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Space Launch System’s Core Stage Built Piece-by-Piece

Welders inside a large liquid hydrogen tank for NASA's Space Launch System use friction stir welding to plug holes left after the tank was assembled. (NASA/Michoud/Steve Seipel) Large elements for NASA's Space Launch System are in production, and will be joined together to create the rocket's 212-foot-tall core stage, the backbone of the SLS rocket. The core stage is made up of the engine section, liquid hydrogen tank, intertank, liquid oxygen tank, and forward skirt.

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Computer Chip Manufacturing Method Squeezes More onto Wafers

Scanning electron micrographs of block copolymer films assembled on graphene/germanium chemical patterns with 90-degree bends (left) and with density multiplication by a factor of 10 (right). Engineers have devised a simple, reproducible, and less expensive approach to manufacturing computer chips using directed self-assembly, which can increase the density of circuit patterns. The method could mean a boost in functionality for semiconductor electronics, and in capacity for data storage.

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Using Light to 3D-Print Structures that Remember Their Shapes

A 3D-printed, multimaterial, shape-memory mini-gripper, consisting of shape-memory hinges and adaptive touching tips, grasps a cap screw. (Qi Ge) Engineers are using light to print three-dimensional structures that “remember” their original shapes. The process of 3D printing shape-memory materials can also be thought of as 4D printing, as the structures are designed to change over the fourth dimension — time.

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Instruments Measure Large-Scale Motion Around San Andreas Fault

Uplift (red) and subsidence (blue) based on GPS data (top) confirm predicted motion (bottom). An array of GPS instruments near the San Andreas Fault System in Southern California detects constant motion of Earth’s crust — sometimes large, sudden motion during an earthquake, and often subtle, creeping motion. The GPS array records vertical and horizontal motion of Earth’s surface. The challenge was to discern the broad, regional tectonic motion from the shorter-scale, local motion.

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Morphing Nanotubes into Tougher Carbon for Aerospace

Rice researchers (l-r) Robert Vajtai, Enrique Barrera, and Sehmus Ozden at the two-stage gas gun used to fire nanotube pellets at hypervelocity speeds. (Jeff Fitlow) Rice University materials scientists are making nanodiamonds and other forms of carbon by smashing nanotubes against a target at high speeds. The process will enrich the knowledge of engineers who design structures that resist damage from high-speed impacts. The diamonds are the result of a detailed study on the ballistic fracturing of carbon nanotubes at different velocities. Such high-energy impacts caused atomic bonds in the nanotubes to break and sometimes recombine into different structures.

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Existing Navigation Data Can Help Pilots Avoid Turbulence

Scientists demonstrated that turbulence can be detected in a much faster and more precise way using data already routinely broadcast by commercial airliners. (FUW, jch) Detecting turbulence remains the Achilles' heel of modern-day aviation. The reports submitted by pilots, subjective and often very inaccurate, are the least expensive and the most frequently used method for trying to predict where it will occur. Scientists from the University of Warsaw demonstrated that turbulence can be detected in a much faster and more precise way using data already routinely broadcast by the aircraft operated by commercial airlines.

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NASA Shines Lasers on Future Aircraft Concept

Boeing engineer Stephen Provost checks out a blended wing body model before a wind tunnel test at NASA Langley. (NASA/David C. Bowman) As NASA aeronautics engineers prepare to develop a series of greener, quieter, faster X-planes, they are already testing concepts that could be candidates. One of those is a Boeing blended wing body (BWB). A blended wing body doesn't look like a conventional airplane. Instead of the usual tube and wing design – it's shaped more like a triangle where the wings are merged into the body. Another difference is that it does not have a tail.

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