UpFront

Next Mars Rover Heads Toward 2020 Launch

NASA is ready to proceed with final design and construction of its next Mars rover, currently targeted to launch in the summer of 2020 and arrive on the Red Planet in February 2021. The Mars 2020 rover will collect samples of soil and rock, and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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Editor’s Choice: August 2016

A high-resolution, real-time, non-scanning 3D imaging laser system uses a simple lens system to simultaneously generate a 1D or 2D topographic profile of an object, surface, or landscape. The system has applications in remote sensing such as LiDAR mapping, and in machine vision and robotic vision. Find out more HERE.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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A Solar System Internet

NASA has taken a major step toward creating a Solar System Internet by establishing operational Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service on the International Space Station (ISS). The DTN service will help automate and improve data availability for space station experimenters, and will result in more efficient bandwidth utilization and more data return.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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Prizes Awarded in Sample Return Robot Challenge

Erica Tiberia is the sole member of a team that was one of five to qualify for the next level of competition. (NASA) Five teams took home prize money after completing Level 1 of NASA’s Sample Return Robot Challenge at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Part of the agency’s Centennial Challenges prize program, the contest featured 18 teams of citizen inventors. Each winning team was awarded $5,000 for their success, and has earned a shot at Level 2 of the competition, which will take place Sept. 2-5. The challenge has a total prize purse of $1.5 million.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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Editor’s Choice: July 2016

A device for nondestructive testing of hermetic seals of containers or instrumentation can detect both large and small leaks, as well as the relative leak rate. Its simple design eliminates the need for expensive instrumentation such as a mass spectrometer to analyze leaks and achieve high sensitivity. Low in cost and simple to manufacture, the device has uses in industries from aerospace and automotive, to semiconductors and optical devices, to food and pharmaceutical packaging. Find out more on HERE.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace

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Walk and Roll Robot

A CAD model of the Walk and Roll Robot. To traverse smooth terrain, the most efficient motion is rolling; however, when a wheeled vehicle encounters obstacles, it has to avoid them, if possible, or choose an alternate path. Legged vehicles can traverse these obstacles by stepping over them, but are not energy-efficient on smooth terrain. The Walk and Roll Robot, developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, combines walking and rolling for energy- efficient motions. The robot has a compact design in which all of the components are contained within the body, allowing it to be used for applications in harsh environments where robots traditionally have difficulty with debris, moisture, or dust. Other applications include urban search and rescue missions, and military reconnaissance and exploration. Visit http://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TB2016/GSC-TOPS-43

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace, Robotics

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Testing a Robotic Miner

Resource Prospector sits in the vacuum chamber that simulates the thermal environment and low atmospheric pressure and density the rover will experience on the Moon. The Resource Prospector (RP) rover could be the first robot to mine for resources on another world. Targeted for launch in the early 2020s, RP will search for and characterize sub-surface water, hydrogen, and other volatiles on the Moon. But first, NASA needs to test its resilience to the harsh environments of deep space and extremely cold temperatures on the Moon. During testing in a thermal vacuum chamber at Johnson Space Center, NASA simulated the thermal environment and extremely low atmospheric pressure and density that RP would experience. Learn more about Resource Prospector in the feature article HERE.

Posted in: UpFront, Aerospace, Robotics

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