Fleets of autonomous satellites to coordinate tasks among themselves

Image credit - Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Space missions have long benefited from some autonomous operations being carried out aboard spacecraft, but with a sharp increase expected in the number of satellites being launched in the next few years, researchers are using automation and artificial intelligence to make them smarter and more effective. Technology firms and researchers see scope for giving satellites … Read more

Under-road heating system to keep Europe’s highways ice-free

Image credit - picture is in the public domain

Under-road heating that melts ice and snow within 15 minutes and real-time information about icy road conditions could help prevent wintertime accidents. Snow and ice can dramatically change the conditions of a road, where slippery surfaces make it harder to keep control of a vehicle, particularly when braking or turning. ‘Once you have cars driving, … Read more

Hyperlocal radio and do-it-yourself networks bring information closer to home

Image Credit - Andreea Bonea / RootIO, licensed under CC BY-NC

Modern communications technology means one can find anything, anywhere around the world, on the internet and via mobile phones. But people still live in communities and need information that is relevant to them. By taking a fresh look at community radio – with an FM signal broadcast over a catchment area of only a few … Read more

Extended napping could cause cognitive decline in older people

Image credit: Silver Santé Study

Regular naps may be one of the privileges of retirement but research is pointing to napping as a contributor to cognitive decline. Scientists are now testing the idea that older people should instead meditate or learn a language to preserve brainpower and wellbeing. Sleep serves a crucial function in brain health and maintenance, but regular, … Read more

Offshore wind farms to test business in deep water

Advocates of floating offshore wind platforms say they are cheaper to run and install, less disruptive to sea life, and have greater output than near-shore alternatives.

As wind turbines become increasingly familiar sights along shorelines, developers of offshore floating platforms, which harness the powerful winds further out to sea, are seeking to establish their technologies as a major viable source of clean energy. Bottom-fixed offshore wind turbines – with foundations in the seabed – face depth constraints and can only be … Read more

New tests identify contaminated drinking water in minutes, not weeks

Legionella cells can be detected with a home-printer-size testing machine. Image credit - CDC/ Dr. Barry S. Fields

Speedy, affordable water tests that can be used in on location and even run continuously will help scientists identify disease-causing bacteria in under an hour and potentially reduce the spread of common illnesses such as diarrhoea, which kills an estimated 842,000 people every year. Hundreds of millions of samples are tested each year to detect harmful bacteria … Read more