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Volume 25 – September 30, 2010


Garden On the Moon

For years, people have fantasized and scientists have theorized about colonizing the moon. However one of the many obstacles is the lack of crop-worthy conditions; no air, no water, poor soil, extreme conditions and of course the cosmic rays.  There would be many practical problems with continuous delivery of food to a colony, therefore the focus has been on designing greenhouses for the harsh conditions of space.

One such greenhouse has been designed and a prototype is operating by researchers at the University of Arizona. The prototype, called the "Lunar Greenhouse", grows plants without soil. The greenhouse is an 18-foot long tube which contains water-cooled sodium vapor lamps. It would be buried beneath the surface for protection from the cosmic rays and could be operated on site or remotely through a web cam and a computer with the help of multiple sensors.

At any future space colony, the carbon dioxide would be provided by inhabitants' breathing, and the water could be recycled and extracted from their urine. To learn more about this prototype and how it would work on the moon or a planet in space, please visit: http://www.engineering.arizona.edu/news/story.php?id=184

X PRIZE Winners

In the past months we had information regarding two very exciting X PRIZE Foundation competitions; Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE and MoonBots Educational contest. Earlier this month, the winners for both competitions were announced.

In the Automotive competition, $10 million was awarded to three teams who successfully completed the rigorous challenge to design and create super fuel-efficient vehicles. The winning teams who emerged from an original field of 111 competing teams, representing 136 vehicle entries from around the world, are Edison2 of Lynchburg, Virginia; X-Tracer of Winterthur, Switzerland; and Li-ion Motors Corp. of Mooresville, North Carolina. 

While the prize has now been awarded, the winning teams will immediately begin leveraging their winning status, prize money and connections to catapult their vehicle into the consumer market.

To read more about the prize and the winner please visit:

On the Moonbots competition, the winners were announced on September 1, 2010. The grand winner was Team Landroids of New Jersey, a group of five 8th-grade neighborhood friends who participate in various science competitions and robotics challenges. As part of their reward, the team will travel to LEGO's world headquarters in Billund, Denmark to tour the LEGO factory and meet with company executives. Second place was awarded to team Shadowed Craters of california and third place was claimed by Team Moonwalk, jointly of New Jersey and Connecticut. All three finalist teams also received registrations and start up kits to compete in the FIRST®. robotics competitions.

Winners were selected by a team of expert judges including X PRIZE Foundation Trustees Anousheh Ansari, entrepreneur and private astronaut and Dean Kamen, inventor, entrepreneur and founder of the FIRST robotics competitions. Other judges included Master LEGO robot builder Steve Hassenplug and Jeff Kodosky, co-Founder of the engineering firm National Instruments.

To learn more about this competition please visit:

Spirit of Innovation Awards Is Back

Pete Conrad's Spirit of Innovation Awards is back and registration has started. This program challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products using science, technology, and entrepreneurship to solve 21st century, real-world problems.  Eligible students may compete on teams in any of three Challenge Categories: Aerospace Exploration, Clean Energy, and Cyber Security.

To find out more about this competition, the deadlines, and how to register you can navigate the links on their website:  http://www.conradawards.org/


For Open or Closet Trekkies

Even if you are not trekkies as we are, you would find this next section interesting. As Star Trek celebrated its 44th birthday on September 8th, physicists at the Australian National University announced that they have built a device capable of transporting small glass particles one and a half meters across a desk without any contact. A primitive equivalent of a tractor beam!

Jennifer Ouellette, a contributor at Discovery News online, and a moderator at the recent SETI-Con, has seized this opportunity to look at how different Star Trek technologies and real-world science has influenced and inspired each other in the past few decades.

Did you know Tricorders are almost here? The Department of Homeland Security is developing a medical tricorder that could be waved over a person's body to get a medical diagnosis. Ouellette talks about tricorders, holodecks, cloaking devices, transporters, communication devices and their real-life counter-parts. She also sheds light on how close we are to realizing some of those fictional devices today.

To read more, please visit: http://news.discovery.com/space/star-trek-boldly-led-us-into-the-future.html

My Dream of Stars

My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.

In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream.  To learn more about the book, please visit:  http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/

To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.

To obtain a copy please visit:



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
                 -Carl Sagan