It’s looking more and more like the future of space exploration could involve drones in a big way.
We’ve already seen it here on Earth, where all kinds of flying drones are used by all kinds of people for all kinds of things. Drones are particularly useful in resource development, exploration, imaging, and remote sensing.
Could the future see drones flying around in the thin Martian atmosphere?
Continue reading “New Drones for Exploring Mars are Getting Tested in Iceland”
Some of the most tantalizing targets in space exploration are frozen ice worlds. Take Jupiter’s moon Europa for instance. Its warm salty subsurface ocean is buried under a moon-wide sheet of ice. What’s the best way to explore it?
Maybe an ice robot could play a role.
Continue reading “A Robot Made of Ice Could Adapt and Repair Itself on Other Worlds”
One of the most interesting things about space exploration is how many technologies have an impact on our ability to reach farther. New technologies that might not immediately be used in space can still eventually have a profound long-term impact. On the other hand, everyone knows some technologies will be immediately game changing. Superconductors, or materials that do not have any electrical resistance, are one of the technologies that have the potential to be game changing. However, hurdles to their practical use have limited their applicability to a relatively small sub-set of applications, like magnetic resonance imaging devices and particle accelerators. But another major hurdle to the broad use of superconductors has now been cleared – a lab at the University of Rochester (UR) has just developed one that works at almost room temperature. The big caveat is it has to be under pressure similar to that in the Earth’s core.
Continue reading “Room-temperature Superconductivity Achieved for the First Time, but There’s a Catch”
If humans want to travel about the solar system, they’ll need to be able to communicate. As we look forward to crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, communication technology will pose a challenge we haven’t faced since the 1970s.
Continue reading “New Receiver Will Boost Interplanetary Communication”
As a wise man once said, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating – and it gets everywhere”. The same could be said for another material in our solar system – dust.
The kind of dust present on the moon is even more annoying than the grains that bothered Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine. It is constantly bathed in solar radiation, smells like spent gunpowder, and can cause allergic reactions, as it did in some of the Apollo astronauts. It’s also notoriously difficult to clean off of surfaces. Now a team of scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder think they have a solution that would remove lunar dust without harming the material it’s attached to. And they would do this by using a tool that sounds like it’s straight out of Star Wars – an electron beam.
Continue reading “Finally! A Solution to Deal With Sticky Lunar Dust”
If we want to travel to the stars, we’re going to have to be creative. Conventional rockets aren’t nearly powerful enough to allow us to journey across light-years in a reasonable time. Even nuclear rockets might not be enough. So what’s humanity to do? The answer could be a light sail.
Continue reading “One Step Closer to Interstellar Travel. A Successful Microgravity Test of a Graphene Light Sail”
Ten months in space!
The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft just reached that milestone. And the fine folks at the Society have released a bunch of new pictures from the spacecraft. Ten of them, in fact. One for each successful month.
Continue reading “New Photos From LightSail 2”
One of the biggest challenges of working and living in space is the threat posed by radiation. In addition to solar and cosmic rays that are hazardous to astronauts’ health, there is also ionizing radiation that threatens their electronic equipment. This requires that all spacecraft, satellites, and space stations that are sent to orbit be shielded using materials that are often quite heavy and/or expensive.
Looking to create alternatives, a team of engineers came up with a new technique for producing radiation shielding that is lightweight and more cost-effective than existing methods. The secret ingredient, according to their recently-published research, is metal oxides (aka. rust). This new method could have numerous applications and lead to a significant drop in the costs associated with space launches and spaceflight.
Continue reading “A New Technique to Make Lighter Radiation Shielding For Spacecraft: Rust.”
Picture the space around Earth filled with tens of thousands of communications satellites. That scenario is slowly coming into being, and it has astronomers concerned. Now a group of astronomers have written a paper outlining their detailed concerns, and how all of these satellites could have a severe, negative impact on ground-based astronomy.
Continue reading “Astronomers Have Some Serious Concerns About Starlink and Other Satellite Constellations”
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) says their underwater robot has just completed the first-ever automated underwater sampling operation. The robot is called Nereid Under Ice (NEI) and it collected the sample in Greece. WHOI is developing Nereid in association with NASA’s Planetary Science and Technology from Analog Research (PSTAR) program.
Continue reading “Underwater Robot Captures its First Sample 500 Meters Below the Surface of the Ocean”