Digest of sci-fi news for the week, about which we did not write anything

and / or write an article in the “Sandbox” and send me a link.

And today I will again go over the news of the outgoing week, which our editorial staff should have covered in more detail, but it did not work out, because it was not destiny.

Developed space cement, which is twice as strong as conventional

Scientists from Manchester have created a new material called StarCrete. It is made from space dust, potato starch and salt and can be used to build houses on Mars.

Building infrastructure in space is currently an expensive and difficult task. Future space construction must rely on simple materials easily accessible to astronauts. StarCrete offers one of the possible solutions. The scientists behind this invention used imitation Martian soil mixed with potato starch and salt to create a material that is twice as strong as conventional concrete and is perfect for construction work in extraterrestrial environments.

IN article, published in the journal Open Engineering, a research team has demonstrated that ordinary potato starch can act as a binder when mixed with simulated Martian dust to produce a concrete-like material. When tested, the compressive strength of StarCrete was 72 megapascals (MPa), more than twice the strength of conventional concrete (32 MPa). StarCrete, made from lunar dust, turned out to be even stronger – more than 91 MPa.

The launch of the first satellite with an electric motor is scheduled for June 2023

The current era of space exploration is characterized by the testing and implementation of new interesting ideas – for example, reusable rockets. But another interesting technology, without a doubt, is propulsion systems that do not use traditional fuels. This technology offers many benefits, including lighter weight and improved energy efficiency, which will ultimately lead to lower costs.

On June 10, 2023, an all-electric propulsion system for satellites (IVO Quantum Drive) will fly into space for the first time. This new technology is the creation of North Dakota-based IVO, Ltd., a leading developer of wireless power transmission and capacitive technologies. The engine will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of a special flight (Transporter 8) organized by commercial partner Rogue Space Systems. If successfully demonstrated, the Quantum Drive will become a regular part of low Earth orbit commercialization.

NASA has created the first detailed map of the distribution of water on the moon

In the new research, carried out with the help of the now defunct Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the first detailed map of the distribution of water on the Moon was compiled. SOFIA was a joint project between NASA and the German space agency DLR.

With well-identifiable lunar features related to the presence of water, the study provides insight into how water might move across the Moon’s surface, especially near its South Pole, an important area for space research.

The new map covers about a quarter of the Earth-facing side of the lunar surface below 60 degrees latitude and extends to the Moon’s South Pole. Given the large region covered, the researchers were able to easily determine how water is related to features on the Moon’s surface. Also on the map you can see that the water avoids areas illuminated by sunlight and prefers cold areas of the surface.

Researchers have created a telescope with a flat lens

The above image of the moon may not seem very impressive, but from a technical point of view, it is simply amazing. The uniqueness of the image lies in the fact that it was taken with a telescope using a completely flat lens. This type of lens called “metalens” has been around for a long time, but recently a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania made the largest such lens in history. With a diameter of 8 cm, it was large enough to be used in a real telescope – and get the above image of the Moon, albeit a blurry one.

Metallenses have been produced before, but usually only in the millimeter scale. They use nanostructures etched into the surface of the lens itself, causing light passing through them to be directed to a central focal point, similar to the curved surface of a conventional lens used in optics. Part of the reason other metal lenses have been relatively small so far is the difficulty of creating such nanostructures on large area lenses.

To do this, the university team turned to an alternative manufacturing process, deep ultraviolet photolithography, which is commonly used to create high-speed computer chips. Compared to the typical process of creating metal lenses using electron beam lithography, this technology has a number of advantages.

Created a metal film that can simulate touch for VR

Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), often grouped under the term “augmented reality (XR)”, are increasingly losing their niche status and entering the mass market. But most augmented reality applications have one thing in common: they tend to focus mainly on visual perception.

“The sense of touch is usually left out of the equation, although it plays a very important role in how we perceive the world,” explains Professor Jürgen Steimle, head of the Saarland University research group on human-computer interaction at the Saarland Informatics Campus. The team of scientists set themselves the task of developing and improving the approaches used in XR.

One of the results of this work was the “Tacttoo” project, a combination of the words “tactile” and “tattoo” and accurately describes what was developed within the project: an ultra-thin electronic foil with a thickness of only 35 micrometers, which can be applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo and which can stimulate the sense of touch with an electric current without the need for any moving parts.

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