Friday Science: World's Smallest Satellite, Space PCR and Real Time Text to Braille Translator

By LSN Editorial Team posted 05-19-2017 08:17


Happy Friday! This week our fun science news is all about student inventions.

World's Lightest Satellite

Rifath Shaarook, an 18 year old student from India, has invented the world's lightest satellite, which weighs only 64 grams or 0.14 pounds. Shaarook made use of 3D printed carbon to build his KalamSat satellite. Despite it's tiny size, it carries an on-board computer and eight sensors to measure the rotation, acceleration and magnetosphere of the earth. Shaarook won the Cubes in Space competition with his invention and NASA has since agreed to test the device in a sub-orbital launch in Virginia on June 21, 2017.  

This story is a case of history repeating itself as fifty years ago, in 1967, a group of Australian students built a radio satellite with the first ever inbuilt control system, called the Australis OSCAR 5, and convinced NASA to launch it into space.

PCR in Space

In April last year, NASA sent another student invention to the International Space Station. Anna-Sophia Boguraev, a 17-year-old student from Bedford, New York, won the 2015 Genes in Space competition with her mini-PCR device that can copy DNA samples so they can be analyzed. This follows last year's experiment where astronaut Kate Rubins sequenced DNA in space for the first time using the MinION sequencer from Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Real-Time Braille to Text Translater

Back on earth, six engineering students from MIT have create a device called Tactile that converts text into Braille in real time. They have applied for a patent and believe they could sell the device for US$200 or less, which is a tenth of the price of other braille text converters on the market.

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