Micro Spacecraft To Explore Planets

NASA and The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, CA are preparing to flight test 'micro spacecraft' as early as 2006. The first versions would be attached to larger space vehicles as 'black box' flight recorders to provide an independent monitor of conditions as standard-sized craft attempt to land on other planets.


(From Micro Spacecraft Black Box Recorder)

Black boxes used in the aviation industry record conditions like speed, altitude and crew conversations; recovery of the black box helps investigators determine the cause of crashes. Lightweight, low-cost micro spacecraft would start by testing miniature sensor systems capable of gathering temperature, pressure and other data. They can also test heat shields that will someday protect human astronauts.

Micro spacecraft could also serve as landing scouts, sent ahead of craft containing human astronauts. They could provide general reconnaissance and landing beacons for upcoming Mars missions.


(From Micro Spacecraft Diagram)

Finally, scientists envision using micro spacecraft to do systematic studies of other planets; in particular, they could conduct on location studies of Venus, whose clouded atmosphere and hot surface conditions preclude human exploration (at least for a while).

In his excellent 1969 novel The Man in the Maze, science fiction writer Robert Silverberg solved the problem of how to investigate a cloud-covered planet in an unobtrusive way.

"We parked a drone ship fifty thousand kilometers up and dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV. At least half of them went straight to the bottom of the ocean. Most landed in uninhabited or uninteresting places. This is the only one that actually showed us a clear view of the aliens."
(Read more about Robert Silverberg's recorder eyes)

Read more about micro spacecraft; you might also be interested in the EyeBall Omni-directional suveillance sensor, another variation on this same idea.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/2/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.' - Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.' - Jack Williamson, 1933.

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...' - James Blish, 1957.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.