June 23, 2014

Carnival of Space 359

1. Saturn's tiny moon Prometheus teases the F-Ring, clearing a channel and dragging material into fringing spurs.

2. vega00.com - A team of astronomers of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan have studied the environment of two GRBs (Gamma Ray Bursters). These GRBs are known as dark GRBs. In their study they give a possible explanation for the mystery that involves this kind of bursts. The article is written in spanish.

3. Cosmoquest - Part 3 in an ongoing series about the science coming out of the MoonMappers citizen science project.

4. Everyday Spacer - Focus on the Sun, an outreach and educational organization you can schedule to visit your school, etc. Kevin LeGore operates in the Southwest Unites States.

5. Chandra blog - Visualizing the X-ray Universe: Stories About Science

Working for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, one of NASA's “Great Observatories” that studies extremely hot regions in space such as colliding galaxies and neutron stars, there is no shortage of data to tell stories about. Chandra orbits about 1/3 of the way to the Moon so it can take long exposures of cosmic objects. This year, Chandra marks its 15th anniversary of science operations out in the cold, dark and somewhat dangerous void of space.

Perhaps 50% of the job of “visualizing the X-ray Universe” is figuring out how we need to look at Chandra’s X-ray data and asking ourselves: what questions are this data trying to answer? what do experts see in this data? how will non-experts view and understand the data? The remaining 50% of the job is then what to do with that data, to make it both accessible and understandable.

6. The Deep Space Network pinged the reclaimed ISEE-3 spacecraft for the first time since it was common practice to carry exact change for payphones.

7. Making an espresso in orbit is no simple task, but the International Space Station will soon have a custom-made machine to do just that.

8. Nextbigfuture - A new video from SpaceX shows the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) rocket during a 1,000 meter test flight at the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas. This was the first flight test of a set of steerable fins that provide control of the rocket during the fly-back portion of the return flight. The fins deploy approximately 1:15 into the test flight and return to their original locked position just prior to landing.

These types of fins are not new, but are new for human space flight. They’ve been used on missiles (especially Russian ICBMs) and bombs to aid in precision targeting, and likewise will help the F9R to land precisely on target.

9. Nextbigfuture - One of Ames' long standing science interests has been to robotically drill deeply into Mars' subsurface environment (2 meters, or more) to investigate the habitability of that zone for past or extant life. Large, capable Mars landers would ease the problem of landing and operating deep robotic drills. In 2010, an Ames scientist realized that the crew-carrying version of the SpaceX Dragon capsule would possess all the subsystems necessary to perform a soft landing on Earth, and raised the question of whether it could also soft land on Mars. If it could, it might be a candidate platform for a Discovery or Mars Scout class deep drilling mission, for example.

10. Nextbigfuture -More charts and pictures of the superlattice material created by Lawrence Livermore Labs and MIT. Framework or lattice structures can be remarkably strong despite their very low density. Using a very precise technique known as projection microstereolithography, Zheng et al. fabricated octet microlattices from polymers, metals, and ceramics. The design of the lattices meant that the individual struts making up the materials did not bend under pressure. The materials were therefore exceptionally stiff, strong, and lightweight.

Architecture of stretch-dominated and bend-dominated unit cells and lattices. (A) Mechanical response to compressive loading of a stretch-dominated octet-truss unit cell. (B) Octet-truss unit cells packed into a cubic microlattice. (C) SEM image of a stretch-dominated lattice material composed of a network of octet-truss unit cells. (D) Mechanical response to compressive loading of a bend-dominated tetrakaidecahedron unit cell. (E) Tetrakaidecahedron unit cell packed into a cubic bend-dominated lattice (Kelvin foam). (F) SEM image of a bend-dominated lattice composed of a network of tetrakaidecahedron unit cells. Zheng et al.

11. Nextbigfuture - The European Extremely Large Telescope E-ELT first light is planned for 2024, when it will begin to tackle the biggest astronomical challenges of our time. The giant telescope is expected to allow the exploration of completely unknown realms of the Universe — it will be: “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

An elaborate levelling process has begun which will help landscape the mountain, so that it can accommodate the 39-metre telescope and its huge dome. A grand total of 220 000 cubic metres will need to be removed to make room for the 150 metre by 300 metre E-ELT platform.

12. Nextbigfuture -Engineers at MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have devised a way to translate that airy, yet remarkably strong, structure down to the microscale — designing a system that could be fabricated from a variety of materials, such as metals or polymers, and that may set new records for stiffness for a given weight.

“We found that for a material as light and sparse as aerogel [a kind of glass foam], we see a mechanical stiffness that’s comparable to that of solid rubber, and 400 times stronger than a counterpart of similar density. Such samples can easily withstand a load of more than 160,000 times their own weight,” says Fang, the Brit and Alex d’Arbeloff Career Development Associate Professor in Engineering Design. So far, the researchers at MIT and LLNL have tested the process using three engineering materials — metal, ceramic, and polymer — and all showed the same properties of being stiff at light weight.

The material has the same weight and density as aerogel -- a material so light it's called 'frozen smoke' -- but with 10,000 times more stiffness. This material could have a profound impact on the aerospace and automotive industries as well as other applications where lightweight, high-stiffness and high-strength materials are needed.

They used polymer as a template to fabricate the microlattices, which were then coated with a thin-film of metal ranging from 200 to 500 nanometers thick. The polymer core was then thermally removed, leaving a hollow-tube metal strut, resulting in ultralight weight metal lattice materials.

13. Nextbigfuture - Elon Musk said Spacex will just keep going, but SpaceX's progression would be slowed down if the U.S. government doesn't choose the company's Dragon V2 as the next crew carrier to the International Space Station.

Spacex remains focused on creating technology that with enable large groups of people to travel to Mars.

""I'm [Elon Musk is] hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years.

14. Nextbigfuture - Quadcopter or other rotorcraft Drones and Balloons for Exploring Titan. Saturn’s giant moon Titan has become one of the most fascinating bodies in the Solar System. Titan is the richest laboratory in the solar system for studying prebiotic chemistry, which makes studying its chemistry from the surface and in the atmosphere one of the most important objectives in planetary science. The diversity of surface features on Titan related to organic solids and liquids makes long-range mobility with surface access important. This has not been possible, because mission concepts to date have had either no mobility (landers), no surface access (balloons and airplanes), or low maturity, high risk, and/or high development costs for this environment (e,g. large, self-sufficient, long-duration helicopters). We propose a mission study of a small (less than 10 kg) rotorcraft that can deploy from a balloon or lander to acquire close-up, high resolution imagery and mapping data of the surface, land at multiple locations to acquire microscopic imagery and samples of solid and liquid material, return the samples to the mothership for analysis, and recharge from an RTG on the mothership to enable multiple sorties

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