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01/05/16
The traditional Japanese art of origami dating back to the 17th Century has inspired NASA today. Using a ground-breaking and cutting-edge idea, scientists at the Space Agency are designing large solar panels that can fold neatly into a space shuttle to then be opened up by astronauts in space.

The discovery was made by Brian Trease who was inspired by a Japanese exchange student when he was at High School. Now a mechanical engineer at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Trease is working with a team to incorporate the origami miura fold into the solar panels. This fold means that once a single corner is pulled, the structure unfolds effortlessly. Although today origami is seen as a form of modern art, creating shapes such as frogs and roses, its uses are still clearly evident as NASA has shown through this modern day cross over of art and technology.

Of course this structure that incorporates the Miura fold is only in its early days, and there will be a lot more factors to consider before the solar panels are constructed. The materials NASA uses on the solar panels will have to work with origami, as the traditional paper will not withstand the conditions of space. However, the idea is a great example of how useful origami can still be in the 21st century.

If you want to find out more information on the Muira Fold there is a useful article published by the British Origami Society at:

http://www.britishorigami.info/academic/miura.php