Morpheus Demonstrates Key Capabilities

On May 28, NASA demonstrated that it can land an unmanned spacecraft on a rugged planetary surface in the pitch dark.

The free-flight test was the first of its kind for NASA’s Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology, or ALHAT.

First night free-flight test of Morpheus lander with ALHAT technology
The first night free-flight test of NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander was conducted at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Image Credit:
NASA

Morpheus  an unmanned spacecraft capable of carrying 1,100 pounds (499 kg) of cargo  powered its way up to more than 800 feet (244 m) into the dark Florida sky at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center using solely ALHAT’s Hazard Detection System for guidance.

The Hazard Detection System, assisted by three light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors, located obstacles  such as rocks and craters  and safely landed on the lunar-like hazard field a quarter mile away from the NASA Center. Lidar which stands for Light Detection and Ranging is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.

“The team has been striving for almost eight years to reach this point of testing the ALHAT system in a relevant space-flight-like environment on Morpheus,” said Eric Roback, ALHAT flash lidar lead engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

During testing, the Hazard Detection System pointed its sensor at the hazard field and made a mosaic of flash lidar three dimensional range images encompassing the hazard field.

 

first night free-flight test of NASA’ Morpheus prototype lander
Morpheus powered its way up to more than 800 feet into the Florida night sky at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center using solely ALHAT’s Hazard Detection System for guidance.
Image Credit:
NASA

“The flash lidar performed very well, and we could clearly identify rocks as small as one foot (0.3 m) in size from the largest range that Morpheus could give us, which was approximately a quarter mile,” (402 m) Roback said. “With this sensor we could even find the safest landing site in a pitch black crater.”

The Hazard Detection System then had to stitch the flash lidar images together to a three dimensional map of the landing site, analyze the map and select the best landing sites. Shortly after, the Doppler lidar measured the vehicle’s altitude and velocity to land precisely on the surface. The high-altitude laser altimeter provided data enabling the vehicle to land at the chosen landing site.

“Once this technology goes into service, the days of having to land 20 or 30 miles (32 to 48 km) from where you really want to land for fear of the hazardous craters and rocks will be over,” Roback said. “Then we can land near the truly interesting science and near the critical resources that will be needed for eventual colonization, and we can do it over and over again safely.”

The ALHAT Hazard Detection System brings together expertise from three different NASA Centers. Langley created the lidar sensors. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, developed the pointing and real-time image processing technology, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston developed the guidance, navigation and control technology.

The Advanced Exploration Systems Division of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate manages ALHAT and Morpheus. Advanced Exploration Systems pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.   I would appreciate your support by visiting the advertisers below .

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ESA’s Spaceplane To Showcase Reentry Technologies

(Phys.org) —All eyes are on ESA’s spaceplane to showcase reentry technologies after its unconventional launch on a Vega rocket this November

ESA's spaceplane set for flight

Instead of heading north into a polar orbit – as on previous flights – Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Engineers are forging ahead with the final tests on ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, to check that it can withstand the demanding conditions from liftoff to separation from Vega.

Launched in early November, IXV will flight test the technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry vehicles returning from low orbit. This is a first for Europe and those working in the field are keeping a close watch.

The research and industrial community have the chance to use this information for progress in atmospheric reentry, oriented towards transportation systems with applications in exploration, science, Earth observation, microgravity and clean space.

Jose Longo, ESA’s head of aerothermodynamics, said, “The technical advancements that have been made since the first experiments with our Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator in 1996 are huge.”

ESA's spaceplane set for flight
ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, has 300 sensors that will gather data during its suborbital path back to Earth. Credit: ESA

“This is the first flight demonstration of features such as highly advanced thermal structures: thrusters and flaps that are part of the control system, and the 300 sensors and infrared camera to map the heating all along the spacecraft from the nose to the flaps. These things just cannot be tested in the same way in laboratories.”

“The fact that ESA’s IXV will be launched on Vega makes this a fully European mission,” noted Stefano Bianchi, ESA’s head of launchers development.

IXV weighs almost two tonnes, close to Vega’s lifting capacity, and will be a tight fit inside the vehicle’s fairing.

“In this mission we are not only monitoring the spacecraft all along its autonomous flight, but also tracking its progress back to Earth to a particular spot – this is different to what we are used to,” said Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s IXV project manager.

When IXV splashes down in the Pacific at the end of its mission it will be recovered by ship and returned to Europe for detailed analysis to assess the performance and condition of the internal and external structures.

 

ESA's spaceplane set for flight
Engineers are forging ahead with the final tests on ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, to check that it can withstand the demanding conditions from liftoff to separation from its Vega launcher in November 2014. Credit: ESA

The actual performance will be compared with predictions to improve computer modeling of the materials used and the spaceplane’s design.

Such is the enthusiasm and interest of industry in the opportunities associated with reentry technologies that the third IXV workshop in ESA’s Technical Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands was packed out last week.

“It is very encouraging to see such interest in this program,” added Giorgio. “Follow-up activities to this mission will build on the current industrial organization and associated technologies will provide opportunities to newcomers.”

 

A Faint Glimmer Of Hope For Time Travel

A space-time wormhole lets a particle travel back in time

We may never see practical time travel in our lifetimes, if it’s possible at all. However, a team at the University of Queensland has given the Doc Browns of the world a faint glimmer of hope by simulating time travel on a very, very small scale. Their study used individual photons to replicate a quantum particle traveling through a space-time loop (like the one you see above) to arrive where and when it began. Since these particles are inherently uncertain, there wasn’t room for the paradoxes that normally thwart this sort of research. The particle couldn’t destroy itself before it went on its journey, for example.

As you might have gathered from the “simulation” term, sci-fi isn’t about to become reality just yet. The scientists haven’t actually warped through time — they’ve only shown how it can work. It could take a long time before there’s proof that whole atoms and objects can make the leap, let alone a real-world demonstration. Should you ever step into a time machine, though, you’ll know where it all started… and ended.

Jupiter’s Watery Moon Europa

NASA is plotting a daring robotic mission to Jupiter’s watery moon Europa, a place where astronomers speculate there might be some form of life.FILE - This Feb. 13, 1979 photo released by NASA's …

The space agency set aside $15 million in its 2015 budget proposal to start planning some kind of mission to Europa. No details have been decided yet, but NASA chief financial officer Elizabeth Robinson said Tuesday that it would be launched in the mid-2020s.

Robinson said the high radiation environment around Jupiter and distance from Earth would be a challenge. When NASA sent Galileo to Jupiter in 1989, it took the spacecraft six years to get to the fifth planet from the sun.

Last year, scientists discovered liquid plumes of water shooting up through Europa’s ice. Flying through those watery jets could make Europa cheaper to explore than just circling it or landing on the ice, said NASA Europa scientist Robert Pappalardo .Past NASA probes have flown by Europa, especially Galileo, but none have concentrated on the moon, one of dozens orbiting Jupiter. Astronomers have long lobbied for a mission to Europa, but proposals would have cost billions of dollars.

NASA will look at many competing ideas for a Europa mission, so the agency doesn’t know how big or how much it will cost, Robinson said. She said a major mission goal would be searching for life in the strange liquid water under the ice-covered surface.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb said going to Europa would be more exciting than exploring dry Mars: “There might be fish under the ice.”

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The First Space Factory (E-Vectors INC.)

space craft power by positron reactor After gathering the materials from the moon landings , we have discovered the fuel need for space travel to other worlds . The fuel is a product from element 115 also known as Ununpentium. The product of element 115 is not  sent to earth but kept in space, on a space payload ship.

Using a Space Station type ship, large enough to house the people,the wares, and materials ,we  begin to mass produce spaceships.  The materials used are a Kevlar solution which is light weight and stronger than steel, and a product from the martian soil that absorbs water which protects against high levels of radiation.  3 D Printers are used for the configuration of the crafts.  Some of the basic components will be made on Earth  .\

We will discover the solution to space travel.  The equations  Space x Unknown = TIME  and Time x Unknown = SPACE meaning Space equals Time.   Yes when we look up at the stars ,we are looking back in tjme .  So to traveling  through space we will be traveling through time.

8.8 Billion Earth Like Planets In The Habitable Temperature Zone

By   Seth Borenstein       Space is vast, but itEarthlike Planets may not be so lonely after all: A study finds the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot and not too cold for life.

Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.

The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

For perspective, that’s more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth.

As for what it says about the odds that there is life somewhere out there, it means “just in our Milky Way galaxy alone, that’s 8.8 billion throws of the biological dice,” said study co-author Geoff Marcy, a longtime planet hunter from the University of California at Berkeley.

The next step, scientists say, is to look for atmospheres on these planets with powerful space telescopes that have yet to be launched. That would yield further clues to whether any of these planets do, in fact, harbor life.

The findings also raise a blaring question, Marcy said: If we aren’t alone, why is “there a deafening silence in our Milky Way galaxy from advanced civilizations?”

In the Milky Way, about 1 in 5 stars that are like our sun in size, color and age have planets that are roughly Earth’s size and are in the habitable zone where life-crucial water can be liquid, according to intricate calculations based on four years of observations from NASA’s now-crippled Kepler telescope.

If people on Earth could only travel in deep space, “you’d probably see a lot of traffic jams,” Bill Borucki, NASA’s chief Kepler scientist, joked Monday.

The Kepler telescope peered at 42,000 stars, examining just a tiny slice of our galaxy to see how many planets like Earth are out there. Scientists then extrapolated that figure to the rest of the galaxy, which has hundreds of billions of stars.

For the first time, scientists calculated — not estimated — what percent of stars that are just like our sun have planets similar to Earth: 22 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 8 percentage points.

Kepler scientist Natalie Batalha said there is still more data to pore over before this can be considered a final figure.

There are about 200 billion stars in our galaxy, with 40 billion of them like our sun, Marcy said. One of his co-authors put the number of sun-like stars closer to 50 billion, meaning there would be at least 11 billion planets like ours.

Based on the 1-in-5 estimate, the closest Earth-size planet that is in the habitable temperature zone and circles a sun-like star is probably within 70 trillion miles of Earth, Marcy said.

And the 8.8 billion Earth-size planets figure is only a start. That’s because scientists were looking only at sun-like stars, which are not the most common stars.

An earlier study found that 15 percent of the more common red dwarf stars have Earth-size planets that are close-in enough to be in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone.

Put those together and that’s probably 40 billion right-size, right-place planets, Marcy said.

And that’s just our galaxy. There are billions of other galaxies.

Scientists at a Kepler science conference Monday said they have found 833 new candidate planets with the space telescope, bringing the total of planets they’ve spotted to 3,538, but most aren’t candidates for life.

Kepler has identified only 10 planets that are about Earth’s size circling sun-like stars and are in the habitable zone, including one called Kepler 69-c.

Because there are probably hundreds of planets missed for every one found, the study did intricate extrapolations to come up with the 22 percent figure — a calculation that outside scientists say is fair.

“Everything they’ve done looks legitimate,” said MIT astronomer Sara Seager.

By   Seth Borenstein

NASA’s New Moon Probe Enters Lunar Orbit

NASA's_New_Moon_Probe_Enters-aaf4773e03540b0b370bc40b05916528[1]
by Miriam Kramer
NASA’s New Moon Probe Enters Lunar Orbit

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in orbit …

NASA’s newest lunar probe is officially orbiting the moon.

After a month-long journey, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft — designed to probe the moon’s thin atmosphere and lunar dust — performed an engine burn on Sunday (Oct. 6) that took it into orbit around the moon.

While the current U.S. government shutdown has all but halted work at NASA, operations for the $280 million mission are not affected because LADEE is in a critical phase, Rachel Hoover, a spokesperson at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California told Spaceflight Now before the shutdown. NASA’s federal shutdown plan has furloughed most of the agency’s 18,000 employees, but does allow the agency to watch over spacecraft in flight like LADEE and the International Space Station. [Photos: NASA’s LADEE Moon Dust Mission in Pictures]

Before arriving in lunar orbit, the LADEE spacecraft (the name is pronounced “laddie”) made three elliptical orbits around the Earth, moving into a higher orbit on each pass around the planet. Once its orbit was high enough, the moon’s gravity took over and LADEE performed its big burn to transfer to lunar orbit, mission managers have said.

LADEE now needs to perform two more lunar orbit insertion maneuvers before the probe’s approximately month-long checkout phase can begin. The probe’s next burn is scheduled for Oct. 9 and the third is scheduled for Oct. 12, which will lower it to an altitude of 155 miles (250 kilometers).

During the checkout period, scientists will test out LADEE’s laser-communications demonstration. The experiment used laser technology to send large amounts of data back to Earth. The laser communication model could allow spacecraft to send 3D information, high-definition video and other data back to ground controllers, scientists have said.

Once LADEE’s commissioning phase is finished, the probe will begin 100 days of science designed to probe the mysteries of the moon’s atmosphere and a moon dust mystery dating back to the Apollo program.

Apollo astronauts saw streamers of light on the horizon before sunrise on the moon. LADEE’s instrumentation will help scientists understand what could have caused the glow.

NASA officials wrote in a facts sheet: “Was lunar dust, electrically charged by solar ultraviolet light, responsible for the pre-sunrise horizon glow that the Apollo astronauts saw?”

LADEE will also investigate the moon’s extremely thin atmosphere. Called a surface boundary exosphere, the lunar atmosphere represents the most common kind of atmosphere in the solar system. Some planets (like Mercury), moons and even certain large asteroids play host to these kinds of atmospheres, making LADEE’s research wide reaching.

“It’s a class of atmosphere we actually don’t know that much about, so it turns out that the moon actually is a really convenient place to go and learn about this very common type of atmosphere,” Sarah Noble, LADEE program scientist, said before the probe’s Sept. 6 launch.

LADEE launched to space atop the first flight of the Minotaur V rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

Fuel of the Future

Spaceship

Alternative fuels will eventually be the thing that breaks space travel wide open, and will  make it possible to really explore most of space . As new fuel sources are discovered they will be cleaner, more efficient, and more powerful. At some point in the future alternative fuels may make it possible to go  into unknown areas of space and beyond.

 

 

HOW SPACE EXPLORATION HAS CHANGED THROUGH HISTORY

space-explorationThe first Space Exploration occurred in 1957 with the launch of the very first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, sent in to space by the Soviets. Since ancient times individuals have dreamed of departing the Earth and discovering other planets not known to man. Each era through history has developed a belief in regard to what the “heavens” are created form. The Greeks believed that the heavens and space were made from a material known as “Quietness”, and other traditions once believed that the stars had been made of their own people who had died.

We now k now what stars are made of; they’re made of numerous gases which explode again and again. Up until 43 years ago people could not travel in, nor even send objects into space. The most challenging part of traveling in space had been developing rockets which were powerful and dependable enough fling an object or people into space.

When speaking of space, objects that are frequently discussed are Comets and Asteroid’s. A comet is basically, little, rocky, icy and also revolves around the sun. When a comet travels close to the sun, some of the ice turns to gas. This gas mixed with some dirty rock creates a lengthy, bright tail that points away from the comet.

If a comet where to hit our planet, it could trigger damage. Even if some thing relatively little in size striked the earth, it might cause significant damage. Little, from a comet`s point of view is something under 200 meters across. A comet that size hitting the Earth could wipe out an entire city.

Asteroid’s are small or minor  planets that move in what elliptical orbits. They are usually discovered between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They may be the debris of a planet that was destroyed by being hit by comets and then did not have enough mass to reform as a planet. Our current knowledge of space may not be as romantic as that of past civilizations, but it no less interesting.

 

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