Assuming nothing went awry when NASA's Phoenix mission descended onto Mars in May, a meteorological station provided by the Canadian Space Agency is now acquiring, processing and transmitting temperature and pressure data back on Earth. Recording the daily weather of the martian northern plains lets scientists understand the martian climate and geology, which will help them answer the age-old question: Did life ever exist?
Sunlight in the martian polar region is even weaker than at its equator, so the battery- and solar-powered systems must feature extremely efficient power management. Radiation-tolerant RTAX-S FPGAs from Actel Corp. are among the components that let this one-of-a-kind instrument meet these requirements.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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