Science & technology Current Affairs - 2019

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NASA for first time emails hardware digital file for 3D printing on ISS

For the first time in history, NASA has emailed hardware digital file for 3D printing to International Space Station (ISS).

Using this digital file, a ratcheting socket wrench (hardware) was manufactured using ISS’s onboard 3D printer.

This 3D printer was installed in ISS in September 2014 by collaboration between NASA and company Made In Space. In November 2014, the 3D printer had started manufacturing the first 3-D printed object in space as a replacement part for itself.

Previously, if astronauts in space needed an item or any technical part they would have to wait until it is flown up on supply flights.

But now, the 3D printing is providing astronauts on-demand printing and manufacturing of a custom-designed tool whenever they needed.

3D printing technology  

  • 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file with extreme precision.
  • This technology is also termed additive manufacturing as the 3D printed object is created us additive processes.
  • In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of manufacturing material on each other until the entire object is created.
  • This technology has limitless possibilities and can create almost anything with just raw material and a computer generated model.

Japan launches asteroid probe Hayabusa-2

Japan has launched H-IIA rocket carrying a space probe- Hayabusa2 destined for a distant asteroid 1999JU3. The H-IIA rocket blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in the south of Japan. This launch comes just weeks after a Rosetta mission of European Space Agency made historic landing of Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Key facts of this mission:

  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent the probe on a six-year mission. Hayabusa in Japanese means peregrine falcon.
  • Project cost: 31-billion-yen ($260-million)
  • Mission: This project aims to send the explorer towards the 1999JU3 asteroid in deep space. . It will also study the surface of comet by dropping tiny robots.  It will blast a crater in the asteroid to collect materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, in the hope of answering some fundamental questions about life and the universe
  • Duration: It is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018 and spend around 18 months in the area. If all goes well, asteroid samples will be returned to Earth in late 2020.

Background

Earlier, Japan’s Hayabusa 1 probe, had made history for round-trip flight to an asteroid- Itokawa from 2003 to 2010. The first Hayabusa mission had encountered several crippling problems, including a fuel leak, failures in its pointing system, and a glitch with the craft’s sample collection system. Despite the challenges, the spacecraft returned to Earth in 2010, carrying a fraction of the asteroid specimens intended.