UpFront

App of the Month: NASA Science - A Journey of Discovery

This app brings you the latest information from NASA’s Science Missions, including the spacecraft, their instruments, the data, and what we are learning. Find out more about planet Earth, our Sun and solar system, and the universe. Download the free iPad app at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nasa-science-journeydiscovery/tid541482963?mt=8.

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Curiosity Update

NASA’s rover Curiosity touched a Martian rock with its robotic arm for the first time on September 22, assessing what chemical elements are in the rock called “Jake Matijevic.” Curiosity put its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument in contact with the rock during the rover’s 46th Martian day. 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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The Sky’s the Limit

To set your sights on visionary changes that could transform space exploration, look no further than NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC). In early August, NASA’s NIAC announced 18 new NIAC Phase I awards, and 10 new Phase II awards based on earlier Phase I studies. The objective is to help transform the space agency’s future space missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building, and operating space systems.

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Creating the Future

The Sensordrone Tricorder Platform for Consumers and Mobile Device Developers has the potential to dramatically extend the sensing capability of smartphones and tablets. The keyfob- sized device has been awarded the Grand Prize of $20,000 in the 2012 Create the Future Design Contest, sponsored by COMSOL, Nordson EFD, and Tech Briefs Media Group.

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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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