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NASA Takes First Steps Toward Drone Traffic Management

NASA recently successfully demonstrated rural operations of its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM) concept, integrating operator platforms, vehicle performance, and ground infrastructure. The next steps involve further validation through Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test sites.

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New Methods Detect and Predict Fatigue-Related Aircraft Cracks

Researchers are developing tools and technology to detect the formation of cracks in aircraft components and monitor their progression. The team is conducting comprehensive testing and characterization studies to understand and monitor how tiny cracks are initiated and grow in metal components as they are subjected to repetitive strains and stresses similar to those that wings, fuselages, and other aircraft components experience in service.

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Precision NASA Thruster Keeps Spacecraft Still

The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is on its way to space with the Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), a thruster technology developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The DRS uses colloid micronewton thrusters, the first of their kind, to keep the spacecraft as still as possible and compensate for solar pressure. These thrusters electrically charge small liquid droplets and accelerate them through an electric field in order to generate thrust.

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Nano-Submarine Motors Powered by Light

Each of the single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles built at Rice University has a motor powered by ultraviolet light. With each full revolution, the motor’s tail-like propeller moves the sub forward 18 nanometers. And with the motors running at more than a million RPM, that translates into speed. Though the sub’s top speed amounts to less than 1 inch per second, that’s a breakneck pace on the molecular scale.

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Wearable Equipment Supports Human Motion

The Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS), a new model of pneumatic muscle and an active type of assistive equipment incorporating the muscle, is wearable equipment that supports human movement without requiring any electronic devices and tanks. It employs a newly developed pneumatic muscle named Pneumatic Gel Muscle (PGM) as an actuator.

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Making Conductors by Spreading Them Like Butter on Toast

Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made flexible, transparent electrical conductors with record-high performance for use in solar cells, displays, and other devices by spreading polymers on a clear surface with a tiny blade, like a knife spreading butter on toast.

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New Technique Can Weld “Un-weldable” Metals

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding technique that consumes 80 percent less energy than a common welding technique, yet creates bonds that are 50 percent stronger. The new technique could have a huge impact on the auto industry. Despite recent advances in materials design, alternative metals still pose a challenge to manufacturers. Many are considered un-weldable by traditional means, in part because high heat and re-solidification weaken them.

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