Friendly MADMEN

SpaceWorks Engineering Inc. (SEI) is using a grant from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts to research new techniques to deter threats to Earth posed by near-Earth objects (NEO), such as asteroids. SEI will analyze a new approach to protect against planetary impact -- using hundreds or thousands of small, nearly identical spacecraft to intercept the target NEO.

The proposed spacecraft, called Modular Asteroid Deflection Mission Ejector Node (MADMEN), will be nuclear powered and can be pre-deployed outside of low-Earth orbit. They would use chemical propulsive boosts to quickly intercept an incoming NEO.

Once landing on the NEO, each MADMEN spacecraft will begin to drill into the NEO's surface, ejecting small amounts of mass to, over time, alter the NEO's heliocentric orbit, so impact with Earth is avoided. -- SpaceWorks Engineering

Can We Talk?

NEC Corp. said it has developed a robot capable of Japanese-English/English-Japanese speech translation. The company has been refining a compact automatic translation function in its personal robot PaPeRo (Partner-Type Personal Robot).

PaPeRo is a small robot capable of listening and seeing, created to act as a personal partner to family members within the home. The robot has been programmed with 50,000 Japanese and 25,000 English travel/tourism-related words that enable automatic Japanese-English/English-Japanese conversation. -- NEC

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor