NASA architects, engineers and scientists are already busy creating sustainable, space-based living quarters, work spaces and laboratories for next-generation human space exploration, including our journey to Mars. This 2011 version of the deep space habitat at the Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) analog field test site in Arizona features a Habitat Demonstration Unit, with the student-built X-Hab loft on top, a hygiene compartment on one side and airlock on the other.
To be the cutting edge of innovation in engineering and design of new deep space habitats
Space news (New space technology: deep space habitats; 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge) – NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division headquarters –
In one scenario of the Desert Research and Technology Studies in the Arizona desert, a test subject returns to a mock way station. Credit: NASA
NASA engineers, scientists, and systems designers are hard at work creating the next-generation habitats needed to travel and live in space and one day inhabit Mars. Deep within NASA’s Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) test site in Arizona, they have assembled the 2011 version of the deep space habitat. A futuristic space habitat featuring a Habitat Demonstration Unit with X-Hab loft, a second story habitation designed and built by a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as part of the 2011 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.
The X-Hab Academic Challenge program’s designed and implemented to help get graduate and undergraduate level university students directly involved in the development of deep space technology capable of allowing humans to live and travel in space and eventually colonize Mars. Students are encouraged to develop and implement skills and knowledge in all areas and disciplines, team up with industry and experts and actively engage the world in a conversation concerning their work. All in an effort to improve and develop science knowledge, technical ability, leadership qualities and project skills of students selected and encourage further studies in space industry disciplines.
Cutaway of inflatable airlock highlighting doors, support structures and suitports.
Credits: University of Maryland
The 2016 X-Hab Academic Challenge is the sixth event and this year NASA scientists and engineers are working with graduate and undergraduate students from eight American universities on new technology projects to enable astronauts to travel into deep space and the Red Planet. Earlier in the year, student teams submitted proposals, which were selected after extensive analysis by NASA. During the 2015-2016 academic year, each team will design, engineer, build and test all project systems and concepts hand in hand with scientists and engineers from NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA staff will work with student teams selected on next-generation life support systems, space habitats and deep space food production systems needed for the success of future manned missions to Mars.
Organics and Agricultural Sustainment Inflatable System (OASIS) Habitat Interior
Credits: Oklahoma State University
“These strategic collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge in architectural design trades, capabilities, and technology risk reduction related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division.
The teams and projects selected as part of NASA’s X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge are listed below.
The University of Maryland, College Park is working on next-generation airlocks that are inflatable
Students from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York are working on habitat designs to keep astronauts safe and warm during their trip to the Red Planet
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater students are doing studies on deep space habitats suitable for a trip to the Red Planet
AES’s Life Support Systems division sponsorships are:
Students from the University of South Alabama, Mobile are working on a new concentration swing frequency response device
AES’s Space Life and Physical Sciences division sponsorships are:
Students from Utan State University, Logan are designing new experimental plant systems for microgravity environments
The team from Ohio State University, Columbus is working on improving water delivery in modular vegetable production systems needed to provide astronauts with food during their journey and life on Mars
The team from the University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder is working on improving the performance of the Mars OASIS Space Plant Growth System
The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge is led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation in an effort to enable the human journey to the beginning of space and time. The program supports space science research efforts to develop sustainable and cost-effective robotic and human space technology to make our journey possible. It also helps train and develop highly skilled scientists, engineers, and technicians needed to design and implement technology developed to travel and live in space.
Partners in space exploration
NASA lends its scientists, engineers and space exploration technology, and experience to the X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge. The National Space Grant Foundation administers the grants provided by NASA, which range from $10,000 to $30,000, to fund the building, development and final evaluation of each project selected and completed during the 2015-2016 academic year.
Find more information on previous X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenges here.
NASA space scientists have discovered the first nearly Earth-sized exoplanet lying within the habitable zone of its Sun-like parent star
Space news (July 23, 2015) – 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus –
Twenty years after proving other planets do exist the human journey to the beginning of space and time draws nearer to finding an Earth-like cradle for a new human Genesis.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first nearly Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of a star much like our own Sun. Called Kepler-452b and roughly 60 percent bigger than our home planet, this exoplanet is the smallest planet found orbiting at a distance from its parent star where liquid water could exist.
“On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.“
A Star Like Our Sun
Kepler-452b’s parent star is an older cousin to the Sun, a G2 type star approximately 20 percent brighter, 1.5 billion years older, and 10 percent bigger than Earth’s home star.
“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, biggercousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life to exist on this planet.”
A Rocky Exoplanet like Earth?
Kepler-452b is the twelfth exoplanet the human journey to the beginning of space and time has viewed lying within the habitable zone of its parent star. Data collected by both space and Earth-based telescopes indicates planets of this size are often rocky in nature. Indicating the possibility this exoplanet could have an atmosphere and environment that could act as a cradle for a new human Genesis to begin.
A New Human Genesis!
Humans traveling across spacetime to Kepler-452b would evolve during a voyage lasting thousands or even hundreds of years. Extended hibernation of some type would certainly make the journey easier, but this kind of technology hasn’t been developed. An alternative solution to extended periods living in space during a voyage unlike any humans have undertaken is probably a necessity.
Once we land on Kepler-452b, learning to survive and live on this foreign planet will evolve us once again. Humans are designed to evolve in order to survive living in different environments. We would likely survive as a species, but doing so would change us in ways we can’t begin to imagine.
521 New Candidates for the Exoplanet Zoo
At the same time, NASA released this news it announced the Kepler mission’s discovery of 521 new exoplanet candidates for the exoplanet zoo. 12 of these candidates orbit their parent star within the habitable zone and nine have home stars similar to the Sun in both size and temperature. Great news for the human desire to locate a second Earth to live on.
“We’ve been able to fully automate our process of identifying planet candidates, which means we can finally assess every transit signal in the entire Kepler dataset quickly and uniformly,” said Jeff Coughlin, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog. “This gives astronomers a statistically sound population of planet candidates to accurately determine the number of small, possibly rocky planets like Earth in our Milky Way galaxy.”
NASA space scientists will now take a closer look at each of the exoplanet candidates and specifically the ones lying within the habitable zone of their parent star. There could be a second Earth, a cradle for a new human Genesis, waiting to be discovered. An event that would change the course of human history on planet Earth and the way we view ourselves as cosmic beings.
The human journey to the beginning of space and time stops at Pluto and its largest moonCharon
Space news (July 7, 2015) – 4.7 billion km (2.9 billion miles) from Earth and 24 million miles(39 million km) from dwarf planet Pluto and closing –
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is operating according to plans and is ready to view a new dawn for the human journey to the stars!
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is presently accelerating across the solar system toward dwarf planet Pluto and its biggest moon Charon after nine years voyaging across the solar system. Expectations are for a smooth and historic pass by the former ninth planet and it’s family of five known moons at approximately 7:49 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2015.
Space scientists arelooking forward to a better view of terrain types on the surface of the planet and Charon as New Horizons flies past. They especially want to look at a mysterious dark region viewed on its pole that seems to be a little unusual.
“This system is just amazing,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, from the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “The science team is just ecstatic with what we see on Pluto’s close approach hemisphere: Every terrain type we see on the planet—including both the brightest and darkest surface areas —are represented there, it’s a wonderland!
“And about Charon—wow—I don’t think anyone expected Charon to reveal a mystery like dark terrains at its pole,” he continued. “Who ordered that?”
“The unambiguous detection of bright and dark terrain units on both Pluto and Charon indicates a wide range of diverse landscapes across the pair,” said science team co-investigator and imaging lead Jeff Moore, of NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California. “For example, the bright fringe we see on Pluto may represent frost deposited from an evaporating polar cap, which is now in the summer sun.”
First Color Images of Pluto and Charon
First discovered on February 18, 1930, by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, while working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, the New Horizons spacecraft carries the ashes of the discoverer of Pluto to their historic up close meeting.
Charon first emerged from the shadow of Pluto on June 22, 1978, when discovered byUS Naval Observatory astronomer James W. Christy and his colleague Robert Harrington.
There’s only on average 12,000 miles between Pluto and its moon Charon, which is over fifty percent of the size of the dwarf planet. Many astronomers and space scientists call this pair a double planet because of their close proximity in both distance and size.
This first color image of the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon was taken on April 9, 2015, by the Ralph color imager on New Horizons, when it was about 71 million miles away.
“It’s exciting to see Pluto and Charon in motion and in color,” says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. “Even at this low resolution, we can see that Pluto and Charon have different colors—Pluto is beige-orange while Charon is gray. Exactly why they are so different is the subject of debate.”
“Even though the latest images were made from more than 30 million miles away, they show an increasingly complex surface with clear evidence of discrete equatorial bright and dark regions—some that may also have variations in brightness,” says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “We can also see that every face of Pluto is different and that Pluto’s northern hemisphere displays substantial dark terrains though both Pluto’s darkest and its brightest known terrain units are just south of, or on, its equator. Why this is so is an emerging puzzle.”
“We’re squeezing as much information as we can out of these images, and seeing details we’ve never seen before,” said New Horizons Project Scientists Hal Weaver, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “We’ve seen evidence of light and dark spots in Hubble Space Telescope images and in previous New Horizons pictures, but these new images indicate an increasingly complex and nuanced surface. Now, we want to start to learn more about what these various surface units might be and what’s causing them. By early July, we will have spectroscopic data to help pinpoint that.”
High Noon on Dwarf Planet Pluto
What would high noon on Pluto be like? You might think it would be a dark time, considering its distance from the Sun, but there’s more light present than you think. The light present for a brief moment during dawn and dusk on Earth would be like high noon on this distant body.
Want to experience high noon on dwarf planet Pluto? NASA has created a unique and entertaining interactive widget allowing users to experience this momenthere. This new tool tells users the exact time you need to go outside to view high noon on this distant and mysterious object in space.
The new tool also allows you to set reminders allowing you to schedule a session with your family or friends. Taking your children, wife, and interested friends along on your journey to Pluto’s, the best way to introduce people to the human journey to the beginning of space and time.
New Horizons Views Dwarf Planet‘s Four Small Moons
New Horizons recently provided this view of the two smallest and faintest of the five moons of Pluto; Nis, Styx, Hydra, Kerberos and the largest Charon as seen below. The mission is now within view of the entire family of this dwarf planet and in a few days time, we’ll get a close-up view of each member.
“New Horizons is now on the threshold of discovery,” said mission science team member John Spencer, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “If the spacecraft observes any additional moons as we get closer to Pluto, they will be worlds that no one has seen before.”
The images of Kerberos and Styx above were taken using New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) between April 25 – May 1.If you look closely, Kerberos is also visible in the second image.
These images allowed space scientists to confirm the positions of the objects seen as an exact match for the predicted positions of Kerberos and Styx in relation to the Sun, the planets, and all mass bodies in the solar system.
Formore information and facts concerning NASA‘s New Horizon mission go here.
We all experience things differently, but we each witness wondrous things and gain knowledge about ourselves and the bigger universe we live in during our journey.
What does skywatcher or astronomer mean to you? People viewing the night sky and contemplating the meaning of the universe. We have created distinct categories that are listed below.
What kind of sky watcher or astronomer are you?
The professional skywatcher or astronomer earns a significant portion of their income from working in astronomy. They either teach the science in college or university or do space science research on a daily basis. Modern researchers work in individual science specialties like archaeoastronomy and astrometry, or on teams of space scientists planning current and future space missions and designing and engineering the latest spacecraft.
The amateur telescope maker and gadgeteer
This breed of skywatcher once composed a large percentage of astronomy hobbyists. They build amazing telescopes from scratch, grind mirrors, and haul their spaceship-to-the-stars to local star parties. Hands-on amateurs and inventive innovators, many are first time users and adopters of new astronomy technology. The amateur telescope maker and gadgeteer enjoy looking at telescopes as much as through one.
The amateur specialist astronomer
Amateur specialist skywatchers love to observe variable stars, track satellites across the sky, and spend days, weeks and even months hunting for comets. They provide useful scientific data that contributes to our understanding of the universe and enables the human journey to the stars.
The backyard skywatcher or astronomer
The backyard skywatcher thinks space is cool and many are quite knowledgeable concerning the latest astronomy news or book. They enjoy reading about space science and astronomy and a percentage own their own telescope.
The beginner skywatcher
The beginner can be of any age group and just joined the human journey to the beginning of space and time. They often come to the adventure with a relatively clean slate, so find everything exciting.
The astronomy photographer
Often a photographic artist of the highest ability, the astronomy photographer creates and shares astronomy photography techniques and stunning images of the cosmos. Having a vast array of astronomy photography skills and amazing patience, they often leave us sitting back and enjoying their work.
The science fiction fanatic
The science fiction fanatic loves astronomy because of concepts like wormholes, folding space, multiverses, and tachyons. Constantly looking for a door to another dimension or the next universe, they’re more at home in Star Trek, than the real human journey to the stars.
The space travel and planet colonization advocate
Often a romantic soul, the space travel, and planet colonization advocate can be a member of The Planetary Society and wants to colonize other worlds. They’re currently pushing for the colonization of Mars, traveling to nearby asteroids and the jovian moons, and actively push for funding for the human journey to the beginning of space and time.
The space nut or visionary
The space nut or visionary sends in letters ‘disproving’ relativity or offering a brilliant alternative theory. Often they believe NASA is covering up an eminent and world-ending asteroid strike and provide detailed math and physics to back up their claims. Convinced they know something the rest of us don’t, some could be right.
The imprisoned skywatcher
The imprisoned skywatcher has developed a deep curiosity about astronomy but lives in a light-polluted region of the world. They read all they can about space science and the human journey to the stars, but can’t enjoy the journey as they should.
The astronomy zealot
The astronomy zealot looks at the “Big Picture” and the most outrageous models of the human journey to the beginning of space and time. Throw them a string theory or multiverse hypothesis and they swallow it whole. They’re cerebral, speculative and open-minded to anything, and often prefer a novel possibility over hard fact.
The spouses and friends
Spouses get invited to attend star parties, astronomy talks, and sightseeing tours through the solar system and beyond. Only partly enjoying and understanding the process and events, they learn to enjoy these moments, or just put up with it.
The Star Followers
Star navigators are mostly pilots, adventurers, and yachtsmen using the night sky to navigate the globe because they enjoy the hands on feeling of adventure in the ancient art of celestial navigation.
Following their passion and desire to explore, they’re the astronauts of the future, the true adventurers at the forefront of the human exploration of the solar system and beyond.
The enthusiastic human with no idea
The enthusiastic human with no idea about the human journey to the beginning of space and time is the majority of the human race. Unable to name or pinpoint the brightest star in the night sky, or the most common element in the universe, the cosmos just isn’t that interesting to them, so far.
No matter what kind of sky watcher or astronomer you’re, the wonder and mystery of the cosmos can create a passion to answers questions deep within the heart.
Questions generations of sky watchers and astronomers spent thousands of years looking up into the night sky trying to answer. Answers we have designed and engineered amazing spacecraft and telescopes to find during the modern age of space travel and astronomy we live today.
Welcome to the human journey to the beginning of space and time!
Editor and Chief
The human journey to the beginning of space and time