A)ESA’s futuristic planetary probes ready for the next stage
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released first results of the penetrator technology designed to collect samples from below the ground of other planets.
The series of tests performed last month by Astrium and QinetiQ and coordinated by ESA’s Future Missions Preparation Office has shown the innovative impactors are capable of withstanding extreme g-loads after crashing at the speed of hundreds of kilometres into a barrier made of ice or sand.
Smashing the ice into pieces, the penetrators survived the impact intact, though slightly damaged. Over the next few weeks, the team will study the effects of the impact on the internal structure of the penetrators and will try to design battery and communication systems capable of withstanding the extreme loads.
During the tests, the 20kg penetrators, powered by 12 solid-propellant boosters, impacted the barrier at the speed of 341m/s. While decelerating upon the impact, the spacecraft were experiencing up to 24,000g – 6,000 times more than astronauts during a lift-off.
Unlike conventional rovers and probes that usually aim at landing as softly as possible in order not to damage their equipment, the penetrators are designed to perform a rather hard touch down.
Approaching the surface at a nearly super-sonic speed, the mini spacecraft fitted with a suite of instruments bury themselves into the ground during landing, collecting samples from underground layers without the need for additional drilling or digging technology.
The tests, performed at a rocket test facility in Wales, UK, have shown the currently refined design is solid enough to slam into a barrier made of ice or sand and survive the impact. These materials were chosen as they resemble the conditions such penetrators could encounter at two most probable destinations – Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa, two celestial bodies most likely to host alien life.
By Tereza Pultarova / 2013
B)7 Next Generation UAVs
Eight years ago, armed Predator drones began patrolling the sky, bombing targets and providing close air support to troops in combat. But as yesterday’s unveiling of BAE’s Taranis drone highlighted, the Predator looks as retro as beepers and beta-max tapes when compared with the next generation of UAVs coming down the pipe. Disguised with stealth, equipped with new computer brains and armed to the teeth, these seven unmanned vehicles push the limits of robotic military technology.
Manufactured by Boeing, the X-45 was one of the first of a new generation of UAVs ordered by the Pentagon. Like many of the other planes on this list, it borrows its stealthy, flying-wing shape from the B-2 stealth bomber. Also, based on a grainy photo taken at Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan, the X-45 may have already seen some action.
Artist’s rendering of the X-47.
Credit: Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman’s next generation UAV, the X-47 will do for the U.S. Navy what the X-45 may already do for the U.S. Air Force. As a result, the X-47 will be able to take off and land from an aircraft carrier.
The Taranis UAV.
Credit: BAE Systems
Not content to let the Yanks have all the fun, the British defense firm BAE Systems introduced its new, next-gen UAV yesterday. Named Taranis, after the Celtic god of thunder, BAE hopes that advanced computers will allow this drone to perform its mission with less human input than ever before.
The Phantom Eye spy UAV.
A truck equiped with the CAST driving system.
Credit: Lockheed Martin
Unlike the rest of the robots on this list, Lockheed Martin’s Convoy Active Safety Technology (CAST) slogs it out on the ground with the grunts. CAST is an automated driving system that attaches to a regular truck. That way, CAST can worry about driving the vehicle from point A to point B, while the humans can scan the road for IEDs .
Unveiled by Boeing yesterday, the Phantom Eye greens up the sky by running on hydrogen fuel. The Phantom Eye would be a dedicated sky plan, staying aloft for days on end while it’s complex surveillance package monitors the ground below. With a 150-foot wingspan, the Phantom Eye is one of the largest UAVs ever produced.
Europe’s nEUROn UAV.
Credit: Dassault Aviation
Continental Europe’s entry into the advanced UAV market, the nEUROn looks a lot like the other next-gen drones in our countdown. Produced primarily by the French company Dassault Aviation, with help from seven other European aerospace and defense companies, the nEUROn is more of a test bed for future UAV concepts than a plane slated for impending combat.
An artist’s rendering of a finished Novel Air System UAV.
Credit: BAE Systems
“Novel Air System”
This drone is so new, they haven’t even started building it yet. Rather, the Novel Air Capability is a speculative future UAV underdevelopment in Britain. The project, lead by BAE Systems, hopes to produce an advanced drone capable of vertical take off and landing, like a helicopter, but straight flight like a plane.
SOURCE http://www.technewsdaily.com/ /2010
C)Building a community of asteroid miner
Few aspects of building asteroid prospectors have been as fun as preparing to take 17,000 community supporters into outer space through their photos featured above our planet. These “Space Selfies” will bring some serious class to the word “Selfie,” and the timing couldn’t be better. After all, “Selfie” is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2013 and this month Mashable honored the ARKYD Space Selfie as one of the Nine Top Tech Breakthroughs of 2013 alongside Google Glass and the Oculus Rift.
But that’s not why Space Selfies matter.
I learned the real “why” while working alongside my fellow founders, advisors and investors – people who have created new industries at Google, 3D Systems, Bechtel, and Virgin to name a few. All find asteroid mining compelling and wish to play their part while they press forward on equally brazen ventures: self-driving cars, additive manufacturing, even nuclear fusion.
What I’ve learned from them is that you can’t disrupt antiquated ways of doing without some key ingredients: a sound technical foundation, an economic engine, a path to political support, and….community.
Space Selfies are our first foray into bringing with us not just the commercial space community, but the global public. We’ve got a lot of work ahead, but the progress towards this goal has been nothing short of phenomenal.
A few short months ago we featured the final design of A3 spacecraft (the ARKYD technology demonstrator) which integrates our first selfie cam into a space-capable vehicle to be launched in 2014.
Since then, we’ve been working day and night to design, machine, assemble, and integrate camera, boom, and display into a system that can operate in the harsh environment of space. Now I can share with you a prototype of the flight hardware that will be taking the first Space Selfies.
For those of you who are ARKYD Kickstarter backers, know that we’ll reach out for your Beta-Selfie submissions in late Spring, so we can capture them during the crucial integration phase of A3 this summer prior to launch. You’ll become a part of the build, catch a glimpse of our clean-room squad in action, and we couldn’t be more glad to have you there with us.
Community is also the reason why we are pressing ahead with the team at Zooniverse to create Asteroid Zoo: a platform that will allow YOU to find asteroids at home and help train computers to better find them in the future. As I shared at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union with Zooniverse’s Laura Whyte, development is well underway for release in the spring. I can’t wait for one of our community supporters to discover their first asteroid.
To all our friends and supporters, THANK YOU, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for the New Year from the Planetary Resources team.
-Chris Lewicki @interplanetary
President & Chief Asteroid Miner, Planetary Resources, Inc.