Space Plants Project Could be Astronaut Game Changer

by Kelli Trifonovitch
University of Hawaii News

MANOA, Hawaii — The robotic arm glides past past stacked rows of herbs, lettuce and cabbages, bathed in artificial light. It is part of an autonomous hydroponic growing system called Box Farm that was designed and built by engineering students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. It may be an important tool for space crews someday, and the project won first place in the UH Mānoa College of Engineering Francis J. Rhodes Montgomery innovation competition in April.

“Itʻs an automated plant growing system,” said Preston Tran, a senior mechanical engineering student and team leader. “Itʻs able to seed, transfer and monitor your plants. To make sure that your plants are at the most optimal condition.”

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Kepler’s Final Exoplanet Discovery Revealed

Artist’s impression of Kepler 1568-b and its host star. (Credit: Gabriel Perez Diaz Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias)

SYDNEY, Australia (University of Sydney PR) — Just months after its mission ended and a decade after its launch, glimmers of data detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2009 have been confirmed as evidence for a large, hot-Jupiter-like planet orbiting a star 2600 light years from Earth.

That 10-year mission to find distant planets around distant stars has shown that the universe is literally teeming with planets. There are more than 2300 confirmed exoplanets, ranging from huge gas giants to rocky worlds, perhaps not dissimilar to Earth.

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Ice Confirmed at the Moon’s Poles

The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface, where the gray scale corresponds to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). The ice is concentrated at the darkest and coldest locations, in the shadows of craters. This is the first time scientists have directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.

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Super Strypi Launch From Hawaii Fails

Here is some video of a Super Strypi launch from Kauai that failed on Tuesday. Super Strypi is a new launch vehicle developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne and Sandia National Laboratories in cooperation with the Defense Department’s Office of Operationally Responsive Space. The University of Hawaii was also involved in the launch, which carried 13 small satellites.

UPDATE: The U.S. Air Force has released the following statement:

“The ORS-4 mission on an experimental Super Strypi launch vehicle failed in mid-flight shortly after liftoff at 5:45 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (7:45 p.m. PST; 10:45 p.m. EST) today from the Pacific Missile Range Facility off Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.”

NASA Orbiter Finds Salt Deposits on Mars; Points to Possible Life

NASA PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON – NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has found evidence of salt deposits. These deposits point to places where water once was abundant and where evidence might exist of possible Martian life from the Red Planet’s past.

A team led by Mikki Osterloo of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, found approximately 200 places on southern Mars that show spectral characteristics consistent with chloride minerals. Chloride is part of many types of salt, such as sodium chloride or table salt. The sites range from about half of a square mile to 25 times that size.

“They could come from groundwater reaching the surface in low spots,” Osterloo said. “The water would evaporate and leave mineral deposits, which build up over years. The sites are disconnected, so they are unlikely to be the remnants of a global ocean.”

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