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The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure Project


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Cooking Food for People Going to Mars

STUDENTS COOKING SPACE FOOD

Students at the Barboza Space Center are exploring the idea of cooking space food.  This article will help to set the stage at your school or afterschool STEM program.  We are stronger if we work together.  Who wants to help?  We want to publish your ideas.   Suprschool@aol.com
SPACE TRAVEL

How bright is the future of space food
by Staff Writers
Honolulu HI (SPX) Feb 27, 2017


illustration only

Research at the University of Hawai?i at Manoa could play a major role in NASA’s goal to travel to Mars in the 2030s, including what the astronauts could eat during that historic mission.

A trip to Mars and back is estimated to take about two and half years, and ideally, their diet would be healthy while requiring minimal effort and energy. UH Manoa mechanical engineering student Aleca Borsuk may have the solution.

“I picked a really hearty, heat tolerant, drought tolerant species of edible vegetable, and that is amaranth. It’s an ancient grain,” said Borsuk, who determined that she could significantly increase the edible parts, which is basically the entire plant, by changing the lighting. “If you move the lights and have some of them overhead and some of them within the plant leaves, it can actually stimulate them to grow faster and larger.”

This is without adding more lights and by using energy efficient LEDs. Thanks to Borsuk’s work with lighting, plants could play an important role in the future of space travel.

“This plant would do the same thing that it does here on Earth, which is regenerate oxygen in the atmosphere,” said Borsuk. “It also can provide nutrition for the astronauts and if you can imagine being away from Earth for many years, you know tending something that’s green would have a psychological boost as well.”

A 2013 UH Presidential Scholar, Borsuk presented her research at the Hawai?i Space Grant Consortium Spring 2016 Fellowship and Traineeship Symposium and at the 2016 American Society for Horticultural Science Conference in Florida. She is mentored by UH Manoa Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Associate Professor Kent Kobayashi, who is also an American Society for Horticultural Science Fellow.


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International Art Contest: Students Wanted

Mars Society to Hold Int’l Student Mars Art Contest

The Mars Society announced today that it is sponsoring a Student Mars Art (SMArt) Contest, inviting youth from around the world to depict the human future on the planet Mars. Young artists from grades 4 through 12 are invited to submit up to three works of art each, illustrating any part of the human future on the Red Planet, including the first landing, human field exploration, operations at an early Mars base, the building of the first Martian cities, terraforming the Red Planet and other related human settlement concepts.

The SMArt Contest will be divided into three categories: Upper Elementary (grades 4-6), Junior High (grades 7-9), and High School (Grades 10-12). Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250, as well as trophies, will be given out to the first, second and third place winners of each section. There will also be certificates of honorable mention for those artists who don’t finish in the top three, but whose work is nevertheless judged to be particularly meritorious.

The winning works of art will be posted on the Mars Society web site and may also be published as part of a special book about Mars art. In addition, winners will be invited to come to the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention at the University of California, Irvine September 7-10, 2017 to display and talk about their art.

Mars art will consist of still images, which may be composed by traditional methods, such as pencil, charcoal, watercolors or paint, or by computerized means. Works of art must be submitted via a special online form (http://nextgen.marssociety.org/mars-art) in either PDF or JPEG format with a 500 MB limit. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2017, 5:00 pm MST. By submitting art to the contest, participating students grant the Mars Society non-exclusive rights to publish the images on its web site or in Kindle paper book form.

Speaking about the SMArt Contest, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said, “The imagination of youth looks to the future. By holding the SMArt Contest, we are inviting young people from all over the world to use art to make visible the things they can see with their minds that the rest of us have yet to see with our own eyes. Show us the future, kids. From imagination comes reality. If we can see it, we can make it.”

Questions about the Mars Society’s SMArt Contest can be submitted to: Marsart@marssociety.org.


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What will happen during high seas?

Sea ice around Antarctica shrinks to record low

Just two years ago, there was a record high level of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere
FEB 17, 2017 — 4:02 PM EST
Antarctica ice

The extent of sea ice around Antarctica hit a new low in January. This bucks an overall growing trend that has been going on since recordkeeping began in 1979.

BARON REZNIK/FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The continent of Antarctica is surrounded by sea ice. The amount of ice grows in the winter and shrinks in summer. The total area is covers changes from year to year. And it just set a new record in January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports. That month, Antarctic sea ice shrunk to the lowest monthly extent ever recorded.

Antarctic sea ice averaged just 4.04 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles). That’s 1.19 million square kilometers (0.46 million square miles) below the 1981 through 2010 average. And that’s 280,000 square kilometers (108,000 square miles) smaller than the previous record low, set in 2006.

The new record comes just two years after the largest January Antarctic sea ice extent on record. Southern Hemisphere sea ice had been growing by about 3 percent per decade since recordkeeping began in 1979. However, there is a lot of year-to-year variation.

The cause of the record-low ice — and whether future years will similarly buck the growing trend — is unclear, James Pope said in a statement. He is a climate scientist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England. “It is difficult to identify what is causing the record minimum and whether anything significant has changed” so close to the record-setting event, he said. Researchers may not understand for years what caused the decline in sea ice. “We will now study the data with interest and look at what is causing this minimum,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is winter, Arctic sea ice is growing. But sea ice there set another record. It had its smallest January extent on record. That edges out the previous record — set just last year.

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

Antarctica     A continent mostly covered in ice, which sits in the southernmost part of the world.

Arctic     A region that falls within the Arctic Circle. The edge of that circle is defined as the northernmost point at which the sun is visible on the northern winter solstice and the southernmost point at which the midnight sun can be seen on the northern summer solstice.

Arctic sea ice     Ice that forms from seawater and that covers all or parts of the Arctic Ocean.

average     (in science) A term for the arithmetic mean, which is the sum of a group of numbers that is then divided by the size of the group.

climate     The weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.

continent     (in geology) The huge land masses that sit upon tectonic plates. In modern times, there are six geologic continents: North America, South America, Eurasia, Africa, Australia and Antarctica.

data     Facts and/or statistics collected together for analysis but not necessarily organized in a way that gives them meaning. For digital information (the type stored by computers), those data typically are numbers stored in a binary code, portrayed as strings of zeros and ones.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration     (or NOAA) A science agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Initially established in 1807 under another name (The Survey of the Coast), this agency focuses on understanding and preserving ocean resources, including fisheries, protecting marine mammals (from seals to whales), studying the seafloor and probing the upper atmosphere.

sea     An ocean (or region that is part of an ocean). Unlike lakes and streams, seawater — or ocean water — is salty.

square     (in geometry) A rectangle with four sides of equal length. (In mathematics) A number multiplied by itself, or the verb meaning to multiply a number by itself. The square of 2 is 4; the square of 10 is 100.

survey     (v.) To ask questions that glean data on the opinions, practices (such as dining or sleeping habits), knowledge or skills of a broad range of people. Researchers select the number and types of people questioned in hopes that the answers these individuals give will be representative of others who are their age, belong to the same ethnic group or live in the same region. (n.) The list of questions that will be offered to glean those data.

Readability Score:

7.5

Further Reading

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information: Global Snow and Ice January 2017


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Talking with Vietnam about Mars

NASA is now hiring astronauts for trips to space and Mars that would blast them with radiation, but Crave’s Eric Mack learns that some corners of the world already get a similar treatment.

mars_2445397b.jpg

    Why the best Mars colonists could come from places like Iran and Brazil

by Eric Mack

@ericcmack

Mars colonists will need to stand up to heavy doses of radiation.

NASA

On Monday, NASA officially opened an application window for the next generation of American astronauts it hopes to send to the International Space Station, lunar orbit and eventually to Mars. But to find the best candidates for dealing with the harsh levels of radiation in space and on the Red Planet, the agency may want to consider looking beyond the borders of the United States for applicants.

One of the biggest challenges in sending astronauts into deep space or setting up a base on Mars is dealing with the radiation from the cosmic rays that our sun and other stars send flying around the universe. Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field deflect the worst of this radiation, but Mars has no substantial magnetic field, which has in turn allowed much of its atmosphere to be lost to space over the millennia.

Spacecraft can be equipped with radioactive shielding to some extent, and a base on Mars could also be constructed essentially underground, using several meters of Martian soil to provide radiation protection on par with Earth’s atmosphere (this is what Mars One hopes to do). But when it comes to roaming around the surface of Mars in a spacesuit or in a rover, there’s no real practical way for those astronauts to avoid some big doses of radiation in the process.

When I attended the New Worlds conference earlier in 2015, there was a discussion of the challenge that cosmic radiation presents for space exploration, and there were some pretty far-fetched possible solutions, like genetically engineering astronauts in the future to handle more radiation.

But I was more intrigued by one partial solution that was mentioned in passing and only half-seriously — to consider astronaut candidates who are already used to dealing with more exposure to radiation than most of the rest of us.

For years now, scientists have been studying residents of Ramsar, a town in northern Iran that is believed to have the highest levels of naturally occurring background radiation for an inhabited area. Levels up to 80 times the world average (PDF) have been measured in town, yet studies of the few thousand people living in the area show rates of lung cancer are actually below average. In fact, research shows that a gene responsible for the production of white blood cells and so-called “natural killer cells” that attack tumors was more strongly expressed among the population.

10 spots in our solar system worth visiting…

In other words, there may be no need to engage in controversial “editing” of human genetics to create radiation-resistant astronauts because there might already be good prospects in a few corners of the world.

Besides Ramsar, the beaches near Guarapari, Brazil, also exhibit very high levels of natural radiation. People in Yangjiang, China, live with radiation levels three times the world average but have below-average cancer levels, and the story is the same in Karunagappally, India.

Unfortunately, none of the people from these areas would be eligible for the program NASA is now hiring for — the agency is only looking for American applicants. So who in the United States might be best suited for withstanding the most cosmic radiation?

Related stories

NASA puts out open call for new astronauts to pave way to Mars

NASA’s 20-year road map for getting us to Mars

Red Planet red flags? NASA council has doubts about Mars mission

Las Vegas odds on who will set foot on Mars first are totally nuts

As it turns out, I think it might be me. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Radiation Map, Colorado — where my family has hailed from for generations — has some of the highest levels of background radiation in the country thanks to the high altitude and naturally occurring radioactive elements working their way up from the Earth.

Today, I’m actually about 50 miles south of the Colorado border, but I’m living at a higher elevation than Denver, and previous reporting has taught me that radon levels are actually quite high in the neighborhood as well.

Unfortunately, I am quite content just writing about space exploration and have no interest in ever leaving this planet myself. (As witness our CraveCast episode, Who wants to die on Mars?) Besides, some of my neighbors — who have lived with this region’s natural radiation for many more generations than my family has — would probably make better candidates.

So if NASA is unwilling to change its eligibility requirements to consider candidates from northern Iran, perhaps the organization ought to consider sending a recruiter to Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico instead.

Tags:

Crave

Sci-Tech

NASA

Space


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Who can help us with the Hyperloop project?

What will it take to get the Hyperloop to work on Mars?   Kids Talk Radio Science and the Barboza Space Center want to build a prototype of this ideas and we are talking to the Rloop team to get some creative ideas.   And now for the rest of the story.

Kids Talk Radio Logo

After Elon’s public discussion of the HyperLoop, he was surprised by the overwhelming interest in the concept from the public. That interest inspired him to release the monumental Hyperloop Alpha paper in 2013, which presented a number of novel solutions to problems that would arise from traveling at hypersonic speeds inside a tube.

One problem was the requirement to eliminate rolling resistance from wheels. Another was the power and reliability issues associated with a complete vacuum in the tube. And the most difficult problem would be the build up of air pressure in front of the pod as it traveled at fast speeds, an effect known as the Kantrowitz Limit (or the syringe effect).

At that time, Elon was not sure what would happen to the concept once released – but the Hyperloop went viral. He had originally thought he would have to create a subscale version himself to iron out the details, but the overwhelming interest from the public in this new mode of transportation gave him the idea of creating a contest to crowdsource the solutions.

On June 15th, 2015, SpaceX announced a competition, open to the public, where teams could submit designs for pods and subsystems that could have a chance to be tested on an actual track at SpaceX headquarters in the summer of 2016. This is when rLoop was born.

In the comments section of an article about the competition on the SpaceX subreddit, a number of members began proposing that they should collectively form a team; that maybe strangers on the internet could come together, united by a common goal, and compete against top engineering companies and universities in the world.


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Who want to create the next great battery?

Who wants to help us to create the next great battery?

Most people would conclude that it will be very difficult for young kids in high school to create a better battery.   Some would say they just don’t have the background knowledge and/or  experience.   Well, the students at the Barboza Space Center are going to try.  You can follow our work at http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com.  All of our students want to dive affordable Tesslers while here on Earth.   We need better batteries for the robots and satellites that we are creating for the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures.  We are studying AP Physics for Scientists and Engineers and AP Electro-Chemistry. 

Kids Talk Radio Science will be sending out a message to all of our members and other students around the world.  We want to collaborate in finding a “Better Battery.”  Many of our students have parents that are scientists and engineers and educators with lots of contacts around the world.  You can contact us at Bob@BarbozaSpaceCenter.com or Suprschool@aol.com. 

Visit: http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com  and http://www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com.   

You do need parent permission to participate in any of our programs.  

bsc bus

Blog #9: Battery Improvements

http://e2af.com/review/091111.shtml

As technology advances, the power output and lifespan of batteries will be expected to advance as well in order to accommodate. Almost every standard lithium ion battery that is currently in existence and use consists of a graphite electrode. While graphite is relatively cheap and durable, silicon, which is now being explored for use in batteries, would offer a much greater power capacity. While it takes six graphite (carbon) atoms to bind to a single lithium ion, a single silicon atom can bind to four lithium ions. Current batteries can be recharged over 500 times and still retain 80 percent of their original capacity; but with the next-generation of silicon batteries, they are expected to last from 700 to 1,000 cycles. From a power output perspective, prototypes of the silicon batteries can store up to 750 watt-hours per liter, a noticeable increase from the 400 to 620 watt-hours per liter for conventional batteries.

http://www.clipartpanda.com/categories/battery-20clipart

Despite the obvious improvements from the graphite battery to the silicon one, there are some significant drawbacks to using this new type of battery. The largest concern for silicon batteries is that the silicon anodes often suffer from structural failure. Because silicon absorbs so many ions, it physically expands to four times its original size. As the batteries are used and recharged, they tend to swell and shrink, causing the battery to fall apart. This obstacle was overcome by making silicon nanowires that do not fall apart. However, this new material brought a challenge of its own. The nanowires proved difficult to bring to market because the new material required custom manufacturing equipment, making it very difficult to produce.

A variety of designs of the silicon-based battery are being explored and experimented with in order to minimize their shortcomings and bring them to the market. One possible solution is to implement the use of nanoparticles, which have silicon at the core and are surrounded by a layer of carbon. Although these nanoparticles store less energy than silicon nanowires, they do not require custom manufacturing equipment and can be used in existing factories. In addition, they seem to help solve the problems associated with silicon’s volume expansion. Another possibility is the mesoporous silicon sponge, which is basically a piece of silicon that’s riddled with holes. This fabricated silicon electrode only expands by 30% rather than 400%, a huge reduction that greatly improves the physical strength of the silicon battery. As more and more designs are formed which improve the functionality of the silicon battery, the closer this more powerful battery gets to making its mark on the world.

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/185999-us-department-of-energy-doubles-lithium-ion-battery-capacity-with-spongy-silicon

Sources:

  1. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/523296/startup-gets-30-million-to-bring-high-energy-silicon-batteries-to-market/
  2. http://forumblog.org/2014/09/top-ten-emerging-technologies-2014/#nanowire
  3. http://www.extremetech.com/computing/185999-us-department-of-energy-doubles-lithium-ion-battery-capacity-with-spongy-silicon


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NASA counting on humanoid robots in deep space exploration

High school students at the Barboza Space Center are working with humanoid and other robots in the hopes of one day getting an opportunity to work for NASA and other companies in the aerospace industry.  Our student are learning how to design prototypes. We are part of an XQ team that is working on designing the American high school.  You can follow our work at http://www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com and http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com.   We would like to share this article by Robo Daily……
ROBO SPACE

NASA counting on humanoid robots in deep space exploration
by Tomasz Nowakowski for AstroWatch
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 25, 2016


NASA’s R5 robot. Image courtesy NASA.

As humanity moves forward with space exploration, we should prepare for risky and extremely hazardous endeavors such as manned missions to Mars and asteroids. Having fully operational robotic help ready to assist in every dangerous task would be of the utmost importance during long-lasting journeys beyond Earth. NASA is seriously considering this subject matter, ushering new humanoid robots, expected to be space pioneers that could offer astronauts a helping hand in future expeditions.

“NASA is counting on robots to setup and care for deep space exploration facilities and equipment pre-deployed ahead of astronauts. Robots are also excellent precursors for conducting science missions ahead of human exploration,” Sasha Congiu Ellis of NASA’s Langley Research Center, told Astrowatch.net.

That’s why the agency is developing a six-feet tall humanoid robot called R5, previously known as Valkyrie. The machine weighs about 290 lbs., and what’s interesting, it was initially designed to complete disaster-relief maneuvers. In November 2015, NASA awarded two R5 robots to university groups competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC).

One robot is tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts under its Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments program. The second one is available for the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts for its Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge. According to NASA, the teams have two years to perform research and software development in order to improve the robot’s autonomy.

They will be also receiving $250,000 a year for two years and have access to onsite and virtual technical support from the agency. Moreover, the robots will compete in a Space Robotics Challenge through NASA’s Centennial Challenge Program.

“This will be our first hands-on experience with this hardware. We will leverage our lessons learned from the DARPA Robotics Challenge to perform tasks relevant to future space missions with Valkyrie autonomously,” Taskin Padir, the principal investigator of ATHENA at the Northeastern University, told SpaceFlight Insider.

Padir’s team will make contributions in three main areas, constrained motion planning and control, grasping of unknown objects, and human-robot interaction. Their testing strategy will rely on completing these task by progressing from teleoperation to full autonomy.

ATHENA program will include collecting or recovering desired samples or items, such as Mars soil and rocks as well as exiting a habitat airlock hatch and using a ladder to reach the terrestrial surface.

Next test will check if the robot is capable of removing a communications or power cable from a soft-goods storage location and attach it to a connector located at least 33 feet away, while traversing an irregular rocky terrain, like the surface of Mars. The task list concludes with repairing or replacing damaged components on complex equipment, such as a broken valve or a damaged tire on a planetary rover.

Ellis admitted that all these tests are Mars-oriented as the Red Planet is perceived as the next giant leap for humanity in space exploration.

“The universities selected as hosts for NASA robots will be asked to validate tasks like those needed on a Mars mission, pre deploying and setting up equipment ahead of human members of the crew,” she said. Creating more dexterous autonomous robots, designed to operate in extreme space environments could be crucial for expeditions to Mars and beyond. Humanoid machines could easily undertake activities dangerous for future astronauts.

“Extreme space environments are dangerous for humans. And, robots are ideal for dangerous tasks. NASA already has rovers on Mars. This is an effort to advance autonomy of humanoid robots. We will have a better understanding of when and how humanoid robots will help with future deep space exploration missions as we continue our research and development in this field,” Padir said.

In developing R5, NASA can rely on experience coming from its Robonaut project. The latest version of this humanoid robot, Robonaut 2, flew to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011.

It was built as a prototype to work on Earth but was sent to ISS and is completing regular and repetitive tasks inside the orbital laboratory, like pressing buttons, flipping, switches and turning knobs. It also worked with two tools: the air flow meter and an RFID inventory scanner. In 2014, the robot received a pair of climbing legs to help it move around the station. It is successfully paving way for future more complex humanoid robots like R5.

“NASA has the first of this new class of care taking robot onboard the ISS today. Called Robonaut 2, this system is being used to develop and test new approaches for robots to perform maintenance and repair tasks,” Ellis noted.

The R5 project is a part of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program. Langley Research Center manages this program for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.