Ships NASA save nanotechnology





“When I started at NASA 18 years ago,” – writes Meyappan Mejia, Senior Research Scientist NASA, – «my main task was to understand the different needs of the agency with a critical eye, to assess gaps in technology and figure out how they could be fill. After speaking with many veterans and NASA engineers and reading numerous reports, I came to a surprising conclusion: NASA launches incredibly expensive program! Every pound raised at the Earth’s orbit (including astronauts) costs 10,000 dollars, and every pound sent to a distant planet – 100,000 dollars.

Ask the astronauts to lose a few pounds, probably not the best way to solve this problem, and in general will do little, considering the size, volume and weight of the rest of the payload, which includes computers, instruments, sensors and other systems support. Nevertheless miniaturization that is on board, is the key to saving money, because things are getting smaller, and the quality of their work did not suffer. Increase the functionality per unit weight – the goal of every mission and engine miniaturization. ”

As you know, wherever NASA has not sent their ships at the other end there is no service centers that could serve them. Each unit should develop its energy, often with the help of the sun, and use it wisely. So, all useful equipment should be ergonomic. If decisions are taken autonomously by the ship, and not in the Mission Control Center in Houston, in the course of the mission powerful computers are needed, but at the same time they must not exceed the size of a laptop. Computers and all electronic components on board must be resistant to radiation, and extreme temperature changes.

Fortunately, all of these scenarios, you can use nanotechnology to develop architecture, devices, materials and systems at the nanoscale, light and tiny. However, the target object is not necessarily to be nanoscale.

New nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes and graphene , as well as their elements and components may be formed as a one-dimensional nanowires and nanoparticles, which will help develop nanomaterials applicable everywhere: in computer engineering, electronics, energy, environment, health and medicine. And of course, transportation and space technologies.

Emerging technologies will help NASA in many ways. In the process of space exploration is often necessary to measure the gas or vapor to detect possible fuel leak in the spacecraft, and to assess the quality of air, the atmosphere of the planet, or to detect water vapor on Mars. The conventional approach in this case is cumbersome and inconvenient. Chemical sensors made of nanomaterials represents an ideal alternative because they can be tiny – about the size of a postage stamp – and consume the least energy. The shape of these sensor systems can be any of the adhesive wear on the wall of the spacecraft to the drill, which will penetrate into the rock or soil. Hundreds of sensors can be scattered all over the planet are interconnected.

Biosensors are also important in space missions: they are used to monitor water quality, provide regular health checkups and astronauts may find life on other planets. Current practice relies heavily on sampling of soil and water, blood and urine, and hold them in a frozen state before returning home, bringing laboratory analysis conducted late enough. Lab-on-a-chip would be the ideal solution. And here nanotechnology with their compactness, ergonomics and sensitivity show good results.

There are many other examples of the benefits of using nanotechnology NASA, particularly in the areas of generation and energy storage. Thermoelectric devices can generate power using the temperature difference between the two ends of the device. The piezoelectric device can produce the energy of the vibrations and other movements. Both types provide high energy conversion efficiency.

Supercapacitors future that use materials such as carbon nanotubes, can improve the efficiency of robots, rovers and other vehicles that require an effective response system. Perhaps future rover the size of a basket, but with enhanced functionality. Just think, what opportunities would be opened before researchers planets and space in this case. This is not a $ 30 000 per kilogram.
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