This AR lunar model takes you as close to the moon as you can get (without a spaceship)

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The moon may be 238,900 miles away from Earth, but with a new lunar model and accompanying AR app, it might as well be in the palm of your hand.

AstroReality, a Bay Area-based startup whose co-founder is an astro-photographer, is creating hand-painted, 3D-printed moon models to bring the moon’s surface down to Earth.

The Lunar Pro is a softball-sized, one-pound orb that recreates the moon and all its craters, edges, and other topography based on NASA’s lunar orbiter data. It’s made at a resolution of 4,000 DPI, which is incredibly precise. It’s then molded with a poly resin material that is hand-painted to mimic what the moon looks like. It comes shockingly close. Read more…

More about Space, Moon, Augmented Reality, Science, and Vr Ar


Lorde moves the sun and the moon at Governors Ball

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Lorde took to the stage at the Governor’s Ball in New York City and seemed to command the skies. It looked almost certain to rain on festival-goers, but the singer would have none of it. 

“I don’t know if you know this about me, but I think of myself as a witch,” she explained, taking credit for summoning the nice weather midway through her set at Governors Ball.   

We all know Lorde is a witch. That’s why we’re here — to see the cosmos bend at her will. 

Lorde kicked off her set by emerging from a large glass box (we’ll get to that later) singing version of “Green Light” stripped down to a haunting affect with a sort of floppy sunhat seemingly fashioned from discarded bridal veils obscuring her face. But according to the laws of magic, that was just a bait and switch, and after a verse or so, she moved on to older material.  Read more…

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Here's who we think will fly to the moon with SpaceX

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From the moment that SpaceX’s Elon Musk announced the company’s intention to send two unnamed people in a long loop around the moon in 2018, people started speculating about who those mystery passengers might be. 

Musk didn’t give out many clues about the individuals who contracted the company for the flight, aside from saying that they put down a hefty deposit and they know each other. 

However, that won’t stop us from wildly speculating about who the maybe famous and definitely rich folks flying to the moon with SpaceX might be.  Read more…

More about Sergey Brin, James Cameron, Private Spaceflight, Spaceflight, and Commercial Spaceflight

NASA Presented EPIC Video Shows Dark side of the Moon

NASA on Wednesday released an animation that shows the moon’s dark side as it transits the Earth.

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Although the primary mission of NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is to to monitor solar winds, the satellite is also doing a great job of letting all of us Earth-bound creatures see beautiful views of our own planet. The latest images from DSCOVR not only offer a stunning view of Earth, they also provide an “epic” view of the moon.

NASA on Wednesday released an animation that shows the moon’s dark side as it transits the Earth — a rare site for all us non-astronauts indeed. The animation was created with a series of images obtained from DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope. The images were taken between 3:50 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. ET on July 16 and show the moon moving over the Pacific Ocean near North America.

DSCOVR is located one million miles away from Earth and is meant to serve as an early warning system of sorts when harmful solar activity is heading our way.

In addition to capturing great images of our own space rock, the EPIC camera aboard the craft “will be used in science applications to measure ozone amounts, aerosol amounts, cloud height and phase, vegetation properties, hotspot land properties and UV radiation estimates at Earth’s surface,” according to NASA. The camera snaps a full-color image of our planet every day, and once every few months, it’s lucky enough to catch the moon when it is directly between Earth and the craft.

Youtube Video Here

Audi is sending a Quattro rover to the moon for the Google Lunar XPrize

Google is funding a $30 million new-age space race, a competition to see who can be the first to put a rover on the moon and cover 500 meters across the lunar surface, all while beaming back high-definition footage to Earth. A series of independent teams around the world are competing, and Audi just got in the game in a big way. The car manufacturer announced Thursday that is has signed on with the German team Part Time Scientists.

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We visited Part Time Scientists last year to check out an earlier version of their four-wheel-drive rover as it motored across a simulated lunar environment, testing to ensure the rover’s optical systems would work in the harsh conditions on the moon.

The rover shall henceforth be known as the Audi Lunar Quattro. It certainly fulfills the naming criteria, with four-wheel independent drive, and I’d say the brushed aluminum finish fits quite neatly within the Audi aesthetic, too.

Audi said in a press release Thursday it is supporting the Part Time Scientists with its knowledge in several tech fields, “from quattro all-wheel drive and lightweight construction to electric mobility and piloted driving.” In addition to know-how, Audi will hopefully give the team the funding it needs to get their rover up where it belongs.

Audi and Part Time Scientists hope to launch to the moon in 2017. But, with two other GLXP teams, Astrobotic and Hakuto, planning to make their launch in 2016, Audi may be entering the race a little bit late. Regardless of who gets there first, we all win.

Audi and Part Time Scientists hope to launch the rover to the moon in 2017.

How ion thruster technology will power future NASA missions

For its crazy 2020 asteroid capture mission and other projects, NASA is developing next-gen “Hall effect thrusters” to corral an asteroid and put it into the moon’s orbit. At the same time, the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to improve its own Hall thrusters to power future missions. If you’re wondering what the heck they are, Hall effect motors are a type of ion thruster that produce a tiny 0.7 pounds of force, or the weight of 54 US quarters, according to NASA. However, they’re much more efficient than standard rockets, and if run long enough, can power a spaceship to speeds as high as 112,000 mph. So how do they actually work?

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Hall thrusters were developed by the Soviets in the 1950’s and first deployed in 1971 on a Russian weather satellite. Over 240 have flawlessly flown since, often to boost satellites into orbit and keep them there. The motors are around ten times more efficient than chemical propulsion rockets, and can run for long periods of time using a fixed stock of inert gas combined with solar- or nuclear-generated electricity. The first Hall thruster used outside of Earth orbit (on the ESA’s Smart-1 moon-orbiting spacecraft) ran for a record-setting two years. On top of being reliable, such motors are also very safe since the non-reactive gases can’t explode.

Hall thrusters use a magnetic field effect to accelerate ions (charged particles) to high speeds, producing thrust. Here’s how it works: a spacecraft’s solar panels or other power source charge an anode’s walls to a high positive energy level. Electrons injected by a downstream cathode are attracted to the anode and drawn into an insulator channel. At that point, they’re trapped by powerful magnets to form a circling ring called a Hall current.

An inert gas, usually Xenon, is then injected into the anode tube, where it collides with the electrons to form positive ionized Xenon gas, otherwise known as plasma. The magnetic field accelerates the plasma to speeds of up to 35,000 mph, generating thrust. With a positive charge, the plasma also pulls electrons from the original downstream cathode, neutralizing the charge and preventing static from building up on the spacecraft.

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In comparison, so-called gridded ion thrusters work a bit differently. In those motors, electrons combine with an inert gas to create ionized Xenon in the same way as a Hall thruster, but the resulting plasma is accelerated by a negative grid at the end of the motor, rather than a magnetic field, to create thrust. Once the plasma leaves the engine, a “cathode neutralizer” injects electrons to prevent a static charge buildup on the spacecraft.

As for performance? Gridded ion thrusters are more fuel efficient than Hall thrusters. However, Hall thrusters provide more power in a smaller package, which is why both NASA and ESA have keyed in on that tech — especially for missions beyond Earth’s orbit. For more info on how they work, check the video below.

Youtube Video Here