Written by Gina Anderson
Washington, D.C. – Humanoid robots will be helpful to astronauts on our journey to Mars, so NASA has awarded prototypes to two universities for advanced research and development work.
NASA is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even take the place of astronauts working in extreme space environments. Robots, like NASA’s R5, could be used in future NASA missions either as precursor robots performing mission tasks before humans arrive or as human-assistive robots actively collaborating with the human crew.
Written by Joshua Buck
Washington, D.C. – Imagine a world with extreme temperatures that can wreak havoc on unprotected spacecraft and habitat components; a world where water is so scarce that plants are outfitted with sensors so farmers can avoid overwatering them; a world where precious water supplies are found in underground oases by satellites in orbit; a world where systems filter, recycle and purify air for the survival of inhabitants huddled in shelters.
Although images of human habitation on Mars may have filled your mind, the world just described is actually Earth, and the technologies cited are spinoffs, or technologies developed by the American space program that have gone on to benefit the public.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA has joined a multi-agency field campaign studying summer storm systems in the U.S. Great Plains to find out why they often form after the sun goes down instead of during the heat of the day.
The Plains Elevated Convection at Night, or PECAN, project began June 1st and continues through mid-July. Participants from eight research laboratories and 14 universities are collecting storm data to find out how and why storms form.
Written by J.D. Harrington
Washington, D.C. – NASA researchers, working in concert with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and FlexSys Inc., of Ann Arbor, Michigan, successfully completed initial flight tests of a new morphing wing technology that has the potential to save millions of dollars annually in fuel costs, reduce airframe weight and decrease aircraft noise during takeoffs and landings.
The test team at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, flew 22 research flights during the past six months with experimental Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) flight control surfaces that offer significant improvements over conventional flaps used on existing aircraft.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Orion spacecraft continues on the agency’s journey to Mars as engineers analyze data from the spacecraft’s December flight test and make progress developing and building the spacecraft for its first mission atop NASA Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. On future missions, Orion will send astronauts to an asteroid and onward toward the Red Planet.
At machine houses across the country, elements of the primary structure for the next Orion to fly in space are coming together. Avionics components are being built and simulators for the ESA (European Space Agency)-built service module that will house the spacecraft’s propulsion and solar arrays are being delivered.
Written by David Weaver
Washington, D.C. – In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.
“We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond.”
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new space-based instrument to study how effectively plants use water is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The instrument, called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS), will monitor one of the most basic processes in living plants: the loss of water through the tiny pores in leaves.
When people lose water through their pores, the process is called sweating. The related process in plants is known as transpiration. Because water that evaporates from soil around plants also affects the amount of water that plants can use, ECOSTRESS will measure combined evaporation and transpiration, known as evapotranspiration.
Written by Rachel Hoover
Mountain View, CA – NASA’s Global Hawk research aircraft returned to its base at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, early Friday morning March 14th, marking the completion of flights in support of this year’s Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX), a multi-year NASA airborne science campaign.
On February 13th, the autonomously operated aircraft began conducting science flights from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in the western Pacific region on a mission to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate.
Written by Kathy Barnstorff
Hampton, VA – Anybody who says NASA researchers don’t know how to have a smashing good time has not met a team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.
They are test engineers whose job it is to make aircraft safer by crashing them.
In late August those engineers plan to drop a 45-foot long helicopter fuselage from about 30 feet to test improved seat belts and seats and to collect crash worthiness data.
Washington, D.C. – NASA recently completed a major space technology development milestone by successfully testing a pressurized, large cryogenic propellant tank made of composite materials. The composite tank will enable the next generation of rockets and spacecraft needed for space exploration.
Cryogenic propellants are gasses chilled to subfreezing temperatures and condensed to form highly combustible liquids, providing high-energy propulsion solutions critical to future, long-term human exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
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