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Friday, August 31, 2012

Ultra-Low Power Wireless Networks / Another first for Curiosity (and Will.I.Am)

"Ultra-low power consumption is one of the most formidable challenges faced by the next generation of wireless sensing systems," said Jingxian Wu, assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas. "These systems will need to operate without interruption for multiple years and with extremely limited battery capacity or limited ability to scavenge energy from other devices. This is why the NSF was interested in our research." The type of network that Dr. Wu &co is working on could be extremely useful for a mission to Mars, and beyond, as power is scarce and reliability is a must in space. The uniqueness of the design being pursued by the team is that instead of trying to combat distortion and noise, embrace it. "If we accept the fact that distortion is inevitable in practical communication systems, why not directly design a system that is naturally tolerant to distortion?" Wu said. "Allowing distortion instead of minimizing it, our proposed distortion-tolerant communication can operate in rate levels beyond the constraints imposed by Shannon channel capacity." The Shannon-Hartley theorem is a theorem relating the channel capacity, or transmission rate, at a given bandwidth, and hence energy required to transmit a message, in the presence of noise.

Catching up on Curiosity, on Aug. 28, Will.I.Am's "Reach for the Stars" became the first song to be played from another the surface of another planet. Both Will.I.Am and NASA Administrator Bolden addressed a crowd of students in Pasadena, Calif. "Today is about inspiring young people to lead a life without limits placed on their potential and to pursue collaboration between humanity and technology through STEAM [Science, Technology, Education, and Math] education. I know my purpose is to inspire young people, because they will keep inspiring me back," Will.I.Am said.

- posted by Jim @ 00:00 EST