NASA to send robots in search of aliens under Antarctica

stone aerospace spindle antarctica
Are aliens hiding underneath the ice in Antarctica? Photo: Christopher Michael

NASA has awarded almost $3m to a team comprising scientists from Stone Aerospace and Louisiana State University to look for aliens beneath the Antarctic 

Stone Aerospace founder and explorer Dr Bill Stone and Louisiana State University geologist Dr Peter Doran have assembled a diverse team of polar and planetary scientists to develop a state-of-the-art cryobot (an ice-penetrating robotic vehicle) to search for life in lakes and oceans under miles-thick ice in Antarctica.

With nearly $3 million from Nasa, the team will develop, integrate and field test Spindle (Sub-glacial Polar ice Navigation, Descent, and Lake Exploration), an autonomous cryobot that will melt through some of the thickest ice on Earth to access the pristine water beneath. And look for aliens. Spindle will be the first cryobot system to carry a second stage hovering autonomous underwater vehicle (HAUV). The HAUV will conduct reconnaissance, life search, and sample collection then return to the cryobot for subsequent data uplink and possible sample return to the surface.  Continue reading NASA to send robots in search of aliens under Antarctica

SSL developing robotic sample handling assembly for NASA Mars 2020 Project

ssl mars-surface

Space Systems Loral (SSL) says it will design and build a robotic Sample Handling Assembly (SHA) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA, managed by SSL.

The arm will be used on a rover vehicle exploring Mars to process and store samples acquired from the planet’s surface.

“Our space-proven technology positions SSL well to help support JPL’s robotic space exploration activities,” said Nick Zello, director, emerging markets operations.

“As an industry partner we bring cost-effective solutions and a highly responsive and flexible environment to assist NASA in its mission to bring the world new insights and discoveries.” Continue reading SSL developing robotic sample handling assembly for NASA Mars 2020 Project

Asteroids hurtling towards Earth. Nasa readies SSL robots

nasa robot asteroids
This concept images shows ARM robotic capture Option B, in which the robotic vehicle ascends from the surface of a large asteroid, on its way to a lunar distant retrograde orbit with a smaller asteroid mass in its clutches.

Earth is under constant attack from alien rocks, apparently. Now, NASA has decided to do something about it 

Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of commercial satellites, has received a contract from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to conduct first phase design studies for a spacecraft that can travel to an asteroid, remove a boulder, and redirect it into a lunar orbit to prepare it for a visit by astronauts in the 2020’s.

In keeping with NASA’s strategy to leverage commercially available capabilities, SSL’s spacecraft design for the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM) will be based on its popular commercial geostationary (GEO) satellite, which combines power, propulsion and value. There are currently 80 SSL GEO spacecraft in orbit.

“SSL is pleased to have this opportunity to work with JPL on the Asteroid Redirect Mission,” said John Celli, president of SSL. “We look forward to applying our proven technologies, including our very successful experience delivering high power satellites with electric propulsion systems for our commercial GEO customers, to help JPL reduce risks and meet the cost target for this exciting mission.” Continue reading Asteroids hurtling towards Earth. Nasa readies SSL robots

DJI drops price of Phantom 3 drone by 20 per cent

DJI Phantom 3 drone
DJI Phantom 3 drone

DJI has reduced the price for its Phantom 3 Professional drone. It will now sell for $999, down from US$1,259, with similar price action taken in other markets around the world.

“We are constantly assessing our product range and market conditions to determine the most-appropriate and competitive pricing for consumers,” a DJI spokesman said.

“As more consumers advance their aerial photography skills, they are also asking for higher-quality cameras and more professional features on their drones. The price adjustment will enable more people to access our professional-grade aerial technology and open up more creative possibilities.”

The lower price comes around 10 months after drone first went on sale. DJI launched the Phantom 3 Professional in April 2015.

Honeybee Robotics begins field testing Planetary Deep Drill system

honeybee planetary deep drill
Honeybee’s Planetary Deep Drill will be tested to reach 100 feet in Mars analog environment at USG Corporation’s gypsum quarry in California

Honeybee Robotics is beginning a new phase of development of its Planetary Deep Drill, a lightweight and portable drill designed eventually to reach kilometers below the surface of icy formations in the Martian polar caps, Enceladus, or Europa.

After validating the drill’s performance in laboratory tests, the company is now undertaking field trials at a gypsum quarry, where rock formations provide conditions analogous to drilling through future planetary targets.

At USG Corporation’s gypsum quarry near the Salton Sea, California, Honeybee will select a formation of rock with strength similar to cryogenic ice. Continue reading Honeybee Robotics begins field testing Planetary Deep Drill system