Future Mars rovers or moon buggies might be riding the wings of Goodyear spring-based tires. This high-tech tire just won a 2010 R&D 100 award, also known as the “Oscar of Innovation,” from the editors of R&D magazine.
The tire was invented last year in a joint effort between NASA and Goodyear, and was tested out on NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover at the Rock Yard at the Johnson Space Center. The spring tire builds upon previous versions of the moon tire, and the improvements enable it to take larger (up to 10 times) rovers up to 100 times further, NASA scientists explained to Gizmag:
“With the combined requirements of increased load and life, we needed to make a fundamental change to the original moon tire,” said Vivake Asnani, principal investigator for the project at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland. “What the Goodyear-NASA team developed is an innovative, yet simple network of interwoven springs that does the job. The tire design seems almost obvious in retrospect, as most good inventions do.”
The tire is made up of 800 helical springs, which simulate the flexibility of an air-filled tire. Because there are so many springs, the tire can’t completely fail all at once, like a punctured air-filled tire would, Asnani said in the Goodyear press release:
Goodnight moon, goodnight room. Goodnight frogger, goodnight super-analytical blogger.
Chad Orzel of the physics blog Uncertain Principles has had plenty of time to contemplate the beloved children’s book Goodnight Moon in the course of bedtime readings with his toddler. And he got to wondering, just how long does it take the book’s bunny protagonist to say goodnight to all the objects in the room? And could a physics blogger figure it out from eyeballing the moon’s rise through the sky during the course of the story?
Happily, yes. Go read the full post for the math of the moon’s passage through the sky; we’ll skip to the results and tell you that Orzel puts the figure at about 6 minutes. But there’s a hitch: The clocks shown in various pictures of the bunny’s room instead show that one hour and 10 minutes have elapsed. There are only two possible explanations, Orzel says:
These two methods clearly do not agree with one another, which means one of two things: either I’m terribly over-analyzing the content of the illustrations of a beloved children’s book, or the bunny’s bedroom is moving at extremely high velocity relative to the earth, so that relativistic time dilation makes the six-minute rise of the moon appear to take an hour and ten minutes.
The Loom: Goodnight Moon Shot [Tattoo]
Bad Astronomy: The Moon Is Shrinking!
80beats: Study: There’s Water on the Lunar Surface, but Inside It’s Bone Dry
80beats: Solar Sleuthing Suggests When Odysseus Got Home: April 16, 1178 B.C.
Discoblog: Astronomers Identify the Mystery Meteor That Inspired Walt Whitman
Sure, the island found between Ireland and the United Kingdom is only three times the size of Washington, DC, but according to the consulting company ASCEND , it’s fifth in the line-up of most likely nations to make a moon landing between 2018 and 2020. They give Mann 50-1 odds that it will make it, coming in after India with 33-1 odds, and before the United Kingdom at 300 to 1 and Iran at 1,000 to 1. If I owned a consulting company, I’m not sure I’d publicize that prediction, but ASCEND’s seemingly tongue-in-cheek newsletter (pdf) has this to say:
A surprising choice this one but the tax haven island has firms with a commercial interests in manned lunar flyby flights using Russian hardware.
A British Crown dependency, Mann is technically separate from the United Kingdom. Though the island’s space aspirations might not be grabbing major headlines, it is branding itself as the “Space Isle.” As host of October’s Google Lunar X Prize Summit scheduled during the United Nations-declared World Space Week, it will hold a star gazing event in the 13th century Castle Rushen in Castletown.
The triskelion flag would certainly look handsome planted in lunar ground. If only I knew how to say “one small step” in Manx Gaelic….
Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin Explains: How to Take a Whiz on the Moon
Discoblog: California Lays Claim to Astronaut Garbage Left Behind on the Moon
Discoblog: The Space Debate: When Will NASA Astronauts Explore the Moon, Mars, and Beyond?
Discoblog: Make Room For Space Florists: First Plants to Be Grown on the Moon
Image: Wikipedia / Castle Rushen Portcullis Chamber / Manxruler
When organizers at the American Museum of Natural History in New York decided to set up a debate on the future of manned space exploration, President Obama had not yet announced plans to cancel the NASA program designed to carry astronauts to the moon by 2020 and Mars by 2030. That recent development only served to spice up the proceedings at last night’s Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, moderated by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The main theme guiding the night’s proceedings was supposed to be “Where next?” But based on NASA’s recent change of course, much of the night focused on how to kick the human exploration into gear.
Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society, was the idealist and dominant personality on the panel, claiming “we’re much closer sending men to Mars now than we were sending someone to the moon in 1961.” He noted that when factoring in inflation, NASA has about the same budget for manned spaceflight as it did during the Apollo years. He encouraged a bold deadline for reaching Mars to motivate current scientists and inspire future ones.
Yet the Apollo comparisons can only go so far. “We don’t have the Cold War infrastructure that helped build Apollo,” said Paul Spudis, the panel’s moon expert. And during the Q&A session, audience member Miles O’Brien (a space blogger and formerly CNN’s science correspondent) plainly stated, “The nostalgia of the Space Race is not coming back. You can’t just recreate that.”
One astronaut’s trash is another state’s treasure. That’s the message from California as the Golden State officially registered a collection of 106 objects left behind on the moon by the Apollo 11 mission as a state historical resource. The collection encompasses about 5,000 pounds of objects, including the bottom stage of the lunar lander and the American flag planted on the moon’s surface by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
And it’s not just the tools and the flag–California has also claimed custody of bags of human waste left behind.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the logic behind the unusual decision:
The first landing on the moon by humans, on July 20, 1969, was “one of the most historical events in the last 100 to 200 years,” said Jay Correia, a historian with the Historical Resources Commission. California had a major role in developing the technology that made the trip to the moon possible.
Scholars debate why opera doesn’t seem to hold much appeal for modern audiences, but they’ve overlooked a glaringly obvious answer: The Zeiss Universarium astronomical projector isn’t involved. Or at least, it wasn’t, until now.
The Gotham Chamber Opera has set out to give the genre some geek awesomeness with its presentation of Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna (The World on the Moon) at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.
The opera follows the exploits of the love-stricken Ecclitico, who poses as an astronomer to impress Buonafede, the strict father of his beloved. Ecclitico and his two romance-minded accomplices, smitten with Buonafede’s other daughter and maidservant, use a sleeping potion to convince the gullible old man that he has been transported to the moon. There, Buonafede can no longer impede the young lovers’ relationships, and the lunar emperor (a servant in disguise, resplendent in imperial glowsticks) commands the three happy pairs to marry.
The moon has a bumpy, pitted surface; in fact, it’s vaguely similar to the ridges of an old-fashioned vinyl record. So why not use the moon to make some melodies?
Now you can, thanks to a new program called Moonbell, which is available online for free. Moonbell gives you the chance to do create music by using topographical data to determine how the pitch rises and falls, and the program can produce the sounds of 138 instruments.
The software works by interpreting information provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kaguya satellite, which used a laser altimeter to generate detailed maps of the Moon until its planned crash in June this year.
The music produced by Moonbell synthesises three types of topographical data. The melody is generated by the actual ups and downs in the Moon’s surface, while the “mid tones” are related to the elevation of the immediately surrounding area and the bass line is determined by an even broader section of elevation.
Info sent to Earth from the Kaguya satellite was also used in 2007 for Google Earth’s 3D Moon option.
Discoblog: It’s a Hoax! Famed “Moon Rock” Turns Out to Be Hunk of Wood
Discoblog: To Track Penguins, Scientists Use High-Tech Satellite Images of…Droppings
Discoblog: August: A Lousy Month for Space Exploration
Image: flickr / jurvetson
Ever since Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong gave former Dutch prime minister William Drees a chunk of moon-rock in 1969, the public has been eager to see it. In fact, the relic has drawn tens of thousands of people to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
But Houston, we have a problem: Turns out that so-called moon rock (which was insured for 308,000 British pounds, or about $500,000) is really just a hunk of petrified wood—and its actual value is less than 50 British pounds.
Researchers Amsterdam’s Free University were able to tell at a glance that the rock was unlikely to be from the moon, a conclusion that was borne out by tests. “It’s a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone,” said Frank Beunk, a geologist involved in the investigation [of the rock].
Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation, said the museum would continue to keep the stone as a curiosity. “It’s a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered,” she said. “We can laugh about it.”
An investigation is under way to find out how the heck this debacle could have happened (a bait-and-switch, perhaps?). Meanwhile, we bet moon conspiracists will view this discovery as far from a laughing matter—in fact, it may add fuel to their argument that the moon landing never really happened. (For the record, it did.)
Discoblog: NASA Geologist Is Sent Thousands of Rocks from Around the World
Discoblog: Document Reveals Nixon Prepared for Aldrin, Armstrong Deaths
Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin, Rapper?
Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum
• Look up! The biggest full moon in 15 years (if you’re in the Northern hemisphere) will rise tonight…like an extra-large pizza.
• There are more than one billion people in the world who speak Chinese. Still, the Max Planck Institute didn’t bother to find one to proofread the calligraphy splashed across the cover of their science journal. The “classical poem” turned out to be a racy brothel ad.
• Is it a boy or a girl? A baby’s sex may be determined by the father’s genes.
• Scientists find that bats’ echolocation can hit 110 decibels—about as loud as an iPod on full volume.