News

Will elevators take us to the edge of space?

This week's Question: Last month, the Canada-based company Thoth Technology received a US patent for its 12-mile space elevator design. The elevator, enclosed in a tunnel, includes a landing pad on its roof. Spacecraft would refuel and take on passengers and cargo from the pad. Some of the elements of the elevator, however, have yet to be invented, including a tether cable that is lightweight and can withstand the tension of the lift technology. There is also concern about high winds and the possibility of the tower buckling under its own weight. What do you think? Will elevators take us to the edge of space?  

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Depth-Sensing Camera Works in Bright Light and Darkness

A new imaging technology from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto operates in both bright sunlight and darkness. A mathematical model programs the device so that the camera and its light source work together efficiently, eliminating extraneous light, or “noise,” that would otherwise wash out the signals needed to detect a scene’s contours.

Posted in: News, Detectors, Sensors

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Crash Test Helps Improve Emergency Response

NASA’s Langley Research Center hoisted a Cessna 172 aircraft 100 feet into the air by cables and released it. The plane plummeted onto a slab of dirt in a violent but controlled experiment that will help NASA improve aviation emergency response times. The test is part of a push to bolster the reliability of emergency locator transmitters. The systems automatically alert rescue personnel in the event of an airplane crash.

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Database Could Make Airport Ground Movements Quicker and Greener

Growth in air traffic and passenger numbers has led to warnings that airports could become bottlenecks in the global air transportation system. Ensuring efficient movement of aircraft on the ground is a key way for airport stakeholders to save time, reduce costs, and improve carbon emissions. Aviation engineering specialists have created an innovative system for airport ground movement to generate the most efficient routes and optimal speed instructions – or speed profiles – for pilots to follow during taxiing.

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Thin Ribbon of Flexible Electronics Monitors Aircraft Health

A hybrid technology mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3D printing technologies. The system takes a razor-thin silicon integrated circuit and places it on a flexible, bendable, or even foldable plastic-like material. The circuitry can fit into extremely tight spaces, and even can be integrated into complex curved surfaces such as an airplane’s wing.

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Robotic System Builds Biggest Composite Rocket Parts Ever Made

One of the largest composites manufacturing robots created in America will help NASA build the biggest lightweight composite parts ever made for space vehicles. The robot will build structures larger than 26 feet in diameter. The robot travelled across the country from Electroimpact, Inc. in Mukilteo, WA. Electroimpact engineers worked with NASA Marshall engineers to customize the robot and supporting software for building large space structures.

Posted in: News

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Researchers Help NASA Eliminate Vibration in Space System Joints

Researchers at the University of Georgia are helping NASA determine if a key rocket component can withstand the rigors of the next generation of spaceflight. The bellows expansion joints serve several functions in rocket propulsion systems, perhaps most critically as connectors between fuel and oxidizer lines and the rocket's engines. NASA wants to make sure a flow-induced vibration phenomenon in the joints doesn't pose a risk for its new Space Launch System.

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