2015 started out with some exciting new developments and discoveries from NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NIST, and SNOLAB including new inflatable technology for landing spacecrafts on Mars, how to enhance compact batteries, a dark matter detector, and how Graphene could be used in XPS systems to replace the need for a high vacuum environment.
NASA is exploring inflatable technology to safely land a spacecraft on Mars. In this photo provided from NASA engineers check an Inflatable Reentry Vehicle after the complete inflation system test under vacuum conditions in the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. In order to be sure that an inflatable like this will work, it must go through rigorous testing. Luckily, we can produce vacuum systems that can simulate the atmosphere of other planets.
Sounds like the plot of a Sci-Fi film: “Two kilometers below ground in Canada, scientists deployed a specially designed sanding robot into the DEAP-3600 dark matter detector.”…dun dun dun! Actually, very fascinating and beautiful research is taking place at SNOLAB. We may see dark matter for the first time. This is the stuff that makes up most of the universe. A lab like this has to be clean and void of any outside interference. Many vacuum instruments & components are being put to use here.
According to research being done by NIST, Graphene could allow XPS systems to operate at atmospheric pressure and not have to rely on a high vacuum environment. Hard to say if this is realistic yet, as Graphene has been said to be the end all wonder material of the future. Maybe this is more practical than other uses though.
Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory can now target new materials designed to address critical battery issues associated with power and efficiency. They used x-ray beams at the National Synchrotron Light Source which relies heavily on vacuum as it is critical to its performance. A leak in the beamline at this facility can put an experiment to a halt. LACO provides leak detectors to check for leaks before an experiment like this takes place.