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Science

— Space

Lunar detour could lighten the launch load for manned missions to Mars

Early last year, researchers at MIT floated the idea of "gas stations" in space that have the potential to cut the costs of future missions to the Moon considerably. Now a new study out of MIT says that, although possibly a little out of the way, the Moon would make a worthwhile refueling pit stop for manned missions to Mars by reducing the mass of a launch from Earth by 68 percent.

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— Space

Surprise asteroid to give Earth a Halloween flyby

An asteroid designated 2015 TB145 will pass by the Earth at around 1.3 lunar distances (approximately 310,000 miles or about 499,000 km) on October 31 this year. Estimated to be anywhere between 280 to 620 m (918 to 2,034 ft) in diameter and traveling in excess of 126,000 km/h (78,293 mph), the asteroid was discovered less than two weeks ago using the Pan-STARRS array in Hawaii and is the largest object to so closely approach our planet in recent times.

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— Medical

Implantable LCD eye lenses may make glasses obsolete

The potential for replacing aging or damaged eye lenses with artificial lenses that do more than just restore eyesight has long been recognized. With everything from telescopic capabilities to those with built-in heads-up displays, electronically-enabled synthetic lenses promise to bring useful cybernetic enhancements to the human body. In pursuit of this goal, one researcher at the University of Leeds is developing a unique, auto-focusing liquid crystal lens that may help cure age-related long-sightedness.

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— Space

ESA's GomX-3 CubeSat goes online

The European Space Agency has declared that its miniature GomX-3 technology demonstration satellite is in good health and ready to begin its primary mission. Deployed on October 5 from the International Space Station, the CubeSat will spend six-months testing new radio technology for tracking civil aircraft in previously inaccessible regions of the world and measuring telecom satellite signal quality.

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— Electronics

Powered by body heat, Lumen flashlight never needs batteries

Whether it be for everyday carry, outdoor adventure, or disaster preparation, flashlights tend to be found towards the top of must-have items. But one common aspect of these luminescent devices is that they're only as good as the batteries inside. If you've ever switched on a flashlight only to experience a flood of frustrated disappointment, you might appreciate owning an "eternal flashlight." Lumen is designed to be powered by body heat, never needing batteries.

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— Space

New study finds common link between young stars and black holes

A research project led by the University of Leicester in the UK has identified similarities in the readings from the discs surrounding black holes and young stars, even though the objects have wildly different properties. The discovery was made by studying the brightness variations produced by accretion discs around various astronomical objects. These huge discs of matter play a central part in the growth of most objects in the Universe, providing a common ground for study.

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— Physics

Meson f0(1710) could be so-called “glueball” particle made purely of nuclear force

Terms to describe the strange world of quantum physics have come to be quite common in our lexicon. Who, for instance, hasn't at least heard of a quark, or a gluon or even Schrodinger's cat? Now there's a new name to remember: "Glueball." A long sought-after exotic particle, and recently claimed to have been detected by researchers at TU Wien, the glueball's strangest characteristic is that it is composed entirely of gluons. In other words, it is a particle created from pure force.

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— Space

SkinSuit designed to reduce harmful physical effects of weightlessness tested on ISS

The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) got a fashion show with a medical twist last month as Denmark’s first astronaut, Andreas Mogensen, donned a SkinSuit designed to counteract the harmful effects of prolonged periods of weightlessness on the human body. Developed as part of an international effort led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the new suit is designed to simulate the pressures of normal gravity to prevent unhealthy stretching of the spine.

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— Energy

Candle soot could reduce lithium ion battery production costs

A new study suggests that the carbon-based waste material given off by burning candles could be suitable for use in larger, more powerful lithium ion batteries such as those used in electric cars. Two researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology found that as an anode material, candle soot compares favorably to existing commercial options because of its low cost of production and fractal-like nanoparticle structure.

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