UpFront

App of the Month: Earth-Now

A free iPhone app from NASA literally puts the whole world in the palm of your hands. Earth-Now im merses cyber explorers in dazzling visualizations of near-real-time global climate data from NASA’s fleet of Earth science satellites. It displays data on many of the key vital signs of our planet that NASA satellites track. It is available at the iTunes Store or by visiting www.jpl.nasa.gov/apps.

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Wireless, Self-Propelled Device Swims Through the Bloodstream

Stanford University assistant professor of electrical engineering Ada Poon has demonstrated a tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through a fluid — blood, to be exact. The era of swallow-the-surgeon medical care may no longer be the stuff of science fiction. Poon’s medical devices can be implanted or injected into the human body and powered wirelessly using electromagnetic radio waves.

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NTB Readers Select Products of the Year

In December, we asked NASA Tech Briefs readers to select the one product from our 12 Products of the Month that you thought was the most significant introduction to the design engineering community in 2011. Thanks to all of our readers who voted, and here are your winners for the 17th Annual NASA Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year:

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Paint-On Solar Cells are “Sun-Believable”

What if the next coat of paint you put on the outside of your home could generate electricity from light — electricity that can be used to power the appliances and equipment on the inside? Researchers at the University of Notre Dame created an inexpensive solar paint that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy.

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The Open-Sky Office

Picture yourself working under the open sky – in your office. A dynamic luminous ceiling brings the sky into office spaces by creating the effect of passing clouds. Researchers from the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering have replicated indoors a luminous ceiling that extends across the entire room, simulating lighting conditions that resemble those produced by passing clouds, and conveying the impression that you are sitting outdoors.

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All in a Day’s Work

On December 23, NASA astronaut Don Pettit joined the crew on the International Space Station (ISS), where he’ll live and work until May. For Flight Engineer Pettit, who holds a doctorate in chemical engineering, this trip marks his third spaceflight and second long-duration mission.

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The Future of Design

CAD software vendors will tell you that they continue to focus on improving the user experience – and they do tell you that in our annual roundtable of executives from leading software companies.

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