Ultralow-Temperature Supercapacitors Could Power Mars, Polar Missions

NASA‘s Perseverance Rover recently made a successful landing on Mars, embarking on a two-year mission to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples. Because Mars is extremely cold — nighttime temperatures can drop below -112 Fheaters are required to keep the rover’s battery system from freezing. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Nano Letters have 3D printed porous carbon aerogels for electrodes in ultralow-temperature supercapacitors, reducing heating needs for future space and polar missions.

Jennifer Lu, Yat Li and colleagues wanted to develop an energy storage system that could operate at very low temperatures without heating units, which add weight and energy requirements to instruments and machinery, such as the Mars rovers. So the researchers 3D printed a porous carbon aerogel using cellulose nanocrystal-based ink, and then freeze-dried it and further treated the surface. The resulting material had multiple levels of pores, from the 500-µm pores in the lattice-like structure, to nanometer-sized pores within the bars of the lattice. This multiscale porous network preserved adequate ion diffusion and charge transfer through an electrode at -94 F, achieving higher energy storage capacitance than previously reported low-temperature supercapacitors. The team will collaborate with NASA scientists to further characterize the device’s low-temperature performance.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Merced nAnomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing, NASA, the University of California, Santa Cruz and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Life On Venus?

Astronomers may have found a signature of life on Venus. Evidence indicates phosphine, a gas associated with living organisms, is present in the habitable region of Venus’ atmosphere. The search for life beyond Earth has largely revolved around our rocky red neighbor. NASA has launched multiple rovers over the years, with a new one currently en route, to sift through Mars’ dusty surface for signs of water and other hints of habitability.

Now, in a surprising twist, scientists at MIT, Cardiff University, and elsewhere have observed what may be signs of life in the clouds of our other, even closer planetary neighbor, Venus. While they have not found direct evidence of living organisms there, if their observation is indeed associated with life, it must be some sort of “aerial life-form in Venus’ clouds — the only habitable portion of what is otherwise a scorched and inhospitable world. Their discovery and analysis is published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The astronomers, led by Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, detected in Venus’ atmosphere a spectral fingerprint, or light-based signature, of phosphine. MIT scientists have previously shown that if this stinky, poisonous gas were ever detected on a rocky, terrestrial planet, it could only be produced by a living organism there. The researchers made the detection using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) observatory in Chile.

Source: https://news.mit.edu/

On Mars or Earth, biohybrid can turn CO2 into new products

If humans ever hope to colonize Mars, the settlers will need to manufacture on-planet a huge range of organic compounds, from fuels to drugs, that are too expensive to ship from Earth. University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) chemists have a plan for that.

For the past eight years, the researchers have been working on a hybrid system combining bacteria and nanowires that can capture the energy of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into building blocks for organic molecules. Nanowires are thin silicon wires about one-hundredth the width of a human hair, used as electronic components, and also as sensors and solar cells.

A device to capture carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to useful organic products. On left is the chamber containing the nanowire/bacteria hybrid that reduces CO2 to form acetate. On the right is the chamber where oxygen is produced

On Mars, about 96% of the atmosphere is CO2. Basically, all you need is these silicon semiconductor nanowires to take in the solar energy and pass it on to these bugs to do the chemistry for you,” said project leader Peidong Yang, professor of chemistry and Energy at UC Berkeley. “For a deep space mission, you care about the payload weight, and biological systems have the advantage that they self-reproduce: You don’t need to send a lot. That’s why our biohybrid version is highly attractive.”

The only other requirement, besides sunlight, is water, which on Mars is relatively abundant in the polar ice caps and likely lies frozen underground over most of the planet, said Yang, who is a senior faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab and director of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute.

The biohybrid can also pull carbon dioxide from the air on Earth to make organic compounds and simultaneously address climate change, which is caused by an excess of human-produced CO2 in the atmosphere.

In a new paper published in the journal Joule, the researchers report a milestone in packing these bacteria (Sporomusa ovata) into a “forest of nanowires” to achieve a record efficiency: 3.6% of the incoming solar energy is converted and stored in carbon bonds, in the form of a two-carbon molecule called acetate: essentially acetic acid, or vinegar.

Source: https://news.berkeley.edu/

Rent For One Year a Green 3D Printed House Inspired By Mars NASA Projects.

AI SpaceFactory, a multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency, launched TERA, a high-tech and green eco-home designed for off-grid living on earth. Inspired by their NASA-award-winning Mars habitat MARSHA, the first TERA accepts limited pre-bookings on Indiegogo and will be available starting March 2020 for one year before it is recycled and reprinted elsewhere.

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TERA, the first space-tech eco-habitat by AI SpaceFactory, is built from recyclable, biodegradable materials that can be composted at the end of its lifecycle. Actually, the B&B will be 3D printed on-site and equipped with “the most advanced technological and eco-friendly products, emphasizing the beauty of its natural environment while promoting a new, sustainable way of living on this Plane”. The retreat will be located in the woods of Upstate New York with views of the Hudson River, on undisturbed natural lands, 1.5 hours by train from NYC. The project offers a futuristic and sustainable experience of life on and beyond our planet.

“We realized the materials and technology we developed for long-term missions on Mars had the potential to be leaps and bounds more sustainable than conventional construction on Earth, […] TERA will challenge everything we know about architecture and construction. It could transform the way we build on Earth – maybe even save our planet” said David Malott, CEO, and chief architect.  AI SpaceFactory, founded in 2017, developed TERA with the same design logic and 3D printing technologies as their NASA-award-winning Mars habitat MARSHA. In fact, the agency wants to revolutionize the conventional building practices, through the use of plant-based materials, found to be up to three times as strong as concrete. TERA, with a very low impact on its surroundings, can be dismantled, recycled and reprinted elsewhere.

Source: https://www.aispacefactory.com/
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https://www.archdaily.com/

Worlds Like Earth Common In The Cosmos

A new way of studying planets in other solar systems – by doing sort of an autopsy on planetary wreckage devoured by a type of star called a white dwarf – is showing that rocky worlds with geochemistry similar to Earth may be quite common in the cosmos. Researchers studied six white dwarfs whose strong gravitational pull had sucked in shredded remnants of planets and other rocky bodies that had been in orbit. This material, they found, was very much like that present in rocky planets such as Earth and Mars in our solar system. Given that Earth harbors an abundance of life, the findings offer the latest tantalizing evidence that planets similarly capable of hosting life exist in large numbers beyond our solar system.

The more we find commonalities between planets made in our solar system and those around other stars, the more the odds are enhanced that the Earth is not unusual,” said Edward Young, a geochemistry and cosmochemistry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who helped lead the study published in the journal Science. “The more Earth-like planets, the greater the odds for life as we understand it.”

The first planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, were spotted in the 1990s, but it has been tough for scientists to determine their composition. Studying white dwarfs offered a new avenue.

A white dwarf is the burned-out core of a sun-like star. In its death exoplanets, the star blows off its outer layer and the rest collapses, forming an extremely dense and relatively small entity that represents one of the universe’s densest forms of matter, exceeded only by neutron stars and black holesPlanets and other objects that once orbited it can be ejected into interstellar space. But if they stray near its immense gravitation field, they “will be shredded into dust, and that dust will begin to fall onto the star and sink out of sight,” said study lead author Alexandra Doyle, a UCLA graduate student in geochemistry and astrochemistry.

This is where that ‘autopsy’ idea comes from,” Doyle added, noting that by observing the elements from the massacred planets and other objects inside the white dwarf scientists can understand their composition.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

AI Spacefactory Wins Mars 3D Printed Habitat Challenge

The new york-based ‘multi-planetary’ design agency, AI Spacefactory, gives us a closer look of what life on Mars might actually be like as they receive 1st place in the finale of NASA‘s 3D printed habitat challenge. After , the final phase saw structures built head to head over a duration of 30 hours and 3 days. the winning 15-foot tall prototype, called ‘MARSHA’, prevailed due to its level of autonomy and material performance, seeing the team scoop the prize of $500,000.
In addition to being built with nearly no human assistance, AI spacefactory was also awarded the top place for MARSHA’s innovative biopolymer basalt composite – a biodegradable and recyclable material derived from natural materials found on Mars. After withstanding NASA’s pressure, smoke, and impact testing, this material was found to be stronger and more durable than its concrete competitors.

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‘it’s light, and it’s strong, like an airplane. that’s going to be very important for these types of habitats,’ comments Lex Akers, dean of the caterpillar college of engineering and technology at Bradley university.

AI spacefactory autonomously constructed their prototype Mars entire in-situ, lifting an industrial robot 13-feet into the air on a forklift to 3D print the vertical, egg-shape habitat After spending 2 years developing construction technologies for Mars, AI spacefactory plans to bring its space-driven technologies back to earth this year. demonstrating the sustainable nature of their biopolymer composite, they will recycle the materials from MARSHA and re-use them to 3d print TERA – the first-ever space-tech eco habitat on earth.

‘We developed these technologies for space, but they have the potential to transform the way we build on earth,’ said David Malott, CEO and founder of AI spacefactory. ‘By using natural, biodegradable materials grown from crops, we could eliminate the building industry’s massive waste of unrecyclable concrete and restore our planet.’

Source: https://www.aispacefactory.com/

First Private Passenger To Fly Around The Moon

SpaceX has signed its first customer to fly on the company’s huge new rocket, the BFR, the company says. The passenger will fly on the monster ship around the Moon, though there are no details yet regarding when the trip will happen.

The BFR, or the Big Falcon Rocket, is the giant rocket that SpaceX is currently developing to send humans to the Moon and Mars. The BFR design, presented by CEO Elon Musk last year, consists of a combined rocket and spaceship, called the BFS for Big Falcon Spaceship. The main rocket will have 31 main Raptor engines and be capable of sending up 150 tons to low Earth orbit, according to that presentation.

In February 2017, SpaceX announced plans to send two passengers around the Moon on the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, claiming that the flight would happen at the end of 2018. SpaceX never named the passengers, and, ultimately, Musk admitted during the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy that the trip probably wasn’t going to happen. “We’re sort of debating whether to do that on Falcon Heavy or BFR,” Musk said that  before the launch in February of this year. “It will sort of depend on how well BFR development is going as to whether we focus on BFR for deep-space human flight or whether we do that on Falcon Heavy.”

Source: https://www.spacex.com/

3D-Printed Mars Habitat Competition

The lander seals to the ground to provide a protected, pressurised environment for the structure to be printed. Once complete, the lander would lift its legs to reveal the structure and move on to the next location to build another, creating a small series of rooms.

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AI spacefactory came in second place, presenting an egg-shaped structure, designed with a double shell to combat the aggressive thermal effects of mars. Like the zopherus habitat, the team envisions the marsha design to use materials sourced from mars including basalt fibre, extracted from martian rock, and renewable bioplastic (polylactic acid) derived from plants that could be grown on the planet.

Source: https://www.designboom.com/