Three ESA missions are due to send down robotic `spaceprobes` when they arrive at their alien destinations. Since these craft will be going where no one has gone before, how can scientists be sure what it will be like down there? How do you ensure that your spaceprobe is prepared for anything?
Experts take every precaution to ensure that these probes will not burn up entering an alien atmosphere, or meet a spectacular, untimely end via a crash landing on inhospitable terrain. These probes expect the worst.
For example, the Huygens probe, which is currently on its journey to Titan, Saturn`s largest moon, on-board the Cassini spacecraft, can withstand temperatures of up to 18 000°C in the shockwave in front of the heat shield. This is about three times the Sun`s surface temperature. Why? The heat generated as Huygens travels through Titan`s thick atmosphere will be immense.
Jean-Pierre Lebreton, Huygens Project Scientist, says "Things will get interesting once Cassini draws close to Saturn. We`ll get the best views of Saturn and Titan that we ever had. We`ll also observe Titan to verify that our models are correct. If we find the atmospheric density is different from what we expected, we could consider slightly changing the angle at which Huygens enters to protect it from overheating or the parachute deploying wrongly. However, late changes may bring new risks."
Monica Talevi | European Space Agency
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The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.
Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...
Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.
Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...
Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices
The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.
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After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.
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