by Alanna Luna
Sonic Geometry: The Language of Frequency and Form
by Alanna Luna
Dec. 7, 2014: After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on Dec. 6th for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.
Operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., confirmed at 9:53 p.m. (EST) that New Horizons, operating on pre-programmed computer commands, had switched from hibernation to “active” mode. Moving at light speed, the radio signal from New Horizons – currently more than 2.9 billion miles from Earth, and just over 162 million miles from Pluto – needed four hours and 26 minutes to reach NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia.
“This is a watershed event that signals the end of New Horizons crossing of a vast ocean of space to the very frontier of our solar system, and the beginning of the mission’s primary objective: the exploration of Pluto and its many moons in 2015,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Published on 14 Jul 2014Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for more.
Since launching on January 19, 2006, New Horizons has spent 1,873 days — about two-thirds of its flight time — in hibernation. Its 18 separate hibernation periods, from mid-2007 to late 2014, ranged from 36 days to 202 days in length. The team used hibernation to save wear and tear on spacecraft components and reduce the risk of system failures. “Technically, this was routine, since the wake-up was a procedure that we’d done many times before,” said Glen Fountain, New Horizons project manager at APL. “Symbolically, however, this is a big deal. It means the start of our pre-encounter operations.”
The wake-up sequence had been programmed into New Horizons' onboard computer in August, and started aboard the spacecraft at 3 p.m. EST on Dec. 6. About 90 minutes later, New Horizons began transmitting word to Earth on its condition, including the report that it is back in "active" mode.
The New Horizons team will spend the next several weeks checking out the spacecraft, making sure its systems and science instruments are operating properly. They’ll also continue to build and test the computer-command sequences that will guide New Horizons through its flight to and reconnaissance of the Pluto system.
With a seven-instrument science payload that includes advanced imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, a compact multicolor camera, a high-resolution telescopic camera, two powerful particle spectrometers and a space-dust detector, New Horizons will begin observing the Pluto system on Jan. 15.
New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto will occur on July 14, but plenty of highlights are expected before then, including, by mid-May, views of the Pluto system better than the Hubble Space Telescope can provide of the dwarf planet and its moons.
Read the article in its entirety at: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/07dec_plutosdoorstep/
The sigma Hydrid meteor shower is underway. Peaking every year in early December, this minor shower is caused by debris from an unknown comet. The display in December 2014 may be less minor than usual. Over the weekend NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras detected 9 sigma Hydrid fireballs over the USA.
Sky watchers are encouraged to be alert for fast meteors emerging from the head of the serpent (constellation Hydra) during the hours between local midnight and dawn. [meteor radar] www.spaceweather.com
Phys.org : 05 Dec 2014
Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap.
That's Illan Kramer's hope. Kramer and colleagues have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) - a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.
"My dream is that one day you'll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof," says Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada's Research and Development Centre.
Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of weirdly shaped surfaces, from patio furniture to an airplane's wing. A surface the size of your car's roof wrapped with CQD-coated film would produce enough energy to power three 100-Watt light bulbs - or 24 compact fluorescents.
He calls his system sprayLD, a play on the manufacturing process called ALD, short for atomic layer deposition, in which materials are laid down on a surface one atom-thickness at a time.
Until now, it was only possible to incorporate light-sensitive CQDs onto surfaces through batch processing - an inefficient, slow and expensive assembly-line approach to chemical coating. SprayLD blasts a liquid containing CQDs directly onto flexible surfaces, such as film or plastic, like printing a newspaper by applying ink onto a roll of paper. This roll-to-roll coating method makes incorporating solar cells into existing manufacturing processes much simpler. In two recent papers in the journals Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters, Kramer showed that the sprayLD method can be used on flexible materials without any major loss in solar-cell efficiency.
Kramer built his sprayLD device using parts that are readily available and rather affordable - he sourced a spray nozzle used in steel mills to cool steel with a fine mist of water, and a few regular air brushes from an art store.
You can read the entire article at : http://www.sott.net/article/289905-New-technique-invented-to-spray-solar-cells-on-flexible-surfaces
This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.