Although robotic devices are used in everything from assembly lines to medicine, engineers have a hard time accounting for the friction that occurs when those robots grip objects – particularly in wet environments. Researchers have now discovered a new law of physics that accounts for this type of friction, which should advance a wide range of robotic technologies. (more…)
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Piecing together the events of the farthest touchdown a manmade spacecraft has ever made on an alien world reveals new clues about Titan’s surface and helps plan future missions to moons and planets.
The Huygens probe, ferried to Saturn’s moon Titan by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest in the 10 seconds after touching down on Titan in January 2005, a new analysis reveals. The moon’s surface is more complex than previously thought.
Scientists reconstructed the chain of events by analyzing data from a variety of instruments that were active during the impact, in particular changes in the acceleration experienced by the probe. The probe was supplied by the European Space Agency and named after the Dutch 17th century astronomer Christiaan Huygens. (more…)