Space Agency

NASA's Curiosity Rover On Mars Can Once Again Drill Into Rocks

International Business Times

NASA precious Curiosity rover is once again drilling the surface of Mars. The robotic vehicle used a new drilling technique May 20 and penetrated into a Martian rock named "Duluth" for the first time in more than a year. Though drilling a hole in a rock appears to be no big thing, especially for a technology-rigged rover strolling on the red planet, it's a big milestone for NASA. The engineers worked hard for months to make sure the latest method works appropriately and overcomes the mechanical problems witnessed almost two years ago. Curiosity's original drilling mechanism went offline in 2016, taking away the vehicle's critical ability to analyze powder samples from Martian rocks.

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Successfully Resumes Test Drilling

Forbes Technology

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is for the first time testing an improvised new percussive drilling technique intended to pound subsurface samples into powder in hopes of better understanding the shallow Martian subsurface. After a year's drilling hiatus, Curiosity is again back to drilling samples in rocks at the surface of Mars' Gale Crater. This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the'Mojave' site, where its drill collected the mission's second taste of Mount Sharp. The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the MAHLI camera at the... "If all goes well and we can continue drilling, the science team hopes to learn how the ancient climate at Gale crater, and the prospects for life there, changed over time," Ashwin Vasavada, the Curiosity Rover's project scientist, told me. Curiosity's drilling capability was knocked out of business in December 2016, when the motor that moves Curiosity's drill back and forth became unreliable, Vasavada told me.

Star Wars-inspired flying robots joining space station crew


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon be joined by a crew of free-flying mini-robots inspired by the Jedi training droids that Luke Skywalker practiced his light saber skills with in Star Wars. NASA's one-foot-cube Astrobees will be packed with cameras, sensors, and other tools and travel around the space station; its tasks will be far more mundane, however, than the movie training droids. The bots will help with tasks like measuring noise levels, testing carbon dioxide concentrations, or shooting video of astronauts at work. Ground crews will be able to remotely control the robot, sending it to various station waypoints, or even giving it a set of tasks to carry out largely autonomously, says Trey Smith, a research scientist in NASA's Intelligent Robotics Group. "In the end, it should be able to depart from its dock, do an entire survey of several modules, and then return to its dock at the end of it," he says.

AI and satellite imagery: Proposed 'global service platform' to scale AI for Good projects


AI is the only thing that can let us see the whole world at once. Not recording it, but seeing it – creating a global real-time database of the world," says Stuart Russell, UC-Berkeley, lead of the AI for Good breakthrough team on AI and satellite imagery. The 2nd AI for Good Global Summit connected AI innovators with public and private-sector decision-makers. Four breakthrough teams – looking at satellite imagery, healthcare, smart cities, and trust in AI – set out to propose AI strategies and supporting projects to advance sustainable development. Teams were guided in this endeavour by an expert audience representing government, industry, academia and civil society.

3-D Printers And Robotic Arms: How One Startup Plans To Build Off-World Colonies

Forbes Technology

This space-optimized wrench was 3-D printed on the International Space Station. In the coming decades, humans will begin to colonize the "final frontier." Private rocket companies -- including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin -- are already building vehicles to ferry settlers to outer space. But what happens once these early colonists step off their ships and onto the hostile surface of Mars or the Moon? When history's pilgrims and pioneers arrived in a new territory, they used the land's natural resources to build their settlements.

High-tech musical chairs as spacewalking astronauts perform pump swap at ISS

The Japan Times

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Spacewalking astronauts carried out a high-flying, high-tech version of musical chairs Wednesday, rearranging pumps outside the International Space Station. Popping out early, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold quickly swapped the positions of two spare ammonia pumps that are part of the space station's critical cooling system. One pump got too cold because of a power shutdown 17 years ago and is called Frosty; flight controllers plan to test it in the coming days to see if it still works. The other, a failed unit dubbed Leaky, spewed out ammonia five years ago. Frosty took Leaky's spot on a robot-arm mechanism, while Leaky was moved to a long-term storage platform.

Innovation Birmingham - The UK's Leading Digital Campus


Innovation Birmingham-based 15-year-old digital tech entrepreneur Kari Lawler is set to pitch in front of UK Space Agency heads in June after winning the UK Space SatelLife Challenge 2018. The Challenge was launched by the UK Space Agency, offering the chance for 11-22-year-olds to get expert advice around their ideas on how satellites can improve life on Earth. As well as being shortlisted alongside eight promising young talents from across the UK, Kari has been awarded £5,000 and has been recognised as the second youngest innovator within the finalists of the prestigious challenge. Opening up opportunities for financial support, access to satellite data, resources and mentoring from industry advisors and experts, the pitch day is to be held on June 26th and will provide an arena for Kari to showcase her innovative'Capturing Earth's Changes' artificial intelligence (AI) proposition. Touching on machine learning, the "deep artificial neural application" will analyse and digest Earth's observation data, detecting patterns across the globe to identify the causes of natural disasters.

A HELICOPTER will take to the skies above Mars in 2020

Daily Mail

Nasa intends to study Mars from the sky, with the help of a miniature helicopter. The world first would see the US space agency launch the drone-like craft to Mars in 2020, reaching the red planet in early 2021. Known simply as The Mars Helicopter, the device weighs less than four pounds (1.8 kilograms), and its main body section, or fuselage, is about the size of a softball. It will serve as a proof of concept, demonstrating that airborne drones work well on Mars, and could pave the way for a fleet of the machines. Because of the thin atmosphere on the Red Planet, the helicopter's blades will spin at almost 3,000 rpm, approximately ten times faster than on Earth.

In bid to probe the red planet further, NASA to test first helicopter on Mars in 2020

The Japan Times

TAMPA, FLORIDA – The U.S. space agency said Friday it plans to launch the first helicopter to Mars in 2020, a miniature, unmanned drone-like chopper that could boost our understanding of the red planet. Known simply as the Mars Helicopter, the device weighs less than 1.8 kilograms and its main body section, or fuselage, is about the size of a softball. It will be attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover, a wheeled robot that aims to determine the habitability of the Martian environment, search for signs of ancient life and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers. Mars 2020 is planned for launch in July 2020, with an arrival on the surface of Mars expected in February 2021. "NASA has a proud history of firsts," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement.

Budget 2018: Government confirms AU$41m space agency


The Australian government has confirmed its own space agency under the 2018-19 Federal Budget, with AU$41 million in funding committed to the project. As part of the "growing the Australian space industry" tranche of its massive Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan unveiled in Tuesday's Budget, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will get AU$5.7 million in 2018-19, AU$9.8 million in 2019-20, AU$11.8 million in 2020-21, and AU$13.7 million in 2021-22. "This includes funding of AU$26 million over four years from 2018-19 to establish a National Space Agency, which will coordinate domestic space activities for Australia; and AU$15 million over three years from 2019-20 to establish the International Space Investment project, which will provide grants to strategic space projects that generate employment and business opportunities for Australians," the Budget papers explained. According to the government, having a national space agency will "help Australian businesses capture more of the US$340 billion a year global space industry". The announcement follows reports from the ABC last week that the government would be pumping AU$50 million into creating a space agency.