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University of Maryland

An artist's impression of how the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation lidar will revea...

NASA is developing a laser-based instrument for deployment on the International Space Station that will probe the depths of Earth's forests from space in a bid to reveal more about their role in the planet's carbon cycle. After its completion in 2018, this Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar will join the likes of the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in studying Earth's vegetation on a global scale.  Read More

The ultra-thin terahertz band light detector can see just below the surface of clothing, b...

A new prototype light detector uses graphene's light-absorbing properties to see in a broad band of light wavelengths that includes terahertz waves. These fall between the microwave and infrared bands, thereby making it possible to look just beneath the surface of opaque objects such as skin and plastic.  Read More

Comet C/2013 A1 will pass Mars ten times closer than any observed comet has passed the Ear...

In October, Mars will encounter comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which will come closer to the Red Planet than any recorded comet has passed to Earth. This spectacular event isn't just an astronomical curiosity, it’s also a potential hazard to NASA’s armada of orbiting explorers, so the space agency is taking steps to protect them from damage by the cosmic visitor.  Read More

An illustration of an air waveguide, with the four laser-produced 'holes' (orange) and the...

Efficient as fiber optic cables are at transmitting data in the form of light pulses, they do need to be physically supported, and they can only handle a finite amount of power. Still, what's the alternative ... just send those focused pulses through the air? Actually, that's just what scientists at the University of Maryland have already demonstrated in their lab.  Read More

The Global Forest Watch platform launched this month

According to World Wildlife Fund data, we are losing 12 to 15 million hectares (46,332 to 57,915 square miles) of the world's forests every year. Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, as it accounts for 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, besides killing biodiversity, depleting natural resources, compromising water sources, causing soil erosion and other environmental problems. Efforts to fight deforestation require fast information that could help authorities and NGOs take action before the worst damage is done. Global Forest Watch is a new initiative offering the possibility to do just that. It monitors deforestation activity across the globe, in near real time.  Read More

The US Department of Defense is pushing for the development of cheap, wearable systems tha...

Innovation is all about putting on the proverbial thinking cap. Now engineers are vying to produce an actual thinking cap – at least one that can measure the most rudimentary signals of thought. The US Department of Defense is pushing for the development of cheap, wearable systems that can detect the brain waves of people and display the data on smartphones or tablets.  Read More

Artist's impression of Voyager 1, which is now 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Earth

Sometimes it seems as though the Voyager 1 space probe is like a dog that can’t decide if it wants to be inside or out. A team of scientists led by the University of Maryland claim that the Voyager 1 space probe, which is now 11 billion miles (18 billion km) from Earth left the Solar System’s boundary last year and is not, as NASA claims, passing through a transition zone. The controversial theory is based on models of the solar magnetic field on the edge of the system and how it interacts with interstellar space.  Read More

After undergoing freefall tests in a NASA plane, the RINGS propulsion system will now be p...

Astronauts on the International Space Station are testing a new propulsion system ... inside the station. While this might seem like the height of recklessness, this particular system doesn't use rockets or propellants. Developed in the University of Maryland's Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, this new electromagnetic propulsion technology called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (RINGS) uses magnetic fields to move spacecraft as a way to increase service life and make satellite formation flying more practical.  Read More

Prawns raised on the Novacq fish-free feed additive (Photo: CSIRO)

When it comes to commercial aquaculture, a lot of people have some legitimate concerns – fish farms can introduce antibiotics, anti-algal chemicals and concentrated fish waste into the ocean; escaped fish can upset the local ecological balance; and wild fish still need to be caught in large numbers, as a food source for some species of farmed fish. While there have been recent efforts to address the first two concerns, the fish-in-the-fish-food problem is now being taken on in two different research projects. These are aimed at replacing the fish content in fish feed with more sustainable ingredients.  Read More

A closeup of the wood fibers used by the researchers in their sodium-ion battery (Image: U...

Li-ion batteries may be ok for your smartphone, but when it comes to large-scale energy storage, the priorities suddenly shift from compactness and cycling performance (at which Li-ion batteries excel) to low cost and environmental feasibility (in which Li-ion batteries still have much room for improvement). A new "wood battery" could allow the emerging sodium-ion battery technology to fit the bill as a long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery for large-scale energy storage.  Read More

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