News of the week selected by Impactscool – April 27th
27 April 2020 | Written by La redazione
A vegetable garden at 6000 km in height
GreenCube is the name of the micro-vegetable garden designed by an all-Italian scientific team which, on board a mini satellite, will be launched on the occasion of the inaugural flight of the official VEGA-C carrier of the European Space Agency (ESA). A 30x10x10 cm cube that features an automatic closed cycle system for the hydroponic cultivation of micro-vegetables selected from those most suitable to withstand extreme extraterrestrial conditions. Housed in a pressurized environment, the micro-vegetable garden will be equipped with a sensor system for monitoring and controlling the environmental parameters, growth and health status of the plants designed to transmit all the information acquired to the ground, thus giving researchers evaluate the response of plants to extreme stress conditions. The comparison between the results of the experiments obtained in space and on the ground will be crucial to evaluate the growth of micro vegetables in orbit and to be able to use them as fresh and highly nutritious food in future long-lasting space missions.
Have you ever seen a quantum computer? It is a large cylindrical shaped machine in which the heart of the computer is only a small part, the rest is all refrigeration system. Yes, because in order for the Qubits, the computing units of these systems to work, they must be kept at minimum temperatures, close to absolute 0. Only in this way are the interferences due to vibrations and thermal fluctuations cancelled and the quantum effects can be exploited to perform calculations. However, such an apparatus is incredibly expensive and complex: being able to operate a quantum computer at higher temperatures would make the whole system more economical, stable and practical. Researchers from the University of New South Wales have managed to find ways to make Qubits work at 1.5 Kelvin. A temperature still extremely low but still 15 times greater than that normally used. A further step towards ever more efficient and economic quantum computers.
On December 7, 1972, the astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission headed towards the moon when they saw something extraordinary from the portholes of the spacecraft. A blue marble suspended in the void: the Earth at that moment showed all its fragility and beauty. The famous photo taken that day, known as Blue Marble, became the symbol of the environmental movement that was born in those years and was inserted inside the unofficial flag of Earth Day, the celebration born 50 years today. The contribution of NASA towards the protection of the environment certainly does not stop here: just for the anniversary, the US space agency has published a video that tells the great space missions that have allowed us to study the Earth.
Electronic skin powered by sweat
The skin is our contact with the outside world, the largest organ of our body, the most sensitive and elastic. And now it could even become a battery. Researchers from the Andrew and Peggy Cherng department of Medical Engineering at Caltech have developed a special synthetic leather which adheres to biological and which is capable of generating electricity through sweat. The Electronic Skin, this is its name, can be used as the basis for various devices such as temperature monitors, heart rate or blood sugar levels, all without needing a battery. The energy cells that feed the system are made up of carbon nanotubes impregnated with a platinum / cobalt catalyst in a dense and intricate network that contains an enzyme that breaks the lactate molecules contained in sweat. In this way they can generate a continuous and stable electric flow (up to several milliwatts per square centimeter)