“The smartphone in your pocket has more computing power than the spacecraft that took the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon,” says anyone trying to impress anyone else with the massive scaling of computing power over the last few decades. Perhaps taking a clue from this cocktail party trivia, NASA is now developing spacecraft powered by commercial smartphones.
Space is a big place, and NASA has lost a tiny satellite somewhere up there. Now the space agency is seeking the help of ham radio operators to find their troubled NanoSail-D, a nanosatellite that according to reports has finally ejected from NASA's Fast Affordable Science and Technology Satellite more than a month after it was supposed to.
Last week’s launch of NanoSail-D – NASA’s solar sailing nanosatellite that was reportedly launched from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSAT) last week – may not have gone as well as initially thought. In fact, it may not have happened at all.
In the wee hours of the morning today something very small did something very big very high above the Earth. NanoSail-D, a demonstration nanosatellite launched aboard the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite (FASTSAT) last month, ejected from the mothership, marking the first time a small cubesat has been deployed from a larger autonomous microsatellite in space.
Building a satellite and launching it into space was once a multi-million dollar proposition. But even though miniaturization and easy-to-adapt technology formats like the CubeSat have brought down the costs of building satellites, the cost of getting those satellites into space is still sky high. So while new commercial space carriers perfect their various heavy lift rockets, one emerging space company aims to send smaller payloads into space on the backs – or rather the bellies – of existing vehicles: decommissioned military jets.
A tiny spacecraft measuring less than a foot in length is the first designed to end its own life by using a solar sail as an orbital brake. Putting itself through the fiery atmospheric plunge would let it avoid becoming part of the growing cloud of space debris surrounding Earth, New Scientist. You seeing this, DARPA?
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.