As NASA considers human exploration of Mars and encounters stress to get astronomers to the Moon, it will require sorting out a handful of major details—such as how to keep celestial habitats operational even when there are not any human occupants. To achieve this, NASA chose 2 new, university-spearheaded STRIs (Space Technology Research Institutes) and gave them the task of designating automatic SmartHabs, or Smart Habitats.
One, the HOME (Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration), will design self-directed systems, robotic maintenance, machine learning, and onboard making for self-maintained and autonomous smart habitats. The HOME group comprises scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of California (Davis), the Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Texas A&M University, Howard University, and the University of Southern California. In addition to this, it includes researchers from Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Technology Aerospace Systems.
The other STRI, RETHi (Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats institute), will aim on SmartHabs that employ self-directed robots to recover from and adapt disruptions. That group is made up of University of Connecticut, Purdue University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Harvard University.
On a related note, what the Europa Clipper sees when it begins revolving around icy moon of Jupiter will be useless to us if it cannot transmit data back to our planet. In order to convey back data from the distant solar system, the Clipper will be fitted with a HGA (high-gain antenna) that the space organization is presently testing. NASA is calculating a 10-foot-tall full-scale sample of the HGA at Langley Research Center of NASA at the ETR (Experimental Test Range).
The Clipper group is evaluating its performance in the controlled environment of the electromagnetic test facility, much similar to how the Mars helicopter group employed Space Simulator of JPL to prove working of their flying vehicle.
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