UpFront

App of the Month

The number of apps for mobile devices like smart phones and tablets grows daily. We’ve chosen engineering apps that might make life easier when you’re on the go.

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NASA Awards Historic Green Aviation Prize

NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation under an agreement with NASA.

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NASA to Demonstrate Communications Via Laser Beam

It currently takes 90 minutes to transmit high-resolution images from Mars, but NASA would like to dramatically reduce that time to just minutes. A new optical communications system that NASA will demonstrate in 2016 will allow the streaming of high-definition video from distances beyond the Moon.

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Webb Telescope Technologies Already Helping Human Eyes

Even while construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is underway on the most advanced infrared vision of any space observatory, its technologies are already proving useful to human eye health here on Earth. The JWST program has enabled a number of improvements in measurement technology for human eyes, diagnosis of ocular diseases, and potentially improved surgery.

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The Dash® MX

The Dash® MX from Astro-Med, West Warwick, RI, is a lightweight portable data acquisition system. The high-speed, multi-channel system is designed for capturing high-frequency data and transient signals, as well as long-term trending. The standard Dash MX records up to 8 channels of isolated voltage inputs to an internal 320 GByte hard drive at sample rates up to 200 KHz per channel. High-frequency data captures can be saved directly to the hard drive for review and analysis. It is equipped with a 12" color display for touchscreen control as well as real-time data viewing and analysis. Operating on 100 to 264VAC, the system includes an internal rechargeable battery for power backup and up to 30 minutes of operation. The Dash MX comes with isolated single-ended inputs that accept up to 250 VRMS. The Dash MX-H version is equipped with high-voltage modules that can measure up to 1000 VRMS. Other signal input modules include thermocouple, bridge, piezoelectric, and universal. Capabilities include low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and band-stop filtering; derived channels; variable sample rate during capture; and up to four sample rates per capture.

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NASA Makes Hot Electronics Cooler

In the world of electronics, thermal control is always one of the limiting factors, particularly in space, where there is no air to help cool down electronic components. Jeffrey Didion, a thermal engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, and Dr. Jamal Seyed-Yagoobi, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, have developed a technology that may overcome current limitations. Called electrohydrodynamic (EHD)-based thermal control, the technology promises to make it easier and more efficient to remove heat from small spaces — a particular challenge for engineers building advanced space instruments and microprocessors that could fail if the heat they generate is not removed.

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NASA Licenses Clean Energy Technology

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, in partnership with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, developed a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology for future Department of Defense and commercial applications. Recently, USC and the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL, awarded a license to SFC Energy, the U.S. affiliate of SFC Energy AG. The non-exclusive license for the technology will facilitate the expansion of the company’s methanol fuel cell products into the U.S. market.

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