The US and European space agencies are edging towards a joint mission to bring back rock and soil samples from Mars. NASA and ESA have signed a letter of intent that could lead to the first “round trip” to another planet. The move was announced as a meeting in Berlin, Germany, discussed the science goals and feasibility of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission.


The venture would allow scientists to answer key questions about Martian history. Those questions include whether the Red Planet once hosted life.


Scientists at the Mars meeting said that there was only so much they could learn from Martian meteorites and from the various rovers and static landers sent to the Red Planet.


The next step had to be a mission that would retrieve samples from the Martian surface, blast them into space in a capsule and land them safely on Earth.

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In collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility Team and turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites, Sandia National Laboratories 3D printed a massive mold to produce wind turbine blades.


Sandia researchers have been working on wind turbines for the better part of 40 years; it’s part of the lab’s effort to make the renewable energy more affordable. However, building wind turbine prototypes takes a lot of time and effort, and each requires custom molds that take up to 16 months to complete before the blade can be developed and tested.


Through the use of 3D printing, the team was able to cut mold development time by more than 80 percent, going from 16 months of development time down to 3 months. The work cut out more than a year of labor.


The 13-meter blade mold is relatively small compared to other blades currently on the market and under development — for example, GE’s Haliade-X blades will be 107 meters long. However, by cutting design and development time and cost, engineers could take greater risks during the prototype phase that could potentially accelerate innovation in the market.

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Fast live-cell 3D phase imaging of cellular dynamics. (Left) Human fibroblast migrating on a glass substrate, showing first frame of a 25-second movie imaged.


Scientists at the Laboratory of Biomedical Optics (LOB) at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland have developed the first microscope platform that can perform “super-resolution” imaging in both space and time — capturing unprecedented “4D” views inside living cells. The landmark paper is published in Nature Photonics and on open-access ArXiv.



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In the midst of disaster, small items like batteries or medical supplies can be a matter of life or death. But what is the safest and most cost-effective way to deliver those items? The U.S. military is investing resources into answering that question. Along they way, they’ve come up with an unexpected way to pull off dangerous, one-way resupply missions; it’s a solution that involves, of all things, paper airplanes.



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Harvard team creates a biohybrid being using 3-D printing, tissue engineering, and muscular circuitry.


If you met this lab-created critter over your beach vacation, you’d swear you saw a baby ray. In fact, the tiny, flexible swimmer is the product of a team of diverse scientists. They have built the most successful artificial animal yet. This disruptive technology opens the door much wider for lifelike robots and artificial intelligence.




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It was already 28 years ago that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched and deployed in low-Earth orbit, where it remains today. Outfitted with a 2.4 meter mirror, a slew of instruments designed for viewing stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies, Hubble became humanity’s first civilization-class space telescope. Although it had a number of science goals, its most ambitious was what gave rise to its name: it was the Hubble telescope because it was built to measure the Hubble expansion rate of the Universe. But what Hubble wound up teaching us went far beyond anything it was designed for, and that was due to a combination of three factors. First, Hubble was overbuilt for its mission. Second, Hubble was repaired, upgraded, and serviced. And third, the people administering Hubble had the foresight to green-light some very bold, ambitious proposals. This review article summarizes what we have learned.

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