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Science

Space

US restarts production of plutonium-238 to power space missions

In an effort to avert an outer space energy crisis, the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has restarted production of plutonium-238 (PU-238) after almost 30 years. The civilian stockpile of the plutonium isotope used to power the radiothermal generators (RTG) that make electricity for US deep space probes has dwindled to only 35 kg (77 lb), so the first 50 g (1.7 oz) of plutonium oxide produced by the laboratory marks a major turnaround in American space capabilities.Read More

Space

Faulty instrument delays Mars lander launch

NASA's next big Mars mission will have to wait a couple of years due to a faulty piece of equipment that won't stay fixed. The space agency announced today that the launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander mission scheduled for next March has been scrubbed due to a persistent vacuum leak in the lander's primary science instrument. A new launch date has yet to be determined.Read More

Materials

Gecko-inspired adhesive tape finally scales to market

The natural stickiness of gecko's feet has inspired decades-long research efforts to develop advanced adhesives. Now a company spun out of a university research group called nanoGriptech has taken the science out of the lab and into the market, through a number of newly available products promised to deliver enhanced grip and reusability.Read More

Energy

New flow battery projected to cost 60% less than existing standard

A new organic aqueous flow battery technology promises to drastically lower the cost and sustainability of running energy storage systems. The technology, which was developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, uses low-cost and sustainable synthesized molecules rather than the usual commodity metals, and could be retrofitted to existing batteries. Read More

Space

Dawn delivers its closest-ever view of Ceres

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has sent home the first images from its best-ever viewpoint around the dwarf planet Ceres, orbiting at an altitude of around 240 miles (385 km). The views include a chain of craters across the body's scarred surface, and two 3D snaps, viewable through red-blue glasses.Read More

Energy

Researchers produce new fuel from coal dust and algae

Researchers at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in South Africa have developed a new fuel, known as Coalgae. Made from a combination of algae and coal dust, the latter of which is a waste product, the fuel could have a significant positive impact on the environment.Read More

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