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  • richardmitnick 1:38 pm on November 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Flocks of assembler robots show potential for making larger structures", , Center for Bits and Atoms, NASA, , , Self Assembly,   

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Flocks of assembler robots show potential for making larger structures” 

    From The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    11.22.22
    David L. Chandler


    Assembler robots could eventually build almost anything. Credit: MIT

    Researchers make progress toward groups of robots that could build almost anything, including buildings, vehicles, and even bigger robots.

    1
    Researchers at MIT have made significant steps toward creating robots that could practically and economically assemble nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots. The new system involves large, usable structures built from an array of tiny identical subunits called voxels (the volumetric equivalent of a 2-D pixel). Courtesy of the researchers.

    2
    The new study shows that both the assembler bots and the components of the structure being built can all be made of the same subunits, and the robots can move independently in large numbers to accomplish large-scale assemblies quickly. Courtesy of the researchers.

    Researchers at MIT have made significant steps toward creating robots that could practically and economically assemble nearly anything, including things much larger than themselves, from vehicles to buildings to larger robots.

    The new work, from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), builds on years of research, including recent studies demonstrating that objects such as a deformable airplane wing and a functional racing car could be assembled from tiny identical lightweight pieces — and that robotic devices could be built to carry out some of this assembly work. Now, the team has shown that both the assembler bots and the components of the structure being built can all be made of the same subunits, and the robots can move independently in large numbers to accomplish large-scale assemblies quickly.

    The new work is reported in the journal Nature Communications Engineering [below], in a paper by CBA doctoral student Amira Abdel-Rahman, Professor and CBA Director Neil Gershenfeld, and three others.

    A fully autonomous self-replicating robot assembly system capable of both assembling larger structures, including larger robots, and planning the best construction sequence is still years away, Gershenfeld says. But the new work makes important strides toward that goal, including working out the complex tasks of when to build more robots and how big to make them, as well as how to organize swarms of bots of different sizes to build a structure efficiently without crashing into each other.

    As in previous experiments, the new system involves large, usable structures built from an array of tiny identical subunits called voxels (the volumetric equivalent of a 2-D pixel). But while earlier voxels were purely mechanical structural pieces, the team has now developed complex voxels that each can carry both power and data from one unit to the next. This could enable the building of structures that can not only bear loads but also carry out work, such as lifting, moving and manipulating materials — including the voxels themselves.

    “When we’re building these structures, you have to build in intelligence,” Gershenfeld says. While earlier versions of assembler bots were connected by bundles of wires to their power source and control systems, “what emerged was the idea of structural electronics — of making voxels that transmit power and data as well as force.” Looking at the new system in operation, he points out, “There’s no wires. There’s just the structure.”

    The robots themselves consist of a string of several voxels joined end-to-end. These can grab another voxel using attachment points on one end, then move inchworm-like to the desired position, where the voxel can be attached to the growing structure and released there.

    Gershenfeld explains that while the earlier system demonstrated by members of his group could in principle build arbitrarily large structures, as the size of those structures reached a certain point in relation to the size of the assembler robot, the process would become increasingly inefficient because of the ever-longer paths each bot would have to travel to bring each piece to its destination. At that point, with the new system, the bots could decide it was time to build a larger version of themselves that could reach longer distances and reduce the travel time. An even bigger structure might require yet another such step, with the new larger robots creating yet larger ones, while parts of a structure that include lots of fine detail may require more of the smallest robots.

    2
    Credit: Amira Abdel-Rahman/MIT Center for Bits and Atoms.

    As these robotic devices work on assembling something, Abdel-Rahman says, they face choices at every step along the way: “It could build a structure, or it could build another robot of the same size, or it could build a bigger robot.” Part of the work the researchers have been focusing on is creating the algorithms for such decision-making.

    “For example, if you want to build a cone or a half-sphere,” she says, “how do you start the path planning, and how do you divide this shape” into different areas that different bots can work on? The software they developed allows someone to input a shape and get an output that shows where to place the first block, and each one after that, based on the distances that need to be traversed.

    There are thousands of papers published on route-planning for robots, Gershenfeld says. “But the step after that, of the robot having to make the decision to build another robot or a different kind of robot — that’s new. There’s really nothing prior on that.”

    While the experimental system can carry out the assembly and includes the power and data links, in the current versions the connectors between the tiny subunits are not strong enough to bear the necessary loads. The team, including graduate student Miana Smith, is now focusing on developing stronger connectors. “These robots can walk and can place parts,” Gershenfeld says, “but we are almost — but not quite — at the point where one of these robots makes another one and it walks away. And that’s down to fine-tuning of things, like the force of actuators and the strength of joints. … But it’s far enough along that these are the parts that will lead to it.”

    Ultimately, such systems might be used to construct a wide variety of large, high-value structures. For example, currently the way airplanes are built involves huge factories with gantries much larger than the components they build, and then “when you make a jumbo jet, you need jumbo jets to carry the parts of the jumbo jet to make it,” Gershenfeld says. With a system like this built up from tiny components assembled by tiny robots, “The final assembly of the airplane is the only assembly.”

    Similarly, in producing a new car, “you can spend a year on tooling” before the first car gets actually built, he says. The new system would bypass that whole process. Such potential efficiencies are why Gershenfeld and his students have been working closely with car companies, aviation companies, and NASA. But even the relatively low-tech building construction industry could potentially also benefit.

    While there has been increasing interest in 3-D-printed houses, today those require printing machinery as large or larger than the house being built. Again, the potential for such structures to instead be assembled by swarms of tiny robots could provide benefits. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also interested in the work for the possibility of building structures for coastal protection against erosion and sea level rise.

    Aaron Becker, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, who was not associated with this research, calls this paper “a home run — [offering] an innovative hardware system, a new way to think about scaling a swarm, and rigorous algorithms.”

    Becker adds: “This paper examines a critical area of reconfigurable systems: how to quickly scale up a robotic workforce and use it to efficiently assemble materials into a desired structure. … This is the first work I’ve seen that attacks the problem from a radically new perspective — using a raw set of robot parts to build a suite of robots whose sizes are optimized to build the desired structure (and other robots) as fast as possible.”

    The research team also included MIT-CBA student Benjamin Jenett and Christopher Cameron, who is now at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The work was supported by NASA, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and CBA consortia funding.

    Science paper:
    Nature Communications Engineering
    See the science paper for instructive material with images.

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct.


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory , the MIT Bates Research and Engineering Center , and the Haystack Observatory , as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Whitehead Institute.

    Massachusettes Institute of Technology-Haystack Observatory Westford, Massachusetts, USA, Altitude 131 m (430 ft).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a member of the Association of American Universities.

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia , wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst ). In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.

    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected The Massachusetts Institute of Technology profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘s defense research. In this period Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However, six Massachusetts Institute of Technology students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the MIT OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched “OpenCourseWare” to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation .

    Caltech /MIT Advanced aLigo

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:36 am on September 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hubble needs a boost. Will this new plan provide it?", , How a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft might return the Hubble Space Telescope to its original orbit, Hubble’s orbit was originally about 380 miles above Earth and has slowly decayed over time due to atmospheric drag. Its current orbit is about 335 miles., NASA, Right now there is a 50-percent probability of reentry in 2037., Six months will be spent figuring out if what the group is proposing can even be pulled off., , , The boost would extend the telescope’s life by a decade or more., The idea is this is a study at this point-not just for Hubble but just broad applicability of these types of potential servicing missions in low-Earth orbit., The Polaris Program   

    From “EarthSky” : “Hubble needs a boost. Will this new plan provide it?” 

    1

    From “EarthSky”

    9.30.22
    Dave Adalian

    1
    This photograph of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was taken during the 1st astronaut servicing mission in 1993. In 2022, the aging telescope is gradually falling to a lower orbit. NASA and SpaceX have announced they will study a way to boost it. Image via NASA.

    A boost to extend Hubble’s life

    NASA and SpaceX announced on September 29, 2022, that they intend to spend 6 months studying how a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft might return the Hubble Space Telescope to its original orbit. The boost would extend the telescope’s life by a decade or more. It could be the most exciting manned near-Earth mission since astronauts repaired the nearsightedness of the orbiting telescope in 1993. And it would happen “at no cost to the government,” the announcement said. It said:

    NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement Thursday, September 22, 2022, to study the feasibility of the SpaceX and Polaris idea to boost the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government.

    Billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman – who founded the Polaris Program, a human spaceflight program – participated in the September 29 announcement.

    Upgrading the telescope’s scientific instruments might also be possible, they said.

    Hubble is falling … Very slowly

    When first placed in orbit in 1990, the HST rode at about 380 miles (600 km) above the Earth’s surface. Since then, the almost nonexistent atmosphere at that height above Earth has gently but persistently tugged at the telescope. At a media briefing to discuss the study, HST project manager Patrick Crouse said:

    “So even though Hubble has been on orbit for over 32 years, its orbit was originally about 380 miles above Earth and has slowly decayed over time due to atmospheric drag. So, its current orbit is about 335 miles.”

    Hubble will eventually burn on reentry, Crouse said:

    “Right now, the last prediction we had, last year, was that we had a 50-percent probability of reentry in 2037.”

    If a mission to prevent that doom flies, then Crouse said, mission controllers will also discuss enhancing Hubble’s instruments. No specific alterations to the telescope are being considered.

    Billionaire paying for the flight

    The Hubble has been serviced five times, and NASA has no plans for a 6th visit. But it soon might, according to Jared Isaacman, commercial astronaut and commander of Polaris Dawn, who also participated in the briefing:

    “The idea is this is a study at this point, not just for Hubble, but just broad applicability of these types of potential servicing missions in low-Earth orbit. That stated, if the study takes us down a path where a mission is possible, this would certainly fit within the kind of parameters we’ve established for the Polaris Program and certainly would build upon the Polaris Dawn foundation.”

    While Isaacman is one of the world’s first commercial astronauts, he’s also a billionaire businessman who has purchased three SpaceX flights for what he calls the Polaris Program. The space flights are intended to demonstrate new tech and do on-orbit research. The third mission of the program will be the first manned mission of the SpaceX Starship.

    If one of the three Polaris Program flights is given over to an HST visit, then that organization will foot the bill.

    Hubble is A-OK

    At the start of the briefing, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate reiterated there is nothing wrong with the scope:

    “Hubble is amazingly successful. It’s healthy. It’s doing great science as we speak.”

    But he also said studying “crazy things” is one of the things his division of NASA is tasked to do, even if they’re not quite ready to do them:

    “We want to know what the possibilities are. I want to be absolutely clear, we’re not making any announcement today that we’re definitely going forward with a plan like this.”

    What are they studying?

    The six months will be spent figuring out if what the group is proposing can even be pulled off.

    Jessica Jensen, a vice president for SpaceX, described the company’s role:

    “Predominantly on the SpaceX side, we’re going to be looking at Dragon capabilities and how they would need to be modified in order to safely rendezvous and dock with Hubble. Details of how exactly physically that’s done and also how we safely do that from a trajectory point of view, that’s all to be worked out.”

    And while there is no plan yet for a journey to the Hubble, all the details – including a timeline – will be worked out for one by the study’s end, Jansen said:

    “Part of this is going to be figuring out the cost and figuring out a little bit of a schedule, what it’s going to take to actually make this happen and make it happen safely. We don’t want to do something that’s going to put Hubble at risk at all.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:11 pm on August 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ISS Experiment To Probe Origins of Elements", , NASA, TIGERISS has been chosen as the latest NASA Astrophysics Pioneers mission., Which kinds of stellar processes produce which elements? And which kinds of stars are involved?   

    From NASA: “ISS Experiment To Probe Origins of Elements” 

    From NASA

    8.30.22
    Elizabeth Landau
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0845
    elandau@nasa.gov

    Astronomer Carl Sagan put it best: “We’re made of star stuff.” The atoms that make up the chemicals of our bodies didn’t originate on Earth; they came from deep space. The big bang created hydrogen, helium, and a little bit of lithium, but heavier atoms – the ones essential for life – came from processes related to stars.

    Scientists can now probe deeper. Which kinds of stellar processes produce which elements? And which kinds of stars are involved?

    A new experiment called TIGERISS, envisioned for the International Space Station, aims to find out. TIGERISS has been chosen as the latest NASA Astrophysics Pioneers mission.

    1
    TIGERISS roars toward space station spot – The Source – Washington University in St. Louis.

    Pioneers are small-scale astrophysics missions that enable innovative investigations into cosmic phenomena. They may include experiments designed to fly on small satellites, scientific balloons, the space station, and payloads that could orbit or land on the Moon.

    Earlier this year, the four previous Pioneers mission concepts, chosen in January 2021, were given the green light to move forward with construction and have been approved to fly later this decade.

    Below are four concepts chosen for further study in January 2021. After additional definition, these four concept studies will undergo a concept study review before being approved for flight.

    Aspera is a SmallSat that will study galaxy evolution. Through observations in ultraviolet light, it will examine hot gas in the space between galaxies, called the intergalactic medium, and the inflow and outflow of gas from galaxies. The intergalactic medium is a major component of the universe, but is poorly measured; Aspera would close this gap. The principal investigator is Carlos Vargas at the University of Arizona.
    Pandora is a SmallSat that will study 20 stars and their 39 exoplanets in visible and infrared light. It is aimed at disentangling the signals from stars and planetary atmospheres. Understanding how changes in starlight affects measurements of exoplanets is an outstanding problem in the search for habitable planets beyond the solar system. The principal investigator is Elisa Quintana of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
    StarBurst is a SmallSat that will detect high-energy gamma rays from events such as the mergers of dense stellar remnants called neutron stars. This would provide valuable insight into such events, which are also detected through gravitational waves by observatories on Earth. These events are where most of the heavy metals in the universe, such as gold and platinum, are formed. To date, only one such event has been observed simultaneously in gravitational waves and gamma-rays; StarBurst would find up to 10 every year. The principal investigator is Daniel Kocevski of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
    PUEO is a balloon mission designed to launch from Antarctica that will detect signals from ultra-high energy neutrinos, particles that contain valuable clues about the highest energy astrophysical processes, including the creation of black holes and neutron star mergers. Neutrinos travel across the universe undisturbed, carrying information about events billions of light years away. PUEO would be the most sensitive survey of cosmic ultra-high energy neutrinos ever conducted. The principal investigator is Abigail Vieregg of the University of Chicago.

    “The Pioneer missions are an invaluable opportunity for early to mid-career scientists to conduct compelling astrophysics investigations, while gaining real experience in building space-based instrumentation,” said Mark Clampin, director of the astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With TIGERISS, the Pioneers expand their reach to the space station, which offers a unique platform for exploring the universe.”

    Eye of the TIGER

    TIGERISS Principal Investigator Brian Rauch, research associate professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, has been working on questions of elemental origins and high-energy particles since he was an undergraduate there. For nearly three years in college, Rauch worked on a particle detector called Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder, or TIGER. The experiment had its first flight on a balloon in 1995; long-duration balloon flights also launched a version of TIGER from Antarctica in 2001 to 2002 and 2003 to 2004.

    As Rauch progressed in his research career, he helped TIGER evolve into the more sophisticated SuperTIGER. On Dec. 8, 2012, SuperTIGER launched from Antarctica on its first flight, cruising at an average altitude of 125,000 feet and setting a new record for longest scientific balloon flight — 55 days. SuperTIGER also flew for 32 days from December 2019 to January 2020. The experiment measured the abundance of elements on the periodic table up to barium, atomic number 56.

    On the International Space Station, the TIGER instrument family will soar to new heights. Without the interference from Earth’s atmosphere, the TIGERISS experiment will make higher-resolution measurements and pick up heavy particles that wouldn’t be possible from a scientific balloon. A perch on the space station will also allow for a larger physical experiment – 3.2 feet (1 meter) on a side – than could fit on a small satellite, increasing the potential size of the detector. And the experiment could last more than a year, compared to less than two months on a balloon flight. Researchers plan to be able to measure individual elements as heavy as lead, atomic number 82.

    Star Stuff

    All stars exist in a delicate balance – they need to put out enough energy to counteract their own gravity. That energy comes from fusing elements together to make heavier ones, including carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, which are important for life as we know it. But once a giant star tries to fuse iron atoms, the reaction doesn’t generate enough power to fight gravity, and the star’s core collapses.

    This triggers an explosion known as a supernova, in which shock waves cast out all of those heavy elements that had been made in the star’s core. The explosion itself also creates heavy elements and accelerates them to nearly the speed of light – particles that scientists dub “cosmic rays.”

    But that’s not the only way heavy atoms can form. When a superdense remnant of a supernova called a neutron star collides with another neutron star, their cataclysmic merger also creates heavy elements.

    TIGERISS won’t be able to point out particular supernovae or neutron star collisions, but “would add context as to how these fast-moving elements are accelerated and travel through the galaxy,” Rauch said.

    So how much do supernovae and neutron star mergers each contribute to making heavy elements? “That is the most interesting question we can hope to address,” Rauch said.

    “TIGERISS measurements are key to understanding how our galaxy creates and distributes matter,” said John Krizmanic, TIGERISS’s deputy principal investigator based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    TIGERISS will also contribute information on the general abundance of cosmic rays, which pose a hazard to astronauts.

    Other contributing institutions on TIGERISS include Howard University in Washington; Pennsylvania State University in State College; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights.

    First Pioneers Moving Forward

    TIGERISS joins four experiments in the Pioneers program [above] that are at a more advanced stage of development, having passed their initial review this year. The cost cap for Pioneers missions is $20 million, limiting the scope of these concepts to small-scale projects. For all four principal investigators of the new missions, this program represents their first time serving as a principal investigator for a space mission.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on August 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Lucy", , , , , , NASA, NASA’s Lucy mission is the first spacecraft launched to explore the Trojan asteroids-a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter.,   

    From NASA : “Lucy” 

    From NASA

    8.5.22

    What is Lucy?

    NASA’s Lucy mission is the first spacecraft launched to explore the Trojan asteroids-a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter.

    NASA’s Lucy mission will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one asteroid in the solar system’s main asteroid belt, and by seven Trojan asteroids.

    About Lucy

    Lucy is the first space mission launched to study the Trojan asteroids. Trojans are small bodies that are remnants of our early solar system. They orbit the Sun in two loose groups: one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its orbit, the other trailing behind.

    During its 12-year primary mission, Lucy will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one main belt asteroid, and seven Trojans.

    No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our Sun.

    2
    This diagram illustrates Lucy’s orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape. Credit: Southwest Research Institute.

    Lucy launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT on Oct. 16, 2021, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft sent its first signal to Earth from its own antenna to NASA’s Deep Space Network at 6:40 a.m. EDT.

    “Lucy embodies NASA’s enduring quest to push out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “I can’t wait to see what mysteries the mission uncovers!”

    NASA troubleshoots Lucy after launch

    Following the successful launch of NASA’s Lucy spacecraft on October 16, 2021, engineers huddled around a long conference table in Titusville, Florida. Lucy was only starting its 12-year flight, but an unexpected challenge surfaced for the first-ever Trojan asteroids mission.

    Data indicated that one of Lucy’s solar arrays powering the spacecraft’s systems — designed to unfurl like a hand fan — hadn’t fully opened and latched. So the team had to figure out what to do next.

    Teams from NASA and Lucy mission partners quickly came together to troubleshoot. On the phone were team members at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area outside of Denver. They were in direct contact with the spacecraft.

    The conversation was quiet, yet intense. At one end of the room, an engineer sat, folding and unfolding a paper plate in the same manner that Lucy’s huge circular solar arrays operate.

    There were so many questions. What happened? Was the array open at all? Was there a way to fix it? Would Lucy be able to safely perform the maneuvers needed to accomplish its science mission without a fully deployed array?

    With Lucy already speeding on its way through space, the stakes were high.

    NASA troubleshoots Lucy from the ground

    Within hours, NASA pulled together Lucy’s anomaly response team, comprising members from science mission lead Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Austin, Texas; mission operations lead NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman in San Diego, the solar array system designer and builder.

    United in their pursuit to ensure Lucy would reach its fullest potential, the team began an exhaustive deep dive to determine the cause of the issue and develop the best path forward. Given that the spacecraft was otherwise perfectly healthy, the team wasn’t rushing into anything.

    A jammed lanyard

    Staying focused during many long days and nights, the team worked through options. To evaluate Lucy’s solar array configuration in real time, the team fired thrusters on the spacecraft and gathered data on how those forces made the solar array vibrate. Next, they fed the data into a detailed model of the array’s motor assembly to infer how rigid Lucy’s array was. That helped uncover the source of the issue.

    At last, they closed in on the root cause: a lanyard designed to pull Lucy’s massive solar array open was likely snarled on its bobbin-like spool.

    After months of further brainstorming and testing, Lucy’s team settled on two potential paths forward.

    In one, they would pull harder on the lanyard by running the array’s back-up deployment motor at the same time as its primary motor. The power from two motors should allow the jammed lanyard to wind in further and engage the array’s latching mechanism. While both motors were never originally intended to operate at the same time, the team used models to ensure the concept would work.

    The second option: use the array as it was, nearly fully deployed and generating more than 90% of its expected power.

    Testing the options

    The team mapped out and tested possible outcomes for both options. They analyzed hours of the array’s test footage and constructed a ground-based replica of the array’s motor assembly. Then they tested the replica past its limits to better understand risks of further deployment attempts. They also developed special, high-fidelity software to simulate Lucy in space. Plus, it would gauge any potential ripple effects a redeployment attempt could have on the spacecraft.

    After months of simulations and testing, NASA decided to move forward with the first option, using a multi-step attempt to fully redeploy the solar array. On seven occasions in May and June, the team commanded the spacecraft to simultaneously run the primary and backup solar array deployment motors. The effort succeeded, pulling in the lanyard, and further opening and tensioning the array.

    The mission continues as planned

    The mission now estimates that Lucy’s solar array is between 353 degrees and 357 degrees open (out of 360 total degrees for a fully deployed array). While the array is not fully latched, it is under substantially more tension, making it stable enough for the spacecraft to operate as needed for mission operations.

    The spacecraft is now ready and able to complete the next big mission milestone: an Earth-gravity assist in October 2022. Lucy should arrive at its first asteroid target in 2025. During its 12-year journey, the spacecraft will visit seven different asteroids – a main belt asteroid and six Trojans. Lucy will study the geology, surface composition and bulk physical properties of these bodies at close range.

    “We started working on the Lucy mission concept early in 2014, so this launch has been long in the making,” said Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator, based out of the Boulder, Colorado, branch of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), which is headquartered in San Antonio. “It will still be several years before we get to the first Trojan asteroid, but these objects are worth the wait and all the effort because of their immense scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky.”

    The spacecraft is traveling at roughly 67,000 mph (108,000 kph) on a trajectory that will orbit the Sun and bring it back toward Earth in October 2022 for the spacecraft’s first gravity assist. That maneuver will accelerate and direct Lucy’s trajectory beyond the orbit of Mars. The spacecraft will then swing back toward Earth for another gravity assist in 2024, which will propel Lucy toward the Donaldjohanson asteroid – located within the solar system’s main asteroid belt – in 2025.

    Lucy will then journey toward its first Trojan asteroid encounter in the swarm ahead of Jupiter for a 2027 arrival. After completing its first four targeted flybys, the spacecraft will travel back to Earth for a third gravity boost in 2031, which will catapult it to the trailing swarm of Trojans for a 2033 encounter.

    “Today we celebrate this incredible milestone and look forward to the new discoveries that Lucy will uncover,” Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said after the launch.

    The Lucy mission is named after the fossilized skeleton of an early hominin (pre-human ancestor) discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and named “Lucy” by the team of paleoanthropologists who discovered it.

    Just as the Lucy fossil provided unique insights into humanity’s evolution, the Lucy mission promises to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system, including Earth.

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering, plus safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Lucy is the 13th mission in NASA’s Discovery Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the agency.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [NASA/ESA Hubble, NASA Chandra, NASA Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:59 am on July 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Engineers Are Working to Fix a Mysterious Glitch on The Voyager 1 Probe", NASA, ,   

    From NASA via “Science Alert (AU)” : “Engineers Are Working to Fix a Mysterious Glitch on The Voyager 1 Probe” 

    From NASA

    Via

    ScienceAlert

    “Science Alert (AU)”

    11 JULY 2022
    PAOLA ROSA-AQUINO

    In May, NASA scientists said the Voyager 1 spacecraft was sending back inaccurate data from its attitude-control system. The mysterious glitch is still ongoing, according to the mission’s engineering team.

    Now, in order to find a fix, engineers are digging through decades-old manuals.

    Voyager 1, along with its twin Voyager 2, launched in 1977 with a design lifetime of five years to study Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and their respective moons up close.

    After nearly 45 years in space, both spacecraft are still functioning. In 2012, Voyager 1 became the very first human-made object to venture beyond the boundary of our sun’s influence, known as the heliopause, and into interstellar space. It’s now around 14.5 billion miles from Earth and sending data back from beyond the solar system.

    “Nobody thought it would last as long as it has,” Suzanne Dodd, project manager for the Voyager mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Insider, adding, “And here we are.”

    Unearthing old spacecraft documents

    Voyager 1 was designed and built in the early 1970s, complicating efforts to troubleshoot the spacecraft’s problems.

    Though current Voyager engineers have some documentation – or command media, the technical term for the paperwork containing details on the spacecraft’s design and procedures – from those early mission days, other important documents may have been lost or misplaced.

    During the first 12 years of the Voyager mission, thousands of engineers worked on the project, according to Dodd.

    “As they retired in the ’70s and ’80s, there wasn’t a big push to have a project document library. People would take their boxes home to their garage,” Dodd added. In modern missions, NASA keeps more robust records of documentation.

    There are some boxes with documents and schematic stored off-site from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dodd and the rest of Voyager’s handlers can request access to these records. Still, it can be a challenge.

    “Getting that information requires you to figure out who works in that area on the project,” Dodd said.

    For Voyager 1’s latest glitch, mission engineers have had to specifically look for boxes under the name of engineers who helped design the attitude-control system. “It’s a time consuming process,” Dodd said.

    Source of the bug

    The spacecraft’s attitude-control system, which sends telemetry data back to NASA, indicates Voyager 1’s orientation in space and keeps the spacecraft’s high-gain antenna pointed at Earth, enabling it to beam data home.

    “Telemetry data is basically a status on the health of the system,” Dodd said. But the telemetry readouts the spacecraft’s handlers are getting from the system are garbled, according to Dodd, which means they don’t know if the attitude-control system is working properly.

    So far, Voyager engineers haven’t been able to find a root cause for the glitch, mainly because they haven’t been able to reset the system, Dodd said. Dodd and her team believe it’s due to an aging part. “Not everything works forever, even in space,” she said.

    Voyager’s glitch may also be influenced by its location in interstellar space. According to Dodd, the spacecraft’s data suggests that high-energy charged particles are out in interstellar space.

    “It’s unlikely for one to hit the spacecraft, but if it were to occur, it could cause more damage to the electronics,” Dodd said, adding, “We can’t pinpoint that as the source of the anomaly, but it could be a factor.”

    Despite the spacecraft’s orientation issues, it’s still receiving and executing commands from Earth and its antenna is still pointed toward us.

    “We haven’t seen any degradation in the signal strength,” Dodd said.

    Voyager 1’s journey continues

    As part of an ongoing power management effort that has ramped up in recent years, engineers have been powering down non-technical systems on board the Voyager probes, like its science instruments heaters, hoping to keep them going through 2030.

    From discovering unknown moons and rings to the first direct evidence of the heliopause, the Voyager mission has helped scientists understand the cosmos.

    “We want the mission to last as long as possible, because the science data is so very valuable,” Dodd said.

    “It’s really remarkable that both spacecraft are still operating and operating well – little glitches, but operating extremely well and still sending back this valuable data,” Dodd said, adding, “They’re still talking to us.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [NASA/ESA Hubble, NASA Chandra, NASA Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on May 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA-Supported Solar Sail Could Take Science to New Heights", "NIAC": NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, , NASA   

    From NASA: “NASA-Supported Solar Sail Could Take Science to New Heights” 

    From NASA

    May 24, 2022

    Sarah Frazier
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-853-7191
    sarah.frazier@nasa.gov

    1
    Diffractive solar sails, depicted in this conceptual illustration, could enable missions to hard-to-reach places, like orbits over the Sun’s poles. Credit: MacKenzi Martin.

    As NASA’s exploration continues to push boundaries, a new solar sail concept selected by the agency for development toward a demonstration mission could carry science to new destinations.

    The Diffractive Solar Sailing project was selected for Phase III study under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. Phase III aims to strategically transition NIAC concepts with the highest potential impact for NASA, other government agencies, or commercial partners.

    “As we venture farther out into the cosmos than ever before, we’ll need innovative, cutting-edge technologies to drive our missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program helps to unlock visionary ideas – like novel solar sails – and bring them closer to reality.”

    Like a sailboat using wind to cross the ocean, solar sails use the pressure exerted by sunlight to propel a craft through space. Existing reflective solar sail designs are typically very large and very thin, and they are limited by the direction of the sunlight, forcing tradeoffs between power and navigation. Diffractive lightsails would use small gratings embedded in thin films to take advantage of a property of light called diffraction, which causes light to spread out when it passes through a narrow opening. This would allow the spacecraft to make more efficient use of sunlight without sacrificing maneuverability.

    “Exploring the universe means we need new instruments, new ideas, and new ways of going places,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Our goal is to invest in those technologies throughout their lifecycle to support a robust ecosystem of innovation.”

    The new Phase III award will give the research team $2 million over two years to continue technology development in preparation for a potential future demonstration mission. The project is led by Amber Dubill of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

    “NIAC allows us to foster some of the most creative technology concepts in aerospace,” said Mike LaPointe, acting program executive for the NIAC program at NASA Headquarters. “Our goal is to change the possible, and diffractive solar sailing promises to do just that for a number of exciting new mission applications.”


    Transforming Future Space Technology.
    From deep space human exploration to advanced propulsion and robotics, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts aims to change the possible by supporting early stage space technology research that could radically change the future. Credit: NASA.

    Diffractive lightsailing would extend solar sail capability beyond what’s possible with missions in development today. The project is led by Amber Dubill of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. The feasibility of the concept was previously studied under NIAC’s Phase I and Phase II awards, led by Dr. Grover Swartzlander of Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, who continues as a co-investigator on the project. Les Johnson, lead for two of NASA’s upcoming solar sail missions at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, also is a co-investigator. Under the earlier awards, the team designed, created, and tested different types of diffractive sail materials; conducted experiments; and designed new navigation and control schemes for a potential diffractive lightsail mission orbiting the Sun’s poles.

    Work under Phase III will optimize the sail material and perform ground tests in support of this conceptual solar mission. Orbits passing over the Sun’s north and south poles are difficult to achieve using conventional spacecraft propulsion. Lightweight diffractive lightsails, propelled by the constant pressure of sunlight, could place a constellation of science spacecraft in orbit around the Sun’s poles to advance our understanding of the Sun and improve our space weather forecasting capabilities.

    “Diffractive solar sailing is a modern take on the decades old vision of lightsails. While this technology can improve a multitude of mission architectures, it is poised to highly impact the heliophysics community’s need for unique solar observation capabilities,” said Dubill. “With our team’s combined expertise in optics, aerospace, traditional solar sailing, and metamaterials, we hope to allow scientists to see the Sun as never before.”

    NIAC supports visionary research ideas through multiple progressive phases of study. NASA announced 17 Phase I and Phase II proposal selections in February 2022. NIAC is funded by NASA’s STMD, which is responsible for developing the new cross-cutting technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

    For more information about NASA’s investments in space technology, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:50 pm on April 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions", NASA   

    From NASA: “NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions” 


    From NASA

    Apr 25, 2022
    Editor: Tricia Talbert

    1

    Following a thorough evaluation, NASA has extended the planetary science missions of eight of its spacecraft due to their scientific productivity and potential to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and beyond.

    The missions – Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), InSight lander, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons – have been selected for continuation, assuming their spacecraft remain healthy. Most of the missions will be extended for three years; however, OSIRIS-REx will be continued for nine years in order to reach a new destination, and InSight will be continued until the end of 2022, unless the spacecraft’s electrical power allows for longer operations.

    Each extended mission proposal was reviewed by a panel of independent experts drawn from academia, industry, and NASA. In total, more than 50 reviewers evaluated the scientific return of the respective proposals. Two independent review chairs oversaw the process and, based on the panel evaluations, validated that these eight science missions hold substantial potential to continue bringing new discoveries and addressing compelling new science questions.

    Beyond providing important programmatic benefit to NASA, several of these missions promise multi-divisional science benefits across NASA’s entire Science Mission Directorate (SMD), including their use as data relays for Mars surface landers and rovers, as well as to support other NASA initiatives such as the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).

    “Extended missions provide us with the opportunity to leverage NASA’s large investments in exploration, allowing continued science operations at a cost far lower than developing a new mission,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington. “Maximizing taxpayer dollars in this way allows missions to obtain valuable new science data, and in some cases, allows NASA to explore new targets with totally new science goals.”

    Two of the extended missions, MAVEN and OSIRIS-REx, welcome new principal investigators (PIs).

    OSIRIS-APEX (Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniella DellaGiustina, University of Arizona): The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission is currently on its way back to Earth to deliver the samples of asteroid Bennu that it collected in 2020. Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx PI, will remain in place for the primary mission, while DellaGiustina begins her role as the newly named PI for OSIRIS-APophis EXplorer (OSIRIS-APEX). With a new name to reflect the extended mission’s new goals, the OSIRIS-APEX team will redirect the spacecraft to encounter Apophis, an asteroid roughly 1,200 feet (roughly 370 meters) in diameter that will come within 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of Earth in 2029. OSIRIS-APEX will enter orbit around Apophis soon after the asteroid’s Earth flyby, providing an unprecedented close-up look at this S-type asteroid. It plans to study changes in the asteroid caused by its close flyby of Earth and use the spacecraft’s gas thrusters to attempt to dislodge and study the dust and small rocks on and below Apophis’ surface.

    MAVEN (Principal Investigator: Dr. Shannon Curry, University of California-Berkeley): The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission plans to study the interaction between Mars’ atmosphere and magnetic field during the upcoming solar maximum. MAVEN’s observations as the Sun’s activity level increases toward the maximum of its 11-year cycle will deepen our understanding of how Mars’ upper atmosphere and magnetic field interact with the Sun.

    InSight (Principal Investigator: Dr. Bruce Banerdt, NASA JPL/Caltech): Since landing on Mars in 2018, the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission has operated the only active seismic station beyond Earth. Its seismic monitoring of “marsquakes” has provided constraints on Mars’ interior, formation, and current activity. The extended mission will continue InSight’s seismic and weather monitoring if the spacecraft remains healthy. However, due to dust accumulation on its solar panels, InSight’s electrical power production is low, and the mission is unlikely to continue operations for the duration of its current extended mission unless its solar panels are cleared by a passing ‘dust devil’ in Mars’ atmosphere.

    Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) (Project Scientist: Dr. Noah Petro, The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center): LRO will continue to study the surface and geology of the Moon. The evolution of LRO’s orbit will allow it to study new regions away from the poles in unprecedented detail, including the Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs) near the poles where water ice may be found. LRO will also provide important programmatic support for NASA’s efforts to return to the Moon.

    Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) (Project Scientist: Dr. Ashwin Vasavada, JPL): The Mars Science Laboratory and its Curiosity rover have driven more than 16 miles (27 km) on the surface of Mars, exploring the history of habitability in Gale Crater. In its fourth extended mission, MSL will climb to higher elevations, exploring the critical sulfate-bearing layers which give unique insights into the history of water on Mars.

    New Horizons (Principal Investigator: Dr. Alan Stern, The Southwest Research Institute): New Horizons flew past Pluto in 2015 and the Kuiper belt object (KBO) Arrokoth in 2019. In its second extended mission, New Horizons will continue to explore the distant solar system out to 63 astronomical units (AU) from Earth. The New Horizons spacecraft can potentially conduct multi-disciplinary observations of relevance to the solar system and NASA’s Heliophysics and Astrophysics Divisions. Additional details regarding New Horizons’ science plan will be provided at a later date.

    Mars Odyssey
    (Project Scientist: Dr. Jeffrey Plaut, JPL): Mars Odyssey’s extended mission will perform new thermal studies of rocks and ice below Mars’ surface, monitor the radiation environment, and continue its long-running climate monitoring campaign. The Odyssey orbiter also continues to provide unique support for real-time data relay from other Mars spacecraft. The length of Odyssey’s extended mission may be limited by the amount of propellant remaining aboard the spacecraft.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) (Project Scientist: Dr. Rich Zurek, JPL): MRO has provided a wealth of data regarding the processes on Mars’ surface. In its sixth extended mission, MRO will study the evolution of Mars’ surface, ices, active geology, and atmosphere and climate. In addition, MRO will continue to provide important data relay service to other Mars missions. MRO’s CRISM instrument will be shut down entirely, after the loss of its cryocooler has ended the use of one of its two spectrometers.

    NASA’s Planetary Science Division currently operates 14 spacecraft across the solar system, has 12 missions in formulation and implementation, and partners with international space agencies on seven others.

    The detailed reports from the 2022 Planetary Science Senior Review may be found at:

    https://science.nasa.gov/solar-system/documents/senior-review

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [NASA/ESA Hubble, NASA Chandra, NASA Spitzer, and associated programs.] NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:44 pm on October 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using 'Charon-light' Researchers Capture Pluto's Dark Side", , , , NASA, , , ,   

    From Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab : “Using ‘Charon-light’ Researchers Capture Pluto’s Dark Side” 

    The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

    From Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

    October 27, 2021

    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made history by returning the first close-up images of Pluto and its moons.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(USA) New Horizons(US) spacecraft

    Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and The Southwest Research Institute (US) for The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (US).

    Now, through a series of clever methods, researchers led by Tod Lauer of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab in Tucson, Arizona, on the New Horizons team have expanded that photo album to include the portion of Pluto’s landscape that wasn’t directly illuminated by sunlight — what the team calls Pluto’s “dark side.”

    National Science Foundation(US) NOIRLab NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory on the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft).

    After flying within 7,800 miles (12,550 kilometers) of Pluto’s icy surface on July 14, 2015, New Horizons continued at a rapid 9 miles per second (14.5 kilometers per second) on to the Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth and beyond. But while departing Pluto, the spacecraft looked back at the dwarf planet and captured a series of images of its dark side.

    Backlit by the distant Sun, Pluto’s hazy atmosphere stood out as a brilliant ring of light encircling the Pluto’s dark side.

    2
    The image shows the dark side of Pluto surrounded by a bright ring of sunlight scattered by haze in its atmosphere. But for a dark crescent zone to the left, the terrain is faintly illuminated by sunlight reflected by Pluto’s moon Charon. Researchers on the New Horizons team were able to generate this image using 360 images that New Horizons captured as it looked back on Pluto’s southern hemisphere. A large portion of the southern hemisphere was in seasonal darkness similar to winters in the Arctic and Antarctica on Earth, and was otherwise not visible to New Horizons during its 2015 flyby encounter of Pluto. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/ The Southwest Research Institute (US)/NOIRLab

    From its vantage point when this experiment was conducted, New Horizons was mainly able to see Pluto’s southern hemisphere, a large portion of which was transitioning to its winter seasonal darkness — something much like the dark, months-long Arctic and Antarctic winters on Earth, except on Pluto each season lasts 62 Earth years.

    Fortunately, a portion of Pluto’s dark southern hemisphere was illuminated by the faint sunlight reflecting off the icy surface of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, which is about the size of Texas. That bit of “Charon-light” was just enough for researchers to tease out details of Pluto’s southern hemisphere that could not be obtained any other way.

    “In a startling coincidence, the amount of light from Charon on Pluto is close to that of the Moon on Earth, at the same phase for each,” said Tod Lauer, an astronomer at the National Science Foundation’s National Optical Infrared Astronomy Research Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, and the study’s lead author. “At the time, the illumination of Charon on Pluto was similar to that from our own Moon on Earth when in its first-quarter phase.”

    The researchers published the resulting image and the scientific interpretation of it on Oct. 20 in The Planetary Science Journal.

    Recovering details on Pluto’s surface in faint moonlight wasn’t easy. When looking back at Pluto with the New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), scattered light from the Sun (which was nearly directly behind Pluto) produced a complex pattern of background light that was 1,000 times stronger than the signal produced by Charon-reflected light, according to New Horizons coinvestigator and Project Scientist Hal Weaver, at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. In addition, the bright ring of atmospheric haze surrounding Pluto was itself heavily over-exposed, producing additional artifacts in the images.

    “The problem was a lot like trying to read a street sign through a dirty windshield when driving towards the setting Sun, without a sun visor,” said John Spencer, New Horizons co-investigator and planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, a study co-author.

    It took the combination of 360 images of Pluto’s dark side, and another 360 images taken with the same geometry but without Pluto in the picture, to produce the final image with the artifacts subtracted out leaving only the signal produced by Charon-reflected light. Alan Stern, the New Horizons principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute, added that “the image processing work that Tod Lauer led was completely state of the art, and it allowed us to learn some fascinating things about a part of Pluto we otherwise would not have known.”

    The resulting map, while still containing digital noise, shows a few prominent features on Pluto’s shadowed surface. The most prominent of these is a dark crescent zone to the west, where neither sunlight nor Charon-light was falling when New Horizons took the images. Also conspicuous is a large, bright region midway between Pluto’s south pole and its equator. The team suspects it may be a deposit of nitrogen or methane ice similar to Pluto’s icy “heart” on its opposite side.

    Pluto’s south pole and the region of the surface around it appears to be covered in a dark material, starkly contrasting with the paler surface of Pluto’s northern hemisphere. The researchers suspect that difference could be a consequence of Pluto having recently completed its southern summer (which ended 15 years before the flyby). During the summer, the team suggests that nitrogen and methane ices in the south may have sublimated from the surface, turning directly from solid to vapor, while dark haze-particles settled over the region. Future Earth-based instruments could eventually verify the team’s image and confirm their other suspicions, but it would require Pluto’s southern hemisphere to be in sunlight — something that won’t happen for nearly 100 years. “The easiest way to confirm our ideas is to send a follow-on mission,” Lauer said.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Johns Hopkins University campus

    JHUAPL campus

    Founded on March 10, 1942—just three months after the United States entered World War II— The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (US) -was created as part of a federal government effort to mobilize scientific resources to address wartime challenges.

    The Applied Physics Lab was assigned the task of finding a more effective way for ships to defend themselves against enemy air attacks. The Laboratory designed, built, and tested a radar proximity fuze (known as the VT fuze) that significantly increased the effectiveness of anti-aircraft shells in the Pacific—and, later, ground artillery during the invasion of Europe. The product of the Laboratory’s intense development effort was later judged to be, along with the atomic bomb and radar, one of the three most valuable technology developments of the war.

    On the basis of that successful collaboration, the government, The Johns Hopkins University, and APL made a commitment to continue their strategic relationship. The Laboratory rapidly became a major contributor to advances in guided missiles and submarine technologies. Today, more than seven decades later, the Laboratory’s numerous and diverse achievements continue to strengthen our nation.

    The Applied Physics Lab continues to relentlessly pursue the mission it has followed since its first day: to make critical contributions to critical challenges for our nation.

    Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

    The Johns Hopkins University (US) is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest (approximately $147.5 million in today’s currency)—of which half financed the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution’s first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany’s historic Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE), Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research. The university has graduate campuses in Italy, China, and Washington, D.C., in addition to its main campus in Baltimore.

    Johns Hopkins is organized into 10 divisions on campuses in Maryland and Washington, D.C., with international centers in Italy and China. The two undergraduate divisions, the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering, are located on the Homewood campus in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood. The medical school, nursing school, and Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center are located on the Medical Institutions campus in East Baltimore. The university also consists of the Peabody Institute, Applied Physics Laboratory, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, School of Education, Carey Business School, and various other facilities.

    Johns Hopkins was a founding member of the American Association of Universities (US). As of October 2019, 39 Nobel laureates and 1 Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Johns Hopkins. Founded in 1883, the Blue Jays men’s lacrosse team has captured 44 national titles and plays in the Big Ten Conference as an affiliate member as of 2014.

    Research

    The opportunity to participate in important research is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Hopkins’ undergraduate education. About 80 percent of undergraduates perform independent research, often alongside top researchers. In FY 2013, Johns Hopkins received $2.2 billion in federal research grants—more than any other U.S. university for the 35th consecutive year. Johns Hopkins has had seventy-seven members of the Institute of Medicine, forty-three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, seventeen members of the National Academy of Engineering, and sixty-two members of the National Academy of Sciences. As of October 2019, 39 Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with the university as alumni, faculty members or researchers, with the most recent winners being Gregg Semenza and William G. Kaelin.

    Between 1999 and 2009, Johns Hopkins was among the most cited institutions in the world. It attracted nearly 1,222,166 citations and produced 54,022 papers under its name, ranking No. 3 globally [after Harvard University (US) and the Max Planck Society (DE) in the number of total citations published in Thomson Reuters-indexed journals over 22 fields in America.

    In FY 2000, Johns Hopkins received $95.4 million in research grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US), making it the leading recipient of NASA research and development funding. In FY 2002, Hopkins became the first university to cross the $1 billion threshold on either list, recording $1.14 billion in total research and $1.023 billion in federally sponsored research. In FY 2008, Johns Hopkins University performed $1.68 billion in science, medical and engineering research, making it the leading U.S. academic institution in total R&D spending for the 30th year in a row, according to a National Science Foundation (US) ranking. These totals include grants and expenditures of JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

    The Johns Hopkins University also offers the “Center for Talented Youth” program—a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and developing the talents of the most promising K-12 grade students worldwide. As part of the Johns Hopkins University, the “Center for Talented Youth” or CTY helps fulfill the university’s mission of preparing students to make significant future contributions to the world. The Johns Hopkins Digital Media Center (DMC) is a multimedia lab space as well as an equipment, technology and knowledge resource for students interested in exploring creative uses of emerging media and use of technology.

    In 2013, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships program was established by a $250 million gift from Michael Bloomberg. This program enables the university to recruit fifty researchers from around the world to joint appointments throughout the nine divisions and research centers. Each professor must be a leader in interdisciplinary research and be active in undergraduate education. Directed by Vice Provost for Research Denis Wirtz, there are currently thirty two Bloomberg Distinguished Professors at the university, including three Nobel Laureates, eight fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (US), ten members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and thirteen members of the National Academies.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on August 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Renews Support of Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence", NASA   

    From NASA : “NASA Renews Support of Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence” 

    From NASA

    Editor: Lillian Gipson
    Jul 9, 2021

    Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology Project Overview

    1

    With their unique ability to take off and land from any spot, as well as hover in place, vertical lift vehicles are increasingly being contemplated for use in new ways that go far beyond those considered when thinking of traditional helicopters. NASA’s Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT) project is working with partners in government, industry, and academia to develop critical technologies that enable revolutionary new air travel options, especially those associated with Advanced Air Mobility such as large cargo-carrying vehicles and passenger-carrying air taxis.

    These new markets are forecast to rapidly grow during the next ten years, and the vertical lift industry’s ability to safely develop and certify innovative new technologies, lower operating costs, and meet acceptable community noise standards will be critical in opening these new markets.

    The RVLT project invests in development of cutting-edge technology and tools to:

    • Enable current and future vertical lift vehicles to operate safely and reliably.
    • Reduce environmental impacts and minimize intrusion – especially by noise – when in close proximity to people and property.
    • Increase access to sustainable transportation and services which creates a broad economic benefit.

    While the project has historically conducted research for traditional rotary wing vehicles, such as helicopters, RVLT is currently focusing on specific vehicle technology for new concept vertical lift vehicles across a range of sizes and missions in support of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).

    Current Research Activities

    The RVLT project primarily focuses its research in these four general areas.

    Clean and Efficient Propulsion

    Advanced future vertical lift vehicles of all classes and sizes will require higher speed flight capability and improved operational efficiency. RVLT is focused on enabling the next generation of vehicles to use electric propulsion systems and is targeting propulsion system reliability and standards, system failure modes, and power quality standards for electric propulsion architectures.

    Other new areas of investment include modeling thermal management and power systems for electric architectures, electric motor design for reliability, and trade studies of electric propulsion architectures for vehicles of different size classes. RVLT also continues to pursue powertrain technology to benefit electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

    Efficient and Quiet Vehicles

    To overcome the growth in helicopter-related noise complaints, RVLT has recently combined improved flight operations, a high-fidelity rotor/vehicle design approach, and human factors research to provide a 50-percent reduction in the noise footprint area for commonly used commercial Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicles.

    RVLT is adapting and working to improve existing tools for aircraft noise prediction to apply to new electric VTOL concepts. Noise considerations are coupled with performance calculations in a conceptual design tool chain that will allow users to trade the design space between noise and performance. RVLT also is focused on development of the tool chain and best practice guidelines for modeling AAM VTOL.

    The noise of projected fleet operations of VTOL vehicles used in AAM, however, will have a much different impact on the community compared to the flight of a single helicopter. So, RVLT is working to develop methods targeted at analyzing the noise footprint for multiple flyover events. RVLT will deliver validated tools, document best practices for fleet noise modeling, and demonstrate fleet noise assessments of representative AAM operations.

    Safety, Comfort and Accessibility

    In order to improve the safety of current and future configurations, RVLT supports research in crash safety, occupant protection, and analysis of composite structures under impact. Working with partners in the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, and industry, RVLT aims to improve the crashworthiness and occupant safety during impact of AAM vehicles and simplify the certification process.

    As part of RVLT’s investment in safety technologies, icing challenges specific to vertical lift vehicles, such as ice shedding from rotating blades, will be addressed in the context of AAM vehicles. Research in icephoebic materials and other ice mitigation technologies are underway with NASA, and in collaboration with other research institutions.

    RVLT research on passenger comfort includes flight dynamics and control of multi-rotor AAM vehicles, and human response to vehicle motion and cabin environment. Research in handling qualities, pilot workload, and the extension to passenger comfort is underway.

    Modeling/Simulation and Test Capability

    RVLT will develop an essential capability to accurately predict acoustics and performance of VTOL aircraft that have multiple rotors/propellers, allowing for configurations that trim the aircraft in novel ways.

    New models for acoustic source noise, rotor blade structures, and flight dynamics will be developed. Acoustic and performance calculations will be validated using data from component testing that explore multi-rotor acoustics, multi-rotor performance, aerodynamic interactions between rotors and rotors/fuselage. RVLT will conduct conceptual design studies that explore vehicle acoustics and efficiency trade-offs with designs that are updated using experimental evidence and/or high-fidelity analyses.

    RVLT continues to fund fundamental research in vertical lift in partnership with U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Aviation and Missile Center and the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research. The three partners jointly fund the Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence. The 2016-2021 VLRCOE teams are Georgia Institute of Technology (US) and their partners, Pennsylvania State University (US) and their partners, and the University of Maryland (US) and their partners.

    The universities selected and their partners:
    The Georgia Institute of Technology-led team, which includes The University of Michigan (US), Washington University at St. Louis (US), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, The Ohio State University (US), The University of Texas-Arlington (US), and The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US).
    The Pennsylvania State University-led VLRCOE team, which includes The University of Tennessee-Knoxville (US); The University of California-Davis (US); Auburn University (US), and the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State
    The University of Maryland-led team, which includes the United States Naval Academy (US), The University of Texas-Austin (US), and Texas A&M University (US).

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra,
    Spitzer , and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:46 pm on January 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Sonoma State receives near $5 million from NASA to engage autistic learners in STEM", , , , NASA, Sonoma State University   

    From Sonoma State University: “Sonoma State receives near $5 million from NASA to engage autistic learners in STEM” 

    From From Sonoma State University

    January 26, 2021

    Nate Galvan
    galvanna@sonoma.edu

    Sonoma State University has been awarded $4.96 million from NASA to design and implement a program that will engage students on the autism spectrum in informal STEM learning.

    NASA’s Neurodiversity Network (N3) aims to broaden participation in NASA programs to include autistic and other learners with neurological differences. As part of NASA’s Science Activation Program, which is composed of teams across the nation to help learners of all ages and abilities do science, N3 will use specific learning modules to support autistic learners with the social and technical skills needed for successful STEM careers.

    “I really got inspired to pursue this opportunity because everywhere I turn there seems to be autism,” said professor Lynn Cominsky, who authored the cooperative agreement application and is also the director of EdEon STEM Learning at SSU – a center meant to inspire students to pursue STEM careers. “NASA has done so much for every other demographic group, but this award is very important because research has shown how autistic learners can be so talented in STEM fields.”

    Over a five-year period, hundreds of high school autistic learners in both California and New York City will engage in informal NASA activities, including building and launching rocket payloads and using SSU’s NASA funded telescope. One of the California high schools that will participate in the program is the Anova Center for Education in Santa Rosa.

    “Anova is proud to be a founding partner in the NASA Neurodiversity Network along with Sonoma State University and several other excellent Bay Area schools,” said Andrew Bailey, the founding director of Anova. “Autism can be a valuable type of ‘neurological diversity’ when the autistic individual is able to participate in the pursuit of happiness unhindered by the disabling roadblocks of a divergent mind. The N3 project is an exciting opportunity for our Anova students and the entire autism community.”

    As part of the program, NASA will provide subject matter experts to work as mentors for sets of students that are highly motivated in working with the curriculum. “By introducing students to NASA science, autistic learners will not only gain knowledge for future accomplishments in STEM, but it will also promote growth in their social skills and self-efficacy,” Cominsky said.

    Among the program’s special consultants is Dan Swearingen, one of Cominsky’s former students from more than 25 years ago. Swearingen, who himself is autistic as well as his son, founded a program to help young adults with autism or other neurological differences to ease their transition to an independent adulthood.

    “The staff and students at Autistry are excited about the NASA Neurodiversity Network,” said Dan Swearingen, who co-founded Autistry Studios with his wife Janet Lawson in Marin County. “This is a fabulous opportunity, and a rare one, for autistic students to explore STEM learning. Dr. Cominsky’s energy and ability to inspire scientific curiosity put me on the path to pursue astrophysics, and I am confident she will give this gift to our students as well.”

    Other partners in the N3 team are Wendy Martin and Ariana Riccio from the nonprofit Education Development Center; Sylvia Perez and Georgette Williams from the New York Hall of Science; and Laura Peticolas, EdEon’s Associate Director. Along with Anova, other Bay Area high schools will also be participating as partners, including Oak Hill School in San Anselmo, Stanbridge Academy in San Mateo, and the Orion Academy in Moraga. The internship program that N3 will be implementing was inspired by the successful program at Orion that partners their students with scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in STEM-related projects.

    The program began this month with the NASA Kickoff meeting for the SciAct program. Cominsky said they are currently co-developing NASA resources with autistic learners to ensure they create learning opportunities that meet their needs. For more information about NASA’s Science Activation Program, visit https://science.nasa.gov/learners.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sonoma State University is a public university in Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, California. It is one of the smallest members of the California State University (CSU) system. Sonoma State offers 92 Bachelor’s degrees, 19 Master’s degrees, and 11 teaching credentials.The university is a Hispanic-serving institution.

    Sonoma State College was established by the California State Legislature in 1960 to be part of the California State College system, with significant involvement of the faculty from San Francisco State University. As with all California State Colleges, Sonoma State later became part of the California State University system. Sonoma opened for the first time in 1961, with an initial enrollment of 250 students. Classes offered took place in leased buildings in Rohnert Park where the college offered its first four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. With the completion of its two main classroom halls, Stevenson Hall, named for politician Adlai Stevenson II, and Darwin Hall, named for Charles Darwin, the college moved to its permanent campus of 215 acres (87 ha) in 1966 where the first graduating class received their degrees.

    Early development

    As enrollment increased, Sonoma State built more on-campus facilities, including Ives Hall for performing arts, The University Commons for dining, a small library, and a gymnasium. These buildings followed the physical master plan of the school which stated that the facilities would be urban in character, defining the use of smooth concrete building façades with landscaped courtyards. Among the landscaping features added with these facilities were the “Campus Lakes”, two small reservoirs located behind the Commons next to Commencement Lawn, the site of the university’s annual commencement ceremonies, as well as one lake near a housing facility, Beaujolais Village; the lakes are home to local waterfowl.

    In 1969, the first master’s degrees in biology and psychology were offered. The new cluster school concept, coupled with a more intense focus on the surrounding rural environment, influenced the new physical master plan. The first facility built under the new plan was the Zinfandel residence area. The new Student Health Center used a primarily redwood façade with a landscaped ground cover of wild roses and poppies. Sonoma State was closed from May 7–11, 1970 after Governor Ronald Reagan ordered that all California colleges and universities shut down due to anti-war protests and rallies after the shootings of four students at Kent State University. In 1975, Nichols Hall was built as the newest classroom hall and named in honor of Sonoma’s founding president, Ambrose R. Nichols.

    Early development of the modern campus came to a close in 1976 when the Student Union was constructed between the main quad and the lakes. This building continued the use of the physical master plan, using primarily redwood and preceded the similarly built Carson Hall, an art building, a childcare center, additional parking, and a computer center which was added onto the library.

    The modern university

    In 1978, Sonoma State College became Sonoma State University when the school officially gained university status. In response to this achievement, the surrounding community provided funds for the new university to build a large swimming pool, completed in 1982, and the 500-seat Evert Person Theatre, 1989 and which dominates the view when entering campus through the main drive. Further enrollment increases and a new goal of movement toward a residential campus as opposed to a commuter campus facilitated the building of Verdot Village in 1995.

    21st-century expansion

    In May 2001, the Board of Trustees approved a new master plan, which added 48 acres (19 ha) to the campus, located north of Copeland Creek. Rapidly accelerated growth of the residential student body was alleviated by the construction of the third phase of on-campus housing named Sauvignon Village, offering housing to non-freshman students. In the same year, the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center was completed to accommodate the expanded needs of the library and computing services. The facility was built as a prototype library and information complex for the 21st century, housing more than 400,000 volumes in its stacks. The center also houses an advanced Automated Retrieval System (ARS) which contains an additional 750,000 volumes in a computer-managed shelving system in the library wing.

     
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