May. 22nd, 2009

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TheSpec.com - BreakingNews - Canadian astronaut to test remote-control rover at space agency

Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk wil spend several weeks remotely operating a rover-type robot from space using an amateur ham radio when he arrives on the International Space Station some time after his May 27th launch from Kazakhstan. The rover will be in a backlot of the Canadian Space Agency in Montréal. The study will explore the challenges of remotely controlling a robot for purposes of terrain-mapping under the constraint of having only a 10-minute window every day or every several days with which to communicate his instructions to the robot. The experiment will test several Canadian-made technologies for terrain exploration and will be applied to designs for rovers that may be sentto other planets and controlled either from Earth or from space.

update

May. 22nd, 2009 01:19 pm
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Just returned from a trip to Toronto, but work on a paper (due today), then helping a friend demolish a dock, followed by the arrival of my in-laws means photos will be slow in being processed and tech posts will be sporadic.
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New memory material may hold data for one billion years

The Doomsday Book survived more than 900 years but today's digital memory devices have lifespans of only a few decades. Researchers, though, have developed a new type of memory system that is expected to have a lifespan of almost 1 billion years with a theoretical maximum recording density of 1 terabyte per square inch. Each bit in the system consists of an iron nanoparticle, trapped in a carbon nanotube, that can be moved from one end of the tube to the other using electricity. A one or zero is read by determining in which end of the tube the iron nanoparticle resides.

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All your movies on a single DVD: study

Australian researchers have developed a new type of DVD with a storage capacity 10,000 times that of current systems. The DVD is coated with gold nanorods, allowing them to encode information not only spatially but also using different optical wavelengths and polarization angles. They are currently working out issues with the speed at which data can be written and expect that a commercial version of the system will not be seen for more than 5 years.
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Major breakthrough in lithium battery technology reported

Canadian researchers have demonstrated the first robust lithium-sulphur battery, as well as a new approach to creating composite materials. Lithium-sulphur batteries have been long been sought because they have potential for high energy densities and sulphur is cheaper to obtain than materials currently used in lithium-based batteries. The team developed a nano-casting technique consisting of a structure of nanoscale carbon rods seperated by empty channels. The rods kept the channels open until molten sulphur was added. Capillary forces drew the sulphur into the channels where it solidified into sulpher nanofibers. The resulting battery demonstrated 3 times the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries. The researchers are currently ironing out the details with an eye to commercialization.

January 2010

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