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It was believed that running more propellant through a Hall thruster would wreck its efficiency, but new experiments suggest they might power a crewed mission to Mars.

Plasma thrusters used on satellites could be much more powerful

Ever since the first close-up picture of Mars captured in 1965, the hazy and pink world has revealed its mysterious veil. The pace of human exploration of the unknown universe has never stopped. Over the past decades, we have discovered that today’s Martian wasteland hints at a once active world where volcanoes raged, and flash floods rushed over the land.

Looking for Signs of Life on Mars-Case Study of Mars Rover Development

In January 2023, the Caltech Space Solar Power Project (SSPP) is poised to launch into orbit a prototype, dubbed the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD), which will test several key components of an ambitious plan to harvest solar power in space and beam the energy back to Earth.

Caltech to Launch Space Solar Power Technology Demo into Orbit in January

In this episode, we talk about a microsatellite from MIT that is testing autonomous flight while in Earth's orbit. This technology could help improve the agility and robustness of future satellite missions.

Podcast: Self-Flying Satellite's Successful Space Mission

Lincoln Laboratory’s Agile MicroSat will be the first small satellite to demonstrate long-duration, low-altitude flight with autonomous maneuvering.

Tiny satellite tests autonomy in space

A new attack discovered by the University of Michigan and NASA exploits a trusted network technology to create unexpected and potentially catastrophic behavior

Cyber vulnerability in networks used by spacecraft, aircraft and energy generation systems

Springs, squeegees and soda straws function with a common property — they are rigid in one direction and flexible in another. Structures like these, with properties that vary across dimensions, have played critical roles in human technology from the longbow to the booster rocket.

These engineers drew inspiration from geometrical frustration

Scientists at the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL, in collaboration with Beyond Gravity and with the support of the ESA, have developed a slip ring assembly that can more than triple the operational voltage of new-generation, high-voltage satellites.

Tackling the high-voltage needs of next-gen satellites

In this episode, we talk about NASA plans to crash land payloads on Mars to advance our understanding of the red planet.

Podcast: NASA's Plan to Crash Land on Mars

Like a car’s crumple zone, the experimental SHIELD lander is designed to absorb a hard impact.

Why NASA Is Trying to Crash Land on Mars

In this episode, we follow up on MIT + JPL’s experiment to make oxygen on Mars - MOXIE - that we first discussed in episode 5.

Podcast: MOXIE Makes Oxygen On Mars

Day and night, and across seasons, the instrument generates breathable oxygen from the Red Planet’s thin atmosphere.

MIT's MOXIE experiment reliably produces oxygen on Mars

Most materials – from rubber bands to steel beams – thin out as they are stretched, but engineers can use origami’s interlocking ridges and precise folds to reverse this tendency and build devices that grow wider as they are pulled apart.

Researchers unfolded elegant equations to explain the enigma of expanding origami

When you ask people to name a few cutting-edge technologies, they’ll probably mention artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, perhaps synthetic biology… but probably not welding. But while welding usually doesn’t make front page headlines, it has many interesting facets. It involves materials science, robotics, metallurgy, and, yes, machine learning. And you need welding for making all kinds of things: buildings, for example; bicycles, ships, aircraft, cars, kitchenware, power plants, turbines, body implants, textiles–and rockets.

Welding: What's new? And what does it have to do with going to the Moon?

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