NASA hopes to improve computers with tiny carbon tubes on silicon

The life of the silicon chip industry may last 10 or more years longer, thanks to a new manufacturing process developed by NASA scientists. The novel method, announced in the April 14 issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters, includes use of extremely tiny carbon ‘nanotubes’ instead of copper conductors to interconnect parts within integrated circuits (ICs). Carbon nanotubes are measured in nanometers, much smaller than today’s components. A nanometer is roughly 10,000 times smaller than the width of an average human hair. ICs are very small groups of electronic components made on silicon wafers.

Study shows how water may have flowed on ancient Mars

NASA scientists have discovered how an intricate martian network of streams, rivers and lakes may have carried water across Mars. Using new three-dimensional data from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and a powerful state-of-the-art computer code that ‘models’ overland water flow, scientists visualized the complex flow of martian water. These data, acquired by the laser altimeter on board the spacecraft, provided highly accurate, three-dimensional topographic views of Mars.

NASA, universities to launch nanoelectronics institute

In an effort to help create spacecraft that can think, NASA and a group of six colleges led by Purdue University today are meeting in West Lafayette, Ind., to officially launch the NASA Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing. Institute scientists and engineers will collaborate to work on methods to make electronics measured in nanometers — much smaller than today’s components. A nanometer is roughly 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Purdue scientists will work with researchers at Northwestern, Cornell and Yale universities, the University of Florida and the University of California at San Diego.

NASA technology could help treat anxiety, migraine and hypertension

An technology developed by NASA to help its astronauts combat motion sickness during space flight will be available in March for a much wider range of human health and performance uses. The technology, which helps an individual control aspects of their autonomal nervous system — which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing, heartbeat, sweating, blood vessel dilation and glandular secretions — could have use in treating conditions as varied as migraine headache, high blood pressure and panic attacks.

NASA develops new design process for future spacecraft

Building the next Starship Enterprise may have just gotten a little simpler. NASA has announced what it says is an efficient, timely, revolutionary process that may help design the next generation of space vehicles. Engineers at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, in collaboration with astronauts from NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, are using the Virtual Flight Rapid Integration Test Environment (VF-RITE) to develop and evaluate vehicle designs that may eventually ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The new process quickly and efficiently incorporates virtual test-flight data into the design process, creating a continuous dialog between test pilots and vehicle designers.

NASA to showcase innovative research for treating blindness

A technology designed to restore vision in patients suffering from age-related blindness will be demonstrated by a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley today. Developed by NASA Ames in conjunction with the Stanford University School of Medicine, the “Vision Chip” may help improve age-related macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in the elderly. “Nanotechnology that could restore vision is an exciting example of how NASA science and engineering, origially intended for outer space, can return enormous dividends for everyday life here on Earth,” said Dr. David J. Loftus, a member of both the Life Sciences Division and the Integrated Product Team on Devices and Nanotechnology at NASA Ames.

‘Hormonal’ software could help satellite self-assemble in space

A unique design for self-organizing robots controlled by “hormonal” software is moving toward space. At the Robosphere 2002 conference held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley November 14-15, Wei-Min Shen of the USC School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) presented an overview of an audacious project to have pieces of the proposed half-mile-long Space Solar Power System satellite put themselves together–self-assemble–without the help of astronauts.

NASA uses ‘extremophile’ microbes to grow nanostructures

NASA scientists have invented a biological method to make ultra-small structures that could be used to produce electronics 10 to 100 times smaller than today’s components. As part of their new method, scientists use modified proteins from ‘extremophile’ microbes that live in near-boiling, acidic hot springs to grow mesh-like structures so small that an electron microscope is needed to see them.
“Our innovation takes advantage of the innate ability of proteins to form into ordered structures and for us to use genetic engineering to change nature’s plans, transforming these structures into something useful,” said one of the project’s lead researchers.

NASA develops tool to improve accident investigations

Nasa has developed a Web-based software tool meant to help scientists and engineers investigating accidents work more effectively and efficiently. The InvestigationOrganizer, developed at NASA Ames Research Center, is a Web-based tool that provides information storage, management, and analysis capabilities to accident investigation teams. Current investigating and reporting methods used by NASA’s mishap investigation teams tend to be disparate and cumbersome. Teams have no standard methods or tools for information storage, management, dissemination or analysis ? all issues that InvestigationOrganizer is designed to address.