UpFront

NASA, Then and Now

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor. Born on March 3, 1915, NACA changed the face of U.S. aviation, establishing a legacy of innovative aeronautical research that continues at NASA today.

Posted in: Articles, UpFront, Aviation

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Tissue-Building Technique Could Someday Build Organs

A new instrument developed at Brown University could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today. In this case, the parts are 3D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells. The device is called “BioP3” for pick, place, and perfuse. Because it allows assembly of larger structures from small living microtissue components, future versions of BioP3 could be used to manufacture organs such as livers, pancreases, or kidneys.

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3D Printer Creates First Object in Space

The International Space Station’s 3D printer has manufactured the first 3D printed object in space, paving the way to future long-term space expeditions. NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore, commander aboard the ISS, installed the printer and conducted the first calibration test print. The first printed part was a faceplate of the extruder’s casing. This demonstrated that the printer can make replacement parts for itself.

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Heat-Conducting Plastic Blend Developed

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan (U-M) research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional counterparts. Because plastics restrict the flow of heat, their use is limited in technologies like computers, smartphones, cars, or airplanes — places that could benefit from their properties, but where heat dissipation is important.

Posted in: Articles, UpFront, Plastics

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NASA Harvests and 3D Prints Parts for New Aircraft

A team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA is prototyping and redesigning aircraft using 3D printed parts.

Posted in: UpFront, Aviation

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Imaging System Helps View Elusive Veins

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is researching the use of imaging technology to visualize blood donors’ veins. The vein visualization devices are portable, and project an image of the veins onto the skin’s surface using non-invasive, near-infrared technology. The Blood Service is aiming to find out if this procedure reduces anxiety, improves donation comfort, and makes donors more likely to donate again.

Posted in: UpFront, Visualization Software

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Mars Rover Technology Adapted to Detect Gas Leaks

In collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it is testing state-of-the-art technology adapted from NASA’s Mars rover program. Originally designed to find methane on the Red Planet, this laser-based technology is lightweight and has superior sensitivity to methane, a major component of natural gas. The technology applied on Earth helps guide PG&E crews using a tablet interface to identify possible leak locations, fast-tracking their ability to repair gas leaks.

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