science tech space mars rover chemcam laser robot geology chemistry

NASA recently announced the instruments that will be aboard the rover for its next mission to Mars in 2020. Pictured above is an artist’s rendition of the robot as it operates the SuperCam, a device that will fire a high-powered laser at rock targets up to 20 feet away. 
A more muscular version of the Chemistry Camera (ChemCam) on the current Mars rover, the SuperCam laser will vaporize minerals to analyze the atoms that are present in the planet’s geology. The same Los Alamos National Lab team that developed the ChemCam will also build SuperCam using the facility’s laser-Induced breakdown spectroscopy that can deduce the elemental composition of rocks from a distance.
The laser’s operating spectrum will also get an upgrade over ChemCam that will let it to run Raman and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, a technique to deduce the molecular makeup of rocks to understand the planet’s more complex mineralogy and search for organic materials.[[MORE]]
SuperCam’s imaging capabilities will also be a step above the current model, beaming back high-resolution color images along with visible and infrared spectroscopy.
“We are extremely excited to be going to Mars again,” said planetary scientist Roger Wiens, who will lead the SuperCam team and currently heads the Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam Team. “More importantly for the mission, I know SuperCam is the very best remote sensor that NASA can have aboard.”

NASA recently announced the instruments that will be aboard the rover for its next mission to Mars in 2020. Pictured above is an artist’s rendition of the robot as it operates the SuperCam, a device that will fire a high-powered laser at rock targets up to 20 feet away. 

A more muscular version of the Chemistry Camera (ChemCam) on the current Mars rover, the SuperCam laser will vaporize minerals to analyze the atoms that are present in the planet’s geology. The same Los Alamos National Lab team that developed the ChemCam will also build SuperCam using the facility’s laser-Induced breakdown spectroscopy that can deduce the elemental composition of rocks from a distance.

The laser’s operating spectrum will also get an upgrade over ChemCam that will let it to run Raman and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, a technique to deduce the molecular makeup of rocks to understand the planet’s more complex mineralogy and search for organic materials.

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Octopus-Inspired Camo Changes Color In Light

Researchers have taken a tip from the ocean’s masters of disguise to develop a new active camouflage system. 

An international team of scientists coupled heat-sensitive dye with a distributed grid of photoreceptors to make a flexible material that changes color based on the light that falls on it. When any of the system’s cells is heated above 117 degrees Fahrenheit by a silicon diode underneath, the dye turns from black to clear.

Like the cephalopods that inspired the work, the camo system can respond to changes in light within two seconds using 

"The concepts provide realistic routes to thin sheets that can be conformally wrapped onto solid objects to modulate their visual appearance, with potential relevance to consumer, industrial, and military applications," the authors write in a report on their work published today in the journal PNAS. 

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Electric Fields Made Visible

Physics educator James Lincoln helps people understand the natural world. The gifs above are from a Youtube video he made on how to “see” an electric field, the region around a charged object where electric force is experienced. When the object is positively charged, electric field lines extend radially outward from the object. When the object is negatively charged, the lines extend radially inward.  

Click the gifs for more info or see the full video below.

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Txch This Week: Internet Chatter Spots An Epidemic

by Annie Epstein

This week on Txchnologist, we watched MIT engineers move tiny metallic hairs using magnetic fields. The microhairs are made out of nickel mounted on stretchy silicone. Potential applications for the hairs include tunable waterproof coating, anti-glare applications and smart window coating that can control sun allowed into buildings.

Australian National University researchers manipulated wave frequencies and amplitudes to control the movement of particles on the surface of water. The researchers discovered ways to move objects against the direction of a wave. This research could help contain oil spills and even move small boats.

Japanese chemist Yosuke Okamura and his team have created a flexible, sticky coating called nanosheets that is similar to plastic wrap and, when applied to burns, creates a barrier against potentially fatal bacterial infections. The nanosheets can stick without adhesive and are made with a biodegradable polyester called poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA.

Finally, using nanoscopic pillars of a polyurethane and adhesive mix, researchers at the University of Michigan have created a watermark only visible when a person breathes on it. Soon we’ll be fighting counterfeiting one breath at a time.

Now we’re bringing you the news we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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