NASA 'dream fund' selects submarine for Saturn moon
A robot submarine for exploring the methane oceans of Saturn's giant moon, Titan, a greenhouse on Mars and a spacecraft that hitches rides on comets to the outer solar system are just three of the far-out ideas NASA is backing in its latest round of funding for the distant future of space exploration.
Each year NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme asks researchers to submit ideas for space technology that could prove useful in the next few decades. Last year selections included two-dimensional spacecraft and suspended animation.
What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy M106? A swirling disk of stars and gas, M106's appearance is dominated by blue spiral arms and red dust lanes near the nucleus, as shown in the featured image. The core of M106 glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found running the length of the galaxy. An unusual central glow makesM106 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. M106, also designated NGC4258, is a relatively close 23.5 million light years away, spans 60 thousand light years across, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici).
R2, which has been on the ISS since 2011, has a mission: clean handrails, vacuum air filters and take air-flow measurements. The problem is it doesn't yet have the ability to learn and complete the work. So NASA is looking for someone to teach the bot. The Robonaut Challenge calls on contestants to write algorithms that allow R2 to interact with a training dashboard the space agency built.