Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



ROCKET SCIENCE
What looks good on paper may look good in space
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Sep 24, 2017


Some examples of origami designs at JPL. Engineers are exploring this ancient art form to create folding spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An ancient art form has taken on new shape at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Origami, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding, has inspired a number of unique spacecraft designs here. It's little wonder that it fascinates NASA engineers: origami can seem deceptively simple, hiding complex math within its creases.

Besides aesthetic beauty, it addresses a persistent problem faced by JPL engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible? One answer might be found in the Starshade, an immense, folding iris that has been proposed as a way to block light from distant stars. It would unfurl to a diameter of about 85 feet (26 meters) in space, about the size of a standard baseball diamond.

Dampening the brightness of a star's light would extend the capability of a space telescope to detect orbiting exoplanets. One future project being consideredfor possible use with Starshadeis the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which will employ a special coronagraph to image larger planetsaround other stars.If a Starshade is flown, combining it with WFIRSTwould allow it to detect smaller planets, too.

Something that big is more at risk of micrometeorite strikes; any punctures could mean light getting through and obscuring a telescope's vision. That's why JPL turned to an origami-inspired folding pattern, said Manan Arya, a technologist working on Starshade.

"We use multiple layers of material to block starlight, separated by some gaps so that, if we do get hit, there's a good chance that there won't be a line-of-sight puncture," Arya said.

The key was developing algorithms that allow the Starshade to fold smoothly, predictably and repeatedly.

"A huge part of my job is looking at something on paper and asking, 'Can we fly this?'" Arya said. He could be considered Starshade's "origamist in chief." His PhD thesis looked at the use of origami in space superstructures.

A colorful history of space folding inspired him. That includes solar arrays, like those on the International Space Station; experimental wings designed for the space shuttle program in the 1980s; even Echo 1, a 10-story-tall, Earth-orbiting balloon that had to be packed into a 26-inch-diameter (66 centimeters), spherical payload canister before launching.

"Once I realized this is how you fold spacecraft structures, I became interested in origami," Arya said. "I realized I was good at it and enjoyed it. Now I fold constantly."

He's not alone. Robert Salazar, a JPL intern who helped design the Starshade folding pattern, now works on an experimental concept called Transformers for Lunar Extreme Environments. JPL senior research scientist Adrian Stoica leads the project, which would use unfolding, reflective mirrors to bounce the Sun's rays into deep craters on Earth's moon. Once deployed, this solar energy could melt water ice or power machinery.

Salazar tests folding designs and materials in a work area littered with scraps, mostly from paper. He also folds Kapton, a tinsel-like material used as spacecraft insulation, and a special polyethylene fabric that doesn't form permanent creases.

"With most origami, the magic comes from the folding," Salazar said. "You can't design purely from geometry. You need to know the qualities of the material to understand how it will fold."

Salazar has been making origami for 17 years. As a kid, he was inspired by the children's book "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes." His own original designs include paper animals. In fact, he folds paper versions of endangered species and donates them to benefit wildlife conservancies.

He said the use of origami in engineering is relatively new and is spurring the publication of technical papers on folding patterns.

"There are so many patterns to still be explored," Salazar said. "Most designs are for shapes that fold flat. Non-flat structures, like spheres or paraboloids, largely haven't been done."

Starshade and the Transformers project are still in their early stages. But Arya points out that we could see space origami very soon. CubeSats are one promising application: these miniaturized satellites are the size of a briefcase, and NASA will launch several key missions using these modular spacecraft in coming years.

Because they require so little space, mass and cost, they're easier to launch. But CubeSats are limited in what they can do without folding structures, which can pack antennas and other equipment into them.

"That's an area where I see origami having an increasing role," Arya said.

Another is robotics. A JPL robot called PUFFER was inspired by origami. Its collapsible body is made from a folding circuit board embedded with fabric. When in use, it pops-up and can climb over rocks or squeeze down under ledges.

In July, NASA placed an open call for origami designs to be used in radiation shielding - another sign that the art form has much to offer the future of space exploration.

+ Starshade

+ PUFFER

CAPTION Some examples of origami designs at JPL. Engineers are exploring this ancient art form to create folding spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltec

ROCKET SCIENCE
Demonstrator 3 linear aerospike ready to start tests
Las Cruces NM (SPX) Sep 21, 2017
The ground test stand and aerospike engine for the Demonstrator 3 rocket are ready for tests at ARCA Space Corporation. The effort was completed in 60 days since the start of fabrication. The system will perform a series of ground tests that will ultimately qualify the engine for flight. After the ground tests, the same engine will be integrated into the Demonstrator 3 rocket that will per ... read more

Related Links
Transformers for Lunar Extreme Environments
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

ROCKET SCIENCE
Aussie astronaut calls for establishment of national space agency

Space Cooperation Between China, Russia Needs Long-Term Mechanism

Mapping NASA's Space Missions

Tech dreams live or die on startup battlefields

ROCKET SCIENCE
What looks good on paper may look good in space

Demonstrator 3 linear aerospike ready to start tests

ISRO to resume satellite launches by December

Mechanisms are Critical to Space Vehicle Flight Success

ROCKET SCIENCE
HIAD heat shield material feels the burn during arc jet testing

Devilish Source of Dust in Atmosphere of Earth and Mars

Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars

3-D Analysis Offers New Info on Martian Climate Change, Age of Polar Caps

ROCKET SCIENCE
Mars probe to carry 13 types of payload on 2020 mission

China's cargo spacecraft separates from Tiangong-2 space lab

Work on China's mission to Mars 'well underway'

Chinese company eyes development of reusable launch vehicle

ROCKET SCIENCE
Thomas calls for new comprehensive Australian Space Agency at IAC address

CSU Launches Nation's First Space Law Center

Lockheed Martin introduces new satellite bus lineup

Bulgaria Sat Wins "Newcomer Satellite Operator of the Year" for 2017

ROCKET SCIENCE
Positive, negative or neutral, it all matters: NASA explains space radiation

Space radiation is risky business for the human body

Corrosion in real time

Self-healing gold particles

ROCKET SCIENCE
Scientists propose new concept of terrestrial planet formation

The return of the comet-like exoplanet

New prediction of a detection wavelength for searching phototrophs on exoplanets

Hubble observes pitch black planet

ROCKET SCIENCE
Global Aerospace Corporation to present Pluto lander concept to NASA

Pluto features given first official names

Hibernation Over, New Horizons Continues Kuiper Belt Cruise

Jupiter's Auroras Present a Powerful Mystery




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement