To emulate the classical mechanics of physics found in space on full-scale replica spacecraft on Earth requires not only a hefty amount of air to 'float' the object, but a precision, frictionless, large surface area that will allow researchers to replicate the effects of inertia on man-made objects in space. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory recently got that capability with a one-of-a-kind 75,000 gravity offset table made from a single slab of concrete.
Two giant donuts of this plasma surround Earth, trapped within a region known as the Van Allen Radiation Belts. The belts lie close to Earth, sandwiched between satellites in geostationary orbit above and satellites in low Earth orbit are generally below the belts. A new NASA mission called the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, due to launch in August 2012, will improve our understanding of what makes plasma move in and out of these electrified belts wrapped around our planet.
Through a labyrinth of hallways deep inside a 1950s-era building that has housed research that dates back to the origins of U.S. space travel, a group of scientists in white coats is stirring, mixing, measuring, brushing and, most important, tasting the end result of their cooking. Their mission: Build a menu for a planned journey to Mars in the 2030s.
A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency's robotic spacecraft to life in 3D now is available for free on the iPhone and iPad. Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components.
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has announced a new partnership with Cella Energy Inc. that could result in vehicles being powered by hydrogen. The company has formulated a way to store hydrogen safely in tiny pellets that still allow the fuel to be burned in an engine. Because of its rocket work, Kennedy has the infrastructure and experience necessary to handle hydrogen safely.
NASA’s new partnership with Craig Technologies will help them maintain an inventory of unique processing and manufacturing equipment for future mission support at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Under a five-year agreement, NASA will loan to Craig 1,600 pieces of equipment used for Space Shuttle Program support.
Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have revealed Saturn's moon Titan likely harbors a layer of liquid water under its ice shell. Researchers saw a large amount of squeezing and stretching as the moon orbited Saturn. They deduced that if Titan were composed entirely of stiff rock, the gravitational attraction of Saturn would cause bulges, or solid "tides," on the moon only 3 ft in height. Spacecraft data show Saturn creates solid tides approximately 30 ft in height, which suggests Titan is not made entirely of solid rocky material.
NASA has selected a team including Southwest Research Institute to develop the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which will provide better prediction capabilities for extreme weather events, particularly the intensification of hurricanes.
The European Space Agency's Euclid mission to explore the hidden side of the universe—dark energy and dark matter—reached an important milestone that will see it head towards full construction.
The European Space Agency (ESA) assembled a top engineering team then challenged them to devise a way for rovers to navigate on alien planets. Six months later, a fully autonomous vehicle was charting its own course through Chile's Mars-like Atacama Desert.
Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are helping convert an aircraft used to train pilots into one with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and light attack capabilities. The new aircraft would provide a less expensive alternative to legacy warbirds like the A-10 and F-16 and could be used by foreign military allies as well as U.S. homeland security agencies.
Complex systems inhabit a "gray world" of partial failures, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Olivier de Weck says: While a system may continue to operate as a whole, bits and pieces inevitably degrade. Over time, these small failures can add up to a single catastrophic failure, incapacitating the system. However, De Weck and his colleagues have created a design approach that tailors planes to fly in the face of likely failures.
NASA’s next flagship mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, will carry the largest primary mirror ever deployed in space. Researchers has borrowed a page from its segmented mirror design to create a similar example just a half-inch in diameter. Strangely, the tiny mirror may one day become the standard for future space telescopes.
New research from North Carolina State University shows that a wind-driven "tumbleweed" Mars rover would be capable of moving across rocky Martian terrain—findings that could also help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) design the best possible vehicle.
A multiyear collaboration among Stanford University engineering departments uses some of the world's fastest supercomputers to model the complexities of hypersonic flight. Someday, their work may lead to planes that fly at many times the speed of sound.
After spending nearly five months conducting experiments in one spot, the NASA rover moved for the first time this week, rolling off the rock outcrop where it hunkered down for the Martian winter. Engineers will check its power supply before directing it north to study dust and bedrock.
Scientists on a planetary-heat-seeking mission have detected the first infrared light from a super-Earth—in this case, a planet some 40 light-years away. And according to their calculations, 55 Cancri e, a planet just over twice the size of Earth, is throwing off some serious heat.
A group of scientists took to the skies in a slow-moving airship Thursday in search of meteorites that rained over California's gold country last month. It's the latest hunt for extraterrestrial fragments from the April 22 explosion that was witnessed over a swath of Northern California and Nevada.
Part helicopter, part airplane, the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Flexrotor vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle has an oversized propeller with helicopter-like controls for vertical takeoff and landing and the wings of a conventional aircraft. If successful, the craft will extend UAV surveillance capabilities to smaller platforms like ships.
Radio signals reach pilots on board an aircraft through the radar dome, the rounded nose of the aircraft. But if imperfections are introduced during the production of this nose, it can impede radio traffic. Researchers have developed a non-destructive testing system that will identify these errors during production.
NASA is readying a fleet of four identical spacecraft, the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, for a 2014 launch to study space weather. The effort will require the development of highly sensitive spectrometers and cameras that operate at unprecedented performance levels.
As the Boeing 747 zoomed over the Manhattan skyline Friday, onlookers gawked at the unusual sight, realizing that the smaller plane hitched to its fuselage was an actual space shuttle. The Enterprise will soon make its home in New York City, basking in retirement about the Intrepid carrier in the Hudson River.
Launched from an air base in California last summer, DARPA’s unmanned glider Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2, achieve stable, controlled flight at speeds of Mach 20 for about three minutes before its flight system forced the craft into the ocean. The agency says it now knows the probable cause of the premature end to the flight.
On December 24, 1968, the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 were conducting an extensive photographic survey of the moon’s surface. When they paused to take a navigation sighting, they were shocked to see the Earth “rising” above the lunar surface. Using modern imagery, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has recreated the moment, shortly before the first real photograph was taken.