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News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

HAMPTON, Va., May 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Media are invited to attend an event highlighting the 100th anniversary of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, through an evening of music, dance, reflections and more. The Centennial Tribute event will be held on...


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA had a stellar night during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) annual Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. May 3. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, was honored with...


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: phys.org

Employees at NASA's Search and Rescue office spend their days advancing systems critical to locating and saving people in distress, whether from an aviation, marine or other outdoor incident. The office is the primary research and development team for both the U.S. Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) effort and the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). Search-and-rescue satellite systems are complex, comprising beacons, spacecraft and ground systems all carefully calibrated to work together efficiently. Rescue efforts usually start with beacons, which transmit distress signals to passing satellites. For years, ships, airlines and even amateur hikers have used emergency locator beacons originally developed in the 1970s. They have saved more than 40,000 lives over the years and are available at virtually any outdoors store at affordable prices. But the SAR office is developing an even more effective beacon. "Current beacons are accurate to about a 2-kilometer radius using technology from the 1970s," said Lisa Mazzuca, SAR mission manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Within that radius of about 1.25 miles, there's still quite a bit of searching to be done. "The intent with these second-generation beacons is to get that to about 100 meters (about 110 yards) in an effort to take the 'search' out of 'search and rescue,'" Mazzuca said. At less than a tenth of a mile, the improved accuracy would mitigate risk to both the person in distress and responders, who risk their own lives at times, by greatly reducing time needed to search. The team tested a version of the prototype beacon in October 2016 and were able to demonstrate location accuracy to about 140 meters (153 yards). NASA used its Research and Development Second Generation Beacon SAR ground station, located at Goddard, to resolve locations of the beacon from more than 3,000 miles away. National and international SAR operations will use second-generation beacons in a wide variety of new technologies over the next several years. Mazzuca's team is working on a number of new projects incorporating the new beacons, including improved emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) for commercial and general aviation aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial search vehicles. These technologies could be game-changing to SAR efforts. New ELTs could help mitigate aviation search disasters like several that have been seen in the news in recent years. Shortly after a high-profile crash in 2014, NASA launched a two-year study to investigate ELT failure modes and recommend beacon and system-level improvements, including a better installation policy for the United States. The team researched historic failures and performed three controlled airplane crashes at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to better understand ELT vulnerabilities. In February, they released a report with their findings, one of which was a recommendation to take advantage of smaller, lighter and more accurate second-generation beacons. Beyond distress-tracking systems, the team is working on a new SAR operational platform. "One of the things we're doing is taking advantage of an up-and-coming platform that seems to be the answer for a lot of problems in SAR operations," Mazzuca said. "We are building a new direction-finder homing prototype based entirely on second-generation beacons with a terrestrial signal and proving it out using unmanned aircraft systems." By using existing NASA UAVs and expertise at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California; NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia; and Langley, the team is getting a jump on where technology is going next. Mazzuca said it's also a way to produce an inexpensive system that small local SAR organizations that rely on very old technology can afford. Beyond fitting the UAVs with the direction-finder system, they are working with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine what else can be placed on the aircraft to assist with rescues. Using UAVs for searching will cut down on risk to responders and allow SAR organizations to deploy forces more efficiently. For example, the UAVs could determine whether doctors are needed, how many victims are there, what kind of injuries people in distress have and more before responders ever hit the ground. From better beacons to high-tech systems, NASA's SAR office's work is improving rescue operations in the United States and around the world.


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Some NASA missions fundamentally change the world of science or help win Nobel prizes, but only one helps save thousands of lives worldwide every year. Employees at NASA's Search and Rescue office spend their days advancing systems critical to locating and saving people in distress, whether from an aviation, marine or other outdoor incident. The office is the primary research and development team for both the U.S. Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) effort and the International Satellite System for Search and Rescue (Cospas-Sarsat). Search-and-rescue satellite systems are complex, comprising beacons, spacecraft and ground systems all carefully calibrated to work together efficiently. Rescue efforts usually start with beacons, which transmit distress signals to passing satellites. For years, ships, airlines and even amateur hikers have used emergency locator beacons originally developed in the 1970s. They have saved more than 40,000 lives over the years and are available at virtually any outdoors store at affordable prices. But the SAR office is developing an even more effective beacon. "Current beacons are accurate to about a 2-kilometer radius using technology from the 1970s," said Lisa Mazzuca, SAR mission manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Within that radius of about 1.25 miles, there's still quite a bit of searching to be done. "The intent with these second-generation beacons is to get that to about 100 meters (about 110 yards) in an effort to take the 'search' out of 'search and rescue,'" Mazzuca said. At less than a tenth of a mile, the improved accuracy would mitigate risk to both the person in distress and responders, who risk their own lives at times, by greatly reducing time needed to search. The team tested a version of the prototype beacon in October 2016 and were able to demonstrate location accuracy to about 140 meters (153 yards). NASA used its Research and Development Second Generation Beacon SAR ground station, located at Goddard, to resolve locations of the beacon from more than 3,000 miles away. National and international SAR operations will use second-generation beacons in a wide variety of new technologies over the next several years. Mazzuca's team is working on a number of new projects incorporating the new beacons, including improved emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) for commercial and general aviation aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial search vehicles. These technologies could be game-changing to SAR efforts. New ELTs could help mitigate aviation search disasters like several that have been seen in the news in recent years. Shortly after a high-profile crash in 2014, NASA launched a two-year study to investigate ELT failure modes and recommend beacon and system-level improvements, including a better installation policy for the United States. The team researched historic failures and performed three controlled airplane crashes at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to better understand ELT vulnerabilities. In February, they released a report with their findings, one of which was a recommendation to take advantage of smaller, lighter and more accurate second-generation beacons. Beyond distress-tracking systems, the team is working on a new SAR operational platform. "One of the things we're doing is taking advantage of an up-and-coming platform that seems to be the answer for a lot of problems in SAR operations," Mazzuca said. "We are building a new direction-finder homing prototype based entirely on second-generation beacons with a terrestrial signal and proving it out using unmanned aircraft systems." By using existing NASA UAVs and expertise at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California; NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia; and Langley, the team is getting a jump on where technology is going next. Mazzuca said it's also a way to produce an inexpensive system that small local SAR organizations that rely on very old technology can afford. Beyond fitting the UAVs with the direction-finder system, they are working with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine what else can be placed on the aircraft to assist with rescues. Using UAVs for searching will cut down on risk to responders and allow SAR organizations to deploy forces more efficiently. For example, the UAVs could determine whether doctors are needed, how many victims are there, what kind of injuries people in distress have and more before responders ever hit the ground. From better beacons to high-tech systems, NASA's SAR office's work is improving rescue operations in the United States and around the world. The SAR office is funded by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigation Program Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Wearable visualization systems (WVS) are at the forefront of consumer electronics product development, and social media companies are investing heavily in enabling compelling experiences through augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). A special section on Wearable Vision Systems: Head/Helmet-Mounted Displays in this month's issue of Optical Engineering, published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, aims to help boost consumer-driven advances in applications in automotive, industrial, and military vision systems. "Significant commercial investment in WVS for personal communications and entertainment is driving rapid advances in miniature optoelectronics components and product design," note special section guest editors Darrel Hopper (U.S. Air Force Research Lab), James Melzer (Thales Visionix, Inc.), Michael Browne (SA Photonics), and Peter Marasco (U.S. Air Force Research Lab). Their goal with the special section is to facilitate consumer-driven advancements in the design of specialty applications including automotive, industrial, and military vision systems. The editorial lists key challenges, including achieving performance in a near-to-eye (NTE) visualization system sufficient to compel users to tolerate shortcomings including latency, acuity, field-of-view, fashion, and donning and doffing. VR immerses viewers in an artificial environment richly characterized by ultrahigh-definition graphics, while AR involves imagery superimposed over the real world that can be perceived in real time. Accurate tracking of position, head, and eye is needed for some VR and all AR applications. Papers in the section describe a variety of approaches and technologies. In "Daylight luminance requirements for full-color, see-through, helmet-mounted display systems," Thomas Harding and Clarence Rash (U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Lab and Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) describe two lines of investigation in luminance requirements to address visual perception issues of concern when color is implemented in eyes-out, see-through helmet-mounted displays. "Review of head-worn displays for the next-generation air transportation system" by Jarvis (Trey) Arthur et al. (NASA Langley Research Center), summarizes the results of NASA's 30-plus years of helmet-mounted and head-worn displays. The study tracks progress in wearable collimated optics, head tracking, latency, and weight reduction, as well as safety, operational, and cost benefits. A "Review of conformal displays: more than a highway in the sky" by Niklas Peinecke et al., German Aerospace Center, surveys more than 40 years of research in synthetically generated symbols such as routing information, navigation aids, specialized landing displays, obstacle warnings, drift indicators, and others. The study also looks ahead, outlining research trends for the years to come. Other papers in the special section include: Michael Eismann, Chief Scientist, Sensors Directorate, U.S. Air Force Research Lab, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is editor-in-chief of Optical Engineering. The journal is published in print and digitally by SPIE in the SPIE Digital Library, which contains more than 458,000 articles from SPIE journals, proceedings, and books, with approximately 18,000 new research papers added each year. Abstracts are freely searchable, and a number of journal articles are published with open access. SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2016, SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. http://www.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

HAMPTON, Va., May 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Engineers are conducting wind tunnel tests at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to prepare for crew and cargo deep space missions of the second-generation Space Launch System, or SLS. Reporters are invited to...


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

NASA is setting its sights on space exploration and may send a crewed mission to Venus. This mission would be in partnership with Russia and is dubbed Venus-D. Till date, NASA's impending Mars mission was in the limelight. However, it seems that scientists are quite keen to explore Venus, which is also dubbed "Earth's evil twin." As reported by Forbes in early April, a 2015 internal study conducted by NASA's Langley Research Center proposed sending a crewed mission to Venus. This proposed journey would serve as rehearsal for both NASA, as well as the astronauts, before they set off for Mars in 2031. A new report from Daily Star reveals that the space mission to Venus would be a joint effort between the United States and Russia. The space agencies of the two countries — NASA and Roscosmos — are reportedly working on a plan for the manned mission to Venus. "A proposed joint mission to Venus could feature Russia and the United States working together - despite recent diplomatic tensions," reveals the publication. The proposed Venus-D mission is reportedly taking shape. According to the Daily Star report, Roscosmos would offer the landing and orbital modules, as well as the rocket to transport them to the planet. On the other hand, NASA would be providing the mobile atmospheric probes. These probes would be capable of withstanding and surviving Venus' harsh conditions. The mission will help scientists understand and observe the greenhouse effect and possibly find means to restrict the effects of climate change on our planet. "Venus is a natural laboratory to study the greenhouse effect," said Ludmila Zasova, a scientists, to Russian news agency TASS. The base setup of the mission reportedly comprises the landing and orbital modules. Zasova revealed that the landing module can only operate for two hours on the planet's surface. However, this time window is sufficient to conduct the primary tests using the onboard tools. Alongside the atmospheric probe, NASA may provide extra equipment for the landing module. The 2015 study from NASA proposed a crewed mission to Venus, which would take 440 days. Out of this, 30 would be reserved to study Venus from its atmosphere. The study proposed that the mission deploy the Space Launch System or SLS rocket. The astronauts would spend a month in Venus' atmosphere, 31 miles above the surface. The manned mission would observe and study Venus from this altitude without landing on the planet. The trip to Venus is a shorter one if compared to a full-fledged Mars mission from Earth. Majority of the round-trip orbital missions to Mars takes around 700 days or even more compared to the 440 days proposed by the crewed Venus mission. Venus is situated on the edge of our solar system's habitable Goldilocks zone. The surface pressure on Venus is roughly 92 times more than that on Earth. The planet's surface temperature is quite high (roughly 864 degrees Fahrenheit) and is sufficient to melt most man-made electronics. Although inhospitable for humans, understanding the composition of Venus will offer scientists more insights into the planet. Proper studies on Venus will help scientists understand other solar systems in the galaxy, as well as the evolution of habitable areas around other sun-like stars. According to Zasova, in the event the mission takes place "the next logical step will be sending mobile surface devices — rovers." "Next one — sending back to Earth samples of atmosphere, and then Venus' soil, probably from a tessera. But this is a matter for the future," shared Zasova. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 4, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

President Donald Trump's support and a whopping $19.5 billion funding for NASA seem to have bolstered the space agency's morale and enthusiasm. NASA is reportedly looking to unleash some new technology on Martian soil to scout for signs of life. To facilitate human exploration on Mars, engineers and scientists at NASA's Langley Research Center are developing an aerial drone. The project, dubbed Mars Electric Flyer, will search parts of the planet, which are not conducive to human exploration. The Mars Electric Flyer is being made keeping in consideration Mars' thin atmosphere. NASA will not only deploy the unmanned drone to scour difficult-to-reach locales on the planet, but also to seek out areas for possible human habitation. The autonomous aircraft will work in tandem with ground-based rovers, which will lend researchers greater flexibility in terms of exploration. The electric-powered drone will be constructed using lightweight materials. Researchers are looking forward to sending the drone to explore highly inaccessible areas on Mars, such as the planet's deep canyons and lava tubes. The engineers at Langley have also prepared a concept video of the unmanned drone, which will help people understand its capabilities better. "Imagine being able to survey more parts of another planet like Mars than ever before. Orbiters and rovers have been successful so far but engineers keep looking for new ways to gather information. One way may be by using an unmanned aerial vehicle like this Mars Flyer concept," notes the description of the drone concept video on YouTube. The Mars Electric Flyer will take off and land vertically. It will autonomously navigate itself using visual odometry and SLAM, or Simultaneous Linearization and Mapping, algorithms that Langley researchers are developing. For the drone to take up long-range mission on Martian climate, the UAV will be equipped with state-of-the-art battery and motor technologies. The drones will also deploy a remote sensor system, as well as advanced mapping technologies to fuel smooth navigation and assist in site detection. The Mars Electric Flyer will be transported to the Red Planet aboard a NASA rover. A robotic arm of the rover will release the drone on the planet's surface. The primary concern and hurdle that the engineers have to tackle is getting the drone to fly on Mars, which has different atmospheric conditions compared to Earth. Considering Mars has 3/8 the gravity of Earth — as well as the fact that the Red Planet's atmosphere is quite thin — lifting off the drone may prove to be a challenge for NASA engineers. Moreover, the Mars Electric Flyer will also have to grapple with the harsh climate and environment. Currently, the UAV is in the prototype stage and is being examined in chamber flight tests at Langley. Watch the concept video of the Mars Electric Flyer below. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


This Contaminant Adhesion Mitigating Epoxy Composite Coatings for Aeronautic Environments, developed by NASA Langley Research Center, is a copolymeric epoxy coating that is loaded with a fluorinated aliphatic chemical species and nano- to microscale particle fillers. The coating, which won a 2016 R&D 100 award, was developed as a hydrophobic and non-wetting coating for aerodynamic surfaces to prevent accumulation of insect strike remains that can lead to natural laminar flow disruption and aerodynamic inefficiencies. The coating achieves hydrophobicity in two ways. First, the fluorinated aliphatic chemical species are hydrophobic surface modification additives that preferentially migrate to the polymer surface that is exposed to air. Secondly, the incorporation of particle fillers produces a micro-textured surface that displays excellent resistance to wetting. Combined, these two factors increase hydrophobicity and can also be used to readily generate superhydrophobic surfaces. is a copolymeric epoxy coating that is loaded with a fluorinated aliphatic chemical species and nano- to microscale particle fillers. The coating was developed as a hydrophobic and non-wetting coating for aerodynamic surfaces to prevent accumulation of insect strike remains that can lead to natural laminar flow disruption and aerodynamic inefficiencies. The coating achieves hydrophobicity in two ways. First, the fluorinated aliphatic chemical species are hydrophobic surface modification additives that preferentially migrate to the polymer surface that is exposed to air. Secondly, the incorporation of particle fillers produces a micro-textured surface that displays excellent resistance to wetting. Combined, these two factors increase hydrophobicity and can also be used to readily generate superhydrophobic surfaces. Each year for more than 50 years, R&D Magazine has honored the 100 best innovations in research and development. We are currently accepting applications for the 2017 R&D 100 Awards. Innovators with an exceptional product developed between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 should apply. Submissions close May 12, 2017. For information on the 55th Annual R&D 100 Awards visit the R&D 100 Conference website.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Mars’s atmosphere harbours a layer of electrically charged metal atoms, and they’re not behaving as expected. NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Emission) spacecraft found layers of atmospheric metal ions that defy models based loosely on Earth’s atmosphere. “Mars is giving us observations both like and unlike Earth, and that’s very exciting,” says Joseph Grebowsky at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, head of the team that found these Martian metals. The space between planets is full of metallic dust and rocks. As they are drawn into a planet’s atmosphere, they burn up, leaving behind metal particles like iron and magnesium. On Earth, the behaviour of those particles is mostly controlled by the planet’s strong magnetic field. They use magnetic fields as a sort of highway, and stream along the magnetic field lines to form thin layers throughout the atmosphere. But Mars has no such field. The planet does have small regions with weak magnetic fields in its southern hemisphere, but without a global field like Earth’s, it should not be able to form the layers that MAVEN sees. “Something is causing these layers – something is pushing them around – but we don’t know what,” says Grebowsky. Mars’s nubs of magnetic field certainly play a part, and winds through the atmosphere probably do as well, but the exact mechanism must be different from the one at work on Earth. Grebowsky says that he has expected that the Martian atmosphere would have metal ions for years, but this is the first time that a spacecraft there has confirmed their continuous presence. He and his colleagues also found an unexpected distribution of iron and magnesium ions at Mars. Iron is heavier than magnesium, so it should sink and leave less iron than magnesium higher in the atmosphere. Instead, the two are well-blended much higher in the atmosphere than expected. “The profiles are surprisingly ordered with respect to altitude,” says Grebowsky. “It’s very unlike at Earth.” These wavy clouds of metals could be related to chemistry and climate in Mars’s upper atmosphere. They may even help explain how the planet lost much of its atmosphere to space, leaving it dry and barren. “In terms of understanding the habitability of a planet, it’s very important to be sure about understanding atmospheric processes,” says Guillaume Gronoff at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “Here it’s showing that there are a couple of things that we don’t get.” These new MAVEN findings yield more questions than answers: how do the metal ions get so high up in the atmosphere? How do they form layers like Earth’s without a strong magnetic field? Why are they mixed in so well together? The models that we have now of Mars’s atmosphere can’t explain any of these phenomena. “This is neat because it shows us that the Martian atmosphere is an atmosphere all by itself,” says Dean Pesnell, who is also based at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center but was not involved in this work. “It’s not just another Earth that’s a little different.”

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