Countdown to Mars: Some Curious Facts

Since launching in November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has been traveling full steam ahead on a journey that will traverse over 350 million miles, ending on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. Tucked into a spacecraft for safekeeping during flight, MSL contains a rover named Curiosity. Here are some facts about Curiosity and the mission.

Mission to Mars

After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.

 

Medusa Reimagined

When one observes a colorful jellyfish pulsating through the ocean, Greek mythology probably doesn't immediately come to mind. But the animal once was known as the medusa, after the snake-haired mythological creature its tentacles resemble. The mythological Medusa's gaze turned people into stone, and now, thanks to recent advances in bio-inspired engineering, a team led by researchers at Caltech and Harvard University have flipped that fable on its head: turning a solid element and muscle cells into a freely swimming "jellyfish."

An Earthquake in a Maze

The powerful magnitude-8.6 earthquake that shook Sumatra on April 11, 2012, was a seismic standout for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was larger than scientists thought an earthquake of its type could ever be. Now, as Caltech researchers report on their findings from the first high-resolution observations of the underwater temblor, they point out that the earthquake was also unusually complex-rupturing along multiple faults that lie at nearly right angles to one another, as though racing through a maze.

Caltech Researchers Find Evidence of Link between Immune Irregularities and Autism

A new Caltech study suggests that specific changes in an overactive immune system can contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice, and that in some cases, this activation can be related to what a developing fetus experiences in the womb.

A New Kind of Amplifier

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies, and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.

Peering Into the Heart of a Supernova

Using computer simulations, Caltech researchers have determined that if the interior of a dying star is spinning rapidly just before it explodes in a magnificent supernova, two different types of signals emanating from that stellar core will oscillate together at the same frequency. This could be a piece of "smoking-gun evidence" that would lead to a better understanding of supernovae.

New Class of Catalysts Opens Up Green Route to a Range of Chemical Products

Caltech chemists in the lab of Nobel laureate Bob Grubbs have developed a new class of catalysts that will increase the range of chemicals—from pharmaceuticals, insect pheromones, and perfume musks to advanced plastics—that can be synthesized using environmentally friendly methods.

Caltech at the LHC

Maria Spiropulu and Harvey Newman, both professors of physics at Caltech, lead the Caltech team of 40 physicists, students, and engineers that is part of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Physicists Discover a New Particle that May Be the Higgs Boson

Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, have discovered a new particle that may be the long-sought Higgs boson, the fundamental particle that is thought to endow elementary particles with mass.

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