News

Students' Decelerator Design Wins NASA's 'Big Idea' Challenge

Students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took top honors in NASA’s first Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge. The challenge: To increase the lift-to-drag ratio on the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) in ways that could potentially help NASA land heavier payloads. The HIAD inflatable device is designed to slow down a spacecraft upon atmospheric re-entry to Earth or other planets.

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Would you use a “skin to screen” technology?

This week's Question: The SkinTrack technology featured in today’s lead story allows users to expand touchpad functionality to the back of the hand and lower arm. By wearing a ring, users can enable cursor movement, highlight numbers on a screen, or dial numbers on a keypad. What do you think? Would you use a “skin to screen” technology?

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'SkinTrack' Turns Lower Arm into Touchpad

A new wearable technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University could turn one's entire lower arm into a touchpad.

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NASA Tests 3D-Printed Rocket Fuel Pump

NASA tested a 3D printed rocket engine turbopump with liquid methane – an ideal propellant for engines needed to power many types of spacecraft for NASA’s journey to Mars. During the full-power test, the turbines generated 600 horsepower and the fuel pump got its “heartbeat” racing at more than 36,000 revolutions per minute, delivering 600 gallons of semi-cryogenic liquid methane per minute – enough to fuel an engine producing over 22,500 pounds of thrust.

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Flexible Silicone Sensors Enable Stepless Control Devices

Researchers have created flexible silicone sensors that make it easier to steplessly control devices such as a multifunction steering wheel that lets the driver control music, light, and ventilation at the touch of a finger. Multifunction steering wheels are standard in most automobiles today, and drivers can easily manipulate the cruise control and stereo without taking their hands of the wheel. However, the buttons are inflexible and the driver can often only switch something “on” and “off.”

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Beach Buoys Detect Water Contamination

Beachgoers may soon be able to know in a timely manner if the water is clean enough for swimming. The technology comes in the form of buoys that are deployed in the water near a beach. By combining statistical models with real-time data gathered by sensors embedded in the buoys, they provide quick and dependable information on water quality.

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Tactile Power Steering Senses Direction of Motorized Carts

Tactile handles forklifts, industrial trucks, and motorized carts are being developed that employ pressure sensors to detect the direction in which a user is pushing or pulling the cart. Workers can get a cart moving in the right direction with very little effort using the pressure sensors. Since the handles are equipped with sensors for both hands, a cart does more than just detect whether it is being pushed or pulled.

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