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Sci-Tech: Carbon nanotube fiber in textile thread form

A multi-national team led by a group at Rice University have made “strands of carbon nanotube fibers that look and feel like textile thread”: New nanotech fiber: Robust handling, shocking performance – Rice University (via Transterrestrial Musings).

Rice University’s latest nanotechnology breakthrough was more than 10 years in the making, but it still came with a shock. Scientists from Rice, the Dutch firm Teijin Aramid, the U.S. Air Force and Israel’s Technion Institute this week unveiled a new carbon nanotube (CNT) fiber that looks and acts like textile thread and conducts electricity and heat like a metal wire. In this week’s issue of Science, the researchers describe an industrially scalable process for making the threadlike fibers, which outperform commercially available high-performance materials in a number of ways.

“We finally have a nanotube fiber with properties that don’t exist in any other material,” said lead researcher Matteo Pasquali, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry at Rice. “It looks like black cotton thread but behaves like both metal wires and strong carbon fibers.”

The research team includes academic, government and industrial scientists from Rice; Teijin Aramid’s headquarters in Arnhem, the Netherlands; the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio.

“The new CNT fibers have a thermal conductivity approaching that of the best graphite fibers but with 10 times greater electrical conductivity,” said study co-author Marcin Otto, business development manager at Teijin Aramid. “Graphite fibers are also brittle, while the new CNT fibers are as flexible and tough as a textile thread. We expect this combination of properties will lead to new products with unique capabilities for the aerospace, automotive, medical and smart-clothing markets.”

Curiosity rover set to drill into Red Planet rock for first time

The Curiosity rover has selected a rock into which it will do its first drilling investigations: Mars Science Laboratory: NASA Mars Rover Preparing To Drill Into First Martian Rock – NASA

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers’ approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

The size of a car, Curiosity is inside Mars’ Gale Crater investigating whether the planet ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life. Curiosity landed in the crater five months ago to begin its two-year prime mission.

“Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission’s most challenging activity since the landing. It has never been done on Mars,” said Mars Science Laboratory project manager Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don’t control. We won’t be surprised if some steps in the process don’t go exactly as planned the first time through.”

Curiosity first will gather powdered samples from inside the rock and use those to scrub the drill. Then the rover will drill and ingest more samples from this rock, which it will analyze for information about its mineral and chemical composition.

The chosen rock is in an area where Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) and other cameras have revealed diverse unexpected features, including veins, nodules, cross-bedded layering, a lustrous pebble embedded in sandstone, and possibly some holes in the ground.

The rock chosen for drilling is called “John Klein” in tribute to former Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager John W. Klein, who died in 2011.

“John’s leadership skill played a crucial role in making Curiosity a reality,” said Cook.

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Find more on Curiosity’s activities in these items:

Site for selected for Curiosity drill debutThis view shows the patch of veined, flat-lying rock selected as the first drilling site for NASA’s

Mars rover Curiosity. The rover’s right Mast Camera (Mastcam), equipped with a telephoto lens, was about 16 feet (5 meters) away from the site when it recorded this mosaic’s component images, between 3:10 and 3:33 in the afternoon of the 153rd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (Jan. 10, 2013).

The area is shot full of fractures and veins, with the intervening rock also containing concretions, which are small spherical concentrations of minerals. The scale bar on the left image is 19.7 inches (50 centimeters) long. On the annotated version, three boxes, each about 4 inches (10 centimeters) across, designate enlargements on the right that illustrate attributes of the area.

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“The Space Composer” – turning solar data into tunes

Here’s the latest episode of MOTHERBOARD Spaced Out series of space related video reports:

MOTHERBOARD PRESENTS THE SPACE COMPOSER:
TURNING SOLAR ACTIVITY INTO SOUND

A classically trained composer transforms solar data into tunes
on VICE’s tech channel’s documentary series Spaced Out

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 16, 2013) – MOTHERBOARD today premieres the latest in its Spaced Out series, The Space Composer, investigating the art of turning data from the sun into sound. Sonification specialist Robert Alexander takes us through the solar cycle as it rises and falls, using the solar data to create some of the most interesting and unique music to have ever graced the planet.

Watch past episodes of Spaced Out here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTlJK3kwZIbSOF8drdNvWQAoPqowDwpzS
Motherboard’s Spaced Out series is a 360-degree look at space and the people who love it, who explore it, who wonder about it.

ABOUT MOTHERBOARD
Motherboard is an online magazine and video channel dedicated to the intersection of technology, science and humans. Launched by VICE in 2009, Motherboard raises its eyebrows at the people and things that are making our weird and wonderful present and future, with news, commentary, in-depth reporting, photos, and original video documentaries. Dipping liberally into politics, art, sex, drugs, war, design, nature, space, history and sci-fi, Motherboard skips the useless tech hype to keep its cascade of tabs open to the stuff you should know.

ABOUT VICE
VICE was launched in 1994 as a ‘punk zine’ and has since expanded into a leading global youth media company with bureaus in over 30 countries. VICE operates the world’s premier original online video destination, VICE.COM, an international network of digital channels, a television production studio, a magazine, a record label, an in-house creative services agency and a book-publishing division. VICE’s digital channels include The Creators Project, dedicated to the arts and creativity, Motherboard, covering cultural happenings in technology, and Noisey, a music discovery channel. To date, VICE boasts over 60 established shows that cover everything from current events to sex to investigative reporting to music to kittens.