Related articles Science and Technology

It postponed until 2016 ESA mission to Mars

Bad news for those who were hoping to see the colonization of Mars over the next 20 years: the European Agency Space (ESA) announced a couple of days ago, it will be delayed for at least three years, plans to send Mars ExoMars, the European vehicle designed to explore the surface of that planet.

Budgetary constraints have forced the ESA to postpone the launch of the ExoMars from 2013 to 2016. This is the second postponement of the operations of the vehicle after being postponed from 2011 to 2013.

According to the authorities of the ESA, the project was intended to be of smaller dimensions, but as scientists were advancing they were expanding the scope and objectives of the mission. Right now the estimated cost of ExoMars is 1,200 million euros, which is more than twice the initial budget.

Clearly, the countries participating in the ESA (starting with the Italians, who are leading this mission) have asked those responsible for the project to try to reduce the costs of the same, but still bad we weigh the economic situation now it makes it more prudent to postpone the project for a while.

The problem with postponing the project is that it is not something that can be left from one year to another ... if the ship that will carry the Exomars does not come out in November 2013 loses the launch window and must wait until January or February 2016, when the position of Mars will be favorable for launches from Earth.

A real shame.

To encourage a bit, here's a video with an explanation about how the mission will scan the Martian soil.

Additional information:

Video on Titan made from data from the Huygens

This video was a synthesis after the data collected by the Huygens probe one year after landing on the planet Titan.

In the video we can see the area where the probe landed, clouds and winds on the planet, as well as channels (possibly created by the erosion of liquid methane flowing from somewhere, probably rain).

The interviews are interesting. The images also ... and it seems to have found ice crystals!

Huygens Titan's surface mapping

Awesome video in which we can see how the Huygens probe, after leaving the Cassini spacecraft descends into Titan's surface and in the meantime will cartografiándola.

Music and special effects do not think they ship ... but how to map the planet and go watching win resolution as it gets closer, it's awesome.

Video of the Huygens probe landing on Titan

Simulation of the landing of the Huygens probe on Titan Planet after a journey through the Solar System that lasted seven years aboard the Cassini spacecraft.

The ESA Huygens probe has successfully gone through the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and landed 'safely' on its surface. This is the simulation of the landing which has prepared the ESA to illustrate the event.

Europe reaches new frontier - Huygens descends on Titan

Today, after a journey through the Solar System that lasted seven years aboard the Cassini spacecraft, the Huygens probe ESA has successfully crossed the atmosphere of Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, and landed 'safely' in its surface.

It is not "the final frontier" ... but of course, it is a major milestone for European space exploration.

Lanzamiento de la Cassini

Tras soltarse de la nave Cassini el 25 de diciembre, Huygens ha alcanzado la atmósfera exterior de Titán después de un viaje de 20 días y 4 millones de kilómetros en solitario. La sonda inició su descenso por las capas de la brumosa atmósfera de Titán desde una altitud de 1.270 km a las 11:13 CET. Durante los tres minutos siguientes, Huygens tuvo que desacelerar de 18.000 a 1.400 km/h. Varios paracaídas redujeron su velocidad a menos de 300 km/h. A una altura de unos 160 km, los instrumentos científicos de la sonda quedaron expuestos a la atmósfera de Titán. A unos 120 km, el paracaídas principal fue reemplazado por otro más pequeño para finalizar el descenso; se espera que el aterrizaje se realice a las 13:34 CET. Los datos preliminares indican que la sonda ha aterrizado en buen estado, probablemente sobre tierra firme.

La sonda transmitió datos a la nave Cassini durante cuatro minutos a lo largo de su descenso, y siguió enviándolos durante al menos tanto tiempo como Cassini permaneció sobre el horizonte de Titán. La certeza de que Huygens estaba ‘viva’ se obtuvo ya a las 11.25 de hoy, cuando el radiotelescopio de Green Bank recogió una débil pero inconfundible señal de radio procedente de la sonda. Los radiotelescopios en Tierra siguieron recibiendo la señal de Huygens durante mucho más tiempo previsto.

Data from Huygens, forwarded by CImagen of Titánassini were received by the station Deep Space NASA and sent immediately to the European Center for Space Operations ESA in Darmstadt, Germany, which is taking place right now scientific analysis.

"Titan has always been a goal of the Saturn system where it is critical to obtain data 'field' via a catheter. It is a fascinating world and we look forward to the scientific results, "said Professor David Southwood, Director of the scientific program of the ESA.

“Los científicos responsables de la sonda Huygens estamos encantados. La larga espera ha merecido la pena,” dijo el Dr. Jean-Pierre Lebreton, responsable de la misión Huygens por parte de la ESA. Se espera que Huygens ofrezca las primeras muestras directas y detalladas de los compuestos químicos de la atmósfera de Titán y las primeras fotografías de su superficie oculta, además de enviar un ‘informe meteorológico’ completo.

One of the main reasons for sending Huygens to Titan is the study of its atmosphere, composed mostly of nitrogen and methane-rich. In addition, its surface may contain many chemical compounds that existed on the Earth formed. Combined with the Cassini observations, Huygens will provide an unprecedented view of Saturn's mysterious moon.

"The descent to Titan was a unique opportunity in life. The achievement test today to trust this part of the mission to our European partners was the best option, "said Alphonse Diaz, Associate Administrator NASA scientist.

La misión Cassini-Huygens es el resultado de una cooperación entre la NASA, la Agencia Espacial Europea y ASI, la Agencia Espacial Italiana. El JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), una división del California Institute of Technology de Pasadena, gestiona la misión para el Departamento de Ciencia Espacial de la NASA, Washington. JPL ha diseñado, desarrollado y montado la nave Cassini.

“El trabajo en equipo de Europa y EE.UU., de sus científicos, sus industrias y las agencias ha sido extraordinario y ha representado la base del enorme éxito alcanzado hoy”, concluye Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Más información en www.esa.int

See how it works Google Scholar, Google's new search

At the end of last week Google put online the beta version Google Scholar, Its new search engine to locate technical information among all articles, studies, theses, white papers, case studies, Technical reports, research, documentation research centers and universities, books, etc ... published.

It has not even been a month since Google launched its Google Desktop Search tool that has pleasantly surprised us again throwing Google Scholar.

The initial image is very similar to Web search engine Google, however, we have introduced a search topic and give the button "search"We ordered a results window with no commercial information without ads appear. Sorting criteria take into account the content of the documents, the author, the publication in which the document appears, in a similar way as it does for the Web version with links-inThe number of citations to that article in other documents. Finally, it draws attention to the links shown are not unique, as the same article may be published in different media. Even it has links to documents referenced by studies (even they can not exist on the Web), similar to the concept links-out Web version.

To limit searches by author, allows us to include in the filter box seeker "author:" we can write alone or with the theme or concept we are looking to limit the number of results to be obtained.

Turning to practice, I have dedicated myself to making a few searches in the two versions of Google to see the real differences. The first search I've done is "eye tracking technology". The Web version has given me references and four ads 1,040,000. The first 10 results, 4 are companies that sell such technology-related solutions. The remaining 6 are studies or related technical information. In contrast, the results shown by 13,600 Google Scholar 100% are technical, not commercial references or advertisements appearing ... so perfect!

I have taken a second example, "web metrics". The results have been curiously very similar. Of seven advertisements and 2,050,000 results for the Web version, 40% were technical results and 60% commercial results. For version Google ScholarThey have been 28,000 the results, all technical again.

Finally, mention the authors whose technical documents have not yet been indexed they should ask their school, college or publisher to contact Google Scholar to include such content. Google Scholar moment does not allow direct publication by the author of reports and documents. More information is available in the FAQ.

Definitely a tool that will be talking in the research community from now.

Invent a robot that hunts flies for energy and self-sufficient

Although it seems a joke, it is not. The New Scientist magazine has published in its Monday edition, this great invention. A robot that uses the sugar in the exoskeleton of the flies and allows (while flies from view) the robot does not need another power source.

If we read well the article we see that the thing is not as simple as it seems at first glance. Input power the robot obtained by breaking polysaccharide chains of the exoskeleton of the flies is very low and only allows the robot to move 2 centimeters every 12 minutes.

On the other hand, there is the problem of making the flies come ... but that have worked out well. The robot uses a flavor, synthesized from human feces, which attracts flies into a funnel that sucks up the digestive tract. Hahahaha ... you can not deny that is well thought out.

Robotic Anecdotes aside, the investigations that led to the invention of this robot open up endless possibilities:

  • The energy of the polysaccharides can be used to supplement the solar energy to manufacture any kind of "thing" that needs to be energetically autonomous. (How about a robot that when not shine, eat potatoes, beets, ... or GM soy?).
  • Production of electricity for households may attempt be made from the feces and organic waste, home users own: which would reduce the amount of waste that cities need to collect, process and eliminate. The most abundant polysaccharide in nature are starch and cellulose ... our wastes are filled with them. 50 gr. sugar can remain alight 40w bulb for 8 hours.
  • The use of sugar batteries to replace batteries in mobile phones and other devices that need to be recharged by plugging into the mains.
  • How about a water filter potabilice waste and generate electricity? Ideal for a spacecraft or orbital station. In general, ideal for any closed ecosystem.

Links to deepen the topic:

The New Scientist article where the invention of the robot is explained, and where they explain in detail how the energy of a sugar is transformed into a stream of electrons capable of producing the energy needed by the robot.
The New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6366)

website where they explain how the energy of sugar (or any polysaccharide) into electrical energy is transformed:
Geobacter (http://www.geobacter.org/)

Article about bulbs that run on sugar cubes:
Sugar batteries (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2899)

First images of the models of the future space elevator

Tomar un ascensor hacia el espacio puede sonar a ciencia ficción, pero en Seattle se está construyendo el primer prototipo de ascensor espacial.

Lo cierto es que aunque la imagen que muchos tenemos en la cabeza, es parecida a un ascensor más o menos común, la realidad sobre la que trabajan los científicos es un poco diferente. Para empezar, no se trabaja con un cable sino con una cinta ancha, fabricada con nanotubos de carbono… más bien, algo parecido a un monorraíl o una cremallera.

…Y en esto es en lo que están trabajando en Seatlle.

LiftPort Group company has a $ 570,000 grant from NASA to build in addition to funds from private investors and a business plan that is based on generating revenue from the first year of research.

How is a space elevator

The concept is simple. The lift is basically a cable, one end tied to a platform, which may be floating at sea or on land.

At the other end there is a satellite orbiting 35,000 Km floating above the Earth.

Goods such as parts of a space station, or human leisure travelers, are catapulted by the cable and into orbit, in a fraction of the current cost as coordinating the ups and downs of material, the strength of the gravity is who does most of the work.

How is being built: a new business model

La empresa LiftPort está divida en varias pequeñas empresas, que cada una por su lado, atacan una faceta distinta del enorme trabajo de ingeniería que supone la construcción de un ascensor. Así, existe una empresa que se dedica a encontrar la mejor manera de construir la cinta de nanotubos y a investigar la esencia de la cinta, otra que trabaja en la propulsión de la caja del ascensor y en la caja misma… también cuentan con una empresa que se dedica a promocionar el ascensor y con otra que gestiona los fondos.

El trabajo de cada una de estas empresas llevará a la invención y comercialización de muchos otros artefactos que serán útiles para otras industrias. Por ejemplo, parece que a raíz de las investigaciones han dado con una nueva forma de proceder a la vigilancia aérea, y también a un nuevo tipo de antenas que flotan en globos y que permitirían grandes redes wireless.

Así que está claro que el modelo de negocio de LiftPort se basa en ir obteniendo financiación a partir de la comercialización de todo lo que se invente por el camino. Porque recordemos que LiftPort no es una empresa de científicos (aunque los haya…) sino una empresa de ingeniería… y un ingeniero, un científico y un comercial… forman un trío que en manos de un financiero genera buenas expectativas, cuanto menos.

Las imágenes de la primera maqueta

Las imágenes que ilustran este artículo son de un robot llamado “Squeak”, que es capaz de subir por una cinta de plástico. Parece que este robot, a otra escala, es bastante parecido al futuro ascensor espacial, y según ha declarado Michel Lane, Presidente de Lift Port Group, el equipo que trabaja en la propulsión de la caja del ascensor, lo hace a partir del Squeak.

Una de las novedades de este robot es que funciona propulsado por un rayo láser enviado desde la base en la Tierra y que choca contra una plataforma dispuesta en un lateral del robot, haciéndolo avanzar.

Las claves del ascensor espacial

... But back to the elevator: the three pillars technicians to manufacture the elevator, and what works in LiftPort are:

  1. A robotic transport to withstand both the pressure at sea level, such as working more than 50,000 km from Earth. Questions: Are wheels? ¿Rails? cables?
  2. Finding super-tough material that will not collapse on its own weight when you have 100,000 km in length.
  3. Finding a source of energy for the robot. Solar energy? ¿Batteries?

Si se construye un ascensor que resuelva estos tres pilares técnicos, también podrá fabricarse una variante del ascensor que dejaría fuera de combate las lanzaderas de la NASA… ya que con alguna modificación, el robot y la cinta podrían lanzar el material y propulsarlo hasta la órbita de Marte o de cualquier otro planeta. Una vez en esa órbita, otro ascensor espacial podría bajarlos hasta la superficie. Y viceversa… desde Marte se podrían enviar materiales a la Tierra (…esto ya empieza a sonar a Kim Stanley Robinson en “Marte Rojo” Ed. Minotauro).

Las universidades, volcadas también en el proyecto

Michael Lane has been giving lectures and seminars in different universities in the Seattle area to get a large number of students seen his doctoral thesis in technologies related to the elevator.

And as expected ... it has appeared an American tycoon who created the "Elevator: 2010" which will reward innovation in the development of robots type Squeak and tapes material super resistant and propulsion systems that are viable for the lift.

The truth is that the elevator is a very attractive project that brings fame and money associated. Undoubtedly, the company that operate the first space elevator will have a strong advantage over its potential competitors. What is expected in the next 20 years, has up to 10 space elevators. The bad news is: it is not expected to be completed no elevator during the next 5 years, rather it is expected to be built between 8 and 10 years from now ...
… "Patience is the mother of science."

La primera cita del “Elevator: 2010” será en junio 2005 y el premio, 50.000 dólares… así que si eres ingeniero y te gustan los cacharritos que pueden ayudar a crear al primer ascensor espacial…ya sabes…

Enlaces interesantes para quien desee ampliar información:

  • Si quieres participar en el “Elevator: 2010”, ésta es tu web:
    Elevator: 2010
  • Si deseas conocer más a fondo cómo funciona el Ascensor aquí está la página web de la empresa que está construyendo el ascensor:
    LiftPort Group

SpaceShipOne, and Virgin Galactic MAV wins $ 10 million X-Price

As indicated all odds, the x-Price was for SpaceShipOne, the craft created by the team of Paul Allen (Microsoft) and Burt Rutan (aerospace pioneer), sponsored by Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic newly founded company.

On October 4, Brian Binnie at the controls of SpaceShipOne, rose for the second time in less than 5 days to 112 kilometers high, setting the record at altitude ever reached by a private ship.

The jury of the x-Price declared winner, and offered a prize of 10 million dollars, the first spacecraft to consiguiese for 2 consecutive times in less than a fortnight, placed 100 Km. High, on a manned spacecraft that could carry the weight of 3 people and was able to land again at the Mojave Airport.

SpaceShipOne it is owned by the company Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft and space pioneer Burt Rutan, are founding members. Both have also been the designers and creators of this spacecraft, which has cost more than 20 million.

just before the SpaceShipOne made its first flight in the x-Price, Richard Branson announced at a press conference a few days ago, that Virign Galactic, one of his most recent corporate creations, had commercialize space flight with SpaceShipOne, a from 2007. "We hope to become "astronauts" 3,000 people over the next five years and to realize his dream of majestic admire the beauty of our planet and stars in all their splendor and enjoy the amazing sensation of weightlessness"He explained an elated Richard Branson at a news conference.

El precio del billete, que incluye un curso formativo de tres días de duración, alcanzará en un primer momento las 115.000 libras (unos 169.000 euros). La nave que espera contratar Vigin Galactic es un nuevo SpaceShipOne (que se llamará SpaceShipTwo :) ), que tendrá capacidad para 5 personas y un piloto, y que empezará a construirse a finales de este mismo año.

El turismo espacial parece que va en serio

Aparte del hecho que varios magnates se están ahora dedicando a construir naves espaciales (ya comentábamos en un artículo anterior, que hay rumores fundados que apunta a que Jeff Bezos [Amazon] ha fundado la Blue Origin, empresa que se dedicará al turismo espacial), sin duda, el éxito del SpaceShipOne abre la era del turismo espacial.

Y aunque el x-Price ya tenga ganador, obviamente, el resto de los equipos participantes (24 equipos), van a luchar para ser ellos quienes consigan convertirse en “el primer vuelo de turismo espacial”. Esta lucha es la que realmente llevará a dar comienzo a la nueva era. El equipo canadiense de Da Vinci Group, ya ha vaticinado que serán ellos quienes consigan este hito.

The private sector takes the lead

If anything has shown the x-Price is the aerospace development has gone through the same turning point happened aviation after World War II: the private sector takes over research and developments and seeks to monetize offering services To the general public.

But all is enthusiasm and high hopes ... the first critics have already appeared and I do emphasize the danger of these flights and the fact that "private companies are normally willing to take risks that state enterprises would not take"... NASA dixit (from the disasters of the Challenger and Columbia, going on eggshells in all missions and any new error which perishes a human, will involve reducing its budget and questioning of all projects).

Another issue is the profitability of these flights ... How many people will be willing to pay the price of tickets that will take you to see the Earth from space? ... I guess there will always be "Dennis Tito" (the character who paid several million Orbital travel to the International space Station, 3 years) willing to pay whatever it takes to see our blue jewel from space ... but then to make profitable investments in the short / medium term ... we'll see.

A new award

For the moment, continue to encourage private space race, the National Space Society has announced a prize of 50 million, offered by billionaire Robert Biguelow, for the first private spacecraft to get into orbit.

We will see who will win ...

Further information on the x-Price:

Official of X-Price:
X-Price

Press release which Richard Branson announced that flights would market starting 2007:
Virgin Galactic

Video and photographs of participants in x-Price
Imagenes x-Price

Ansari X-Price: spacecraft Contest - Prize for who gets to place a spacecraft to 100 km

Tomorrow marks the Ansari X-Price in the Mojave Desert, California. This year the prize for getting to place a ship 100 Km. High, it is 10 million dollars. The big favorite is the team of Paul Allen (Microsoft) and Burt Rutan (aerospace pioneer) in SpaceShipOne.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne (which is one of the ships of the team Paul Allen and Burt Rutan), means that increasingly we are closer to private space flight.

But back to the X-Price:

The X-Price is to achieve two flights to 100 Km. Of soil, within a maximum of two weeks.

Allen and Rutan are sure to get it, but there are 24 more teams competing against them.

Among these, is the team of Eric Meier and Phil Storm, the company Space Transport Corp Inc, both renowned scientists and experienced in the manufacture of spacecraft since both worked for Aerojet Corp. (Redmond [neighboring town of Seattle] ).

[Mental Note 1: Paul Allen = Seattle, Aero Jet Corp = Seattle ... It seems that the Seattle area is fully aerospace boil. Will it be by generations of locals have worked at Boeing and the subsidiaries that have been created around?].

In the Seattle area, we also find another interesting company: LiftPort Inc (Bremerton). Nothing more and nothing less than dedicated to building a space elevator, which will drastically reduce the cost of materials placed in orbit. Specifically, according to statements by its President and founder Michael Laine, the cost would be reduced from $ 20,000 per pound to $ 400. The first prototype is already under construction.

(Article where we explained a few months ago, the operation of a space elevator: space elevator)

Although it seems clear that SpaceShipOne wins, most of the participants, what they really expect is to find investors for their projects. Projects are all aimed at locating people and goods in space, at low cost, which in itself, and seem like a good deal.

It is said by unofficial means Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder is also working on creating a company that will manufacture spacecraft. Specifically it founded in Seattle (yes, again Seattle) the Blue Origin, a company that thinks devoted to space tourism.

[Mental Note 2: With Paul Allen (Seattle), Jeff Bezos (Seattle) and Richard Branson (London) and we have 3 billionaires entrepreneurs, tucked into the world of space tourism. This is a clear indication that there are business opportunities and money to win].

From these pages we will monitor the X-Race in the coming days ...

very interesting years ahead. Definitely.

Further information for anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge:

Official of X-Price:
X-Price

Information on the Argentine team that will compete in the X-Price:
WildFire

The Seattle Post article where the virtues of companies in the Seattle area and its relation to space tourism industry and the X-Price are discussed:
Seattle Post - Space Tourism