The US National Aeronautics and Aerospace Administration or NASA, as it’s popularly known, has released a Nanotechnology video as part of its NASA Edge series of videos. As it runs for approximately 29 mins. 31 secs. (I won’t be embedding it here where I usually draw the line at approximately 5 mins. running time.)
It is a good introductory video aimed at people who are interested in space exploration and nanotechnology but not inclined to listen to much scientific detail. There is a transcript if you want to get a sense of how much information is needed to watch this program with enjoyment,
CHRIS: Welcome to NASA EDGE
FRANKLIN: An inside and outside look…
BLAIR: …at all things NASA.
CHRIS: On today’s show we’re going to be talking about nanotechnology.
BLAIR: Which is technology that’s really small or as I like to say, co-host sized technology.
FRANKLIN: I think it’s a little bit smaller than cohost. Maybe like the G.I. Joe with kung fu grip or maybe Antman size small.
BLAIR: Alright, Antman I’ll buy but it’s probably even smaller than that, probably deeply embedded in wearables for Antman.
CHRIS: On today’s show, we going to look at nano sensors, nano wires, nano tubes, and composite over wrapped [sic] pressure vessels.
FRANKLIN: Or COPV’s
BLAIR: Which is really what’s interesting to me about the technology, it’s not a single technology with a single use. It’s a technology that’s being applied all across industry in a lot of different areas and even across NASA.
FRANKLIN: And speaking of COPV’s, we are going to have Mia Siochi on the show today and she’s going to talk to us about how NASA is using nanotechnology in some upcoming tests.
CHRIS: But first up, I had a chance to talk with Steve Gaddis, who is going to give us the broad picture of nanotechnology.
CHRIS: We are here with Steve Gaddis the manager for the Game Changing Development program office. Steve, how are you doing?
STEVE: Doing good.
CHRIS: Steve, we had this whole technology campaign where the theme is Technology Drives Exploration.
STEVE: Absolutely, and I believe it.
CHRIS: What’s that mean Technology Drives Exploration?
STEVE: It means if you want to do these cool things that we haven’t done before, we have to develop the technologies to go do them. We can’t simply just keep doing what we’ve already done in the past, right? We have done some cool things but we want new missions. We want to go farther than we’ve been. We want to drill down. We want to bring things back. So, we need these new technologies.
CHRIS: Now with Game Changing you’re sort of a subset of the Space Technology Mission directorate at NASA headquarters.
CHRIS: What’s the focus on Game Changing as opposed to other technology subprograms?
STEVE: We’re the disruptive program, we’re the DARPA like program at out of the nine. However, all the programs, they’re looking for revolutionary and incremental developments in technology. Our associate administrator really wants us to take some risk. He expects a certain amount of failure in the activities that were pursuing; the high pay off, high-risk type activities. So he’d like to see the risk take place with us instead of maybe some of our sister programs where we’re demonstrating on orbit or we’re demonstrating on the International Space Station or we’re demonstrating on a ride with another government agency or the commercial crew type folks.
MEYYA: Nano sensors are a product of nanoscience and nanotechnology. When materials go to that small scale their properties are fundamentally different from bulk materials. So scientists all around the world have been working very hard trying to take advantage of this difference in properties between the bulk scale and the nano scale. And trying to make useful things, which are devices, systems, architectures, and materials for a wide variety of applications; touching upon every economic sector, which is electronics, computing, materials manufacturing, health, medicine, national security, transportation, energy storage, and I don’t want to leave out space exploration.
BLAIR: That’s a lot of stuff anyway. You mentioned space exploration, so I’m wondering; how are nanosensors being used by NASA?
MEYYA: The nanosensors are being developed to replace bulky instruments NASA has been using. No matter what you want to measure, whether you want to measure a composition of gas or vapor or if you want to measure radiation, historically we have always taken bulky instruments. Remember every pound of anything that we lift to near earth orbit it costs us about $10,000 a pound. The same 1-pound of anything would cost roughly about $100,000 a pound for Mars or other missions. So we have an incentive actually to miniaturize the size of the payload. So that’s why we want to move from bulky instruments to sensors. That’s one reason. The second reason is no matter where we go, okay, we don’t have utility companies sitting there waiting for us. We have to generate our own power and we have to be very wise how we use that power. The sensors not only are they small in size but they also consume very low power. That’s why over the last decade or so we’ve been working on developing nano-based chemical sensors, biosensors and radiation sensors.
CHRIS: When you are looking at these biosensors, are we looking primarily for crew health safety? What would they be used for?
JESSICA: What are the applications? We’ve developed them for crew health and diagnostic purposes. That’s our most recent project that we worked with the Game Changing Technology office on. For that project, we developed this sensor to look at a variety of different protein biomarkers for cardiac health. When you’re in microgravity, there’s a lot of strain that’s placed on the heart, so, to monitor the health of the heart for our astronaut crew is critical. That is the most recent technology we developed for them. We’ve also worked on this sensor looking at microbial contaminants in the water supply. This is an environmental application for NASA to make sure that the water that the astronauts are drinking is actually safe to drink.
The scientists featured on the video podcast are:
Game Changing Nanotechnology
– Steve Gaddis
– Meyya Meyyappan
– Jim Gaier
– Azlin Biaggi
– Tiffany Williams
– John Thesken
– Mia Siochi
The second outreach project is billed as a NASA event but it’s more of a science event being hosted by the Wilson Center (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) Science and Technology Innovation Program. From the July 1, 2015 Wilson Center announcement,
NASA’s New Horizons: Innovation, Collaboration and Accomplishment in Science and Technology
With the NASA New Horizons spacecraft on its final approach to its primary target – the icy dwarf planet Pluto – now is the perfect time to reflect on some of the knowledge we’ve already gained from the mission, and to anticipate the new discoveries that are waiting to be made!
We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to a series of short talks inspired by the mission. These talks will cover a number of topics including:
NASA’s and New Horizon’s impact within the world of research
How the Mendeley product suite aims to make life easier for researchers
The importance of open science and the impact it has on major scientific achievements
How a culture of ‘hacking’ can help to foster innovation and creativity
The benefits of making data available for public usage and its societal impact
Mendeley loves science. We help researchers to manage their reference materials, collaborate with their colleagues and discover new research. We’re excited about the possibilities that our work can help to unlock and we want to talk to other people who are excited about the same things.
Logistics are two tiered, first there are the talks and then are the refreshments,
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
4:00pm – 6:00pm
6th Floor Board Room
Ronald Reagan Building and
International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Followed by drinks and conversation at The Laughing Man Tavern, 1306 G St NW, Washington, DC 20005 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm.
Complimentary drinks will be served from 6:30 until 7:30. Each ticket holder will also receive drinks tickets for later use. This event is on a first come, first served basis. All guests must be 21 years of age or older.
You can find more information about the event here and you can register here. As for Mendeley, free reference manager and academic social network, it seems to be a sponsor for this event and you can find out more about the company here.