The Universe as a Numerical Simulation

neutron-star-merger_22Numerical simulation by Bruno Giacomazzo & Luciano Rezzolla (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) Scientific visualization: Michael Koppitz (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute)/Zuse Institute Berlin)

Back in 2003, British philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper that proposed the universe we live in might in fact really be a numerical computer simulation. Simulated Reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from “true” reality, and may in fact be such a simulation. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from “true” reality.  So for example the above ‘numerical simulation’ is a recognizable scientific visualization of the theory rather than an actual numerical simulation.

Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones.

42shopped Tom Estes  Estes’ floor piece EARTH, displays The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything as a scrolling digital numerical text ’42’.  So in a sense what Estes has done is to represent the entire world, everything we see around us, as a numerical simulation incorporating living beings into a “computational matrix”


But before you dismiss this idea as completely loony, the reality of such a Sim Universe might solve a lot of eerie mysteries about the cosmos. Gematria is an Assyro-Babylonian system of numerology later adopted by Jews that assigns numerical value to a word or phrase in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like. The best-known example of Gematria is the Hebrew word Chai (“alive”), which is composed of two letters that (using the assignments in the Mispar gadoltable shown below) add up to 18. Though gematria is most often used to calculate the values of individual words, psukim (Biblical verses), Talmudical aphorisms, sentences from the standard Jewish prayers, personal, angelic and Godly names, and other religiously significant material, Kabbalists use them often for arbitrary phrases and, occasionally, for various languages. Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice.

Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. And of course in recent years science and technology have begun to catch up with science fiction. So many of the fantasies and illusions of the past are no longer a contradiction of reality, but instead an integral part of our everyday lives.

In his work EARTH, artist Tom Estes  represents the entire world, everything we see around us, as a numerical simulation. Through his practice artist Tom Estes directly references the surreal wit of Sci-fi and horror and their related ideological fictions. Estes’ floor piece, EARTH at the exhibition Big Deal Marvellous Mix Ups, displays The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything as a scrolling digital numerical text. The work was inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a comic science fiction series created by Douglas Adams that has become popular among fans of the genre(s) and members of the scientific community. Phrases from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are widely recognized and often used in reference to, but outside the context of, the source material.  In the book a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be “42”.


EARTH by Tom Estes at the exhibition Big Deal Marvellous Mix Ups interprets the entire world, everything we see around us, as a numerical simulation.

Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was. When asked to produce The Ultimate Question, Deep Thought says that it cannot; however, it can help to design an even more powerful computer that can. This new computer will incorporate living beings into the “computational matrix” and will run for ten million years. It is revealed as being the planet Earth.

The simulation hypothesis and it’s bizarre Twilight Zone twist, was first published by Hans Moravec in 1988. Moravec outlines Moore’s law and predictions about the future of artificial life. Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote the following in review of this book: “Robot is the most awesome work of controlled imagination I have ever encountered: Hans Moravec stretched my mind until it hit the stops.” David Brin also praised the book: “Moravec blends hard scientific practicality with a prophet’s far-seeing vision.” On the other hand, the book was reviewed less favorably by Colin McGinn for the New York Times. McGinn wrote, “Moravec … writes bizarre, confused, incomprehensible things about consciousness as an abstraction, like number, and as a mere “interpretation” of brain activity. He also loses his grip on the distinction between virtual and real reality as his speculations spiral majestically into incoherence.



Sub atomic particles may be pixels in a simulated reality. However, images like the one above are only a depiction of what a numerical simulation might be like rather than a real one. 

As off-the-wall as this sounds, a team of physicists at the University of Washington (UW) has since announced that there is a potential test to this. Ironically, it would be the first such observation for scientifically hypothesized evidence of intelligent design behind the cosmos. If we are living in such a program, there could be tell-tale evidence for the underlying lattice used in modeling the space-time continuum, say the researchers. This signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays. They would travel diagonally across the model universe and not interact equally in all directions, as they otherwise would be expected to do according to present cosmology. If we are living in such a program, there could be telltale evidence for the underlying lattice used in modeling the space-time continuum, say the researchers. This signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays. They would travel diagonally across the model universe and not interact equally in all directions, as they otherwise would be expected to do according to present cosmology.


Gematria is an Assyro-Babylonian system of numerology later adopted by Jews. Gematria is a system of recognizing a correspondence between the numbers or the ten sefirot, or fires of God, and the twenty two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This system is elaborated in many mystical Jewish writings such as the Zohar.


Observable consequences of the hypothesis that the observed universe is a numerical simulation performed on a cubic space-time lattice or grid can be explored, using the historical development of lattice gauge theory technology as a guide. The researchers assume that our universe is an early numerical simulation with unimproved Wilson fermion discretization and investigate potentially-observable consequences. The simulation scenario is first motivated by extrapolating current trends in computational resource requirements for lattice QCD into the future. With such results measured, physicists would have to rule out any and all other natural explanations for the anomaly before flirting with the idea of intelligent design. (To avoid confusion with the purely faith-based creationist ID, this would not prove the existence of a biblical God, because you’d have to ask the question “why does God need a lattice?”). If our universe is a simulation, then those entities controlling it could be running other simulations as well to create other universes parallel to our own. No doubt this would call for, ahem, massive parallel processing. If all of this isn’t mind-blowing enough, Bostrom imagined “stacked” levels of reality, “we would have to suspect that the post-humans running our simulation are themselves simulated beings; and their creators, in turn, may also be simulated beings. Here may be room for a large number of levels of reality, and the number could be increasing over time.” If the parallel universes are all running on the same computer platform could we communicate with them? If so, I hope the Matrix’s manic Agent Smith doesn’t materialize one day.


Artist Tom Estes will be presenting a paper on his work at The University of Greenwich, DRHA 2014 (Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts). The conference dates will be Sunday 31 August 2014, 5pm – Wednesday 3 September 2014, 2pm GMT.

EARTH by Tom Estes is currently on show at MIX-UPS, Loud & Western, 59-65 Broughton Road, Fulham SW6 2LE

The exhbition Runs 11th > 25th July 2014 Open daily from 12pm until 6pm Info @ 07587454613

Curated by Vanya BALOGH & Danny POCKETS


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This Is The Future -Solar Roadways

This Is The Future -Solar Roadways

Solar roadway
A solar roadway is a road surface that generates electricity by solar power photovoltaics.Panels including solar panels and LED signage, that can be driven on. The concept involves replacing highways, roads, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks with such a system.

The principle
A solar roadway is a series of structurally engineered solar panels that are driven upon. The idea is to replace current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with solar road panels that collect energy to be used by homes and businesses, and ultimately to be able to store excess energy in or alongside the solar roadways. Parking lots, driveways, and eventually highways are all targets for the panels. If the entire United States Interstate Highway system were surfaced with Solar Roadways panels, it would produce more than three times the amount of electricity currently used nationwide.

Panel construction

prototype panels consist of three layers.

Road surface layer – translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide sufficient traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells embedded within, along with LEDs and a heating element.
Electronics layer – Contains a microprocessor board with support circuitry for sensing loads on the surface and controlling a heating element with a view to reducing or eliminating snow and ice removal as well as school and business closings due to inclement weather. The microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc.
Base plate layer – While the electronics layer collects energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes that power as well as data signals down the line to all homes and businesses connected to the solar roadway. It needs to be weatherproof to protect the electronics layer above it.


The main advantage of the solar roadway concept is that it utilizes a renewable source of energy to produce electricity. It has the potential to reduce dependence on conventional sources of energy such as coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels. Also, the life span of the solar panels is around 30–40 years, much greater than normal asphalt roads, which only last 7–12 years.

Military and rescue assistance
In the event of an environmental disaster or military emergency, solar roadways would provide power when it is needed most. As solar power is renewable, it obviously requires no external connection to an artificial power source.

On-the-go charging
With induction plating embedded inside these roads, electric cars can be recharged while in motion on top of these roads. This would reduce the costs and the time-inconvenience of waiting at a charging station.

Bike Path

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Greenpeace Turns Prime Minister’s Home Into Frackers Drilling Site


Greenpeace is turning David Cameron’s constituency home into a fracking site this morning as controversial legislation clearing the way for under-house drilling is expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech later today.They sealed off the property’s front gate with security fencing and hanging a sign reading, 

‘We apologise for any inconvenience we may cause while we frack under your home’

David Cameron today received a personal insight into the inconvenience and disruption local communities could face from a combination of fracking and anti-fracking protestors, as Greenpeace sought to turn the Prime Minister’s constituency home into a “fracking site”.

Activists have turned up on the doorstep of the U.K. Prime Minister’s period cottage in the Cotswold hamlet of Dean, Oxfordshire, Wearing hard hats and high-vis jackets. A group of campaigners is also trying to deliver a lottery-style over-sized cheque for £50 – the maximum compensation ministers are willing to pay to individual home and landowners for allowing companies to drill under their property. Under government proposals laid out in the consultation, compensation payments of about £20,000 per horizontal well drilled would only go to communities and not to individual landowners. If landowners were to receive any money at all, ministers suggest it would be a ‘nominal’ value of no more than £50.


A recent YouGov survey showed three quarters of people in Britain – as well as 73% of potential Tory voters – oppose ministers’ plans to strip people of their access rights in order to clear the way for fracking. Over 46,000 people have joined a legal block set up by Greenpeace and based on the access rights homeowners have  over the ground below their property.

With the coming onshore licensing round ministers are planning to open up more than half of Britain for fracking, including large swaths of rural Oxfordshire. Government officials have indicated that national parks, cities, and even urban commons won’t be off limits to fracking.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said:

“David Cameron wants to rob people of their right to stop fracking firms drilling under their homes – surely he won’t mind if we kick off the under-house fracking revolution below his own garden.

“The Prime Minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Having failed to reassure people that fracking is safe or good for Britain, Cameron is now railroading it through with a ‘bungs and bulldozers’ approach.

“Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change.

“As ministers chase their imaginary energy Eldorado, the real solutions to boost our energy security, like slashing energy waste and backing renewables, are being sidelined. We’ll all pay a price for their shale craze.”

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In a repeat of the stunt that last year saw the campaign group erect a fake fracking rig in George Osborne’s Tatton constituency, activists in hard hats and high-vis jackets this morning erected security fencing around Cameron’s Oxfordshire home.

Government sources quoted by the FT, Times, and Daily Mail, among others, have indicated that changes to trespass law will be included in the Infrastructure Bill due to be announced in the Queen’s Speech. A Commons Library briefing confirms these reports. The government recently launched a three-month consultation on proposed changes to existing access rights that would give fracking firms the all-clear to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission. But government sources have also signalled that changes to trespass legislation will be included in the Infrastructure Bill due to be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech.


Sources: (pg 27)


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Overlords, an installation by Tom Estes at last years AXIS International Art Festival in Chicago- an event which stands to anchor important art initiatives for years to come.

CHICAGO AXIS 2014 INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL will take place this year from September 19th – 21st.  The location of the Exhibition is VENUE ONE located in West Loop in Chicago. ( address : 1044 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607,

AXIS is focused on becoming a leading international contemporary art institution in an array of multimedia art disciplines, strivin to respect traditional art practices while examining new media with educational overtones.

The aim is to bridge the gap between cultures, generations and educational themes and intends on becoming an important entity in the international contemporary art scene.

Final Application due: June 14th

The acceptance will be notified in 15 to 30 days from the submission.

Booth Installation view available: after 2pm, September 17th
Artwork display: September 18th
Exhibitor’s social: TBA
First View: September 19th through out the day
Art Fair open: September 20th and 21st
Time is in the exhibitor’s Information file.




September 19th Friday 11am – 6pm
Proceeds benefit Prak-Sis Contemporary Art

September 19th Fri 6pm- 9pm
September 20th Sat 9:30am- 7pm
September 21st Sun 11 am- 6pm

Free for VVIP cardholders
First View Friday $100

Day Pass $10
Fun Pass $85 (10 tickets )

Exhibitor Application Materials/ Submit a pdf file to 

For further information go to:

Image credit: Overlords by Tom Estes


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Marfa Digital Residency Announced

Temptation Image: The Temptation of Christ,  digital installation by artist Tom Estes on show in Marfa Texas- An interdisciplinary work that conjures up a kind of ghostly field of material and imagined objects

The Biennial Project’s Marfa Artist Residency provides an international artist with the opportunity to participate in a career-making event. It took over a year of intense fundraising from local and international private patrons for BRMAC to realize the Marfa Digital Residency.

Now, you may ask, why Marfa, Texas? And for those of you who might not know – prepare to get all fired up, because the tiny town of Marfa, perched on the high plains of the Chihuahua desert, is nothing less than an art’s world station of the cross, like Art Basel or Documenta in Germany. It is a blue-chip arts destination for the sort of glamorous scenesters who visit Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum and the drugs.

BRMAC  scoured the world to identify the most talented artist whose body of work demonstrated the vision, maturity and collaborative ability to contribute to the Overall Biennial Project Oeuvre. And they have finally announced the selected artist for the Marfa Digital Residency- London based artist Tom Estes.


As Artist-in-Residence, the artist selected for this prestigious residency organised by the Biennial Roadshow Marfa Advisory Council (BRMAC) will have full access to the support of the sophisticated creative apparatus of The Biennial Project to develop his/her own work and to contribute to the greater good of The Biennial Project. An opportunity for profound dialogues, an echo chamber for the inspirational and the social with political dimensions. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Much better.

Marfa was founded in the early 1880s as a railroad stop; the population increased during World War II, but the growth stalled and reversed somewhat during the late 20th century.  It all started to kick off when the acclaimed minimalist artist Donald Judd left New York City in the 1970s for this dusty dot of a town. He wanted to escape the art scene he claimed to disdain. With the help of the DIA Foundation, Judd acquired an entire Army base, and before he died in 1994, he filled it with art, including light installations by Dan Flavin and Judd’s own signature boxes.  Attractions include Building 98, the Chinati Foundation, artisan shops, historical architecture, a classic Texas town square, modern art installments, art galleries, and the Marfa lights. Today, it’s a whole creative community. An extremely fashionable and well-connected creative community.


This years Artist in Residence Tom Estes will create a new state-of-the-art work to be shown within the main site for Biennial Roadshow Marfa, El Cosmico Centre for Artistic Development. Through performance and sound, Estes plans to  hopes to reawaken a sense of wonder for what is nearest.

For this new commission Estes plans to unveil a new work that will incorporate Live Art encompassing telecommunications, technologies, wireless communications, computer science, telematics and live video streaming. Informed by  social and cultural research Estes hopes to dissolve the space between the creative artistic hubs of London in the U.K. and Marfa Texas. The actual movement of the material becomes the agent of its final composition – reinforcing the idea of the digital image as a temporal entity that can denote both a process and an outcome.

As we move through a place we leave behind what is called in forensic science ‘Impression Evidence’. This includes any markings produced when one object comes into contact with another leaving behind some kind of indentation or print. Common evidence ecounters include footwear impressions, tire marks and markings created by tools and similar instruments. But we also collect impressions through our visual experience-  the patina of a building, the shape of the sky – which are then recognized, stored and aid in forming our understanding of a place.  For this new commission in Marfa, Estes want to draw on these forms over as a way of understanding them within our new cyber-reality.



The work will b e on display on Friday April 4th, 2014 – where all selected art work will be seen by the contemporary artists and artisans who inhabit or visit this Western hamlet and by The Biennial Project’s massive entourage who will be in Marfa that entire week. The Marfa Digital Residency will take place between March 30th thru April 6th, 2014.



Marfa Digital Residency

El Cosmico
802 S Highland Ave Marfa, TX 79843 United States
March 30th thru April 6th, 2014

  Directions: Program Schedule:

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Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 billion

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 billion

Virtual reality has an unexpected new champion. Facebook has announced its surprise purchase of Oculus VR, the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for $2 billion.

Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online but entire experiences. Say hello to the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset that’s got the tech and gaming community abuzz. And now Mark Zuckerberg has put together a deal comprised of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock in order to buy Oculus VR. Not bad for a company that first shot to fame with a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset. The Facebook CEO has said: ’

“Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences,” said Zuckerberg.

The obvious question though is what does Facebook want with what was a start-up company aimed primarily at hardcore PC gamers? The response from hardcore gamers and developers has been predictably reactionary, with Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson immediately cancelling an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft. In fact he got so angry about the whole deal he then went on to write a blog about how virtual reality is going to change the world but Facebook is ‘creepy’. And as you might imagine many ordinary Kickstarter backers have also been demanding their money back.

$2 billion does seem an awful lot when virtual reality has been a commonplace idea for many years now and Oculus VR don’t own any important patents on the technology. This is evident from Sony’s recently unveiled Project Morpheus, which many have already described as superior to Oculus Rift.

Back in October 2010, Stanford University graduates Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched a new iPhone application, Instagram, yet another oddly named tech start-up in a crowded field of hopefuls. Two years later, the two twenty-somethings sold their photo-sharing service—which had about a dozen employees and no revenue—to Facebook Inc. for $1 billion in cash and stock.

So as you might imagine gaming isn’t really what Facebook is interested in. Oculus Rift was created by Palmer Luckey is a young guy from California, smart as a whip, and obsessed with virtual reality. After amassing a serious collection of the day’s top virtual reality tech, he realized nothing came close to the Matrix-like experience he wanted. So, he decided to build it himself. Perhaps what Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is doing is buying up not the technology but any potential future competition. Smile, guys you’re now multimillionaires.

As  Zuckerberg  revealed as Facebook’s reasons for the deal:

‘Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,’  ‘Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.’

‘This is just the start’, wrote Zuckerberg. ‘After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.’

‘Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us’.


But how is the Rift different from prior attempts at head mounted VR? Instead of a 30- or 40-degree field of view (a screen with edges), the Rift offers a 110-degree field of view. There’s no discernible edge to the Rift’s curved 7”, 1280 x 800 display. The screen is split into 640 x 800 halves, lowering the resolution per eye, but allowing the world to be rendered stereoscopically—that is pairing two side-by-side images viewed from slightly different angles (parallax) to make things appear 3D. You’re fully immersed in the game-world.

The headset uses a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer to translate head movements into changes in perspective in the virtual world. In the past, high latency, or how much time it takes the system to translate physical movements into virtual ones, has been a limiting factor. Carmack believes the “magic number for immersive VR” is 20 millisecond latency. Get it faster than 20 milliseconds, and humans can’t detect a delay. (For more detail, check out this dense meditation on VR latency on Carmack’s blog.)

The Rift’s latency from head movement to game engine is down to 2 milliseconds, thanks to a proprietary chip (as opposed to the off-the-shelf sensor used in the early prototype). But total latency is still above that 20 millisecond threshold, in large part due to how long it takes the LCD screen to update. (Improving screen technology, made cheaper and in smaller form factors, will likely improve this lag in coming years.)

Resolution is a consistently noted drawback to the Rift. And it still only allows for head tracking, as opposed to full body position tracking. You can’t move your hand in the real world and see it in the virtual world.

But neither is doomed to remain a major stumbling block. Compact displays are moving to higher resolution at lower price points. And as for body tracking, although Carmack says the old Kinect added too much latency, maybe the newly released Kinect 2 would work better. Or maybe a custom version of Leap Motion’s super high-resolution (1/100 mm) gesture tracking technology would pair nicely with a set of VR goggles. (Any developers happen to get both?)

It’s hard not to want an Oculus Rift in your home right now. But there’s no word yet on the consumer version—only “we’re working tirelessly to make it available as soon as possible.” The firm has shipped 6,000 developer kits and aims to send the other 1,500 out by the end of May. The all-important developer phase will likely go through the end of the year. And well it should. Anticipation and expectations will be sky-high, and delivering that first, jaw dropping moment at home will be critical.



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Controlled Mid-Air Collision With A Planet

Controlled Mid-Air Collision With A Planet

What a beautiful day for sticking a cucumber through someone’s letterbox and shouting, “Help, help, the Martians have landed! Because NASA’s Morpheus Project has developed and tested a prototype planetary lander capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

They say a “great” landing is one that lets you use the ship another time. NASA’s strategic goal of extending human presence across the solar system requires an integrated architecture. Such architecture would include advanced, robust space vehicles for a variety of lunar, asteroid, and planetary missions; automated hazard detection and avoidance technologies to reduce risks to crews, landers, and precursor robotic payloads; and in situ resource utilization to support crews during extended stays on extraterrestrial surfaces and to provide for their safe return to Earth. NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) portfolio includes several fast-paced projects that are developing these necessary capabilities.

So ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce NASA’s rather groovy Project Morpheus – a prototype planetary lander capable of vertical takeoff and landing. For Range Safety purposes the Morpheus#1 prototype falls into the category of guided suborbital reusable rocket. Morpheus uses a liquid oxygen (LOX)/liquid methane propulsion system with up to 321 second burn time. Specifically, the Morpheus project and the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) project provide technological foundations for key components of the greater exploration architecture necessary to move humans beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).
Project Morpheus is a NASA project to develop a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) test vehicle called Morpheus Lander in order to demonstrate a new nontoxic spacecraft propellant system (methane and oxygen) and an autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. The prototype planetary lander is capable of vertical takeoff and landings. The vehicles are NASA designed robotic landers that will be able to land and takeoff with 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of cargo on the Moon. The prospect is an engine that runs reliably on propellants that are not only cheaper and safer here on Earth, but could also be potentially manufactured on the Moon or even Mars. (See: In-situ resource utilization.)
The Alpha prototype lander was manufactured and assembled at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Armadillo Aerospace’s facility near Dallas. The prototype lander is a “spacecraft” that is about 12 ft (3.7 m) in diameter, weighs approximately 2,300 lb (1,000 kg) and consists of four silver spherical propellant tanks topped by avionics boxes and a web of wires.

The project is trying out cost and time saving “lean development” engineering practices. Other project activities include appropriate ground operations, flight operations, range safety and the instigation of software development procedures. Landing pads and control centers were also constructed. From the project start in July 2010, about $10 million was spent on materials in the following 3+ years; so the Morpheus project is considered lean and low-cost for NASA. In 2012 the project employed 25 full-time team members, and 60 students.

Project Morpheus started in July 2010 and was named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. The Morpheus spacecraft was derived from the experimental lander produced by Project M with the assistance of Armadillo Aerospace. Project M (NASA) was a NASA initiative to design, develop and land a humanoid robot on the lunar surface in 1000 days. Work on some of the landers systems began in 2006, when NASA’s Constellation program planned a human return to the Moon.

In the same year 2006, Armadillo Aerospace entered the first Pixel rocket lander into the Lunar Lander Challenge part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges.
The Morpheus #1 Unit A test vehicle was first hot-fired 15 April 2011.
Morpheus’s new 4,200 pounds-force (19,000 N) engine permitted NASA to design a larger vehicle than its parent, a copy of Armadillo Aerospace’s Pixel rocket lander. The engine was upgraded again to 5,000 pounds-force (22,000 N) in 2013. A new design of landing gear was part of the Mechanical changes. NASA also replaced the avionics – this included power distribution and storage, instrumentation, the flight computer, communications and software. The enhanced landing system permits Morpheus, unlike the Pixels, to land without help from a pilot.

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