Space and aviation news for November

The American company has designed the AB6 JetQuad drone, powered by four micro-jet turbines. The drone is the size of a large suitcase and can reach speeds of up to 400 km / h. Five years ago, FusionFlight began work on the world’s first compact jet-powered drone capable of vertical take-off and landing. Three years later, the Americans presented the first flying AB5 prototype, which set the vector for the further development of the idea. In particular, in AB5 JetQuad, FusionFlight specialists first applied the H-configuration of microturbines, the nozzles of which were retracted to the sides to avoid overheating of the apparatus. This prototype was “powered” by diesel fuel from a 20-liter tank: this volume was enough for 15-30 minutes of operation, depending on the load and other flight parameters.

In 2020, FusionFlight announced a new AB6 JetQuad prototype. This instance received several important improvements: microturbine protection, thrust vector control system. The AB6 prototype is capable of taking off vertically practically from any surface, hovering at a given point in the air, performing various maneuvers and smoothly switching to horizontal flight mode. The total thrust of the four jet microturbines is 700 N. According to the founder of FusionFlight, Alex Tates, computer simulations have shown that with such data, the AB6 JetQuad drone in the basic configuration can accelerate to 402 km / h. Moreover, when equipping a drone with an aerodynamic body kit, it will be able to overcome the 640 km / h mark.

AB6 JetQuad control is possible both in manual and offline mode. In particular, users will be able to set points for building an autonomous route or use the remote control to control the drone in real time at a distance of up to 50 km. The developers also do not exclude the possibility of equipping the device with a satellite communication receiver to increase the contact distance. In addition, for work on rough terrain, the drone will be able to resort to the use of computer vision systems in order to optimize autonomous navigation.

The volume of the AB6 JetQuad fuel tank remains the same, but now the device can operate not only on diesel, but also on kerosene and jet fuel Jet A, and biodiesel will also be added to this list in the future. The drone has two cargo compartments on board, which, if necessary, can be used to accommodate additional fuel tanks with a total volume of about 20 liters. The load can also be fixed to the drone chassis. With a full load of 18 kg at maximum speed, the AB6 will fly for 15 minutes. At the same time, the weight of the device itself before refueling is 24 kg, and its dimensions are comparable to the size of a large suitcase (~ 1.2 m by 0.9 m). According to the developers, the drone’s on-board generators can be used to power various devices, for example, research instruments such as sensors or cameras. Unlike traditional drones with fragile propellers and blades, the AB6 JetQuad is weather resistant and can also operate at high altitudes, up to 11 km. The FusionFlight company plans to start accepting orders for the production of AB6 drones by the summer of 2022 at a price of $ 100 thousand per base unit.

And now a little about space

Unlike Jupiter and Saturn, Earth boasts only one permanent satellite. However, a new study has shown that there is a mysterious Kamoalev quasi-moon in Earth’s orbit, previously thought to be asteroid 2016 HO3.

For billions of years, the Moon has been bombarded by space objects, as a result of which myriads of lunar debris rush into outer space. In the entire history of observation, at least 500 fragments of our satellite fell to Earth in the form of meteorites. Kamoaleva has become one of the few fragments of the Moon that have become quasi-satellites of our planet. According to preliminary data, this could have happened about a hundred years ago. All this time, the orbit of Kamoaleva was gradually moving away from the Earth. Based on the calculations of the trajectory of the object, it will retain the status of a quasi-satellite for another ~ 300 years, and then gradually free itself from gravitational shackles and rush into the cosmic void.

At first, even the unusual elliptical orbit of the object did not give scientists the idea of ​​its exotic origin. The fact is that the solar system is rich in asteroids, which are periodically captured by the gravitational attraction of planets and become their temporary satellites or quasi-satellites. However, as the study progressed, Kamoaleva attracted the attention of astronomers with a composition atypical for asteroids. As a rule, near-Earth asteroids brightly reflect light at some infrared frequencies, but Kamoaleva surprised the researchers with an unusual dimness, which indicated a special mineral composition.
Reflection spectrum of Kamoaleva in comparison with other asteroids, meteorites and lunar soil samples

Further study of Kamoaleva using a whole spectrum of different telescopes showed that the quasiluna consists of the same silicate minerals as 17% of the asteroids known to science. However, despite the similar general composition, the rocks of the quasi-satellite were distinguished by radically different characteristics of infrared radiation. In the end, the answer to the question about the origin of the object emerged by itself: Kamoaleva behaves like a natural permanent satellite of the Earth – the Moon and is probably a fragment of it. Scientists have compared the data of geological analysis of lunar soil samples delivered to Earth during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 with the results of Kamoaleva’s spectral analysis. As a consequence, they found identical signs of cosmic weathering, which explained the differences in infrared reflectivity between typical near-Earth asteroids and a permanent quasiluna.
Calculation of the state of the orbit of Kamoaleva

How soon will we be able to enjoy foods grown on other planets?

According to NASA engineer Mike Massimino, modern nutrition for astronauts has taken a huge step up from the earlier virtually tasteless space food. An equally important addition to the astronaut’s meal is sauces, which help to “revive” dehydrated, pasteurized and sterilized dishes. Heinz’s ketchup was approved by NASA nutritionists back in 1999 and has since become an essential addition to the ISS’s space kitchen. As part of the new experiment, Heinz experts went even further and released a limited batch of Marz Edition ketchup, made from tomatoes grown in conditions as close to Martian ones as possible.

The Marz Edition experiment started 2 years ago. Heinz enlisted the support of 14 astrobiologists and began work at the Florida Institute of Technology. On the grounds of the Aldrin Space Institute, they set up a controlled environment greenhouse. Within the greenhouse, the characteristics of soil, lighting, and water were similar to those faced by researchers on the red planet. Until now, all attempts to grow plants in “Martian” conditions have been undertaken in the framework of short-term studies. The Heinz project raised the topic of organizing a long-term line of cultivation and production of food outside the Earth.

One day the moment will come when flights to Mars will cease to be something supernatural. Since every gram of payload counts during interplanetary travel, the conquerors of the red planet will not be able to provide long-term food from Earth’s reserves, and they will have to grow food on Mars. Due to the complete absence of organic matter, the Martian regolith is not able to give a good harvest, and the planet itself receives significantly less sunlight and heat in comparison with the Earth. Therefore, scientists had to not only simulate Martian conditions, but also find a way to make Martian soil more fertile. In addition, the researchers had to select the most suitable tomato varieties and apply advanced agricultural techniques to grow healthy and vigorous plants.

The research team spent over 9 months growing 30 pilot tomato bushes and then using them to produce 450 more bushes. The experiment culminated in the collection of a flawless tomato crop, albeit significantly less rich than scientists expected. In the end, the specialists of the Heinz company prepared the Marz Edition ketchup, which fully meets the strict requirements for the company’s products. For a spectacular presentation, the “Martian” sauce was placed outside the spacecraft and sent to an altitude of 37 kilometers, where it cooled to -70 ° C. The experimental Marz Edition ketchup will not go on sale, and for now only a select few will be able to try it, including astronaut and self-proclaimed ketchup fan Mike Massimino. However, the results of the experiment will come in handy when planning upcoming space missions.

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