Blog search results for Tag: space

Energy

Today, most rockets are fueled by hydrazine, a toxic and hazardous chemical comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen. Those who work with it must be kitted up in protective clothing. Even so, around 12,000t of hydrazine is released into the atmosphere every year by the aerospace industry

Now, researchers are in the process of developing a greener, safer rocket fuel based on metal organic frameworks (MOFs), a porous solid material made up of clusters of metal ions joined by an organic linker molecule. Hundreds of millions of connections join in a modular structure.

view from F18 support aircraft

Originally posted by nasa

Robin Rogers, formerly at McGill University, US, has worked with the US Air Force on hypergolic liquids that will burn when placed in contact with oxidisers, to try get rid of hydrazine. He teamed up with Tomislav Friščić at McGill who has developed ways to react chemicals ‘mechanochemically’ – without the use of toxic solvents.

The pair were interested in a common class of MOFs called zeolitic imidazole frameworks, or ZIFs, which show high thermal stability and are usually not thought of as energetic materials.

 chemist working

They discussed the potential of using ZIFs with the imidazolate linkers containing trigger groups. These trigger groups allowed them to take advantage of the usually not accessible energetic content of these MOFs.

The resulting ZIF is safe and does not explode, and it does not ignite unless placed in contact with certain oxidising materials, such as nitric acid, in this case.

 danger sign

Authorities continue to use hydrazine because it could cost millions of dollars to requalify new rocket fuels, says Rogers. MOF fuel would not work in current rocket engines, so he and Friščić would like to get funding or collaborate with another company to build a small prototype engine that can use it.


Science & Innovation

Researchers have created a new extremely light and durable ceramic aerogel. The material could be useful for applications like insulating spacecraft because it can withstand intense heat and severe temperature changes. 

rocket taking off

The aerogel could be used to coat spacecrafts due to its resilience to certain conditions.

The aerogel comprises a network of tiny air pockets, with each pocket separated by two atomically thin layers of hexagonal boron nitride. It’s at least 99% space. To build the aerogel, Duan’s team used a graphene template coated with borazine, which forms crystalline boron nitride when heated. When the graphene template oxidises, this leaves a ‘double-pane’ boron nitride structure.

 aerogel

The basis of the newly developed aerogel is the 2D structure of graphene.

‘The key to the durability of our new ceramic aerogel is its unique architecture,’ says study co-author Xiangfeng Duan of the University of California, US. 

‘The “double-pane” ceramic barrier makes it difficult for heat to transfer from one air bubble to another, or to spread through the material by traveling along the hexagonal boron nitride layers themselves, because that would require following long, circuitous routes.’

How does Aerogel technology work? Video: Outdoor Research

Unlike other ceramic aerogels, the material doesn’t become brittle under extreme conditions. The new aerogel withstood 500 cycles of rapid heating and cooling from -198°C to 900°C, as well as 1400°C for one week. A piece of the insulator shielded a flower held over a 500°C flame.

 

Science & Innovation

Spaceflight is a high-risk business. Spacecraft break down all the time and when that happens funding and careers evaporate. Back in the late 1960s, NASA decided to double the odds of success and send two spacecraft on one mission. Voyagers 1 and 2, for example, were the spacecraft that returned the first detailed pictures of the outer planets of our solar system and introduced us to the neighbourhood. Launched in 1977, both are still flying.

Any spacecraft must have three components: a payload, an engine and a fuel supply – by far the heaviest component. But what if we could do away with the onboard fuel supply and replace it with an external fuel supply? Say light itself?

Can you push a spacecraft with light? Video: Physics Girl

The idea of solar sail technology has been floating around for decades. Indeed, the notion of a solar pressure can be traced back to 1610 in a letter that Johannes Kepler wrote to Galileo. 

But it was only in the 20th century that solar sails began to be considered as an achievable engineering reality. Broadly, solar sails fall into two categories: those using light from natural sources – the sun and ambient starlight in space; and those using coherent light from lasers.

 

Science & Innovation

Spaceflight is a high-risk business. Spacecraft break down all the time and when that happens funding and careers evaporate. Back in the late 1960s, NASA decided to double the odds of success and send two spacecraft on one mission. Voyagers 1 and 2, for example, were the spacecraft that returned the first detailed pictures of the outer planets of our solar system and introduced us to the neighbourhood. Launched in 1977, both are still flying.

Any spacecraft must have three components: a payload, an engine and a fuel supply – by far the heaviest component. But what if we could do away with the onboard fuel supply and replace it with an external fuel supply? Say light itself?

Can you push a spacecraft with light? Video: Physics Girl

The idea of solar sail technology has been floating around for decades. Indeed, the notion of a solar pressure can be traced back to 1610 in a letter that Johannes Kepler wrote to Galileo. 

But it was only in the 20th century that solar sails began to be considered as an achievable engineering reality. Broadly, solar sails fall into two categories: those using light from natural sources – the sun and ambient starlight in space; and those using coherent light from lasers.

 

Energy

A huge challenge faced in the pursuit of a mission to Mars is space radiation, which is known to cause several damaging diseases – from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

And soon, these problems will not just be exclusive to astronauts. Speculation over whether space tourism is viable is becoming a reality, with Virgin Galactic and SpaceX flights already planned for the near future. The former reportedly sold tickets for US$250,000.

But could questions over the health risks posed hinder these plans?

rocket gif

Originally posted by blazepress


What is space radiation?

In space, particle radiation includes all the elements on the periodic table, each travelling at the speed of light, leading to a high impact and violent collisions with the nuclei of human tissues.

The type of radiation you would endure in space is also is different to that you would experience terrestrially. On Earth, radiation from the sun and space is absorbed by the atmosphere, but there is no similar protection for astronauts in orbit. In fact, the most common form of radiation here is electrochemical – think of the X-rays used in hospitals.

 The sun

The sun is just one source of radiation astronauts face in space. Image: Pixabay

On the space station – situated within the Earth’s magnetic field ­– astronauts experience ten times the radiation that naturally occurs on Earth. The station’s position in the protective atmosphere means that astronauts are in far less danger compared with those travelling to the Moon, or even Mars.

Currently, NASA’s Human Research Program is looking at the consequences of an astronaut’s exposure to space radiation, as data on the effects is limited by the few subjects over a short timeline of travel.

Radiation poses one of the biggest problems for space exploration. Video: NASA

However, lining the spacecraft with heavy materials to reduce the amount of radiation reaching the body isn’t as easy as a solution as it is seems.

‘NASA doesn’t want to use heavy materials like lead for shielding spacecraft because the incoming space radiation will suffer many nuclear collisions with the shielding, leading to the production of additional secondary radiation,’ says Tony Slaba, a research physicist at NASA. ‘The combination of the incoming space radiation and secondary radiation can make the exposure worse for astronauts.’


Finding solutions

As heavy materials cannot hamper the effects of radiation, researchers have turned to a more light-weight solution: plastics. One element – hydrogen – is well recognised for its ability to block radiation, and is present in polyethylene, the most common type of plastic.

 the Dark Rift

A thick dust cloud called the Dark Rift blocks the view of the Milky Way. Image: NASA

Engineers have developed plastic-filled tiles, that can be made using astronauts rubbish, to create an extra layer of radiation protection. Water, which is already an essential for space flight, can be stored alongside these tiles to create a ‘radiation storm shelter’ in the spacecraft.

But research is still required. Plastic is not a strong material and cannot be used as a building component of spacecrafts.

Energy

A huge challenge faced in the pursuit of a mission to Mars is space radiation, which is known to cause several damaging diseases – from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

And soon, these problems will not just be exclusive to astronauts. Speculation over whether space tourism is viable is becoming a reality, with Virgin Galactic and SpaceX flights already planned for the near future. The former reportedly sold tickets for US$250,000.

But could questions over the health risks posed hinder these plans?

rocket gif

Originally posted by blazepress


What is space radiation?

In space, particle radiation includes all the elements on the periodic table, each travelling at the speed of light, leading to a high impact and violent collisions with the nuclei of human tissues.

The type of radiation you would endure in space is also is different to that you would experience terrestrially. On Earth, radiation from the sun and space is absorbed by the atmosphere, but there is no similar protection for astronauts in orbit. In fact, the most common form of radiation here is electrochemical – think of the X-rays used in hospitals.

 The sun

The sun is just one source of radiation astronauts face in space. Image: Pixabay

On the space station – situated within the Earth’s magnetic field ­– astronauts experience ten times the radiation that naturally occurs on Earth. The station’s position in the protective atmosphere means that astronauts are in far less danger compared with those travelling to the Moon, or even Mars.

Currently, NASA’s Human Research Program is looking at the consequences of an astronaut’s exposure to space radiation, as data on the effects is limited by the few subjects over a short timeline of travel.

Radiation poses one of the biggest problems for space exploration. Video: NASA

However, lining the spacecraft with heavy materials to reduce the amount of radiation reaching the body isn’t as easy as a solution as it is seems.

‘NASA doesn’t want to use heavy materials like lead for shielding spacecraft because the incoming space radiation will suffer many nuclear collisions with the shielding, leading to the production of additional secondary radiation,’ says Tony Slaba, a research physicist at NASA. ‘The combination of the incoming space radiation and secondary radiation can make the exposure worse for astronauts.’


Finding solutions

As heavy materials cannot hamper the effects of radiation, researchers have turned to a more light-weight solution: plastics. One element – hydrogen – is well recognised for its ability to block radiation, and is present in polyethylene, the most common type of plastic.

 the Dark Rift

A thick dust cloud called the Dark Rift blocks the view of the Milky Way. Image: NASA

Engineers have developed plastic-filled tiles, that can be made using astronauts rubbish, to create an extra layer of radiation protection. Water, which is already an essential for space flight, can be stored alongside these tiles to create a ‘radiation storm shelter’ in the spacecraft.

But research is still required. Plastic is not a strong material and cannot be used as a building component of spacecrafts.

Energy

A huge challenge faced in the pursuit of a mission to Mars is space radiation, which is known to cause several damaging diseases – from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

And soon, these problems will not just be exclusive to astronauts. Speculation over whether space tourism is viable is becoming a reality, with Virgin Galactic and SpaceX flights already planned for the near future. The former reportedly sold tickets for US$250,000.

But could questions over the health risks posed hinder these plans?

rocket gif

Originally posted by blazepress


What is space radiation?

In space, particle radiation includes all the elements on the periodic table, each travelling at the speed of light, leading to a high impact and violent collisions with the nuclei of human tissues.

The type of radiation you would endure in space is also is different to that you would experience terrestrially. On Earth, radiation from the sun and space is absorbed by the atmosphere, but there is no similar protection for astronauts in orbit. In fact, the most common form of radiation here is electrochemical – think of the X-rays used in hospitals.

 The sun

The sun is just one source of radiation astronauts face in space. Image: Pixabay

On the space station – situated within the Earth’s magnetic field ­– astronauts experience ten times the radiation that naturally occurs on Earth. The station’s position in the protective atmosphere means that astronauts are in far less danger compared with those travelling to the Moon, or even Mars.

Currently, NASA’s Human Research Program is looking at the consequences of an astronaut’s exposure to space radiation, as data on the effects is limited by the few subjects over a short timeline of travel.

Radiation poses one of the biggest problems for space exploration. Video: NASA

However, lining the spacecraft with heavy materials to reduce the amount of radiation reaching the body isn’t as easy as a solution as it is seems.

‘NASA doesn’t want to use heavy materials like lead for shielding spacecraft because the incoming space radiation will suffer many nuclear collisions with the shielding, leading to the production of additional secondary radiation,’ says Tony Slaba, a research physicist at NASA. ‘The combination of the incoming space radiation and secondary radiation can make the exposure worse for astronauts.’


Finding solutions

As heavy materials cannot hamper the effects of radiation, researchers have turned to a more light-weight solution: plastics. One element – hydrogen – is well recognised for its ability to block radiation, and is present in polyethylene, the most common type of plastic.

 the Dark Rift

A thick dust cloud called the Dark Rift blocks the view of the Milky Way. Image: NASA

Engineers have developed plastic-filled tiles, that can be made using astronauts rubbish, to create an extra layer of radiation protection. Water, which is already an essential for space flight, can be stored alongside these tiles to create a ‘radiation storm shelter’ in the spacecraft.

But research is still required. Plastic is not a strong material and cannot be used as a building component of spacecrafts.

Science & Innovation

The Mary Rose is a maritime archaeologist’s dream – a Tudor time capsule containing not only the structure of the naval warship itself, but more than 26,000 artefacts, providing invaluable historic insight. Raised in 1982 – 11 years after its discovery in the Solent – restoring and conserving the wreck and its many treasures required not only countless hours of work, but many ingenious scientific solutions


1. Pond snails helped preserve the timbers

 Pond snails

 Image: coniferconifer 

To prevent the growth of fungi and microbes on the wooden frame, the Mary Rose restoration team used common pond snails, which ate the wood-degrading organisms but left the wood untouched – as well as employing more commonly known methods, such as low-temperature storage and chemical preservation.


2. Its water was replaced with polyethylene glycol

 A technician services the spraying system

A technician services the spraying system. Image: The Mary Rose Trust

To prevent the wood from warping, cracking and shrinking by up to 50% as the water evaporated, it was sprayed regularly with filtered, recycled water. In 1994, the conservation team began to gradually replace the water in the cellular structure of the wood with polyethylene glycol (PEG). A low-molecular-weight PEG was used for the first nine years, before seven years of spraying with a higher weight PEG to strengthen the outer layer. The remains were then carefully air dried – a process that was completed in 2016.


3. Crew members brought to life with virtual 3D reconstructions

 3D virtual models

3D virtual models of the crew and artefacts have provided a deeper look at Tudor history. Image: Pixabay

Mary Rose researchers used 3D technology to create virtual representations of crew members, clothing, and tools, to encourage scientists worldwide to participate in the project. Models have provided the opportunity to investigate the lifestyles led by the Tudors.


4.  Intact cannons were found

 Bronze and iron cannons

Bronze and iron cannons found on the Mary Rose were preserved using different methods. Pictured are a bronze (front) and iron (back) cannon. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Gunpowder and heavy artillery became increasingly used in infantry and on ships around the time that the Mary Rose was built, so many of the cannons and guns found on board the ship were made from metals such as iron and bronze. These metals are difficult to preserve after submersion in fresh water. Bronze cannons were lightly bathed in a sodium sesquicarbonate solution, and iron preserved using hydrogen reduction, to prevent oxidation, which can lead to the corrosion of these artefacts.

Divers who have discovered around 60 shipwrecks in the Black Sea face a similar problem – perfectly preserved from the unusual anoxic conditions of the water – leading them to decide to study objects using 3D printing instead of bringing the ships ashore.


5. Part of the Mary Rose has been to space

 The space shuttle

The space shuttle Endeavour orbits the Earth. Image: Public Domain Pictures

For the shuttle Endeavour’s final trip to space in 2011, astronauts elected to take with them a parrel ball ­– used in sailing rigs – from the Mary Rose, as part of a long tradition of travelling in space with commemorative items. The shuttle took off from Kennedy Space Centre for the International Space Station on 16 May 2011. The artefact spent a total of 17 days in space, after an extended period of decontamination in preparation to make it suitable for space travel.


Interested in the Mary Rose? Why not register to attend Mary Rose - From Seabed to Showcase, the Making of a British Icon – our free Public Evening lecture with Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, in London on 25 November.