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NASA collecting ideas on new strategy for exploring the Red Planet

April 16, 2012 3:36 am | News | Comments

Starting Friday, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group began accepting ideas and abstracts online from the worldwide scientific and technical community as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. They hope to develop a new strategy for the exploration of Mars.

Naval research office taps research teams to help reduce jet noise

April 12, 2012 12:28 pm | News | Comments

A person whispering is 20 decibels and a lawn mower is 90 decibels. Jet noise from tactical aircraft can reach 150 decibels on the flight line, and can cause permanent hearing loss to sailors and marines. The Office of Naval Research is funding a new project to help reduce this noise.

R & D caucus highlights NSF's tie to innovation

April 2, 2012 5:32 am | News | Comments

Last Friday, the National Science Foundation held a congressional briefing to call attention to its research successes, particularly the process of bringing relevant fundamental research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Particular attention was called to Small Business Innovation Research grant beneficiaries, some of whom shared their success stories at the briefing.


Nanosatellite makes first-ever measurements of auroral turbulence

March 22, 2012 7:24 am | News | Comments

The largest solar flare in the past five years triggered a major geomagnetic storm over Alaska on March 8. The same day, a nanosatellite operated by researchers from SRI International and the University of Michigan took a measurement of naturally occurring auroral turbulence. The data was the first-ever recorded using a nanosatellite radar receiver.

NASA considering space station for Mars dry run

March 21, 2012 3:35 am | News | Comments

The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years. NASA said Tuesday that consideration is underway to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars.

A biplane to break the sound barrier

March 19, 2012 4:32 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For 27 years, the Concorde provides its passengers with a rare luxury: time saved. However, on Nov. 26, 2003, the Concorde retired from service due to high fuel costs and noise disruption form the jet's sonic boom. Since then, a number of groups have been working on designs for the next generation of supersonic jets. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher has come up with a concept that may solve many of the problems that grounded the Concorde.

Solid-rocket motor tests material for space launch system

March 18, 2012 7:27 pm | News | Comments

A sub-scale solid rocket motor designed to mimic NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS, booster design successfully was tested recently by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The 20-second firing tested new insulation materials.

GM, NASA jointly developing robotic gloves for human use

March 14, 2012 6:27 am | News | Comments

General Motors (GM) and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that automotive workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.


A new approach to predicting spacecraft re-entry

March 12, 2012 4:12 am | News | Comments

In mid-December 2011, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory received a call from the Air Force Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). At the time, laboratory scientists were working with JSpOC to upgrade their command and control software. But this call was about something very different.

President proposes national network for manufacturing innovation

March 10, 2012 6:49 am | News | Comments

After touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe jet engine disc manufacturing facility in Prince George, Va., on March 9, President Obama announced his intention to build a network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes to serve as regional hubs of manufacturing excellence. The move is intended to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and encourage investment.

Researchers seek cheaper, nimbler satellites

February 28, 2012 5:04 am | News | Comments

A new research program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute seeks to define the next generation of low-orbit satellites that are more maneuverable, cheaper to launch, easier to hide, and longer lived. Additionally, this research holds the promise of guiding dead satellites and other space debris more safely to the Earth's surface.

Mysterious electron acceleration explained

February 27, 2012 2:48 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A mysterious phenomenon detected by space probes has finally been explained, thanks to a massive computer simulation that was able to precisely align with details of spacecraft observations. The finding could not only solve an astrophysical puzzle, but might also lead to a better ability to predict high-energy electron streams in space that could damage satellites.

When (and where) work disappears

February 24, 2012 7:11 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that the rapid rise in low-wage manufacturing industries overseas has had a significant impact on the United States. The disappearance of U.S. manufacturing jobs frequently leaves workers unemployed for years, if not permanently, while creating a drag on local economies and raising the amount of taxpayer-borne social insurance necessary to keep workers and their families afloat.


Aircraft of the future could capture and re-use their own power

February 23, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

Tomorrow's aircraft could contribute to their power needs by harnessing energy from the wheel rotation of their landing gear to generate electricity. They could use this to power their taxiing to and from airport buildings, reducing the need to use their jet engines. This would save on aviation fuel, cut emissions, and reduce noise pollution at airports.

Swiss to craft janitor satellites to grab space junk

February 15, 2012 7:51 am | by John Heilprin, Associated Press | News | Comments

Near-Earth space is full of junk. NASA keeps close tabs on at least 16,000 objects larger than 10 cm in diameter. In an effort to tidy up the mess, the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL) is building an $11 million satellite called CleanSpaceOne that will force debris toward Earth, burning it up in the atmosphere.

Alcoa announces restart of iconic forging press in Cleveland

February 15, 2012 3:04 am | News | Comments

With a $100 million dollar investment beginning in 2009, Alcoa embarked on a complete redesign and modernization of a 50,000-ton forging press. The 92-foot structure, with five stories above and seven below the ground, began production in 1955 and is one of just five left in the United States.

DARPA to develop mobile millimeter-wave backhaul networks

February 13, 2012 3:41 am | News | Comments

Providing high-bandwidth communications for troops in remote forward operating locations is not only critical but also challenging because a reliable infrastructure optimized for remote geographic areas does not exist. DARPA recently announced the Fixed Wireless at a Distance program seeks to tackle the problem of stationary infrastructure designed specifically to overcome the challenge inherent with cell communication in remote areas.

SCaN satellite to redefine software-defined radio

February 9, 2012 12:19 pm | News | Comments

NASA scientists are in the midst of preparing their Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Testbed for launch later this year. Its mission will be to push the limits of software-defined radio, a communication system in which components typically implemented in hardware are instead provided by means of software.

MoonKAM returns first video from the dark side of the moon

February 3, 2012 2:47 am | News | Comments

A camera aboard one of NASA's twin Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft has returned its first unique view of the far side of the moon. Thousands of fourth- to eighth-grade students will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. Photos of the target areas will be sent back by the satellites for students to study.

New ideas sharpen focus for greener aircraft

January 30, 2012 10:36 am | News | Comments

Teams from three of the top United States aerospace corporations have spent the last year studying how to meet NASA’s sustainability goals for cleaner, more efficient aircraft. Among the requirements that prompted adventurous design work from the companies was a 50% reduction in fuel consumption and a 75% reduction in harmful emissions.

Engineers debut open-source fluid dynamics design application

January 24, 2012 11:33 am | by Andrew Myers | News | Comments

Every year, students studying aeronautical and astronautical design brace themselves for the time-consuming process of writing their own code to optimize aerospace designs. In search of a better way, a team of engineers at the Aerospace Design Lab at Stanford University has released SU2, an open-source application that models the effects of fluids moving over aerodynamic surfaces.

Send in the supplies: RoboCopters in Marines' future

January 11, 2012 11:24 am | News | Comments

Marines running low on ammo may one day use an app on their digital handhelds to summon a robotic helicopter to deliver supplies within minutes, enabled by technologies from a new Office of Naval Research program. The Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System is a five-year, $98 million effort to develop sensors and control technologies for robotic vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

QUT research to help safer emergency aircraft landings

January 5, 2012 5:05 am | News | Comments

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) aviation researchers are developing an information system to help unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) make safer emergency landings and better enable their wider commercial use.

Magnetically levitated flies offer clues to future of life in space

January 4, 2012 8:56 am | News | Comments

Using powerful magnets to levitate fruit flies can provide vital clues to how biological organisms are affected by weightless conditions in space, researchers at The University of Nottingham say. The team of scientists has shown that simulating weightlessness in fruit flies here on earth with the use of magnets causes the flies to walk more quickly.

Computer model explains lakes and storms on Titan

January 4, 2012 8:39 am | News | Comments

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is an intriguing, alien world that's covered in a thick atmosphere with abundant methane. With an average surface temperature of -300 F and a diameter just less than half of the Earth's, Titan boasts methane clouds and fog, as well as rainstorms and plentiful lakes of liquid methane. The origins of many of these features have remained puzzling to scientists. Until now.

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