Thursday, June 09, 2005

Extracting Oxygen From Lunar Regolith

Researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology are collaborating on a NASA-funded project to produce oxygen from the Moon's regolith.

Using the FFC Cambridge process, which utilizes the electrochemical reduction of metal oxides in a molten salt electrolyte. In addition to providing oxygen for life support, the process could be used to generate liquid oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In a typical composition, Oxygen accounts for as much as 85% by weight of rocket fuel.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Open Source Reality

Two researchers from opposite sides of the world have embarked on a project which they hope may change production, economics, and the very fabric of human society forever.

Find out more at my new blog:
Tomorrow Next.

Opportunity Free At Last

After nearly five weeks of being stuck a foot deep in a sand dune, Opportunity finally pulled its way out Saturday. Congratulations to NASA and the dedicated team of engineers at JPL!

Friday, June 03, 2005

GAO Criticizes NASA Decision to Continue Using Shuttles

Testifying in March of 2004 and February 2005, NASA claimed that using alternatives to the Shuttle would result in long delays and cost more than returning the aging craft to flight. The assessment relied primarily on headquarters personnel and an informal and undocumented process. Looking into the study, the GAO found that it could not validate the assessment.

The manned-Shuttle system needs to be shutdown immediately. The Shuttle could be operated in an unmanned mode to deliver the modules to the Space Station which are designed specifically for it. The U.S. could then purchase manned launches from the Russians to move personnel to and from the Space Station. The savings could be redirected towards building a Shuttle replacement.

NASA and SpaceX Sign Cooperation Agreement

NASA and SpaceX signed a joint cooperation agreement Thursday under the auspices of the Space Act of 1958.

"This agreement provides a framework for working with NASA on future spaceflight needs in support of low Earth orbit space missions and other steps in the Vision for Space Exploration," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "We look forward to working with NASA to create an exciting future in human spaceflight."

NASA Advisory Panel Set Astronomical Objectives For Next 3 Decades

A NASA advisory panel has set overall goals for space science for the agency to pursue over the next three decades. The first is to scan the cosmic background radiation to better understand the initial expansion of the universe. As part of that goal the agency would deploy instruments to monitor gravity waves and how they were affected by the inflation of the early universe followed by the Big Bang Observer which would monitor the ripples from the Big Bang itself.

The next objective would probe how black-holes affect space-time. To support the second gal, the Gamma-Ray Large Area Telescope will study relativistic jets emerging from black holes. The James Webb Space Telescope, the follow-on for Hubble, will monitor the mergers and growth of black holes in the early universe.

Constellation-X, a combination of several X-ray satellites, will measure the properties of black holes. After 2025, the goals include imaging matter as it falls into a black hole.

The third objective is to understand the nature of dark matter. The Big Bang Observer will precisely measure the distance to more than a million binary system containing neutron stars and black holes, giving a precise measurement of the geometry of the universe.

The fourth goal is to better understand the process of planetary, stellar and galactic formation. Using both the James Webb Space Telescope and the Constellation-X array, NASA will attempt to uncover the make-up and structure of nascent astronomical entities.

NASA Approves Phoenix Lander For 2007 Launch

NASA has given the green light for launch of the Phoenix lander mission in 2007. The lander is designed to use a 2.5m arm to procure samples for detailed analysis within the lander. Targeted for the icy northern plains, the lander will give a detailed assessment of the makeup of the Martian soil.

The lander is part of the Mars Scout Program of innovative and low-cost missions. At $386m including launch the probe is a bargain by interplanetary standards.