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Category: Aerospace Engineering

Changes in perspective may affect how useful drones really are

Credit: New Zealand Defence Force. Shared under a Creative Commons license. A recent study finds that users have trouble utilizing images from unmanned aerial systems (UASs), or drones, to find the position of objects on the ground. The finding highlights challenges facing the use of UAS technology for emergency operations and other applications, while offering guidance for future technology and training development. “Because UASs operate at heights that most normal aircraft do not, we are getting new aerial perspectives of…

Developing sensors to defend aircraft against lasers

The LASSOS display screen highlights the laser strike event in live sensor imagery on the left and generates a 3D model of the laser streak in Google Earth (right). Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laser strikes, the aiming of high-power laser pointers at aircraft, are a growing safety concern for pilots and aircraft passengers. They pose numerous dangers to pilots, including distraction during crucial moments in flight, temporary flash blindness, and in rare cases, permanent eye damage. Laser strikes have…

FAA bans drone flights near major US landmarks

The Federal Aviation Administration is banning drone flights within 400 feet (122 meters) of several national landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. The FAA announced the no-fly drone zones at 10 Department of the Interior sites on Thursday. They take effect Oct. 5. The restricted sites also include Boston National Historical Park, Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. Five dams also are on the list: Nevada’s Hoover…

Solving the mystery of Pluto’s giant blades of ice — ScienceDaily

NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant knife blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery. Now, scientists have turned up a fascinating explanation for this “bladed terrain”: the structures are made almost entirely of methane ice, and likely formed as a specific kind of erosion wore away their surfaces, leaving dramatic crests and sharp divides.…

Switzerland tests it in populated areas

Drones will help deliver toothbrushes, deodorant and smartphones to Swiss homes this fall as part of a pilot project, the first of its kind over a densely populated area. The drones will take items from a distribution center in the Zurich area and transport them 8 to 16 kilometers (5 to 10 miles) to awaiting delivery vans. The van drivers then bring the packages to homes. Andreas Raptopoulos, the CEO of drone firm Matternet, said Thursday that the drones…

Satellite view of Post-Tropical Cyclone Jose fading

NOAA’s GOES East satellite provided this visible view of post-tropical cyclone Jose on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 8:15 a.m. EDT. The storm continued weakening and generated light rain. The northwestern quadrant was still over Cape Cod, Mass. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project The National Hurricane Center issued their final advisory on Post-Tropical Cyclone Jose on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. EDT. NOAA’s GOES East satellite saw the circulation of Jose on Sept. 23 off the New England coast as it continued…

Engineers explore origami to create folding spacecraft

Some examples of origami designs at JPL. Engineers are exploring this ancient art form to create folding spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech An ancient art form has taken on new shape at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Origami, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding, has inspired a number of unique spacecraft designs here. It’s little wonder that it fascinates NASA engineers: origami can seem deceptively simple, hiding complex math within its creases. Besides aesthetic beauty, it addresses a persistent problem…

The Prospect of Space Prospecting

Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi story “Catch That Rabbit,” published in 1944, is set in an asteroid mine and portrays what might happen if formerly obedient robots decided to rebel.  These days, Asimov’s dream of space mining is a lot closer to reality, with several firms making definite plans to launch exploratory vehicles around 2020 and have full-scale mining up and running later in the decade.  But as an article in October’s Scientific American points out, the legal status of space mining…

3-D printers—a revolutionary frontier for medicine

Surgeons at the University of Saskatchewan use a 3D printed human brain to plan complex neurosurgical procedures for patients with movement disorders. Mission control on earth receives an urgent communication from Mars that an astronaut has fractured his shinbone. Using a handheld scanning device, the crew takes images of his damaged tibia and transmits them to earth. Orthopedic surgeons then use a 3-D printer to create an exact replica of the astronaut’s leg from medical imaging files obtained before the…