Exploration: August 2016 Archives

NASA FISO Presentation: The Deep Space Network - The Next 50 Years

"Dr. Leslie J. Deutsch is the Deputy Director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This Directorate provides information services to spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. The Directorate's facilities include NASA's Deep Space Network, the giant antennas used to communicate with these spacecraft."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.

Mars On Earth


Full-Circle Vista from NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Shows 'Murray Buttes'

"Eroded mesas and buttes reminiscent of the U.S. Southwest shape part of the horizon in the latest 360-degree color panorama from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover."

Keith's note: This is why we call Devon Island "Mars On Earth". Top: Mars 2016 Bottom: me on Devon Island 2002. I have been to Devon Island 3 times - twice for a month. Without exception, a day did not go by when my eyes were telling me that I was on Mars every hour or so.

Notice of Centennial Challenges Space Robotics Challenge

"The following virtual challenge scenario serves as a backdrop for developing coding advancements that enable the autonomy of humanoid robotics: In the not too distant future, R5 as arrived on Mars along with supplies ahead of a human mission. Overnight a dust storm damaged the habitat and solar array, and caused the primary communication antenna to become misaligned. R5 must now repair an air leak in the habitat, deploy a new solar panel, and align the communication antenna. Teams will use software to control a simulated R5 in order to resolve the problems caused by the dust storm. ... The competition arena will contain a rover, solar panels, communication dish, and a habitat on a Martian plain. Each component will be within eyesight and walking distance of each other."

Keith's note: Gee, this sounds like a summary of "The Martian" including the notion that wind on Mars is powerful enough to mess with the main communication antenna.

"In 2035, NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, has been left stranded on Mars after the crew of the Ares III mission were forced to evacuate their landing site in Acidalia Planitia due to an intense dust storm with high winds. Watney was impaled by an antenna during the evacuation and believed dead. His injury proves relatively minor, but with no way to contact Earth, Watney must rely on his own resourcefulness to survive."

The Droid That NASA Should Be Sending To Mars, earlier post

"While NASA pours money into its goofy R5 robot that cannot walk unless it is on a hoist, controlled by a human, and is always broken, Boston Dynamics continues to make astonishing progress on autonomous robots."

It is a little odd that NASA is issuing a challenge that focuses on a functional (but simulated) R5 robot when NASA's R5 does not even work - and two college teams have been given contracts to fix what NASA can't fix. One would think that the R5 problems would be solved before people spent a lot of time using its current design to create simulations of how a real robot might work. Indeed, wouldn't it make more sense to use state of the art robots that already exist? You'd think that NASA would encourage people to work with robots that actually work. As currently designed R5 would be part of the problem on Mars - not the solution.

- Using a Last Place Robot for NASA's Robotics Challenge
- NASA JSC Has Developed A Girl Robot in Secret (Revised With NASA Responses), earlier post
- Is JSC's R5 Droid Worth Fixing?
- Never Ask NASA a Simple Question, earlier post
- NASA Awards Two Robots to University Groups for R&D Upgrades, earlier post

NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Umbrella for Partnerships to be Released in September Seeking Hosted Payloads and Investigation Team, NASA

"The Asteroid Redirect Mission Umbrella for Partnerships(ARM-UP) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) will solicit concept studies for basic and applied research and technology demonstrations, and mission investigations through partnerships with the ARM. The full BAA Solicitation, with two appendices, is expected to be issued in early September."

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission Completes Robotic Design Milestone, NASA

"Earlier this year, NASA updated the target launch date for the robotic mission to December 2021 in order to incorporate acquisition of the industry robotic spacecraft development into the project schedule. To reflect this new target date, the project's cost cap was increased at KDP-B from $1.25 billion to $1.4 billion. This figure does not include the launch vehicle or the post-launch operations phase. The crewed segment, targeted for launch in 2026, remains in an early mission concept phase, or pre-formulation."

NASA's Boulder Retrieval Mission, earlier post (2015)

"And NASA can't even admit that the $1.25 billion cost (without launcher) would balloon to $3 billion or so when it uses the two SLS flights it wants to use. And oh yes: the OSIRIS-REx mission will already do nearly all of the sciencey stuff ARM is doing (as an afterthought) - at a fraction of the cost of ARM."

- House Appropriators Seek To Defund Asteroid Mission - Push NASA To The Moon & Mars, earlier post
- ARM Defenders Forecast Nasty Things If It Is Cancelled, earlier post
- Asteroid Boulder Retrieval Mission Needs a Precursor Mission, earlier post

NASA FISO Presentation: Mars Science Enabled by the Mars Base Camp 2028 Proposed Architecture

"Dr. Steve Jolly is the Lockheed Martin Chief Engineer for the Civil Space line of business. He was the Chief Engineer and Principal Scientist for the GOES-R program and Chief Engineer and Deputy PM for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Steve Bailey has worked exclusively on human and robotic space exploration systems since 1983."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.

Marc's note: The concept of a human pre-cursor mission to Phobos and Deimos is not new. I remember having lunch with Pascal Lee of the SETI Institute/Mars Institute along with Elon Musk in 2004 where Pascal pitched the Phobos mission. Elon wasn't interested. However not too long afterward Buzz Aldrin was. In fact, he called me while I was still working with the Mars Institute to discuss the idea and offer his support.

Advocates of a direct mission to Mars will vocally disagree and I can't blame them. After all, we've been discussing a human mission to Mars for as long as I can remember and we're still years from it becoming a reality. But, the idea of a pre-cursor mission is still worth discussion and consideration.

NASA Selects Six Companies to Develop Prototypes, Concepts for Deep Space Habitats

"NASA has selected six U.S. companies to help advance the Journey to Mars by developing ground prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats."

"The selected companies are:

- Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas
- Boeing of Pasadena, Texas
- Lockheed Martin of Denver
- Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia
- Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado
- NanoRacks of Webster, Texas

Marc's note: It's interesting to note that in this follow-on contract from the 2015 NextSTEP selections, Sierra Nevada and NanoRacks are included. NanoRacks in particular is an intriguing participant as they attempt to expand their available products.

- NextSTEP Partners Develop Deep Space Habitat Ground Prototypes

NASA FISO Presentation: New Estimates of Space Radiation Risks are Favorable for Human Exploration of Mars

"Dr. Cucinotta developed the astronaut exposure data base of organ doses and cancer risk estimates for all human missions from Mercury to the International Space Station (ISS), and developed risk models for acute, cancer and circulatory disease."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.



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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from August 2016.

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