Aired Last week 1:30
Electronics for Hostile Environments
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Aired Last week 1:29
Electronics for Hostile Environments
With a surface temperature of eight hundred seventy degrees Fahrenheit, a heavy. Carbon dioxide atmosphere at divall canes and deadly clouds of sulfuric acid Venus's tough world to explore. This is innovation now bringing you stories behind the ideas that shave our future NASA is hoping to build on the success of the silicon based integrated circuits used on Mars Landers, but the target this time Venus once thought to be a likely place to find life the mariner and Russian venire probes in the nineteen sixties and seventies revealed, the harsh reality of Venus even spacecraft built today wouldn't survive much longer than the venero Landers with their massive cooling systems. None lasted more than one hundred twenty seven minutes on the blistering the news in surface. But a team at NASA Glenn research center is developing a new. Electronics technology that could survive more than five hundred twenty hours in the hostile environment. The electron IX made of silicon carbide circuits could not only make exploration Venus possible, but might be a hot prospect for aircraft engines and a range of other earth applications as well for innovation. Now, I'm Jennifer pulley innovation now is produced by the National Institute of aerospace through collaboration with NASA.
Aired 2 months ago 20:04
Worlds of Wonder
Dream. In nineteen eighty-five talking teddy bear teddy wreck spin took the world by storm. My name is kitty wreck spin can you and I b. Teddy. Rex spin had a cassette tape player in his back. The cassettes made for the toy were special because while the left track of tape held the audio recording the right track contained data commands to move Teddy's mouth. And is he does is stories about friendship carrying sharing. And he goes on ventures with only think you capture someone child's imagination. We're going to have lots of good times. Animatronic toy was seen as a marvel and made a fortune for the manufacturer worlds of wonder. Teddy wreck, spins inventor can foresee had been working on the toys concept long before it became a success in the late nineteen fifties. It was going to be a puppet. And instead of a teddy bear it was going to be a monkey named Simeon group in honor of NASA space program at the time. Nasa sending monkeys into space to see how they tolerated spaceflight before launching the first human, astronauts. Let's go too far play. Search for treasures brand. The success of teddy wreck spin was short-lived competing toymakers put out their own talking dolls. And when the stock market crashed in nineteen eighty seven worlds of wonder went bankrupt and sold off their assets around the same time Nassar's putting together a mission to Mars and the group in charge of building. It's camera needed nearly two thousand computer chips. The rumor goes that they purchased AT and T computer memory chips originally intended for teddy wreck spin dolls, you understand simple, basic for their dynamics. Of mazing. We are on a misin a podcast of Nasr's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, I'm Leslie Mullin in this season. We've been following the insight spacecraft on its journey to Mars this episode is about how technology can take you to unexpected places. How something invented for one purpose can often end up being used or something quite different. There's a lot more to that. Teddy wreck spin story, but I'll tell you about it at the end of this episode an example of an unexpected use of technology for the insight mission is a pair of small satellites Bruce banner lead scientists on incite explains, there's a technology demonstration called Marco which stands for Mars cube one. And that's a pair of cubesats which are little tiny satellites are about the size of a briefcase, and they're going to fly along with us to Mars NASA often sends new technologies along the space missions just to see how they fare for insight. The Marco technology demonstration is an add on the mission doesn't rely on these cubes that. That's the point is to piggyback on a more standard mission to test out how new technology performs in the harsh environment of outer space tech demos. Like Marco are like a space engineers version of play compared to a big spacecraft like insight, it's almost like a garage project. Just a handful of scientists and engineers building these things in their own little laboratory, it's a way to get relatively cheap access to space for Marco. The big test is to see how far they small satellites can go. We already have hundreds of keeps that's going into orbit around the earth, and we're trying to stretch that into interplanetary space. And so this is our first attempt to see how that's gonna work Markelle launched on the same rocket as the insight. Lander insight was on the front of the rocket all the to Marco satellites were in the back and are actually in a little sort of suitcase container at the back end. So they kind of fly in luggage. And after we separate from the rocket. They actually push off to each side of our trajectory, and we fly to Mars nut separated very much. But they fly by themselves. They have their own propulsion system. They have their own battery system and power system, and they have some radios, and if they do work, well, and if they go all the way to Mars, they'll actually be able to relay the radio signal from inside as its landing through the atmosphere of Mars and give us possibly one of the first signals that we're getting back from insight Mars Landers can talk directly to earth, but the amount of information, they can send that way is extremely limited. The bulk of their signals are instead sent up to satellites orbiting in the Martian sky above those that lights grabbed the Lander signals, and then toss them to us think of it as a space age game of baseball. If insight is the pitcher, then Marco will be up at bat. Just as insight enters the Martian, atmosphere radio satellite dishes on earth of the players on the field. Waiting to catch the ball. If Marco works will get the information about insights landing on Mars, right as it's happening. But if Marcus wings and MRs it's okay, we'll get that baseball of data a few hours later from the designated catcher, the Mars or Coniston's orbiter, this satellite orbiting Mars will be setting on the horizon is incite lands. So we'd have to wait until it swings back around the planet before it can toss us the ball. Keeps that's our simple metal boxes with humble origins. I launched in the early two thousands those cubesats were school projects. Here's Andy clash chief engineer for Marco originally started as a way to get students involved in space exploration, take extra mass that was available on the launch vehicle put it in a box. So that we had a standardized payload and students could build up different experiments prove out technology show that they could understand the space environment. And eventually they've actually gone beyond that to do commercial opportunities with these provide real science missions round the earth. Well, in the two thousand ten thousand eleven we started to ask what can we do with these small platforms away from earth to explore the broader solar system area cubesats orbit earth can use our planet's magnetic field to keep themselves oriented, they're small enough and light enough that that little push is all they need. But for keeps going beyond earth. Engineers had. Come up with a propulsion system propulsion systems work in space due to Newton's third law of motion every action produces in equal and opposite reaction the backward. Thrust of exhaust pushes the spacecraft Ford. Cody collie is the mission manager for Marco, no one had made a propulsion system that small for that kind of dedicated purpose Vacco, which makes valves for the biggest of spacecraft's started building these cold gas propulsion systems, and that's what we ended up lying cold gases them, and the really cool thing about our propellant is actually fire extinguisher propellant. It's the same liquid and your common fire extinguisher. We have one extra step there where if we just fired it just like if I were extinguisher, it'd be gone all at once, and we wouldn't build a very precisely controller trajectory. So we send it to a staging area where it goes down to lower pressure. If you were to see it, it's like a little tiny puff and said of this big explosive thing of not explosive hopefully. But if I were extinguisher going off as a little bit more dramatic than what you would see out of keeps that firing its it's system a fire extinguisher has essentially two components as since for fighting fire in a propellant. That makes the firefighting substance come out when you press the handle because the propellant is stored at high pressure fire extinguisher canisters are made of strong medal to prevent them from exploding one of the key things about the Marco design in particular, mitigate even that low pressure from ever becoming a problem is that the propulsion system would leak before burst. So if we ever had a high pressure vent may be day for us, it would leak all of its propellant, but it would not blow up in the traditional sense. And that's important. Our number one requirement on Marco out the door has do. No harm in fire extinguisher propulsion system, inspired nicknames for the two cubesats. Here's Andy clash again. All evil really are nicknames for the two Marco spacecraft officially they are named Marco. And Marco b. And as you know from the Disney movie Wally learns how to fly in space using this fire extinguisher just as we're learning. How to fly keeps that's out to Mars. So the team kind of picked up the names and Marco be officially Wally. And Marco a is Eva in the movie while he flies wildly through space as he learns to propel himself with the fire extinguisher in a bit of serendipity with the movie Marco's Wally started to flounder. And it's flight when its propulsion system developed a leak, Cody collie explains one of the scariest things about the verse observation the leak was we noticed it. And then we had the end of our scheduled contact. We can't have the radio on forever were small spacecraft. So the power involved with keeping the radio on as sort of a non-starter. So the spacecraft has set to turn off at a certain time. So we got messages down from Wally saying, yeah, I'm leaking. I'm leaking. I'm leaking. I've gotta go. Now. I'll talk to you and eight hours that kind of situation is definitely sort of it takes you by surprise. That's like, oh, man. One of the things that made the situation a little bit more tense is that what we do is we schedule contacts for the spacecraft. And then if we don't get new times to wake up it goes into what's called it safe mode. This was five days the mission. It's kind of hidden in the gut have to think about okay, the spacecraft's going to do basically the bare minimum to make sure that it's surviving. And we have to make the most of that. You know, it it changes data rates starts using different antennas as it saying. Oh, hey, I haven't heard from yet. I need to hear from you. I'm gonna do everything I can to hear from you. And so we have to try out different things to find out how the space craft pointed one in ten is is it using that was one reality that we were facing on that day was if we didn't get commands into the spacecraft to take back the reins and tell it, hey, you're gonna wake up on Tuesday Wednesday Thursday, then we would have gone into this safe mode pattern where every eight hours the space ref turns on but with a different antenna. And because we. The league we wanted to be able to get in and do things about it. And so we really didn't want to go into safe mode. So that next contact was definitely nerve racking. You send commands before you see that the radio signals there, you're sending these quote unquote in the blind. So you're really worried about whether or not these commands are actually going to do anything. But lo and behold for us, we were currently lucky of his very happy moment, we saw spacecraft comeback and talk to us from day. One seeing league day to the league has changed. We were able to actually start making a sumptious about the behavior and then make decisions about what made sense to do next. There was a subset of people at a white board trying to figure out what is the best way forward. What are all the things that we could try coming up with that solution? And so it's definitely like forty eight hours of almost feeling like you're locked in a room, which it takes toll. We really quickly realized we're going to have to live with us leak all the way to Mars it became a question that of what we do to use the least amount of propellant. Give us the best case. You know, likelihood that we're going to get the Mars sort of counter intuitively, what we ended up doing is telling the propulsion system to turn on every hour and dump the contents of that staging area that I told you out if you let the league that we knew about the league between the tank and that staging area develop than what ends up happening is there's high pressure and that staging area that then is just venting out in space and high pressure is bad high-pressure means that you have lots of torque on the spacecraft and means that you're sending lots of propellant overboard and propellants valuable on paper doesn't necessarily make sense. But in practice does as actually tell the propulsion system get rid of everything and your staging area every hour, and what that does is a maintains that staging area at a very low pressure all the time. So that the effect on the trajectory is really small effect on the amount of propellant that we're sending overboard is really small and the space able point without really noticing that these. What are called blow downs recurring? What we do alternately is in order to keep Wally and Eva in the right spot. Relative to each other is Wally will do a blow down in one direction and do that for a couple of days. And then he'll flip that by one eighty and do it in the opposite direction. He's doing acrobat eggs on the way to Mars. He's changing which direction he's firing stressors than it sounds kind of wild and punchy, but that has the net effect of we sort of we go away from where we're supposed to be when we come back sometimes we over shooed. But ultimately, we come back to where we were supposed to be. If you watch that movie the similarities between Marco and Walli are just way too many. I always tell people that you know, Wally is always been trying to impress. Eva. And. That's what he decided to give us was a leak. Although Mark OB is leaking propellant and class says the cubesats have received an unexpected boost from the sun one of our best surprises along the way was when we opened up high gain antenna, we're so light there were centrally sailing on the solar win. We have a finite amount of propellant that we can use. Eventually we're going to run out. So we want to minimize how much we're using them or finding by tacking with respect to the solar win that we don't have to use it as often which essentially gives us more propellant for use later in the mission, they propose this was just one of many challenges in getting the Marco project off the ground one of the things that we've noticed about the market technology that it's not necessarily as easy as everybody thinks it is it is a smaller package, but that also means it's much more dense compared to normal spacecraft almost twice as dense crammed that much more stuff on board, and because we're so dense and so small Guinea connections in place, very difficult. We have a mutt. Small. Team in much lower budget. And so we're having to find creative solutions in order to still perform all these complex maneuvers and operations to get us out to Mars. So we might be smaller, certainly not less complex. The Marco team also had much less time than usual to pull together their mission. I was pulled into the director of solar system explorations office at the time. And he said we decided to this mission. We'd like you to be chief engineer, you have three days to put together a team, you're presenting to the executive council on Monday, go immediately walked out there and started calling people and really trying to pull to the best team that we could in order to make this mission happen one of the challenges of market was actually could we do this as a lab to pull together a small spacecraft in that amount of time under and with that many choices that we had to make could we put on advanced cameras on board. Or would we just put on the best that we could at that time? We now have commercial cameras on board that we are able to take some images. But that was not always sure thing on the wing was the first thing that would be removed. We are hopeful that we might be able to take some of Mars. We have been able to take a few images of earth on the way out. But just the fact that we were able. To image earth from a cube set. Millions of kilometers away has been a fantastic early mission achievement. If the Marco's are successful, Cody says that could open up the field for more ambitious keeps at projects. It means that your access to space the bar is way lower. You're talking about decreasing the cost for Mars mission by an order of magnitude granted, the capability isn't as large be can be far more tactical. That's what keeps that's really good. At is. They can do a very specific thing. If we're an order of magnitude cheaper, white send an order of magnitude more. That's where they're actually some applications where you're talking about measuring. The magnetic field of other planets were really want lots and lots of measurements taken. You don't wanna wait for your flagship mission to spin, you know, five years, a measure, it it's much more efficient to send one hundred small spacecraft and a swarm that can make these measurements can also have one semi big space craft that sort of. The mothership that receives all the data from all of its children and distributes that information. So there's different architectures that now that we're actually talking about sending hundreds of keeps out. It's really meaningful for us to actually start thinking about them and the past. They were I'd call it academic. I think we're finally getting the point where it's not academic talk about solutions. Like that says something that started out as a simple and project for students could end up revolutionizing. How we explore space Marco is sort of this Pathfinder mission demonstrate years in advance that these technologies work as the science capability for cubesats grown. We've inevitably looked skyward almost like manifest destiny. We wanna go other places. As for whether teddy Rex being computer tips, flew to Mars, I've tried to track down whether the rumors true. I contacted the Mars orbital camera manufacturer conducted research with JPL historian and spoke to people who've been working on the missions that the camera flew on Mars observer and Mars Global Surveyor. Everyone had heard the rumor, but no one could confirm it the chips hadn't been purchased directly from the manufacturer worlds of wonder but from layers of vendors who purchase and resell parts. I was told that the paper trail is so complex it could take years to wait through it. But I had one more avenue of investigation the ID number on the AT and T chips that were used in the Mars orbital camera. So I bought a circa nineteen eighty five teddy Rex pin doll that was being sold for parts and with a little help from folks here at JPL performed open heart surgery, the heart of the doll in this case was his circuit board. And it was appropriately located in its chest. The circuit board had seven computer chips. But none of those tips were made by AT and T. And none of those tips were for memory. Instead they were used for other tasks like managing power in voltage or audio amplification. The rumor is far as I can tell is wrong. However, it's still true that computer chips originally made for one product or repurpose for camera sent to Mars that product. Just isn't a teddy wreck spend all as often happens with gossip the details may have gotten jumbled to the telling and is often happens in science, the hypothesis doesn't give you the answer you expected. But instead opens up new questions perhaps someone out there has the answer to this mystery. Next time on a mission those kind of investigating work, but we did actually go back to those tapes to see if anyone come in between certain hours though, you really do feel like police departments times. If you like this podcast, please subscribe rate us on your favorite podcast platform and shares on Facebook Instagram, Twitter, we're on a mission a podcast of Nasr's Jet, Propulsion Laboratory.
Aired 2 months ago 3:02
This Week @NASA, November 23, 2018
A landing site is selected for our next Mars Rover. Our inside mission is in the home stretch of its Dernie to the red planet and a week of celebration on the space station a few of the stories to tell you about this week at NASA. On November nineteenth. We announced that after a five year. Search that included more than sixty candidate locations on Mars Jezero crater has been selected as the landing site for upcoming Mars twenty twenty Rover mission decision today could determine what happens and the next day Kate or more of Marce expiration. Boasts robotic and human that technologies to be Ruth here. Feed forward into a program that gets ever more exciting. The mission is scheduled to launch into lie. Twenty twenty as the next step in exploration of the red planet. It will not only look for signs of ancient habitable conditions and pass microbial life, but will also collect rock and soil samples that could be retrieved for return to earth by a potential future Mars mission. A series of news briefings on November twenty first focused on the upcoming landing on Mars of insight. Our next mission to the red planet and our first Mars landing since the curiosity Rover in two thousand twelve the inside Landers scheduled to touch down on the twenty sixth at approximately three PM eastern standard time. We'll carry live coverage of the event on NASA television on NASA dot gov, and on the agencies social media platforms inside will be the first spacecraft to study the red planet's deep interior to help us better understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including earth. It was a busy week full of celebration. Aboard the international space station on November twentieth. The crew celebrated the twenty year anniversary of the nineteen ninety eight launch of the Russian built Zarya module, the first element of the space station. Meanwhile are Serena on chancellor, enter space station, crewmates Alexander's visa and Russia's Sergei Prokofiev. We're busy welcoming a couple of resupply. Vehicles a Russian progress. Spacecraft arrived with cargo on November eighteenth, followed by Northrop Grumman's cygnus cargo spacecraft which arrived on November nineteenth with about seventy four hundred pounds of research and supplies. On chancellor and girst also recorded a video message to talk about the cruise plans for thanksgiving dinner, and this. His our Turkey along with Russian colleague Sergei Prokofiev. Their plans included a little downtime from their daily activities to reflect on the things for which there thankful from the crew of expedition Fifty-seven from our home to yours. We wish you a very happy thanksgiving. That's what's up this week at Manson for more on these and other stories. Follow us on the web at NASA dot gov slash.