If you happen to be a LEGO aficionado or just consider yourself a space geek, you’re in luck! LEGO has now released its model of NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, to the public. The set is now available for purchase at LEGO’s website for $29.99 USD.
The idea to create a LEGO set to model Curiosity came from the mind of mechanical engineer and NASA employee Stephen Pakbaz, who worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission at JPL. To make his idea a reality, Stephen drew up a some plans and pitched them on LEGO’s “Cuusoo” site which allows fans to vote for their favorite user-created designs. In June of 2013, after gaining nearly 10,000 votes on the site, Pakbaz’s idea was conditionally approved by LEGO to begin production later in the year.
Along with the Curiosity Rover, a number of other space-related projects have popped up on Cuusoo and already have substantial support. The Apollo 11 lander, NASA’s Crawler Transporter, the Hubble Space Telescope, and New Horizons spacecraft have all been proposed on the community website and are now awaiting further support and approval.
Public recognition of space technology is one of the most important steps to furthering the cause of space exploration. While these LEGO sets may simply be seen as “toys” by many, their importance in inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers cannot be overstated.
Show your support of NASA here: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/
Learn more about NASA-based LEGO sets, where you can find them, and how to support them: http://goo.gl/yF7bI1
Images Courtesy of LEGO
Last year NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory revealed a Spiderman-inspired grippy clawthat would let spacecraft easily grab onto passing asteroids and comets. Since then the technology has been further refined and now integrated into a rock-climbing robot called the LEMUR IIB that could put Sir Edmund Hillary to shame.
Each of the robot’s four articulate arms is capped with a gripper that uses 750 tiny claws—apparently all hand-crafted by JPL’s summer interns—to grab onto rough surfaces like rocks. The claws are actually strong enough to hold the robot to a surface even upside-down, but in zero gravity there’ll be less forces trying to break its grip.
NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).
LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.
Drop whatever you’re doing and watch this. NASA has released videos shot from onboard the Space Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters in the past, but you’ve never seen one prepared as masterfully as this.
For one thing, the footage was shot in high definition, so the image is exceptionally clear. But what puts this video head and shoulders above most other rocketcams is the sound. The audio has been remastered by the folks over at Skywalker Sound (yes, that Skywalker Sound), and the final product is nothing short of incredible.
On this date Dwight D Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, Thus creating NASA
Aircraft design is often overlooked in discussions of the FAA’s multibillion-dollar NextGen initiative, the elaborate mélange of satellite-based guidance, arrival, and departure technologies intended to modernize the outdated and much-criticized national airspace system by 2025. Yet a team led by researchers at California Polytechnic State University found that one of the easiest ways to improve system efficiency may be to reengineer the plane itself.
As part of a five-year NASA research project, the team designed a 100-passenger Cruise Efficient, Short Take-Off and Landing (Cestol) airliner that could arrive and depart at steep angles to and from 3,000-foot-long runways. “This plane was designed with a circulation-control wing, which generates higher lift at lower speeds,” says David Marshall, an associate professor with Cal Poly’s aerospace-engineering department. “We can reduce the field length by 50 percent.”
How It Works: The Cestol Airliner
Scientists at Cal Poly mounted the Cestol’s turboprop engines above the wing—as opposed to underneath it—for two reasons. First, exhaust passing over the wing increases lift. Second, the wing deflects engine noise, shielding communities below. “NASA wants aircraft noise reduced by 52 decibels,” Marshall says. “So far, we’re already looking at a 30-decibel reduction.”
Conventional wings often have multiple flap elements, which rotate downward to increase the curve of the airfoil. The Cestol has a single flap, augmented by a narrow slot that runs the length of the wing. When the flap rotates downward, the slot channels high-pressure air over the top of the wing and directs the wind stream downward, increasing lift.
Deflecting Jet Exhaust
To combine the effects of engine exhaust and circulation control, the team moved the turbofans to the front of the wings. When the flaps rotate down, the exhaust is pulled into a low pressure region, which increases lift and allows for even slower and steeper ascents. “With this design, we can generate lifts five to 10 times higher than a conventional wing,” Marshall says.
We Petition The Obama Administration To:
Repeal The Sequester’s Cuts On NASA’s Spending In Public Outreach And Its STEM Programs
The Sequester’s recent cuts on NASA’s spending in public outreach and its STEM programs must not be allowed. These cuts would end the many programs NASA has for educating the children of our society, as well as many other forms of public outreach held by NASA.
In an internal memo issued on the evening of Friday, March 22, the Administration notes that “effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects.”
Created: Mar 22, 2013
Everyone please go sign this. It is very import for Nasa to continue its outreach and stem initiatives to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and math at an early age.
Nasa and the European Space Agency have successfully used their experimental interplanetary internet system to control a Lego robot on Earth from the International Space Station.
Sunita Williams, commander of Expedition 33 aboard the ISS, used the Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to drive a little Lego robot at the European Space Operations Centre in Germany to demonstrate the protocol’s use as a method of controlling technology on a planet’s surface from orbit.
The DTN system is designed to enable standardised communications with distant technologies — deep spacecraft and orbital systems, for example — without being hampered by the associated long distances and time delays.
As such, the Bundle Protocol — analogous to the Internet Protocol used by the terrestrial internet — is able to work around disconnections and errors by moving data in bursts across parts of the network as links become available rather than requiring a continuous connection between the source and destination.
“The demonstration showed the feasibility of using a new communications infrastructure to send commands to a surface robot from an orbiting spacecraft and receive images and data back from the robot,” said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation at Nasa headquarters. “The experimental DTN we’ve tested from the space station may one day be used by humans on a spacecraft in orbit around Mars to operate robots on the surface, or from Earth using orbiting satellites as relay stations.”
Last night, I watched a live feed from a command center in Pasadena, California, piped through the Internet 1800 miles to me in St. Louis, Missouri. I heard telemetry and ‘heart-beat’ confirmation tones from a 2.5 billion dollar Mini Cooper sized science lab (the largest ever for a mission) launched 253 days ago, from 353 million miles away, above the surface of another planet. That science lab hit the Martian atmosphere at 13,200 miles per hour. It burned through the atmosphere, and expended a 15 foot diameter heat shield (the largest ever for a mission) that had withstood temperatures of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to melt every metal you can think of). It rode down on a 51 foot diameter parachute (the largest ever for a mission) designed to withstand speeds of 1450 miles per hour (there was no backup chute). Then the chute was abandoned, and the craft went into free fall for a few seconds. A rocket pack was activated to allow the car sized object to hover over the surface, while a skycrane lowered the entire thing gently to the rocky soil. It landed within a 12 mile by 4 mile ellipse, or around 38 square miles (the size of Barcelona, Spain*), within planetary spitting distance of a 3.5 mile high mountain.
All with zero command input from any human being watching, running on less computing power than the phone in your pocket.
*So take a sheet of paper, fold it in half longways. Now walk about 5,600 miles away. Now hit it with a bullet the width of a strand of DNA (~4 nanometers). That’s what it’s like to land the rover in such a small area from such a long distance.
I know this is a little late to the game but this is the best description of the Curiosity Rover success that I have read.
Here is our midpoint project review video.
This is the midpoint video for my team’s robot for the Nasa/Rascal Robo-Ops Competition.
Video: Curiosity to make unusual landing on Mars.
Previous Mars Rover missions have landed on the Martian surface using a bubble of balloons to cushion their touchdown. With Curiosity being much heavier and more sensitive, a new technique had to be found to safely land the rover.
NASA and LEGO Partnership Inspires Kids to Pursue Science and Engineering
NASA announced Tuesday the signing of a Space Act Agreement with The LEGO Group to conduct education and public outreach activities aimed at increasing participation in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
To commemorate the beginning of this partnership, the crew of space shuttle Discovery’s STS-133 mission will carry a small LEGO® shuttle when it launches Wednesday, Nov. 3, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The partnership marks the beginning of a three-year agreement that will use the inspiration of NASA’s space exploration missions and the appeal of the popular LEGO bricks to spur children’s interest in STEM. The theme of the partnership is “Building and Exploring Our Future.”
The LEGO Group will release four NASA inspired products in their LEGO CITY line next year. The space-themed products will vary in terms of complexity, engaging audiences from young children to adult LEGO fans. Each product release will contain NASA-inspired education materials.