How I sent a Raspberry Pi into near space
The idea was sumptuously simple. Tie a Raspberry Pi with a camera to a weather balloon, add some GPS bits and an antenna or two, include a rather brilliant add-on board for near space, make serious use of polystyrene, sticky-backed plastic and some unsuspecting Lego figures, and then launch the whole shebang into space!
That was the easy bit. The hard bit was learning how to do it so that we had some chance of recovering the payload when it finally came back to Earth. How to track it, how to set it up so that all the different bits worked, and how to inflate it.
Planets with too much carbon dioxide could lose oceans to space
We already knew one way to dry out Earth or a similar planet: just wait. As the sun ages, it will get about 9 per cent brighter every billion years. The increase in solar radiation will warm the Earth, making water vapour mix into the upper atmosphere.
There, water molecules will be exposed to ultraviolet rays, which will break them into hydrogen and oxygen – and then many of those lightweight hydrogen atoms will fly off into space. Over time, Earth’s oceans will dwindle, because the lost water is never replaced.
That fate comes from a warming sun, but CO2 may offer another path to the same destination, argues Max Popp of Princeton University. He and his team modelled Earth’s climate, and found that adding large quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere – far more even than what we’re doing now – could also heat the planet until it leaks water.
The only company launching civilians into orbit says space travel is nearing the ‘bounds of affordability’
The biggest hurdle to bringing down cost is in the launch. Russian and US government-backed launches cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million a pop. Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is around $60 million, but that would still keep passenger ticket prices high.
Space Adventures was working with Armadillo Aerospace on its own suborbital craft, but they ran into technical difficulties and have since parted ways. Still, companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and XCOR are working on rocket-powered vehicles that could bring passengers to suborbital space, while others like World View and zero2infinity are testing balloon-powered flights to near-space.
A job opening for a Software Engineer, Blue Origin (USA). As a part of a rapidly evolving team, you will help develop 21st Century software systems to design, build and operate space vehicles. Using the latest technologies, you will build systems that will become the foundation of a company that is doing things for which no blueprint exists. More information
Build up your space resume by participating in the project KubOS: KubOS is a small layer in the development process that will allow satellite developers to quickly create mission software for a satellite. KubOS, Open Source Software for Satellites, is built for nano satellites, pico satellites, and cubesats, and it can be scaled for small satellites. More information