There are advances being made almost daily in the disciplines required to make space and its contents accessible.
This blog brings together a lot of that info, as it is reported, tracking the small steps into space that will make it just another place we carry out normal human economic, leisure and living activities.
(Phys.org) —Now approaching its 10th anniversary, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has evolved into a premier observatory for an endeavor not envisioned in its original design: the study of worlds around other stars, called exoplanets. While the engineers and scientists who built Spitzer did not have this goal in mind, their visionary work made this unexpected capability possible. Thanks to the extraordinary stability of its design and a series of subsequent engineering reworks, the space telescope now has observational powers far beyond its original limits and expectations.
Recent advances in nanotechnology are providing new possibilities for medical imaging and sensing. Gold nanostructures, for example, can enhance the fluorescence of marker dyes that are commonly used to detect biomolecules and diagnose specific diseases.
Alastair McLean and Benedict Drevniok from the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and their collaborators have found a way to "feel" the surface of silicon molecules at the molecular level.
(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at the University of California with members also from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University has succeeded in combining tunneling microscopy and infrared spectroscopy to gain a better understanding of how molecules behave when they stick to a surface. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team describes how they used a custom built laser to allow for performing infrared spectroscopy with scanning tunneling microscopy without heating its tip.
(Phys.org) —A team of researchers working at the University of Vienna, has developed a technique for verifying results produced by a quantum computer. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, the researchers explain how their method uses one simple quantum computer to verify results produced by another that is far more powerful.
More than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists. Over 16 million galaxy classifications. Information on more than 300,000 galaxies. This is what you get when you ask the public for help in learning more about our universe.
Audio CDs, all the rage in the '90s, seem increasingly obsolete in a world of MP3 files and iPods, leaving many music lovers with the question of what to do with their extensive compact disk collections. While you could turn your old disks into a work of avant-garde art, researchers in Taiwan have come up with a more practical application: breaking down sewage. The team will present its new wastewater treatment device at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2013, being held Oct. 6-10 in Orlando, Fla.
Fiber optics has made communication faster than ever, but the next step involves a quantum leap –– literally. In order to improve the security of the transfer of information, scientists are working on how to translate electrical quantum states to optical quantum states in a way that would enable ultrafast, quantum-encrypted communications.
(Phys.org) —Researchers have demonstrated a new carbon nanotube (CNT)-based logic device that consumes just 0.1 nanowatts (nW) in its static ON and OFF states, representing the lowest reported value by 3 orders of magnitude for CNT-based CMOS logic devices. The device could serve as a building block for large-area, ultralow-power CNT logic circuits that can be used to realize a variety of nanoelectronics applications.
(Phys.org) —In "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (JK Rowling, 1997), Harry, Ron, and Hermione encounter a massive stone chessboard, one of many obstacles in their path. To advance, they must play, and win. Although the board and pieces are much larger than normal, and the circumstances a bit peculiar, one thing remains clear to them—this is a game of chess, with the same rules as always.
(Phys.org) —This new image, snapped by NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the star HD 184738, also known as Campbell's hydrogen star. It is surrounded by plumes of reddish gas—the fiery red and orange hues are caused by glowing gases, including hydrogen and nitrogen.
(Phys.org) —The most luminous galaxies in our universe are not particularly bright in the visible. Most of their energy output (which can be hundreds or even thousands of times more than our Milky Way's) is emitted at infrared wavelengths. The power source of these galaxies is hyperactive bursts of star formation and/or activity around a massive black hole at a galaxy's nucleus, a so-called active galactic nucleus (AGN). The radiation from these processes is absorbed by dust that then re-emits it in the infrared. Astronomers suspect that many normal galaxies, even including our own, have undergone a phase of luminous activity at some time in their past.
A team of astronomers has discovered enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies by using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton. These features, which span at least half a million light years, provide insight into how the Coma cluster has grown through mergers of smaller groups and clusters of galaxies to become one of the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity.
NASA astronauts recently experienced what it will be like to launch into space aboard the new Orion spacecraft during the first ascent simulations since the space shuttles and their simulators were retired. Ascent simulations are precise rehearsals of the steps a spacecraft's crew will be responsible for -- including things that could go wrong -- during their climb into space. They can be generic and apply to any future deep space mission, or very specific to a launch that's been planned down to the second. For now, Orion's simulations fall into the first category, but practicing now helps ensure the team will have the systems perfected for the astronauts in any future mission scenario.
A week after its original approach date, Orbital Sciences' commercial cargo craft Cygnus has arrived at the International Space Station. The Expedition 37 crew captured Cygnus with the Canadarm2 at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday. Cygnus launched Sept. 18 aboard an Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA has released its announcement of an open competition for the planetary community to submit proposals for the science and exploration technology instruments that would be carried aboard the agency's next Mars rover, scheduled for launch in July/August of 2020.
Memory based on electrically-induced "resistive switching" effects have generated a great deal of interest among engineers searching for faster and smaller devices because resistive switching would allow for a higher memory density.
Carbon nanotubes' outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties make them an alluring material to electronics manufacturers. However, until recently scientists believed that growing the high density of tiny graphene cylinders needed for many microelectronics applications would be difficult.
Now approaching its 10th anniversary, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has evolved into a premier observatory for an endeavor not envisioned in its original design: the study of worlds around other stars, called exoplanets. While the engineers and scientists who built Spitzer did not have this goal in mind, their visionary work made this unexpected capability possible. Thanks to the extraordinary stability of its design and a series of subsequent engineering reworks, the space telescope now has observational powers far beyond its original limits and expectations.
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has resumed a trek of many months toward its mountain-slope destination, Mount Sharp. The rover used instruments on its arm last week to inspect rocks at its first waypoint along the route inside Gale Crater. The location, originally chosen on the basis of images taken from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, paid off with investigation of targets that bear evidence of ancient wet environments.
Tantalized by images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based data, scientists thought the giant asteroid Vesta deserved a closer look. They got a chance to do that in 2011 and 2012, when NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbited the giant asteroid, and they were able to check earlier conclusions. A new study involving Dawn's observations during that time period demonstrates how this relationship works with Hubble and ground-based telescopes to clarify our understanding of a solar system object.
A car-sized model of one of the most advanced projects NASA is working on -- the James Webb Space Telescope -- unfolded at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. on Aug. 21, 2013. Built like a transformer and controlled robotically by engineering students from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, the model illustrates how Webb will be deployed one million miles out in space.
Place a layer of gold only a few atoms high on a surface bed of germanium, apply heat to it, and wires will form of themselves. Gold-induced wires is what Mocking prefers to call them. Not 'gold wires', as the wires are not made solely out of gold atoms but also contain germanium. They are no more than a few atoms in height and are separated by no more than 1.6 nanometres (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre). Nanotechnologists bridge this small 'gap' with a copper-phthalocyanine molecule. A perfect fit. This molecule was found to be able to rotate if the electrons coursing towards it possess sufficient energy, allowing it to function as a switch. What's more: the copper atom of this molecule floats in the vacuum above the gap - fully detached. This might allow researchers to identify new properties the nanowires may possess.
(Phys.org) —In the growing area of flexible, transparent electronic devices, silicon has not played much of a role. Instead, materials such as indium tin oxide, carbon nanotubes, and others are often used to make bendable electronics.
Research into the strange phenomenon known as quantum entanglement - once described as 'spooky' by Albert Einstein - could revolutionise ICT over the coming years, enabling everything from ultra-fast computing to completely secure long-distance communications. EU-funded researchers are carrying out cutting-edge work on quantum technologies, with one team recently demonstrating a key breakthrough in extending the range of quantum communications.
Physicists at JILA have created a crystal-like arrangement of ultracold gas molecules that can swap quantum "spin" properties with nearby and distant partners. The novel structure might be used to simulate or even invent new materials that derive exotic properties from quantum spin behavior, for electronics or other practical applications.
Could the famed "Big Bang" theory need a revision? A group of theoretical physicists suppose the birth of the universe could have happened after a four-dimensional star collapsed into a black hole and ejected debris.
(Phys.org) —The quest to harness hydrogen as the clean-burning fuel of the future demands the perfect catalysts—nanoscale machines that enhance chemical reactions. Scientists must tweak atomic structures to achieve an optimum balance of reactivity, durability, and industrial-scale synthesis. In an emerging catalysis frontier, scientists also seek nanoparticles tolerant to carbon monoxide, a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. This impure fuel—40 percent less expensive than the pure hydrogen produced from water—remains largely untapped.
We study the movement of incredibly small things. How small is small? Think smaller than "nano." Think smaller than atoms themselves. We measure the infinitesimally small shifts in the positions of atoms to electrical forces. Measuring small is challenging, but rewarding. By measuring things this small, we unlock hidden secrets that will advance a host of different electronic devices.
The glowing jumble of gas clouds visible in this new image make up a huge stellar nursery nicknamed the Prawn Nebula. Taken using the VLT Survey Telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile, this may well be the sharpest picture ever taken of this object. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula.
Reliable quantum computing would make it possible to solve certain types of extremely complex technological problems millions of times faster than today's most powerful supercomputers. Other types of problems that quantum computing could tackle would not even be feasible with today's fastest machines. The key word is "reliable." If the enormous potential of quantum computing is to be fully realized, scientists must learn to create "fault-tolerant" quantum computers. A small but important step toward this goal has been achieved by an international collaboration of researchers from China's Tsinghua University and the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working at the Advanced Light Source (ALS).
A multi-institutional team of engineers has developed a new approach to the fabrication of nanostructures for the semiconductor and magnetic storage industries. This approach combines top-down advanced ink-jet printing technology with a bottom-up approach that involves self-assembling block copolymers, a type of material that can spontaneously form ultrafine structures.
The fabrication of high-performance light detectors—important for computers and mobile devices—using graphene integrated onto a chip is reported in three independent studies published online this week in Nature Photonics.
Two researchers at UCL Computer Science and the University of Gdansk present a new method for determining the amount of entanglement – a quantum phenomenon connecting two remote partners, and crucial for quantum technology - within part of a one-dimensional quantum system.
Officials with Bristol University in the U.K. have announced at this year's British Science Festival, that they intend to put their two-quantum bit (qubit) processor online for use by some people on the Internet. Called the Qcloud project, the idea is to get scientists, those in academics and even the general public used to the idea of quantum computing so as to be prepared when real quantum computers arrive.
Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have moved liquid droplets using long chemical gradients formed on graphene. The change in concentration of either fluorine or oxygen formed using a simple plasma-based process either pushes or pulls droplets of water or nerve agent simulant across the surface. This new achievement offers potential applications ranging from electronics to mechanical resonators to bio/chemical sensors.
Perhaps the most intriguing exoplanets found so far are those bigger than our rocky, oceanic Earth but smaller than cold, gas-shrouded Uranus and Neptune. This mysterious class of in-between planets—alternatively dubbed super-Earths or mini-Neptunes—confounds scientists because nothing like them exists as a basis for comparison in our solar system.
New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium (Li) ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. The researchers have presented nanowires that block diffusion of lithium across the wire's silicon surface and promote layer-by-layer axial lithiation of the nanowire's germanium core.
(Phys.org) —In its earliest years, the universe was so hot that electrons and protons could not bind together in neutral atoms: all of the gas in the cosmos was ionized. Then, after 380,000 years of expansion, the universe cooled enough for hydrogen atoms and some helium (about 25%) to form. Much later in cosmic history—the precise dating is an active area of current research but perhaps after a few hundred million years—the first generation of stars emerged from the vast expanses of atomic gas, and these stars emitted enough strong ultraviolet light to re-ionize the neutral hydrogen in their vicinity. As the universe continued to expand and evolve, newer generations of stars continued to re-ionize the hydrogen until at some time most gas between galaxies (the intergalactic medium) was ionized once again. The epoch of re-ionization is an important diagnostic tool because it traces when the first generations of stars were being made, and it provides crucial details about the early evolution of the universe.
tagged with: stlrnrsry, star clusters, galaxies, awesome astronomy pictures, constellation puppis, the stern, star nurseries, nebulae, outer space exploration, universe photographs, starfields, european southern observatory, eso, vista
Galaxies, Stars and Nebulae series
A gorgeous set of oval stickers showing the area surrounding the stellar cluster NGC 2467, located in the southern constellation of Puppis ("The Stern"). With an age of a few million years at most, it is a very active stellar nursery, where new stars are born continuously from large clouds of dust and gas.
The image, looking like a colourful cosmic ghost or a gigantic celestial Mandrill, contains the open clusters Haffner 18 (centre) and Haffner 19 (middle right: it is located inside the smaller pink region - the lower eye of the Mandrill), as well as vast areas of ionised gas.
The bright star at the centre of the largest pink region on the bottom of the image is HD 64315, a massive young star that is helping shaping the structure of the whole nebular region.