Unforeseen problems continue to bug the Phoenix Mars Lander, but engineers are hopeful obstacles can still be overcome. A robotic scoop finally deployed, capturing Martian polar soil, but the material clumped on a screen and only a few particles passed into analysis equipment.
The team operating the Lander developed a technique for sprinkling soil from a tilted scoop while it is being vibrated by a motorized rasp. Previously, the soil was just dumped. The rasp had been designed to scoop up a subsurface sample of ice, a mission that is still planned.
"This is good news," says Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, lead scientist for the robotic arm. According to Arvidson, Martian soil clumps because of extremely fine particles filling in gaps between coarser, sand-size particles, perhaps with a material that cements particles together. Another strategy: Future soil samples may be chopped and scraped with blades on the scoop.
More often than not, with the purchase of a sports car comes the sacrifice of any sort of utility. In other words, you can forget about a large trunk, extra seats for the kids, and more importantly driving in snowy (or inclement) weather. But what if there was a vehicle that offered the best of both worlds; great handling and practicality?
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
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