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*** JUNE 2007 ***

...NASA recently tested the first nanotechnology-based electronic device to fly in space. The test showed that the "nanosensor" could monitor trace gases inside a spaceship. This technology could lead to smaller, more capable environmental monitors and smoke detectors in future crew habitats.
NASA's Nano ChemSensor Unit hitched a ride to Earth orbit on March, 2007, as a secondary payload experiment on the U.S. Naval Academy's MidSTAR-1 satellite...
"The nanosensor worked successfully in space," said Jing Li, a scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. Li is the principal investigator for the test. "We demonstrated that nanosensors can survive in space conditions and the extreme vibrations and gravity change that occur during launch," she said.
On long missions in space, harmful chemical contaminants may build up gradually in the crew's air supply. Nanosensors will be able to detect minute amounts of these contaminants and alert the crew that there may be a problem.
The goal of the experiment was to prove that nanosensors, made of tiny carbon nanotubes coated with sensing materials, could withstand the rigors of space flight. Li's experiment also helped scientists learn how well a nanosensor could endure microgravity, heat and cosmic radiation in space...

...NASA-funded astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered evidence supporting the presence of large oceans of liquid water on early Mars.
One of the most obvious surface features on Mars is a large plain surrounding the north pole that resembles a sediment-filled ocean basin with shoreline-like features. But the purported shoreline isn't level, an observation that has been used as an argument against the presence of an ocean. This new study shows that the undulations can be explained by movement of Mars' spin axis, and thus its poles, and that a liquid water ocean could indeed have existed there.The scientists' research is scheduled to be published in the issue of Nature magazine.
"This work strongly supports the idea that there were large standing bodies of water on the Martian surface," said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., which co-funded the study. "Interpreting this topography as an ancient northern ocean could have a great impact on current and future Mars exploration," he added...

...NASA and IBM, Armonk, N.Y., announced the agency has selected an IBM System p575+ supercomputer for evaluating next-generation technology to meet the agency's future supercomputing requirements. Supercomputers play a critical role in many NASA missions, including new space vehicle design, global climate studies and astrophysics research.
The IBM system is being installed at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., where it is undergoing testing and evaluation. With 640 computational cores and a peak performance of approximately 5.6 teraflops, the system will augment the agency's existing "Columbia" system, currently ranked as the eighth fastest supercomputer in the world.
A teraflop is a measure of a computer's speed; one teraflop can be expressed as a trillion floating point operations per second.
"With NASA's high-end computing needs expected to continue during the next few years, we need to keep pace with improved technologies. IBM's system meets all the criteria for our base system evaluation, and working closely with them, we will chart out a successful path for the NASA supercomputing environment," said Dr. Piyush Mehrotra, who leads the NAS applications group and is steering the technologyupgrade effort...