Innovation

Inverse Daily: NASA will achieve an interplanetary first in 15 days

Plus: Science-backed tips for dealing with ADHD at work.

NASA/JPL

Bicycles are one of the best platforms for innovation. While the basics are constant — cranking power, pedals to generate it, and two wheels that move you forward — literally everything else that’s bolted onto a bicycle is in a constant state of evolution. Racing will do that to a thing.

While some say the aesthetic peak for bicycle design was in the late ‘70s (and I’d agree!), there are innovations that can improve a classic design to make it faster, lighter, more resilient to external threats (nails, glass, thieves), and most importantly, more fun.

Our final story in this daily dispatch is all about the latest NASA-developed innovation adopted by a bicycle company. Scroll to the bottom to read about what comes next for bicycles.

We’ve also got breaking news about NASA’s attempt to make history in just a little more than two weeks’ time.

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse. I’m glad you’re here.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for March 24, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

An illustration of the Ingenuity helicopter, designed to fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere.NASA

An interplanetary first — Here’s space writer Passant Rabie about one of NASA’s coolest experiments on Mars, maybe ever, from a press event on Tuesday.

The Perseverance rover packed a flying machine, the Ingenuity helicopter, which will attempt to take off from the surface of Mars. If it succeeds, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to conduct a controlled flight on another world.

NASA is currently targeting April 8 — a mere 15 days from now — for the first test flight of Perseverance, although that could change by a couple of days in either direction, J. (Bob) Balaram, Ingenuity’s chief engineer, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

What they’re telling Inverse: “We discovered that if we don't take special measures, controlling it on Mars would be something like, if you can picture, riding a bicycle with grocery bags hanging from your handlebars. You get this kind of sluggish oscillatory response when you try to steer.” —Harvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot, and flight control lead.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

bfk92/E+/Getty Images

Biofuels in the skies — Some of the biggest names in aviation are teaming up to study greening one of the dirtiest parts of the transportation industry, writes transportation reporter Jordan Golson:

Four stakeholders are coming together to make 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) — an industry term for carbon-friendly combustibles made from biofuels like vegetable oils and fats. The SAF needs to meet requisite aircraft emissions and performance to sustain commercial airline flight.

The stakeholders are:

  1. Airbus — the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturer.
  2. Rolls-Royce — one of the biggest jet engine manufacturers, which is no longer affiliated with the car company.
  3. DLR — the German Aerospace Center, which is basically the German NASA.
  4. Neste — a producer of sustainable aviation fuel.

If the aviation industry wants to be greener, ensuring that aircraft can fly on biofuels will be essential to sustainable long-distance travel for years to come.

Read the full story.

More on the future of airline travel:

Shutterstock

Staying focused — Health science staff writer Katie MacBride offers a science-backed guide to excelling at work while living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder:

Whether diagnosed as a child or as an adult, ADHD’s core features — difficulty focusing, trouble following through on tasks, and difficulty sitting still for prolonged periods of time — can have significant consequences for a person’s work life and career.

In a study published last week in the journal PLoS One, the authors reveal that people with ADHD have significantly lower incomes and higher unemployment rates on average than people without the disorder. The reasons are more nuanced than you might expect.

What they’re telling Inverse: “I had never even heard of ADHD." —Danny Bhattarai, who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult university student.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

This is literally awesome.The Smart Tire Company

No air, no problem — Our final story today comes from Jordan Golson, about a technology developed by NASA that could put bicycle tubes in the parts bin of history:

The result of the better half of a decade of development at NASA, the new METL bicycle tire from The SMART Tire Company, uses a nickel-titanium alloy called NiTinol that has been specially treated to more or less permanently retain its shape. When heated beyond 500 degrees Celsius and then immediately cooled, a shape memory alloy object will “remember” its original shape and return to it after deforming.

NASA has a program called the NASA Technology Transfer Program. It involves offering NASA-developed technologies to be put out into the world to develop innovations “for exploration and discovery” that are “broadly available to the public, maximizing the benefit to the Nation.”

In this case, NASA created a metal tire that performs just like a rubber tire but better, and the SMART Tire Company is ready to put it in the hands of consumers.

Read the full story.

More in the world of bicycles from Inverse:

That wraps up this edition of Inverse Daily. I wanted to thank everybody for reading so loyally! You can follow me on Twitter @nicklucchesi, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse, Input, and Mic every day.

One note on a bug we found and are going to squash regarding consecutive opens: We are on it and trying to fix it. A pro tip: Email tracking is done via image downloading. So, if you find an email isn’t being counted toward your streak, go back and make sure all the images download. That should sort it out for you.

The Undertaker (on the right). KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

And finally, happy birthday to The Undertaker. The pro wrestler — and subject of a great comic book we wrote about a few years ago — has become a counterculture icon of sorts. Like many pro wrestlers, the man behind the character couldn’t be more different from his persona. The Undertaker loves Texas, football, and playing football in the Texas sun. While he has looked about 48 years old since 1993, in the words of one of our staffers, he turns 55 today. Wrestling, it seems, keeps you looking both young and old at the same time.

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