NASA’s NuSTAR observatory launched this morning

NuStar Observatory
NuStar Observatory. Image: NASA

This morning NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched over the central Pacific Ocean at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT). It’s main objective is to unveil secrets of black holes using a unique set of eyes to see high-energy X-ray light from the cosmos.

“We all eagerly await the launch of this novel X-ray observatory,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division Director. “With its unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution to the previously poorly explored hard X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum, NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and will provide complementary data to NASA’s larger missions, including Fermi, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer.”

Continue reading “NASA’s NuSTAR observatory launched this morning”

Surrey engineers to use Kinect technology to dock satellites

STRaND-2 Docking Nanosatellites
STRaND-2 Docking Nanosatellites

Engineers at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are developing ‘STRaND-2’, a twin-satellite mission, to test a new in-orbit docking system. The system is based on the novel idea of using Microsoft’s XBOX Kinect technology to assist in the alignment during the docking phase. If successful, the new approach has the possibility to change the way space assets are built, maintained and upgraded.

Usually docking control systems are developed for costly missions to the International Space Station, and it has never been employed on the small scale that the researchers now are attempting. They have a vision of using relatively low cost nanosatellites as intelligent “space building blocks”, that could potentially be stacked together and reconfigured to build larger modular spacecrafts, if combined with low cost docking system.

Continue reading “Surrey engineers to use Kinect technology to dock satellites”

World’s largest radio telescope to spread two continents

The Square Kilometre Array
The Square Kilometre Array. Image: © SKA

A global science and engineering project named The Square Kilometre Array, has been in intense political negotiations since the project was first introduced. The project intends to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with it’s main objective set to answer big questions about the universe, such as how the first elements heavier than helium was formed and how the first galaxies coalesced. The project is led by the SKA Organisation, a not-for-profit company with its headquarters in Manchester, UK.

At first a scientific panel recommended South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array (SKA). However in the latest plans announced on May 25, South Africa and Australia will share the Square Kilometre Array. The project is made up of 3,000 dishes, 15 meters in diameter, and an even larger number of simple antennas and will cost approximately $1,9 billion ( €1,5 billion). Under the deal, South Africa will host the dishes, and Australia will get the antennas.

Continue reading “World’s largest radio telescope to spread two continents”

Nokia and X-Prize to improve health sensors with a challenge

Nokia Sensing X Challenge
Nokia Sensing X Challenge (Concept image)

Thursday this week Nokia and the X PRIZE Foundation announced the launch of a new global $2.25 million competition to stimulate the development of a new generation of health sensors and sensing technologies they call the Nokia Sensing X Challenge. The intent is to drastically improve the quality, accuracy and ease of monitoring a person’s health.

The competitions goal is to create a new level of personalized, digital health sensors, never seen before. The aim is also to improve health sensors and sensing technologies so that they can both help empower individuals to effortlessly monitor and collect their own real-time health data, and at the same time give healthcare providers convenient access to critical information whenever and wherever they need it.

Continue reading “Nokia and X-Prize to improve health sensors with a challenge”

Liquid-to-Solid material gives new environmental solar cells

Dyesol Cells, using Grätzel cell technology
Dyesol Cells, using Grätzel cell technology. © Dyesol

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a way to make solar cells that are inexpensive, got good operating efficiency, and also lasts longer than traditional dye-sensitized solar cells. Based on Grätzel cells, that use a molecular dye to absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity, it doesn’t rely on toxic or scarce materials during manufacturing making it very environmentally friendly.

The problem with Grätzel cells is that they typically don’t last more than 18 months. Grätzel cells use dye-sensitized cell’s electrolyte, made of an organic liquid and intended to mimic how chlorophyll work in plants. This organic liquid can leak and corrode the solar cell itself, making it’s life expectancy very short. Researchers have been searching for an alternative for two decades, and a team at Northwestern University have now found a possible solution using a liquid, that after applied ends up as a solid, preventing leaks and greatly improving the life of the solar cells.

Continue reading “Liquid-to-Solid material gives new environmental solar cells”

SpaceX successfully launched it’s Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Image © SpaceX

Early this morning, at 3:44 a.m. Eastern, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On-board was the Dragon capsule heading for the International Space Station. During the journey the capsule will be subjected to a series of tests to determine, and prove to NASA, that the vehicle is ready to dock with the space station.

The mission makes Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) the first commercial company in history to attempt to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The launch today was flawless, and the vehicle’s first stage performed nominally before separating from the second stage. Shorty there after the second stage successfully delivered the Dragon spacecraft into it’s intended orbit. If required tests are successful, and NASA decides that the Dragon capsule is allowed to approach it’s target, SpaceX will attempt to dock the capsule with the space station on May 25.

Continue reading “SpaceX successfully launched it’s Falcon 9 rocket”

Samsung presents new Graphene transistor structure

New Graphene structure
Samsung Electronics presents a new Graphene structure. Image: ©

Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), the core R&D incubator for Samsung Electronics, has developed a new transistor structure utilizing graphene. Current semiconductors consist of billions of silicon transistors. To increase the performance of a semiconductor used today, you need to either reduce the size of individual transistors to shorten the traveling distance of electrons, or use a material with higher electron mobility which allows for faster electron velocity.

Graphene possesses electron mobility about 200 times higher then silicon, and a switch to this material could be an alternative path for making faster and more energy efficent devices as it allows faster electron velocity. An issue with using graphene is however that unlike the conventional semiconducting materials, current cannot be switched off because the material is semi-metallic. This has long been a key issue, preventing graphene transistors to be realized.

Continue reading “Samsung presents new Graphene transistor structure”

SpaceX launch aborted just as engines started firing.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being checked after launch abort.

The launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket this morning was unfortunately aborted at 4:55am EDT, just a few seconds after it’s nine Merlin engines started up. The internal computers monitors the engines closely during launch, and it found a parameter that was out of bounds on one of the engines. This lead to an immediate cut off of all engines for safety reasons. With a narrow launch window of just one second, a new launch is preliminary set for Tuesday 22 May at 3:44am EDT (07:44am UTC), but this could be subject to change.

Continue reading “SpaceX launch aborted just as engines started firing.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ready to launch tomorrow

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket
Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on it's way to the launch pad. Photo © SpaceX.

The first ever launch of a private vehicle heading for the International Space Station (ISS) is set to launch early morning of May 19. The launch has been pushed back several times, but after a successful launch rehearsal April 30 by the SpaceX launch team, the Falcon 9 rocket is finally ready for take off. The launch is planned for 4:55am EDT (08:55am UTC) and NASA will have live coverage of the event available via NASA TV. It will also be available via SpaceX Webcast.

The mission was originally intended to include only the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, and tests of the Dragon capsule in orbit. It now also include plans for the Dragon capsule to physically connect to the Space station and deliver supplies such as food, clothing and batteries as well. The journey will also give both SpaceX and NASA the chance to test out the capsule’s sensors and control systems as it approaches the International Space Station, collecting information that can be vital for future missions.

Continue reading “The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ready to launch tomorrow”

Electronic touch pads on disposable paper coming soon

Metallic paper touch pads
Metallic paper touch pad

Researchers in the US and France have developed a electronic touch pad that is based on metallised paper. This could lead to throwaway touch pads potentially incorporated into anything from food packaging to disposable or sterile medical devices.

The touch pads are made from paper coated in a layer of aluminium around 10nm thick. The paper is then overlaid with a thin film of transparent polymer. The paper the touch pads are based on is already produced commercially and is used for everything from labels on beer bottles to glossy book covers. It is therefore very inexpensive and cost only around $0.25/mto manufacture.

Continue reading “Electronic touch pads on disposable paper coming soon”