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  • richardmitnick 9:45 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Five Years Watching Volcanoes on Another World" Jupiter's moon Io, , , , , , Io from Keck Observatory and Gemini North both using Adaptive Optics   

    From AAS NOVA: “Five Years Watching Volcanoes on Another World” Jupiter’s moon Io 

    AASNOVA

    From AAS NOVA

    22 July 2019
    Susanna Kohler

    1
    Image of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1997. [NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]

    NASA/Galileo 1989-2003




    For all that space telescopes are powerful tools for exploring our universe, we can achieve some remarkable science using ground-based observations! A new study explores the lessons learned from five years of monitoring Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from the ground.

    2
    This set of images from Keck, all taken within 30 minutes of each other, demonstrates the range of filters used to observe Io during this campaign. [de Kleer et al. 2019]

    Keck Observatory, operated by Caltech and the University of California, Maunakea Hawaii USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft)

    A Dramatic Landscape

    Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io, is a dramatic, roiling world of heated activity. The moon’s not-quite-circular orbit means that it receives a varying gravitational tug from Jupiter, generating friction and warming up the moon’s interior. This heat then escapes from Io’s surface in the form of active volcanic vents, tremendous explosions, and scalding lava flows.

    Continuous monitoring of all of these activities — Io’s hotspots, or locations of thermal emission — is essential to understand how heat is dissipated in this violently active moon. We’ve had the opportunity to explore Io’s volcanism up close as the Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, and New Horizons missions have each passed by the moon, revealing more than 150 active volcanoes on Io’s surface. But these brief flybys don’t provide the important long-term, high-cadence observations of Io’s hotspots needed to truly track its activity.

    Luckily, space-based astronomy is not the only solution!

    View from the Ground

    Over the last five years, scientists have carefully monitored Io’s thermal emission using the Keck and Gemini North telescopes located in Hawaii.


    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)

    Think their observations couldn’t possibly be as useful as the up-close data from space telescopes? Think again! The powerful adaptive optics on Keck and Gemini North allowed the team to resolve down to distances of 100–500 km on Io’s surface in infrared— a scale not far from the resolution attained by the Near-Infrared Mapping Spectrometer on Galileo during its flybys.

    Keck Adaptive Optics

    4
    Gemini North Adaptive Optics

    What’s more, the flexible scheduling of Gemini North and a dedicated observing program at Keck made it possible for the team to gather 271 nights of observations of Io over 5 years. In a new study led by Katherine de Kleer (California Institute of Technology), the team now details what they’ve learned from this campaign.

    Lessons from Hotspots

    Five years of observing have produced a grand total of 980 detections of more than 75 unique hotspots. A few points of interest from these observations:

    The brightest eruptions are generally short-lived (lasting only a few days) and very hot (above 800 K, or nearly 1,000°F). They also almost all cluster in Io’s trailing hemisphere — the side of the moon located away from its direction of motion. This trend remains unexplained.
    A number of new hotspots have only been detected in the past three years. Some of these likely existed before but only emit sporadically; others may have arisen more recently.
    113 detections of the extremely active Loki Patera hint at a periodicity to this volcano of ~470 days — behavior that could be tied to Io’s orbital properties.

    The authors have made all of their hotspot data available for public download and invite the astronomy community to extend their work. Between future analysis of these data and further observations of Io, we can certainly look forward to more insights into this heated, dynamic world.

    Citation

    “Io’s Volcanic Activity from Time Domain Adaptive Optics Observations: 2013–2018,” Katherine de Kleer et al 2019 AJ 158 29.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/ab2380

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    1

    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

     
  • richardmitnick 3:32 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chess- Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, CHEXS @ CHESS, , , While other synchrotron laboratories are traditionally located at national labs Cornell is the only U.S. university still operating a large accelerator complex.   

    From Cornell Chronicle: “Cornell announces $54M from NSF for new CHESS subfacility” 

    From Cornell Chronicle

    The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, more commonly known as CHESS, entered a new era April 1.

    1
    Guebre Tessema, right, NSF materials research program director, tours the CHESS facility June 3 with CHESS director Joel Brock. Jason Koski/Cornell University

    A national research facility that annually attracts more than 1,200 users – who conduct X-ray analysis and collect data for research in materials, biomedical and other science fields – CHESS has been funded exclusively by the National Science Foundation since its commissioning in 1980. That changed in April, with Cornell transitioning to a new funding model in which multiple partners will steward facilities at CHESS.

    The NSF remains the largest of these contributing partners, and the science agency on July 18 announced that it will provide $54 million in federal funding over the next five years for a research and education subfacility at Wilson Laboratory, the home of CHESS.

    The NSF funding will be provided by its Division of Materials Research, the Directorate of Biology and the Directorate of Engineering.

    The newly funded NSF portion of the facility will be known as the Center for High-Energy X-ray Sciences at CHESS (CHEXS @ CHESS), and will include four beamlines and staff to support high-energy X-ray science user operations, X-ray technology research and development, and CHEXS leadership. In addition to research, CHEXS will support education and training, particularly of researchers in biological sciences, engineering and materials research.

    3
    Figure 1: New beamline sectors shown on the expanded floor space created by removing the CLEO detector (white rectangle), the CHESS West beamlines, power supplies in the west flare (shown occupied by sector 4 on left) and the west RF area (shown occupied by hutch ID3B).

    “The renewal of NSF funding for CHESS will ensure America and Cornell University remain at the the cutting edge of innovation in high-energy X-ray applications,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “CHESS is a unique training ground for the scientific workforce we need to keep the U.S. competitive, and is part of the lifeblood of our scientific community, enabling researchers to make advancements in everything from clean energy technologies to stronger, more resilient infrastructure. I have been proud to fight and deliver funding to support CHESS and the NSF, and will continue to do so.”

    “CHESS is a groundbreaking facility that provides world-class scientific research to upstate New York and the nation, including our military,” said Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “This federal funding will be used to support the Center for High-Energy X-ray Sciences, which will advance the state’s research and high-tech manufacturing sectors. CHESS continues to be a leader in upstate New York’s innovation economy.”

    “By supporting CHEXS, NSF is furthering new, unique, experimental capabilities for emerging research in materials, engineering and biology,” said Guebre X. Tessema, NSF materials research program director. “The new funding model unleashes a reinvented CHESS to pursue new partnerships with other federal agencies, universities and industry.”

    “We are always excited to continue our relationship with the NSF,” said Joel Brock, CHESS director and professor of applied and engineering physics. CHESS’s most recent grant renewal from the NSF came in 2014.

    “This support goes a long way in already securing funding from additional partners,” Brock said, “and ensures that this vital X-ray facility will remain productive into the future.”

    On June 4, CHESS held its annual users’ meeting, where Brock and Tessema toured the CHEXS research facility, showcasing the expansive space available to researchers.

    CHESS recently completed a $15 million upgrade, solidifying the lab’s standing as a world-leading X-ray source. Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul came to CHESS to celebrate the successful completion of the upgrade, which was funded by New York state. This project improved the infrastructure of the storage ring and CHESS’s X-ray beamlines, while also creating jobs by helping to expand the advanced manufacturing sector of central New York.

    After the installation of new undulator sources in all of its X-ray beamlines, CHESS is now considered a true third-generation (state-of-the-art) light source, and is equipped for studies of materials at the macroscopic level.

    With the recent upgrade and CHEXS’s new five-year cooperative agreement from the NSF, the lab is taking the opportunity to engineer a major transition in its funding model and organizational structure.

    For more than 30 years, the NSF has been the sole steward of CHESS, providing the funding needed to operate the large facility. CHESS will now transition from sole stewardship by the NSF as a national user facility and into a partner-funded laboratory.

    According to Brock, this funding reconfiguration presents a rare opportunity to redistribute the nation’s synchrotron resources among research communities.

    “Diverse groups including plant biology, structural materials and advanced manufacturing are eager to utilize a much larger fraction of the nation’s available synchrotron resources,” said Brock. “Using X-rays is a highly desirable technique that can transform your research, and this new NSF funding will help us reach a wider user base.”

    While CHESS attracts in excess of 1,200 users from around the world to perform research at the facility, roughly half of the submitted research proposals are denied due to a lack of beamtime availability. By diversifying the funding sources, CHESS hopes also to diversify and expand the research of the lab.

    “Since the facility owns the equipment, the responsibility for beamlines can be reassigned among the funding partners quickly without having to transfer assets,” Brock said. “By enabling partners like the NSF to align their support with evolving research needs, CHESS is able to offer its new partners access to the synchrotron radiation facility more rapidly.”

    While other partners contribute money for research at the X-ray facility, the NSF will remain CHESS’s largest funding member of these partner organizations. This allows researchers to focus on using the high-flux X-rays at CHESS that are optimized for time-resolved, high-energy applications. These types of X-rays are ideal for researching quantum materials, fuel cells and high-pressure biological processes.

    While other synchrotron laboratories are traditionally located at national labs, Cornell is the only U.S. university still operating a large accelerator complex. The university graduates roughly 20 percent of the nation’s Ph.D.s trained in accelerator science and advanced X-ray technology, and approximately 60 undergraduates participate in CHESS laboratory research every year.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:46 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A certain amount of material within the universe collapses to form galaxy clusters. But once they are formed these clusters are 'closed boxes.' “, "Scientists Weigh the Balance of Matter in Galaxy Clusters", "This research is powered by more than a decade of telescope investments", A method of weighing the quantities of matter in galaxy clusters — the largest objects in our universe — has shown a balance between the amounts of hot gas stars and other materials., , , , , , Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe each composed of around 1000 massive galaxies., The findings will be crucial to astronomers’ efforts to measure the properties of the universe as a whole., The results are the first to use observational data to measure this balance which was theorized 20 years ago and will yield fresh insight into the relationship between ordinary matter that emits light, University of Birmingham,   

    From Carnegie Mellon University: “Scientists Weigh the Balance of Matter in Galaxy Clusters” 

    From Carnegie Mellon University

    July 22, 2019
    Jocelyn Duffy
    Carnegie Mellon University
    jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu
    412-268-9982

    Beck Lockwood
    University of Birmingham
    0121 414 2772

    1
    Galaxy Cluster Abell 1763. The image shows the galaxy content, produced from SDSS images from g,r, and i bands, overlaid with the extended X-ray emission from XMM.

    SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, near Sunspot NM, USA, Altitude2,788 meters (9,147 ft)


    ESA/XMM Newton

    A method of weighing the quantities of matter in galaxy clusters — the largest objects in our universe — has shown a balance between the amounts of hot gas, stars and other materials.

    The results are the first to use observational data to measure this balance, which was theorized 20 years ago, and will yield fresh insight into the relationship between ordinary matter that emits light and dark matter, and about how our universe is expanding.

    Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe, each composed of around 1,000 massive galaxies. They contain vast amounts of dark matter, along with hot gas and cooler “ordinary matter,” such as stars and cooler gas.

    In a new study, published in Nature Communications, an international team led by astrophysicists from the University of Michigan and the University of Birmingham, and including a Carnegie Mellon University postdoctoral fellow, used data from the Local Cluster Substructure Survey (LoCuSS) to measure the connections between the three main mass components that comprise galaxy clusters — dark matter, hot gas and stars.

    Members of the research team spent 12 years gathering data, which span a factor of 10 million in wavelength, using the Chandra and XMM-Newton satellites, the ROSAT All-sky survey, Subaru telescope, United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT), Mayall telecope, the Sunyaev Zeldovich Array and the Planck satellite. Using sophisticated statistical models and algorithms built by Arya Farahi during his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, the team was able to conclude that the sum of gas and stars across the clusters that they studied is a nearly fixed fraction of the dark matter mass. This means that as stars form, the amount of hot gas available will decrease proportionally.

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope


    ESA/XMM Newton


    ROSAT X-ray satellite built by DLR , with instruments built by West Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States



    NAOJ/Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level



    UKIRT, located on Mauna Kea, Hawai’i, USA as part of Mauna Kea Observatory,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level



    NOAO/Mayall 4 m telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA, Altitude 2,120 m (6,960 ft)


    3
    Sunyaev Zeldovich Array

    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    Using sophisticated statistical models and algorithms built by Arya Farahi during his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, the team was able to conclude that the sum of gas and stars across the clusters that they studied is a nearly fixed fraction of the dark matter mass. This means that as stars form, the amount of hot gas available will decrease proportionally.

    “This validates the predictions of the prevailing cold dark matter theory. Everything is consistent with our current understanding of the universe,” said Farahi, who is a McWilliams Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon.

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex Mittelmann Cold creation

    “A certain amount of material within the universe collapses to form galaxy clusters. But once they are formed, these clusters are ‘closed boxes.’ The hot gas has either formed stars, or still remains as gas, but the overall quantity remains constant,” said Graham Smith of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham, and Principal Investigator of LoCuSS.

    “This research is powered by more than a decade of telescope investments,” added August E. Evrard, of the University of Michigan. “Using this high-quality data, we were able to characterize 41 nearby galaxy clusters and find a special relationship, specifically anti-correlated behaviour between the mass in stars and the mass in hot gas. This is significant because these two measurements together give us the best indication of the total system mass.”

    The findings will be crucial to astronomers’ efforts to measure the properties of the universe as a whole. By gaining a better understanding of the internal physics of galaxy clusters, researchers will be able to better understand the behaviour of dark energy and the processes behind the expansion of the universe.

    “Galaxy clusters are intrinsically fascinating, but in many ways still mysterious objects,” Smith said. “Unpicking the complex astrophysics governing these objects will open many doors onto a broader understanding of the universe. Essentially, if we want to be able to claim that we understand how the universe works, we need to understand galaxy clusters.”

    Data of the kind studied by the team will grow by several orders of magnitude over the coming decades thanks to next-generation telescopes, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which is currently under construction in Chile, and e-ROSITA, a new x-ray satellite. Both will begin observations in the early 2020s.

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.


    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    “These measurements are laying a foundation for precise science with clusters of galaxies,” said Professor Alexis Finoguenov, a member of the team based at the University of Helsinki.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    https://www.cmu.edu/index.htmlis a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:57 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN NA64, , , , ,   

    From CERN: “NA64 casts light on dark photons” 

    Cern New Bloc

    Cern New Particle Event


    From CERN

    22 July, 2019
    Ana Lopes

    The NA64 collaboration has placed new limits on the interaction between a photon and its hypothetical dark-matter counterpart.

    1
    The NA64 experiment (Image: CERN)

    Without dark matter, most galaxies in the universe would not hold together. Scientists are pretty sure about this. However, they have not been able to observe dark matter and the particles that comprise it directly. They have only been able to infer its presence through the gravitational pull it exerts on visible matter.

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)


    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)


    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    One hypothesis is that dark matter consists of particles that interact with each other and with visible matter through a new force carried by a particle called the dark photon. In a recent study, the collaboration behind the NA64 experiment at CERN describes how it has tried to hunt down such dark photons.

    NA64 is a fixed-target experiment. A beam of particles is fired onto a fixed target to look for particles and phenomena produced by collisions between the beam particles and atomic nuclei in the target. Specifically, the experiment uses an electron beam of 100 GeV energy from the Super Proton Synchrotron accelerator.

    The Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), CERN’s second-largest accelerator. (Image: Julien Ordan/CERN)

    In the new study, the NA64 team looked for dark photons using the missing-energy technique: although dark photons would escape through the NA64 detector unnoticed, they would carry away energy that can be identified by analysing the energy budget of the collisions.

    The team analysed data collected in 2016, 2017 and 2018, which together corresponded to a whopping hundred billion electrons hitting the target. They found no evidence of dark photons in the data but their analysis resulted in the most stringent bounds yet on the strength of the interaction between a photon and a dark photon for dark-photon masses between 1 MeV and 0.2 GeV.

    These bounds imply that a 1-MeV dark photon would interact with an electron with a force that is at least one hundred thousand times weaker than the electromagnetic force carried by a photon, whereas a 0.2-GeV dark photon would interact with an electron with a force that is at least one thousand times weaker. The collaboration anticipates obtaining even stronger limits with the upgraded detector, which is expected to be completed in 2021.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

    Quantum Diaries
    QuantumDiaries

    Cern Courier

    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

    ATLAS

    CERN ATLAS Image Claudia Marcelloni CERN/ATLAS


    ALICE

    CERN/ALICE Detector


    CMS
    CERN CMS New

    LHCb
    CERN LHCb New II

    LHC

    CERN map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

     
  • richardmitnick 1:23 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Making the Invisible Visible: New Sensor Network Reveals Telltale Patterns in Neighborhood Air Quality", “This research is an example of how a national laboratory can have a meaningful impact by working with communities” said Kirchstetter., “We generated a technology that didn’t exist to make this invisible problem visible” said Thomas Kirchstetter., Black carbon- commonly known as soot- is a significant contributor to global warming and is strongly linked to adverse health outcomes., , LBNL collaborating with UC Berkeley have developed a new type of sensor network that is much more affordable yet capable of tracking this particulate matter., Sensors available on the market today are expensive making black carbon difficult to track., The Aerosol Black Carbon Detector (ABCD)., The fleet of sensors was deployed throughout West Oakland   

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “Making the Invisible Visible: New Sensor Network Reveals Telltale Patterns in Neighborhood Air Quality” 

    Berkeley Logo

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    July 22, 2019
    Laurel Kellner
    LKellner@lbl.gov
    (510) 486-5375

    Berkeley Lab deploys custom-built sensors for 100 days and nights to track black carbon pollution.

    1
    A truck pulls out of Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. (Credit: iStockphoto)

    Black carbon, commonly known as soot, is a significant contributor to global warming and is strongly linked to adverse health outcomes. Produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels – emitted from large trucks, trains, and marine vessels – it is an air pollutant of particular concern to residents in urban areas. Sensors available on the market today are expensive, making black carbon difficult to track.

    Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), collaborating with UC Berkeley, have developed a new type of sensor network that is much more affordable yet capable of tracking this particulate matter. With more than 100 custom-built sensors installed across West Oakland for 100 days, the team created the largest black carbon monitoring network to be deployed in a single city.

    A full description of the 100×100 air quality network was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.


    In this video, Berkeley Lab researchers show how they created a technology that did not exist to monitor local air pollution across time and space. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

    Generating a new technology to monitor air pollution

    The project was launched to address a persistent concern in the community: the need for better tools to monitor black carbon across time and space. Expanding on prior research at Berkeley Lab, the team addressed this challenge by building the Aerosol Black Carbon Detector (ABCD). “We generated a technology that didn’t exist to make this invisible problem visible,” said Thomas Kirchstetter, who leads the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division at Berkeley Lab, and is an Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley.

    Small and inexpensive, the ABCD is a compact air quality monitor that can measure the concentration of black carbon in an air sample. “We had to create a sensor that was as accurate as high-grade, expensive instrumentation, but low enough in cost that we could distribute 100 of them throughout the community,” said Kirchstetter. Thanks to design innovations that coauthor Julien Caubel developed during his PhD research, which help the sensors withstand changes in temperature and humidity, the ABCD can produce reliable data when left outside for extended periods of time. The materials for each ABCD cost less than $500. In comparison, commercially available instruments that measure black carbon cost many thousands of dollars.

    2
    Two sensors in the largest black carbon air quality monitoring network ever deployed in a single city, with a spatial density approximately 100 times greater than traditional regulatory networks. The lowest black carbon levels were consistently recorded at sites like the one pictured, upwind of freeways and most industrial activity. (Credit: Chelsea Preble/Berkeley Lab)

    A well distributed network

    The fleet of sensors was deployed throughout West Oakland, a fifteen-square-kilometer mixed-use residential/industrial neighborhood surrounded by freeways and impacted by emissions from the Port of Oakland and other industrial activities. Six land-use categories were designated for sensor placement: upwind, residential, industrial, near highway, truck route, and port locations. “It was important to build a well-distributed network across the neighborhood in order to capture pollution patterns,” said coauthor Chelsea Preble, a Berkeley Lab affiliate and postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. Through a collaboration with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), Environmental Defense Fund, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Port of Oakland, the scientists recruited community members willing to host the black carbon sensors outside of their homes and businesses. “Our partnership with WOEIP, in particular working with Ms. Margaret Gordon and Brian Beveridge, was essential to the success of the study,” said Preble.

    To track the individual sensors in real time, including their operating status, and collect measurements, coauthor Troy Cados built a custom website and database. Every hour, the devices sent black carbon concentrations to the database using 2G, the mobile wireless network. The study produced approximately 22 million lines of data, yielding insights about the nature of air pollution on a local scale. Now available for download, the data is also being used by collaborators from UC Berkeley, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and other institutions to improve air pollution modeling tools.

    3
    A partnership effort, the project team included members from Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), pictured here, as well as contributors from Environmental Defense Fund, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Port of Oakland. (Credit: Chelsea Preble/Berkeley Lab)

    Turning invisible pollutants into data

    How did these devices work? The ABCD pulled air through a white filter, where black carbon particles were deposited. Optical components in the sensor periodically measured the amount of light transmitted through the darkening filter. Black carbon concentration in the air was based on how much the filter had darkened over time. This technique, developed several decades ago by Berkeley Lab and now commercially available, served as a foundation for the innovations in this study.

    5
    Sensors built for this project were deployed outside of homes and businesses throughout West Oakland to record how black carbon concentrations varied in space and time. (Credit: Chelsea Preble/Berkeley Lab)

    In West Oakland, the researchers found that black carbon varied sharply over distances as short as 100 meters and time spans as short as one hour. The highest and most variable levels were associated with truck activity along Maritime Street, typically low in the pre-dawn hours when the Port of Oakland was closed and peaking at the start of business, around eight in the morning. The lowest black carbon concentrations in the study area were recorded on Sundays, when truck activity is typically lowest, and at upwind sites near the bay, west of the freeways and the city’s industrial activity. Most of the sensors were able to collect data sufficient to establish pollution patterns during the first 30 days of the study, suggesting that similar – and shorter – studies could provide other communities with valuable information about their air quality.

    6
    For the first time, a dense monitoring network recorded black carbon levels across West Oakland, producing hourly averages (a) and daily averages (b). The highest concentrations, shown in red, typically occurred where truck traffic is heaviest, for instance along Maritime Street (west of the freeways, where the sensors above form an ‘L’ shape). (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

    Partnering with communities to advance the science of monitoring

    “This research is an example of how a national laboratory can have a meaningful impact by working with communities,” said Kirchstetter. “We worked to address a concern that they’ve long had and provided data describing how pollution varies throughout the neighborhood, which can be used to advocate for cleaner air,” he said. The team is currently working to advance this technology, making it more robust and easier to use so that it can be deployed for longer periods of time at other locations.

    “We’ve long been involved in the generation of air pollution sensing technologies,” said Kirchstetter, whose mentor, Tica Novakov, started the field of black carbon research and was an inspiration for this work. “Berkeley Lab has experts in air quality and materials sciences, and can further the science of sensors to continue this path forward,” he said. Since the completion of the project, Cados and Caubel have founded a start-up to develop these techniques and make them more readily available.

    The authors on this paper were Julian Caubel, Troy Cados, Chelsea Preble, and Thomas Kirchstetter. The study was funded by Environmental Defense Fund, with in-kind support provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    LBNL campus

    Bringing Science Solutions to the World
    In the world of science, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is synonymous with “excellence.” Thirteen Nobel prizes are associated with Berkeley Lab. Seventy Lab scientists are members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors for a scientist in the United States. Thirteen of our scientists have won the National Medal of Science, our nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Eighteen of our engineers have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and three of our scientists have been elected into the Institute of Medicine. In addition, Berkeley Lab has trained thousands of university science and engineering students who are advancing technological innovations across the nation and around the world.

    Berkeley Lab is a member of the national laboratory system supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Science. It is managed by the University of California (UC) and is charged with conducting unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Located on a 202-acre site in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus that offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff. The Lab’s total costs for FY 2014 were $785 million. A recent study estimates the Laboratory’s overall economic impact through direct, indirect and induced spending on the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area to be nearly $700 million annually. The Lab was also responsible for creating 5,600 jobs locally and 12,000 nationally. The overall economic impact on the national economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year. Technologies developed at Berkeley Lab have generated billions of dollars in revenues, and thousands of jobs. Savings as a result of Berkeley Lab developments in lighting and windows, and other energy-efficient technologies, have also been in the billions of dollars.

    Berkeley Lab was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence, a UC Berkeley physicist who won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention of the cyclotron, a circular particle accelerator that opened the door to high-energy physics. It was Lawrence’s belief that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together. His teamwork concept is a Berkeley Lab legacy that continues today.

    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California.

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  • richardmitnick 12:40 pm on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Increased control over ions’ motions may help improve quantum computers", ,   

    From University of Washington via Science News: “Increased control over ions’ motions may help improve quantum computers” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    via

    Science News

    July 22, 2019
    Emily Conover

    A single ion was put into quantum states with up to 100 quanta of energy.

    1
    ION MANEUVERS Physicist Katie McCormick (shown manipulating a mirror that directs a laser beam) and colleagues coaxed a beryllium ion to go through the motions. The ion exhibited precise quantum movements within an electromagnetic field. Burrus/NIST

    Physicists are taking their quantum powers to the next level — the next energy level, that is.

    Researchers have controlled the motion of a trapped ion, an electrically charged atom, better than ever possible before, manipulating the energy level of its oscillation within an electromagnetic field. A single ion of beryllium, trapped by electromagnetic fields, was made to oscillate according to scientists’ bidding, the team reports July 22 in Nature.

    In quantum mechanics, energy comes in discrete amounts, packets known as quanta. Using lasers to tweak the ion, the researchers were able to set it oscillating within the electromagnetic field that confined it, with any number of quanta up to 100, breaking previously published records of about 17 quanta.

    The team also put the ion in a superposition — a weird situation in which the ion is simultaneously in two energy states at once, making it ultrasensitive to any stray electromagnetic fields. The larger the difference in the two energy levels in superposition, the more sensitive the ion is. The researchers put the ion in a superposition between a state with no quanta of energy and one with 18. Such ions could be used as precise sensors to locate electromagnetic fields.

    Scientists’ newly demonstrated prowess with ions could also be used to build better quantum computers. Some quantum computers store and process information via ions confined in traps, with lasers used to perform operations on the quantum data. Though quantum computers are still in their early stages, scientists predict the machines will be able to perform calculations more complex than what’s currently possible (SN: 7/8/17, p. 28).

    “It’s an unprecedented level of control,” says Katie McCormick, a physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We’ve generated quantum states at a level that nobody has before.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:26 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , LightSail 2, Planetary Society,   

    From The Planetary Society via : “LightSail 2 Just Gifted Us Stunning New Pictures of Our Little Blue Marble From Space “ 

    1

    From The Planetary Society

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    22 JUL 2019
    EVAN GOUGH

    LightSail 2, the brainchild of The Planetary Society, has gifted us two new gorgeous images of Earth. The small spacecraft is currently in orbit at about 720 km, and the LightSail 2 mission team is putting it through its paces in preparation for solar sail deployment sometime on or after Sunday, July 21st.

    LightSail 2 is a modular CubeSat that measures 10 × 10 × 30 cm. The solar sails, once deployed, will measure 32 square meters (340 sq ft).

    3

    The spacecraft was designed to test a solar sail’s ability to both raise a satellite’s orbit and lower its orbit. Right now the spacecraft is being tested and analyzed in advance of deploying its sails.

    4

    Flight controllers recently uploaded a software patch related to LightSail 2’s stability system. According to The Planetary Society, the patch “refined the operation of the spacecraft’s electromagnetic torque rods, which are responsible for keeping LightSail 2 stable as it circles the Earth.”

    6
    The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft is almost ready to go solar sailing.

    Mission officials today cleared the spacecraft for a possible sail deployment attempt on Tuesday, 23 July 2019, during a ground station pass that starts at roughly 11:22 PDT (18:22 UTC). A backup pass is available the following orbit starting at 13:07 PDT (20:07 UTC). These times may change slightly as new orbit predictions become available.

    Live sail deployment coverage will be available at planetary.org/live. A video and audio stream from mission control, located at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, will be available during ground station passes. Rolling updates will also be posted on the page for context.

    We also have two new images from LightSail 2. As the satellite passed over ground stations, it used excess bandwidth to transmit the high-resolution images.

    7
    LightSail 2 captured this image of Mexico on July 12th, 2019. The image is looking east across Mexico. The tip of the Baja Peninsula is on the left, and on the far right is Tropical Storm Barry.

    8
    LightSail 2 captured this image of Earth on July 7th. It’s looking at the Caribbean Sea towards Central America, with north roughly at the top. The blue-green color of the ocean around the Bahamas can be seen at the picture’s 1:00 position. A lens flare is visible in the lower right.

    It’s so far, so good for LightSail 2. The Planetary Society says the satellite is healthy and is stable in its orbit. Before they deploy the solar sail system, operators want to be confident that the attitude control system is operating correctly. That’s because atmospheric drag on the deployed sail limits the period in which LightSail 2’s orbit can be raised.

    LightSail 2 is a composite spacecraft made of three nanosatellites. Two of them handle the solar sails, and one handles the electronics. The sail system has four triangular sails that deploy into a square. It was launched on 25 June 2019.

    LightSail 2 is the successor to LightSail 1. They were both crowd-funded by The Planetary Society, the non-profit group known for their innovative approach to advancing space technologies. Overall, the entire LightSail project cost US$7 million. That includes both LightSail spacecraft, and their predecessor Cosmos 1.

    9
    LightSail 2 captured this picture of Earth’s limb on 6 July 2019 at 04:41 UTC from a camera mounted on its dual-sided solar panels.

    he society boasts well-known members like Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Experienced professional scientist populate the Board and Advisory Council, and it shows in the society’s results.

    The Planetary Society does important, tangible work in space. Their vision is to “Know the cosmos and our place within it.” Their mission statement is “Empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration.”

    If that sounds good to you, you can learn more about the Society, or join the ranks of supporters, here.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    3

    In 1980, Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray founded The Planetary Society. They saw that there was enormous public interest in space, but that this was not reflected in government, as NASA’s budget was cut again and again.

    Today, The Planetary Society continues this work, under the leadership of CEO Bill Nye, as the world’s largest and most influential non-profit space organization. The organization is supported by over 50,000 members in over 100 countries, and by hundreds of volunteers around the world.

    Our mission is to empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. We advocate for space and planetary science funding in government, inspire and educate people around the world, and develop and fund groundbreaking space science and technology.

    We introduce people to the wonders of the cosmos, bridging the gap between the scientific community and the general public to inspire and educate people from all walks of life.

    We give every citizen of the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard in government and effect real change in support of space exploration.

    And we bring ordinary people directly to the frontier of exploration as we crowdfund innovative and exciting space technologies.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:38 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Deep below Alaskan ice tiny life forms went untouched for 50000 years., Gleaning insight into the kind of extraterrestrial life we might discover elsewhere in the solar system, Liquid pockets called cryopegs have remained untouched for 50000 years., Scientists are probing tiny life forms to improve the hunt for aliens.,   

    From University of Washington via Business Insider: “Deep below Alaskan ice, tiny life forms went untouched for 50,000 years. Scientists are probing them to improve the hunt for aliens.” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    via

    1
    Business Insider

    Jul. 18, 2019
    Aylin Woodward

    2
    Scientist Zachary Cooper climbs down a ladder into a tunnel leading to a cryopeg, a pocket of super-cool water suspended in the Alaskan permafrost, May 2018. Researchers are harnessed to a rope for safety. Shelly Carpenter/University of Washington

    -In pockets of briny water 20 feet under the Arctic tundra, scientists have found thriving microbial communities.
    -Some of these liquid pockets, called cryopegs, have remained untouched for 50,000 years.
    -By studying the microbes that survive in these extreme environments, researchers can glean insight into what types of life to look for on planets like Mars or on Saturn’s moon Titan.

    Almost one-quarter of the Earth’s northern hemisphere remains frozen year-round.

    This permanently chilled ground, aptly named permafrost, consists of soil, rocks and sand held together by ice. Sometimes, permafrost traps pockets of bacteria and viruses hundreds of thousands of years old.

    These unchanging conditions and sub-zero temperatures make patches of permafrost suitable analogs for the icy conditions on other planets and their moons. So scientists are studying the microbes that survive and thrive there to glean insight into the kind of extraterrestrial life we might discover elsewhere in the solar system.

    Recently, researchers from the University of Washington took a new approach to this effort, probing subsurface pockets where sediment mixes with salty water. These pockets under the Arctic tundra are called cryopegs, and some have remained untouched for 50,000 years.

    As it turns out, some are also home to thriving groups of microscopic bacteria.

    “We study really old seawater trapped inside of permafrost for up to 50,000 years, to see how those bacterial communities have evolved over time,” Zachary Cooper, an oceanographer who recently presented some of this research, said in a press release.

    The team’s hope is that the tiny lifeforms they found could offer clues about what types of creatures we should hunt for on Mars or other planets.

    3
    A view of Siberian permafrost from the air.Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons

    Isolated for 50,000 years

    In cryopegs, the water is so salty that the liquid remains unfrozen even at below-freezing temperatures.

    To reach one of these underground pockets, Cooper and his colleagues drilled more than 20 feet into the permafrost near Utqiaġvik, Alaska.

    They presented a DNA analysis of the bacteria that they discovered there at an astrobiology conference last month. To the researchers’ surprise, their analysis revealed that the isolated bacteria are thriving.

    That shouldn’t be the case.

    “The extreme conditions here are not just the below-zero temperatures, but also the very high salt concentrations,” Jody Deming, another study author, said in the press release. “140 parts per thousand — 14% — is a lot of salt. In canned goods, that would stop microbes from doing anything.”

    4
    A University of Washington research site sits a mile outside of Utqiagvik, Alaska. Zac Cooper/University of Washington

    The primary microbe they found in the salty water was marinobacter, a common type of marine bacteria.

    “Even though it has been in the dark, buried in frozen permafrost for a very long time, it originally came from the marine environment,” Deming said.

    This shows that marinobacter are able to survive even when transplanted into a hyper-salty sediment pocket below the icy tundra.

    “We were quite startled at how dense the bacterial communities are,” Cooper said. “We’re just discovering that there’s a very robust microbial community, co-evolving with viruses, in these ancient buried brines.”

    Drilling into a subterranean tunnel

    Researchers aren’t sure how cryopegs form under layers of ice. They could be former coastal lagoons that got trapped during the last ice age as the ocean receded.

    To access this particular cryopeg, located about 20 to 25 feet below the surface, the researchers had to climb down a 12-foot ladder into the icy tundra, then crawl through a tunnel bored within the permafrost. The tunnel was only wide enough for a single person and not high enough to stand in.

    Researchers then drilled into the tunnel floor to reach the cryopeg’s saline liquid.

    Once they were finally able to analyze the samples they removed, the water turned out to be replete with tiny lifeforms.

    Studying extreme environments could help scientists better understand Mars and Titan

    These pockets of ancient saltwater could be very similar to the environments under the oceans and ice of other planets, the researchers wrote.

    Mars may have once harbored a liquid ocean, and other moons in our solar system also have liquid water. Other ocean worlds include Saturn’s icy moons Titan and Enceladus, and Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede.

    Studying how Earthly bacteria thrives in semi-frozen liquid environments could inform future space-exploration missions about what kind of life to look for and how to detect it. The researchers behind the recent work think that the types of adaptations that allowed marinobacter to survive in hyper-salty, sub-zero water could also arise in bacteria on other planets.

    5
    This near-infrared color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas.NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho

    Titan, specifically, is a prime candidate in the ongoing search for signs of extraterrestrial life. It’s Saturn’s largest moon and the second-largest moon in the solar system. Scientists refer to Titan as a “proto-Earth” because of its size, composition, and the bodies of liquid water on its surface. A colossal ocean of liquid water also likely exists below Titan’s roughly 60-mile-thick crust of ice.

    Recently, NASA announced that its next $1 billion mission to space will send a nuclear-powered helicopter to explore Titan. The drone-like rotorcraft, nicknamed “Dragonfly,” is set to launch in 2026. Once it arrives at the distant moon, it will scan Titan’s surface seeking signs of past — or present — microbial alien life.

    6
    Dragonfly: NASA Announces Mission to Saturn’s Largest Moon Titan

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:59 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "For Climbing Robots, A tiny climbing robot rolls up a wall gripping with fishhooks - technology adapted from LEMUR's gripping feet., Ice Worm moves by scrunching and extending its joints like an inchworm., , RoboSimian can walk on four legs crawl move like an inchworm and slide on its belly., , The climbing robot LEMUR, the Sky's the Limit"   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “For Climbing Robots, the Sky’s the Limit” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    July 10, 2019

    Arielle Samuelson
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-0307
    arielle.a.samuelson@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    The climbing robot LEMUR rests after scaling a cliff in Death Valley, California. The robot uses special gripping technology that has helped lead to a series of new, off-roading robots that can explore other worlds.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    A tiny climbing robot rolls up a wall, gripping with fishhooks – technology adapted from LEMUR’s gripping feet.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    3
    RoboSimian can walk on four legs, crawl, move like an inchworm and slide on its belly. In this photo it stands on the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley, California, for field testing with engineer Brendan Chamberlain-Simon.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    4
    For Climbing Robots, the Sky’s the Limit
    Ice Worm climbs an icy wall like an inchworm, an adaptation of LEMUR’s design.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Robots can drive on the plains and craters of Mars, but what if we could explore cliffs, polar caps and other hard-to-reach places on the Red Planet and beyond? Designed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles. In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff while scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area.

    LEMUR was originally conceived as a repair robot for the International Space Station. Although the project has since concluded, it helped lead to a new generation of walking, climbing and crawling robots. In future missions to Mars or icy moons, robots with AI and climbing technology derived from LEMUR could aid in the search for similar signs of life. Those robots are being developed now, honing technology that may one day be part of future missions to distant worlds.

    A Mechanical Worm for Icy Worlds

    How does a robot navigate a slippery, icy surface? For Ice Worm, the answer is one inch at a time. Adapted from a single limb of LEMUR, Ice Worm moves by scrunching and extending its joints like an inchworm. The robot climbs ice walls by drilling one end at a time into the hard surface. It can use the same technique to stabilize itself while taking scientific samples, even on a precipice. The robot also has LEMUR’s AI, enabling it to navigate by learning from past mistakes. To hone its technical skills, JPL project lead Aaron Parness tests Ice Worm on glaciers in Antarctica and ice caves on Mount St. Helens so that it can one day contribute to science on Earth and more distant worlds: Ice Worm is part of a generation of projects being developed to explore the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter, which may have oceans under their frozen crusts.


    Robots can land on the Moon and drive on Mars, but what about the places they can’t reach? Designed by engineers as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence to find its way around obstacles. In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff, scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area.

    A Robotic Ape on the Tundra

    Ice Worm isn’t the only approach being developed for icy worlds like Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where geysers at the south pole blast liquid into space. A rover in this unpredictable world would need to be able to move on ice and silty, crumbling ground. RoboSimian is being developed to meet that challenge.

    Originally built as a disaster-relief robot for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), it has been modified to move in icy environments. Nicknamed “King Louie” after the character in “The Jungle Book,” RoboSimian can walk on four legs, crawl, move like an inchworm and slide on its belly like a penguin. It has the same four limbs as LEMUR, but JPL engineers replaced its gripping feet with springy wheels made from music wire (the kind of wire found in a piano). Flexible wheels help King Louie roll over uneven ground, which would be essential in a place like Enceladus.

    Tiny Climbers

    Micro-climbers are wheeled vehicles small enough to fit in a coat pocket but strong enough to scale walls and survive falls up to 9 feet (3 meters). Developed by JPL for the military, some micro-climbers use LEMUR’s fishhook grippers to cling to rough surfaces, like boulders and cave walls. Others can scale smooth surfaces, using technology inspired by a gecko’s sticky feet. The gecko adhesive, like the lizard it’s named for, relies on microscopic angled hairs that generate van der Waals forces – atomic forces that cause “stickiness” if both objects are in close proximity.

    Enhancing this gecko-like stickiness, the robots’ hybrid wheels also use an electrical charge to cling to walls (the same phenomenon makes your hair stick to a balloon after you rub it on your head). JPL engineers created the gecko adhesive for the first generation of LEMUR, using van der Waals forces to help it cling to metal walls, even in zero gravity. Micro-climbers with this adhesive or gripping technology could repair future spacecraft or explore hard-to-reach spots on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

    Ocean to Asteroid Grippers

    Just as astronauts train underwater for spacewalks, technology built for ocean exploration can be a good prototype for missions to places with nearly zero gravity. The Underwater Gripper is one of the gripping hands from LEMUR, with the same 16 fingers and 250 fishhooks for grasping irregular surfaces. It could one day be sent for operations on an asteroid or other small body in the solar system. For now, it’s attached to the underwater research vessel Nautilus operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust off the coast of Hawaii, where it helps take deep ocean samples from more than a mile below the surface.

    A Cliff-Climbing Mini-Helicopter

    The small, solar-powered helicopter accompanying NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will fly in short bursts as a technology demonstration, paving the way for future flying missions at the Red Planet. But JPL engineer Arash Kalantari isn’t content to simply fly; he’s developing a concept for a gripper that could allow a flying robot to cling to Martian cliffsides. The perching mechanism is adapted from LEMUR’s design: It has clawed feet with embedded fishhooks that grip rock much like a bird clings to a branch. While there, the robot would recharge its batteries via solar panels, giving it the freedom to roam and search for evidence of life.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 7:23 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Making it easier to program and protect the web", Associate Professor Adam Chlipala, “I hope to save people a lot of time doing repetitive work by automating programming work as well as decreasing the cost of building secure reliable systems” says Associate Professor Adam Chlipala, , Much of his work centers on designing simplified programming languages and app-making tools for programmers; systems that automatically generate optimized algorithms for specific tasks; and compilers   

    From MIT News: “Making it easier to program and protect the web” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    July 20, 2019
    Rob Matheson

    1
    “I hope to save a lot of people a lot of time doing boring, repetitive work by automating programming work as well as decreasing the cost of building secure, reliable systems,” says Associate Professor Adam Chlipala. Image: M. Scott Brauer

    Professor Adam Chlipala builds tools to help programmers more quickly generate optimized, secure code.

    Behind the scenes of every web service, from a secure web browser to an entertaining app, is a programmer’s code, carefully written to ensure everything runs quickly, smoothly, and securely. For years, MIT Associate Professor Adam Chlipala has been toiling away behind behind-the-scenes, developing tools to help programmers more quickly and easily generate their code — and prove it does what it’s supposed to do.

    Scanning the many publications on Chlipala’s webpage, you’ll find some commonly repeated keywords, such as “easy,” “automated,” and “proof.” Much of his work centers on designing simplified programming languages and app-making tools for programmers, systems that automatically generate optimized algorithms for specific tasks, and compilers that automatically prove that the complex math written in code is correct.

    “I hope to save a lot of people a lot of time doing boring repetitive work, by automating programming work as well as decreasing the cost of building secure, reliable systems,” says Chlipala, who is a recently tenured professor of computer science, a researcher in the Computer Science and Artificial Laboratory (CSAIL), and head of the Programming Languages and Verification Group.

    One of Chlipala’s recent systems automatically generates optimized — and mathematically proven — cryptographic algorithms, freeing programmers from hours upon hours of manually writing and verifying code by hand. And that system is now behind nearly all secure Google Chrome communications.

    But Chlipala’s code-generating and mathematical proof systems can be used for a wide range of applications, from protecting financial transactions against fraud to ensuring autonomous vehicles operate safely. The aim, he says, is catching coding errors before they lead to real-world consequences.

    “Today, we just assume that there’s going to be a constant flow of serious security problems in all major operating systems. But using formal mathematical methods, we should be able to automatically guarantee there will be far fewer surprises of that kind,” he says. “With a fixed engineering budget, we can suddenly do a lot more, without causing embarrassing or life-threatening disasters.”

    A heart for system infrastructure

    As he was growing up in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, programming became “an important part of my self-identity,” Chlipala says. In the late 1980s, when Chlipala was young, his father, a researcher who ran physics experiments for AT&T Bell Laboratories, taught him some basic programming skills. He quickly became hooked.

    In the late 1990s, when the family finally connected to the internet, Chlipala had access to various developer resources that helped him delve “into more serious stuff,” meaning designing larger, more complex programs. He worked on compilers — programs that translate programming language into machine-readable code — and web applications, “when apps were an avant-garde subject.”

    In fact, apps were then called “CGI scripts.” CGI is an acronym for Common Gateway Interface, which is a protocol that enables a program (or “script”) to talk to a server. In high school, Chlipala and some friends designed CGI scripts that connected them in an online forum for young programmers. “It was a means for us to start building our own system infrastructure,” he says.

    And as an avid computer gamer, the logical thing for a teenaged Chlipala to do was design his own games. His first attempts were text-based adventures coded in the BASIC programming language. Later, in the C programming language, he designed a “Street Fighter”-like game, called Brimstone, and some simulated combat tabletop games.

    It was exciting stuff for a high schooler. “But my heart was always in systems infrastructure, like code compilers and building help tools for old Windows operating systems,” Chlipala says.

    From then on, Chlipala worked far in the background of web services, building the programming foundations for developers. “I’m several levels of abstraction removed from the type of computer programming that’s of any interest to any end-user,” he says, laughing.

    Impact in the real world

    After high school, in 2000, Chlipala enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in computer science and got involved in a programming language compiler research group. In 2007, he earned his PhD in computer science from University of California at Berkeley, where his work focused on developing methods that can prove the mathematical correctness of algorithms.

    After completing a postdoc at Harvard University, Chlipala came to MIT in 2011 to begin his teaching career. What drew Chlipala to MIT, in part, was an opportunity “to plug in a gap, where no one was doing my kind of proofs of computer systems’ correctness,” he says. “I enjoyed building that subject here from the ground up.”

    Testing the source code that powers web services and computer systems today is computationally intensive. It mostly relies on running the code through tons of simulations, and correcting any caught bugs, until the code produces a desired output. But it’s nearly impossible to run the code through every possible scenario to prove it’s completely without error.

    Chlipala’s research group instead focuses on eliminating the need for those simulations, by designing proven mathematical theorems that capture exactly how a given web service or computer system is supposed to behave. From that, they build algorithms that check if the source code operates according to that theorem, meaning it performs exactly how it’s supposed to, mostly during code compiling.

    Even though such methods can be applied to any application, Chlipala likes to run his research group like a startup, encouraging students to target specific, practical applications for their research projects. In fact, two of his former students recently joined startups doing work connected to their thesis research.

    One student is working on developing a platform that lets people rapidly design, fabricate, and test their own computer chips. Another is designing mathematical proven systems to ensure the source code powering driverless car systems doesn’t contain errors that’ll lead to mistakes on the road. “In driverless cars, a bug could literally cause a crash, not just the ‘blue-screen death’ type of a crash,” Chlipala says.

    Now on sabbatical from this summer until the end of the year, Chlipala is splitting his time between MIT research projects and launching his own startup based around tools that help people without programming experience create advanced apps. One such tool, which lets nonexperts build scheduling apps, has already found users among faculty and staff in his own department. About the new company, he says: “I’ve been into entrepreneurship over the last few years. But now that I have tenure, it’s a good time to get started.”

    See the full article here .


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