How NASA Engineers Use Origami To Design Future Spacecraft


Origami is the ancient art of Japanese paper
folding. For years it has been used to create
stunning works of art. But it has also been
used in maybe more surprising ways, like car
airbags, stents and even space exploration.
What we want in space are large structures,
not necessarily massive, but large. Which
means you can make them out of thin materials,
and whenever you can make them out of thin
materials you can use origami to fit them
in these rockets.
Many space projects have used the folding
principles of Origami; the solar array wings
on the ISS uses a z folding pattern and the
Mars Phoenix lander used a fan-folded solar
array, called the UltraFlex.
Because the biggest rockets we have right
now are only about 5 meters in diameter, we
have to come up with a way of folding up this
very large structure so that we can launch
it in a rocket, and once it get to space it
can unfold itself… origami is one the underlying
mathematics of how large thin sheets fold
up.
One origami project currently in development
at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is The Starshade,
which is essentially a big star blocker. Have
you ever tried to take a picture of someone
when the bright sun is beating down on them?
Your subject is washed out and you won’t
be able to capture any detail. This is the
same problem astronomers have when trying
to image exoplanets. Currently astronomers
detect exoplanets indirectly using a shadow
technique called the transit method. For an
earth sized exoplanet orbiting a sun like
star, they can’t be imaged in detail, because
the stars they circle are much brighter than
they are. This is where the Starshade comes
in, to help block that bright light to better
help astronomers learn more about these mysterious
planets and look for biosignatures for life.
One of the ways in which we’re thinking about
suppressing the starlight is using something
called Starshade, which is a very large external
occulter …that blocks out that starlight,
so we can see those really faint planets right
next to it. Sounds easy enough, but the Starshade
is roughly the size of a baseball diamond.
 Because the Starshade is so huge…we have
to come up with a way of folding up this very
large structure into spaces that we can launch
it inside a rocket. And once it gets to space,
it can unfold itself. Which is where origami
comes in. This is one of the candidate fold
patterns that we had for the inner part of
the Starshade, what we call the optical shield.
You can mathematically define how this sheet
of paper is folded up, and then by creating
what’s called an isometric map… you can
define what the creases have to be on a flat
piece of paper to allow this sheet to fold
up in this very particular way. And the way
it unfolds is just like that. And it’s quite
remarkable in its simplicity. This giant space
flower may seem simple in design but not in
implementation. The Starshade will need to
unfold with millimeter accuracy. Once opened
thrusters will move the craft through space,
positioning The Starshade between the star
and the space telescope. With the star now
being shaded, the telescope can image the
planet in detail to find out whether conditions
for life exist. Origami has been practiced
on Earth for  years, and scientists will
continue to draw inspiration from it to help
package big space structures more efficiently.
 From solar sails that use sunlight for propulsion,
to sun-shades for space telescopes like Gaia,
and the James Webb once it launches in 2019.
We can take these ideas from origami and apply
them to spacecraft structures. Because when
it comes to the future of space exploration,
if we want to think big we also have to think
small. For more science documentaries, check
out this one right here. Don’t forget to subscribe
and keep coming back to Seeker for more videos.

100 comments

  1. This is so cool 🙂 reinforces the fact that all intricate and complex creations are actually very very simple at heart

  2. For the one who is seeing john kaboly's comments, report him he is a spammer
    Edit: or just ignore him so he feels useless trying to spam, or maybe if care enough reply with "pffft you believe in the earth?" Thanks

  3. Let's repeat it 5-10 time more the same thing as our retarded scientists can't remember the simplest concepts unless repeated at least twice by 2 different people. Guys, your country is retarded…

  4. you do realize humans are going to become extinct either way and no amount of science can stop that. SO whats the point????????????????

  5. Ok, I guess the more complex fold techniques could be called origami, but some of the designs are just leporelo folds. That's not origami. If it were, books for kids, banana crates and t-shirts could laso be called origami or origami inspired.

  6. They use more inspiration from across the globe, but the editor has yellow fever and is a weeaboo, hence this video, just an FYI.

  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origami#History
    Origami is the ancient art of European, Chinese and Japanese paper folding, miss New World.

  8. Merhaba
    Gerçekten güzel bir çalışma .

    Kullanılanılacak olan origami modelinde (Nitinol) Ni-Ti, malzemesini tel olarak modelin içine eklesek.
    Modelimizi (Perde,Yelken vs.) açmak için gereken mekanik kuvvet,Cihazların kapsadığı alan,ağırlık vs. vs. gibi konularda kazanım elde edebilirmiyiz?
    Çalışma şeklinde de (Zaten tahmin etmişsinizdir.) ; Kullanılan origami modelinde mutlaka üzerinde solar paneller olacaktır.Buradan gelen enerjiyi de Nitinol'ün işlevi için gereken ısıyı elde etmek için kullansak ?
    Sizce Nasıl olur ?
    Anlatımımda eksik yada hata olduysa kusurumu affedin. 🙂
    Çalışmalarınızda başarılar dilerim..

  9. White people stealing Chinese technology again, what else is new.

    Some origami historians argue that since the invention of paper is credited to Ts'ai Lun of China in A.D. 105, paper folding must have been invented soon after. Paper was then introduced to Japan in the late sixth century by Buddhist monks, and paper folding was brought along with it.

  10. Does that mean that Oumuamua was a solar shade used by an alien race to try and observe our sun's exoplanets? :thinking:

  11. And if "star shade" move closer to photo objective, this construction need to be much smaller. Genius, really? 😀

  12. 10 Remarkable Ancient Indian Sages Familiar With Advanced Technology & Science Long Before Modern Era :-
    http://www.ancientpages.com/2015/10/19/10-remarkable-ancient-indian-sages-familiar-with-advanced-technology-science-long-before-modern-era/

  13. "…NASA engineers"

    Translation: Brigham Young University.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E12uju1vgQ&t=

    Compliant Mechanisms. Veritasium just released a video on the subject. But NASA isn't developing the tech. They're using the tech that others have developed, occasionally under contract from NASA.

    No, I have never been to Utah, don't know anyone from Utah (except Larry Correia, because I love his books) and don't have any particular affection for Brigham Young University. I just watched the Veritasium video, followed a link to BYU's Compliant Mechanisms Research department webpage, and watched the video I linked to above. The device in that video was included in this video, which implies that NASA developed it. They didn't. They may be paying for it, but they didn't invent it or figure out how to make it work.

  14. Can someone explain why the star shade has petal like points around the circumference?? is it to let a little bit of light through or something?

  15. NASA is so disparate to know about other planets and spend billions for its technology. Can we use that money to save EARTH?

  16. Lies lies lies

    even them scientists are fooled.

    want to communicate with the other side? Just invite them demons in and sell your soul.

    them street magicians already beat yalls to the punch.

    LMFAO

  17. the idea is cool and it saves lots of space . But when you look at the frame that is used to fold the origami, it adds some weight to it . That's the catch . why not just use a simple plastic ring around the shape and fold it like the car windshield cover ?

  18. The thumbnail image is by the Compliant Mechanisms Research group (CMR) at Brigham Young University. As is the footage of our array. Please cite us accordingly.

  19. Biosignatures, that is how i see Seeker, signatures of life, innovation is life. Entrepreneurship Old fashion sales https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlI5iFRVDlU

  20. Math and going including up and down at the same time, the Arts makes you go with the perception down, and the science makes you go up, the way Seeker is presenting is the riqht way, it seems that in many big companies there are only people who knows how to stay only up but there is no life you are not alive if you stay only there, but at the same time if you only know to stay down, without thinking or using your head, intelectuality is the way but with the perception of the human senses, sales the old fashion way and entrepreneurship makes you feel good alive, i think that in big companies there is no life, that is wrong, just see what Elegant Themes is doing, i intelectualy feel that this big company can work with entreprenership and work it out the construction of a graphical interfaces just for Designers UI and UX for 3D interactive on the WebGl, automate, the Javascript to bring the libraries into a complete graphical interface somthing similar to 3D Studio Max or Cinema 4D but completely manage directly in the Browser, https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/wordpress/react-js-for-wordpress-users-a-basic-introduction

  21. This that is actually on testing face, Seeker Nasa and companies like Elegant Themes can make this libraries easy for designers, with no programming just graphical, so as to speed creativity, this can finance space exploration, and finding money to invest in renewable Energy https://www.gsmlondon.ac.uk/global-oil-map/#1995-importers

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