No one said it would be easy to conduct scientific experiments robotically on Mars. And in fact the Phoenix Mars Lander continues to run into nagging problems. What’s very interesting is how engineers working with scientists on Earth are developing workarounds to solve the problems. It’s engineering at its best, and it reminds me a little of the steps taken on the ill-fated Apollo 13, although the Mars mission is not life-or-death.
In the latest problem, soil dumped on a screen is clumping, and not passing through to analysis equipment, even after vibration. Engineers decided to employ a motorized rasp on the scoop that was actually designed to dig out granite-like ice below the polar surface. Tests show that the scoop, when tilted, does drop fine particles of soil while it is being vibrated by the rasp. Previously, the scoop was just dumped outside down, dumping the soil.
Look for tests in a few days that will chemically analyze the soil.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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