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The Aerospace Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about aeronautics, astronautics, fixed-wing aircraft, future space travel, satellites, NASA, and much more.

Mars Conditions Tested on Heat Shield Materials

Posted March 14, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

With X-ray imaging, 3D behavior at the microstructure level can be viewed as the sample materials are heated, stretched to the breaking point, and subjected to a mixture of different gases.


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Pu-238: Fuel for Deep Space Journeys

Posted February 10, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The U.S. space agency NASA is particular when it comes to the fuel used to power its longest space missions — only plutonium-238 will do, but it's in short supply. However, the agency has been working with the Department of Energy to produce more of the vital substance


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7 comments; last comment on 02/11/2017
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Will Lake Matthew Be the First Martian Settlement?

Posted February 08, 2017 3:44 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: Mars settlement space exploration
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File another engineering project under super-ambitious and suspicious. In this case the project belongs to the Lake Matthew Team, and their proposal to terraform a swathe of Mars to make it both inhabitable and self-sustaining.

As we steadily come closer to Elon Musk’s goal of being an interplanetary species, there is a lot of conjecture about how the first human settlement on the red planet will come to be. It’s becoming more and more likely that private enterprise will be the ones responsible for bring humanity there.

For the Lake Matthew Team, one of the major challenges of establishing a Martian outpost will be the massive amounts of supplies that need to be put in orbit and delivered safely 140 million miles away. According to their plan, not only would their settlement be able to provide food and water for thousands of Martian settlers, but it would also be able to provide enough natural resources for some to be shipped back to Earth.

But first, it starts with an extra-ambiguous promise to deliver a devastating impact to the surface of Mars. Such an impact will leave a 9 km wide crater with its bedrock harboring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion—I just like the figure) Joules of residual impact heat energy. LMT has said that the impact won’t be nuclear, but will instead use a ‘Shepard’ spacecraft to deflect a current space body towards Mars. The crater wouldn’t be a viable settlement location for several years while the dust and debris settle around the crater.

The abundant ice on Mars would fill the impact crater with water, yet water on Mars at an Earthly room temperature would boil off quickly. The crater, more than 1 km deep, would also have a higher atmospheric pressure than the open plains of Mars. According to LMT, a heat exchanger could maintain the liquid water in the crater at about 11° C year round. This water would be used by settlers and the greenhouses, as well as by the dome structure, which is made of ETFE fabric or film, as well as scavenged materials from delivery vessels. Wastewater would run throughout conduit in the structure to provide stability and radiation shielding.

Electricity for Lake Matthew would be provided by solar power in the Martian summer and by hydroelectricity in the winter. Per the official website, “in summer ice-rich upland terrain can be sealed and overheated to force high-volume melt. Meltwater accelerates down a channel cut into the crater wall, delivering tens of TeraJoules of kinetic energy at lakeside. That energy is stored via pump-turbine in elevated hydroelectric brine reservoirs for release in winter.”

Also of note, is the estimate that Mars’s Southern Highlands may harbor trillions of dollars of rare metals, that can be processed by companies that have leased space at Lake Matthew or shipped back to Earth. Either way, Lake Matthew is at least partially self-funding.

Of course, this is an elementary review of plans to get humans living and thriving on Mars, although they are the first proposals brought forth by a private organization. LMT hopes that a consortium of private companies can band together to create a consortium to profit from the resources on Mars thanks to the 2015 U.S. SPACE Act, although who knows if Lake Matthews ever materializes beyond talk.

35 comments; last comment on 02/17/2017
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Superalloy for High-temperature Turbines

Posted January 28, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Researchers have found a way to deactivate “nano twins” to improve the high-temperature properties of superalloys that are used in jet engines. The advance could speed the development of turbine engines of all sorts, including those used for transportation and power generation.


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1 comments; last comment on 01/30/2017
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Satellites Measure Earth Movement Down to the Millimeter

Posted December 27, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The satellites, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), take successive radar images of the same location, which are then combined to reveal the tiniest of shifts. The new automatic radar service monitoring Europe's seismic regions covers an area of three million square kilometers in 200-meter blocks.


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1 comments; last comment on 12/31/2016
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