Tiny ovens are expected to begin testing soil samples on the Martian North Pole this week. In its seventh day on Mars, the Phoenix Mars Lander successfully deployed its shovel and dug a sample of dirt. A close-up, enhanced photo of the sample showed traces of white materials, a promising development for the expedition.
"That bright material might be ice or salt. We're eager to do testing of the next three surface samples collected nearby to learn more about it," says Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, Phoenix co-investigator for the robotic arm.
The shovel deployment came later than expected, heightening tension at missions headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. There were fears a plastic casing around the shovel had been damaged in the landing. But the shovel did eventually successfully deploy.
Instruments on board have been tested since the vehicle landed May 25. There was a glitch with the Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer. Tests on Thursday, May 29 showed electrical behavior consistent with an intermittent short circuit in the spectrometer portion of TEGA. The mass spectrometer will be used to examine vapors given off by heat from the soil samples. "We have developed a strategy to gain a better understanding of this behavior, and we have identified workarounds for some of the possibilities," says William Boynton of the University of Arizona, Tucson, lead scientist for the instrument.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.