Tag: MIT

NASA Smallsats to Take Fresh Look at Earth

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TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

TROPICS, a new NASA Earth-observing mission announced this year, will study the insides of hurricanes with a constellation of 12 CubeSats. (Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Beginning this month, NASA is launching a suite of six next-generation, Earth-observing small satellite missions to demonstrate innovative new approaches for studying our changing planet.

These small satellites range in size from a loaf of bread to a small washing machine and weigh from a few to 400 pounds. Their small size keeps development and launch costs down as they often hitch a ride to space as a “secondary payload” on another mission’s rocket – providing an economical avenue for testing new technologies and conducting science.

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NASA Selects New Technologies for Flight Tests

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Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 13 space technology payloads to flight test on parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons or suborbital launch vehicles to demonstrate new technologies. The selections were made through the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington.

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NASA Establishes Institute to Explore New Ways to Protect Astronauts

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NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano perform ultrasound eye imaging as part of the Fluid Shifts investigation during Expedition 37 on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is joining with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to operate a new institute charged with researching and developing innovative approaches to reduce risks to humans on long-duration exploration missions, including NASA’s Journey to Mars.

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SPHERES: From Class Project to Droids in Space

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The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Imagine you’re sitting in class watching a scene from “Star Wars” and your professor assigns a project meant to fly in space.

In 1999, that is exactly what happened for engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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First CubeSat Built by an Elementary School Deployed into Space

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A student from St. Thomas More Cathedral School holds the STMSat-1 CubeSat. (Credit: St. Thomas More Cathedral School)

A student from St. Thomas More Cathedral School holds the STMSat-1 CubeSat. (Credit: St. Thomas More Cathedral School)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NASA PR) — In 2012, the students from St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia lined up in the shape of a space shuttle in the school parking lot and witnessed the flyover of the Space Shuttle Discovery as it was being retired to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. This awe-inspiring vision was an inspiration to the entire school and a catalyst for them to literally reach for the stars. Thus beginning their quest to build a small satellite, called a CubeSat, that would engage students around the world in Earth observations.

Over the next three years, all 400 pre-kindergarten through eight grade students participated in the design, construction and testing of their small satellite. Through this hands-on, inquiry based learning activity the students conducted real world engineering and will operate the St. Thomas More (STM)Sat-1, the first CubeSat built by elementary school students to be deployed in space.

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Digital Materials & Robotic Assembly in Space

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building_blocks_space
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Assembling large structures in space is an enormous undertaking, and the International Space Station, or ISS, which is longer in length than a football field, is the prime case in point. Its construction was challenging. First, the modules, or compartments, had to be built on Earth, where engineers have access to tools for piecing together an agglomeration of parts. Then, apart from being of suitable size to fit within the rocket fairing, each module had to be structurally reinforced to withstand the violent turbulence of launch. Once in space, a tricky rendezvous-and-docking sequence was employed to join them all together.

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CASIS Releases FY 2015 Annual Report

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CASIS_2015_Annual_Report_CoverMELBOURNE, Fla. (CASIS PR) — We are pleased to share with you the FY2015 CASIS Annual Report.

As the managers of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) works closely with NASA and ISS National Lab partners to maximize the impact of research and development on the ISS to directly benefit life on Earth. Inside this year’s report you will find many signals of progress, as well as, unique perspectives from diverse ISS National Lab users.

FY2015 highlights include:

  • Receiving significant outside investments in ISS National Lab programming, including an agreement from the National Science Foundation to commit $1.8 million toward an ISS National Lab sponsored program, a $550,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for flight and education projects, and more than $250,000 from the Boeing Company to match a CASIS partnership with the Mass Challenge Accelerator program.
  • Growing non-traditional user demand—the ISS National Lab reached full capacity for allocated crew time for research that was both scientifically and economically reviewed for Earth benefit.  These users included organizations like Merck, National Institutes of Health (NIH),  iExpressGenes, RasLabs, Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT), Novartis. Visidyne and University of Florida.
  • Conducting the first-ever mouse bone-density scans in orbit—improving the capability to study bone and muscle loss in rodent models. Studying rodent models in space has been identified by researchers as an accelerated pathway to better treatments for osteoporosis and muscle atrophy on Earth.
  • Mounting of the first commercial platform on the exterior of the ISS for commercial testing of research payloads, sensors, and electronic components in space—created and sponsored by the ISS National Lab commercial service provider NanoRacks, LLC.

Hedgehog Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity

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'Hedgehog' Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity While a Mars rover can't operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

While a Mars rover can’t operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can’t operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous.

Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies. The project is being jointly developed by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; Stanford University in Stanford, California; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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Dava Newman Approved as NASA Deputy Administrator

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Dava J. Newman

Dava J. Newman

The Senate has approved Dava J. Newman as NASA’s new deputy administrator by an 87-0 vote. The approval comes 20 months after Lori Garver left the position for the top staff job at the Air Line Pilots Association.

Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [Biography] The White House nominated her for the position in October.

“It’s an enormous honor to serve at NASA in times when our country is extending humanity’s reach into space while strengthening American leadership here on Earth,” Newman said in a statement. “I’m profoundly grateful to President Obama, the United States Senate, and Administrator Bolden – along with everyone at MIT. I can’t wait to come aboard.”

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NASA Selects New Suborbital Technology Payloads, Total Tops 130

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NASA LOGOEDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, and a commercial parabolic aircraft. These flights provide cutting-edge technologies with a valuable platform to conduct tests, before they enter use in the harsh environment of space.

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Emerald Bio to Conduct Microgravity Reseach on Therapeutic Targets

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The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

BEDFORD, Mass., Jan. 8, 2014 (Emerald Bio PR) – Emerald Bio, world class protein science researchers and drug discovery experts integrating structure-guided drug discovery and target knowledge to transform the treatment of disease, announced today a partnership with industry, academic and nonprofit organizations to explore the effects of microgravity on crystallization of two challenging therapeutic targets implicated in cancer and cardiovascular disease. The company is collaborating with the Broad Institute, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NanoRacks and Protein BioSolutions.

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Brown/MIT Team Chosen for New NASA Virtual Institute

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NASA_SSERVI-LOGOPROVIDENCE, R.I. (Brown University PR]) — NASA has tapped a team of Brown and MIT researchers to be part of its new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). The team will help to develop scientific goals and exploration strategies for the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos.

“These are the most accessible solar system targets for robotic and human exploration beyond Earth,” said Carle Pieters, professor of geological sciences and principal investigator for the Brown/MIT team. “They are diverse bodies that together may hold the key to understanding the formation and evolution of our solar system.”

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MIT Researchers Test Inflatable CubeSat Antennae

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View of a CubeSat equipped with an inflated antenna, in a NASA radiation chamber. (Credit: Alessandra Babuscia)

View of a CubeSat equipped with an inflated antenna, in a NASA radiation chamber. (Credit: Alessandra Babuscia)

By Jennifer Chu
MIT News Office

The future of satellite technology is getting small — about the size of a shoebox, to be exact. These so-called “CubeSats,” and other small satellites, are making space exploration cheaper and more accessible: The minuscule probes can be launched into orbit at a fraction of the weight and cost of traditional satellites.

But with such small packages come big limitations — namely, a satellite’s communication range. Large, far-ranging radio dishes are impossible to store in a CubeSat’s tight quarters. Instead, the satellites are equipped with smaller, less powerful antennae, restricting them to orbits below those of most geosynchronous satellites.

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Skolkovo Fund, Roscosmos to Cooperate on Space Tech

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By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Roscosmos and the Skolkovo Fund will work together on developing advanced space and telecommunications technologies as part of the space agency’s long-range development plan that extends out to 2030 and beyond, Russian media report.

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Video: Dava Newman Shows Off Her Flexible Spacesuit Design

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MIT Professor and spacesuit designer Dava Newman shows off her design for a flexible spacesuit. This is a series of videos for the PBS science show Nova. Another video after the break. Continue reading ‘Video: Dava Newman Shows Off Her Flexible Spacesuit Design’