Friday, August 28, 2009

Molecule-resolution microscopy

Reasearchers from IBM Zurich obtained molecule-resolution images of pentacene. They clearly show the hexagon-like benzene rings. The technique is a modified AFM (atomic force microscopy), where the scanning tip is covered with a single molecule of carbon monoxide. This change causes a slight repulsion between the molecule and the probe, which avoids destroying the molecule being imaged.

Ref: Science 28 August 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5944, pp. 1110 - 1114
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176210

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Your own satellite in orbit for usd 8000

We found out via Slashdot, that a company called interorbital systems is offering to launch a 1/2 Kg satellite in orbit for a mere 8000 US dollars. The system is called tubesat and each one is a cylindrical container which is filled with the customer's payload of about 200g.

The size and weight is vary small, but enough for the electronics needed for transmission of data to earth and and small experiments to generate such data.

According to the company this scheme would be very useful for many schools and companies that would be interested in launching small satellites but have difficulties finding a spot in current commercial launches.

A related project, with larger payloads are Cubesats. These have been developed since 1999, with some successful launches and some failures. The cubesats had a price tag of around 80000 us dollars, or ten times more than the tubesat.

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