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Scientific Instruments

The Scientific Instruments Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about spectroscopy and chromatography, microscopy and imaging, industrial applications, and metrology and calibration. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Flawed Philae Landing Still a Rousing Success

Posted December 19, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

It only lasted for a couple of days, instead of the hoped-for six weeks, but the Philae lander from the Rosetta spacecraft still provided ground-breaking insights into comet science. The landing experienced several glitches: the lander bounced twice and settled in a less than optimal spot and the harpoons designed to secure the lander in place never fired. Shaded from solar power, Philae only transmitted data for 60 hours before the batteries ran out. However, the data it sent included measurements of the comet's magnetic field and indications of the detection of organic molecules.


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Webb Telescope's "Heart" Unscathed

Posted November 24, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

The sensitive instruments housed in the James Webb Telescope's Integrated Science Instrument Module, or ISIM, just survived 116 days in the frigid cold, ensuring that the equipment will continue to work when it arrives at its destination one million miles from Earth. The ISIM is considered the heart of the telescope, containing all of the imaging instrumentation: a camera and spectrograph, both operating in the infrared; a mid-infrared instrument; and a fine guidance sensor coupled with a near-infrared imager and slitless spectrograph. The extreme temperature test, conducted in a vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, produced more stress on the ISIM due to shrinkage than will the vibration of a violent lift-off.


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9 comments; last comment on 11/29/2014
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First-of-its-Kind Sensor for Portable Medical and Scientific Instruments

Posted October 17, 2014 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

Semiconductors keep getting smaller and more powerful, giving us smartphones and tablets that are portable workhorses. Now, these same technologies allow engineers to make small, compact components that can take the place of bulky and expensive ones in scientific and medical equipment, essentially allowing for mobile laboratories. A case in point is the new bio-optical sensor from Anitoa Systems, capable of detecting 3x10-6 lux narrow-band light, making it a logical substitution for the photo multiplier tubes and charge-coupled devices that are currently used in laboratory-bound diagnostic instruments.


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Telescope Flexes Big Bang Muscle

Posted April 25, 2014 12:01 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

The cosmological community is abuzz about the recent findings from the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, or BICEP, telescope stationed at the South Pole. BICEP detected polarized light signals that provide proof for the inflation theory of the big bang: that the universe experienced a massive expansion early in its life. Detecting these particular light patterns imprinted on the cosmic background radiation is not a simple task, however. The BICEP2 instrument consists of 512 superconducting sensors as well as superconducting electronic circuitry and two interleaved antenna arrays. BICEP2 looked at one microwave frequency, but scientists hope future incarnations of the telescope will feature sensors that can detect more wavelengths, providing more clues about the past, and even the future, of the universe.


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10 comments; last comment on 05/03/2014
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Rosetta Awakens

Posted March 08, 2014 12:01 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

The spacecraft Rosetta successfully stirred from a long, 31-month, energy-saving slumber and sent a signal home to the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany, making mission control very happy. The probe is destined for an unprecedented rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August, when it will begin gathering data about how a comet's surface is altered by its approach to the sun. Then, in November, the probe will deploy a small lander to the surface of the comet, sending back the first high resolution and panoramic images of a comet's surface. The probe also carries instruments to drill 23 cm beneath the surface and feed samples to the lander's on-board laboratory for analysis.


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2 comments; last comment on 03/10/2014
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Drones Sail Out to Sea

Posted January 31, 2014 12:00 PM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

While Amazon works out its idea for using drones as package delivery devices, the unmanned vehicles can still find work in many scientific applications. In the air, drones have monitored crops and forest fires and explored archaeological sites. Now, they are going down to the sea. A Rutgers University scientist headed an experiment called Gliderpalooza, outfitting 15 submersible drones with instruments to monitor everything from deep-water currents to water temperatures to fish migrations in the Atlantic ocean. The drones provide unprecedented environmental data, giving researchers a much clearer and more integrated picture of the ocean than can be provided by ocean-observing infrared satellites and stationary buoys.


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1 comments; last comment on 02/03/2014
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