2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

David Szondy

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft is one of the 3D-printable models made available by NASA

If you have access to a 3D printer, then you can build your own space fleet courtesy of NASA – provided you don’t mind spacecraft that are plastic and four inches long. As part of its continuing program of education and outreach, the space agency has released 22 printable models of NASA and European space probes, asteroids, and planetary landscapes for the hobbyist and space enthusiast.  Read More

Subsystems on the MOXIE instrument (Image: NASA)

Oxygen is such an abundant resource on Earth that we rarely think about it unless we get locked in a cupboard. However, for space engineers, the question of how to get enough of the vital gas is constant, frustrating problem. To help future explorers of the Red Planet get enough oxygen for life support and powering spacecraft, NASA has included MIT’s MOXIE experiment on the Mars 2020 mission to study how to make oxygen out of the Martian atmosphere.  Read More

The Tourbillon 1000%

Buying a mechanical watch with a finely-crafted tourbillon movement can set you back tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but if you don’t mind one made out of plastic and a bit larger than usual, 3D printing may be the answer. Computer scientist and watchmaking enthusiast Nicholas Manousos has created a printable version of the famous watch movement called Tourbillon 1000%. Fabricated from thermoplastic and ball bearings, it may not be practical, but it's certainly eye catching.  Read More

The seven instruments selected for Mars 2020 (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been trundling around the Red Planet for almost two years now, so the space agency is looking for a trade in. At a press conference in Washington DC, it announced the seven instruments selected to fly on the Mars 2020 rover mission that is scheduled to launch in July or August 2020 with a landing set for February 2021 at a yet to be determined site. The instruments were selected out of 58 proposals from US and international scientists and engineers, and represent a development cost of US$130 million.  Read More

The first production version of the ICON A5 on display at EAA AirVenture this week (Photo:...

Small amphibians are sort of the hot hatchbacks of the aviation world and one aimed at the beginner pilot is always worth a look see. At EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) manufacturer ICON Aircraft debuted its first production A5 amphibious, folding-wing plane for the general public. Built in Tehachapi, California, a second is now under construction for structural testing later this year.  Read More

The ATV-5 mission lifting off (Image: ESA)

The International Space Station is getting a new load of groceries courtesy of ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)-5 Georges Lemaître which lifted off today. The 20-tonne unmanned cargo ship was launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket at 23:44 GMT from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The final flight of the ATV program, it carries six tonnes of supplies to the station.  Read More

Artist's impression of Venus Express skimming the Venusian atmosphere (Image: ESA–C. Carre...

Facing the alternative of a fiery death, the ESA’s Venus Express orbiter has completed a daring maneuver that extended the life of the unmanned explorer by several months. Under command from Earth, the spacecraft spent a month skimming the outer edge of the Venusian atmosphere to alter its velocity and send it into a new orbit that will keep it operating until perhaps the end of the year.  Read More

The electric parking brake can assist in hill parking

If you've ever wondered why your car is acting sluggish and has a burning smell only to discover that you've forgotten to release the parking brake, take heart. Automotive supplier Continental is developing an Electric Parking Brake (EPB) for drum brakes that's designed to bring this functionality out of the luxury cars and into the economy segment. As well as opening up new possibilities for car designers, it may also be integrated into driver assist systems that can remove the brake as you touch the accelerator.  Read More

Comet C/2013 A1 will pass Mars ten times closer than any observed comet has passed the Ear...

In October, Mars will encounter comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which will come closer to the Red Planet than any recorded comet has passed to Earth. This spectacular event isn't just an astronomical curiosity, it’s also a potential hazard to NASA’s armada of orbiting explorers, so the space agency is taking steps to protect them from damage by the cosmic visitor.  Read More

The Bremont Wright Flyer watch contains a swatch of muslin from the first heavier than air...

If you’ve ever wanted to buy the first powered airplane to take flight, sorry, but you’re out of luck. The Wright Flyer that was built by Orville and Wilbur Wright and first flew in 1903 isn't for sale, but if you have US$30,000 going spare, you can buy a bit of it and get a wristwatch in the bargain. Unveiled on July 23 at the Science Museum in London, where the Flyer was on display until after World War II, the Limited Edition Bremont Wright Flyer watch celebrates that historic first flight with each “ultimate aviation-inspired” timepiece containing a swatch of original wing fabric from the 1903 Flyer.  Read More

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