UpFront

App of the Month: Five "best in class"

The five “best in class” solutions were chosen as winners of the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge, in which participants developed software, hardware, data visualization, and mobile or Web applications that contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

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Last Chance to “Create the Future”

The 11th annual “Create the Future” Design Contest, sponsored by COMSOL, SAE International, and Tech Briefs Media Group, closes for entries on July 1, 2013. If you haven’t submitted your entry, go to www.createthefuturecontest.com today for your opportunity to receive global recognition and a Grand Prize of $20,000 in cash for an innovative new product idea.

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Touch-Based Interfaces on Everyday Surfaces

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have demonstrated how a depth camera system such as Microsoft’s Kinect can create touch-based interfaces almost at will, with the wave of a hand. CMU’s WorldKit system enables someone to rub the arm of a sofa to “paint” a remote control for her TV, or swipe a hand across an office door to post his calendar from which subsequent users can “pull down” an extended version. These ad hoc interfaces can be moved, modified or deleted with similar gestures, making them highly personalized.

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Curiosity Update

Mars has lost much of its original atmosphere, but what’s left remains quite active, according to NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. Evidence has strengthened that Mars lost much of its original atmosphere by a process of gas escaping from the top of the atmosphere. Watch Tech Briefs TV for the latest videos of the mission at www.techbriefs.com/tv/mars. Keep up with Curiosity at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

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Registration Opens for Energy Challenge

Registration is open for teams seeking to compete in the $1.5 million energy storage competition known as the Night Rover Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, CA. To win, a team must demonstrate a stored energy system that can power a simulated solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate through multiple cycles of daylight and extended periods of darkness. Registration closes on October 25, 2013. Visit: www.nightrover.org to register.

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App of the Month: NASA Desert RATS Virtual Test Site

The Desert RATS Virtual Test Site 3D environment combines NASA models with topography and satellite imagery to bring the Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) Arizona analog to your mobile de vice. Available for free for iPhone and iPad at the iTunes Store at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-desert-ratsvirtualtest/id463505939?mt=8

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Research May Unlock Secret of Alzheimer’s

Some of the core beliefs about what causes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases may be wrong, and flying an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) could provide the best way to show it. Scientists at Kennedy Space Center, working with the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), want to send a set of proteins to the ISS where the material would be free to collect together into large, complex structures without gravity tearing them apart.

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Trees Used to Create Recyclable Solar Cells

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. By fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has seen evidence of water-bearing minerals in rocks near where it had already found clay minerals inside a drilled rock. The rover’s science team announced that analysis of powder from a drilled mudstone rock on Mars indicates past environmental conditions that were favorable for microbial life. Watch Tech Briefs TV for the latest videos of the mission at www.techbriefs.com/tv/mars. Keep up with Curiosity at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

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App of the Month: NASA Lunar Electric Rover Simulator

Buckle up as the Lunar Electric Rover Simulator gives you a glimpse of what it might be like to support the activities of a functioning Lunar Outpost. Get busy — you never know if your skills will become a major part of the NASA astronaut application process in the future. Download the free app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad at https://itunes.apple.com/app/nasa-lunarelectric-rover/id355542143?mt=8.

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