NASA planning mission to asteroid 16 Psyche

NASA is planning a mission to asteroid 16 Psyche, located in the large asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Psyche was revealed to have a core similar to Earth, which would have it made up of iron, nickel, and rare materials such as gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, and others.

“It’s such a strange object,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist on the NASA mission and the director of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Spacecraft Elkins-Tanton, which will be launched by 2023, will be sent to observe the asteroid and transmit back data. The spacecraft will reach the asteroid around 2030 and will give scientists better information about the asteroid.


NASA and KAIST developing tiny spacecraft that could travel one-fifth the speed of light

NASA is working with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to develop tiny spacecraft made from a single silicon chip that may offer faster interstellar travel.

It is suggested that using a single silicon chip could allow for the spacecraft to travel at one-fifth of the speed of light and could reach the nearest star within 20 years. This is 10 times faster than conventional methods.

NASA’s Dong-IL Moon will be presenting the technology on Wednesday at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco.

Currently the team is working on finding ways to combat degradation during the trip. The chip could suffer from temperature swings and intense radiation. This will also be discussed during the meeting on Wednesday.

If successful these tiny spacecrafts could be sent out in many directions to help map and gather data on various stars, planets, and systems nearby.

NASA to track carbon levels using GeoCARB

NASA has plans to initiate a mission to understand greenhouse gasses and vegetation. The mission would launch a satellite, the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory, that will provide real time measurements of gasses.

The satellite or also known as the GeoCARB is planned to orbit 22,000 miles above the Americas where it would calculate concentrations of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. It would also monitor vegetation in the Americas to determine rate of growth, health, and stress.

NASA is funding the mission with $166 million over 5 years.

SpaceX requests permission to operate 4,425 satellite network to provide planet wide internet coverage

Elon Musk is planning to put more than 4,000 satellites into orbit to provide planet wide internet access of up to 1Gbps, using his space company SpaceX.

SpaceX, has requested permission from the US government to operative a network of 4,425 satellites to provide high speed internet. SpaceX filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday. The first launches will send 800 satellites blanketing the US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. “The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide,” said SpaceX in the filing.

The satellites are about the size of a compact car and their orbit would range between 714 miles to 823 miles above the earth. The satellites are designed to last between five to seven years. It would take five years to launch all 4,425 satellites.

First proposed in 2015, Elon Musk said it would cost atleast $10bn. Google has already invested $1bn to the project.

OneWeb and Boeing are also developing a similar network, including Facebook’s project that went up in flames during a SpaceX test launch.


Musk details on ITS in Reddit AMA

Elon Musk held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/SpaceX two days ago, Musk noted it was meant to supplement his IAC talk, which had focused on the Interplanetary Transit System (ITS) or additionally known as the Heart of Gold and their goal of going to Mars.

Musk gave details about the ITS stating SpaceX must figure out how to seal the carbon tanks in the ITS booster against cryo propellant. “The oxygen tank also has an oxidation risk problem as it is pressurized with pure, hot oxygen. Will almost certainly need to apply an inert layer of some kind. Hopefully, something that can be sprayed. If need be, will use thin sheets of invar welded together on the inside.”

Musk noted that the ITS could handle peak loads of 10 to 15 g’s without breaking up. Musk also noted that “The flight tank will actually be slightly longer than the development tank shown, but the same diameter. That was built with latest and greatest carbon fiber prepreg. In theory, it should hold cryogenic propellant without leaking and without a sealing linker.”

Musk says live mock-ups of the interior of the ITS may be available in one to two years. The plan would be to fly the ITS to Mars, loaded with equipment to build a propellant plant, though SpaceX still has to figure out refueling. Currently the plan includes sending the Dragon on scouting missions, to figure out where to land and what the best way would be to get water for the CH4/O2 sabatier reaction.

The first crew mission would have equipment to build rudimentary bases and complete the propellant plant. Musk also said SpaceX would try to double the number of flights with each Earth-Mars orbital rendezvous, which is every 26 months, until the city can grow by itself.

As for homes, Musk stated that “glass panes with carbon fiber frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunneling droids. With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”

Mars Mission receives funding from Senate

Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill that authorizes $19.5 billion in an effort to pursue a mission to Mars and sending astronauts to the International Space Station using private rockets.

Under the Senate bill, a mission to mars would be the first ever to be required by law. The measure has been sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Gary Peters, and Tom Udall. Around $4.5 billion will be for exploration, $5.4 billion for science, and $5 billion for space operations.

the $19.5 billion is authorized for fiscal 2017 under the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The Obama administration has proposed spending $19 on NASA. The money would allow NASA to work on the Space Launch System, the Orion multipurpose vehicle, development of space suits for Mars, upgrade the space station for use through 2028, improve opportunities for the private sector, and a scheduled 2018 unmanned trip to mars with a manned mission by 2021.

Rosetta’s journey comes to an end after finding complex organic molecules on comet

The ESA’s Rosetta comet orbiter has found complex, solid organic molecules from dust particles on the comet 67P/Churyymov-Gerasimenko. Comet_67P_on_19_September_2014_NavCam_mosaic.jpg

Scientists reported finding complex, solid organic matter in the dust particles of the comet, according to Nature. The Rosetta was able to collect 27,000 dust particles thanks to its ability to lower its speed.

Scientists presented two particles in a paper published on Nature, named Kenneth and Juliette. “Our analysis reveals carbon in a far more complex form than expected,” remarked Hervé Cottin, one of the authors of the paper, in a statement. “It is so complex, we can’t give it a proper formula or a name!”

Senior author Martin Hilchenbach went on to say “These particles have remained pristine and untouched for billions of years. The results add to the growing picture that Comet 67P/C-G contains some of the most primitive material from our Solar System’s early history.”

The Rosetta comet orbiter was launched on March 2nd 2004 and reached the comet on August 6th 2014. After 12 years its nearing its termination date, on September 30th Rosetta will crash land on the comet.

NASA in Planning Stage to Send SubMarine to Saturn’s Largest Moon Titan

NASA is working on a submarine but not just any submarine, one that will be sent to Kraken Mare, the largest ocean on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Ever since the discovery of Titans earth like habitat, with clouds, an atmosphere, and a large ocean that may hold life, its become a mission to go to that moon and NASA is planning a trip there. “To determine if hydrocarbon-based life is possible on Titan,” said Jason Hartwig, a NASA cryogenics engineer, in a presentation at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium in Raleigh on Wednesday.

Hartwigs Titan Submarine would be fully autonomous, of course, and would carry instruments to measure the chemical composition of Titans ocean and the structure o the ocean floor. A mast on top of the submarine allows it to communicate with Earth. The sub would have resurface to send data to Earth.

There are numerous problems that would be faced on Titan. Somewhere around the 450-500 meter mark we may start to freeze,” said Hartwig. Hartwig and his team are working on a way to fix this problem. If Titan is like Earth then many life forms may be hidden in the depths of the Ocean, therefore its crucial to get the sub 500 meters or more below the surface.

The project is in a planning stage and most likely wont occur for more than a decade. Though its going to happen sooner or later and we will either find life or walk away with enormous knowledge on the moons habitat.

NASA aims for development of habitat modules for deep space use

NASA recently spent $65 million to begin preparing and testing deep-space habitats that may be used on Mars.

As a part of the NEXTStep program, under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems, the money was awarded to 6 companies for development and testing. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada, Orbital ATK, NanoRacks, and Bigelow are all working on their own development of habitats.

Currently the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module was recently attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and the company has plan to develop a larger model, which they call the Expandable Bigelow Advanced Station Enhancement (XBASE). Currently the smaller version is being tested on the ISS.

NanoRacks project recently was adapted or use outside the ISS. NanoRacks, wants to convert the final rocket stage with its fuel compartment into a habitable space. Currently they are working with Space Systems Loral and the United Launch Alliance.

There aren’t any exact figures or dates that were made available, however, we can safely say that NASA is trying to come back and in a big way. If the habitat modules are developed and are ready to use we might see bases on the Moon as well as Mars, well that’s just the start.


ISS to test interplanetary communications system

ISS (International Space Station) has installed a new technology known as the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, which may allow the creation of internet in space.

The DTN was recently installed onto the ISS, with the future predicting bases on Mars and the Moon this technology would help off planet bases connect to Earth. The best part is that the DTN may be able to be used to create internet for most of the Solar System.

DTN uses an automatic “store and forward” data network that stores packs of data in nodes that are then forwarded through communication paths then re-bundled for the final destination. This would store data if a connection is severed or interrupted and forward the data using relay stations.

The DTN was added to the Telescience Resource Kit on the ISS, which will be used to test messages sent between the ISS and ground stations.

“Our experience with DTN on the space station leads to additional terrestrial applications especially for mobile communications in which connections may be erratic and discontinuous,”said Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the DTN.