can put that in vehicle design capability or payload’.

Advanced Heat Exchanger – Ease Hypersonic Air Temperature

The fundamental aspect of the engine’s design is the company’s advanced heat exchanger that tends to ease hypersonic air temperature by more than a thousand degrees in a hundredth of a second. The company is said to be focusing on enhancing the engine and according to Thomas, BAE would be helping in translating its potential into a range of practical applications.

BAE’s anticipated 20% investment is awaiting the approval of Reaction Engine’s shareholders. Reaction Engines had announced that it would partner with defense multinational BAE System in a working collaboration in order to create its supersonic plane SABRE. BAE had purchased 20% of Reaction Engines offering the strategic investment essential in accelerating the project, a form of jet rocket engine hybrid.

As per Reaction Engines, driving Sabre seems to be a brand new form of aerospace engine that enable the operation of planes from a standstill on the landing strip to speeds that is five times more than the speed of sound in the atmosphere.

Saturday 12 September 2015

NASA’s Dirt-Scanning Satellite is Down to a Single Peeper


NASA’s - Soil Moisture Active Passive Satellite

Rocket mission to space is always a risky one and when things seem to go wrong, lethargy could lead to mishap. One such mission is the almost billion dollar Soil Moisture Active Passive – SMAP satellite that had lost one of its radar imagers a few months after coming online. SMAP’s sensors pair was intended to generate high resolution, extremely accurate maps of soil moisture, the core of the Earth’s water, energy as well as carbon cycles.

The blackened electric eye does not tend to blind the mission but does cause a hindrance to the satellite’s high definition mapping abilities and recently was announced by NASA that the extra eye was not coming back. SMAP had been launched by NASA in January to guard over the water which Earth stores in its soil where more than 97% of all the water on Earth is stored in the oceans.

The rest is sheltered up in ice caps and glaciers as of now and less than a single percent of all water on Earth seems to be in the form of soil moisture. However gallon for gallon, fraction of water seems to be of more importance than any other source on the face of the Earth which is due to the soil where the plants tend to grow.

Susceptible to Interference

The content of moisture in the soil regulates how many plants tend to grow in a certain area that controls how much carbon in absorbed out of the atmosphere. Moreover, when plants tend to absorb the carbon, they give out water vapour that provides the cool temperature on the Earth’s surface as it evaporates. The SMAP, after its winter launch tends to send soil moisture maps home in April.

 However towards July, something was incorrect with one of its paired sensors. Both the sensors were intended to collect data from the same slice of the RF spectrum but they use different systems. The `A’ in the SMAP, the active radar spring up energy from the Earth’s surface, taking the moisture readings centred on the return signature.

Dara Entekhabi, SMAP mission’s principal investigator and climate scientist at MIT informed that `the advantage is that it actually illuminates the surface having high spatial resolution, but is more susceptible to interference’.

Cause - Faulty Power Supply

The P in SMAP is the big cake pan shaped antenna that dangles off its side and as its name indicate, the passive microwave radiometer tends to sit back and gather the releases of the planet. It measures up a ton of data soil and can also see through clouds and tree cover though only views around 25 miles per pixel.

The active radar would have brought that resolution below to less than two miles but due to the active sensor affecting the big clock in the sky; the passive radiometer did everything on its own.Entekhabi has stated that the culprit was a faulty power supply and to amplify a signal, power was essential.

The failure could have been the result of faulty parts, a freak ion static occurrence or one of the several low probability events. The radar being unique was global mapping radar, producing a map every two to three days, according to Entekhabi and on a mission level, it crippled SMAP’s potentials in making high resolution maps and gather the data on how changes in soil moisture could affect long term climate.

The radar’s fleeting months of operation enabled NASA watch the climate change in real time, season vegetation changes, sea ice extent, and new bodies of water developed by melting permafrost. These maps are expected to be released later this month.

Friday 7 August 2015

Philae Space Probe Finds 'Building Blocks of Life' on a Distant Comet


Philae Space Probe – Building Blocks of Life

Some scientists are suspicious that comets `seeded’ life on Earth and have now moved a step closer in proving that theory. The Philae space probe, on comet 67P, found the so-called, `building blocks of life’. Professor Monica Grady of the Open University informed the Times that they had found things which were on the pathway to building sugars and amino acids which tend to be important in the construction of DNA and this is the confirmation that building blocks of life are present in comets.

This fearless probe observed water, carbon monoxide and 14 other organic compounds which included four of which had never been seen on a comet, earlier. Information published in the respected journal Science, recently also portrayed that the comet is only loosely packed with about 80% of its mass made up of empty space which is covered by a 20 cm layer of dust coating, a hard cratered surface with rocks and boulders. The temperature ranges from -143 to 183 C. at daytime and though the environment is not favourable to life, Professor Ian Wright, lead scientist states that the chemicals which are present on the comet could spark the development of living organisms.

Comet Loaded with Raw Materials –To Assemble Complex Organic Molecules

According to him, if the material are placed on the surface of a primitive body like the Earth and provide the right amount of heat and whatever is needed, possible, it could form life. In November, the space explorer had crash landed on the comet as first bouncing off prior to managing in anchoring itself to the speeding rock’s surface. The scientists immediately set to work conducting 63 hours of experiments till the system became inactive due to lack of power from the Sun.

 The craft woke briefly in June on capturing adequate energy from the sun to start transmitting once again. However, the connection by then had been lost and it is not sure if Philae would be communicating again. The craft has used two separate instruments for sniffing molecules at the time of its mission on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

A senior scientific adviser at the European Space Agency, Mark McCaughrean, informs that the `comets are loaded with all the raw materials such as water, CO2, ammonia, methane, that are needed to assemble more complex organic molecules, perhaps sparked by UV-photons from the Sun or cosmic rays, or in the shock that occurs when a comet hits the surface of a planet like the young Earth’.

Comets Good Place for Building Blocks of Molecules

Researchers have stated in an article published in the journal Science that, it was not clear whether the complex molecules that were found in the comet were made in the early solar system or formed later on. Mr McCaughrean has commented that either way it seems that comets are pretty good places to find the building blocks of molecules which later on could be used for life.

The scientists have also gained new visions in the comet’s rocky ground together with its unexpectedly hard surface which could prove vital to future comet missions. Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec has added his comments saying that `they have definitely learned at least one thing with this first comet landing – bouncing is a bigger problem than a possible sinking into the ground’.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Radio Telescope Project Array Pathfinder Picks Up Ancient Signal

Colin Murty

WA radio telescope project picked up signal – Solar System

The Square Kilometre ArraySKA, is a radio telescope project to be built in Australia and South Africa andwill have a total collecting area of around one square kilometre and operate over a huge range of frequencies. Its size will make it fifty times more sensitive from other radio instruments and would be needing a very high performance central computing engines with long haul connections having a capacity that would be more than the current global Internet traffic.

It will also be capable of surveying the sky ten thousand times faster than its earlier performance. The receiving stations spreading out to distance of around 3,000 kilometres from a concentrated central core will achieve the ability of radio astronomy to provide the highest resolution images in astronomy.

 The SKA will be built towards the southern hemisphere in sub-Saharan States with cores in South Africa and Australia, where the sight of the Milky Way Galaxy is greatest and radio interference the least. An innovative radio telescope project in remote Western Australia has picked up signal released before the solar system was born. Six from the 36 dishes of the Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder project, that are located 300 km inland from Geraldton, have captured a wisp of cosmic radio waves that have come from the galaxy PKS B1740-517 towards the southern constellation of Ara.

ASKAP – Detect Galaxies

The latest discovery has astronomers dribbling since the five-billion year old signal which portrays ASKAP, will be capable of detecting galaxies which other telescopes may not be capable of doing so. The signal tends to carry the `imprint’ of cold hydrogen gas, which is the raw material in forming stars and plenty in most galaxies which is passed through on its way here.

Astronomers are capable of detecting a galaxy from its hydrogen gas although its starlight is faint or if hidden by dust. Though it is very miniature, the signal stood our clearly in the ASKAP data. James Allison, research leader of the CSIRO comments that `this catch shows that they are going to bag a big haul of galaxies’.

While several radio telescopes are considered to be bedevilled due to radio interference, unwanted signals which muddle up the spectrum, the ASKAP site is skilfully radio quiet. ASKAP provides astronomers with a huge `net’ to search for signals, a 300 MHz wild chunk of radio spectrum for searching. Dr Allison states that there is more than what most telescopes have and it gives them a better chance in finding something new.

ASKAP Survey Focused in Detecting Galaxies

On the other hand, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sydney, Elaine Sadler, together with a member of the research team, intends a large ASKAP survey focused in detecting several hundred galaxies. She comments that ASKAP looks at a relatively unexplored section of the radio spectrum, 700 to 1800 megahertz, which means that they will be capable of detecting hydrogen gas deeper into space due to ASKAP’s wide field of view over a much large volume than before.

 They would be hunting for galaxies which are 5 to 8 billion years old which is a timespan that represents a fifth of the history of the universe. Galaxies were making stars around ten times quicker than they did now, some ten billion years ago. On researching on galaxies five to eight billion year old, astronomers expect to comprehend why the rate has reduced.

Professor Sadler states that they want to learn how much hydrogen galaxies had in this period for the formation of stars and till now they had few tools in doing so. The Square Kilometre Array would be 50 times much more sensitive as the best prevailing radio telescopes, comprising of thousands of connected antennas spanning WA as well as South Arica.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Google's Epic Space Documentary Hits YouTube

Google had recently released an adaption of its own short documentary which chronicles the history of space exploration in order to stimulate its efforts for creating new space race. Google had titled it Back To The Moon For Good-The New Space Race, a 24 minute film which is enhanced with Google’s indigenous special effects which makes it more real and awesome in every respect. This mini-documentary would inspire the competing teams in their effort for landing the spacecraft on the moon’s surface for its Lunar XPRIZE Contest.

Splendid Documentary with Enriching Special Effects

This documentary was first made for the planetariums as well shown in many of those in U.S. This documentary has been narrated by the reputed film and television start Tim Allen and it has been adapted for the YouTube by Google. This film shows the entire history of human lunar exploration from the beginning till today. This uses the 3D imagery, color infographics and superb animations which makes it much more real and authentic in appeal and cinematography.

Space Documentary Opens A New Avenue For Google
Better graphics along with use of infographics and animations helps in taking the viewer right in the middle of action as well as makes the watching entertaining and interactive rather than boring and preachy. It covers all the dull topics like how the moon’s resources are valuable for future missions and others through the use of live imagery.

This documentary is expected to give a dramatic recap of an epic adventure which translates all the even from the early space exploration days to the current advancement without few short minutes.

Inspiring the Contestants for Lunar XPRIZE

Google is trying to give much needed motivation to its contestants of its Lunar XPRIZE. It is a Google backed competition for the privately funded teams and they will be required to develop their own vessels capable enough of reaching the Moon’s surface.

Contestants not just have to get their vessels on the lunar surface but also had to transmit video and pictures from the surface after making it travel at least 500 meters.

The team which would be able to accomplish this incredible feat by December 31 deadline will be able to claim the grand prize of $20 million. The narrator justly has said in the epic discovery video that a large number of children had once played the role of astronaut while growing up but now they would be given opportunities to make it reality.

This documentary has been lauded and appreciated by large number of viewers and other analysts alike for its great video rendering and superb animation and special effects. It even firmly sets the Google against the major competitors like Amazon and Netflix which are actively moving into movie creation business. This incredible and stunning movie also show might of the Google in movie production and Google might itself think into investing in this avenue.

However watching in the 2D basically enhanced version on YouTube isn’t as great as the dome projection which was initiated in the planetariums earlier. But this documentary still have enough marvels to glue the audience.

Rosetta Spacecraft Raises New Questions About Comet’s Origin

Rosetta – To Orbit a Comet’s Nucleus

According to a new research released recently, Scientists using Europe’s comet-orbiting Rosetta spacecraft have discovered that its complicated ancient body is coated with simple organic molecules surrounded by a changing cloud of gases.Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit a comet’s nucleus to land and probe on its surface and will also be the first spacecraft to fly along with a comet heading towards the inner Solar System, to observe how a frozen comet gets transformed by the warmth of the Sun.

After a long journey of 10 years, Rosetta reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August, placing itself in an orbit for an unprecedented long term study. It released a piggyback-riding spacecraft in November which descended on the comet’s surface for various series of independent research.

Comets are presumed to be frozen leftovers from the formation of planets around 4.6 billion years back and the Rosetta mission would probably give us some understanding on the solar system’s early days, on studying one of its pristine comet remnants. Though the results from the Philae spacecraft experiments remains pending, scientists recently released 7 papers in the journal Science which provides information on Rosetta’s discoveries during its initial two months around 67P.

Discovery of Wide Variation in Gases

It was found that the comet’s body which is around 100 million time more massive than the International Space Station is covered in ripples and dunes with little water ice on its surface together with generous amount of hydrocarbons. Scientists are of the opinion that they are expecting to find more complex carbon containing molecule though have found mostly simple hydrocarbons.

This has led them to queries on how organic compounds could have been formed and spread through the solar system. The first thing that scientists need to figure out is how the comet has changed over a period of time, details of which will emerge as 67P travels towards the sun and heats up developing a coma or a visible atmosphere together with a tail.

Researchers have already discovered wide variation in the gases that are released from the nucleus, the comet’s body and the changes in the quantities of these gases seems to appear to be tied to speculation on a section of the rotating nucleus which is made of dust, rock and frozen gas, is in daylight or darkness.
Research – Understanding of Comet Formation & Evolution

According to Rosetta scientist, Myrtha Hassig of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonia, Texas, she states that seasonal effects could also be discovered over a period of time. These studies would have an ultimate impact on the scientist on their understanding of comet formation and evolution.

Another scientist, Stephen Fuselier, also from Southwest Research Institute, commented that they were taught that comets were made mostly of water ice and for this comet, the coma sometimes contains much more carbon dioxide than water vapour’.

Scientists are working in figuring out if the 67P which is shaped as a rubber duck, was actually two smaller comets which had melded together. Rosetta will carry on flying around the comet moving towards and then away from the sun, the closest approach being about 116 million miles away from the Sun on August 13.

Friday 9 January 2015

NASA Plans Airships, Floating City for Manned Venus Mission

NASA To Explore Venus

The team at NASA have always looked forward in expanding their horizons and have now come up with a project to explore the planet Venus. A research project has been unveiled by NASA’s Space Mission Analysis Branch, proposing to send astronauts to Venus speculating that the `lighter than air’ pods would be hovering above the clouds that would be housing the explorers.NASA has revealed that they intend sending astronauts to explore Venus with inflatable air born habitats and a movie together with an image has been published on a NASA website portraying a conceptual design for inflatable silver blimp type air balloons for the purpose of living and working which would be accommodating the two astronauts for a period of one month in the planet Venus atmosphere.

A statement from NASA’s Space Mission Analysis Branch – SMAB, states that “a recent internal NASA study of a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept – HAVOC, has led to the development of an evolutionary program for the exploration of Venus with focus on the mission architecture and vehicle concept for 30 day crewed mission to Venus’s atmosphere. A lighter than air vehicle can carry either a host of instruments and probes or a habitat and ascent vehicle for a crew of two astronauts to explore Venus for up to a month”.

Atmosphere Relatively Benign

Mission to the planet Venus, according to the American space agency would need less amount of time when compared to a similar manned mission to Mars. It is also considered that the mission would be much simpler since the atmosphere of the planet is relatively benign together with similar gravity, pressure and density to Earth. According to SMAB, the atmosphere of planet Venus seems to be an exciting destination for further scientific study as well as future human exploration and the main technical challenges for the mission would include performing the aero capture manoeuvres at Venus as well as Earth, inflating and inserting airship at Venus together with protecting the solar panels and the structure from the sulphuric acid in the atmosphere.

Need Advanced Technology/Further Refinement

NASA has also stated that there would be a need of being advanced in technology as well as further refinement of the proposed venture before its implementation. Presently, there has not been any successful manned mission to any planet though the moon seems to be the only natural satellite that man has ever set his foot on.

NASA had disclosed earlier this year, that it had managed in creating the first 3D printed object in space together with a machine on the International Space Station and is now a 3D printing tools for use on the station. Several designers have created concepts for extra-terrestrial adventures which include a London firm Priestmangoode, who had designed a capsule which would be floating tourists to the edge of space together with ZA Architects, who intend sending robots to Mars to build caves for the purpose of human habitation. Stay tuned for more interesting updating details coming up for future exploration on the planet Venus.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Launch of New Orion Spaceship Has NASA Flying High

Looking back at the space shuttle days, the recent impending debut of Orion spacecraft has left NASA on a high note. According to the sources, shuttle veterans are expected to be leading the charge in two-orbit, 4½-hour test flight, which is meant to shake out the capsule, before the astronauts can climb aboard. The destination at the moment has been said to be Mars. As per the lead flight director stationed at Mission Control in Houston, Mike Sarafin, they never felt this kind of feeling since the closure of the shuttle program. This is a very proud moment for them, as they will be launching an American spacecraft from the United States of America’s soil, which is meant for starting something new and explore some of the dark secrets of the space.

The launch of new Orion spacecraft: 

The spacecraft is expected to fly farther than any human-rated spacecraft (this is since the Apollo moon program) and it will aim at a distance of 3,600 miles, which is 14 times higher than the International Space Station and it is expected that altitude will provide a momentum for a 20,000-mph and 4,000-degree entry over the Pacific. The most vital part of the test flight is called the "trial by fire” by NASA, which is the 11 short minutes to splashdown. The heat shield at Orion's base is the largest of its kind ever built, which is at 16.5 feet across.

If sources have to be believed, nearly 650 journalists and around 26,000 guests are expected at the Kennedy for the sunrise launch. The space center press site was packed with many out of station reporters who have not been since the last shuttle flight in 2011. The capsule's inaugural run was put on par with that of the formative steps of Apollo and the space shuttles by the NASA's Orion program manager, Mark Geyer. He stated that they are starting a new mission, which is at the region on the moon and looking forward to something beyond than that. As per Jeff Angermeier, “Ground support mission manager from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, everybody can feel the buzz as this is a very exciting time for them”.

According to Charles Bolden Jr, Administrator of NASA, “In past 40 years, it will be the first time when America is going to launch a spacecraft meant to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit. That’s what makes it a big deal”. Before 2012, Orion is not planning to carry any astronauts. NASA wants to test some of the most critical parts of the capsule as it will be travelling through the high-radiation Van Allen belts surrounding Earth and engineers are looking forwards to check on the effect on the on-board computers.

As if now the spacecraft will be hoisted by Delta IV rocket but for the next flight in 2018, it will use mega-rocket which is still under development. The spacecraft without any humans has taken some of the stress off the NASA scientists, as they are still trying to overcome the October's explosion moments of the commercial rocket, which was carrying supplies for the International Space Station.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

NASA Explores Inflatable Spacecraft Technology

At NASA’s Langley Research Centre located in Hampton, engineers have been devising a way to land astronauts on Mars which according to them seems that a simple thing like a child’s toy design would help to solve the problem. The progress is on, in the development of an inflatable heat shield which looks like a super-sized version of a stacking of doughnuts which an infant normally plays with.

The engineers are of the belief that a lightweight, inflatable heat shield could help to slow the craft to enter a Martian atmosphere which is much thinner to the Earth’s atmosphere. Landing safely in a large spacecraft on the Red planet is one of the many challenges faced as they are keen on sending humans, deep into space later this century.

This designed inflatable heat shield will enable the spacecraft to reach high altitude southern plains of Mars as well as other areas which otherwise would not be accessible under the prevailing technology. According to the experts, the rockets cannot be used to land a large spacecraft on Mars as done on the moon. Moreover, parachutes too would be of no use for a large spacecraft to send humans to the planet Mars.

Rings Filled with Nitrogen/Covered with Thermal Blanket

The inflatable rings would be the most appropriate option which would be filled with nitrogen and then covered with thermal blanket and once deployed to land, the rings could sit atop the spacecraft which resembles to some extent like a giant mushroom.

According to the senior engineer at Langley for advanced entry, descent and landing systems, Neil Cheatwood, he states that they are trying not to use propulsion if not required and will make use of that atmosphere as much as possible since it would mean that they will not have to carry the fuel with them. NASA’s leaders accept that getting humans to and from Mars safely, as early as 2030 would be very challenging. The scientists’ agency also agree that they should design new in-space propulsion systems with advanced spacesuits, long term living habitats abroad spacecraft as well as communication systems for deep space.

Work in Progress and Ready for Operational Use - By2016

This experiments needs to be tested on how second generation inflatable spacecraft technology would perform on re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere. The testing is important since NASA officials are of the belief that an inflatable heat shield could be helpful for the astronauts to land on Mars and return with larger loads of supplies from the International Space Station and the experiment is scheduled on the next Antares rocket in 2016.

This new technology would be needed to land the astronauts on Mars since the kind of spacecraft which land humans would be larger than that which had landed on the planet earlier. The present heat shield technology is too much on the larger side with regards to weight which means that it cannot land anything larger than the rover which had been sent previously. Since the Viking program in the 1970s, NASA had relied on parachute based deceleration on Mars.

Work on the inflatable technology by the engineers at Langley has been going on for about a decade and is probably close to being ready for operational use.

Monday 22 September 2014

Spacesuit for Future Astronauts – Safe Pressurized Suit

The spacesuit for the future astronauts, a MIT `second skin’ suit is created from smart material which contracts to hug the skin, with safe pressurized suit which would only support the astronaut, giving them much freedom in moving around during their exploration in space and now for the astronauts the process has become a lot easier wherein instead of getting into a conventional bulky, gas pressurized suit, they can don a lightweight, stretchy suit which has been lined with muscle like coils.

Thereafter they could plug into the spacecraft’s power supply and trigger the coils to contract which would shrink wrap the suit around their body. This skin tight pressurized suit, not only supports the astronaut but also provides much freedom while moving around during their planetary expedition. While taking the suit off, all that the astronaut needs to do is to apply a fair amount of force to return the suit to its looser form.

Comfort of Movement during Space Exploration

MIT researchers are heading closer to engineering an active second skin spacesuit for the astronauts, in bringing about much comfort in movement while in space. A professor of aeronautics, astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, Dava Newman together with her colleagues have created an active compression garment which incorporates small spring like coils that tend to contract due to heat.

The coils which are made from a SMA – shape memory alloy is a type of material that remembers an engineered shape which, when deformed or bent, tends to spring back to the shape when heated. The coils are incorporated in a tourniquet type cuff and applied to a current to generate heat when at a certain temperature; the coils tend to contract to their remembered form, just as a fully coiled spring and tighten the cuff in the process.

While in subsequent test, the group also found that the pressure produced by the coils tallied with that which was required to fully support the astronaut while in space.

Form Fitting & Flexible

According to Newman, who had worked for the past few decades to design a form fitting and flexible spacesuit for the future astronauts, he states that with conventional space suite, one is in a balloon of gas which provides the necessary one-third of an atmosphere to keep them alive in the vacuum of space.

He further added that they wanted to achieve the same pressurization but through mechanical counter pressure, by applying the pressure directly to the skin, to avoid the gas pressure with the combination of passive elastic with active materials with the advantage of mobility as well as a very lightweight suit for planetary exploration. Bradley Holschuh conceived the coil design, a postdoc in Newman’s lab.

Tourniquet System on Battlefield

An array of coils to an elastic cuff, were rigged by the researcher, attached by each coil to a small thread that was linked to the cuff. Thereafter, they attached leads to the coils opposite ends, applying a voltage, generating heat and between 60 and 160 C the coils got contracted pulling the attached thread thus tightening the cuff. T

hese according to Holschuh were basically self-closing buckles. Once the suit was worn, the current can run through and the suit then shrink wraps up and get closed. Holschuh also added that this could be used as a tourniquet system when someone tends to be bleeding out on the battlefield and if the suit has sensors, it could tourniquet the person in the event of injury without the person having to worry about it.