Saturday, May 28, 2011

Prize Roundup: OSIRIS-REx, 8-Band Research, CanSat, Mars Rover Challenge, More

NASA has selected the OSIRIS-REx mission to examine asteroid 1999 RQ36 and to bring a sample of it back to Earth as its next New Frontier mission.  The Planetary Society plans to be involved with the mission, including running some contests: 

As stated in the OSIRIS-REx Concept Study Report, Planetary Society "publishes OSIRIS-REx scientist- and engineer-authored articles; creates radio stories and holds interviews with OSIRS-REx personnel; collects names to be imprinted on a microchip and flown to RQ36 and back; runs the contest to name RQ36; holds a Planetfest at the time of asteroid sampling; and features images of RQ36 on the Planetary Society web site, and runs a 'choose your favorite OSIRIS-REx image' contest." 

The latest Space News has an article about DigitalGlobe's 8-Band Research Challenge, which encourages researchers to find new ways to use the data products of DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 satellite 

in topics such as Land Use/Land Cover, environmental monitoring, coastal habitat mapping, feature extraction and mapping, natural resource mapping and monitoring, or other related disciplines. 

The winning papers are now compiled here (large PDF).

It's a big time of the year for student competitions!  The @Lunabotics competition continues later this morning, the Mar's Society 2011 University Rover Challenge will be held from June 2-4 at the Mars Desert Research Station, and the 2011 CanSat Competition in Texas is planned for June 10-12. Mapping Dark Matter - NASA Watch - Also see the SpaceHack page.

Update May 29:

Laurentian students win NASA Lunabotics - CBC News

Draft Rules Available for Review! - Sample Return Robot Challenge (WPI)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prize Roundup: Nanosat Launcher Comment, Make Tech Winner, CAFE and EAA Flight Challenges, More

Student Experiment Microgravity Kit Wins NASA-Make Tech Contest - NASA press release: 

Sponsored by Teachers in Space, a project of the Space Frontier Foundation in Nyack, N.Y, the first "Bring It Back" kits will fly aboard the Excelsior STEM mission scheduled to fly on a Masten Aerospace unmanned suborbital mission later this year. 

Jeff Foust tweets about one of the ISDC 2011 talks:

@: London: NASA's planned $2M nanolaunch prize is a "little light"; estimates it would cost $20-30M to build a nanosat launcher.

Also see Jeff's twitter account for tweets on the Google Lunar X PRIZE ISDC session.

3DHawaii expands with private label product and a great trip giveaway - Google Earth Blog

Zephyr Aurora: Taking Shape [45]: More First Small Holes - Team Phoenicia (see more pictures at their site)

Pipistrel’s Four-seat, Side-by-side Electric Airplane - CAFE Foundation blog: 

This unique design has come about by grafting two Pipistrel Taurus aircraft together with a center section which is some 5 meters (16 feet) wide and includes a center pylon housing the electric engine and batteries designed to successfully carry this aircraft to the skies and hopefully to the completion of the 2011 CAFE/NASA challenge, the design bears some similarity to the twin Mustang fighter and even White Knight Two. ... The goal for the development of this aircraft is to enter and hopefully be successful in completing the 2011 CAFE/NASA green flight challenge which is held between July 11 and July 17, 2011 at the Santa Rosa airport in northern California and then also competing in the EAA AirVenture Electric Flight Challenge held at this year’s Oshkosh event just a few weeks later.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 Lunabotics (University Regolith Excavation) Competition

NASA's Second Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition, a university student competition to excavate and collect simulated lunar regolith that is similar to the NASA Regolith Excavation Centennial Challenge, will be held at the Kennedy Space Center from May 26-28.  I hope this Lunabotics overview will get you in the mood to support this competition.

NASA Invites Reporters To Second Annual Lunabotics Competition - NASA press release

Here's the Lunabotics Facebook page: ESMD Lunar Regolith Excavator Competition.  You can see quite a bit about some of the teams on the Wall page, and there's also a lot of information about other aspects of the competition like last year's event, a Senior Design Course based on the challenge, and more.  There's also a Lunabotics twitter account, but that hasn't been active lately.  That might change as the competition approaches; it's worth a try to check it out then.

There's also a Lunabotics YouTube Channel with video from last year's event, and also some new content.

Now for the teams!  There are quite a few teams, and many of them have been showing their progress on YouTube and other sites.

Temple University Lunabotics 2011:

Colorado School of Mines:

University of North Dakota Robotics:

Harvard Lunabotics 2011 (see quite a few more at their YouTube channel):

Oakton Community College 2011 Lunabotics:

LAR-E (Lunar All-terrain Regolith Excavator) from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott (also see the article Lunabotics & LAR-E: Mechanical Engineering Senior Robotics Design):

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona:

University of Louisville (It looks like this is for a capstone class with a Lunabotics theme, as I don't see the school in the Lunabotics teams list):

UNC Charlotte:

Chondrobot, BRAC University:

Universidad de Los Andes:

Alabama Lunabotics (Also see the Alabama Lunabotics twitter account):

University of Southern Indiana, Lunar Ash Borers:

Here are some other articles, team sites, and other links related to the competition:

McGill LunarEx - team site from McGill University

West Virginia University Lunabotics - This Facebook page has plenty of videos and photos from the team.
McBride-inspired WVU team to compete in Lunabotics Mining competition - WVU Today
Robot to work on the moon : novel creation by WVU students - Gizmo Watch

ISU Lunabotics - Ames, Iowa - Here's another team Facebook page.  They expect to put recent pictures up soon.

UND NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition 2010-2011 - University of North Dakota team site, including photos.

Vizag team hopes to mine lunar surface - Deccan Chronicle

Lunabotics Mining Competition - Team site for The Robotics Association at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

NASA’s Lunabotics 2011 – Symbiosis Sponsors Indian team - Symbiosis Coaching

Engineers to take robot to NASA competition - Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech

NASAMICI is already looking ahead to the 2012 competition, and how Minority Serving Institutions can try to get a $5,000 grant for that event.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Team America Rocketry Challenge Today

The TARC competition is today.  For those who want to follow the event on twitter, you might want to try the hashtag #TARC11.  At the moment it looks like some people are starting to show up a bit early.

Also, here is the twitter account for the organizers:

@RocketContest. The Plains, Va. The Aerospace Industries Association's Team America Rocketry Challenge is the world's largest rocket contest for middle & high school teams!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prize Roundup: Tricorder, SeaPerch, Google Earth Puzzles, LASER2011, STEM Bar, Biz Competitions, More

How good are you at Google Earth-based puzzles? - Google Earth Blog

New items from Japan - The Space Elevator Blog - One of the new items is about the LASER2011 student competition.

Updates - The Space Elevator Blog - One of the updates is on a new event to be held at the Space Elevator Conference called RoboQuest.  It sounds like there will be a student robot competition and a FIRST Tech Challenge demonstration.  The conference already features the Strong Tether Centennial Challenge and the Artsutanov and Pearson Prizes.  The other update is about a video from an early Space Elevator Games team.

LaserMotive Featured in Photonics Online - LaserMotive

MoonBots 2.0 Challenges Teams to Conduct Google Lunar X PRIZE Missions with LEGO Robots - X PRIZE Foundation

The X PRIZE Foundation and Qualcomm Join Forces to Develop a Competition to Enhance Integrated Digital Health - MarketWire - The name of the competition, the Tricorder X PRIZE, should give you a good idea what sort of device is envisioned.

Student experiments to soar in NASA balloons - MSNBC

NewSpace Business Plan Competition - RLV News

Space Florida co-sponsors $100k biz plan competition - RLV News

Student-developed 'STEM Bar' to fly on STS-134 - NASA Watch

FAR weekend and progress.... - Unreasonable Rocket

Check out the submissions for the Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge, a competition based on ideas for ways to use "dedicated short range communications" for vehicles.  

The Office of Naval Research is funding the Sponsoring Scholars in Science Awards for ideas that will inspire student interest in STEM topics of interest to the Navy.  An example topic is "Designing Affordable Sensors for SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicle".  SeaPerch is an educational underwater robot program that includes the 2011 SeaPerch Challenge, where students operate their vehicles in a simulated underwater oil spill.  They also get to meet a NASA astronaut during the challenge.  This year's event will be held on May 23-25.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Prize Roundup: Conrad Awards at Ames, LaserMotive at SPIE, FAA Prize Discussion, More

Bright Young Minds Present Visions for the Future - NASA on the Conrad Foundation's Innovation Summit held at NASA Ames:

The team from Upper Clair High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. won the aerospace exploration category for their composting system for use in long-duration space flight. The “Perpetual Harvest Space Nutrition System” takes organic waste and creates compost that is then used to grow fresh foods while also serving as an air filter for human habitation.

The winner in the clean energy category, the West Philly EVX Team, was a prominent contender in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE and other competitions.

SPIE 2011: Laser solution for long-endurance UAVs - Shepard

EuSEC moved to August, 2011 - The Space Elevator Blog

Here are some articles on the FAA AST budget request, which includes funding for a prize for a partially reusable cubesat launcher:

Nield Lays Out FAA Commercial Space Budget for Congress - Parabolic Arc
FAA Defends Requested 74 Percent Budget Increase for FY2012 - Space Policy Online
Raising the profile of FAA’s commercial space transportation work - Space Politics

'Incentiprizing': The New Path To Business Breakthroughs - The Huffington Post

@: Pauls Robotics

@: Wow, we had a great business trip to CA this week! Can't go into details, but there's some exciting stuff coming up!

The 2011 Team America Rocketry Challenge is scheduled for next weekend - May 14.