Satellite thrusters, bone loss in space and a robot built launch pad!

CubeSat_picture-02.pngThe race to build teeny tiny satellite thrusters

You might not know it, but you’re really just one Kickstarter away from launching your own satellite. CubeSats and other small, cheap spacecraft platforms have reduced the cost of getting to orbit by a huge margin, allowing for a more democratized age of space exploration.

As exciting as this populist spaceflight movement is, there is still one major technological hurdle it has to clear before it will meet its full potential: Propulsion.

Take CubeSats—cubic nanosatellites that typically weigh around three pounds. These modules are extremely popular with both professionals and hobbyists, and hundreds of them have been launched since 2003.

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Fishing for answers on bone loss in space

During spaceflight, astronauts lose bone mineral density, but it is not clear exactly what causes this loss. Scientists trying to understand why recently went fishing for answers. They reared small freshwater fish aboard the International Space Station for 56 days and examined the animals’ jawbones and teeth for any potential effects from microgravity.

Previous studies suggest that microgravity activates osteoclasts, cells that control the breakdown of bone tissue, and the Medaka fish investigation examined the relationship between this increased osteoclast activity and reduced bone mineral density.

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This robot just built a launch pad

piscesbotHumans have never built another structure on another planet. So far, everything hurled beyond our atmosphere and into the great beyond was constructed on Earth, made by human hands or human-built machines using resources from sweet mother Terra herself. If we want to venture forth into the cosmos, and say, launch a return rocket home, it’d be nice to have a launch pad in place on the alien planet. Instead of hauling a launch pad there, why not make a machine that can use local materials to build one?

Over the course of several months, a remotely-controlled robot from the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration (PISCES) did just that. And now, thanks to Project Manager Rodrigo Romo we can watch that construction in all its impressive, tedious glory.

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A job opening for a Systems Engineer, BAE Systems (USA). Technology Solutions is seeking a Systems Engineer to develop and mature advanced Electro-Optic system concepts, design brass-boards and prototypes, plan and execute system integration and test and assist in transitioning advanced prototypes to production. More information

Build up your space resume by participating in the project Planet FOUR: scientists need your help to find and mark ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ on the Martian surface. They believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking ‘fans’ and ‘blotches’ over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars’ climate. More information



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