"Nano" is a scientific term meaning one billionth. Nanotechnology is already making headway in such diverse areas as fighting disease, astrophysics, weaponry and even cleaning up the ocean after an oil spill.
The scientists and technicians were gathered at the
Kief focused the bulk of his remarks on describing Trailblazer, a 4-inch cube satellite built by UNM students and researchers that blasted into orbit in November. The CubeSat, which relied heavily on nanotechnology, was the first to include electronic parts printed from a 3-D printer, a process in which a solid object of any shape can be created from a digital model.
"There is absolutely amazing educational stuff going on," Kief said after describing the various layers of electronic circuitry and radio equipment packed into Trailblazer. "Neat, neat, neat stuff."
Kief and COSMIAC are developing new versions of CubeSats designed to perform space weather analysis. He is aiming for a November launch.
Kwas said his role is to analyze things when they don't work as planned, then find out why. He played a short video of a huge Russian Proton 10 rocket blasting off with a
"There was a time when big was better," Kwas said, but that ended a few years ago.
"Nanotechnology allows us to do things using quantum mechanics, at the atomic and molecular level, that were not (previously) possible," he said. For example, a new satellite, compared with an older model with the same mission, represents a 96 percent reduction in mass.
He also discussed, briefly, the bionic hornet, a weapon under development for the past seven years by the Israeli military that would look and act like its infamous namesake but would be 100 percent human-made and programmable. And he mentioned graphene -- a membrane that is only a single-atom thick, yet strong enough to hold water.
"We don't have problems," he told the audience. "We have challenges."
Today's keynote speaker will be
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