NASA IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING TERRAFORMING PART OF THE MOON WITH ROBOTS

By Kelsey D. Atherton
Lunar Transformer Concept

Lunar Transformer Concept

NASA

Announced yesterday, NASA is moving ahead with funding to study several ambitious space research projects, including one that would transform an inhospitable lunar crater into a habitat for robots — and eventually, human explorers. Located on the moon’s South Pole, Shackleton Crater isn’t just prime real estate for terraforming experiments, it’s Optimus Prime real estate. NASA wants to fill the crater with solar-powered transformers, and then use the fleet of robots to turn the crater into a miniature hospitable environment.

Shackleton Crater is uniquely qualified as a location for terraforming in the small scale. Named after the famous explorer of Earth’s own south pole, the crater covers about 130 square miles, or roughly twice the size of Washington, DC. It is surrounded on all sides by peaks that rise over 14,000 feet above the surface of the crater. Inside this moon-bowl, scientists have already found water, which is essential for any future human habitation.

Before the humans come the robots. To function, robots need electrical power and warmth, and with the right equipment, the sun can provide both, with a little help. In darkness, the crater is about 100 degrees Kelvin, or -280 fahrenheit, but a series of solar reflectors could capture light from the peaks on the crater rim and then reflect it down into the crater, warming and fueling solar-powered rovers at the same time.

These reflectors would be carried around the crater rim by other rovers, unfolding and transforming into useful shapes when needed. A single reflector 130 feet in diameter could send light over six miles into the crater, powering a rover (or a fleet of several Curiousity-sized rovers) with up to one megawatt of energy and preventing them from freezing. Thanks to their height, there is always at least one point on the peaks on the crater rim that receives sunlight, so work could be done continuously in the crater.

Should this plan all work out, several transforming robots with reflectors would work on the edge of the crater, beaming sun in, while robots inside the crater built something close to an “oasis” on the moon. Or at least, an oasis for lunar robots.

The project was awarded in NASA’s Phase II funding, which provides up to $500,000 for two-year-long studies, so the next task is designing a workable reflector that fits into a cube slightly larger than three feet each side, weighing less than 220 pounds, and that unfolds to cover 10,700 square feet. If it all works out, the robots shall inherit the moon.

[NASA]

German space researchers reboot effort to launch hypersonic space plane

by Sean Gallagher

Goal: 100 passengers, 1-hour intercontinental flights, with test flights by mid-2030s.


From Europe to Australia in 90 minutes—but meal service would be problematic.

The Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Germany’s aerospace research center, has renewed decade-old plans for a suborbital passenger space plane that could fly from Europe to Australia in under 90 minutes. The rocket-powered SpaceLiner, originally conceptualized as a 50-passenger hypersonic airliner, has now been given new urgency and direction with a roadmap for flights within the next 20 years, SpaceLiner project lead Martin Sippel told Aviation Week at last month’s American Institute of Aerodynamics and Astronautics’ Space Planes and Hypersonics Conference in Glasgow. Sippel spoke at the conference, presenting on SpaceLiner’s technical progress and the program’s mission definition—which now includes potentially delivering satellites and other payloads to space.

In addition to providing a fairly exclusive passenger service—which would target an extremely small percentage of the international travel market—the goal of the program is to spur large-scale production of reusable rocket engines and booster vehicles that would reduce the cost of other space missions. “The point-to-point passenger market already exists and is growing,” Sippel told Aviation Week. “We have several hundred million passengers traveling intercontinental distances each year. But even if the share will only be 0.2 percent… from a space perspective that’s a potentially huge impact. We could increase hundredfold the number of launches and, as it is a reusable vehicle designed for between 150 and 300 flights, you have serial production of engines. If you have 11 engines per vehicle then you would build 2,000 engines per year or so. That’s a huge production run, and that was the motivation.”

The DLR SpaceLiner would launch upright with the assistance of an external booster, in a fashion similar to NASA’s now-retired Space Shuttle. The booster stage, equipped with its own wings, would be captured after use by a tow aircraft and then be released for an autonomous landing. The main vehicle would glide in a low orbit trajectory and then land like a normal aircraft at its destination, reaching a maximum speed of 4.3 miles per second. The goal size of the space plane is a 100-passenger vehicle, with the passenger compartment capable of ejection and flight on its own as an emergency measure. The reusable booster stage could also be used to ferry other vehicles to space, including launch systems for satellites to be placed in higher orbit.

The development of a flying prototype of the SpaceLiner could cost as much as $33 billion and would require multiple design reviews “before you build the first hardware in 2030,” Sippel said. Testing would involve up to six prototype vehicles, and actual commercial service wouldn’t begin until 2040. So please, don’t start calling Lufthansa to book a flight.


Conan O’Brien’s moving tribute to robot-sex pioneers

Technically incorrect: Robot sex has come a long way since the early days. But, boy, were those early days rough.

You probably can’t wait for your unreliable, moody, ill-mannered lover to be replaced by a sturdy, consistent, polite robot.

You’ve likely already experimented with a little robot sex. At least in your mind, surely.

But have you ever thought about those who came before you? Have you ever thought about the pioneers who began to conceive of a robot becoming your ultimate pleasure center?

Conan O’Brien decided to pay them and their hard work a tribute.

sexpio.jpg

Robot Sex Pioneers

There was the creator of the Flappertron. Who could forget the man who invented Daddy’s Secret? And then there was the Gassy Chassis.

Each of these men — why were they all men? — deserve their place on the podium of progressive scientific thinking.

Many lost their dignity, if not their lives, in the pursuit of man’s pursuit of sexual satisfaction.

They toiled away in their laboratories, garages and, no doubt, bedrooms in order to bring us to where we are today, where there are at least 42 (allegedly) robots for you to have sex with (naturally, you should think twice about exploring that link while at work).

You might not feel the need for such mechanical companions right now. You may feel that your own companion is mechanical enough.

But these men’s work represents the future. These men will one day be revered for the contributions they made, the imagination with which they took to their task, and the sheer selflessness involved in helping you become involved with a robot.

These great scientists have ensured that no man will be left blissless. Just think how happy the future will be.

by

 

Watch a Boston Dynamics humanoid robot wander around outside

A Boston Dynamics Robot walks in the woods.

Above: A Boston Dynamics Robot walks in the woods.

Boston Dynamics, that company Google bought in 2013, has begun to testing one of its humanoid robots — those that are designed to function like humans — out in the wild.

Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, talked about and showed footage on the research during a talk on Aug. 3 at the 11th Fab Lab Conference and Symposium in Cambridge, Mass.

“Out in the world is just a totally different challenge than in the lab,” Raibert said at the conference, which was organized by the Fab Foundation, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Bits and Atoms. “You can’t predict what it’s going to be like.”

Boston Dynamics has tested its LS3 quadruped (four-legged) robot out in natural settings in the past. But humanoid robots are different — they can be much taller and have a higher center of gravity. So keeping them moving through rugged terrain, as opposed to paved asphalt, which is what Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robots dealt with recently during the DARPA Robotics Challenge, can be more tricky.

See for yourself how this humanoid robot performs in the woods.

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Robot Tested Outside

 

JORDAN NOVET

 

 

 

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p

Meet WalkCar, a new transportation device .

By Chris Smith

Meet WalkCar, a new transportation device even cooler than Lexus’s hoverboard

There’s now a sleek,and small device called the WalkCar that can drive you to work and then hide in your backpack while you charge it near your desk.

Created by Japanese company Cocoa Motors, the WalkCar is a skateboard-like device that has Segway-like powers. The device can carry an individual of up to 265 pounds (120kg) at up to 6.2mp/h (10km/h), for distances of up to 7.4 miles (12km).

“I thought, ‘what if we could just carry our transportation in our bags, wouldn’t that mean we’d always have our transportation with us to ride on?’ and my friend asked me to make one, since I was doing my masters in engineering specifically on electric car motor control systems,” Cocoa Motors’ Kuniako Saito told Reuters.

The gadget needs just three hours to reach a full charge and will cost around $800 on Kickstarter when it launches in the coming months, Reuters reports. The gadget is expected to ship in spring 2016.

The WalkCar is made of aluminum and weighs between 4.4 pounds and 6.6 pounds – that’s between 2kg and 3kg – depending on whether it’s an indoor or outdoor version.

To start it, the user simply has to stand on it. Stepping off it stops the vehicle. Just like with the Segway, shifting your weight from left to right would change the direction (you can see it in action in the video onYOUTUBE.com          “WalkCar” car in a bag /Japan, cocoa motors.Inc

This article was originally published on BGR.com

 

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p
 

 

The Pope’s Lead Astronomer Says Aliens Exist But They Probably Aren’t Catholics

BY TRACE WILLIAM COWEN

Image result for Are will alone

Perhaps the biggest component of the “Are we alone in the universe?” debate, for some, is the resulting dismantling of religious institutions here on Earth following inarguable proof that such institutions are decidedly anti-universe. For the religiously inclined, the question arises: Would inhabitants of another planet, likely within another universe entirely, even have knowledge of the respective god of one respective religion or another? The answer, of course, is a relatively firm “No.” Now, just three short centuries after the Catholic Church violently condemned Galileo for suggesting that Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, the Vatican Powers That Be are joining the realistic side of this debate.

Following NASA’s announcement of a possible Earth-like sister planet, Father José Gabriel Funes once again expressed his updated thoughts on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “It is probable there was life and perhaps a form of intelligent life,” says Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory in Rome. “[Though] I don’t think we’ll ever meet a Mr Spock.” When pressed about the inherent contradictions of such an expression from a person of such devout Christian faith, Funes gives an admirably forthright response. “The Bible is not a scientific book. If we look for scientific responses to our questions in the Bible, we are making a mistake.”

Funes also believes, in a humorous act of deflection, that this theoretical extraterrestrial life likely aren’t Catholics, wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to who Jesus is, and most definitely haven’t experienced similar events of supposed religious importance. “The discovery of intelligent life does not mean there’s another Jesus,” offers Funes. “The Incarnation of the son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity of the universe.” That’s perfect, isn’t it? A powerful religious figure admits to the increasing likelihood of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe (i.e. aliens), but in the same breath reinforces the outmoded belief that humans are the center of everything.

Sorry, aliens. Please don’t visit us until we have our shit together.

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p

Inflatable space elevator gets a lift

Top floor, please.Thoth Technologies

Technically speaking, getting to space hasn’t become any easier over the past half century or so. It still requires using huge rockets to create a massive enough amount of force to push a payload beyond the grip of Earth’s gravity.

Enter the concept of the space elevator, which uses much simpler gravity-defying technologies to access space.

So far, most space elevator concepts have been the stuff of sci-fi, and any plans to actually build one have remained on the rather distant horizon. But “push button” access to space took a step toward reality in late July when the US Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to a Canadian company for its invention of an inflatable space elevator tower.

Thoth Technology, based in Pembroke, Ontario, devised a tower design using pressurized segments that reach up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the stratosphere where a platform could be constructed for purposes of communications, tourism or as a launch platform for reaching space. Unlike blasting off from near sea level, as most space launches do now, getting into orbit or beyond from the top of a space elevator more than 20 times taller than the highest structures on Earth would be more like an aircraft takeoff.

“Astronauts would ascend to 20 km by electrical elevator. From the top of the tower, space planes will launch in a single stage to orbit, returning to the top of the tower for refueling and re- flight,” Brendan Quine, the inventor, said in a statement.

This elevator is far less ambitious than others we’ve reported on like plans from Japan’s Obayashi Corporation, which hopes to extend a space  elevator quarter of the way to the moon by 2050.

The company sees space elevators leading to a new era of space travel when paired with other new technologies like self-landing rockets of the kind that SpaceX is working on.

Getting to that point will involve some new innovations that this patent doesn’t really address, however. The invention here is focused on the construction of the tower itself, but how to construct and maintain a strong, reliable elevator cable 12 miles long is the real challenge in the space elevator universe. In fact, it’s the focus of a space elevator conference taking place later this month.

The patent does suggest “the mechanism for elevating and lowering cars may be provided by frictional contact, at least one winch mechanism located along the length of the elevator core structure, or by inductive means” but each of those mechanisms would still need to be invented or customized to this design.

For now, we’re stuck having to ride fire to space, but the “slow space” movement is well under way and the invention of the new genre of space elevator music can’t be far behind.

                                                    Image result for space elevator

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p

It’s a new space race with China to the Moon and Mars

 By Richard Sammon,

Courtesy NASA

 

Concept rendering of the Orion, NASA’s spacecraft for deep-space exploration.

A new space race looms on the horizon.

The goal: Putting men on the moon again (and maybe women this time, too), echoing the expensive and exhilarating missions that led to Neil Armstrong’s historic step onto the lunar surface in 1969.

A return to the moon seems likely sometime late in the 2020s – more than 50 years after the first trip there. It would be followed, sometime in the 2030s, by a manned flight to Mars, using a lunar base as a departure point.

A U.S.-led team will reach the moon first, just as Americans outpaced the Soviets last time. But China will be nipping at NASA’s heels, poised to win the new race if budget cuts or problems – either political or scientific – disrupt America’s timetable.
So why is a costly return to space under consideration even as many members of Congress are looking to cut federal spending and trim the budget deficit? One factor to weigh is that NASA’s budget won’t be much different than it is now, about $18 billion a year. Private companies will kick in billions more, as will countries eager to partner with the U.S.

Another consideration: There is vast potential for scientific gains in health care, technology and telecommunications. Medical experiments, a boon for universities and private companies that partner with NASA, will help astronauts deal with the effects of prolonged weightlessness. Here on Earth, those studies may lead to advances in treating bone and muscle problems in older people.

And there’s a good chance that space missions will lead to the creation of new products that will find uses in daily life. The first era of space exploration brought a number of advances that are now taken for granted: Memory foam for mattresses and pillows. Cordless power tools. Scratch-resistant eyeglass lenses. Even freeze-dried food.

The renewed interest in space travel will also create a string of business opportunities for companies of all sizes. At one end of the scale, SpaceX is getting $1.6 billion to develop and fly rockets. The company, just one of the joint ventures pushed by NASA’s brass, has had a mixed track record so far.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and others will work on lucrative contracts for space vehicles to carry humans and cargo, and will provide other major components and gear. While those giant firms will land much of the space program’s main work, the contracts will require countless subcontractors to provide parts and perform some tasks.

Nearly every state will benefit to a degree, though the bulk of the work will be in states with existing space industry ties: Florida and Texas, of course, but also Alabama, California, Maryland and Virginia.

 

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p

NASA’s Mission to Europa

Let's Talk About NASA's Mission to Europa

The search for life in the Solar System is about the hunt for water. Wherever we find liquid water on Earth, we find life. I’m talking everywhere. In the most briny, salty pools in Antarctica, in the hottest hot springs in Yellowstone, under glaciers, and kilometers deep underground.

So we go searching for liquid water in the Solar System.

You might be surprised to learn that Jupiter’s moon Europa has the most water in the entire Solar System. If you took all the water on Earth, collected it into a big sphere, it would measure almost 1,400 kilometers across.

Europa’s water would measure nearly 1,800 kilometers.All that water exists in a layer around Europa, encased in a layer of ice. How thick? We don’t know.

Is there life down there? We don’t know. You can say there might be, and it wouldn’t be untrue. However, if you say there isn’t, that’s way less interesting for clickbait purposes. Whenever we don’t know the answers to fundamental and intriguing questions like that, it’s time to send a mission.

Good news! An actual mission to Europa is in the works right now. In 2015, NASA approved the development of an orbiter mission to Europa. If all goes well, and nothing gets cancelled, a spacecraft will launch in the 2020s, carrying 9 instruments to Europa. Most will be familiar cameras, mass spectrometers, and the like, to study the surface of Europa to a high level of resolution. Over the course of 45 flybys, the spacecraft will get down as close as 25 kilometers and capture it with incredible resolution.

Perhaps the most exciting, and controversial instrument on board the new Europa Orbiter mission will be its ice-penetrating radar. Mission planners battled over installing a radar this sophisticated, as it will be an enormous drain on the orbiter’s power.

This for us is incredibly exciting. It will allow the spacecraft to map out the depth and thickness of Europa’s icy exterior. Is it thick or thin? Are there pockets of water trapped just below the surface, or is it tough shell that goes on for dozens of kilometers?

The worst case scenario is that the shell goes thicker than the radar can reach, and we won’t even know how far it goes.

Whatever happens, the Europa orbiter will be a boon to science, answer outstanding questions about the moon and the chances of finding life there.

We’re just getting started. What we really want to send is a lander. Because of the intense radiation from Jupiter, the Sun, and space itself, the surface of the ice on Europa would be sterilized. But dig down a few centimeters and you might find life that’s protected from the radiation.

A future Europa lander might be equipped with a heated drill attached to a tether. The lander would be have with a heat-generated radioisotope thermoelectric generator, like most of NASA’s big, outer Solar System spacecraft.

But in addition to using it for electricity, it’ll use the raw heat to help a tethered drill to grind through the ice a few meters and sample what’s down there.

Drilling more than a few meters is probably the stuff of science fiction. Russian scientists in Antarctica drilled for almost two decades to get through 4,000 meters of ice above Lake Vostok. Imagine trying to get through 100 kilometers of the stuff, on a distant world, with a robot.

But, since I’ve talked about moving the Sun, and terraforming the Moon, maybe I shouldn’t put any bounds on my imagination. Nuclear-powered Europa submarines will get us swimming with the singing Europan space whales in no time.

Europa is the best place to search the Solar System for life, and I’m excited to see what the upcoming Europa Orbiter mission turns up. And I’m even more excited about the possibility of any future lander missions.

Fraser Cain – Universe Today

https://stacksocial.com?aid=a-t05y2r3p

Engineers create world’s first white laser beam

Image result for white laser

Researchers at Arizona State University have created the world’s first white laser beam, according to a new study published in Nature. More work needs to be done to perfect this technology, but white lasers could serve as a potential alternative light source — both in people’s homes and in the screens of their electronics. Lasers are more energy efficient than LEDs, and the ASU researchers claim that their white lasers can cover 70 percent more colors than current standard displays.

 

The researchers also suggest the technology could be used beyond consumer electronics. They suggest white lasers could be used in Li-Fi, a developing technology that uses multiple colors of light to enable high-speed wireless internet access. Currently, LEDs are being used to develop Li-Fi technology, which could be 10 times faster than current radio-based Wi-Fi. Ning and his colleagues argue that Li-Fi using white lasers could be 10 to 100 times faster than LED-based Li-Fi.

WHITE LASERS COULD SERVE AS A POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVE LIGHT SOURCE

For the past 50 years, lasers have been able to emit every single wavelength of light — except for white. The problem is that typical lasers only beam one specific wavelength of light at a time. To create white, the ASU researchers manufactured three thin semiconductor lasers — each as thick as one-thousandth of a human hair — and lined them up parallel to one another. Each semiconductor emits one of the three primary colors and are then combined together to form white. The entire device can also be tuned to create any color in the visible spectrum.

White lasers won’t be showing up in our electronics any time soon, however. For this study, the researchers had to pump electrons into the semiconductors with an additional laser light. The engineers will have to design white lasers to run on battery power before they can be used for commercial applications.

  

This image shows mixed emission color from the semiconductor lasers in the colors of red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, and white. (ASU/Nature Nanotechnology)