Unmanned Space Missions (An Explorers Guide to the Universe)
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Mekbungwan, K. Virochpoka, and. Quartulli, and C. Lo , Client announcement and fast roaming in a layer-2 mesh network , p. Qadri and. Rice, C. Creber, P. Fletcher, D. Baxley, K. Davison et al. Renner, S. Ernst, C. Weyer, and V. George, T. Riley, and. Lawrence, ]. Robertsrw08, C. Rowe, ]. Show less. Last on. Mon 15 Jan BBC Four. Voyager tweets Duration: The builders of Voyager Duration: Grand Tour sling shot demo Duration: See all clips from Voyager: To the Final Frontier 3.
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Getting to Mars is just one of them. Then we have to figure out where our food and water will come from.
There, astronauts live for weeks to months. Among their tasks are conducting experiments and testing equipment that could be useful for future missions to the moon, an asteroid, Mars or beyond. If you visited the ISS today, nearly every bit of food you ate would have been shipped up from Earth. The exception: leafy greens. Those are the first foods being grown on the ISS. There are many reasons NASA wants to learn to grow vegetables in space. Besides providing fresh food for astronauts, plants can provide life support by recycling air and water. As Mark Watney learned on Mars, potatoes might be good survival food.
They could, however, help to keep you from starvation. There are some downsides, though. Potatoes need to be cooked before they can be eaten. And potato plants need a lot of room to grow. So Massa and her colleagues started with something easier: lettuce. In , they sent ISS astronauts a garden. Add water, some artificial light and voila! The lettuce grew! They had to send every bit back to Earth to be studied. The next year, after NASA scientists confirmed this food was safe, the astronauts grew a second crop. This time they were allowed to chow down. The astronauts used their lettuce to garnish hamburgers.
They also made lettuce wraps with lobster salad inside. Not surprisingly, gardening is different in space than it is on Earth. But they adapt. They send their shoots toward light and their roots in the opposite direction. The scientists also had trouble providing the plants enough water. The fabric plant pillows containing the seeds, clay and fertilizer were designed to draw water from a reservoir. The astronauts ended up needing to water the plants by hand. Massa and her team are now redesigning the watering system. ISS astronauts also have grown Chinese cabbage as well as flowers.
They do! Future crops will include a bitter Asian green called mizuna and cherry tomatoes, which astronauts will have to pollinate by hand using a tiny brush. One day, they might also grow peppers and herbs. While the veggie garden is small for now, eventually it could someday help feed astronauts on long-distance space missions — or a colony on Mars.
Reaching the ISS from Earth takes less than a day. A trip to Mars might take nearly a year — and a huge amount of fuel. The chemical engines used to launch a rocket into space with a fiery blast are not good at propelling a spacecraft to another planet. To do that, he says, you have to go nuclear. The right engine can take a very light gas, such as hydrogen, and heat it to extremely high temperatures in a nuclear reactor.
That super-heated gas is sprayed out the back through a nozzle to propel the spacecraft forward. It works by accelerating electrically charged atoms, or ions, to push a spacecraft forward. Such a system could take a year to deliver people to Mars. In contrast, a nuclear thermal engine might shorten that journey to just four or five months, Emrich says. To get to Mars that quickly, a large spacecraft would need about grams a half pound of uranium fuel.
But once the reactor starts to operate, the uranium is split into other elements through fission. The spacecraft would use conventional rocket fuel for lift-off. The nuclear-heated engine would not be turned on until the rocket was already in space. Then if there were any explosion, any radioactive material would be spewed into space. Emrich and his colleagues are working on testing the uranium fuel for this engine.
Others are working on different parts. Some are looking to develop and test the reactor. Others are designing a way to integrate the reactor into the propulsion system. Building this next generation of space engines takes time. They might be able to harvest some raw materials from the Red Planet.
Astronauts on the ISS have similar problems. If someone needs a special tool, they might have to wait months or longer for the next resupply mission.