The Principal Investigator for the project, Dean Ahorn, has let Kentucky Space know that Nanosail-D has been resurrected and is being readied to fly on the FASTSAT-HSV1 satellite later this year. Similar in concept to the Planetary Society's Lightsail project, the 3U (unit) Cubesat packs an unbelievable amout of fabric into its diminutive body.
Use the radiation pressure of light from the stars or a laser to propel themselves forward, solar sails can in theory reach very high speeds over time.
The two spacecraft are among the very first to test the material and sails that could form the basis for a technology first envisioned by writers in the 1960s, as well as push the technology boundaries of what's possible using the Cubesat platform.
This video demonstrates how Nanosail-D will unfurl its sails.
Methane is to Titan what water is to the earth. It’s a common component in the atmosphere and, at the temperature of Titan, it can exist in solid, liquid, or gas form. Like water on the earth, it forms clouds in the sky. Like water on the earth, it probably even forms rain. But what we don’t know is whether or not that rain makes it to the surface and pools into ponds or streams or lakes which then evaporate back into the atmosphere to start the cycle over again. In short, we don’t know if Titan has an active methane atmosphere-surface hydrological cycle analogous to the water atmosphere-surface hydrological cycle on the earth.
The image above was created by Brown and his colleagues from data returned by Cassini, which has been exploring Saturn and its moons since 2005.
Credit: Mike Brown/Caltech
Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace have claimed the first and second place prizes, respectively, in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge. The qualifying flight that ultimately lead to the the Level Two first place award can be seen here:
Awarded as part of NASA's Centennial Challenge, the prizes are designed to reward "citizen inventors" in the space technologies.
Described as an organic chemical factory, Titan has become less mysterious over the last few years thanks to Cassini, but many more mysteries remain.
This image, a combination of images taken with red, green and blue filters, was acquired on Oct. 12 and clearly shows the moon's atmosphere.
On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden addressed a group of investment companies assembled in Washington, D.C. and had some interesting things to say on the potential of today's students to meet the challenges of space. On the subject of the recent winner of the Regolith Challenge, he said:
The winning team is “Paul’s Robotics”, led by a young man by the name Paul Ventimiglia. Paul not only beat out 22 other competitor teams, he beat teams of professional aerospace engineers, and teams of world-class robotics experts. Paul is a college student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He heard about the competition from a high school teacher.
Let me say a little more. Paul’s team did not win by a nose, say by one or two percent. Paul’s team moved 84 percent more Moon dirt than the second place team that qualified to win the $150,000 prize.
Students today! They'll kick your fanny given the opportunity.
The NewScientist video below, linked from Paul's Robotics page, includes images of his robot at work.