News

NASA Spacecraft Breaks Solar Power Distance Record

NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter broke the record to become humanity's most distant solar-powered emissary when Juno was about 493 million miles from the Sun. Launched in 2011, Juno is the first solar-powered spacecraft designed to operate at such a great distance from the Sun. That's why the surface area of solar panels required to generate adequate power is quite large. The four-ton Juno spacecraft carries three 30-foot-long solar arrays festooned with 18,698 individual solar cells.

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NASA Maps Support Earthquake Relief Efforts

During natural disasters like high-magnitude earthquakes, areas most in need of assistance must be located as fast as possible. Researchers, led by Sang-Ho Yun at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, have developed a way to make maps of damage using the remote sensing technology of satellites. The method works even if the satellite images are taken at night or in cloudy skies.

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Scientists Print in 4D

Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have brought a fourth dimension to their microscale 3D printing technology.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials
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Beetle-Inspired Patterning Prevents Frost

Taking a page from the beetle's playbook, Virginia Tech biomedical engineers created a way to control condensation and frost growth on airplane parts, condenser coils, and windshields.

Posted in: News, Coatings & Adhesives, Composites, Materials, Metals
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Mini Force Fields Control Individual Microbots

Researchers are using a technology likened to "mini force fields" to independently control individual microrobots operating within groups, an advance aimed at using the tiny machines in areas including manufacturing and medicine. Until now it was only possible to control groups of microbots to move generally in unison.

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Researchers Create Evaporation-Powered Motor

Biological systems are known to convert energy generated from the evaporation of water confined within nanoscale compartments into muscle-like mechanical work in response to changes in environmental humidity. Recently, scientists designed shape-changing engineered composites of bacterial spores and a polymer that used an evaporation-driven process to power locomotion and generate electricity.

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Shape Optimization Improves Electric Motor Efficiency

The automotive and aeronautic industries often rely on shape optimization, an approach that uses modeling to create a framework for making devices as smooth and efficient as possible. Shape optimization techniques have now been used to enhance the performance of an electric motor.

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Soft Robot Fingers Collect Delicate Coral

Most deep sea robotic manipulators are constructed from hard materials that are not geared to collect fragile coral. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Paulson School, and City University of New York have developed a soft robotic gripper that can safely handle delicate specimens, including biological specimens on deep reefs.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

Just as hybrid or turboelectric power has improved fuel efficiency in cars, boats and trains, aeronautical engineers are exploring how planes can be redesigned and configured with electrical power. One of NASA’s goals is to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.

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Lightweight, Strong Metal Could Make Airplanes More Energy Efficient

Researchers have created a lightweight, but very strong, structural metal made of magnesium because it is a light metal with two-thirds the density of aluminum, is abundant on Earth, and is biocompatible. It was mixed with silicon carbide nanoparticles into a molten magnesium-zinc alloy that uniformly dispersed and stabilized the nanoparticles, making a super-strong and lightweight metal.

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