TEMPO^3: The First Month

tempo3_24sep08_t1.jpgZes maanden op reis naar Mars in gewichtloosheid kan niet goed voor het lichaam zijn. Het zou mooi zijn als de marsonauten over een beetje kunstmatige zwaartekracht kunnen beschikken. De winnaar van de van de Mars Project Challenge, Tom Hill, biedt een oplossing. Zijn Tethered Experiment for Mars interPlanetary Operations Cubed (TEMPO³) omhelst het testen van kunstmatige zwaartekracht in de ruimte.  TEMPO³ is het eerste vlaggeschip-project als opvolger van de Analog MarsHabs (die overigens gewoon in bedrijf blijven). Lees het eerste verslag van Tom.

It’s hard to believe that a month has passed since that day in August, when The Mars Society took on TEMPO3 as their latest project. The last four weeks have been spent pulling a team together, and getting word out to the world that the project is underway. Progress has been made on several fronts, but much remains to do.

Team Formation
Initial plans were for the formation of three teams: Technical, Outreach, and Fundraising. Several candidates applied for each position and leaders were chosen for Technical and Outreach. While initial interest was expressed in Fundraising, the candidates either lost interest or stopped communicating. Anyone interested in the Fundraising position should contact Tom Hill at tomhill@marssociety.org.

The other team leaders are:

Chuck Reynerson (Technical Lead, creyners@comcast.net)
– Chuck has worked in the aerospace industry for most of his life, covering all aspects of spacecraft design and development. He is currently working with the other applicants for the position, as well as Mars Society members who’ve expressed an interest in technical efforts.

David Haslam (Outreach Lead, drh33@hmsi-inc.com)
– David should be familiar to anyone who attended the conference in Boulder, as he was the photographer. He has worked multiple marketing efforts throughout his career, and has started an aggressive outreach campaign. In the near future there will be age-specific lesson plans for TEMPO^3, as well as a multiple-school, multiple-age contest and a send-your-name-into-space project.

Project Status and Other Outreach Online
Taking advantage of the video-driven Internet, the team uses a service called ustream.com to give updates on project status. Updates usually take place on Wednesday nights at 8:30pm ET at this website. People can watch the shows for free (and there are archives as well), but if visitors want to take part in the conversation in the chat room, they’ll need to register for free.

In another angle to this approach, so far two YouTube videos have been posted showing some of the challenges the project faces as well as ways we’ll be working around and testing them. The first shows air hockey pucks connected by a string and how they move.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/HuvGrEkg5Zw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The second shows a full-size, similarly-weighted model of TEMPO3 being spun by a carbon dioxide cartridge. More videos will come.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/FHqZccJPnZI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Individual Contributions
Remember that what’s happened so far and what will happen in the future is driven completely by volunteer effort. Most of our ‘cool’ news so far happened because someone emailed Tom Hill and said “I have skill X, how can I help?” Samples of the amazing results so far include:

New Artist’s Image of TEMPO3 (Chris Vancil) – Chris built a life-size model of TEMPO3 out of wood and foam core, photographed it, and overlayed in on a NASA-supplied image of the Earth from orbit. The results are spectacular, and can be found here.

“Lo-fi” Model of TEMPO3 (Terry Mackintosh) – Terry is a machinist, and built an all-metal model of TEMPO3 based on the CubeSat specs found online. Photos can be found here and here. The potential remains that his designs will grow in complexity and possibly become our actual TEMPO3 project.

Air Pucks for Demonstration (John Overstrom) – John is a tinkerer who’s dabbled in may electronics projects. After hearing about the air hockey puck demonstration, he emailed to say that the masses possible for testing on an air hockey table would be nowhere near TEMPO3’s mass. He is working on self-powered pucks that can support kilograms of mass. The pucks can demonstrate rudimentary deployment schemes and rotation. So far, only photos are available widely, though video will be coming soon.

What Mars Society Members can do
We will need lots of people who either are amateur radio operators or know someone who is. While it is possible that TEMPO3 will broadcast on multiple frequencies, it is almost certain that TEMPO3 will broadcast on one of the amateur bands. Anyone with a technical background should be able to take a test and get licensed with minimum effort. For information, go to http://www.arrl.org.

Concept animations – While Chris’ images are awesome (and he’s working on some animation as well), extensive motion will capture public interest much better. Anyone with experience in animation should contact Tom Hill (tomhill@marssociety.org) for more information.

It’s been a busy month, but we’re just getting started. Thanks to everyone who’s contributed, and anyone reading this, please consider offering some time or treasure to the project, another early step on the way to Mars.

Tom Hill