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NASA Funding Project RAMA To Turn Asteroids Into Spaceships

Project RAMA could also have applications here on Earth, Dunn added, saying that machines similar to Seed Craft could do a variety of jobs around the planet

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Nasa's Opportunity rover might have 'died' on Mars. Flickr

NASA has recently announced it would give funds to a California-based 3D printing company for finding ways to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecraft, which could fly to outposts in space, the media reported.

Made In Space’s project, known as RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), could one day enable space colonization by helping make off-Earth manufacturing efficient and economically viable, Space.com reported.

The company plans to use 3D printing to turn the asteroids into self-flying vehicles by 2030.

The concept received funding through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which will provide $100,000 for feasibility studies.

“Today, we have the ability to bring resources from Earth,” Jason Dunn, Made In Space co-founder and chief technology officer, was quoted as saying.

“But when we get to a tipping point where we need the resources in space, then the question becomes, ‘Where do they come from and how do we get them, and how do we deliver them to the location that we need?’ This is a way to do it,” he said.

The company is considering sending an advanced robotic “Seed Craft” out to rendezvous with a succession of near-Earth asteroids in space, as part of its long-term project.

The concept received funding through NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which will provide $100,000 for feasibility studies.
The concept received funding through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which will provide $100,000 for feasibility studies. Pixabay

The Seed Craft would harvest material from the space rocks, then use this feedstock to construct propulsion, navigation, energy-storage and other key systems onsite with the aid of 3D printing and other technologies.

Thus transformed into autonomous spacecraft, the asteroids could be programmed to fly to a mining station in Earth-moon space, or anywhere else they’re needed.

This approach would be much more efficient than launching a new capture probe (or probes) to every single space rock targeted for resource exploitation, the report said.

However, since RAMA is still in the very early stages, Dunn estimated that the effort might require 20 years and the first Seed Craft may get off the ground in the late 2030s.

Also Read: NASA Readies Probe to Touch the Sun With ‘Cutting-Edge Heat Shield’

Project RAMA could also have applications here on Earth, Dunn added, saying that machines similar to Seed Craft could do a variety of jobs around the planet.

“You could build infrastructure in remote locations somewhat autonomously, and convert resources into useful devices and mechanical machines. This actually could solve some pretty big problems on Earth, from housing to construction of things that make people’s lives better,” he said. (IANS)

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NASA Selects Missions to Study Sun, its Effects on Space Weather

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system

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NASA, Missions, Sun
The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday. Pixabay

NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather.

The launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system and a second will study the Earth’s response.

“These missions will do big science, but they’re also special because they come in small packages, which means that we can launch them together and get more research for the price of a single launch,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington.

NASA, Missions, Sun
NASA has selected two new missions to study the Sun and its dynamic effects on space weather. Pixabay

The Sun generates a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can create a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather.

Near Earth, where such particles interact with our planet’s magnetic field, the space weather system can lead to profound impact on human interests, such as astronauts’ safety, radio communications, GPS signals and utility grids on the ground.

The more we understand what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects – including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis programme to the Moon.

One of the two missions that NASA has selected is the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH. This mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind.

Also Read- H55’s Zero-Emission Electric Plane Takes Flight in Switzerland

The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. The TRACERS investigation was partially selected as a NASA-launched rideshare mission, meaning it will be launched as a secondary payload with PUNCH.

TRACERS will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region – the region encircling the Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down towards the Earth, NASA said. (IANS)