Tag: asteroids

JAXA Wants You — Yes You! — to Name Hayabusa2’s Target Asteroid

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Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)

Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started invite of naming proposals for the near Earth asteroid 1999 JU3, which is the target of Hayabusa2, the mission to return samples from the asteroid.

  1. Fill out the application form below before the deadline, August 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time).
  2. No conditions are required. Applying multiple times is also possible.
  3. Asteroid naming guidelines:
    Asteroids can’t be named just anything; the International Astronomical Union IAU) has rules. The following are conditions stipulated by IAU for naming an asteroid.

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Report Finds Lots of Valuable Mineral Resources in Space

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Heinlein Prize Trust space mineralsSAN JOSE, Calif., July 17, 2015 (IAA PR) — A study released today by the International Academy of Astronautics found that space mineral resources (SMR) can benefit humanity and serve as an economic “game changer,” especially in developing countries.

The study, the most comprehensive to date, examined the latest technologies, economics, law and policy related to SMR opportunities and included several recommendations to space agencies and analysis of options to advance this exploration.

“This study is not about how to leverage space mineral resources, but rather how best to leverage them,” according to Art Dula, co-editor of the study and a faculty member of the Houston Law School where he teaches space law. Dula is also Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust, one of the organizations participating in the study. “Improving the world we know today will be possible by leveraging the phenomenal resources available in our solar system,” he said.

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NASA Funds 7 NIAC Phase II Proposals

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven technology proposals for continued study under Phase II of the agency’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The selections are based on the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities or significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

The selected proposals address a range of visionary concepts, including metallic lithium combustion for long-term robotics operations, submarines that explore the oceans of icy moons of the outer planets, and a swarm of tiny satellites that map gravity fields and characterize the properties of small moons and asteroids.

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Honeybee Robotics Developing Prospector Spacecraft That Can Refuel Itself

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and one Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR) Phase I contracts, including one that would help develop a resource prospecting spacecraft capable of refueling itself using in-situ resources.

The five proposals include:

  • The World is Not Enough (WINE): Harvesting Local Resources for Eternal Exploration of Space (STTR)
  • Planetary Volatiles Extractor for In Situ Resource Utilization (SBIR)
  • Development of a Hermetically Sealed Canister for Sample Return Missions (SBIR)
  • Lunar Heat Flow Probe (SBIR)
  • Miniaturized System-in-Package Motor Controller for Spacecraft and Orbital Instruments (SBIR)

WINE, which is being done with the University of Central Florida in Orlando, involves a 3D-printed CubeSat that would be able to refuel itself by extracting in-situ resources. The spacecraft would be able to land on an asteroid or moon, examine the location, and fly to another location using the water it extracted in its thruster system.

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Sparks Fly in House Science Committee Over Asteroid Property Rights Bill

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Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

In a contentious hearing on Wednesday, the Republican controlled House Science Committee approved a measure that would give companies rights to materials they mine from asteroids over complaints from Democrats that the measure was unconstitutional and drawn up to benefit a single company.

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Posey Introduces Measure Calling for Return to Moon by 2023

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moon_rise_half
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) has introduced a measure directing NASA to plan a return to the moon within eight years and the establishment of a permanent presences there.

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2023 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations,” the measure reads. “The budget requests and expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be consistent with achieving this goal.”

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Asteroid Property Rights Legislation Introduced in Congress

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Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.

“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.

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Deep Space Industries Selected for NASA SBIR Contract

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Deep Space Industries will build a constellation of 24 nano-sats, called BitSats for Dunvegan Space Systems. (Credit:  Bryan Versteeg, DSI)

Deep Space Industries will build a constellation of 24 nano-sats, called BitSats for Dunvegan Space Systems. (Credit: Bryan Versteeg, DSI)

NASA has selected Deep Space Industries for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award to develop asteroid simulants for use in testing technologies on the ground.

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Honeybee Robotics Selected for SBIR & STTR Phase II Awards

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards and a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award to continue development of new technologies to explore and sample planets, asteroids and comets.

The SBIR Phase II awards are focused on a comet sampler system and a high-temperature (HT) Venus drill and sample delivery system. The STTR Phase II project is for developing asteroid prospecting technologies.

“Samples from comets, asteroids and small moons hold great scientific interest,” according to the comet sampler project summary. “Near term missions that would benefit this technology include NF4 Comet Surface Sample Return and Cryogenic Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CCSNR) Mission. The sampler can also be used on NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission.

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House Space Subcommitee’s Surreal NASA Budget Hearing

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Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

I woke up early this morning with a low-grade headache. Checking Twitter, I discovered I’d slept through the beginning of a House Subcommittee on Space’s hearing on NASA’s budget with Administrator Charlie Bolden.

My headache immediately worsened as I found the hearing webcast on my cell phone. A whole range of largely unprintable words and phrases came immediately to mind, but there was one that kept coming back: clown car. The House Science Committee really needs a bigger clown car.

It’s not the committee members’ criticism of the Boulder (sorry, Asterorid) Redirect Mission that I had a problem with. Or their demands that NASA actually present a road map to help guide the nation on the road to Mars. I even understood why they felt the Obama Administration’s request for Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion was low. And the Europa mission probably needs more money. All those things are the subject of legitimate debate.

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