Commercial airlines learning from NASA, space mining overview and some Mars VR

NASA research could save commercial airlines billions in new era of aviation

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The nation’s airlines could realize more than $250 billion dollars in savings in the near future thanks to green-related technologies developed and refined by NASA’s aeronautics researchers during the past six years.

These new technologies, developed under the purview of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project, could cut airline fuel use in half, pollution by 75 percent and noise to nearly one-eighth of today’s levels.

“If these technologies start finding their way into the airline fleet, our computer models show the economic impact could amount to $255 billion in operational savings between 2025 and 2050,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics research.

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Space mining will take a giant leap in 2016

Most of us see the Moon as just a small circle in the sky. Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of space-miningstartup Moon Express, sees quadrillions of dollars worth of valuable minerals, more than a million tonnes of fusion fuel and some prime business estate — and he wants to own it.

“So many resources which are extremely rare on Earth are abundant on the Moon,” Jain says. “We shouldn’t only be mining the Earth, we should be thinking of the Moon as our eighth continent.”

Last December, Moon Express became the first private company to successfully build and test a Moon-capable robotic lander — the MX-1 — here on Earth. By 2016, it plans to land on the Moon itself in a bid to claim the $20 million (£13m) Google Lunar XPRIZE for the first private lander to successfully travel 500 metres along the surface and transmit high-definition imagery back home. In October, in partnership with Nasa, it was on track to launch a shuttle to retrieve experiments from the International Space Station.

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How anyone can explore Mars through virtual reality

mars2Although NASA isn’t planning on sending astronauts to Mars until the 2030s, anyone with a virtual reality headset will be able to walk on the Red Planet next year.

The Mars 2030 Experience, a collaboration across NASA, Fusion, and MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory, will debut in March 2016 at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

The free virtual reality experience will be playable on Google Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR. Versions of the experience also are expected to launch on PlayStation VR and HTC Vive in the future.

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