Features

Human Spaceflight Takes a Giant Leap

Inside the Operations and Checkout Building high bay at Kennedy Space Center, technicians install a back shell tile panel onto the Orion crew module, and check the fit next to the middle back shell tile panel in preparation for Exploration Flight Test-1. (NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis) NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025, and to Mars in the 2030s. While robotic explorers have studied Mars for more than 40 years, NASA’s path for the human exploration of Mars begins in low Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts on the ISS are proving many of the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space, including Mars. The ISS also advances understanding of how the body changes in space, and how to protect astronaut health.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace

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Suiting Up for the Future

NASA is developing the next generation of suit technologies that will enable deep-space exploration by incorporating advancements such as regenerable carbon dioxide removal systems and water evaporation systems that more efficiently provide crewmembers with core necessities such as breathing air and temperature regulation. Mobility and fit of a pressurized suit are extremely important in keeping astronauts productive, so NASA is focusing on spacesuit designs to help crews work more efficiently and safely during spacewalks.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace

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Modified Monitor Provides Glasses-Free 3D for Pilots and Gamers

NASA technology enables monitors that switch between 2D and 3D imaging. When flying the increasingly crowded skies, pilots need to have an arsenal of information: altitude, airspeed, fuel level, distance to their destination, and the location of other planes in the sky. All of this information is presented in a series of two-dimensional instruments, panels, and readouts, meaning the pilot has to mentally assemble the information and translate that into the 3D world to better understand the relationship among air, ground, and traffic. NASA has long been interested in making it as easy as possible for pilots and astronauts to have the best information available to ensure safe flights, knowing that humans are imperfect creatures.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace

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Precise Measurements on Earth Enable Further Exploration in Space

Measurement is the first step to success. If you can’t measure something accurately, it can’t be understood or improved. That is especially true for the spacecraft rockets and engines designed to operate under extreme temperatures and pressures at liftoff, or space stations the size of a six-bedroom house that must support people living and working in space for years.

Posted in: Articles, Test & Measurement

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Next-Generation Infrared Technologies Solve High-Speed Automotive Testing Challenges

Higher-speed IR cameras can improve design phase testing. Product research and development on internal combustion engines, brake rotors, tires, and high-speed airbags are just a few of the areas that truly benefit from high-speed, high-sensitivity thermal characterization testing. Unfortunately, traditional forms of contact temperature measurement such as thermocouples are not practical to mount on moving objects, and non-contact forms of temperature measurement such as spot guns — and even current infrared (IR) cameras — are simply not fast enough to stop motion on these high-speed targets in order to take accurate temperature measurements.

Posted in: Articles, Test & Measurement

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Making Sense from Sensors: How to Build a Sensor Fusion Engine

The presence of more than 1 billion sensor-rich smartphones and the intense interest surrounding the Internet of Things has drawn wide attention to all the potential and possibilities of sensor fusion engines. Availability of context data and general real-world data in digital format opens up many opportunities.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors

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NASA's Game-Changing Robotics

“Over the years, I’ve asked people, ‘If you had a robot, what would you want it to do for you?’” said Rob Ambrose, principal investigator for NASA’s Game Changing Development Program and chief of the Software, Robotics, and Simulation Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. When he asks astronauts, they usually tell him they want the robot to do chores.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Robotics

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