Posts Tagged ‘science’

How the Curiosity Rover’s Photography Decisions Are Made

Earlier this month, when we were exploring why the NASA Curiosity rover’s cameras are so lame, we mentioned that the total amount of data the scientists can transfer on a daily basis is only around 31 megabytes. As anyone with a restrictive cell phone dataplan can attest to, having a small data cap makes you think carefully about the data that you choose to download. Glenn Fleishmann over at The Economist has an interesting writeup that sheds some light on how NASA scientists make their Martian photo shoot decisions:

Every day Justin Maki faces a tricky balancing act. He is one of the boffins at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) responsible, among other things, for deciding what Curiosity photographs each Martian day, or sol, and which pictures it sends back home. “We can always take enough pictures to fill up the downlink,” Dr Maki says. The mission can currently beam at least 30MB a sol, including scientific measurements, engineering data and images, from Mars, via two satellites orbiting the planet, to Earth.

All of the rover’s 17 cameras, seven more than any previous exploratory vehicle, store images in a raw, unprocessed format and initially beam back tiny thumbnails (which NASA uploads as they come in). The scientists working on different aspects of the mission meet daily to determine which of the thumbnails to download in higher resolution. The “health and safety” of the rover takes priority. After the deliberations, which can last over an hour, instructions are dispatched to Mars.

Taking pictures on Mars: Red eyes (via Boing Boing)

Scientists Create a Distortion-Free Lens That’s Essentially 2D

Think pancake lenses are flat? In the future, camera manufacturers might be able to replace those bulky glass elements inside lenses with lens elements that are thinner than a piece of paper. The lenses would not only be third-dimension-free, they would also be distortion-free.
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The Curiosity Rover’s Descent into Mars as an Amazing HD Video

When NASA’s Curiosity rover performed its “seven minutes of terror” landing on Mars a couple weeks ago, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) camera had the task of capturing 1600×1200 (~1.9 megapixel) photographs at a rate of 5 frames per second. The camera began snapping away from when the heatshield separated to a few seconds after the rover touched down. The amazing high-definition video above was created with these photographs, showing what it’s like to fall onto the surface of the red planet.
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Photos of Alternative Batteries Created with Fruits and Coins

Lamp powered by 300 live apples, 2012

Portland, Maine-based photographer Caleb Charland (whom we featured before) has a fascinating new series of science-based photos that show various alternative batteries created using things like apple trees and stacked coins. The photo above shows an experiment in which he powered a lamp using 300 apples in a Newburgh, Maine-orchard.

He spent 11 hours sticking zinc-coated galvanized nails and bare copper wires into the apples in order to generate current using the fruit. Every 10 apples provide about 5 volts. The lamp was successfully lit by the apple power, but was so dim that the photograph required a 4 hour exposure!
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Photos of the Future May Be Stored on Strands of DNA

If you think modern day hard drives store a lot of data, get a load of this: researchers at Harvard have succeeded in storing roughly 700 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA. The strands of DNA are treated much like other storage devices, except instead of using electric charge or magnetism to store information, DNA’s four bases (A,C,G,T) are used.
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Future Cameras May Have Lithium-Ion Batteries That Recharge in Minutes

What if the battery in your camera could be charged in the same amount of time it takes to microwave a cup of instant noodles? It sounds crazy, but that’s what appears to be headed our way.

Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea have figured out a way to drastically cut down the time it takes to recharge a lithium-ion battery — the same kind found in most digital cameras.
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Great Scott! Corneal Imaging is Actually a Real Thing!

Earlier today, we poked fun at a clip from the TV show CSI showing some pseudo-scientific photo enhancing. Many of the comments on YouTube also poked fun at the mention of “corneal imaging”, in which the investigators used to obtain imagery from the reflections seen in an eyeball. Turns out corneal imaging is a real thing…
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Color Photo Printed at 100,000 DPI, the Highest Resolution Ever Achieved

Stuff a few thousand dots per inch into a color print, and you have yourself a pretty high resolution image that most people would approve of. What if you could stuff 100,000 dots into that same inch?

That’s what researchers were able to do recently in creating the highest-resolution photograph ever printed — and one of the smallest, to boot.
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Are the Mirrors Inside DSLR Cameras Ever-So-Slightly Green?

You know the infinitely long tunnel that appears when you look into two mirrors that are pointed at one another? Have you ever noticed that the tunnel becomes more and more green, the deeper you go?

YouTube personality Vsauce has a fascinating new video titled “What Color Is A Mirror?”. In it, Mr. Sauce explains that this is due to the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect mirror (i.e. a mirror that perfectly reflects 100% of light). The fact is, a typical mirror best reflects light in the 510nm range, which we perceive as green light.
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Scientist Discovers New Insect Species While Browsing Flickr Photos

California-based entomologist Shaun Winterton was browsing Flickr back in May 2011, when he discovered a new species of insect.

That’s right: he made a scientific discovery by simply looking at pictures online.
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