UpFront

App of the Month: Earth as Art

In 1960, the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. This app celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere. Download the free app for iPad from iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-earth-as-art/id577527077?mt=8.

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Robot Prize Competition Opens

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA has teamed with NASA on the $1.5 million 2014 Sample Return Robot prize competition. Planned for June 2014 at WPI, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from varied terrains without human controls. Teams that meet all competition requirements will be eligible to compete for the NASA-funded $1.5 million prize.

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Celebrating Curiosity and Looking to 2020

Last month marked the first anniversary of Curiosity’s landing on Mars. In last September’s issue, we talked with members of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) science and engineering team about what they hoped to find on Mars, and how the various technologies and instruments on Curiosity were expected to work. This month, we revisit the MSL team and find out if their expectations are on track, what Curiosity has found in a year, and how the dreaded “7 Minutes of Terror” turned into a perfectly executed touchdown on the Red (or so we thought) Planet. (More about that in our feature beginning on page 14.)

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App of the Month: Be a Martian

The Be A Martian app lets you experience Mars as if you were there. See the latest mission images of the spacecraft and those returned from the Red Planet, learn about Mars and all the active missions, ask a question about Mars, get up-to-the-minute news, and check out behind-the-scenes videos featuring people on the missions. Free for Android, iPhone, and Windows phones. Visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mobile/info/ for download information.

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Shape-Changing Smartphone Morphs When Called

Researchers at Queen’s University in Canada developed the MorePhone smartphone that can morph its shape to give users a silent yet visual cue of an incoming phone call, text message, or email. With MorePhone, users can leave their smartphone on the table and observe visual shape changes when someone is trying to contact them.

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Seeing the Human Pulse

Researchers at MIT have developed an algorithm that can accurately measure the heart rates of people depicted in ordinary digital video by analyzing imperceptibly small head movements that accompany the rush of blood caused by the heart’s contractions. The algorithm provides estimates of the time intervals between beats, a measurement that can be used to identify patients at risk for cardiac events.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity finished investigations in an area smaller than a football field where it has been working for six months, and was shifted to a distance-driving mode, headed for the base of Mount Sharp. 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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