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NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer Helps Confirm Nature of
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:01:15 UTC-07:00
PASADENA, Calif. -- A five-year survey of 200,000 galaxies, stretching back seven billion
years in cosmic time, has led to one of the best independent confirmations that dark energy
is driving our universe apart at accelerating speeds. The survey used data from NASA's
space-based Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Anglo-Australian Telescope on Siding
Spring Mountain in Australia.
The findings offer new support for the favored theory of how dark energy works -- as a
constant force, uniformly affecting the universe and propelling its runaway expansion. They
contradict an alternate theory, where gravity, not dark energy, is the force pushing space
apart. According to this alternate theory, with which the new survey results are not
consistent, Albert Einstein's concept of gravity is wrong, and gravity becomes repulsive
instead of attractive when acting at great distances.
Gliese 581d: A Habitable Exoplanet?
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:00:59 UTC-07:00
Gliese 581d: A Habitable Exoplanet?
Source: CNRS press release
Summary: A new computer model that simulates possible exoplanet climates indicates that
the planet Gliese 581d might be warm enough to have oceans, clouds and rainfall. Gliese
581d is likely to be a rocky planet with a mass at least seven times that of Earth.
Local Scientists Produce First Aerogel in Space
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:00:45 UTC-07:00
First Space-Produced Aerogel Made on Space Sciences Laboratory Rocket Flight
June 19, 1996: Aerogel is the lightest solid known to mankind, with only three times the
density of air. A block the size of a human weighs less than a pound. Because of its amazing
insulating properties, an inch-thick slab can safely shield the human hand from the heat of a
blowtorch. A sugar-cubed size portion of the material has the internal surface area of a
basketball court. As the only known transparent insulator, Aerogel is a supercritically dried
gel sometimes referred to as "frozen smoke".
Space Sciences Laboratory Hosts Bill Nye, the Science Guy
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:00:30 UTC-07:00
October 16, 1996
This week, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Space Sciences Laboratory are hosting
Bill Nye, The Science Guy, as their crew from Seattle films for an upcoming episode of the
PBS television series. Taping in SSL will occur on Wednesday, October 16 and Thursday,
Areas of science from the laboratory that will be featured on an upcoming episode of Bill Nye
include Aerogel, "cool telescopes" such as BATSE and the AXAF Calibration Facility, the
SSL Solar Vector Magnetograph, and the 105-meter drop tube for microgravity
The program will also feature a dive in the Marshall Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, the large
tank in which the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions are rehearsed by astronauts, as
well as a visit to the Space Station Assembly facility.
First Space-Produced Aerogel Made on Space Sciences
Laboratory Rocket Flight
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:00:16 UTC-07:00
October 8, 1996: Results are now beginning to become available from the April 3, 1996
rocket flight to produce the first space-made Aerogel. As described in the June 19, 1996
Aerogel Headline , Aerogel is the lightest solid known to mankind, with only three times the
density of air. Aerogel, because of its appearence is sometimes referred to as "frozen
smoke". Aerogel produced on the ground typically displays a blue haze or has a slight
cloudiness to its appearence. This feature is believed to be caused by impurities and
variations in the size of small pores in the Aerogel material. Scientists are trying to eliminate
this haze so that the insulator might be used in window panes and other applications where
transparency is important.
Fall Science Meeting Highlights Tethered Satellite Results
Posted: 2011-08-02 12:00:01 UTC-07:00
October 15, 1996
Scientists attending the Fall 1996 meeting of the American Geophysical Union will be treated
to three special sessions covering scientific results obtained from the reflight of the Tethered
Satellite System (TSS-1R). The conference will take place on December 18 and 19 in San
The TSS-1R science mission was conducted on space shuttle flight STS-75 at the end of
February 1996. During the flight, the Tethered Satellite was deployed to a distance of 12.3
miles (19.7 km) and science data was collected aboard the satellite, the space-shuttle
orbiter, and from a network of ground stations monitoring the earth's ionosphere.
Five hours of tethered operation yielded a rich scientific data set. These data include tether
current and voltage measurements, plasma particle and wave measurements, and visual
observations for a variety of pre-planned science objectives. During the flight the conducting
tether connecting the Orbiter to the satellite was severed, and large currents were observed
to be flowing between the satellite and the Orbiter during the break event.
Further scientific data were obtained from the instruments on the satellite after the break,
when the science and NASA support teams were able to capture telemetry from the satellite
during the overflight of NASA tracking stations.
Unique telescope to open the X(-ray) Files
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:59:45 UTC-07:00
Artist's concept of AXAF in orbit., The nested mirrors are at center behind the dotted circles.
The finest set of mirrors ever built for X-ray astronomy has arrived at NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center for several weeks of calibration before being assembled into a telescope for
launch in late 1998.
The High-Resolution Mirror Assembly (HRMA), as it is known, will be the heart of the
Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF) which is managed by Marshall Space Flight
Center. HRMA was built by Eastman Kodak and Hughes Danbury Optical Systems. In 1997-
98, they will be assembled by TRW Defense and Space Systems into the AXAF spacecraft.
AXAF is designed to give astronomers as clear a view of the universe in X-rays as they now
have in visible light through the Hubble Space Telescope.
Indeed, one of the Hubble's recent discoveries may move near the top of the list of things to
do for AXAF. Hubble recently discovered that some quasars reside within quite ordinary
galaxies. Quasars (quasi-stellar objects) are unusually energetic objects which emit up to
1,000 times as much energy as an entire galaxy, but from a volume about the size of our
MSFC Earth-Sun Studies Featured at AGU
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:59:13 UTC-07:00
December 13, 1996
Fountains of electrified gases spewing from the Earth into space and pictures of the aurora
during the day will be highlighted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual winter
conference in San Francisco Dec. 15-19.
AGU is one of the largest scientific bodies in the world and takes in everything from
earthquakes to solar flares - including work by scientists at Marshall Space Flight Center's
Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) to understand what drives the aurora borealis and causes
space storms that can black out cities.
At at three sessions during the AGU meeting, Marshall scientists will present their results in
several papers, written with colleagues from other institutions, from the Thermal Ion
Dynamics Experiment (TIDE) and the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), two of several instruments
aboard the Polar spacecraft launched in 1996.
Free-Floating Planets May Be More Common Than Stars
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:58:58 UTC-07:00
May 18, 2011: Astronomers have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating
alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds
are probably outcasts from developing planetary systems and, moreover, they could be twice
as numerous as the stars themselves.
"Although free-floating planets have been predicted, they finally have been detected," said
Mario Perez, exoplanet program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "[This has]
major implications for models of planetary formation and evolution."
The discovery is based on a joint Japan-New Zealand survey that scanned the center of the
Milky Way galaxy during 2006 and 2007, revealing evidence for up to 10 free-floating planets
roughly the mass of Jupiter. The isolated orbs, also known as orphan planets, are difficult to
spot, and had gone undetected until now. The planets are located at an average
approximate distance of 10,000 to 20,000 light years from Earth.
Super Storm on Saturn
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:58:42 UTC-07:00
May 19, 2011: NASA's Cassini spacecraft and a European Southern Observatory ground-
based telescope are tracking the growth of a giant early-spring storm in Saturn's northern
hemisphere so powerful that it stretches around the entire planet. The rare storm has been
wreaking havoc for months and shooting plumes of gas high into the planet's atmosphere.
Solar Storm Warning
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:58:28 UTC-07:00
March 10, 2006: It's official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished.
Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet.
Like the quiet before a storm.
This week researchers announced that a storm is coming--the most intense solar maximum
in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National
Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50%
stronger than the previous one," she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst
of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.
That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in
Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn't tell that a
solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn't exist.
Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted
three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones,
GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies.
Right: Intense auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1958
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:58:14 UTC-07:00
Review: Eee Pad tablet transforms into laptop
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:58:00 UTC-07:00
(AP) -- The tablet computers that compete with the iPad have mostly been uninspiring. The
Eee Pad Transformer stands out with a design that isn't just copied from the iPad: It's a
tablet that turns into a ...
Google Music: Definitely beta
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:57:46 UTC-07:00
Google has been accused of overusing the "beta" tag on products it releases early. But with
its new music service - Music - the beta tag is mandatory. It's still pretty raw, judging from my
experience with it today.
Microsoft trying to take another bite of the Apple?
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:57:23 UTC-07:00
t was recently announced that Apple, assessed at $150 billion, surpassed Google as the
world’s most valuable brand. This comes a year after overtaking Microsoft as the globe’s
most valuable technology ...
Google works to close security loophole in Android
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:57:09 UTC-07:00
Google is in the process of updating its Android operating system to fix an issue that is
believed to have left millions of smartphones and tablets vulnerable to personal data leaks. ..
NASA sees Tropical Storm 04W's thunderstorms grow quickly
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:56:54 UTC-07:00
This TRMM satellite 3-D image shows that some thunderstorm towers near TSO4W's center
of circulation were punching up to heights of over 16 km (~9.9 miles) above the ocean's
surface. Credit: Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
Tropical Storm 04W formed from the low pressure System 98W this morning in the
northwestern Pacific. NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite watched
the towering thunderstorms in the center of the tropical storm grow to almost 10 miles (16
km) high as it powered up quickly.
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:56:40 UTC-07:00
"Advanced computer techniques allow us to combine data from the individual telescopes to
yield images with the sharpness of a single giant telescope, one nearly as large as Earth
itself," said Roopesh Ojha at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The enormous energy output of galaxies like Cen A comes from gas falling toward a black
hole weighing millions of times the sun's mass. Through processes not fully understood,
some of this infalling matter is ejected in opposing jets at a substantial fraction of the speed
of light. Detailed views of the jet's structure will help astronomers determine how they form.
The jets strongly interact with surrounding gas, at times possibly changing a galaxy's rate of
star formation. Jets play an important but poorly understood role in the formation and
evolution of galaxies.
Radio telescopes capture best-ever snapshot of black hole jets
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:56:27 UTC-07:00
Merging X-ray data (blue) from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with microwave (orange)
and visible images reveals the jets and radio-emitting lobes emanating from Centaurus A's
central black hole. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave);
NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)
(PhysOrg.com) -- An international team, including NASA-funded researchers, using radio
telescopes located throughout the Southern Hemisphere has produced the most detailed
image of particle jets erupting from a supermassive black hole in a nearby galaxy.
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:56:10 UTC-07:00
Overcoming the Drawbacks of Fluorescent Lamps
Liquid crystal display (LCD), thanks to continued improvements in resolution, response rates
and scalability, has become the pervasive display technology for mobile phones, monitors,
notebooks, HDTVs and other consumer electronics. Since LCD panels are transmissive and
emit no light of their own, they require a backlight to provide illumination. Commonly, LCD
backlighting units (BLUs) employed cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), similar to those
used for commercial overhead lights, as their light source. However, CCFLs have a number
of drawbacks. They require a high voltage power supply and generally are the highest power
consuming component in large format displays and HDTVs. CCFLs contain mercury which
has special disposal requirements and faces increasing limits on its use in many countries.
Also, the space needed by CCFLs constrains how thin an LCD panel can be made. And as
CCFLs are a tube-based technology, they are usually the first component to fail in an LCD
XDR™ Memory Architecture
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:55:56 UTC-07:00
XDR™ Memory Architecture
The Rambus XDR™ memory architecture is a total memory system solution that achieves an
order of magnitude higher performance than today's standard memories while utilizing the
fewest ICs. Perfect for compute and consumer electronics applications, a single, 4-byte-
wide, 6.4Gbps XDR DRAM component provides 25.6GB/s of peak memory bandwidth.
Key components enabling the breakthrough performance of the XDR memory architecture
XDR DRAM is a high-speed memory IC that turbo-charges standard CMOS DRAM cores
with a high-speed interface capable of 7.2Gbps data rates providing up to 28.8GB/s of
bandwidth with a single device.
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:55:36 UTC-07:00
“The year 2010 marks a major transition period for the US LCD TV market, when consumers
increasingly are gravitating towards sets with more advanced features.” - Riddhi Patel,
iSuppli Principal TV Analyst
Consumer research finds that among advanced features, HDTV buyers' top priority is picture
quality. Capabilities such as full HD 1080p resolution, 480Hz frame rates, LED backlighting,
3D display, and advanced image processing and motion compensation create incredibly rich
viewing experiences. Each of these capabilities demands higher levels of memory
In the future, consumers will expect even more. With requirements for handling multiple
streams of 3D content, Ultra-High Definition (UHD) 4K picture resolution, 16-bit color and
more, HDTV designers need a memory architecture that provides the highest bandwidth
performance. However, even as functionality increases, OEMs will continue to face strong
downward pressure on prices. Consumer focus on pricing is second only to picture quality.
For this reason, achieving these advanced features while reducing BOM costs and
minimizing the total number of devices used is critical.
As a result of recent government mandates and consumers’ desire to “buy green,” OEMs
must also significantly reduce HDTV system power. Typical HDTV power budgets must fall
by as much as 50% by 2013 in order to meet the most stringent requirements. Key to
addressing power reduction is the move to LED technology for LCD backlights, and
continued improvements to power efficiency of electronics components including the image
processors and memory subsystem.
Gaming and Graphics Applications
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:55:08 UTC-07:00
Gaming and Graphics Applications
Gaming and graphics are the performance applications for processors and memory. As
such, leading-edge technology debuts here and eventually migrates to mainstream
computing, mobile, and consumer electronics applications over time. State-of-the-art GPUs
deliver functionality including photorealistic game characters and environments, support for
multiple simultaneous displays, 3D image processing and video output, and full HD 1080p
resolution. In order to support this functionality, the number of graphics processor cores and
transistor counts per chip are skyrocketing. High-end GPUs have over 2 billion transistors
and more than 1000 graphics processor cores up from less than 100 just 5 years ago.
Historically, these performance increases have come with a commensurate rise in power
consumption. However, because of thermal, power supply and cost constraints that trend
cannot continue. Top-of-the-line dual-GPU graphics cards and game consoles can draw as
much as 300 watts (W) of power and must allocate a significant portion of the bill-of-
materials (BOM) for the cooling system. While demand for higher performance will be ever
present, power efficiency will increasingly become a first-order requirement.
GPU’s must also be scalable to support a broad range of performance levels and price
points. Although they are the performance drivers, high-end graphics cards make up only a
small percentage of the overall market. A single GPU platform must be configurable through
the use of multiple memory types, or a single memory with a wide performance range.
The combination of these factors puts tremendous demands on the graphics memory
system. Bandwidth requirements for next-generation gaming and graphics systems will
exceed 500 gigabytes per second (GB/s). Meanwhile the total power budget must remain
constant or even decrease. Similarly, price points must remain essentially unchanged for
each of the respective performance segments.
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:54:53 UTC-07:00
Consumers have come to expect the entertainment experience of the living room from the
mobile devices they carry every day. Advanced mobile devices offer high-definition (HD)
resolution video recording, multi-megapixel digital image capture, 3D gaming and media-rich
web applications. To pack all that functionality in a form factor that's thin, light and delivered
with a pleasing aesthetic presents a tremendous challenge for mobile device designers.
Chief among these challenges is the implementation of a high-performance memory
architecture that meets the power efficiency constraints of battery-operated products.
In order to support these advanced mobile devices, memory bandwidth will experience
significant growth. Over the course of the next 2-3 years, mobile gaming and graphics
applications will push memory bandwidth requirements to 12.8 gigabytes per second and
beyond. This bandwidth must be achieved within the constraints of the available battery life
and cost budget.
Understanding the Energy Consumption of Dynamic Random
Posted: 2011-08-02 11:54:38 UTC-07:00
Energy consumption has become a major constraint on the capabilities of computer systems.
In large systems the energy consumed by Dynamic Random Access Memories (DRAM) is a
significant part of the total energy consumption. It is possible to calculate the energy
consumption of currently available DRAMs from their datasheets, but datasheets don’t allow
extrapolation to future DRAM technologies and don’t show how other changes like increasing
bandwidth requirements change DRAM energy consumption. This paper first presents a
flexible DRAM power model which uses a description of DRAM architecture, technology and
operation to calculate power usage and verifies it against datasheet values. Then the model
is used together with assumptions about the DRAM roadmap to extrapolate DRAM energy
consumption to future DRAM generations. Using this model we evaluate some of the
proposed DRAM power reduction schemes.
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