Alzheimer’s & Solar Cells | SciByte 99

Alzheimer’s & Solar Cells | SciByte 99

We take a look at an Alzheimer’s treatment, a claimed a piece of MIR in Massachusetts, an efficient solar cell, news from international space agencies, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Alzheimer\’s Drug for Brain Connections



A Piece of MIR in Massachusetts?

  • The Claim
  • A man from Massachusetts claims the he was searching the local riverbed for arrowheads when he came across a black pitted rock that didn\’t register as metallic on a metal detector
  • He says he then kept it in his backyard for about five years until it was noticed by a friend
  • He then told local reporters that the rock was sent off for analysis, only to be returned to him just a few weeks ago
  • He said that the analysis stated that the vitreous material “shows a composition similar to that used in ballast by the Soviet space program starting in the mid-1980s
  • The Main Problems
  • Mir reentered in 2001, six years before the 2007 original \”discovery\”
  • Mir crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean, where most spacecraft are taken down
  • \”Confirmed by NASA\”
  • Several articles from different sites/organizations state that the piece of debris coming from Mir was “confirmed by NASA.”
  • NASA Chief Scientist for Orbital Debris has said that no such NASA validation exists
  • In addition NASA Orbital Debris Program Office has not been presented with any claim regarding debris from the Mir space station
  • The Low Down
  • The pitting and the melted fusion crust as seen in the photo\’s are all reminiscent of reentry
  • There is a remote possibility of a reentry of a Progress resupply vehicle being a potential source, or perhaps an unrelated Russian space vehicle.
  • It is not possible however for debris from the Mir reentry to have landed in the U.S.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Rock Found In Amesbury Backyard Came From Space Station – 6/14/13 | NewsCatcher31
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Did a Piece of Mir Really Land in Massachusetts? |


Solar Cell Efficiency

  • Sharp Corporation has achieved the world\’s highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 44.4%, using a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell
  • Measurement of the value-which sets a record for the world\’s highest concentrating conversion efficiency-was confirmed
  • Compound solar cells typically offer high conversion efficiency while utilizing photo-absorption layers made from compounds of multiple elements, such as indium and gallium
  • Triple-junction compound solar cells use a proprietary technology that enables the efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity by means of a stack of three photo-absorption layers
  • To achieve a concentrating conversion efficiency of 44.4%, Sharp worked to widen the effective concentrator cell surface and ensure uniformity of width at the interface of the connecting concentrator cell and electrodes.
  • Because of their high conversion efficiency, compound solar cells have thus far been used primarily on space satellites
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Concentrator solar cell with world\’s highest conversion efficiency of 44.4% |

A Russian Jupiter Moon Lander

  • A Russian probe being designed to land on Ganymede, Jupiter\’s largest moon, could launch toward the gas giant with a European spacecraft being developed to explore Jupiter\’s icy ocean-covered satellites, according to European space officials.
  • Government finances and the realities of technical developments, could thwart the proposal
  • Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer
  • Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, JUICE is scheduled to launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2030, entering orbit around the huge planet and making repeated flybys of three of its largest moons — Ganymede, Callisto and Europa
  • In September 2032, the European spacecraft will arrive at Ganymede, becoming the first probe to enter orbit around the moon of another planet
  • Equipped with radar, a mapping camera and other instruments, JUICE will measure the thickness of global ice sheets covering Jupiter\’s moons and produce terrain and mineral maps of Ganymede
  • Russia\’s plan is to implement a Ganymede Lander
  • Russian mission planners initially proposed the lander to target Europa, another of Jupiter\’s moons with a frozen crust thinner than the ice cap covering Ganymede
  • After a NASA mission to orbit Europa never materialized, Russia retooled the project to focus on Ganymede, falling in line with the goals of Europe\’s Jupiter mission
  • The radiation environment at Ganymede is less severe than at Europa, which lies closer to Jupiter, which offers advantages of landing on Ganymede as opposed to Europa, which is one of the reasons ESA picked Ganymede as the destination for JUICE
  • Russian scientists say mapping and reconnaissance of Ganymede are required before any attempted landing
  • If Russia becomes a full partner in Europe\’s JUICE mission, the development of the lander will need to be accelerated to launch in 2022, if managers want the Russian craft to ride to Jupiter as a piggyback payload.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Russia May Land Probe on Jupiter\’s Moon Ganymede with Europe\’s JUICE Mission |

China\’s Space Program

  • China\’s robotic Chang\’e 3 mission, reportedly slated to blast off toward the end of 2013
  • Chang\’e 3 will become China\’s first craft to attempt a soft landing and rover deployment on the surface of the moon
  • \”Taikonauts\”
  • The nation\’s manned spaceflight program continues to move forward. Three \”taikonauts\” arrived at China\’s Tiangong 1 space module on June 13, beginning a 12-day stint aboard the orbiting laboratory
  • The three crewmembers are slated to spend a total of 15 days in orbit, which would make their Shenzhou 10 mission the longest manned spaceflight in China\’s history.
  • Chang\’e 3
  • According to a statement from the China National Space Administration, the nation carried out a 40-day ground test to mimic the lunar environment, in an attempt to make sure that Chang’e 3 can endure the extreme temperatures on the moon
  • Chang\’e 3 lunar probe consists of two main parts: a service module and a lunar landing vehicle
  • The mission will be launched this December
  • The probe would land softly on the moon’s surface and deploy a six-wheeled rover to explore the areas surrounding the landing spot
  • Ready to watch the Chinese moon landing and rover action from above is NASA\’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
  • Looking further into the future, China\’s step-by-step robotic moon effort also includes a return to Earth of lunar surface materials
  • Head of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chief scientist of the lunar exploration program, said some lunar materials would be scooped up from the moon’s surface, while other material would be acquired from a depth of about 6.6 feet (2 meters).
  • Shenzhou-10 Transit
  • The images were taken within the 0.46 seconds it took for the Shenzhou-10 module docked to Tiangong-1 Chinese station to cross the face of the Sun
  • The Tiangong-1 space station is just 10.4 meters (34.1 ft) in length, while the Shenzou 10 is 9.25 meters (30.35 ft) long
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • China Readying 1st Moon Rover for Launch This Year |
  • Amazing Shots! Shenzhou-10 Docked to Tiangong-1, Transiting the Sun |


  • Billion-Pixel Image
  • The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover\’s route
  • The image consists of 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity\’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam\’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera
  • The images were taken on several different Mars days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.
  • The new mosaic from NASA shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired
  • Multimedia
  • Interactive Image | Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest, White-Balanced
  • Image Galleries at JPL and Curiosity Mulimedia
  • Social Media
  • Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Billion-Pixel View of Mars Comes From Curiosity Rover |


Looking back

  • June 27, 1954 : 59 years ago : Atomic power : The world\’s first atomic power station began producing electricity in Obninsk, U.S.S.R., a small town 60 miles south of Moscow. The plant used a small, graphite moderated, water-cooled reactor, and could produce 5 megawatts. The reactor was used for both civilian power needs and also military purposes, such as research into the possibility of propelling submarines with nuclear power. It generated electricity until 1968, but continued in use for experiments and to warm the town\’s centrally distributed hot water supply. Final shutdown took place in 2002 for reason of being unprofitable

Looking up this week

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