How Origami Could Change Rocket Designs

How Origami Could Change Rocket Designs

[♪ INTRO] We’ve had the technology to reuse rockets
for decades now; they were a staple of the Shuttle days. But the Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters
weren’t too impressive in their return home. They just splashed down into the ocean. Now we’re in the era of rockets that can
land themselves on floating platforms. But that’s a tricky feat, and those tiny legs at the bottom have to
withstand a lot of force in the process. So one team of engineers is trying to develop
a new material that could lessen that force, and in turn,
soften that dangerous landing. Last week in the journal Science Advances, they showed how they were inspired by the
ancient art of paper folding: origami. Researchers based at the University
of Washington decided to try counteracting the compression waves,
basically a pushing force, that would travel through
a material during a collision. Like when the legs of a rocket hit the landing pad. For that, they designed a type of mechanical
metamaterial. Metamaterials are a type of artificial material
built from repeating units, think Lego bricks, that engineers can manipulate
to create new properties. It’s figuring out what those bricks need
to look like that’s the tricky part. That’s where the origami comes in. This team used a laser cutter to form a specific
pattern of creases in a piece of paper, then folded that into a cylinder-esque shape. On either end they glued an acrylic hexagonal
cap. So when the cap was pushed on, the cylinder
buckled in a pattern determined by the creases. But it could also spring back
into its original shape. They linked 20 of these cylinders together
in a column. Then they subjected their column
to compressive forces. And their column was able to transform that
push into a pull. See, even as the column was compressed, each little cylinder also resisted that push
and straightened out slightly. This created a pull within the structure,
or what’s technically known as a rarefaction. And as both the push and pull propagated along
the column, the pull actually traveled faster, so the
whole structure resisted being squished. What’s also cool about this research, besides
the whole origami rocket part, is that previous strain-lessening methods
required hundreds of metamaterial units. This new origami structure needed only ten. There are some limits to the research, though. The team only looked at the system in one
dimension. Also, they had to do the paper folding themselves, so, any real-world application of this tech
is going to need to develop beyond that. But this new method doesn’t need to be limited
to rockets, it could be applied to all sorts of situations
where collisions are involved, like designing helmets. It’s a new way to protect against all sorts
of dangers. And another, more astronomical danger was
in the news this week. Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are a stream of high-energy particles thrown
off the Sun with little warning. They’re the most powerful magnetic anomaly
our star creates, and when the particles reach us they can interfere
with electrical equipment, including satellites and,
if the CME is powerful enough, things like radio transmission down here on Earth. They can often accompany solar flares. But our Sun isn’t the only star that creates
these blasts. And this week in the journal Nature Astronomy,
astronomers have turned their attention to coronal mass ejections coming from something
other than our sun. A team based out of Palermo, Italy used the
Chandra observatory to study the x-ray light emitted from the star dubbed
HR 9024, which is located about 450 light years away. It’s also a bit bigger than our Sun, as
well as a bit hotter, so bluer. But most importantly, it’s considered “active”, meaning it emits way more energy per second
on average. And they spotted a flare, analogous to a solar
flare, coming from this star. By analyzing the star’s spectrum, or its
light signature, they were able to identify specific elements
present in the flare. Different elements show peaks in the spectrum
at different wavelengths. In order to separate what’s coming from
the star’s atmosphere and the actual CMEs, they used the Doppler effect. This is the same effect that makes an ambulance
siren coming toward you sound higher pitched, and one moving away from you sound lower. Light or sound waves moving toward us are
compressed relative to us, and those moving away get stretched out. For sound, that changes the pitch; for light,
the color. So a light source moving toward us gets bluer,
and moving away, gets redder. By tracking specific peaks in HR 9024’s
spectra, comparing where they should be if they’re not being ejected to where they
appear, the astronomers could tell which elements were moving
toward or away from us. And that’s the material that’s in the flare. They found sulfur, silicon, and magnesium
inside a giant plasma loop, associated with the solar flare. On top of that, there was an additional line of
oxygen that was cooler and out of step with the flare. That, the researchers think, indicates the
presence of a CME. Based on that assumption, they estimated that
CME’s mass: about one billion billion kilograms. But they weren’t able to determine if any
of that mass successfully escaped the star’s gravitational pull and
would go forth to irradiate hypothetical planets. In comparison with CMEs from our Sun, it released
more energy, but not nearly as much as they had predicted. This is just one initial step in actually investigating
how stars different from our Sun behave. Math only gets us so far, and this result
might mean stellar CMEs are more different
than we thought they’d be. Which could mean a lot of things, and even,
theoretically, influence the development of life on those
stars’ planets. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Space News, and thanks to our great Patreon supporters
who help us make episodes like this. If you want to join them, check out [♪ OUTRO]

81 thoughts on “How Origami Could Change Rocket Designs

  1. Origami inspired rocket design? This should help SpaceX stock… in crease.
    I would hate to see the company fold.

  2. Electric wiring to redirect radiation around a ship . And I've been trying patent those designs show them on YouTube for years 😤 .
    Before trying Design radiation shield wiring

  3. You ever wonder if while we are looking out in giddy, wide-eyed amazement at the stars, marveling at the enormity of their actions, that maybe we've seen the obliteration of another being's homeworld?
    An entire civilization, spanning eons as well as the planets around them, consumed in the rampage of their star's explosion…and we on Earth look up and see a pretty light and call it "super".
    I wonder about what we will one day know we didn't know.

  4. sci show is like the t-series of science content, all their personalities seem like actors reading a script. Youtube is supposed to have content creators that sincerely give a crap about their content.

  5. I'm not sure why they did brink up the biggest issue with a self landing rocket, witch is the fact that the bit of fuel in the tank is being used to land the rocket and not pushing the payload further.

    This means the most effective part of a rocket buster fuel is spent landing it.

  6. I haven't looked into it in detail, but SciShow is designing and creating science experiment kits for educational purposes….
    An ORIGAMI lab kit demonstrating the principles in this research would be excellent !!! These same researchers might even help in designing the kit !!! 😉

  7. I would like to argue that "reusable" before SpaceX, was only a technicality. A crashed airplan put back into service would be reused, technically. And considering the cost was more than building a new rocket back then, just no.

  8. It's not just a spring, it doesn't bend side to side like one. Imagine a rocket landing just to bend to the side and smash the whole side of the rocket.

  9. Caitlin, you're by far my favorite of the presenters (nothing against the others). You always seem so happy and excited about what you're saying. Optimistic. Optimism being a sorely needed trait in these trying times. Especially in regards to rockets.

  10. This presenter seems nice and stuff. But is anyone else somewhat bothered by her hair. I mean, there's curly hair and then there are cardboard wrapping paper tubes.

  11. A hydraulic piston may do the same job as the mentioned origami but it is a lot bulkier; for rocket landing applications, it is acceptable.

  12. I love her enthusiasm, it’s important to keep an audience engaged. But it would help for her to slow down a little bit so I can process what I’m hearing as the video goes along. 🙂

  13. Why don't fold your fuel tank after emptying, right it becomes too heavy. That is can use origami design.

  14. Just remembered how annoying I thought Caitlin was, when she first started hosting this show.
    Now she have grown into one of my favorite 😀

  15. It is non reusable so no, it will not help rocket design. But it would help with efficiently packing satelites

  16. Rarefaction, the video needed more explanations on it as I am confused at how its push becomes a pull and why that happens wasn't clear enough.

  17. I do wonder if we could use the CMEs to help detect exoplanets. Or possibly tell what the atmospheres are like.

  18. I’ve used that helix hexagon collapse in design, but never reduced it down to something folded from a single plane of material.

  19. 4:20 referring to 10^18 as a billion billion is just confusing. A billion can be either 10^12 or – if you use the non-systematic and illogical system – 10^9. So why not stick with 10^18?

  20. Doesn't the Space X landing legs currently use aluminum crumple zones for the impact forces? Is this supposed to replace that?

  21. That’s o crazy— you guys used the same wikimedia files (Lookang) for solar flares that I used three weeks ago to explain Cherenkov radiation

  22. After the failure of the test flight a NASA engineer was reported saying “It may have been a mistake to use paper in the solid rocket boosters, the technology just isn’t there yet” Before mounting his giant origami swan and flying off into the crayon drawn sunset.

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