Space Age Swimsuit Reduces Drag, Breaks Records

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

An athlete swims toward the camera.
NASA helped Speedo reduce viscous drag in the new LZR Racer by performing surface drag testing and applying expertise in the area of fluid dynamics.

A space shuttle and a competitive swimmer have a lot more in common than people might realize: Among other forces, both have to contend with the slowing influence of drag. NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate focuses primarily on improving flight efficiency and generally on fluid dynamics, especially the forces of pressure and viscous drag, which are the same for bodies moving through air as for bodies moving through water. Viscous drag is the force of friction that slows down a moving object through a substance, like air or water.

NASA uses wind tunnels for fluid dynamics research, studying the forces of friction in gasses and liquids. Pressure forces, according to Langley Research Center’s Stephen Wilkinson, “dictate the optimal shape and performance of an airplane or other aero/hydro-dynamic body.” In both high-speed flight and swimming, says Wilkinson, a thin boundary layer of reduced velocity fluid surrounds the moving body; this layer is about 2 centimeters thick for a swimmer.

Partnership

Key areas of compression in the LZR Racer swimsuit
The LZR Racer provides extra compression in key areas to help a swimmer use less energy to swim more quickly.

In spite of some initial skepticism, Los Angeles-based SpeedoUSA asked NASA to help design a swimsuit with reduced drag, shortly after the 2004 Olympics. According to Stuart Isaac, senior vice president of Team Sales and Sports Marketing, “People would look at us and say ‘this isn’t rocket science’ and we began to think, ‘well, actually, maybe it is.’” While most people would not associate space travel with swimwear, rocket science is exactly what SpeedoUSA decided to try. The manufacturer sought a partnership with NASA because of the Agency’s expertise in the field of fluid dynamics and in the area of combating drag.

A 2004 computational fluid dynamics study conducted by Speedo’s Aqualab research and development unit determined that the viscous drag on a swimmer is about 25 percent of the total retarding force. In competitive swimming, where every hundredth of a second counts, the best possible reduction in drag is crucially important. Researchers began flat plate testing of fabrics, using a small wind tunnel developed for earlier research on low-speed viscous drag reduction, and Wilkinson collaborated over the next few years with Speedo’s Aqualab to design what Speedo now considers the most efficient swimsuit yet: the LZR Racer. Surface drag testing was performed with the help of Langley, and additional water flume testing and computational fluid dynamics were performed with guidance from the University of Otago (New Zealand) and ANSYS Inc., a computer-aided engineering firm.

“Speedo had the materials in mind [for the LZR Racer],” explains Isaac, “but we did not know how they would perform in surface friction drag testing, which is where we enlisted the help of NASA.” The manufacturer says the fabric, which Speedo calls LZR Pulse, is not only efficient at reducing drag, but it also repels water and is extremely lightweight. Speedo tested about 100 materials and material coatings before settling on LZR Pulse.

NASA and Speedo performed tests on traditionally sewn seams, ultrasonically welded seams, and the fabric alone, which gave Speedo a baseline for reducing drag caused by seams and helped them identify problem areas. NASA wind tunnel results helped Speedo “create a bonding system that eliminates seams and reduces drag,” according to Isaac. The Speedo LZR Racer is the first fully bonded, full-body swimsuit with ultrasonically welded seams. Instead of sewing overlapping pieces of fabric together, Speedo actually fused the edges ultrasonically, reducing drag by 6 percent. “The ultrasonically welded seams have just slightly more drag than the fabric alone,” Isaac explains. NASA results also showed that a low-profile zipper ultrasonically bonded (not sewn) into the fabric and hidden inside the suit generated 8 percent less drag in wind tunnel tests than a standard zipper. Low-profile seams and zippers were a crucial component in the LZR Racer because the suit consists of multiple connecting fabric pieces—instead of just a few sewn pieces such as found in traditional suits—that provide extra compression for maximum efficiency.

Product Outcome

LZR Racer swimsuit covering the torso and legs of a swimmer

The LZR Racer reduces skin friction drag by covering more skin than traditional swimsuits. Multiple pieces of the water-resistant and extremely lightweight LZR Pulse fabric connect at ultrasonically welded seams and incorporate extremely low-profile zippers to keep viscous drag to a minimum. 

The LZR Racer reduces skin friction drag 24 percent more than the Fastskin, the previous Speedo racing suit fabric; and according to the manufacturer, the LZR Racer uses a Hydro Form Compression System to grip the body like a corset. Speedo experts say this compression helps the swimmers maintain the best form possible and enables them to swim longer and faster since they are using less energy to maintain form. The compression alone improves efficiency up to 5 percent, according to the manufacturer.

Olympic swimmer Katie Hoff, one of the American athletes wearing the suit in 2008 competitions, said that the tight suit helps a swimmer move more quickly through the water, because it “compresses [the] whole body so that [it’s] really streamlined.” Athletes from the French, Australian, and British Olympic teams all participated in testing the new Speedo racing suits.

Similar in style to a wetsuit, the LZR Racer can cover all or part of the legs, depending on personal preference and event. A swimmer can choose a full-body suit that covers the entire torso and extends to the ankles, or can opt for a suit with shorter legs above the knees. The more skin the LZR Racer covers, the more potential it has to reduce skin friction drag. The research seems to have paid off; in March 2008, athletes wearing the LZR Racer broke 13 world records.

Speedo®, LZR Pulse®, LZR Racer®, and FastSkin® are registered trademarks of Speedo Holdings B.V.

[Source]

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Drill Here? NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Inspects Site

Sandstone Target 'Windjana' May Be Next Martian Drilling Site

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has driven within robotic-arm’s reach of the sandstone slab at the center of this April 23 view from the rover’s Mast Camera. The rover team plans to have Curiosity examine a target patch on the rock, called “Windjana,” to aid a decision about whether to drill there. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

April 25, 2014

The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is telling the rover to use several tools this weekend to inspect a sandstone slab being evaluated as a possible drilling target.

If this target meets criteria set by engineers and scientists, it could become the mission’s third drilled rock, and the first that is not mudstone. The team calls it “Windjana,” after a gorge in Western Australia.

The planned inspection, designed to aid a decision on whether to drill at Windjana, includes observations with the camera and X-ray spectrometer at the end of the rover’s arm, use of a brush to remove dust from a patch on the rock, and readings of composition at various points on the rock with an instrument that fires laser shots from the rover’s mast.

Curiosity’s hammering drill collects powdered sample material from the interior of a rock, and then the rover prepares and delivers portions of the sample to onboard laboratory instruments. The first two Martian rocks drilled and analyzed this way were mudstone slabs neighboring each other in Yellowknife Bay, about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) northeast of the rover’s current location at a waypoint called “the Kimberley.” Those two rocks yielded evidence of an ancient lakebed environment with key chemical elements and a chemical energy source that provided conditions billions of years ago favorable for microbial life.

From planned drilling at Windjana or some nearby location on sandstone at the Kimberley, Curiosity’s science team hopes to analyze the cement that holds together the sand-size grains in the rock.

“We want to learn more about the wet process that turned sand deposits into sandstone here,” said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “What was the composition of the fluids that bound the grains together? That aqueous chemistry is part of the habitability story we’re investigating.”

Understanding why some sandstones in the area are harder than others also could help explain major shapes of the landscape where Curiosity is working inside Gale Crater. Erosion-resistant sandstone forms a capping layer of mesas and buttes. It could even hold hints about why Gale Crater has a large layered mountain, Mount Sharp, at its center.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, built the rover and manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The spectrometer on the rover’s robotic arm is the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), which was provided by the Canadian Space Agency. The camera on the arm is the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), built and operated by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. The laser on the mast is part of the Chemistry and Camera instrument (ChemCam), from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the French national space agency, CNES. The rover’s wire-bristle brush, the Dust Removal Tool, was built by Honeybee Robotics, New York.

[Source]

Sensors Provide Early Warning of Biological Threats

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution 

A postage stamp-size biosensor holding millions of carbon nanotubes
Containing millions of carbon nanotubes, the NASA biosensor can alert inspectors to minute amounts of potentially dangerous organic contaminants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are between 4 and 11 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses in the United States each year—caused by pathogens in public drinking water. The bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella have within the past few years contaminated spinach and tomato supplies, leading to nationwide health scares. Elsewhere, waterborne diseases are devastating populations in developing countries like Zimbabwe, where a cholera epidemic erupted in 2008 and claimed over 4,000 lives.

Scientists have found an unexpected source of inspiration in the effort to prevent similar disasters: the search for life on Mars. The possibility of life on the Red Planet has been a subject of popular and scientific fascination since the 19th century. While Martian meteorites have turned up controversial hints of organic activity, and NASA’s exploratory efforts have delivered important discoveries related to potential life—the presence of water ice, and plumes of methane in Mars’s atmosphere—direct evidence of organisms on our closest planetary relative has yet to be found.

In order to help detect biological traces on Mars, scientists at Ames Research Center began work on an ultrasensitive biosensor in 2002. The chief components of the sensor are carbon nanotubes, which are the major focus of research at the Center for Nanotechnology at Ames—the U.S. Government’s largest nanotechnology research group and one of the largest in the world. Tubes of graphite about 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair, carbon nanotubes can be grown up to several millimeters in length and display remarkable properties. They possess extreme tensile strength (the equivalent of a cable 1 millimeter in diameter supporting nearly 14,000 pounds) and are excellent conductors of heat and electricity.

It is the nanotubes’ electrical properties that Ames researchers employed in creating the biosensor. The sensor contains a bioreceptor made of nanotubes tipped with single strands of nucleic acid of waterborne pathogens, such as E. coli and Cryptosporidium. When the probe strand contacts a matching strand from the environment, it binds into a double helix, releasing a faint electrical charge that the nanotube conducts to the sensor’s transducer, signaling the presence of the specific pathogens found in the water. Because the sensor contains millions of nanotubes, it is highly sensitive to even minute amounts of its target substance. Tiny, requiring little energy and no laboratory expertise, the sensor is ideal for use in space and, as it turns out, on Earth as well.

Partnership

“Carbon nanotubes are the wonder material of nanotechnology,” says Neil Gordon, president of Early Warning Inc., based in Troy, New York. “The opportunity was ripe to put that technology into a product.” Gordon encountered the director of the Center for Nanotechnology, Meyya Meyyappan, at a number of industry conferences, and the two discussed the possible terrestrial applications of NASA’s biosensor. In 2007, Early Warning exclusively licensed the biosensor from Ames and entered into a Space Act Agreement to support further, joint development of the sensor through 2012.

Product Outcome

Early Warning initially developed a working version of the NASA biosensor calibrated to detect the bacteria strain E. coliO157:H7, known to cause acute gastrointestinal illness. It also detects indicator E. coli, commonly used in water testing. In the process, the company worked out a method for placing multiple sensors on a single wafer, allowing for mass production and cost-effective testing. In April, at the 2009 American Water Works Association “Water Security Congress,” Early Warning launched its commercial Biohazard Water Analyzer, which builds upon the licensed NASA biosensor and can be configured to test for a suite of waterborne pathogens including E. coliCryptosporidiumGiardia, and other bacteria, viruses, and parasitic protozoa. The analyzer uses a biomolecule concentrator—an Early Warning invention—to reduce a 10-liter water sample to 1 milliliter in about 45 minutes. The concentrated sample is then processed and fed to the biosensor. The entire process takes about 2 hours, a drastic improvement over typical laboratory-based water sampling, which can take several days to a week. The sensor operates in the field via a wired or wireless network and without the need for a laboratory or technicians, allowing for rapid, on-the-fly detection and treatment of potentially dangerous organic contaminants.

The Early Warning water analyzer
Early Warning’s analyzer feeds a concentrated water sample to its biosensor, providing rapid pathogen detection.

“The sensor is incredibly sensitive and specific to the type of pathogen it is calibrated to detect in the water,” says Gordon. “Instead of just detecting coliforms in the water that may or may not indicate the presence of pathogens, we will know if there are infectious strains of SalmonellaE. coli, or Giardia that could sicken or even kill vulnerable people if consumed.” (Coliform bacteria levels typically indicate water and food sanitation quality.)

The water analyzer has multiple applications, notes Gordon. Early Warning’s system can monitor recreational water quality at beaches and lakes, which can be contaminated by animal feces, farming activities, and infectious pathogens in human waste. Agricultural companies may use the analyzer to test feed water for cattle, and food and beverage companies may employ the sensor to ensure the purity of water used in their products. Health care organizations have expressed interest in using the analyzer to test water from showers and other potential sources of pathogens like Legionella, which causes the flu-like Legionnaires’ disease.

Early Warning and Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kansas, are collaborating on sensor enhancements such as improving the safety of imported produce. Since the skins of fruits and vegetables are potential sites of dangerous pathogens, inspectors could collect water sprayed on the produce and, using the analyzer, know within a few hours whether a particular shipment is contaminated. Last year, Kansas State was selected as the home for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which could also benefit Early Warning.

“We’re eager to show how the private sector, government agencies, and academia can work together to evolve this platform into products that benefit our citizens,” says Gordon. With an aging U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure, increasingly severe weather systems, global travel and food imports affecting the proliferation of disease-causing organisms, and more than 1 billion people worldwide without access to safe water (according to the World Health Organization), the fruits of this partnership may be more necessary than ever.

5 NASA Inventions You Won’t Believe

 

Nanoceramics Cure Cancer, Make Hair Shiny

While working as a NASA scientist specializing in nano-materials (which are 10,000 times smaller than a human hair), Dr. Dennis Morrison developed nano-ceramics, which could be formed into tiny balloons called micro-capsules. These little balloons could be filled with cancer-fighting drugs and injected into solid tumors.

Where, you’re wondering, does space come into this process? In order to create the microscopic membrane around the liquid drugs, the micro-capsules had to be formed in low-Earth orbit. Dr. Morrison’s ceramic nano-particles contained metals that would react when the patient was subjected to a magnetic field, like what’s used in an MRI diagnostic machine. The capsules would melt, and the drugs would be released to fight the cancerous tumor.

It turns out that Dr. Morrison’s ceramic-magnetic particles were good for more than fighting tumors — they could also fight frizz. When incorporated into Farouk Systems’s hair styling iron and heated, the nano-particles released ions that made hair smooth and shiny.


 

Reflective Coatings Save Skylab, Manatees

When the Skylab space-based laboratory was set in position in 1973, a solar panel fell off during the launch, which kept another solar panel from deploying properly once in orbit. These panels had to be replaced — and fast. NASA turned to National Metalizing, a firm it had worked with previously, to create a new panel that would be ready to go into space in 10 days.

National Metalizing had originally developed reflective materials for NASA in the 1950s, so it was able to deliver the necessary thin plastic material coated in vaporized aluminum in time. The material can deflect or conserve radiant energy, depending on which is required — to keep something cool or to warm it up. This flexible reflective material proved so useful, it was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1996.

A former director of the company took this technology, which has been in the public domain for decades, and started a new company, Advanced Flexible Materials. The same materials used to protect Skylab now protects marathon runners from hypothermia after a race, as well as manatees, which can suffer from hypothermia at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius), while they’re being tagged by researchers.


 

Deformable Mirrors — Not for the Fun House

Any space nerd who remembers the Hubble Space Telescope launch in 1990 remembers seeing pictures and news videos of the giant mirrors being polished to perfection — or as close as humans can get, anyway. Minor flaws in the surface could obscure important discoveries.

Hubble and its amazing sheets of optical glass paved the way for the Terrestrial Planet Finder and its deformable mirrors, which will have 100 times the imaging power of its predecessor when NASA launches it in the near future. Deformable mirrors don’t need to be absolutely perfect the first time out — they can adjust their positions to correct for blurring or distortion, which in space can be caused by temperature, lack of gravity or getting bumped during launch.

Deformable mirrors are not so new. They were proposed by astronomers in the 1950s and developed by the United States Air Force in the 1970s. Each system consists of the deformable mirror itself, a sensor that measures any aberrations it finds hundreds of times a second, and a small computer that receives the sensor’s readings and tells the mirror how to move to correct for the problem.


 

Nanotubes Look for Life on Mars

No matter what the movies have been telling us for decades, Martians are not likely to be humanoid, sentient beings. They won’t have ray guns or space suits. If there is life on Mars, it will be very, very small, and probably not too far up the evolution ladder. Pity.

In order to find such small forms of life, small detectors were necessary. Enter nano-tubes, which is a fun word to say. Scientists at the Ames Research Center developed carbon nano-tubes, each 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair, that can conduct heat and electricity. Each nano-tube is tipped with single strands of nucleic acid (the “NA” in “DNA”) from a microorganism. When it comes into contact with a matching strand, the pair form a double helix and send a faint electrical charge through the nano-tubes. This charge is how anyone looking at the bio-sensor, as the tiny apparatus is called, knows life has been detected.

Sadly, no life has yet been found on Mars, but these bio-sensors are being put to good use on Earth. Tipping the nano-tubes with waterborne pathogens like E. Coli and Cryptosporidium means an analyst can get results from the bio-sensor in the field within two hours — no lab work required.


 

Mars Missions Create Tough Armor

When the Mars Pathfinder (1997) and Mars Rover (2004) missions landed on the Red Planet, they landed hard. These were unmanned missions, of course, with some guidance from engineers on Earth — but not as much as they’d like. The equipment was designed to crash land, gently, with a cage of airbags to cushion the fall from space.

Obviously, not just any airbag would work. NASA required the material to be lightweight and able to withstand extreme temperatures for the interplanetary flight. The material also had to be tough enough to keep the airbags inflated as the whole apparatus bounced along the rocky, sharp surface of Mars.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory worked with Warwick Mills, the company that had woven the reentry parachutes for the Apollo missions in the 1960s, to create a layered, coated, liquid-crystal polyester fiber that would fit the bill.

Warwick took the technology and ran with it, creating TurtleSkin protective gear that can withstand punctures from needles, knives and even bullets. The flexibility of the tightly woven fabric, which helped keep the Mars landers safe, now also keeps military and police officers safe.

 

$16.6 Billion NASA Budget Clears House Panel

WASHINGTON — A House panel approved appropriations legislation Wednesday (July 10) that would give NASA $16.6 billion for 2014, cutting agency spending back to levels not seen since 2007.

As expected, the bill from the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee assumes that across-the-board sequestration cuts set in motion by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will continue at least through next year, and that NASA won’t be spared. The proposal, unveiled late Tuesday (July 9), passed the subcommittee by a voice vote, setting the stage for the full Appropriations Committee to consider the bill the week of July 15.

The House panel’s proposed 2014 appropriation is about $300 million less than what NASA ended up with for 2013, roughly $1.2 billion below the agency’s 2012 budget and about $1.1 billion less than what the White House requested for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. [Planetary Science Takes Budget Hit in 2013 (Infographic)]

Senate appropriators have yet to introduce their own Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill, so it remains to be seen whether the upper chamber will be able to find more money for NASA. Senate leaders have approved a $52.3 billion allocation for Commerce, Justice and Science agencies in 2014 — only about $1 billion more than House leaders did.

The House subcommittee’s bill, which is due to be marked up July 10, shields the Space Launch System(SLS) heavy-lift rocket NASA is building for missions beyond Earth orbit from the worst of the cuts. Including rocket development at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., launchpad and ground facilities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and program support from other NASA centers, SLS would get $1.77 billion — about $30 million more than what the program would get under the operating plan NASA sent its congressional overseers in May, and roughly $30 million less than the White House’s 2014 request.

SLS’ companion crew capsule, Orion, would get $1.05 billion for 2014, roughly $60 million less than what NASA planned to spend in 2013, but about $25 million more than the White House asked for in an April budget request that ignored sequestration.

House appropriators applied no special provisions in their bill to the Commercial Crew Program, a NASA-subsidized partnership with industry aimed at getting at least one of three privately designed crewed spacecraft ready to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station before the end of 2017.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Science space subcommittee, which is marking up a policy-setting authorization bill for NASA July 10, agree that the Commercial Crew Program should get up to $700 million a year — less than the White House wants, but more than Congress has appropriated to date.

More detailed information about specific programs, including Commercial Crew and the various NASA Science disciplines, typically shows up in a document known as a bill report. Reports do not usually appear until after a bill has been marked up at the subcommittee or committee level.

The bill itself proposes the following funding levels for NASA’s major budget accounts:

Science: $4.78 billion, about even with what NASA planned to spend in 2013, according to its May operating plan, and roughly $230 million below the 2014 request. The House bill also mandates that $80 million of NASA’s 2014 science budget go toward early planning for a robotic mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa.

  • Exploration: $3.61 billion, nearly $70 million less than what was in the 2013 operating plan, and about $300 million less than the request.
  • Space operations: $3.67 billion, most of which will go toward the International Space Station. That is $50 million below the May operating plan, and roughly $210 million below the request.
  • Space Technology: $576 million, $64 million below the May operating plan and about $165 million less than requested.
  • Aeronautics: $566 million, about $35 million more than the 2013 operating plan and about flat compared with the 2014 request.
  • Cross Agency Support: $2.71 billion, even with the 2013 operating plan from May, but almost $140 million below the request.
  • Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration: $525 million, about $120 million below the operating plan and nearly $85 million below the request.
  • Education: $122 million, $6 million above the operating plan for 2013, and close to $30 million above the request. The Obama administration proposed a restructuring of federal education dollars for the 2014 spending year that, at least among NASA’s congressional overseers, has proven unpopular.
  • Inspector General: $35.3 million, even with the 2013 operating plan level and roughly $2 million below the request.

    [Source]

A Mission To Understand The Outer Solar System

Among Solar System objects, the Pluto/Charon system is among the least understood. The ignorance of the Pluto/Charon system is due in part to its distance from Earth, and as well as its size and eccentricity of its orbit around about the Sun. Understanding the outer solar system is important because this part of the solar system most resembles the early stages of the solar system’s development.

Image

New Horizons Instrumentation Packages

Source: Wikipedia

 

When the New Horizons spacecraft encounters the Pluto/Charon system in 2015, it will have traveled approximately 33 AU in the shortest time of all the spacecraft to date. The probe will spend approximately 150 earth-days characterizing and measuring the Pluto/Charon system to a much higher level of accuracy than possible from even Hubble. Its science suite consists of seven instrument packages:

The objectives of the New Horizons mission may be summed in one sentence: characterize and understand the aspects of the early Solar System. The methods which New Horizons will use consist of:

  1. Understand Global geology & morphology of the Pluto/Charon system
  2. Map the Pluto/Charon system
  3. Attempt to identify Pluto’s atmosphere.

Image

Trajectory of New Horizons probe

SOURCE: NASA

After numerous Keck and Hubble images, it was determined that Pluto contains a wispy atmosphere that will wax and wane proportionate to its eccentricity and distance from the Sun.

At this point, let’s speak more of the instrumentation packages:

RALPH is a single telescope with two separate image collectors—Visible and infrared

  1. Multispectral visible imaging camera (MVIC) will produce visible color images of the Pluto/Charon system.
  2. Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) is an infrared imager designed to measure the distribution of Methane, molecular Nitrogen, Carbon Monoxide and Water.

Alice is a UV spectrometer—it will measure Ultraviolet light absorption of Pluto in two modes:

  1. Sun/star occultation
  2. “’Airglow mode’”- no star occultation

REX is a Radio experiment that has two purposes:

  1. Through the bending of the radio waves through interplanetary space—it is designed to characterize the average molecular weight of Pluto’s atmosphere
  2. REX is also designed to measure weak radio emissions from the Pluto’s surface—namely, it will derive an accurate temperature of the night-side temperature.

LORRI enables investigators to map Pluto down to 100 meter resolution in the visible light with an effective 8 inch aperture.

PEPSSI is a low-resolution plasma detection device designed to roughly count the escape of atoms from Pluto.

SWAP will measure the amount of solar wind near Pluto—and in effect determines Pluto’s magnetosphere.

Finally, a public outreach experiment—the Student Dust Counter (SDC) is built and managed by students at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The main objective of SDC is to count and measure the size of interplanetary dust particles.

When the New Horizons probe completes its Solar System trek—we may muse that it was just a small step in a long journey past the Pluto/Charon system. We might—if luck prevails—have a better understanding of our Solar System’s origins as a result from New Horizons, as well as, by future probes.

[Source]

Happening Now: NASA Technology Days – Cleveland OH.

UStream Link

Happening November 28th – 30th at Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center is a one-of-a-kind technology expo. Among the 20 planned speakers attending this event, you will find Mason Peck, NASA’s Chief Technologist. As the chief technology advocate, Peck communicates how NASA technologies benefit space missions and the day-to-day lives of Americans. Other speakers include Michael Gazarik, Tibor Balint, and Gregg Peterson.

The objectives of the event are twofold:

  • Day 1: Technology and Innovation at NASA General Session: An introduction and status update of NASA’s technology programs that explores new approaches to current missions and strives to address challenges for NASA’s future missions. Presentations will delivered by key NASA program executives and leaders throughout the day.
  • Day 2 and 3: A technology exposition will showcase NASA-developed technologies to individuals interested in commercialization or business development partnerships.

 

Get a comprehensive overview of NASA’s technology programs for space exploration and aeronautics, and discover innovative and advanced technologies which are stimulating the economy and sustaining our nation’s global competitiveness.  NASA’s Tech Days are free and open to the public, registration is required.

  • Learn about the Space Technology Program objectives, successes, and plans for the future
  • Get an in-depth overview of NASA’s potential industry partnerships and opportunities
  • Discuss Agency-wide technology transfer and commercialization efforts
  • Engage with program managers and network with peers on potential collaborative enterprises
  • Explore the technology showcase featuring mature technologies from the Aerospace, Advanced Energy, Automotive , Innovative Manufacturing, and Human Health industries. The demonstrations and exhibits will provide attendees opportunities for networking, business development and forging new relationships , while learning about the leading technologies contributing to American economic growth and innovation

[Source]