Making satellites safer: the search for new propellants

The current standard propellant for satellites based on hydrazine, which is highly toxic, so researchers are developing safer alternatives. Image credit - NASA-JPL/Caltech

by Kelly Oakes Developing new propellants for satellites to replace toxic hydrazine would make launching and handling satellites safer but it also requires disrupting current systems, according to researchers. As the number of satellites soars, so will the amount of fuel we use to launch them. And getting into orbit is only half of the equation. … Read more

The story behind that little padlock in your browser

'Transport layer security' means your internet activities are secure on three fronts - authentication, encryption and integrity. Image credit - Pxhere, licenced under CCO

Whenever you see a little padlock in the address bar of your internet browser, as well as when you use apps, email and messaging, you’re relying on something called ‘transport layer security’ or TLS. It’s a protocol that keeps us safe online. Behind that little padlock is cryptographic code that guarantees the security of data … Read more

Categories ICT

Covid-19: How unprecedented data sharing has led to faster-than-ever outbreak research

Online tools such as NextStrain are helping to track the spread of coronavirus in real time. Image credit -

by Ian Le Guillou Advances in gene sequencing have allowed scientists to trace and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic faster than any previous outbreak. However, gaps in our knowledge of how coronaviruses work has made it difficult to understand what makes the new coronavirus special. When the new coronavirus (formally known as SARS-CoV-2) was identified in China … Read more

The prostheses that could alleviate amputees’ phantom limb pain

When it comes to improving amputees’ quality of life, one of the biggest challenges is making prostheses that feel like a natural part of the user. Image credit - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Wikimedia Commons

by Ian Le Guillou New prosthetic technologies that stimulate the nerves could pave the way for prostheses that feel like a natural part of the body and reduce the phantom limb pain commonly endured by amputees. Silvestro Micera, a professor of translational neuroengineering at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, has spent the past 20 … Read more