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JPL


— Science

Ultrathin metasurface lenses do things conventional optics can't

Once, the only way to manipulate light was with the use of a transparent glass or plastic lens whose shape and makeup determined such things as focus, magnification, and polarity. However, to incorporate all of these properties in the one optical system required a large and complex collection of multiple lenses to achieve. Now researchers working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a flat silicon metamaterial lens that manages all of these thing in a microminiaure device that electromagnetically controls the properties of any light passing it. Read More
— Space

Spiky Hedgehog robots to hop around asteroids and comets

As demonstrated by the bumpy landing of ESA's Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, exploring comets, asteroids, and small moons can be difficult due to their low gravity. Not only can landing on one be like trying to alight on a trampoline, but roving around their surfaces is next to impossible because the negligible gravity offers practically no traction. To overcome this, a team of engineers is developing Hedgehog, a completely symmetrical robot rover for low-gravity exploration that moves by hopping.

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— Space

NASA scientists develop gecko-inspired astronaut anchors

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are honing the applications of a gecko-like gripping mechanism in the hope of making life a little less chaotic for those working aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The ever-inventive JPL workers have come up with a series of "astronaut anchors" for use both inside and outside the station, and have even equipped a robot with the tech, opening up the possibility of allowing it to safely operate on the exterior of the space station.

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— Space

Precision planetary lander technology tested by NASA

In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
— Space

NASA and Microsoft team up for virtual Mars exploration

Years before the first astronauts set foot on Mars, scientists will already be there – virtually. Thanks to a collaboration between NASA and Microsoft aimed at advancing human-robot interactions, the space agency's OnSight software will allow researchers to explore a virtual Martian landscape created from data sent back by the Curiosity rover. Read More
— Space

NASA drops mini robots into volcano for science

Space may be vast, but the planets can be pretty cramped – especially when it comes to volcanoes. This is unfortunate because the difficult to navigate fissures that are a major volcanic feature contain clues as to the interior of planets and moons and the mechanisms that formed them. To help learn more, NASA is dropping miniature robots down crevices inaccessible to humans as a way of extracting information about volcanoes on and off the Earth. Read More
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