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Questions tagged [technology]

Questions relating to the use of technology to further space exploration.

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Is there any reason that NASA's launched space probes and MERs usually operate decades longer than expected?

Space Probes & MERs History Recap Pioneer 10 & its twin probe Pioneer 11 reference Courtesy of Uwe's response on my question :- Pioneer 10 was planned for 21 months of operation. ...
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How feasible is wind energy generation on Mars? [duplicate]

Spacecrafts and rovers tend to have dust settled on their panel which leads to reduced power generation. If wind turbines could power the instruments, then the seasonality of solar power generation ...
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161 views

How could a transmission be relayed wirelessly from the bottom of Europa ocean to Earth?

Answers to Do you need a “wire” on a Europa submarine to phone home? are generally yes, but a wire is cumbersome and dramatically limits range, If a rover was sent to the bottom of Europa's Ocean ...
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Is the payload HP3, onboard the InSight a single use instrument?

InSight's HP3 probe is meant to drill deep into Martian soil. And the depth of reach is determined by whether there is a rocky layer underneath or not. If it's loose soil all the way down, merrier it ...
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Why NASA hosts many of their reports public, while ESA/JAXA/ Roscomos doesn't?

There are abundant resources available online in NTRS about the hard earned knowledge of rocket science. But NASA makes them available for free for all. But there does exist some classified ...
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What technology do we lack, preventing us from the colonization of space? [closed]

I mean the technology that will facilitate multi-planetary life. There is definitely a financial feasibility concern with existing tech, but what technical developments remain to achieve this ...
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Inflatable Power Line?

Could the weight of a launch tower or some of a space elevator be mitigated balloons? Similar to the children's air inflated jump houses could a tower be inflated with hydrogen/helium with different ...
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Could the Lunar Lagrange Points work for space telescopes?

Every orbit in space has its pros and cons. Low Earth Orbit has accessibility but frequent eclipses whereas a Solar Lagrange Point is clear and stable but distant. In the case of the Lunar Lagrange ...
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Starlink vs 5G technology

While the world is preparing for 5G mobile technology (which involves new devices for smartphones and stations), SpaceX is going to roll out its Starlink "constellation". What I did not know is that ...
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What are some common (but non-obvious) materials that are particularly unsuitable for spaceflight?

If a product was to be made for use in space, there may be certain materials or certain combinations of materials that might work well on Earth, but be particularly unsuitable for spaceflight ...
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How was Enterprise held/released from the carrier 747 for the Shuttle approach and landing tests?

Related to my other question: What are the benefits of using pyrotechnics on spacecraft? When the Space Shuttle was first flight tested (Enterprise approach and landing tests) it was released from a ...
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What are the benefits of using pyrotechnics on spacecraft?

NASA always appears to use pyrotechnic devices (NASA standard initiators for explosive bolts, frangible nuts, etc.) to release elements (spent stages, fairings, etc.) where SpaceX appears to be using ...
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How have cameras, radios, and related electronics improved since Apollo? [closed]

When you look at Apollo-era hardware (still and movie cameras, radio gear, etc.) much of it appears to be bulky and probably quite heavy by modern standards, surprising when you consider how much ...
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What is the preferred technology for bulk data storage on a modern space probe?

I was surprised to find that the Voyager spacecraft use tape to store data pending transmission to Earth. Amazing that they have enjoyed such a long operating life, given that they are mechanical ...
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Could a 21 meter space telescope detect the nearest exoplanets?

For reference, Hubble's mirror is 2.4 meters wide, the upcoming James Webb's 6.5 meters, and the proposed ATLAST 8 or 16 meters. Let's assume a mirror nearly ten times Hubble's size, 21 meters, is ...
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What NIAC investigations were implemented in real spaceflight? (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts)

NIAC as in the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts wasn't founded until 1998, so such futuristic concepts might not have come to fruition much yet. But I'd like to hear of any, or of what the ...
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Project Starshot acceleration

A recent question about Project Starshot's communication asks about one of the seemingly insurmountable problems with this project. There is however another problem that has bugged me ever since I ...
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364 views

How is a space suit climate controlled? [duplicate]

I understand how one could be heated, but how does the space suit cool the water that is noodled throughout it exchanging heat with the body? Why is this method used over traditional methods like a ...
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Are there any initiatives for automated (not remotely-controlled), manned space missions?

I feel like we have reached a time where technology is allowing for a great deal of automation, as well as remotely-controlled machines. Testing and operation of automated motorized vehicles has been ...
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345 views

Protecting technology from radiation on mars

Mars hasn't got a very strong magnetosphere. I often read that even equipment and technology needs to be protected against the radiation. My question: How do they protect the equipment from ...
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What are the features of microcontrollers used in space? [closed]

What are the most desired features of microcontrollers used in space in on-board computers? Are there some special implementations, special functionality? Are features of some microcontrollers not ...
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1answer
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Criticism of SpaceX Mars colonization plan [closed]

I keep reading about SpaceX advancements toward the long-term goal, Mars colonization. Primarily, I read the excellent Wait But Why articles about the topic, which gave a not-so-technical version of ...
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What are the differences in technology between OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa missions? [closed]

Up to now two spacecraft have been launched for an asteroid sample return mission. The first one Hayabusa is a completed mission and now OSIRIS-REx is an ongoing mission. Hayabusa was launched in 2003,...
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Orbiting bolo technology viability?

I have recently read Seveneves and loved the use of certain technologies in it. Has anyone put serious study into the bolo hanglider hanger and possible viable usage of a similar technology?
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Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

I just watched a VSauce2 video, at the end of which certain NASA animations were shown about some of their recent innovations. One of them included use of printers in the ISS. Do they actually mean a ...
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Why not use Halley's Comet as a probe?

Halley's Comet comes around every 75 years. From what I can gather on Wikipedia the comet is not spinning that fast, has a large elliptical orbit, and has been recorded since 240 BC returning on a ...
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Lessons Learned - What can space power system design teach Antarctic remote sensing systems

I know that a lot of brilliant engineering has gone into developing the space technology that we have. So, what engineering lessons about dealing with extreme cold and portable power sources do you ...
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567 views

What is the closest to a perpetual motion machine that could be made to work in space?

In the movie "Alien" by Ridley Scott, there's a Drinking Bird which, presumably, the crew activated when entering stasis, and which is still going after they emerge. However anyone who has had one of ...
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Which computer monitors will work on Mars?

In The Martian by Andy Weir, the main character Mark Watney takes a laptop out of the habitation module to take notes. But when he comes out, he discovers that the LCD monitor is broken, because the ...
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342 views

Why have space stations become less volume-efficient despite technological progression?

If you compare the pressurized volume of all the space stations launched to their mass, their volume-efficiency (in this context volume divided by mass) seem to decrease over time. In chronological ...
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194 views

What barriers are there to creating a reusable rocket sled lanchpad? [duplicate]

The ideal rocket sled launch is building a track that accelerates a rocket (via linear motors or something like that) up the side of a tall mountain. Not only could this save huge amounts of fuel, but ...
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793 views

How do they conduct electrolysis in zero gravity?

I'm building an electrolysis cell myself, and got to wondering. On Earth, there is a significant force pushing bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen upward, so your electrodes still contact mainly water. ...
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Do government space agencies capitalise on selling intellectual property/patents etc

This questions is purely about government agencies, not private companies. Typically the massive reams of data that must be produced to design and qualify a satellite or rocket aren't openly shared ...
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Technology: How would a state-of-the-art space shuttle be built?

As the title states, if a space shuttle 2.0 were to be built with current technology, in which ways or areas might it be superior to the original space shuttle? Which components could we improve? and ...
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Is there any space objects database? [closed]

I wonder if is there any databse about space objects, giving information about types and may be relative positions of objects in space. I'm asking this because my company aims to develop a software ...
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Spacecraft electronics heating

As much as I know of integrated circuits is that military components have lowest temperature working limit - I think -40 deg Celsius. Having in mind that temperatures in open space are less than -200, ...
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What is the difference in solar panel efficiency between Solar Impulse & ISS?

Solar Impulse is on target to circle the world. Presumably Solar Impulse has the most current and efficient solar cells available, while those on the ISS range between 5 and 10 years old. How do the ...
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How do scientists detect amino acids in space?

In this section of a wiki article it talks about scientist finding amino acids in outer space, or at least complex molecules and such. Also this video says how there is alcohol in Sagitarius B2. How ...
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What cryogenic selective surface materials have high Technology Readiness Level?

NIAC ("NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts") has approved the following research application for 2015 funding: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/cryogenic-selective-surfaces Cryogenic Selective Surfaces ...
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Could air be collected by a tether system from orbit?

We have all sorts of spacecraft orbiting just above a huge reservoir of nitrogen and oxygen. Isn't there some way one could be designed to reach down and pump that air into canisters, and store them ...
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What improvements have SpaceX made to their proprietary Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA-X) heat shield?

PICA-X is a SpaceX proprietary variant on the NASA Ames developed PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator) heat shield material. NASA quotes decades of rigorous research, testing and development ...
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Why do ISS astronauts use lower quality microphones for official radio communication than for PR events?

In the first seconds of this video you can see/hear ISS astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti prepare for a PR event: During the preparation she uses two different ...
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Will the International Space Station's propulsion system be changed to electric propulsion?

I know the systems being used are very new and being used in very small satellites, but if a system could be scaled up in the near future, that would certainly help keep the station afloat. Thoughts?
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Why are pressure-stabilized rockets not more common?

The Atlas rockets and Centaur upper stages (often used in combination) successfully use(d) pressure-stabilized tanks to minimize dry mass. This technology was not used in any other rocket stages I'm ...
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Could a swarm of probes autonomously establish orbit around an asteroid?

To position a spacecraft around an asteroid, one must know the orbital parameters and orientation of the asteroid and the spacecraft. Formation flying will be more complex in terms of positioning ...
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Is high velocity feathered configuration reentry possible?

Feather configuration for reentry used in SpaceshipOne, they say, significantly reduces heat loads on reentry by encountering most drag and significantly reducing a large amount kinetic energy at much ...
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558 views

Could we deal with an asteroid threat given current technology?

If we discovered a sizeable (Tunguska-like mass or larger) near-earth object tomorrow that was on a definite collision course with Earth in the near future, could we deal with it with our current ...
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Is the technology behind the Shuttle's heat-shielding tiles used in any product today?

Many NASA inventions have had subsequent lives in the commercial marketplace. Have the Space Shuttle's heat-shielding tiles also had a second life?
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Why are spaceship capsules frustum shaped?

Why do spaceships have a frustum (portion of a cone) shape like e.g. the pressure capsule of the SpaceX Dragon on the image below?     I think there is some engineering stuff behind ...
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How would cryogenics work to keep a pilot alive during long term travel?

How would a cryofreeze work in order to keep the pilot alive long enough to survive an automated travel to some destination?