Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren land on the moon: July 20, 1969. As Neil Armstrong took humanity’s first step onto the Moon he said:
Posts about NASA
The Eagle Has Landed
Landing Curiosity on Mars
Touchdown on Mars will take place August 5th, 2012 (PDT or August 6th EDT and GMT).
Using Robots to Collect Data on our Oceans
Interesting idea to use self propelled robots to provide data on the oceans. They use no fuel to move, they use wave energy. They also have solar panels on the top. The wave gliders can travel to a distant area, collect data, and return to base. One of the big problems with convention methods of collecting data on the oceans is the large costs of placing the buoys (and the cost of servicing them).
Related: Wave Glider – The State of the Oceans – Autonomous Underwater Robot Decides on Experiment Options – Altered Oceans: the Crisis at Sea
Thorium Nuclear Reactors
Kirk Sorensen is founder of Flibe Energy and is an advocate for nuclear energy based on thorium and liquid-fluoride fuels and author of Energy From Thorium blog.
He also taught nuclear engineering at Tennessee Technological University as a guest lecturer. He is active in nonprofit advocacy organizations such as the Thorium Energy Alliance and the International Thorium Energy Organization. He is married and has four small children.
See another video with him on why the thorium molten-salt reactor wasn’t developed (from a Google tech talk).
NASA Biocapsules Deliver Medical Interventions Based Upon What They Detect in the Body
Very cool innovation from NASA. The biocapsule monitors the environment (the body it is in) and responds with medical help. Basically it is acting very much like your body, which does exactly that: monitors and then responds based on what is found.
Dr. Loftus [NASA] thinks we could realistically see wildspread usage on Earth within 10 to 15 years.
The cells don’t get released from the capsule. The cells inside the capsule secrete therapeutic molecules (proteins, peptides), and these agents exit the capsule by diffusion across the capsule wall.
NASA plans to use the biocapsules in space, but they also have very promising uses on earth. They can monitor a diabetes patient and if insulin is needed, deliver it. No need for the person to remember, or give themselves a shot of insulin. The biocapsule act just like out bodies do, responding to needs without us consciously having to think about it. They can also be used to provide high dose chemotherapy directly to the tumor site (thus decreasing the side effects and increasing the dosage delivered to the target location. Biocapsules could also respond to severe allergic reaction and deliver epinephrine (which many people know have to carry with them to try and survive an attack).
It would be great if this were to have widespread use 15 years from now. Sadly, these innovations tend to take far longer to get into productive use than we would hope. But not always, so here is hoping this innovation from NASA gets into ourselves soon.
Related: Using Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into Cells – Nanoparticles With Scorpion Venom Slow Cancer Spread – Self-Assembling Cubes Could Deliver Medicine – Nanoengineers Use Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery
YouTube SpaceLab Experiment Competition
YouTube SpaceLab is an open competition inviting 14 – 18 year olds (anywhere in the world) to create an idea for a science experiment in space. You don’t have to actually do the experiment, you just have to record yourself explaining it.
Entries must have be submitted on YouTube by 07:59 GMT on December 8th.
The winning experiments will be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) and beamed live on YouTube for the whole planet to see.
Winners get the choice to either watch the rocket blast off with your idea on it in Japan or take a specially tailored astronaut training course in Russia when you turn 18. There are other amazing prizes for the runners-up too.
Here is an example entry from 3 students in UK on an experiment to learn about quorum sensing by bacteria in the micro gravity of space.
Related: Google Science Fair 2011 Projects – Bacteria Communicate Using a Chemical Language (quorum sensing) – 11 Year Old Using Design of Experiments – Research by group of 8 to 10 Year Olds Published in Royal Society Journal
Apply to be an Astronaut
Are you looking to change jobs? NASA is seeking outstanding scientists, engineers, and other talented professionals to carry forward the great discovery process that its mission demands. Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. Curiosity. That’s what it takes to join NASA, one of the best places to work in the Federal Government.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a need for Astronaut Candidates to support the International Space Station Program and future deep space exploration activities.
In 1959 NASA selected its first group of 7 astronaut candidates. Since then 20 additional classes have been selected; bringing the total number of astronaut candidates to 330.
The astronauts of the 21st century will continue to work aboard the International Space Station in cooperation with our international partners; help to build and fly a new NASA vehicle, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) designed for human deep space exploration; and further NASA’s efforts to partner with industry to provide a commercial capability for space transportation to the space station.
NASA is in the process of identifying possible near-Earth asteroids to explore with the goal of visiting an asteroid in 2025. With that goal, and keeping in mind that the plan is to send a robotic precursor mission to the asteroid approximately five years before humans arrive, NASA will need to select the first set of targets to explore within the next decade.
Requirement include: Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions, specifically: successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor’s degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics.
NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover
Curiosity is the name of the new rover from NASA. It will be launched to continue the exploration of Mars so successfully done by Spirit and Opportunity (2 previous Mars rovers that did some amazing work and laster years longer than expected). The rover is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life.
Once on the surface, the rover will be able to roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters (29 inches) high and travel up to 90 meters per hour. On average, the rover is expected to travel about 30 meters per hour, based on power levels, slippage, steepness of the terrain, visibility, and other variables.
The rover is about the size of a small SUV — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall. It weighs 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)
The rover will carry a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay. This power source gives the mission an operating lifespan on Mars’ surface of a full martian year (687 Earth days) or more, while also providing significantly greater mobility and operational flexibility, enhanced science payload capability, and exploration of a much larger range of latitudes and altitudes than was possible on previous missions to Mars.
5% of the Universe is Normal Matter, What About the Other 95%?
Great discussion and illustration of the state of our understanding of physics, matter, dark matter and the rest of the stuff our universe has from PhD comics. What is the universe made of? 5% of it is normal matter (the stardust we are made of), 20% dark matter and the other 75% – we have no idea!
Dark Cosmos is a nice book on some of these ideas. It is 5 years old so missing some of the latest discoveries.
Image of Map Showing Concentration of Life in Oceans
This image shows the abundance of life in the sea, measured by the SeaWiFS instrument aboard the Seastar satellite. Dark blue represents warmer areas where there is little life due to lack of nutrients, and greens and reds represent cooler nutrient-rich areas.
The nutrient-rich areas include coastal regions where cold water rises from the sea floor bringing nutrients along and areas at the mouths of rivers where the rivers have brought nutrients into the ocean from the land. NASA has posted a large gallery of great images for Earth Day.
Evidence of Extraterrestrial Life Discovered?
Has evidence of extraterrestrial life been discovered? In Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites , Richard B. Hoover, Ph.D. NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, puts forth his evidence on the discovery of evidence of cyanobacteria in meteorites.
The importance of this claim is hard to ignore. The journal includes a statement from Dr. Rudy Schild, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard-Smithsonian, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Cosmology:
These studies have led to the conclusion that the filaments found in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites are indigenous fossils rather than modern terrestrial biological contaminants that entered the meteorites after arrival on Earth. The δ13C and D/H content of amino acids and other organics found in these stones are shown to be consistent with the interpretation that comets represent the parent bodies of the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites. The implications of the detection of fossils of cyanobacteria in the CI1 meteorites to the possibility of life on comets, Europa and Enceladus are discussed.