UpFront

App of the Month: NetworKing

NASA has released a new mobile application that challenges gamers to take on the role of a space communications network manager, and puts them in charge of building a communications network to support scientific missions. NetworKing provides an interactive, 3D experience with an insider’s perspective into how mission controllers and scientists communicate with spacecraft and satellites. NetworKing is available free on the NASA 3D Resources Web site at http://go.nasa.gov/OFkcot.

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Curiosity Update

Instruments aboard the Curiosity rover have ingested and analyzed samples of the Martian atmosphere collected near the “Rocknest” site in Gale Crater where the rover is stopped for research. Findings from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments suggest that loss of a fraction of the atmosphere has been a significant factor in the evolution of the planet.

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Major Step Forward in Wave Energy

One of the first public wave energy testing systems in the United States has begun operation off the Oregon coast, and will allow private industry or academic researchers to test new technology that may help advance this promising form of sustainable energy. The Ocean Sentinel is a device developed by Oregon State University. It’s a major step forward for the future of wave energy.

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Ultrasound Can Monitor the Health of Your Car Engine

A system that uses ultrasound technology to look inside car engines could lead to more efficient engines. Ultrasound scans have been used in healthcare for many years, but they have never been put to use in testing the health of a modern combustion engine. Researchers at the UK’s University of Sheffield have devised a method of using ultrasound to measure how efficiently an engine’s pistons are moving up and down inside their cylinders.

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NASA Uses Futuristic Technology to Build New Rockets

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is using selective laser melting (SLM) to create intricate metal parts for the next heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).

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Last Chance to Vote!

Have you cast your vote for the 2012 NASA Tech Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Product of the Year? If not, you only have until January 20 to vote for the one product you feel was the most significant introduction to the engineering community in 2012. Find out more about the 12 nominees and submit your vote at www.techbriefs.com/poy.

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Curiosity Update

The Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time. Water, sulfur, and chlorine-containing substances showed up in samples delivered to the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite. One thing SAM checks for is organic compounds that can be ingredients for life. SAM tentatively identified onecarbon organics, but it is possible they may have been carried from Earth by Curiosity and detected by SAM. 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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