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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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Chandra Observatory By NASA Back in Action

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance

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NASA's Chandra Observatory back in action. Pixabay

NASA Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, is back in action after suffering a glitch due to the failure of the gyroscope and going into safe mode last week.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode, according to the US space agency.

“The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode,” NASA said in a statement late on Monday.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve.

Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week, NASA said.

On October 10, Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, in which the observatory is put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun.

Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of five years. In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years.

NASA
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October. Flickr

The US space agency said that it was also continuing to work towards resuming science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope that on October 5, entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) being used to point and steady the telescope failed.

Gyroscopes help spacecraft maintain proper orientation.

Scientists are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options were available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Till that time, science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

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Besides Chandra and Hubble, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is also almost out of fuel. Kepler has found about 70 per cent of all known alien worlds to date.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as October.

The space agency’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity too have faced issues of late. (IANS)