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The Future Of CubeSat Propulsion By Morpheus Space

The start-up company Morpheus Space develops complete nanosatellite propulsion systems opening up for a sustainable future in space. Morpheus Space addresses handling debris, collision avoidance and agile constellations in space by smart NewSpace solutions, in line with what UN indicates on a sustainable future in space. This is done by using also Artificial Intelligent (AI) to identify the best solutions.

There Mission is to pioneer a new trend in the space industry, where micro launchers are the go-to in-orbit transports for all kind of missions. Since the Morpheus Space satellites will not be dependent anymore on the big rockets to deliver them in their desired orbit altitude. There patented electric space propulsion technology will able them to significantly modify the orbit of small satellites and significantly lower the launch costs.

Morpheus Space highest goal is to show the NewSpace industry that a sustainable approach to nanosatellite missions means not just keeping the Low Earth Orbit clean by assuring a re-entry into the atmosphere.

If the solutions for re-entry are taken into account early on in the design process of a space mission, new possibilities open up to optimize operations of small to large scale constellations, which lead in the end to better and smarter business models.

Morpheus Space has developed four products: 1. NanoFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System, 2. MultiFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System, 3. Collision Avoidance – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 1) and 4. Agile Constellations – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 2).

Morpheus Space technology was developed during many years of research at the Institute of Aerospace Engineering of TU Dresden. At its core lies the FEEP technology specially developed for miniaturized applications using the low-melting metallic gallium propellant, as well as a chip-based neutralizer with the corresponding supply and control electronics. 

The system’s components are optimized to deliver the best propulsion performance for the least amount of space, mass and necessary electrical power, which are the most valuable commodities on board of a nanosatellite. Due to the system’s plug-and-play nature, the integration into a satellite platform is easy and highly customizable in order to fulfil the propulsion requirements of almost all low Earth orbit missions.

The NanoFEEP is a miniaturized ion thruster that uses a special low-melting-point alloy as a propellant. The MultiFEEP design lies at the forefront of micro propulsion technology. This unique system is designed for satellite missions, which have challenging requirements with regard to total delta-V, maximum thrust levels and precise thrust vector control.

As the underlying technology is the same as with NanoFEEP, the same space mission inheritance and high level of reliability are provided, while delivering ten-times higher thrust and maximum delta-V potential in the world of nanosatellite propulsion systems.

The UWE-4 satellite  (University W├╝rzburg Experimental satellite-4), one of the first 1U CubeSats to host electric propulsion, was launched in December 2018. Its primary mission was to fully characterize the Morpheus Space propulsion systems in orbit and provide the company`s propulsion systems with the most important attribute in the space industry: Flight Heritage.

Currently, there is no way of saving a nanosatellite from collisions with other objects. This not only means that in case of a collision, the satellite is lost, but also the whole orbit will be unusable for a long time. This has a great impact on the bottom line of each satellite constellation operating company. Even if the satellite would have the means of moving out of the way, the current prediction capabilities are approximately hours or a day at most.

Morpheus Space, in collaboration with its strategic partners, offers a never before seen collision avoidance service for nanosatellites. It is able to increase the prediction time to the order of weeks, which combined with the company`s agile propulsion system is more than enough to avoid almost all predictable collisions.

Agile Constellations is achieved by an Artificial Intelligent (AI) controlled network of nanosatellites equipped with NanoFEEP and MultiFEEP. Morpheus Space will be able for the first time, to truly build up satellite networks that can be operated as one entity, opening up new disrupting business opportunities and models in the NewSpace industry.

A current and very serious problem in the space industry is the ever-growing space debris. To continue to use space in the future, the debris must be disposed of much faster as that is the case naturally

With NanoFEEP, a small CubeSat who would otherwise be in orbit for 25 years could be propelled back into the atmosphere within 2 years. With MultiFEEP, one can even dispose of a 6U CubeSat within 2 years, which would otherwise orbit for 1000 years as a space debris

The growing popularity of small satellites has prompted several startups like Boston-based Accion Systems, Expulsion of Austria and Orbion Space Technology of Houghton, Michigan. But Morpheus Space is unique among them so let's see what future Holds. 

Quantum Computer, How Does It Work And What It Can Do?

Quantum computers perform calculations based on the probability of an object's state before it is measured - instead of just 1s or 0s - which means they have the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers.

Classical computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state. These are usually binary, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions. A single state - such as on or off, up or down, 1 or 0 - is called a bit.

In quantum computing, operations instead use the quantum state of an object to produce what's known as a qubit. These states are the undefined properties of an object before they have been detected, such as the spin of an electron or the polarization of a photon.

Rather than having a clear position, unmeasured quantum states occur in a mixed 'superposition', not unlike a coin spinning through the air before it lands in your hand. These superpositions can be entangled with those of other objects, meaning their final outcomes will be mathematically related even if we don't know yet what they are.

The complex mathematics behind these unsettled states of entangled 'spinning coins' can be plugged into special algorithms to make short work of problems that would take a classical computer a long time to work out. Such algorithms would be useful in solving particular mathematical problems, like finding very large prime numbers. 

Since prime numbers are so important in cryptography, it’s likely that quantum computers would quickly be able to crack many of the systems that keep our online information secure. Because of these risks, researchers are already trying to develop technology that is resistant to quantum hacking and on the flip side of that, it’s possible that quantum-based cryptographic systems would be much more secure than their conventional analogues.

Researchers are also excited about the prospect of using quantum computers to model complicated chemical reactions, a task that conventional supercomputers aren’t very good at all. In July 2016, Google engineers used a quantum device to simulate a hydrogen molecule for the first time. Shortly after that IBM has managed to model the behaviour of even more complex molecules. Eventually, researchers hope they will be able to use quantum simulations to design entirely new molecules for use in medicine

Building a functional quantum computer requires holding an object in a superposition state long enough to carry out various processes on them. Unfortunately, once a superposition meets with materials that are part of a measuring system, it loses its in-between state in what's known as decoherence and becomes a boring old classical bit.

Devices need to be able to shield quantum states from decoherence, while still making them easy to read. Different processes are tackling this challenge from different angles, whether it's to use more robust quantum processes or to find better ways to check for errors.

For the time being, classical technology can manage any task thrown at a quantum computer. Quantum supremacy describes the ability of a quantum computer to outperform their classical counterparts.

Google, IBM and a handful of startups are racing to create Quantum computers and achieve Quantum Supremacy.  But the quantum future isn't going to come easily and there's no knowing what it'll look like when it does arrive. At the moment, companies and researchers are using a handful of different approaches to try and build the most powerful computers the world has ever seen. 

In November 2017, when IBM announced it had built a 50-qubit quantum computer. However, it was far from stable, as the system could only hold its quantum microstate for 90 microseconds, a record, but far from the times needed to make quantum computing practically viable. Just because IBM has built a 50-qubit system doesn’t necessarily mean they have cracked supremacy and it definitely doesn’t mean that they have created a quantum computer that is anywhere near ready for practical use.

Quantum computing is by no means a two-horse race. Californian startup Rigetti is focusing on the stability of its own systems rather than just the number of qubits and it could be the first to build a quantum computer that people can actually use. D-Wave, a company based in Vancouver, Canada, has already created what it is calling a 2,000-qubit system although many researchers don’t consider the D-wave systems to be true quantum computers. Intel, too, has skin in the game. In February 2018 the company announced that it had found a way of fabricating quantum chips from silicon, which would make it much easier to produce chips using existing manufacturing methods

Everybody isn't convinced that quantum computers are worth the effort. Some mathematicians believe there are obstacles that are practically impossible to overcome, putting quantum computing forever out of reach. Time will tell who is right.

Curing Our Plastic Problem An Eco-Friendly Way To Degrade Plastics

Plastic is both a super product and an ecological nightmare. It's cheap, durable and won't rot, which means it's great for shopping bags and fast food, but also means it sticks around for hundreds of years. Plastic waste is creeping into every corner of the planet, It pollutes the water we drink and the food we eat. It suffocates wildlife.

But thanks to an unexpected ally in the form of a bacterial enzyme, we may have a chance at solving this growing pollution problem. Because of the new discovery, bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate or PET could be broken down much quicker than the 450 years it normally takes. The enzyme responsible for that is a mutant form of PET known as PETase, which was originally discovered in a Japanese landfill some years ago.

The bacteria was discovered back in 2016, but it wasn’t until recently that British and American scientists studying it created a mutant enzyme that can break the plastic down by eating it in a matter of days. Like so many scientific discoveries before it, the mutated enzyme came about by accident, when scientists shone an X-ray beam on it in order to look at its atoms. This process unexpectedly altered PETase and made it 20% more effective at eating PET.

What makes the discovery so exciting, in addition to clearing up the growing garbage heaps of plastic in our oceans, is that it will allow plastic bottles to be recycled back into plastic bottles. Currently, plastic bottles are only able to be recycled into the opaque fabric for things like clothing or carpeting. In order to make plastic bottles, virgin PET is used and because it is so cheap, companies don’t think twice about churning out more plastic bottles — to the tune of around a million a minute. PETase though would reverse the building blocks of plastic back to their original state in the manufacturing process.

A team of scientists led by McGeehan have filed a patent and will work to stabilize the enzyme at temperatures above 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This would make it possible to break down PET 10-100 times faster. The goal is to work on eventually rolling it out on a large scale for breaking down PET.

McGeehan and his team, of course, aren’t the only scientists working to solve our plastics problem. There’s also the worm solution! yes, worms. Waxworm caterpillars have the ability to break down plastic rather quickly and mealworms possess gut microbes that eat up polystyrene. The key is finding a way to ramp up the worm’s digestion of plastic. Right now it takes around 100 mealworms a day to consume a pill-sized amount of plastic.

Plastic-eating worms, mutant enzymes, whatever weird solutions that can help take more plastic out of the planet is very much a step in the right direction.

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The Future Of CubeSat Propulsion By Morpheus Space

The start-up company Morpheus Space develops complete nanosatellite propulsion systems opening up for a sustainable future in s...


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