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New tool analyzes black-box data for flight anomalies

September 12, 2011 3:52 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Spain have devised a detection tool that spots flight glitches without knowing ahead of time what to look for. The technique uses cluster analysis, a type of data mining that filters data into subsets, or clusters of flights sharing common patterns.

MIT-led GRAIL lunar mission scheduled to launch

September 8, 2011 4:55 am | by John Tylko, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Today's expected launch of NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) twin spacecraft, a carefully choreographed mission to precisely map the moon's gravitational field, could help scientists understand fundamental questions about the moon's composition, internal structure, and evolution.

Recent trends show recession's effect on U.S. advanced technology exports

September 6, 2011 3:56 am | News | Comments

U.S. exports of advanced technology products (ATP) fared better than other non-advanced technology exports during the recent U.S. recession, says a new report from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

August 31, 2011 5:26 am | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press | News | Comments

Pilots' "automation addiction" has eroded their flying skills to the point that they sometimes don't know how to recover from stalls and other mid-flight problems, say pilots and safety officials. The weakened skills have contributed to hundreds of deaths in airline crashes in the last five years.

Agency releases video of hypersonic glider flight

August 25, 2011 12:48 pm | by John Antczak, Associated Press | News | Comments

A video taken by a crewmember on a ship tracking the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Falcon HTV-2 as it began a test run to Mach 20 captures the rocket and vehicle together as a fast-moving contrail, then the HTV-2 as a faint dot zipping away on its own. The flight ended early when the glider plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

Orion spaceship set for new tests in Colorado

August 15, 2011 6:03 am | by Dan Elliott, Associated Press | News | Comments

The spaceship that could carry the next U.S. astronauts to an asteroid or perhaps other planets is about to undergo a new round of tests in Denver. NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is being built under a $7.5 billion contract with Lockheed Martin.

Contact lost with hypersonic glider after launch

August 11, 2011 9:03 am | by John Antczak, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s latest hypersonic glider was designed to hit 13,000 miles per hour after lifting off today aboard an Air Force rocket launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base. The rocket launch was a success, but DARPA reports that contact was lost after the experimental craft began flying on its own.

Engineers fly the world’s first ‘printed’ aircraft

July 28, 2011 8:19 am | News | Comments

Improvements in laser sintering technology has allowed University of Southampton’s experimental aircraft to not only be printed, but also to be built using no fasteners. The craft, which has a 6-foot wingspan, recently achieved 100 mph in testing.

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Sandia’s ingenious imager makes final scan of shuttle’s heat shield

July 26, 2011 11:44 am | News | Comments

Nine engineers from Sandia National Laboratories helped ensure Atlantis’ safety from Mission Control during the last mission with a laser dynamic range imager that generates 3D images from 2D video. The device, perched on the boom arm of the shuttle, has helped protect the 22 crews that have flown since the 2003 Columbia disaster.

Next Mars rover will land in 96-mile-wide crater

July 25, 2011 11:16 am | by John Antczak, Associated Press | News | Comments

Gale Crater was chosen as the target for the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission after an extensive review of dozens of potential sites. NASA chose this site because they believe they have located the boundary where life may have sprung up and where it may have been extinguished.

UF astronomers start testing infrared camera

July 14, 2011 10:39 am | News | Comments

University of Florida astronomers are testing—at the world's largest telescope—a new infrared camera that will allow researchers to look for planets outside our own solar system and better explore hidden black holes at the centers of galaxies.

SpaceX breaks ground on California launch pad

July 14, 2011 8:40 am | News | Comments

Private rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, is spending up to $30 million to renovate an unused site that will be home to its Falcon Heavy, the largest rocket since the retired Saturn V that hurled astronauts to the moon.

Twin ARTEMIS probes to study moon in 3D

July 14, 2011 5:29 am | by Robert Sanders | News | Comments

After two years of orbital positioning, University of California, Berkeley's ARTEMIS mission is due to begin in less than a month. The two spacecraft that comprise the ARTEMIS mission (which in turn is part of a five-satellite NASA mission) will conduct the first-ever observations by a pair of satellites of the lunar surface, its magnetic field, and the surrounding magnetic environment.

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Moon, Mars, Venus: China aims high in space

July 11, 2011 9:13 am | by Louise Watt, Associated Press | News | Comments

While the United States is still working out its next move as the space shuttle program winds down, China is forging ahead. This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe and place a rover on the moon, followed by a manned mission sometimes after 2020.

Stunning sunrise view of crater Tycho

July 7, 2011 7:49 am | News | Comments

Arizona State University researchers have released a striking image of the Moon’s prominent impact crater Tycho, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera last month. The photograph was planned for its dramatic effect. The boulder in this closeup detail is about 400 feet wide.

Preventing midair collisions

July 5, 2011 4:13 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has mandated that by 2020, all commercial aircraft must be equipped with a new tracking system that broadcasts GPS data, providing more accurate location information than ground-based radar. In anticipation of the deadline, the FAA has also charged Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers with leading an investigation of the system’s limits and capacities.

First commercial flight completed using Dynamic Fuels jet fuel

July 1, 2011 7:00 am | News | Comments

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines became the first airline in the world to operate a commercial flight on 'biokerosene,' which included renewable jet fuel supplied by Dynamic Fuels LLC.

Genesis samples reveal new clues about sun's chemical makeup

June 29, 2011 5:40 am | News | Comments

Ever since a crash landing on Earth grounded NASA's Genesis mission in 2004, scientists have been gathering, cleaning, and analyzing solar wind particles collected by the spacecraft. Now, two new studies published in Science reveal that Earth's chemistry is less like the sun's than previously thought.

Engineer to launch bacteria aboard final shuttle mission

June 27, 2011 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute engineer Cynthia Collins will be using some valuable space aboard Atlantis, the final mission of the shuttle program, to study the impacts of microgravity on dangerous bacteria. Gravity could have important implications on the formation of biofilms, which are the more difficult-to-kill forms of some virulent strains.

Messenger confirms theories, sees surprises at Mercury

June 16, 2011 12:46 pm | News | Comments

NASA’s voyager to the innermost planet is the first to ever enter orbit around the planet, which has yielded important clues to both its origin and geological history. In addition to the presence of large amounts of sulfur and mysterious formations on crater floors, Messenger has also found evidence for the presence of water ice in shaded, dark areas away from the sun.

Japanese astronaut plans to grow space cucumbers

June 7, 2011 11:54 am | by Peter Leonard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Cucumbers may be out of favor on earth, but a Japanese astronaut said this week that he plans to harvest the vegetable on board the International Space Station. Satoshi Furukawa said he would be growing cucumbers as part of ongoing studies on how future space explorers will be able to harvest their own food. Unfortunately, like most Europeans right now, Furukawa will not be eating them.

Camera duo on Mars rover mast will shoot color views

June 1, 2011 5:37 am | News | Comments

Two digital color cameras riding high on the mast of NASA's next Mars rover will complement each other in showing the surface of Mars in exquisite detail. They are the left and right eyes of the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, instrument on the Curiosity rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, launching in late 2011.

Modern-day jetpack takes flight

May 31, 2011 11:46 am | by Paul Livingstone | News | Comments

Last weekend, the Martin Jetpack successfully lifted off, pilot attached, over the New Zealand landscape. The test showcased the machine’s ability to quickly achieve 5,000 feet in altitude and deploy the world’s first ballistic jetpack parachute before returning to earth. The Martin Aircraft Company’s goal is to provide jetpack flight for less than $100,000.

The real space saver

May 31, 2011 7:56 am | by Caroline Barnhill | News | Comments

What would it take to make a manned mission to Mars a reality? A team of aerospace and textile engineering students from North Carolina State Univ. believe part of the solution may lie in advanced textile materials. The students joined forces to tackle life-support challenges that the aerospace industry has been grappling with for decades.

Sofradir infrared detectors selected for satellite mission

May 31, 2011 7:33 am | News | Comments

Sofradir announced that it has been awarded the contract to provide shortwave infrared (SWIR) arrays for the TROPOMI/S5—Sentinel 5 Precursor mission, as part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) space initiative. GMES is a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA).

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