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.

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.

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.

Our journey to a base on the moon may soon begin.

The Senior staff from NASA’s Space Portal Office have tasked themselves to be the leading force in developing a Lunar base, they published their writings in the New Space Journal.

Bruce Pittman the chief systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center Space Portal Office, lead of integrative studies Lynn Harper, technical operations manager Mark Newfield, and Daniel Rasky, chief of the Space Portal Office, said for NASA a Lunar base would function as “a clear, achievable, and highly engaging next step.”

They wrote that with current and upcoming technologies it is a mission that is both practical and affordable. “Pursued under the feasibility proof of ISS, using best practices extracted from its build and operation, and combined with the current and emerging capabilities from the traditional and emerging aerospace industry, the Lunar Station is the logical next step in space development.”

They went on to write that the project would reignite and maintain an engaged public in space and continue NASA role as a leader in space exploration, even more so since the agency has plans for Mars. “This next step must serve as an enabling pathway for NASA’s ultimate goal of human missions to Mars and human or robotic exploration and development of asteroids and other planetary bodies. A clear, achievable, and highly engaging near-term next step is also essential for NASA to maintain its relevance to the US public, its leadership in the international community, and its technical cutting edge.”

This would create new markets for space exploration, development, and open up possibilities we have not thought of yet. They estimate the cost of the base to be around $2bn a year and five years to develop. It has been proposed that the station would be developed using habitat modules from Bigelow Areospace and additive manufacturing, which is more commonly known as 3D printing. At the beginning stage robots will be sent in several missions to find suitable sites and gather data and resources. Once a clear site location has been established excavation equipment will be sent and solar power and communication stations will be installed. Bigelow Areospace habitat modules will then be installed and the first crew would leave for the Lunar site and gradually increase.

Steadily they predict lunar tourism to effectively begin after some time. “As transportation to and from the Moon becomes more frequent and cheaper, the lunar tourism mark should begin to emerge and could become a significant source of income in the future.”

They went on to write “Key to this next phase of development is to explore options for developing commerce on the Moon. Some of the possible export options include water from the permanently shadowed craters, precious metals from asteroid impact sites, and even He [helium] that could fuel a pollution-free terrestrial civilization for many centuries.”