Science & Technology: This 3D-Printed Sub Could Be the Future of Undersea Warfare

At a passing glance, this submarine looks like any other.

It stretches a few feet longer and can putz around the ocean a bit farther, but its bulbous torpedo-shaped design is familiar to the first robotic subs that’ve plied the waters for decades. But a closer look at Dive Technologies’ new sub reveals a quiet revolution—from how it works to how it’s made.

This unassuming sub is a new breed of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, or AUVs, future subs that are bigger, smarter, and can travel farther than ever before. They are changing the rules for underwater military, commercial, and scientific operations, and instead of building these water-delving behemoths in a traditional shipyard, ship makers are 3D printing them.

“Large AUVs will change everything,” says Sam Russo, COO of Dive Technologies. “They bring an enormous payload capability and energy capacity that allows the vehicles to operate on their own in the ocean for days on end.”

But Dive isn’t using your run-of-the-mill MakerBot. Using large scale 3D printers, the Boston-based startup can slash costs, speed up production, and create any submarine imaginable in just a few weeks—from idea to fully-functioning prototype.

Source: Popular Mechanics

Nuclear Power for Space: Latest Trump Space Policy Directive Orders Development of Nuclear Power, Propulsion

WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) – President Donald Trump instructed future US governments to develop nuclear power options to support human settlements on the Moon and Mars and provide propulsion for spacecraft and rovers to explore other planets, according to a new Space Policy Directive released by the White House on Wednesday.

"This memorandum establishes a national strategy to ensure the development and use of SNPP [space nuclear power and propulsion] systems when appropriate to enable and achieve the scientific, exploration, national security, and commercial objectives of the United States," the document, dubbed Space Policy Directive-6, said.

The directive sets a number of goals, including establishing a uranium-based nuclear power plant on the surface of the moon by 2027, and using nuke technology to explore Mars.

The directive also sets a 2030 goal to develop new technology to improve systems that generate electricity using radioactive isotopes. Such systems offer long-term power sources for robotic exploration of planet surfaces and robotic spacecraft to transit the solar system.

The Trump administration set a goal of returning US astronauts to the moon by 2024, building a permanent lunar colony, and sending humans to Mars.

While the directive focuses on developing nuclear power technology for space exploration, it also reflects an effort to maintain current US space exploration plans after Trump leaves office in January, 2021.


Photo: The Arecibo Telescope Has Suffered a Fatal Collapse, Smashing It Into Pieces

The celebrated Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico, which once starred in a James Bond film, collapsed Tuesday when its 900-ton receiver platform plunged 450 feet (140 meters) onto the radio dish below.

Engineers had recently warned of the huge structure’s decrepit condition, and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announced only last month that it would be dismantled.

Two of the cables that held the platform over the radio dish – which measures 1,000 feet (300 meters) in diameter – had snapped this year, and the structure finally gave way on Tuesday morning.

Photographs showed clouds of dust rising into the air and the remains of the telescope instruments scattered across the site.

arecibo smash 2Aerial view of damage at the Arecibo Observatory on 1 Dec 2020. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP)

"We can confirm the platform fell and that we have reports of no injuries," Rob Margetta, spokesman for the NSF, told AFP.

The telescope was one of the largest in the world and has been a tool for many astronomical discoveries since the 1960s, as well as being famous for its dramatic scale and setting.

An action scene from the Bond film GoldenEye featuring Pierce Brosnan took place high above the dish, and in Contact, an astronomer played by Jodie Foster used the observatory in her quest for alien signals.

‘Sad day for astronomy’

Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, said the platform fell sometime before 8:00 am (1200 GMT), describing it as "a total disaster".

"Many students are trained in astronomy in the observatory, they are inspired like me to do a career in science and astronomy," he said.

"The loss of the Arecibo telescope is a big loss for the world, but it is more of a loss for Puerto Rico. It is an icon for our island."

arecibo body image extended sidesDamage sustained at the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter telescope. (UCF)

The telescope was in operation for 57 years until August, and scientists had lobbied the NSF to reverse its decision to close the site.

In August, an auxiliary cable failed after slipping from its socket in one of the towers and left a 100-foot gash in the dish below.

Engineers were assessing the damage and how to repair it when a main cable connected to the same tower broke on November 6.

Before Tuesday, a controlled demolition had been planned to avoid an unexpected collapse.

Among the telescope’s successes was in 1992 discovering the first exoplanet – a planet outside the solar system – and in 1981 it helped produce the first radar maps of the surface of Venus.

The observatory’s website said the telescope was "a world-leading radio astronomy, solar system radar and atmospheric physics facility, contributing highly relevant data to support discovery, innovation and the advancement of science."

"What a sad day for astronomy and planetary science worldwide and one of the most iconic telescopes of all time," tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at the NASA science mission directorate.

The site had hoped the dismantling plan would preserve other parts of the observatory for future research and education.

"As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico," the NSF said in a tweet.