Tag: asteroids

NASA Selects Honeybee Robotics for 2 STTR & 5 SBIR Awards

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for two Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) and five Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I awards.

The selected proposals include:

  • STTR: Robotic ISRU Construction of Planetary Landing and Launch Pad (Partnered with Michigan Technological University)
  • STTR: In-Situ Spectroscopic Europa Explorer (Partnered with SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center)
  • SBIR: The Stinger: A Geotechnical Sensing Package for Robotic Scouting on a Small Planetary Rover
  • SBIR: Planetary Vacuum Cleaner for Venus and Mars
  • SBIR: Dust-Tolerant, High Pressure Oxygen Quick Disconnect for Advanced Spacesuit and Airlock Applications
  • SBIR: Strut Attachment System for In-Space Robotic Assembly
  • SBIR: High Temperature Joint Actuator

Descriptions of the research projects follow.
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NASA Looks to Commercialize Solar Sail Technology

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A concept image of the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout mission, one of 11 missions that will be secondary payloads to the first test flight of NASA's Space Launch System. (Credit: NASA)

A concept image of the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout mission, one of 11 missions that will be secondary payloads to the first test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System. (Credit: NASA)

NASA CubeSat-Scale Solar Sail for Space Propulsion
Solicitation Number: NNM16042116
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office: Marshall Space Flight Center
Location: Office of Procurement

Introduction

A cubesat-scale solar sail propulsion system is being developed at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to provide propulsion for a 6U interplanetary CubeSat to be used for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout (NEAS) project. NASA MSFC desires for the solar sail technology and design being developed for the NEAS mission to be commercially available after the completion and delivery of the flight system hardware in 2018. To further that goal, NASA MSFC seeks to provide the solar sail propulsion system design to interested commercial entities. It is anticipated that there may be follow-on missions using the NEA Scout sail system following successful completion of the NEA Scout project.

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NIAC Focus: Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets

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This drawing illustrates a system concept for investigating the molecular composition of a distant target, such as an asteroid or comet. A spacecraft is sent to the asteroid, and enters into orbit. Solar cells generate electricity that is used to power a laser, which is directed at the asteroid's surface. The laser will heat a spot on the surface, and very quickly material will begin to evaporate from the spot. The glow from the heated spot is visible at the spacecraft through the plume of evaporated material. Sensors in the spacecraft measure the intensity of light across a span of wavelengths; analysis of light intensity patterns provides information about materials in the plume of evaporated material. Credits: Mark Pryor (Vorticity, Inc.) , Gary B. Hughes (Cal Poly SLO)

This drawing illustrates a system concept for investigating the molecular composition of a distant target, such as an asteroid or comet. A spacecraft is sent to the asteroid, and enters into orbit. Solar cells generate electricity that is used to power a laser, which is directed at the asteroid’s surface. The laser will heat a spot on the surface, and very quickly material will begin to evaporate from the spot. The glow from the heated spot is visible at the spacecraft through the plume of evaporated material. Sensors in the spacecraft measure the intensity of light across a span of wavelengths; analysis of light intensity patterns provides information about materials in the plume of evaporated material.
Credits: Mark Pryor (Vorticity, Inc.) , Gary B. Hughes (Cal Poly SLO)

NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is one from Gary Hughes of California Polytechnic State University.

Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets

Gary Hughes
California Polytechnic State University

We propose a system capable of probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets such as asteroids, comets, planets and moons from a distant vantage. Our concept utilizes a directed energy beam to vaporize or sublimate a spot on a distant target, such as from a spacecraft near the object. With sufficient flux, our published results indicate that the spot temperature rises rapidly, and evaporation of materials on the target surface occurs (Hughes et al., 2015; Lubin and Hughes, 2015; Lubin et al., 2014).

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NASA Office Studies Emerging Space Sectors

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Earth_from_Orbit
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The global space economy is growing, generating more than $300 billion a year in space-related activities, and attracting new, diverse participants and investors. A recent study also found more private money invested in commercial space development in 2015 than in the previous 15 years combined.

NASA has selected six new research proposals to understand the effective drivers of investments in the space economy.

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NIAC Focus: Getting a Glider to Fly on an Airless World

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niac_e-glider_quadrelli
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is the description of an electrostatic glider submitted by Marco Quandrelli of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

E-Glider: Active Electrostatic Flight for Airless Body Exploration

Marco Quadrelli
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The environment near the surface of airless bodies (asteroids, comets, Moon) is electrically charged due to Sun’s photoelectric bombardment. Charged dust is ever present, even at high altitudes (dust fountains), following the Sun’s illumination. We envisage the global scale exploration of airless bodies by a gliding vehicle that experiences its own electrostatic lift and drag by its interaction with the naturally charged particle environment near the surface. This Electrostatic Glider (E-Glider) lifts off by extending thin, charged, appendages, which are also articulated to direct the levitation force in the most convenient direction for propulsion and maneuvering. It thus carries out its science mission by circumnavigating the small body, and it lands, wherever it is most convenient, by retracting the appendages or by thruster/anchor.

Made in Space Looks to Transform Asteroids into Autonomous Spacecraft

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Artists depiction of an asteroid being reconstituted into a mechanical automata. (Credit: Made in Space)

Artists depiction of an asteroid being reconstituted into a mechanical automata. (Credit: Made in Space)

NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is the description of an asteroid proposal submitted by Made In Space.

Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata

Jason Dunn
Made In Space, Inc.

The objective of this study is for Made In Space (MIS) to establish the concept feasibility of using the age-old technique of analog computers and mechanisms to convert entire asteroids into enormous autonomous mechanical spacecraft.

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Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission Continues to Move Forward

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Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth's moon. (Credit: NASA)

Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth’s moon. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission continues to move forward with concept and technology development despite a general lack of political support from Congress.

ARRM’s objective is to remove a large boulder from an asteroid and return it to lunar orbit where it will be examined by astronauts. The program is working toward a December 2020 launch date the Government Accountability Office says could be difficult to meet.

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Asteroid-Hunting NEOWISE Spacecraft Delivers a Second Year of Data

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PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission has released its second year of survey data.  The spacecraft has now characterized a total of 439 NEOs since the mission was re-started in December 2013.  Of these, 72 were new discoveries.

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Planetary Resources Receives Patent for Asteroid Prospecting & Mining

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Spacecraft examine asteroid. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Spacecraft examine asteroid. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

U.S. Patent No. 9,266,627
February 23, 2016
[Full Patent]

Method, apparatus, and system for asteroid prospecting and mining

Abstract

A method of prospecting asteroids for mining includes (a) launching at least one spacecraft, the spacecraft including a space telescope; (b) examining a plurality of asteroids using the space telescope to gather scientific data on the asteroids for characterization and cataloging; and (c) selecting one or more asteroids to mine from the plurality of asteroids examined by the space telescope and contained within the catalog. A system for prospecting asteroids for mining is also described.

Inventors: Anderson; Eric (Arlington, VA), Diamandis; Peter H. (Santa Monica, CA), Lewicki; Chris (Bellevue, WA), Voorhees; Chris (Bellevue, WA)

Applicant: Planetary Resources Development Corporation, Bellevue, WA
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Pioneer Astronautics Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

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pioneer_astronautics_logoBob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue development of a system to extract volatile elements from asteroids and a new rocket engine.

Pioneer’s Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system “produces water and hydrogen-rich syngas for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the project’s technical abstract.

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Honeybee Robotics Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue development of technologies for use on the moon, Mars, asteroids and other worlds.

Under one award, Honeybee will develop a system capable of extracting and processing water and other volatile materials from the soil. The other award will fund the development of a hermetically sealed capsule for the return of soil samples from other worlds.

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Watch NEA Scout Solar Sail Unfold

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Video Caption: In this time lapse, the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) CubeSat team rolls a half-scale prototype of the small satellite’s solar sail in preparation for a deployment test. During its mission, NEA Scout will perform an approximate two-year cruise propelled by the solar sail to a target asteroid. A camera on the CubeSat will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Dawn Program Honored With Two Prestigious Awards

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Dawn spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

Dawn spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Dawn project team recently earned two prestigious awards, honoring its successful mission to giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

On March 8, the Dawn project team was chosen to receive the prestigious National Aeronautic Association Robert J. Collier Trophy.

On March 11, the Dawn project team was honored with the National Space Club and Foundation’s Nelson P. Jackson Award, presented annually for “a significant contribution to the missile, aircraft or space field.”

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Dawn Program Team Receives 2015 Collier Trophy

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Artist's concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2016 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced last evening at their Spring Awards Dinner that the NASA/JPL Dawn Program Team has been named as the recipient of the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy “In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.”

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ESA Studies Asteroid Microlander

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ESA Asteroid Impact Mission micro-lander. (Credit: ESA - ScienceOffice.org)

ESA Asteroid Impact Mission micro-lander. (Credit: ESA – ScienceOffice.org)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This is the micro-lander that ESA’s proposed Asteroid Impact Mission would put down on its target asteroid.

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