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Posted on November 7th, 2017

Reaching Orbit – Air Flight And a Flight of Lettuce

Light Flight

The X56A on a test flight, gathering data on the stability of the aircraft. (Credits: NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes)

NASA is hard at work, looking to improve air flight efficiency. They recently tested lightweight, highly flexible wings. The new wings use less ridged material, allowing for more flexion in the wing. Reducing the overall weight of commercial aircraft will cut down significantly on cost and fuel consumption. The technology is tested on a scale version of a real plane, called the X56A.

The major concern with flexible wings is their susceptibility to flutter, causing dangerous and destructive vibrations. Their most recent tests strived to mitigate some of these issues by designing new landing gear and breaking systems. Vibrations can wreak havoc on the pilot’s ability to control the plane as well as the structural integrity of the plane itself.

Veggie Tales

Harvest of veggies on the ISS

Harvest of veggies on the ISS VEG-03D grew three different crops at the same time onboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/ISS)

NASA has come a long way since its first foray into growing food in space. Long-term space travel demands a system that allows astronauts to grow their own food and be self-sustaining. Destinations like Mars and beyond will take months if not years to reach and spacecraft have limited space for storing supplies. The ability to grow fresh food is essential for future space travel.

The International Space Station (ISS) hosts the VEG-03D, a small habitat for growing plants. For the first time, the veggie chamber is growing three different plant varieties simultaneously. With Outredgeous Red Romaine lettuce, Mizuna mustard and Waldmann’s green lettuce, they now have the basic ingredients for a very healthy salad.

After a bountiful harvest, space station crew installed the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH). The new habitat is a fully enclosed system with 180 sensors reading the temperature, moisture levels and oxygen content. All this information is relayed to the team on Earth at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will soon test the system with a new crop of Arabidopsis seed, to see how it performs.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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