'Beams' from space that could power cities: First tests on solar satellites offer hope of green energy
Researchers at Stratchclyde University have already tested equipment in space, a first step for solar panels to collect energy and transfer it back to earth through microwaves or lasers.
The researchers aim to produce a ‘swarm’ of satellites that could one day power whole cities.
Full Story: Mailonline
The European Space Agency has approved a mission to Jupiter’s moons to discover whether fish live under their icy surfaces.
The mission will send a five-tonne satellite to the solar system’s biggest planet to study three of its largest moons - Callisto, Europa and Ganymede.
These are of special interest because beneath their icy surface it is thought they might have vast oceans.
Scientists believe this makes them one of the most likely places in the solar system to harbour alien life, possibly even fish.
Full Story: ABC
3D-Printing in Space
Nextbigfuture published a couple of posts about the use of 3D-printing for future space missions and applications:
- A printable spacecraft project, by Kendra Short and Dr. David Van Buren, is running as part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts: “Flexible printed electronics have revolutionized consumer products such as cellular phones and PDAs, allowing greater functionality with decreasing size and weight. We think the same can be done for spacecraft. We propose to investigate the feasibility of implementing a complete end to end spacecraft - science measurement through data downlink – based purely on flexible substrate “printed” electronics. The benefits would be decreased design/fabrication cycle time, reduced unit level mass and volume, and decreased unit level cost.” - [presentation (pdf)]
- Also part of the 2012 NIAC Spring Symposium: Contour Crafting Simulation Plan for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure Build up, by Behrokh Koshnevis. ”Contour Crafting is a system for printing with cement like a very large ink jet printer. It has made 1 story structures here on earth.” - [presentation (pdf, 121mb)]
- Additive Manufacturing for the Space Industry, by Made in Space, Inc. “Made in Space, Inc. is a space manufacturing company that leverages the rapid advancements in 3D printing and additive manufacturing to offer unique solutions for the aerospace industry. Additive manufacturing is the process of building (or “3D printing”) a product layer by layer. A wide range of materials can be printed with additive manufacturing machines, from hard plastics to Aluminum and Titanium. Example spacecraft components that can be built include more efficient rocket nozzles and lighter miniaturized satellite parts.” - [Made in Space, Inc.]
Future extraterrestrial rovers may be powered remotely by high-energy laser beams shot through miles of thin fiber-optic cables. This new technology could allow robotic probes to penetrate thick layers of ice to explore Antarctic lakes or the subterranean oceans on icy moons like Europa or Enceladus, and even power a new kind of rocket into space.
“Our modest goal over the next three years is to use a 5,000-watt laser to send a cryobot through up to 250 meters of ice,” inventor and explorer Bill Stone, who presented the new concept today at NASA’s Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, told Wired. “All the data show there are no show-stoppers for doing that. But from my standpoint, this is child’s play compared to what we could do.”
LASERS drilling into SPACE?!
YES, THAT IS CHILD’S PLAY INDEED.
The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs must have ejected billions of tons of life-bearing rock into space. Now physicists have calculated what must have happened to it.
Full Story: Technology Review
Brain and eye problems have surfaced in astronauts who spent more than a month in space, marking a potential setback to plans for longer deep space missions, a US study said on Tuesday.
Full Story: ABC
What private spaceflight looks like by 2019: More than 1,000 launches a year
FAA administrator proposes some ideas that could help make the annual doubling of commercial launches a reality.
An astronaut attempting to visit recently discovered planet GJ1214b would land in hot water - literally, United States scientists say.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics said they have identified a new kind of planet, dominated not by rock, gas or other common materials - but water.
The planet is “a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere”, they said in a statement after scrutinising the planet with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
"GJ1214b is like no planet we know of," astronomer Zachary Berta said.
"A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water.
Full Story: ABC