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NASA seeks designs from freelancers for smartwatch app to be used by astronauts

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Washington: The US space agency is seeking designs from freelancers across the world for a smartwatch app that can be used by the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) in space research.

Photo Credit: www.ubergizmo.com
Photo Credit: www.ubergizmo.com

NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) has partnered with Australia-based Freelancer.com – one of the world’s largest freelancing and crowd-sourcing marketplaces – to help design the general user interface for the smart watch application.

The “Astronaut Smartwatch App” will first be used by the robotic crew member “Robonaut 2” currently helping the astronauts on the orbiting laboratory, Freelancer.com said in a statement.

Freelancers can take cues from “Samsung Gear 2” as a hardware reference for the design.

The deliverables are wire-frames highlighting the unique design’s navigation, interaction, layout, look, feel, and other important elements of the design.

The smartwatch app design is part of the “NASA Challenge: Astronaut Smartwatch App Interface Design” contest.

“The US space agency is interested in the emerging world of smartwatch technology and is looking to create a smartwatch app that could be helpful to astronauts,” the statement read.

The app will be used for crew timeline application, caution and warnings application, communication status application, timers’ application and will provide appropriate feedback to various actions.

“NASA is interested in engaging Freelancer’s online community to contribute to the efforts of space exploration,” the statement further read.

The contest is open to Freelancer.com’s 16 million-plus registered users located in over 247 countries.

(IANS)

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars
NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars. Pixabay

After a mechanical problem took NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s drill offline in December 2016, it has now successfully tested a new drilling method on the Red Planet, making a 50-millimetre deep hole in a target called “Duluth”, NASA has said.

Engineers working with the Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them.

On May 20, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill’s bit extended out past two stabiliser posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks.

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home.

“The team used tremendous ingenuity to devise a new drilling technique and implement it on another planet,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steve Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Those are two vital inches of innovation from 60 million miles away. We’re thrilled that the result was so successful,” Lee said.

Drilling is a vitally important part of Curiosity’s capabilities to study Mars.

Inside the rover are two laboratories that are able to conduct chemical and mineralogical analyses of rock and soil samples.

The samples are acquired from Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since 2012.

“We’ve been developing this new drilling technique for over a year, but our job isn’t done once a sample has been collected on Mars,” said JPL’s Tom Green, a systems engineer who helped develop and test Curiosity’s new drilling method.

Also Read: NASA Probe to ‘Touch’ the Sun Will Carry 1.1 mn Names

“With each new test, we closely examine the data to look for improvements we can make and then head back to our test bed to iterate on the process.”

There’s also the next step to work on — delivering the rock sample from the drill bit to the two laboratories inside the rover.

As soon as this Friday, the Curiosity team will test a new process for delivering samples into the rover’s laboratories, NASA said. (IANS)

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