Astronauts Could Deploy Extra Arms to Stay Stable on the Moon

Astronaut with "SuperLimbs"

Walking along on the surface of the Moon, as aptly demonstrated by the Apollo astronauts, is no easy feat.  The gravity at the Moon’s surface is 1/6th of Earth’s and there are plenty of videos of astronauts stumbling, falling and then trying to get up! Engineers have come up with a solution; a robotic arm system that can be attached to an astronauts back pack to give them a helping hand if they fall. The “SuperLimbs” as they have been called will not only aid them as they walk around the surface but also give them extra stability while carrying out tasks. 

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A Rotating Spacecraft Would Solve So Many Problems in Spaceflight

DALL-E image of a rotating space station

If you watch astronauts in space then you will know how they seem to float around their spaceship. Spaceships in orbit around the Earth are in free-fall, constantly falling toward surface fo the Earth with the surface constantly falling away from it. Any occupant is also in free-fall but living like this causes muscle tone to degrade slowly. One solution is to generate artificial gravity through acceleration in particular a rotating motion. A new paper makes the case for a rotating space station and goes so far that it is achievable now. 

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Astronaut Food Will Lose Nutrients on Long-Duration Missions. NASA is Working on a Fix

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Nicole Mann works in the International Space Station’s Harmony module on the BioNutrients-2 investigation that uses genetically engineered microbes to provide nutrients, and potentially other compounds and pharmaceuticals, on demand in space. NASA

Astronauts on board the International Space Station are often visited by supply ships from Earth with food among other things. Take a trip to Mars or other and the distances are much greater making it impractical to send fresh supplies. The prepackaged food used by NASA loses nutritional value over time so NASA is looking at ways astronauts can produce nutrients. They are exploring genetic engineering techniques that can create microbes with minimal resource usage. 

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What’s the Most Effective Way to Explore our Nearest Stars?

Project Starshot, an initiative sponsored by the Breakthrough Foundation, is intended to be humanity's first interstellar voyage. Credit: breakthroughinitiatives.org

It was 1903 that the Wright brothers made the first successful self-propelled flight. Launching themselves to history, they set the foundations for transatlantic flights, supersonic flight and perhaps even the exploration of the Solar System. Now we are on the precipice of travel among the stars but among the many ideas and theories, what is the ultimate and most effective way to explore our nearest stellar neighbours? After all, there are 10,000 stars within a region of 110 light years from Earth so there are plenty to choose from. 

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NASA is Building an Electrodynamic Shield to Deal with all that Dust on the Moon and Mars

Artist's illustration of Artemis III astronauts on the Moon. Credit: NASA.

Exploration of the Moon or other dusty environments comes with challenges. The lunar surface is covered in material known as regolith and its a jaggy, glassy material. It can cause wear and tear on equipment and can pose a health risk to astronauts too. Astronauts travelling to Mars would experience dust saucing to everything, including solar panels leading to decrease in power. To combat the problems created by dust, NASA is working on an innovative electrodynamic dust shield to remove dust and protect surfaces from solar panels to space suits. 

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What Could We Build With Lunar Regolith?

A close-up view of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed with the 70mm lunar surface camera during Apollo 11's sojourn on the moon. There'll soon be more boots on the lunar ground, and the astronauts wearing those boots need a way to manage the Moon's low gravity and its health effects. Image by NASA

It has often been likened to talcum powder. The ultra fine lunar surface material known as the regolith is crushed volcanic rock. For visitors to the surface of the Moon it can be a health hazard, causing wear and tear on astronauts and their equipment, but it has potential. The fine material may be suitable for building roads, landing pads and shelters. Researchers are now working to analyse its suitability for a number of different applications.

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China Has Built a Huge Space Simulation Chamber

China's first "ground space station," the home-grown Space Environment Simulation and Research Infrastructure, passed its acceptance review on Tuesday in Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. [File photo/Xinhua]

Well it certainly caught my attention when I saw the headlines  “China’s first Space Environment Simulator” sounds like something right out of an adventure holiday. Whilst you can’t buy tickets to ‘have a go’ it’s actually for China to test spacecraft before launching them into the harsh environments of space. It allows researchers to simulate nine environmental factors; vacuum, high and low temperature, charged particles, electromagnetic radiation, space dust, plasma, weak magnetic field, neutral gasses and microgravity – and it even looks futuristic too!

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The International Space Station’s Air Leaks are Increasing. No Danger to the Crew

International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Only the other week I had to fix my leaky tap. That was a nightmare.  I cannot begin to imagine how you deal with a leaky spacecraft! In August 2020 Russia announced that their Zvezda module had an air leak. An attempt was make to fix it but in November 2021 another leak was found. Earlier this week, Russia announced the segment is continuing to leak but the crew are in no danger. 

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Comets: Why study them? What can they teach us about finding life beyond Earth?

Image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft on Jan. 31, 2015. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Universe Today has explored the importance of studying impact craters, planetary surfaces, exoplanets, astrobiology, and solar physics, and what this myriad of scientific disciplines can teach scientists and the public regarding the search for life beyond Earth. Here, we will explore some of the most awe-inspiring spectacles within our solar system known as comets, including why researchers study comets, the benefits and challenges, what comets can teach us about finding life beyond Earth, and how upcoming students can pursue studying comets. So, why is it so important to study comets?

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Astroscale’s Satellite is Now Chasing Down a Real Piece of Space Debris

ADRAS-J Launch. Credit: Astroscale Japan, Inc.

Space debris is a thing.. It seems whether we explore the Earth or space we leave rubbish in our wake. Thankfully, organisations like Astroscale are trying to combat the problem of debris in space with a new commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite. Named ADRAS-J, the satellite – which is now in orbit – is hunting down an old Japanese upper stage rocket body which was launched in 2009.  It will approach to within 30 metres to study the module from every angle and work out how it can be safely de-orbited by a future mission. 

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