News

NASA’s Green Propellant Spacecraft Moves Toward Launch

The propulsion subsystem for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) has been integrated onto the spacecraft, moving the mission another major step toward scheduled launch in 2016. The propulsion subsystem will be the primary payload on the mission’s spacecraft. The mission will demonstrate the practical capabilities of a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel/oxidizer propellant blend developed by the Air Force.

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Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a robot moved through the varying conditions, the researchers found ideal parameters for appendage design.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Embedded Optical Sensors Make Robotic Hands More Dexterous

Researchers have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with embedded, stretchable fiber optic strain sensors. By using fiber optics, the researchers were able to embed 14 strain sensors into each of the fingers in the hand, giving it the ability to determine where its fingertips are in contact, and to detect forces of less than a tenth of a newton.

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Wearable Electronic Health Patches Continuously Monitor the Body

A team of researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a method for producing inexpensive and high-performing wearable patches that can continuously monitor the body’s vital signs for human health and performance tracking.

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Sensors Detect Corrosion Risk in Concrete Structures in Real Time

Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) have developed a new sensor system that detects quickly and nondestructively the risk of corrosion in the concrete structure of the buildings. The information provided allows engineers to anticipate well in advance any action deemed necessary, while reducing the costs of repair and maintenance.

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Solar-Powered Water Purification System Supports Remote Village

For nearly two years, residents of the remote Mexican village of La Mancalona, most of whom are subsistence farmers, have operated and maintained a solar-powered water purification system engineered by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Posted in: News, Solar Power

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NASA Tests New Green Propellants for Satellites

To stay in the proper orbit, many satellites have thrusters – small rocket engines – that fire to change altitude or orientation in space. On Earth, where gravity dominates, five pounds of thrust, equivalent to 22 Newtons of force, may seem small, but in space, it doesn’t take much thrust to move a large spacecraft.

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