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Science

The United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has pulled out its crystal ball to look 20 years into the future. In this case, the ball is made of focus groups and the future is that of technologies available to first responders a generation from now. The idea is to anticipate the needs of first responders to make sure that the appropriate technology is available to meet future disasters and terrorist attacks. Read More

The object that NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover found on Sunday is probably a piece of plastic that fell off the unmanned exploration vehicle. According to mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena, California, the object is “benign” and poses no likely threat to continuing the mission. However, the JPL rover team has not yet definitely identified the object and will continue investigating for another day. Read More

NASA’s unmanned Mars rover Curiosity took a pause in its activities after spotting a bright object. As yet unidentified, it was spotted while Curiosity was collecting its first soil samples. Fearing that the object might be a part of Curiosity itself that fell off, mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has suspended Curiosity’s exploration until the object is identified. Read More
Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists. Read More
Scooping up a handful of dirt may seem simple, but for a robot operating on another planet, it’s a major operation. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is making itself ready to collect its first soil sample at an area called “Rocknest.” The preparations involve testing the nuclear-powered rover’s motorized scoop and cleaning out its Chemistry and Mineralogy (ChemMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratories of any terrestrial contaminants before receiving soil samples. Read More
We're used to the thought of humans sweating to cool down, but what about buildings? Researchers at ETH Zurich have applied the biological cooling mechanism to the task of keeping a building cool, and in the process have hit upon a novel and inexpensive method of cooling houses which could prove useful for homes in both developed and emerging nations. Read More
The single biggest factor hindering the convenience, and therefore the adoption, of electric vehicles is the batteries used to power them. While filling up an ICE vehicle takes just a few minutes at the pump, electric vehicle recharge times are measured in hours. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed new algorithms that improve the efficiency of existing lithium-ion batteries and could allow them to be charged twice as fast than is currently possible. Read More
Researchers at Disney Research Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are experimenting with 3D printed optics using clear resin. Printed optics can create a variety of effects within 3D-printed objects, from focusing light within printed prisms to channeling light through honeycomb-like "light pipes," which give the effect of individually lit pixels. Read More
Following on from news out of the University at Buffalo earlier this year that a graphene varnish could significantly slow the corrosion of steel, researchers from Monash and Rice Universities have used a graphene coating to improve copper’s resistance to corrosion by nearly 100 times. The researchers say such a dramatic extension of the metal’s useful life could result in significant cost savings for a wide range of industries. Read More
Boeing has filed a patent for a method of disposing of dead satellites and other debris orbiting the earth by hitting them with a puff of gas. The method, which is still at the conceptual stage, is designed to slow down satellites, forcing them to re-enter the atmosphere without sending up more space junk that itself will need disposing of. Read More
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