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 ")

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.' - Nat Schachner, 1937.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

 

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

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.

ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.

When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'

'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'

Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'

Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'

Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

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.