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Sunday, June 3, 2007


40% EfficientSolar Cells

Scientists at Spectrolab, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing have built solar cells capable of working at 40% efficiency. "These results are particularly encouraging since they were achieved using a new class of metamorphic semiconductor materials, allowing much greater freedom in multijunction cell design for optimal conversion of the solar spectrum," Dr. Richard R. King, principal investigator of the high efficiency solar cell research and development effort, told PhysOrg.com. "The excellent performance of these materials hints at still higher efficiency in future solar cells." A multi-junction approach allows the cell to utilize more of the spectrum which hits it.

(More info: PhysOrg)


- posted by Jim @ 14:27 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Liquid Water on the Surface

Smooth bluish areas on a Martian crater floor could be ponds, according to two scientists. The area is approximately 1 square metre
Smooth bluish areas on a Martian crater floor could be ponds, according to two scientists. The area is approximately 1 square metre
Credit: Ron Levin
A two year old picture from Opportunity shows what is thought to be a pond of liquid water. A new analysis of the image brought to the attention of researchers what appeared to be water. This claim;however, is controversial, as the ambient temperature and low pressure are not conducive to the formation of liquid water. "The temperatures get plenty warm enough, but the Mars atmosphere is essentially a vacuum," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University. He adds, "it is theoretically possible to get liquid water within soil, or under other very special conditions". The specificness of those conditions is much debated. Also, "[t]he problem is, there are winds on Mars… In the real world, I think it's virtually impossible [to have the windless condition that would facilitate liquid water's precence]," he said. Physicist Ron Levin, the lead author in the report of the image of water, works in advanced image processing at Lockheed Martin. Stereoscopic reconstructions showed areas that were so flat, the algorithm used to line up the stereo images failed to find features to line up. The blueish area appears to be at the lowest part of the terrain. "The surface is incredibly smooth, and the edges are in a plane and all at the same altitude," Levin says. "If they were ice or some other material, they'd show wear and tear over the surface, there would be rubble or sand or something."

(More info: New Scientist)


- posted by Jim @ 19:41 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


New Article: Mars: an Investment in Earth

Steven Wintergerst has submit an article, which I have finally put up. The article shows how going to and exploring Mars will help earth in many ways.

- posted by Jim @ 15:07 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Subcommittee Stops Spending on a Human Mars Mission

"The bill language also continues a moratorium prohibiting NASA from implementing a reduction in force and from funding any research, development or demonstration activity related exclusively to Human Exploration of Mars. NASA has too much on its plate already, and the President is welcome to include adequate funding for the Human Mars Initiative in a budget amendment or subsequent year funding requests." This is from the "Subcommittee Passes FY08 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill" (PDF) release from Congressman Alan B. Mollohan. This is a blow to research and planning for the manned Mars landing. The Mars Society has an update and ways to contact congress here. Here is the Slashdot thread.

- posted by Jim @ 18:44 EST

(permanent link)

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