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Jet Propulsion Laboratory Missions to Study Climate Change & Weather on Earth

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is known for its exploration of space, but the La Cañada Flintridge facility is starting to focus its gaze back to Earth. Three new missions scheduled to launch in 2014 will examine soil moisture, wind, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The data obtained from the orbiters sent on these missions can be used by farmers, meteorologists and others in understanding how the planet works, scientists said. “Last year was the year of Mars,” said JPL Director Charles Elachi on Tuesday. “This is the year of Earth science.” Elachi and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden donned white coveralls and head coverings Tuesday during a tour of a chamber in JPL’s spacecraft assembly facility, also known as the “clean room,” where instruments for the missions are currently being assembled and tested. The Carbon Observatory-2 satellite was absent from the test facility, but talk of the upcoming mission led to discussions about how the agency will address the changing global climate…

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SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) Transforms Kodak Cleanroom

SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) will revitalize a vacant Kodak cleanroom building in Rochester, N.Y., by transforming it into a first-of-its-kind CNSE Photovoltaic Manufacturing and Technology Development Facility for crystalline silicon photovoltaics. Renovation is underway to transform the 57,000 ft2 building, which was formerly occupied by Kodak’s MEMS inkjet facility before it closed last October. The initiative will enable more than 100 high-tech jobs and includes the fitting up of a 20,000-square ft2 cleanroom. A late fall opening is anticipated. The first initiative as part of the project will relocate a critical component of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot initiative from California’s Silicon Valley to Upstate New York…

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Satellite Built by UAH Students ’99 Percent’ Ready for October Launch on NASA Rocket

The spacecraft conceived and built in Huntsville is virtually ready for launch and blast-off is less than three months away.

No, the Space Launch System is not suddenly on an accelerated program. Instead, it’s a group of students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who have been working for more than three years on a tiny satellite that is scheduled to be sent into space in October.

Members of the Space Hardware Club at UAH were in San Luis Obispo, Calif., last week on the campus of California Polytechnic State University. The Cal Poly visit was to put the ChargerSat1 through readiness tests as a final hurdle toward the scheduled Oct. 30 launch.

The satellite got a “good thumbs-up,” according to team member Mark Becnel.

“We’re well past 99 percent (ready),” he said.

The project began in 2010 when the club applied for a spot on a future NASA launch…

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Microfluidic Breakthrough in Biotechnology

Chemical flasks and inconvenient chemostats for cultivation of bacteria are likely soon to be discarded. Researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw were first to construct a microfluidic system allowing for merging, transporting and splitting of microdroplets. Since now, hundreds of different bacteria cultures can be maintained simultaneously in a single system, which could speed up the research on restistance of bacteria to antibiotics.

We could safely say that without chemical flask there would be no chemistry at all. It has been since years, however, the chemists’ dream to be able to downscale to the microscale the operations that are easily performed with large quantities of chemicals inside flasks, including refilling, mixing, pouring out. The first microfluidic system capable of performing all the typical operations with chemicals inside miniscule droplets has been presented just now. The device, fabricated by a group of researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS), headed by Dr Piotr Garstecki…

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Near Infrared Camera For James Webb Space Telescope

Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT], under a contract from the University of Arizona, has completed assembly and testing of the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and has shipped the instrument to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NIRCam is the prime near-infrared imaging instrument for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, JWST will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed, provide insight to how solar systems evolve and help explore planets around distant stars. The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency…

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Stretchable Conductor Grows Its Own Wires

Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered.

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body.

“Essentially the new nanoparticle materials behave as elastic metals,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering. “It’s just the start of a new family of materials that can be made from a large variety of nanoparticles for a wide range of applications.”

Finding good conductors that still work when pulled to twice their length is a tall order—researchers have tried wires in tortuous zigzag or spring-like patterns, liquid metals, nanowire networks and more…

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Paper-Thin E-Skin Responds to Touch

A new milestone by engineers at UC Berkeley can help robots become more touchy-feely, literally.

A research team led by Ali Javey, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic. The new electronic skin, or e-skin, responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.

“We are not just making devices; we are building systems,” says Javey, who also has an appointment as a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). “With the interactive e-skin, we have demonstrated an elegant system on plastic that can be wrapped around different objects to enable a new form of human-machine interfacing…

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