Tag Archives: nasa

Uber works with NASA to get flying taxis ready by 2020

They say the best revenge is living well, and so in the midst of its ongoing and messy breakup with London, Uber has proven it’s doing just fine thank you very much by signing an agreement with NASA to develop software for its proposed flying taxi project, Elevate.



At a speech at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Uber’s head of product Jeff Holden revealed the company has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create the air traffic control system that will manage its low-flying taxi fleet, which it aims to have in the air by 2020. The company also announced that a third test city, Los Angeles, has been added to the program, joining Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai. According to Uber, its UberAIR service could compress a one and a half hour journey from LAX to the Staples Center during rush hour to under 30 minutes.

Image result for Uber works with NASA to get flying taxis ready by 2020

Uber released a slick video, seen above, alongside its announcement, illustrating just how it envisions the Elevate service being used. It closes with the line “closer than you think”. With NASA’s clout behind the project, the idea of a flying taxi service is not only closer, but a whole lot more credible, too.



NASA plans to save Earth by knocking asteroid off its orbit

Aiming to show how to protect Earth from a future killer asteroid strike, NASA plans to crash a refrigerator-sized spacecraft at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet into a space rock, forcing it to change its orbit.

The target for the first-ever mission to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique for planetary defense — the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — is an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022, and then again in 2024, NASA said.

“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique — striking the asteroid to shift its orbit — to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The asteroid is called Didymos — Greek for “twin” — because it is an asteroid binary system that consists of two bodies — Didymos A, about 780 metres in size, and a smaller asteroid orbiting it called Didymos B, about 160 metres in size.

DART, scheduled for launch in 2020, would impact only the smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B.

The Didymos system has been closely studied since 2003. The primary body is a rocky S-type object, with composition similar to that of many asteroids.

The composition of its small companion, Didymos B, is unknown, but the size is typical of asteroids that could potentially create regional effects should they impact Earth.

“A binary asteroid is the perfect natural laboratory for this test,” said Tom Statler, programme scientist for DART at NASA Headquarters.

“The fact that Didymos B is in orbit around Didymos A makes it easier to see the results of the impact, and ensures that the experiment doesn’t change the orbit of the pair around the sun,” Statler added.

After launch, DART would fly to Didymos, and use an on-board autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B.

Then the spacecraft would strike the smaller body at a speed about nine times faster than a bullet, approximately six kilometres per second.

Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.

The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity, but by doing it well before the predicted impact so that this small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

“DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact,” saiid Andy Cheng of The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, the DART investigation co-lead.



Designing the hanging gardens of Mars

NASA is all about solving challenges, and the goal of having a prolonged presence in space, or a colony on Mars or some other world, is full of challenges, including the necessity of growing food. Scientists at Kennedy Advanced Life Support Research are working on the Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse Project to try and meet that challenge.


The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse Project (PLMGP) is all about growing vegetables for astronauts during extended stays on the moon, on Mars, or anywhere they can’t be resupplied from Earth. Beyond growing food, the Project aims to understand how food-growing systems can also be a part of systems.

We’re working with a team of scientists, engineers and small businesses at the University of Arizona to develop a closed-loop system. The approach uses plants to scrub carbon dioxide, while providing food and oxygen,” said Dr. Ray Wheeler, lead scientist in Kennedy Advanced Life Support Research.

The prototype itself is an inflatable, deployable system that researchers call a bioregenerative life support system. As crops are grown, the system recycles, water, recycles waste, and revitalizes the air.

The system is hydroponic, so no soil is needed. Water that is either brought along on missions or gathered in situ—on the moon or at Mars for example—is enriched with nutrient salts, and flows continuously through plant root systems. Air in the system is recycled too. Astronauts exhale carbon dioxide, which plants absorb. Through photosynthesis, the plants produce oxygen for the astronauts.


“We’re mimicking what the plants would have if they were on Earth and make use of these processes for life support,” said Dr. Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona. “The entire system of the lunar greenhouse does represent, in a small way, the biological systems that are here on Earth.”

A key part of a system like this is knowing what astronauts will have to bring with them, and what resources they can find at their destination. This includes which type of plants and seeds will be needed, as well as how much water might be available once astronauts reach their destination. Methods of extracting water on Mars or the moon are also being researched and developed.

Even if the necessary water can be found in situ on Mars and the moon, that hardly means those are easy places to grow food. Astronauts have to be protected from radiation, and so will crops. These greenhouse chambers would have to buried underground, which means specialized lighting systems are also required.


“We’ve been successful in using electric LED (light emitting diode) lighting to grow ,” Dr. Wheeler said. “We also have tested hybrids using both natural and artificial lighting.” Solar light could be captured with light concentrators that track the sun and then convey the light to the chamber using fiber optic bundles.


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-gardens-mars.html#jCp

Mars exploration dreams get closer as NASA tests HUMANOID ROBOTS to explore the Red Planet

Days after the US President released details on the space agency’s new budget, developments of the robots with “highly-level” capabilities emerged.

NASA has developed four six-foot robots named Valkyrie to build the necessities for humans before their arrival on the Red Planet.

The robots, costing around £1.6 million ($2 million) each, will also be able to help the colonization of Mars by assisting astronauts with tasks in space.

A spokesperson for NASA’s tests in the summer said: “In the not too distant future, R5 [the robot] will arrive on Mars along with supplies ahead of a human mission.

The University of Edinburgh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University in America were institutions chosen to refine the robots NASA developed.

Researchers were required to test how the robots operate in hostile environments and extend their capabilities.


A PhD student at Northeastern University told TechCrunch that their developments have enabled the robots to “autonomously make decisions, move around and accomplish tasks”.

Trump vowed to “unlock the mysteries of space” in his inauguration speech and called on NASA to focus on space exploration not climate change during the election campaign.

Last month, the Trump administration ordered NASA to research whether it is possible to fly astronauts on the debut flight of the agency’s heavy-lift rocket, a mission currently planned to be unmanned and targeted to launch in late 2018.

Trump recently set out £15.4billion ($19.1 billion) for Nasa research to get to Mars. Although it is slightly smaller than Obama’s last year, it is still a substantial amount of funding for the space agency.

NASA’s goal is to send humans to the Red Planet by the 2030s – a goal authorised in 2010.

Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, predicted that a base camp will be built around Mars by 2028.

The company added: “Mars. It’s humanity’s next giant leap. And we’re closer than we’ve ever been.”




Valerie Thomas Nasa Genius

Valerie L. Thomas (born February 1943) is an African-American scientist and inventor. She invented the Illusion Transmitter, for which she received a patent in 1980.

Thomas was was interested in science as a child, after observing her father tinkering with the television and seeing the mechanical parts inside the TV. She looked forward to learning at the age of 8 about electronics if she could build projects in The Boys First Book on Electronics. She hoped that her father would help her work on projects involving electronics, but he did not. She attended an all-girls high school where she did not learn about electronics as she expected even though she took a class in physics. She did not take the higher level math courses at her high school as electives, even though she was good in math, because she was with girls who did not like math (when she was selecting her electives) and did not want to select math classes as an electives.


Influenced by her friends’ decision, she did not select higher level math courses as electives either. No one had told her how important it was to take as much math as she could while in high school. Thomas would go on to attend Morgan State University, where she was one of two women majoring in physics.  She had to catch up on those higher level math subjects as a physics major in college, in order to be able to handle calculus in her 2nd year.


In 1964,  Thomas began working for NASA as a data analyst and eventually oversaw the creation of the Landsat program. In 1976, she attended an exhibition that included an illusion of a light bulb that was lit, even though it had been removed from its socket. The illusion, which involved another light bulb and concave mirrors, inspired Thomas. Curious about how light and concave mirrors could be used in her work at NASA, she began her research in 1977. This involved creating an experiment in which she observed how the position of a concave mirror would affect the real object that it reflected. Using this technology, she would invent the illusion transmitter.

On October 21, 1980,  she obtained the patent for the illusion transmitter, a device that NASA continues to use today. While at NASA, she worked as project manager for the Space Physics Analysis Network and was associate chief for NASA’s Space Science Data Operations Office. She also participated in projects related to Halley’s Comet, ozone research, and the Voyager spacecraft. She retired in August 1995 as Space Science Data Operations Officer, serving as manager of the NASA Automated Systems Incident Response Capability and as chair of the SSDOO Education Committee.

She is currently an associate at the UMBC Center for Multicore Hybrid Productivity Research. She also serves as a mentor for youth through the Science Mathematics Aerospace Research and Technology and National Technical Association.

  1. “Illusion Transmitter”. Inventor of the Week. MIT. 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  2.  James L. Green (1995). “Valerie L. Thomas Retires”. NSSDC News. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  3. “Valerie Thomas”. Inventors. The Black Inventor On-Line Museum. 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
%d bloggers like this: