On October 8, three teams in various parts of the world participated in an unprecedented simultaneous test of three experimental spacesuits. Coordinated from a mission control center in Innsbruck, Austria run by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), World Space Walk 2013 aims at setting standards for developing suits for the future exploration of the planet Mars. “If we are going to prepare for a human mission to Mars in the future, we need to have as much knowledge as possible on the practicalities and limitations of working in spacesuits on planetary terrains,” says Gernot Groemer, the President of the Austrian Space Forum. “For World Space Walk 2013, we have had the amazing opportunity to work with four different teams who are developing spacesuits and to collaborate on the same set of tasks. This technical test is a simple, yet important, first milestone to compare different analogue suit systems worldwide and to contribute to a growing area of research.”
Vodafone UK has unveiled its Power Shorts and Recharge Sleeping Bag ahead of the Isle of Wight Festival – two innovations that have the capability to harvest body heat and movement to boost the battery life of mobile devices at summer events.
The technology is being developed in partnership with the Electronics and Computer Science experts at the University of Southampton, with the aim of providing a 24-hour source of power for people camping at outdoor music events.
State of the art materials and smart fabrics are being trialled to enable the Power Pocket to function via two different energy-gathering methods – thermal for the sleeping bag and kinetic for the shorts.
With the creation of new citizen science website Planet Four, planetary scientists are turning to the general public for help in analyzing images of the surface of Mars, many of which have never been seen before. It’s hoped that the public’s input will help develop a detailed picture of winds on the planet. The images were captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and are limited to Mars’ southern polar region (an effort to keep the workload manageable).
Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) scored another hit in the prediction department on Monday, July 23, 2012 when NASA tested an inflatable heat shield that he foresaw back in the 1980s. The test of the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by rocket into a suborbital trajectory from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. The unmanned vehicle reached velocities of up to 7,600 mph (12,231 kph), yet was protected from atmospheric heating by the mushroom-shaped shield.
The Tweel is an non-pneumatic Tire/WhEEL combo which offers an idiot-proof, no-maintenance, easily-retreadable tire for consumers and the holy grail for the military – a tire that can’t be “shot out.” You won’t see the Tweel on your sandmobile any time soon because it has noise, vibration, heat and wear problems at highway speeds, but its unique construction enables it to be specifically engineered with ideal characteristics for highly specialized low speed applications. The ultimate badge of credibility was bestowed on the design when it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on NASA’s Small Pressurized Lunar Rover prototype during the Obama presidential inauguration.
Despite the fact that Michelin has been supplying space shuttle tires for more than two decades, years, NASA’s choice of Tweel-based technology in the development of new wheels for its lunar vehicles validates the claims Michelin has been making about the ability to engineer “designer properties” into its Tweel for specific applications.
Radiation Shield Technologies has been granted a new patent for Demron, the protective garment that shields users from alpha and beta radiation, gamma rays, x-rays, and other nuclear emissions. The flexible, cool, and lightweight suit provides all the protection of a lead apron with a new level of comfort, and without any dermal or inhalation risks. Its malleability, thinness, and effectiveness allow it to be used for full-body nuclear, biological, and nuclear-biological chemical suits, tactical anti-nuclear vests, and high-energy suppression blankets. Several governments have ordered suits for use in emergencies that involve radiation, and scientists have even earmarked it for use in future missions to Mars.
The human body needs warmth and the areas in which we feel the cold first are naturally enough those which are at the extremities
Humans have now spent more than a 100 years under the spell of powered flight, regularly achieving milestones previously thought impossible and developing faster, bigger, deadlier, and more efficient aircraft in which to take to the skies. The challenges show no sign of abating as the second century of aviation begins, not just in terms of sheer human endeavour, but in respect to critical questions of environmental sustainability and renewable energy. The team that accomplished the first ever non-stop round-the-world flight in a balloon back in 1999 is embarking on a new project that will take see it repeat the journey – but this time it’s in a solar-powered aircraft. Bertrand Piccard along with Andre Borschberg (an engineer and pilot and the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL) and Brian Jones (who co-piloted on the Breitling Orbiter 3 on its record round-the-world flight) are aiming to complete a full night in the air during the first 36 hour solar-powered round-the-world flight during 2009.
A renewable energy device that captures vibration to produce electricity looks set to replace or complement small conventional batteries for a range of every day applications and enable the reliable powering of new technologies. The Kinetic Energy Cell is a micro renewable energy source able to generate electricity from vibration or motion such as from cars, trucks and even people. This means that so long as there is access to movement or vibration the cell produces energy. Because the cell can replace standard and alkaline batteries in some applications, it is a non-polluting solution to small power requirements. Six billion dry cell batteries are produced annually by the world’s largest manufacturer.
Today at the North American International Auto Show, Michelin showcased a potentially disruptive technology with significant ramifications for the future for mobility: an airless, integrated tyre and wheel combination dubbed the TWEEL (i.e. Tyre/WhEEL) . The Tweel promises performance levels beyond those possible with conventional pneumatic technology. The first commercial applications of the Tweel will be in lower-speed, lower-weight vehicles such as the iBOT mobility device and Segway’s Concept Centaur.