UpFront

NASA Completes Successful PhoneSat Mission

Three PhoneSats were delivered to Earth orbit on the maiden flight of the Antares launch vehicle on April 21, 2013. The PhoneSats are 10-centimeter cubes with a mass of about 1 kilogram. They employ an off-the-shelf commercial smartphone as the control system for the satellite, and use a UHF radio beacon to transmit data and images to the ground. The objective was to demonstrate the application of consumer electronics as the basis of an extremely low-cost satellite bus. The PhoneSat project is a technology demonstration mission developed at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a powdered sample from the interior of a rock called “Cumberland.” The rock lies about nine feet west of the rock where Curiosity’s drill first touched Martian stone in February — the rock called John Klein. 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: 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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