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Science

Space Launch System fires up

NASA is another step closer to manned deep-space missions with the completion of the latest round of RS-25 rocket engine tests. Based on the engines that sent the Space Shuttle into orbit, the new power plants will form the core of the Space Launch System (SLS).Read More

Energy

Tiny solar cells could soon charge electric vehicles while on the road

Researchers claim to have hit on the right combination of solar cell type and battery to charge an electric vehicle battery with higher efficiency than ever before. The team behind the research says the system could soon make it possible to attach small cells to a car that will charge the vehicle while being driven – on a sunny day, at least.Read More

Electronics

The microbot designed to push all your buttons

The mechanical button or switch is that most simple of user interfaces. So simple that just about every electrical device in the home, from lights to coffee machines, will have one. With the goal of letting these legacy devices join the home automation bandwagon, South Korean startup Naran has come up with Microbot Push – a wireless robotic "finger" designed to operate standard buttons and switches.

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Environment

NASA teleconference on sea level change warns of rising oceans

On Aug. 26, NASA held a media teleconference regarding current predictions on sea level rise, highlighting the risks to coastal populations in low-lying areas, and the inherent problems in creating reliable global models. A panel of experts from NASA's recently-founded Sea Level Change Team tells us that ocean levels are inexorably on the rise, but gaps in our understanding and ability to survey risk regions mean we don't know just how fast the change will take place.Read More

Space

NASA tests Orion parachutes to breaking point

NASA has been pushing the safety features on its next-generation Orion spacecraft to the extreme, as it carried out a dramatic parachute test. During the test, engineers staged the failure of various components of the descent system in order to see if it would still function, and save the lives of a potential crew in a worst case scenario.Read More

Waste paper could be a new source of "green" lighter fluid

Lighter fluid may be useful for getting barbecue briquettes or campfires lit, but it's not the most eco-friendly stuff in the world. It's often made from crude oil, and gives off toxic fumes when it burns. A team of scientists from Hong Kong and Hungary are developing what could be a greener solution, however – cleaner-burning lighter fluid derived from discarded paper.Read More

Medical

Robotic needle can be steered through tissue

A robot-assisted system developed at the University of Twente promises to make medical procedures that use needles more precise. The system allows flexible needles to be steered in real time to their target, which negates issues with tissue and organs deforming from the contact pressure or from any unforeseen obstacles that lie between the needle and its target.Read More

Physics

Extreme pressure reveals new phenomenon in atomic nuclei

Scientists have long believed that while an atom's outer electrons are highly mobile and often behave somewhat chaotically, the inner electrons close to the nucleus are stable. They move steadily around the nucleus and stay out of each other's way. But new research reveals that if the pressure is really extreme, like double that found at the center of the Earth, the innermost electrons of an atom change their behavior.Read More

Space

Self-healing material could plug holes in space ships

As the movies have shown us, space travel is an intimidating prospect, what with the possibilities of running out of air, the rocket engines conking out, or the shipboard computer deciding to bump off the crew. Another danger is fast-flying orbital debris piercing the hull. Scientists may be on their way to a solution to that one, however, in the form of a new self-healing material.Read More

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