Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

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 ")

Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.' - Pournelle and Niven, 1981.

Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...' - Murray Leinster, 1931.

Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.' - Jack Williamson, 1939.

Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-MíLou in and out of the atmosphere...' - Robert Heinlein, 1958.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

'Courier Commons' By Tomorrow Lab, From Karl Schroeder (and Bruce Sterling?)
'The pokkecon rang again. *The coffeeís for him?* Tsuyoshi said.'

Terrifying Robotic Apple Harvester
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant.'

Jetson-Style Clockwork Robot Nail Salon Coming To Target Near You
The Jetsons imagined so much future.

Mechanical Horse Sculpture Gallops In Place
'Rod placed the brain inside the panel... the horse raised its head, wiggled its ears, blinked twice, gave a tentative whinny.'

'Make Sunsets' Tweaks Climate By Atmospheric Alteration
'Pina2bo would have to operate full blast for many years to put as much SO2 into the stratosphere as its namesake had done in a few minutes.'

Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'

Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'

Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'

Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...'

Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-MíLou in and out of the atmosphere...'

MarsCat and MetaCat, Your Robot Cat Companions
'It was you who betrayed me ó you and your robot cat.'

Mars Mission Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
'with its atomic engine as noiseless as a dancing sunbeam...'

Physiotherapists Get Help From Robots
'Most of the Members went into cold-rest; the others tended them...'

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.