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University of Maryland

— Space

RINGS propels satellites without propellants

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
— Science

New "fishless" feeds could make aquaculture more sustainable

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
— Environment

Wood nanobattery could be green option for large-scale energy storage

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
— Drones

Sticky spy UAV turns things upside down with ability to land on walls and ceilings

Micro UAVs that have the ability to slip into tight spaces, including inside buildings, have wide ranging military and search and rescue applications. To reach their full potential, however, these UAVs are going to need to learn how to land in rougher areas that don't always have a horizontal surface to touch down on. One team of scientists has begun taking a huge step towards accomplishing just that by developing a quadcopter with a mechanism that allows it to land on walls or ceilings, stay for a while, and then take off again. Read More
— Robotics

Robo Raven gets in a flap with real-life hawk

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other. Read More
— Science

Atomic layer deposition and art conservancy – a marriage made in Maryland

Silver is a remarkable medium for artistic expression. It takes well to engraving, sculpting, casting, and fine detail while also having sufficient strength (especially in alloys) to insure the durability of art objects formed from this metal. Unfortunately, silver tarnishes when exposed to moist air, and removing layers of tarnish can damage the fine detail of artistic treasures. A new method for preventing the ravages of silver tarnish is now being developed by researchers in Maryland. Read More
— Space

Voyager 1 leaves the Solar System?

Has Voyager 1 left the Solar System? Is it officially the first spacecraft to reach interstellar space? It depends on whom you ask. NASA says no, but W.R. Webber of the New Mexico State University Department of Astronomy and F.B. McDonald of the University of Maryland Institute of Physical Science and Technology say yes. They contend that the unmanned, nuclear-powered probe left the Solar System on August 25, 2012 at a distance of 121.7 AU (18.2 billion km) from the Sun when its instruments on board detected a major shift in cosmic ray intensity. Read More
— Aircraft

Up, up and away: Gamera II team takes human-powered helicopter to new heights

The Gamera II team at the A. James Clark School of Engineering has certainly been keeping officials at the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) very busy this year. Kyle Gluesenkamp from the school's mechanical engineering department pedaled and cranked his way into the record books in June with a new official national record for human-powered helicopter flight with a time of 49.9 seconds, and now that too has been smashed. A new venue, and some vital modifications to the huge craft has resulted in the magic Sikorsky Prize 60-second barrier being surpassed for the very first time. Not only that, but Gamera II has also been taken up beyond eight feet before a serious crash landing put a stop to more record attempts. Read More
— Aircraft

Gamera II team smashes previous best human-powered helicopter flight time

For over 30 years, the US$250,000 cash prize for the American Helicopter Society's Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize has looked decidedly secure, but Gamera II has changed all that. Last week, Clark School of Engineering team pilots came so close to breaking one of the competition's major milestones that they could virtually smell it. Ph.D. candidate from Kyle Gluesenkamp from the School's mechanical engineering department, hand-cranking and pedaling like his life depended on it, managed to keep the huge quad-rotor craft aloft for 50 seconds, an impressive new world record that's currently awaiting validation by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). Read More
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