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Space

Mouthy sea urchin inspires engineers to take a bite out of other planets

The sea urchin may be a restaurant delicacy, but it's also well equipped to satisfy its own appetite. The spiny invertebrate has a rock-crushing mouth so powerful that a herd of them can destroy a kelp forest or devastate a coral reef. Now its dinner manglers have inspired a team of engineers and marine biologists at the University of California, San Diego, to create a claw-like manipulator for robotic rovers tasked with collecting soil samples on other planets.Read More

Space

DARPA announces Phase 2 of spaceplane project

DARPA has announced the second phase of its ambitious XS-1 program. The agency is seeking to make access to space more regular and affordable by employing an entirely re-usable high-speed, sub-orbital automated spaceplane as the first stage of its launch vehicle.Read More

Space

Kepler stable after being rescued from Emergency Mode

It was action stations for the Kepler mission team last Thursday when, during a scheduled contact, it was discovered the Kepler spacecraft was in Emergency Mode (EM). NASA subsequently declared a spacecraft emergency, giving engineers priority access to its Deep Space Network ground-based communications system. The spacecraft was successfully recovered from EM on Sunday morning and is now in a stable state, however, it is still unclear what triggered the craft's brief departure from regular operations.

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Space

DARPA's satellite repair robot makes house calls

There are over 400 geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,000 mi (36,000 km) above the Earth. They are a vital part of global communications and represent billions of dollars in investments, but once they break down or run out of fuel, they're so much tin foil. DARPA has released a video outlining the agency's vision of a mobile robotic servicing system designed to rendezvous with and repair ailing telecommunications satellites.Read More

Space

Solar sails to help keep pole-sitting satellites in their place

Pole sitting was a fad in the United States in the 1920s, but ESA is putting a modern orbital spin on the practice. Investigating advanced orbital mechanics, the space agency has concluded that it's possible to build a hybrid solar-sail/electric-propulsion satellite that could hover over either of the Earth's poles by balancing the pull of the Earth and the Sun.Read More

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