September 13th, 2004

The Right Stuff [to Wear on Mars] Design News

NASA’s plans to send astronauts back to the Moon and, ultimately, to Mars raises an important sartorial question: What ever will they wear? The zero-gravity spacesuits that astronauts currently don when leaving the shuttle to manhandle satellites and other large objects won’t do when it comes to walking around the surface of a planet for hours at a time. “The biggest issue is mobility. On a planet surface, they’ll have to walk, move and bend,” says Lara Kearney, program manager for advanced extravehicular activity (EVA) suits at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Planetary suits will also have to be lighter. The shuttle suits weigh in at just more than 100 lbs with their life-support backpacks. Even when contending with Mars’ lower gravity, that kind of weight would impose a big burden.

July 22nd, 2004

Mars Scout Mission Going Straight to the Source Design News

On May 25th, 2008, the world may finally know if life exists on other planets. Or at least that’s the hope of the scientists behind NASA’s Phoenix, the first Mars Scout Mission scheduled to launch in August of 2007. Rising out of the design and discovery of previous Mars missions, the Phoenix will travel to the lower latitudes of Mars to analyze the abundant and accessible ice discovered in 2002 by the Gamma Ray Spectrometer. “Water is the building block of life,” says Project Manager Barry Goldstein. “On Earth, life is everywhere. Our hope is that we will discover some of the building blocks of life in the ice on Mars.”

July 22nd, 2004

Wheel Offers Omni-Directional Motion Design News

Omni-directional wheel technology by Hammonton, NJ-based Airtrax provides its new lift truck with smooth, crablike moves in any direction. Such translating motion capability offers operators precise movement in tight confines, which allows using more warehouse space for storage by tightening-up open areas needed for truck access. In addition, the truck can carry long loads sideways through narrow overhead doors. The wheel features six elliptically shaped rollers around its circumference. The roller axes are offset by 45 degrees from the plane of the wheel. A wheel is positioned at the four corners of a vehicle, but none are pivoted for steering.

December 18th, 1999

NASA goes boldly into the 21st Century Design News

In November, Dan Goldin became the longest continuously serving NASA Administrator, having been appointed by President Bush in early 1992. Since then, Goldin

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