These pictures, courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, show the results of the Mars rover Curiosity’s first drilling operations that occurred in mid-February. The central hole above was drilled on Feb. 8 into a rock called “John Klein” where the rover attempted its first sample. The hole is 0.63 inch in diameter and 2.5 inches deep. Curiosity drilled the more shallow hole to the right two days before as a test of the equipment.
The next day, a laser mounted on the rover’s Chemistry and Camera instrument burned 10 spots—labeled in red in the picture above—into the rock powder drilled the day before. The electromagnetic signature resulting from the laser pulses burning the freshly ground rock were analyzed to help scientists understand the mineral composition of Mars.
Instead of using lasers to heat targets, now researchers are shooting light beams that cool what they shine on.
Scientists want to see if novel refrigerators based on this research could reach temperatures just a few degrees above the coldest possible—absolute zero.
Researchers are developing a way to focus sound waves so they can be used as scalpels without the need to cut into patients.
In an advance that might move ultrasound technology into a new realm of usefulness, University of Michigan engineers say they have created a type of lens that converts laser light pulses into high-pressure therapeutic sound waves. These waves can be so tightly focused that they may be employed as precise noninvasive knives capable of operating on delicate vasculature and thin tissue layers.
“Nothing pokes into your body, just the ultrasound beam. And it is so tightly focused, you can disrupt individual cells,” says engineering professor Jay Guo, a coauthor of a paper describing the technology published on Dec. 18 in Nature Scientific Reports.