Since it started orbiting Saturn last June, the Cassini mission has returned incredible images of the gas giant, its dazzling rings and its enigmatic moons. But its most dramatic chapter will come this January, when a European lander probe (Huygens) that has been piggybacking on Cassini for the last seven years is sent on a fiery plunge into the murky atmosphere of Saturns largest and most mysterious moon, Titan--a chapter that would have ended in disaster, save for an engineer called Boris Smeds.
Titan is completely covered by a thick orange smog of hydrocarbons, and scientists have speculated that oily oceans of methane and ethane may roil beneath the cloaking clouds. After slamming into the moons atmosphere at 21,000 km/hour, Huygens will take two-and-a-half hours to descend through the atmosphere, slowed by parachutes. On its way down its expected to transmit a scientific bonanza from its cameras and instruments, a bonanza that will be picked up by special radio receivers onboard Cassini and then relayed back to Earth.
But unbeknownst to anyone, a lurking flaw in Cassinis receivers meant that the data received by Cassini were going to be hopelessly scrambled. Along with his allies, ESA engineer Boris Smeds developed and championed a rigorous test that revealed the flaw and its cause in time for corrective action to be taken. Doing this required Smeds to battle bureaucracy, travel from his desk in Darmstadt, Germany, to an antenna farm deep in Californias Mojave Desert, and use all his engineering insight and creativity to expose the flaw before time ran out.
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Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
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An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
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An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
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