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Wind patterns in Gale Crater, with Curiosity's position marked by an X (Image: NASA/JPL-Ca...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now sending back weather reports and radiation measurements. Using the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument built by Spain’s Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB), the nuclear-powered robot has been taking measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed and other factors to better understand the Martian environment in hopes of finding out whether life could still exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

Astronauts manning a proposed deep space station on the far side of the Moon would need en...

With astronauts venturing beyond the protection of Earth’s magnetic field exposed to high levels of cosmic radiation, the European Space Agency (ESA) has teamed with Germany’s GSI (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung) particle accelerator in the search for materials to shield future astronauts going to the Moon, the asteroids and Mars, or manning a space station beyond the Moon. Amongst the candidates being assessed are Moon and Mars soil.  Read More

Orbit of the RBSPs in the Van Allen Belts (Image: NASA)

NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) took a musical interlude and listened to the Earth singing to itself. This “Earthsong,” as NASA calls it, was recorded by the two spacecraft as they orbited inside the highly radioactive Van Allen Belts that surround the Earth. The “song” is in the form of radio waves generated by the belts and the study of it may provide a clue toward answering the question of how to protect satellites and astronauts from deadly radiation storms.  Read More

Three Sandia neutrister neutron generators mounted in a test box under vacuum

Neutron generators provide materials analysis and non-destructive testing tools to many industries, including oilfield operations, heavy mechanical construction, art conservancy, detective work, and medicine. Many of these applications have been limited by the rather large size of current industrial and medical neutron sources. Now Sandia National Laboratories, the lab that develops and supports the non-nuclear parts (including neutron generators) of nuclear weapons, has developed a new approach toward building tiny neutron generators.  Read More

Particle physicists Erlend Bolle, David Volgyes, Michael Rissi and Kim-Eigard Hines have d...

So you’re unlucky enough to be hit with the real C-word: cancer. That sucks. But what can be worse is that many current medical scanning techniques come with large levels of radiation. The current practice of combining PET (Positron emission tomography) and CT (computerized tomography) scans produces good images, but the cost is high: a dose of radiation ten times the background amount the average human gets in a year. And that’s just one scan. Many cancer patients have to endure multiple scans. A new PET scanner from physicists at the University of Oslo (UiO) cuts the radiation dose in half and is also small enough to fit inside an MR scanner. Although it was developed for animals, the researchers say it could be easily adapted for human clinical examinations.  Read More

The NanoTritium betavoltaic power source from City Labs is a thumb-sized battery that draw...

When installing micro-electronic devices in locations that are expensive or hard to reach, or just downright dangerous, you don't want to have to keep returning to swap out a battery cell. City Labs has announced the commercial launch of its NanoTritium betavoltaic power source, a thumb-sized battery that draws on the energy released from its radioactive element to provide continuous nanoWatt power for over 20 years.  Read More

A solar flare observed by NASA and ESA's  Solar & Heliospheric Observatory on October 29 2...

Scientists may have hit upon a new means of predicting solar flares more than a day in advance, which hinges on a hypothesis dating back to 2006 that solar activity affects the rate of decay of radioactive materials on Earth. Study of the phenomenon could lead to a new system which monitors changes in gamma radiation emitted from radioactive materials, and if the underlying hypothesis proves correct, this could lead to solar flare advance warning systems that would assist in the protection of satellites, power systems and astronauts.  Read More

The RBSP mission will study the Van Allen Belts (Image: JHU/APL)

Radiation is a common hazard of space exploration and space agencies usually tend to avoid it for obvious reasons. It can be dangerous for astronauts and fatal to the microcircuitry of satellites. Why, then, is NASA sending its next unmanned mission right into the worst radiation hazard in the neighborhood? On August 23, two Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) will launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida to study the radioactive Van Allen Belts.  Read More

Lapka is  sensor that works with an iPhone app to present data on various environmental fa...

Have you ever sat and wondered what the radiation level is in your house? Or whether that food you're about to greedily tuck into is organic or not? Then Lapka may have been conceived with you in mind. The people behind Lapka – a set of sensors and accompanying app for the Apple iPhone – claim their product can do all of the above and more besides.  Read More

CorPath 200 allows surgeons to carry out PCI procedures without exposure to x-rays

When we think about a heart operation, it’s only natural to be concerned about the risks faced by the patient. What is overlooked is that the surgeon often faces risks in the operating theater as well. All the modern surgical paraphernalia may make cardiac medicine tremendously more advanced than it was a generation ago, but some of that equipment uses radiation that can be very dangerous to be around ... and surgeons are around it a lot. To help alleviate this, Corindus Vascular Robotics of Natick, Massachusetts, developed the CorPath 200 System. It’s a robot-assisted catheter system for unblocking arteries that allows cardiac surgeons to operate from a protective lead-lined cockpit while carrying out cardiac stent and balloon procedures.  Read More

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