science tech space nasa spacex rockets spacecraft mars propulsion

The Martian atmosphere presents a slew of problems to engineers trying to safely land heavy cargo on the planet’s surface. Its atmosphere is much less dense than that of Earth’s, so parachutes that would slow a spacecraft’s descent would need to be prohibitively large.

That’s why aerospace researchers are investigating the best ways to fire a descending vehicle’s engines to slow it down, a technique called retropropulsion. Figuring it out would let cargo ships touchdown without destroying the tons of equipment and habitats that human astronauts need to create a base on Mars.

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science tech forensics crime materials thieves
Outsmarting Thieves With Smart Water

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science

Last year, there were more than two million burglaries and six million thefts in the United States.  Now, police are adding another tool to help track down criminals and stolen goods.

The FBI estimates 1 in 36 homes will be burglarized this year.  Now, homeowners and police are adding a new crime-fighting tool for your precious valuables.

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science tech materials mri nanoparticles fluorescence magnet nanotechnology medicine biology cancer

Researchers Magnetically Control Nanoparticles Inside Cells

Scientists have figured out a way to make tiny magnetic particles that they can watch and manipulate inside the body. 

An international team of researchers built nanoparticles whose core is made of magnetic materials encapsulated in a uniform fluorescent coating.  The breakthrough means that researchers can watch the movement of the particles inside an individual cell and move them around that cell by applying a magnetic field. 

See the video below.

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science tech uavs firefighting drones wildland wildlife_refuge surveillance

Wildland Firefighters Get Help From Above With Drone Surveillance
NASA researchers will be testing out this robotic aircraft for the next year to see if it can help catch forest and brush fires before they get out of control. The vehicle, which can be programmed to fly on its own, will perform missions over the 50,000-acre Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge that straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. 
The battery-powered drone can travel at up to 40 mph for an hour at a time before needing to be recharged. They’ve equipped it with a forward-mounted camera to look for rising smoke plumes and a ground-facing infrared camera to scan for hidden hot spots. Video feeds are transmitted back to refuge managers to spot ignition after lightning strikes in the refuge. The whole six-foot-wingspan system weighs just 15 pounds.[[MORE]]
Mike Logan, a scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center who is leading the research, says he came up with the idea of a firefighting surveillance drone after a major 2011 fire that burned for four months and cost millions of dollars to put out. 
“I made a phone call to the local fire captain after days of inhaling peat bog smoke,” said Logan. “I learned most fires are caused by lightning strikes and the only way they can spot them is by hiring an aircraft to do an aerial survey of the huge swamp. So I figured why not use a [unmanned aerial vehicle] as a fire detector?”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge agreed it was a good idea worth trying out. The program will get under way once the Federal Aviation Administration approves drone overflights.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating the feasibility of airborne unmanned platforms and their ability to offer a safer and more cost-effective alternative for surveillance of potential areas of interest immediately following thunderstorm activity,” said Great Dismal Swamp Refuge Manager Chris Lowie. “The agency hopes to see a significant decrease in cost to survey the Great Dismal Swamp, as well as a reduction in time to detect nascent fires, which could potentially save millions of dollars to the taxpayer in firefighting costs
And we’d like to interrupt this story for a moment to offer a tip of the hat to Mr. Logan, pictured above with his firefighting surveillance drone, for excellent moustache sculpting. Cheers to you, Sir.
Image courtesy NASA Langley/David C. Bowman.

Wildland Firefighters Get Help From Above With Drone Surveillance

NASA researchers will be testing out this robotic aircraft for the next year to see if it can help catch forest and brush fires before they get out of control. The vehicle, which can be programmed to fly on its own, will perform missions over the 50,000-acre Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge that straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border. 

The battery-powered drone can travel at up to 40 mph for an hour at a time before needing to be recharged. They’ve equipped it with a forward-mounted camera to look for rising smoke plumes and a ground-facing infrared camera to scan for hidden hot spots. Video feeds are transmitted back to refuge managers to spot ignition after lightning strikes in the refuge. The whole six-foot-wingspan system weighs just 15 pounds.

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