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Crowd-funding campaign to send tiny satellites to outer space: Here’s your chance to be part of “Space Science” History!

Laser etched CubeSat solar cell at the $50 reward level. Each solar cell measures approximately 8 cm x 4 cm, and comes bare (i.e. not mounted on the green PCB).

Laser etched CubeSat solar cell at the $50 reward level. Each solar cell measures approximately 8 cm x 4 cm, and comes bare (i.e. not mounted on the green PCB).

Sky is the limit? It’s not! Its just a whole new dimension”. Space to me represents the progress and promise of humans. Together let’s kick start the future of space science and exploration! The future of Outer Space exploration at costs 1/1000th of what it is today!

The engineers from University of Michigan are looking towards Kickstarter to fund their project to develop a CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster.  The CAT is a low cost plasma thruster can propel nanosatellites in their outer space orbit. The plasma is an ionized gas that when accelerated produces a thrust. The CAT cannot match the thrust provided by the NASA or ISRO’s space propellant engines that cost millions but the plasma on exiting the CAT engine produces enough thrust to propel nanosatellites.  This method is considerable efficient although less powerful than a chemical engine. However in a nanosatellite, adding a chemical engine would defeat the purpose by making it much more bigger and heavier than what it would normally be.

How is CAT going to help advance Space exploration?

Most satellites launched by NASA and ISRO are huge (have sizes similar to that of a SUV) and cost millions. In the recent years, there have been many nanosatellite missions to near earth orbits that are slowly making changes to the way we look at space science. These nanosatellites  or CubeSats piggyback a ride on larger satellites, and once in space, they drift around Earth, trapped in their original orbit until they eventually de-orbit and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, CAT will extend the potential destinations of these CubeSats to way beyond Earth orbit.

 Haven’t Plasma Thrusters been used before?

Actually, they have been in use for a while now but they have been huge. The CAT is the first attempt at designing a plasma thruster for a nanosatellite (CAT weighs around 0.5 Kg)

I am sure, you will have many more questions. I suggest you visit their kickstarter page and their official page for a detailed picture of what this is all about.

Millions of Dollars are spent every year by various countries across the world trying to push the horizons in space exploration. There have many missions to moon & mars and few even beyond. But more often than not, there are always a sect of people questioning the millions of dollars spent on such missions and whether or not it’s possible to perform such missions at a reduced expenses.

Although, I was strong supporter of the space programs, the second inquiry did always make me wonder. Is it possible? Well, atleast now we know that there are scientists across the globe who are trying to get it done at really low costs. It is not everyday that we get to directly fund space campaigns that will change the world of space exploration!

Lets support the kickstarter campaign CAT: A Thruster for Interplanetary CubeSats. The researchers and engineers from Michigan University are looking for 2 Million by August 5th, 2013 and so far they have been successful in getting 0.45 Million dollars from people like you and me who are passionate about geo sciences. Now, let’s make it even more geoawesome!

Let’s send our name and message into interplanetary space engraved on gold panels! Ok, well that does sound really hollywood 😉 Speaking of which, I suppose I am going to watch October Sky all over again :))

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Apple acquires HopStop and Locationary: “Mapping” it’s way out of the maps issue?

Apple-HopstopApple and Maps! Well, it surely doesn’t bring nice memories with the way Apple Inc handled the roll out of Apple Maps few months ago. But since then, they have been trying to plug the holes and get seriously about being a competitor to Google Maps and Bing Maps! Have they been successful? If not, what do they need to do?

One of the experts who knew what needed to be done by Apple Inc to fix their Map woes penned an article titled “5 Big Map App Issues that Apple must solve“. Wondering who that expert was? The CEO and Founder of Locationary – a crowd sourced location based listing database. A year later after Grant Ritchie, CEO and Founder, Locationary penned that article, the company was acquired by Apple (few days back)! Looks like someone at Apple reads their news 😉

They didn’t stop there, today Apple announced the acquisition of  another “mapping/location” company HopStop; an online transit – navigation app.

What does these acquisitions mean for Apple? and more importantly is it going to improve Apple Maps?

I believe so and here’s why.

Locationary basically is in the spot light because of their data exchange and management platform – Saturn. Saturn can be used to collect, merge and verify listing of all local businesses and points of interest. Pretty much like the Yellow Pages, expect that it is better like  and more importantly the online spatial version of it. Saturn is going to make sure that the next time you search for “Chinese Restaurant, Gandhi Road” Apple Maps is not going to show the one that’s geographically miles away from where you intended to look. More importantly, Saturn and Locationary can help ensure that the listing is not only spatially accurate but also temporally i.e. the restaurant is still active and open for business.

Fix 1: Get Location Data that’s accurate. Check!

HopStop provides a cool and green way of traveling by using the public transportation system. HopStop has over a million monthly active users around the world that use HopStop to plan their navigation using the public transit. In fact, HopStop also provides users Biking, Walking and taxi options. Apple will get a navigation make-over by incorporating HopStop into their navigation algorithm/platform. Fundamentally this solves the Apple’s Map need for a navigation algorithm that uses data (accurate data) from public transit systems.

Fix 2: Navigation and public transit. Check!

Apple Maps still has some distance to cover before it can redeem itself but if the acquisition of Locationary and HopStop are an indicator of what’s in store, then I’m sure they can go the distance! Bottom line, Apple acquires HopStop and Locationary – way to go!

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