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Archive for the 'Space' Category

Nanotech and space travel

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 21st, 2009

Let’s look at what nanotech could do — could be doing now if Feynman’s path had been taken — to make space travel more achievable and affordable — and therefore useful. It’s widely understood how lighter, stronger structures can make rockets more efficient, but that’s of limited use. The rocket equation is still a huge [...]

Space travel: utter bilge?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 20th, 2009

It is, today, just 40 years since I sat glued to a grainy black-and-white TV set and watched the Apollo astronauts land on, and then step out on, the moon. If you had asked me then, I would have assured you that by the year 2000, much less 2009, I’d have my own spaceship, or [...]

The world is flat

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 19th, 2009

In this post I began considering the prognostications in George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years, in light of some of the kinds of changes in technology that might come online during the century. This is obviously hard to do, but imagine trying to predict the geopolitical course of the 20th century without understanding the possibility [...]

Singularity, part 6

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 5th, 2009

This the sixth essay in a series exploring if, when, and how the Singularity will happen, why (or why not) we should care, and what, if anything, we should do about it. Part VI: The heavily-loaded takeoff The fastest software I ever used ran on some of the slowest computers I ever had. Circa 1980, [...]

Conference to develop proposal for a nanotech space elevator

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 2nd, 2008

November conference in Japan to draw up a proposal and timeline for a space elevator to be made possible through nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology tool sent to Mars

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 20th, 2007

The company Nanoscience Instruments in its Scanline newsletter (PDF, Vol. 2, Issue. 2) lets us know that one of their nanotechnology products, the Nanosurf atomic force microscope, is on its way to Mars. Excerpts: Onboard the Phoenix lander is a suite of sophisticated scientific instrumentation including a weather station, an optical microscope, and a high-resolution [...]

Nanotechnology sensor succeeds in space test

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 19th, 2007

iTWire reports that a recent test by NASA of a nanotech-based sensor has succeeded: “The nanosensor worked successfully in space,” said principal investigator Jing Li, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “We demonstrated that nanosensors can survive in space conditions and the extreme vibrations and gravity change that occur during launch,” she said. The [...]

Nanotechnology frontier meets space frontier

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 30th, 2007

For a visionary look at space applications of nanotech, see a new column over at Nanotechnology Now. An excerpt: Occasionally astronauts have to leave their spaceships, so researchers at Northeastern University and Rutgers University propose that we protect the astronauts by including layers of bio-nano robots in their spacesuits. The outer layer of bio-nano robots [...]

Facing up to military nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 4th, 2006

A new book by German physicist J├╝rgen Altmann of Dortmund University looks at Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control (Routledge, 2006). Both near-term and long-term applications are examined. From the abstract: NT applications will likely pervade all areas of the military…By using NT to miniaturise sensors, actuators and propulsion, autonomous systems (robots) could [...]

Save & store energy, rocket into space with aluminum nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 31st, 2006

The benefits to energy and space applications of advanced nanotechnology will be huge, but nearer-term we are already seeing some very promising results from simple aluminum nanoparticles. From University of Wisconsin on the work of engineering prof Pradeep Rohatgi, via Foresight Senior Associate Brian Wang: The newest class of MMCs [metal matrix composites] that his [...]

Fun little movie on green nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 13th, 2006

The Woodrow Wilson Center Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies has a cute short (8:25) movie posted in which Bethany Maynard interviews her dad Dr. Andrew Maynard and Dr. Barbara Karn on nanotech. Worth showing to kids, and even adults may enjoy it. The best part is when Bethany and her brother Alex apply mustard to her [...]

Webcast May 30: Nanotech for space elevator

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 18th, 2006

Upcoming on Tuesday, May 30, 2006, at 12:30 PM Eastern time (9:30 AM West Coast time in U.S.) is a meeting and webcast at the prestigious Wilson Center on the topic of using nanotech to build a space elevator. Michael Laine, founder and president of Liftport, Inc., who spoke on this topic at last fall’s [...]

Google considers nanotech involvement

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 2nd, 2006

From the San Jose Mercury News, a story on NASA/Google collaboration: “The Mountain View-based Internet giant is expanding its plans for potential collaborations with NASA scientists at Moffett Field to include research on everything from private commercial rocket launches to search engines in the classroom to nanotechnology in orbit… ” ‘Everyone got so excited with [...]

Superstrong nanotube sheets made, targeted at solar sails

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 18th, 2005

Physorg.com reports on an advance published in the Aug 19, 2005 Science: “Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to seven meters per minute by the coordinated rotation of a trillion nanotubes per minute for every centimeter of sheet width…Strength [...]

Study finds self-replicating nanomachines feasible

Posted by Jim Lewis on June 3rd, 2004

As reported in Smalltimes, a study done for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems concludes that a useful self-replicating machine could be less complex than a Pentium IV chip, and uncovered no road blocks to extending macroscale systems to microscale and then to nanoscale self-replicating systems. The study also evaluated adherence to the Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology. The final report for the study can be downloaded from NASA as a PDF file.

Space Elevator Conference

Posted by RichardTerra on July 9th, 2002

JohnFaith writes "High Lift Systems will be sponsoring a conference in Seattle on implementing a carbon tether space elevator: http://www.confcon.com/sp_elev_02/sp_elev_02.html. There's also a story in the Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/13 4489679_spaceelevator08m.html. This type of application has been mentioned in various nanotech books, so it will be interesting to see if the conference will mention molecular machines as a way to build these structures."

Archival site for L5 Society newsletters, history, images

Posted by RichardTerra on April 9th, 2002

from the blast-from-the-past dept.
We are grateful to Dale Amon for bringing to our attention an archival website devoted to back issues of the L5 News, the newsletter of the L5 Society, which was formed to advocate the implementation of the visionary ideas of Gerard K. OíNeill to construct large orbital communities at the L5 libration point roughly equidistant from Earth and Luna, using lunar materials and resources. The L5 Society later merged with the National Space Institute in 1987 to form the National Space Society (NSS), which continues to advocate for the development of space resources. Many current members of the Foresight community were active members of the L5 Society, and remain active in the NSS.

In addition to online versions of the L5 News (currently issues from 1975 through 1978), the site presents some basic background information on the L5 colonization concept, a brief history of the L5 Society and its activities, and an image library with views of the torus, Bernal sphere, and OíNeill cylinder designs for large space settlements.

Space Elevator/Carbon nanotube composites

Posted by RichardTerra on March 30th, 2002

Leonard David writes "Thought you might find this story of interest: Space elevators/carbon nanotube composites at http://space.com/businesstechnology/technology/space_elevator_020327-1.html
- Leonard David, Senior Space Writer
SPACE.com"

[Editor's Note: additional information on the orbital tower concept and the potential use of fullerene-based composites as a construction material can be found in this Nanodot post from 3 May 2001.]

Nanotubes Could Make Ships Lightweight, Superstron

Posted by RichardTerra on February 12th, 2002

LawrenceTrutter writes "The Space.com story, Microscopic Nanotubes Could Make Ships Lightweight, Superstrong , discusses the predictions made by NASA's Nanotube team. Several applications of the nanotubes mentioned in the article include composite, nanoelectronics, biomedical applications, energy storage, and thermal materials.

Dr. Richard Smalley of Rice University is also quoted in this article. There is also a brief report on Richard Smalley's team progress."

Near-Earth asteroid traffic heavy during January

Posted by RichardTerra on January 17th, 2002

from the gotta-get-off-this-rock dept.
According to an article from the Reuters news service ("Two Hefty Asteroids Pass Close to Earth", by Deborah Zabarenko, 16 January 2002), two hefty asteroids passed close to Earth on 16 January 2002, with at least five more set to swing near by January's end. One of the close-approaching asteroids measured between .6 and 1.8 miles in diameter, a big enough space rock to cause catastrophe if it collided with Earth. According to the report, at least five more fairly big asteroids were to pass close to Earth's orbit before Jan. 29, according to NASA's Near Earth Object Program. The article also notes there was some mild consternation over asteroid 2001 YB5, a 1,000-foot wide asteroid that got within 500,000 miles of Earth during the second week of January.

NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Tracking project watches for asteroids .6 miles or more across that have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth if they hit. Of the approximately 1,200 big dangerous asteroids believed to exist, scientists have detected 564. The vast majority of those — 471 — have been discovered since 1990.

Many scientists believe that an asteroid perhaps 3 miles across wiped out the dinosaurs and many other species when it crashed to Earth at the end of the Cretaceous era 65 million years ago. According to another press release (17 January 2002), at team of University of Arizona scientists will begin field work on an international project to core 1.8 kilometers into an immense crater created by the impact of an asteroid or comet 65 million years ago that is thought to be the object responsible for the Cretaceous extinctions. The project, the Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project (CSDP), is located near Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico.