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A Better Understanding Of The Universe Will Soon Float Away

Astronomers are making the final preparations to launch a balloon carrying an advanced X-ray detector into the skies above New Mexico in October.

Once floating around an altitude of 120,000 feet at the edge of the atmosphere, the Washington University in St. Louis X-Calibur instrument is expected to measure the polarization of X-ray radiation coming from five distant targets: a galaxy called Markarian 421, a neutron star called the Crab Pulsar, a binary star system called Hercules X-1, and two black holes.

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One Type of Fusion Accounts For Nearly All Of Sun’s Power, Detector Finds

by Michael Keller

The cool instrument above is what you get to work with if you are on the hunt for neutrinos, the tiny subatomic particles with barely any mass that rarely interact with other matter. Theses pictures all show the Borexino Collaboration particle physics experiment, which is designed to detect a type of neutrino predicted to fly out of the sun due to nuclear fusion of proton atoms at its core. 

The group announced today that their instrument, which is buried nearly 3,200 feet under a mountain to minimize interference from other particles, has detected the so-called pp neutrino. This variety of particle is the result of energy-generating nuclear reactions caused by the fusing of two protons. The team’s results indicate that 99 percent of the sun’s power comes from this type of fusion at its core. 

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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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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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