Satellites & Robonaut 2 | SciByte 34

Satellites & Robonaut 2 | SciByte 34

We take a look at support class satellites, the newest space station crew member Robonaut, how science once again has caught up to an ancient herbal remedy, spray on antennas, drunk fruit flies, viewer feedback and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Support Satellites

  • Metalfreak also wanted to make sure I saw this story, Thanks!
  • Cleanup Satellite – The low down
  • Orbiting the Earth is a growing crowd of abandoned satellites, spent rocket stages, bits of broken spacecraft, and fragments from collisions are rocketing around the planet at breathtaking speeds
  • NASA keeps close tabs on at least 16,000 of these objects that are larger than 10 cm in diameter.
  • If a collision destroys a satellite, the collision itself then generates thousands more fragments, further exacerbating the problem.
  • Cleanup Satellite – Significance
  • CleanSpace One will grab and stabilize a target, a mission that’s extremely dicey at high speeds with a potentially rotating satellite.
  • To accomplish the task, scientists are planning to develop a gripping mechanism inspired from a plant or animal example.
  • Once it’s coupled with the satellite, CleanSpace One will “de-orbit” the unwanted satellite by heading back into the Earth’s atmosphere, where the two satellites will burn upon re-entry.
  • The first model is destined to be destroyed, but the CleanSpace One adventure will not be a one-shot deal
  • The company wants to offer and sell a whole family of ready-made systems, designed as sustainably as possible, that are able to de-orbit several different kinds of satellites
  • Recycling Satellite – The low down
  • United States Department of Defense is looking for ways to repurpose space junk thousands of miles above Earth back into valuable satellite parts, or even completely new spacecraft
  • A program called Phoenix, which seeks to recycle still-functioning pieces of defunct satellites and incorporate them into new space systems on the cheap.
  • Recycling Satellite – Significance
  • The Phoenix program aims to use a robot mechanic-like vehicle to snag still-working antennas from the many retired and dead satellites in geosynchronous orbit and attach them to smaller “satlets,” or nanosatellites, launched from Earth.
  • Phoenix could save the military a lot of money on launch costs, DARPA officials said. Antennas are big and bulky, requiring a lot of fuel to get off the ground, while lofting the antenna-less “satlets” would be much cheaper.
  • Satellites in GEO are not designed to be disassembled or repaired, so it’s not a matter of simply removing some nuts and bolts
  • The Phoenix program can look to some ground-based tech as a starting point, officials said. For example, it may incorporate elements of today’s telerobotics systems that allow doctors to perform surgery on patients thousands of miles away, as well as advanced remote imaging systems that enable oil drillers to view the ocean floor thousands of feet underwater.
  • Refueling Satellite – The low down
  • Canada-based aerospace firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is designing a spacecraft that will serve as an orbiting gas station and mechanic
  • Rocket fuel is cryogenic, meaning super-cold substances like liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen
  • NASA awarded contracts to four companies with plans to study how to store and transfer fuel in space.
  • Refueling Satellite – Significance
  • Often a satellite becomes ‘defunct’ when it runs out of fuel
  • Canada-based aerospace firm MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. is designing a spacecraft that will serve as an orbiting gas station and mechanic
  • * Of Note for all three support type satellites*
  • Reduce orbital debris. Depending on the funding and industrial partners, this first orbital debris rendez-vous could take place within three to five years.
  • Reuse Satellites after being refueled. Depending on the funding and industrial partners, this first refueling orbital rendez-vous could take place within three to five years.
  • Recycle Old satellite dishes and parts for new satellites. Should the Phoenix program work space debris would become a space resource
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO : CleanSpace One – a Swiss satellite to tackle space junk
  • VIDEO : Phoenix DARPA Satelite Recycling Program @
  • IMAGE GALLERY: Space Debris Images & Cleanup Concepts @
  • Social Media
  • Twitter Results for [#]()
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Cleaning up Earth’s orbit: A Swiss satellite to tackle space debris @
  • Swiss satellite to tackle space debris (w/ video) @
  • DARPA Wants to Recycle Space Junk Into New Satellites @
  • Latest News About Space Junk and Orbital Debris @
  • NASA Wants Gas Stations In Space @
  • Plans Scrapped for Private Robotic Gas Station in Space @
  • Robot Gas Attendants Could Keep Old Satellites Chugging @
  • Robot Space ‘Gas Attendant’ Could Salvage Old Satellites by 2015 @

*— NEWS BYTE — *

Robonaut 2

  • The low down
  • Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot
  • It was designed to meet the challenge to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space
  • They can work side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people and could expand our ability for construction and discovery
  • The value of a humanoid over other designes, is that they have the ability to use the same workspace and tools
  • Not only does humanlike dexterous manipulation improve efficiency in the types of tools, but also removes the need for specialized robotic connectors
  • A suite of cameras in its head not only provide R2’s operators in space and on the ground with a view of what it’s working on, they can also be used by the robot to verify the configuration of a switch its flipped or ensure that other work it has done is correct
  • Significance
  • On Feb 15, 2012 it completed its initial checkouts on board the International Space Station it made history with the first human/robotic handshake to be performed in space
  • After the handshake it sent down a message in sign language. “Hello World,” the robot signed in American sign language
  • Following the tests, R2 was powered down and put back into storage until time for the robot
  • * Of Note*
  • Robonaut 2 (R2) marks the first dexterous humanoid robot in space
  • R2, launched to the International Space Station on space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS–133 mission a year ago
  • Next steps include a leg for climbing through the corridors of the Space Station, upgrades for R2 to go outside into the vacuum of space, and then future lower bodies like legs and wheels to propel the R2 across Lunar and Martian terrain
  • After vision characterization, the robot will be able to work with the taskboards sent into space
  • Following the tests, R2 was powered down and put back into storage until time for the robot
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO : Seventh Station “Crewmember” Conducts Historic Handshake
  • Show Clip : Seventh Station “Crewmember” Conducts Historic Handshake
  • YouTube Channel : Robonaut
  • Robonaut 2 Video Gallery @
  • Social Media
  • Twitter : Robonaut @AstroRobonaut
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Robonaut 2 Home
  • Historic Handshake for Robonaut 2
  • Robonaut 2 Shakes Hands With Station Commander

Science figures out an Ancient herbal remedy again

  • Last time on Sci-Byte
  • Space Station and Lizards | SciByte 19 – Nov 1, 2011 (Snake Oil)
  • Moons Here & There | SciByte 28 – Jan 10, 2012 (The anti-alcohol drug that lessens hangovers too?)
  • The low down
  • An autoimmune disease is when the immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks its own cells.
  • A central challenge for improving autoimmune therapy is preventing inflammatory pathology without inducing generalized immuno-suppression
  • For roughly two thousand years, Chinese herbalists have treated Malaria using a root extract, commonly known as Chang Shan
  • Researchers from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine have discovered the molecular secrets behind this herbal extracts power, Halofuginone.
  • Significance
  • Halofuginone (HF), a compound derived from this extracts bio-active ingredient, could be used to treat many autoimmune disorders.
  • Halofuginone received FDA orphan drug status (pharmaceutical agents that have been developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition) and has been used to treat sclerderma, a connective tissue disease, since 2000.
  • Hydroxylation, an oxidative process adding -OH, of proline is a critical biochemical process for maintaining the connective tissue of higher organisms.
  • Halofuginone, targeted and inhibited a particular enzyme (tRNA synthetase EPRS) responsible for incorporating proline into proteins that normally contain it.
  • This process kick started an amino acid response pathway, or AAR, response and produced the therapeutic effects of HF-treatment.
  • When a cell senses a limited supply of amino acids for building proteins, AAR will block signals that promote inflammation because inflamed tissues require lots of protein.
  • Halofuginone triggers a stress-response pathway that blocks the development of a harmful class of immune cells
  • The researchers think that HF treatment mimics cellular proline deprivation, which activates the AAR response and subsequently impacts immune regulation. .
  • Researchers do not yet fully understand the role that amino acid limitation plays in disease response or why restricting proline inhibits Th17 cell production.
  • Recognized only since 2006, Th17 cells are implicated in many autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis
  • * Of Note*
  • Halofuginone prevents the autoimmune response without dampening immunity altogether
  • This compound could inspire novel therapeutic approaches to a variety of autoimmune disorders
  • Solving the molecular mechanisms of traditional herbal medicines can lead both to new insights into physiological regulation and to novel approaches to the treatment of disease
  • Multimedia
  • IMAGE : A blue evergreen hydrangea (Dichroa febrifuga) @ the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
  • IMAGE : Chemical structure of halofunginone @ Wikipedia
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • [Halofuginone Inhibits TH17 Cell Differentiation by Activating the Amino Acid Starvation Response @](Halofuginone Inhibits TH17 Cell Differentiation by Activating the Amino Acid Starvation Response)
  • Chinese Herb Targets Immune System @
  • Scientists discover molecular secrets of 2,000-year-old Chinese herbal remedy

Spray on antennas

  • The low down
  • The idea of a spray-on antennas on surfaces does have a history.
  • In 2001 Researchers were studying applications and materials for creating radio antennas that are sprayed onto a surface. Made from commercially available materials, these devices consist of a conductive substance sprayed over a template with a radio aerial pattern on it.
  • Researchers have continued studying applications and materials for creating radio antennas that are sprayed onto a surface.
  • Now a startup company has unveiled at Google’s Solve for X “conference” a spray-on signal booster in a can that promises an improved signal.
  • Significance
  • The company, Chamtech Enterprises, tested the spray on a tree, among other tests, and the team was able to send a VHF signal up to 14 miles away using only the treated tree.
  • The company is upbeat over successful tests that were run to examine the spray’s signal performance submerged at periscope depth, communicating over a nautical mile at 50Mhz, 3W
  • Technology could be used by weather and oceanographic researchers and underwater welders.
  • * Of Note*
  • The company also hopes for a wider customer base including mobile phone makers and manufacturers of medical devices.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO :Solve for X: Anthony Sutera on low power wireless everywhere
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • [Spray-on antenna gets great reception at Google event]–02-spray-on-antenna-great-reception-google.html()
  • Spray-on Antennas Make Their Mark @ SignalOnline

Liquor help fruit flies kill parasites


Desalination Water

  • Thanks Allan from TechSnap
  • The low down
  • Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water
  • Water is desalinated in order to convert salt water to fresh water so it is suitable for human consumption or irrigation.
  • Most of the modern interest in desalination is focused on developing cost-effective ways of providing fresh water for human use in regions where the availability of fresh water is, or is becoming, limited.
  • Many of today’s desalination plants use reverse osmosis or evaporation, both of which require enormous amounts of energy to supply heaters or high-pressure pumps.
  • To find cheaper, room-temperature, energy-efficient solutions, many researchers are looking to nanomaterials and electrochemistry.
  • * Of Note*
  • It first draws ions from seawater into a pair of electrodes.
  • As the researchers pass current through the electrodes, electrochemical reactions drive chloride ions into a silver electrode and sodium ions to an electrode made from manganese oxide nanorods.
  • Next, the researchers remove the desalinated water and release the trapped ions into a separate stream of waste seawater by reversing the direction of the electrical current
  • pilot experiments were not automated, the researchers say that a pump could automate the process.
  • The desalination system is a spinoff from a Stanford University project to create new sources of clean energy
  • The desalinated water that comes from the battery still contains too much salt for drinking, La Mantia says: “We removed up to 50% of the original salt, but we need to arrive at 98%.”
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube VIDEO :
  • IMAGE : @
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Battery Desalinates Seawater @ C&EN
  • A Desalination Battery @ NANOLetters


NASA Pit Crews

  • The low down
  • Seven aerospace companies have teamed up with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in Partner Integration Teams
  • NASA PIT Crews are equipped with the intimate knowledge of what is takes to design, develop, manufacture, process and launch space transportation systems
  • Lately, those teams have been making significant progress under Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2).
  • CCP is very much like a venture capitalist endeavor because NASA is investing in systems and laying out expectations, but not dictating how companies make their systems work.
  • Multimedia
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • NASA PIT Crews Essential to Commercial Space Endeavor @

Driving with your tongue

IceAge Pollen

  • The low down
  • Once a squirrel made a burrow of fruit and seeds, including Silene stenophylla, it sat under 125 feet of permafrost for over 30,000 years. Not Russian scientists have regenerated the
  • This is the oldest plant material by far to have been brought to life, the last record was a mere 2,000 years
  • Of note is that this means the oer 200 million seeds from over a 100 nations in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Northern Norway are nearly guaranteed to be able to be regenerated
  • Multimedia
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Russians revive Ice Age flower from frozen burrow @


Looking back

  • Feb 26, 1935: 76 years ago : The fight against Tuberculosis : Dr Selman Abraham Waksman announced his discovery of the antibiotic streptomycin, the first specific antibiotic effective against tuberculosis. For this work, he was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize. Although it was technically Albert Schatz, a twenty-three-year-old graduate student diligently working alone in a basement laboratory to find an antibiotic to treat tuberculosis. Finding Dr. Schatz: The Discovery of Streptomycin and A Life it Saved
  • Feb 26, 1946: 66 years ago : Radar gives us eyes to the skies : The feasibility of radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) was demonstrated to Air Ministry officials at Daventry, England, by Robert Watson-Watt, a Scottish physicist. Earlier, while working on methods of using radio-wave detection to locate thunderstorms in order to provide warnings to airmen, he realized that it could be used to track enemy aircraft for air defense. The test showed that a RAF Heyford bomber flying in the main beam of a BBC short-wave radio transmitter gave back reflected signals to the ground on three occasions that the aircraft passed overhead. By 1939, the outbreak of WW II, the military installed a chain of radar stations along the east and south coasts of England to prevent a German invasion. The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War

Looking up this week

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