NASA, space industry seek new ways to cope with space debris

Oct. 5 (UPI) — NASA’s official watchdog panel has renewed calls for the agency to move faster on a plan to better track and mitigate dangers posed by orbiting debris in space.

Members of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said during a regular meeting last week that the agency has made some progress, but it needs to focus on space debris as a top priority.

At stake is the safety of astronauts, anyone going into space on planned private missions and the nation’s growing fleet of satellites used for national security, communications and scientific observation.

Because debris orbits at thousands of miles per hour, even tiny pieces of space trash can puncture spacecraft.

The panel’s comments came on the heels of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine telling a Senate Committee on Wednesday that the agency needs Congress to fund a comprehensive strategy for debris tracking and management, including international outreach.

“I

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Pine needles evolved to help trees cope with rainfall

Sept. 29 (UPI) — The needles of longleaf pine trees evolved to effectively shed water, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, ensuring rain moistens the soil instead of clogging leaf pores.

“Our initial inspiration for this project was [to study] raindrop impact on pine trees,” Andrew Dickerson, professor of engineering at University of Central Florida, told UPI in an email.

Dickerson and his research partners wanted to find whether or not rainfall has influenced the material properties of pine needles.

“We began impact drops onto cantilevered needles, but quickly realized the physics was very complicated and that the simpler problem of drop impact onto fixed, non-circular fibers had not yet been tackled,” Dickerson said.

To tackle it, researchers set up high-speed cameras to capture high-resolution, slow-motion video of drops hitting the wedge-shaped needles of longleaf pines.

According to Dickerson, dozens of studies have looked

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