Friday, September 25, 2009

Water detected on the Moon

Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - – Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.
The evidence, disclosed in new scientific papers, overturns the long accepted view that lunar soil is dry and comes just two weeks before a NASA probe is to crash into the surface near the Moon's southern pole to see if water can be detected in the dust and debris released by the impact.
The new data was gathered by probes equipped with NASA instruments designed to map the Moon's mineral composition.
The so-called "Moon Mineralogy Mapper," or M3, uses the reflection of sunlight off the Moon's surface to determine soil composition.
In one of the three papers published in the latest edition of the journal Science, researchers said they analyzed light waves detected by an M3 instrument on board an Indian satellite, Chandrayyan-1.
The reflected light waves indicated a chemical bond between oxygen and hydrogen -- proof, the researchers said, of the existence of water on the Moon's surface.
Larry Taylor of the University of Tennessee, one of the study's co-authors, said the instrument is capable of detecting the composition of the thin upper layer of the Moon's surface only to a depth of two or three inches.
Until now, scientists had advanced the theory that there might be ice at the permamently dark bottom of craters at the Moon's poles but that the rest of the Moon was totally dry.
Lunar rocks and soil contain about 45 percent oxygen, but the source of the the hydrogen observed by the instruments on the three probes remains to be determined.
Taylor and his colleagues believe it may have come from an astronomical phenomenon called the solar wind, which consist mainly of streams of positively charged hydrogen atoms emitted as the sun undergoes nuclear fusion.
They estimate that each ton of lunar soil consists of 25 percent water.
Two other probes equipped with M3-type instruments also detected the chemical signature for the presence of water.
These include data gathered by the American spacecraft Cassini as it passed near the moon a decade agon on its way to Saturn.
The third probe, also American, was Deep Impact, which was launched toward the comet Tempel-1 in 2005 to pierce it with a projectile in order to analyze the dust cloud created by the impact.
Deep Impact passed near the Moon to gather data with an instrument similar to M3.
Samples of lunar rock and soil brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s also contained traces of water.
But the containers in which they were transported were not hermetically sealed so researchers dismissed the presence of water as coming from the Earth.
"To some extent, we were fooled," said Taylor, who has studied the original Apollo missions. "Since the boxes leaked, we just assumed the water we found was from contamination with terrestrial air."
Indian scientists lost radio contact with the Chandrayaan-1 lunar satellite last month, but it had already collected enough data to provide the firmest evidence so far of water concentrated near the lunar poles.
"To find water on the moon was one of the main objectives," mission director Mylswamy Annadurai told AFP in Bangalore.
"The baby has done its job," a clearly delighted Annadurai said. "It's a major milestone, although we still have to quantify the findings."
"It was a combined team effort and of great significance for international space cooperation," he added. link....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Private Companies Compete for the Best Lunar Module

A number of private firms take part in a competition for creating the best lunar module. The winner will receive $1 million prize. Currently the leader is considered to be the Texas-based firm called Armadillo Aerospace that carried out back-to-back flights of its Scorpius. The competition was launched by NASA and participants have time till October 31st.
All participants will be judged by the accuracy of their vehicles' landings on pads as well as by how long these vehicles will fly. It is worth mentioning that the pads are 60 meters apart and one of them is constructed on rocky, pitted landscape that was developed to resemble the terrain on the lunar surface. It is worth mentioning that Armadillo Aerospace was the 2008 winner of the $350,000 prize for presenting a demonstration flight of its vehicle. Thus $1.65 million remain for the contest's main leg and runners-up.

The $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is just the starting point of a richer competition to create a spacecraft that would actually land of the lunar surface. Up till now 20 teams registered for the competition to win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize.

"We feel it's absolutely within the capacity of private industry to land on the moon,"
said William Pomerantz, who manages the lunar space contests for the X Prize Foundation. The competition attracted both, aerospace veterans and talented beginners. One of the contest's goals is to prepare the base for commercial space travels, which would be less expensive and take advantage of more proficient ways of studying and exploiting space.

"Our teams are not wholly dependent on NASA, but certainly they're all viewing NASA as anchor tenant that can help them get to where they want to go more cheaply and more regularly,"
Pomerantz was quoted by Discovery News as saying. Bethesda, Md.-based Futron Corp., estimated that in ten years the commercial lunar services will represent an industry worth between $1 and $1.5 billion. According to the company's report of July 2009, in the next decade there will be 6 markets that would be involved in commercial lunar services, including: the sale of hardware to governments; services for government customers; products intended for commercial industries and entertainment.

Jeff Foust, Futron analyst, mentioned: "If one or more teams are able to win this prize competition, they will be able to serve markets potentially far larger than the prize purse". link....

Brits Voted Michael Faraday the Greatest British Inventor

Yesterday a survey revealed that Michael Faraday is considered to be the greatest British inventor. It is worth mentioning that the discoveries of the famous English chemist and physicist led to great developments in the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. He can be called the father electric motor technology.
Around 1,200 people voted Faraday as the greatest British inventor, which is about quarter of all votes. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, British engineer who was the first to design propeller-driven steamship, was voted second, with 13 percents of all votes. The third in the list of greatest British inventors was William Caxton (9 percent) - he was the one who introduced the printing press into England. As a website with a great number of articles on latest inventions, team hopes you will enjoy our latest stories on new inventions from various fields. Feel free to check the links at the bottom of the story.

The top 20 list continued with the inventor of television John Logie Baird (8 percent) and the person who invented the first working telephone Alexander Graham Bell (7 percent). Two percent of votes received Sir Clive Sinclair, the inventor of the pocket calculator, reports The Telegraph. Among other names in the list there were Frank Whittle, who together with Germany's Dr. Hans von Ohain invented the jet engine, and Percy Shaw, English inventor and businessman who development the Catseye. link....

General Things to Know About Trojan Horse Viruses

In short, a Trojan horse virus represents a malware that infects a system to help its author illegally gain access to a computer for various reasons, including stealing personal information, obtaining passwords and detailed data of bank accounts. Trojan horses differ from common computer viruses and worms by the fact that they do not replicate themselves.
It is rather easy to get infected by the Trojan horse virus. There are several ways using which Trojan horse viruses manage to penetrate a computer. For example, a Trojan horse can be hidden in an e-mail attachment, freeware and shareware programs. Probably the most popular way of getting infecting is visiting websites that feature a Trojan horse, with the latter being downloaded without any notice. It is highly advised to regularly screen your computer and remove Trojan horse using automated anti-spyware or anti-Trojan software.

A Trojan horse virus could be included in a program that at first sight appears to be rather harmless. With just a small Trojan horse virus, the hacker can install other computer viruses on the infected computer or enter the system through the back door. Although there are several types of Trojan horse programs, all of them perform (more or less) two main functions: watching and monitoring, and stealing and hijacking.

Watching and Monitoring Trojan Horses

These Trojan horses try to gain as much information as possible about the user and his or her surfing habits. Hacker who monitors the Trojan horse will then attempt to use the gathered information for various purposes, like selling the data to parties that might be interested in it. Often such Trojan horse viruses are written carefully and cannot be easily spotted on the infected system, because the longer a Trojan horse resides in a computer the more information its developer receives.

Stealing and Hijacking Trojan Horses

These Trojan horses are somewhat more dangerous. Hackers use such viruses to carry out much more dangerous actions. Often these Trojan horses attempt to gain detailed data on banking passwords. In addition, a Trojan horse can be used to run other software programs and launch a Denial of Service Attack. Today DDOS attacks represent a big business with individuals or a group of people providing such services in return for a financial motivation. link....

Swimming Robot to Analyze Biodiversity in Shallow Water

Nature (and namely the Amazonian knifefish) served as inspiration for scientists at the University of Bath, who are working on their latest invention - a new swimming robotOcean Technologies LabGymnobot. that might revolutionize submersible technology. Researchers from in the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering dubbed their project
Their latest invention is powered by a fin that operates the length of the underside of the robot's body that undulates in order to produce a wave in the water, thus pushing the Gymnobot forward. Such design is considered to be more energy-saving compared to earlier propeller models, making it possible for the robot to swim in shallow water.

Researchers could use their latest invention to film, takes pictures and analyze the rich marine life that evolves near the seashore.

According to Keri Collins, a postgraduate student, who created the Gymnobot, the goal of using the robot is to observe the evolution of vortices around the fin. She mentioned that some fish make vortices when flipping their tails one way, but after that their tales flick back the other way, thus destroying the vortices.

"By destroying the vortex they are effectively re-using the energy in that swirling bit of water. The less energy left in the wake when the fish has passed, the less energy is wasted,"
said Collins. It is worth mentioning that the Ocean Technologies Lab was given a grant to collaborate with other 6 institutions from Europe in order to develop a robot similar to Gymnobot that could respond to water flow and swim against water currents, reports the official website of the University of Bath. Such machines could be used to study not only the biodiversity in the shallow water, but also identifying pollution or examining structures such as oil rings. link....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Solar Panels Generate Energy from Indirect Sunlight

Commonly used solar cells require direct sunlight in order to be able to produce electricity. If these solar cells do not get enough sunlight, their efficiency considerably drops. Recently engineers from GreenSun Energy, a company based in Tel Aviv, presented their latest invention - a solar cell able to produce power from diffused light. The new solar cell features a specialized colored panel, resembling a colored plexi-glass.
According to GreenSun Energy, their latest invention has its glass made with fluorescent dyes and nanoparticle metals. Besides being more efficient, the new solar cells could also have a lower cost compared to traditional solar cells. Another advantage of the new solar cells is that they require 80 percent less silicon than the traditional ones (less silicon means a lower cost of production). When sunlight (be it direct or indirect) touches the panels, it disperses across and the metal nanoparticles bring the sunlight to the edges where the silicon is placed.

The company's latest invention costs $2.10/W and is 12 percent more efficient than the traditional solar cell, which costs around $4.54/W. In addition, the conventional solar cells have efficiency loss because of the heat that doesn't turn into energy, informs CleanTechnica. In the new solar panels, the sunlight is diffused across the entire panel, thus nanoparticles are able to bring light to the edges of the panel where the light is transformed into energy. You can read more about various green technologies and eco-friendly developments here at - please check the links at the bottom of the article. Currently the Tel Aviv-based company is working on making its latest invention even more efficient.

Engineers at GreenSun look forward towards increasing the efficiency of their new solar cell from 12 percent to 20 percent. They also hope to reduce the costs of producing the new panels to $0,94/W. link....

Rent-a-Friend Agencies Are a Hit in Japan

A new trend is rapidly developing in the land of the rising sun. Japan witnesses a great demand for rent-a-friend agencies that offer their service for people who are looking for a friend, husband, boss, uncle etc.
Hagemashi Tai (I Want to Cheer You Up)
is one of such agencies. It was opened three-and-a-half years ago by 44-year-old Ryuichi Ichinokawa, who decided to launch his agency after abandoning his goal of becoming a qualified counselor.

Mr. Ichinokawa says that he has had numerous requests since he successfully completed his mission as best man and was applauded for his speech at a wedding.

"People wanted women, old and young people, all sorts, but of course I couldn't play all those roles myself,"

Mr. Ichinokawa was quoted by the Guardian as saying. He decided to hire people to help him with the task and today his agency features 30 agents of both sexes. All of his agents work in different parts of the country, temporarily playing roles of people who are in the right time and at the right place.

For turning up a wedding party, the agents can charge only 15,000 yen ($162). However, in case agents are asked to do an additional task like singing or making a speech, they will charge extra money. The job requires knowing a lot of details, analyzing every possible situation, otherwise things could get worse and the agent could for example embarrass his client and affect his status. But Mr. Ichinokawa proudly says that since he opened his agency he has never been caught out.

Some of the first rent-a-friend agencies in Japan opened eight years ago and today there are ten agencies like Hagemashi Tai, one of the most popular being Office Agent, which can boast with 1,000 people on its books. link....