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NOAA Satellites Rescue Hundreds in 2010

Satellites - operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - were critical last year in the rescue of hundreds of people from life-threatening situations throughout the U.S. and its surrounding waters. The satellites picked up distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers - relaying information about their location to first responders on the ground. Officials say - of the 295 people saved - 180 people were rescued from water, 43 from aviation incidents, and 72 who were lost on land. NOAA's polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, along with Russia's COSPAS spacecraft, are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking system. It uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals broadcast by emergency beacons. Alaska had the most people rescued last year with 77, followed by Florida with 37.

Tags: technology , Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology ,

Wednesday - 02/02/2011, 12:21pm EST

EPA allows use of E15 in most modern passenger vehicles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has waived its earlier limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol - known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says recently completed testing by the Department of Energy shows E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in the vehicles. The National Farmers Union says the decision means E15 will soon be available for approximately 60 percent of all vehicles in the U.S. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall amount of renewable fuels - like ethanol - into the marketplace. Several trade groups claim that more research is need to determine how increased ethanol levels could affect vehicles.

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Wednesday - 02/02/2011, 12:20pm EST

NSA Launches New Digital Recruiting Tools

The National Security Agency has launched two new digital communications efforts. Both are designed to educate prospective employees on career opportunities with NSA. It's part of an overall push to recruit workers to support NSA's cyber security initiatives. NSA officials anticipate this year will see the agency's largest hiring effort of cybersecurity workers to date. They've targeted communications tools they hope will appeal to today's tech-savvy generation. The NSA Career Links Smartphone application is available for download through the iTunes platform. Career Links delivers real-time job updates directly to a user's iPhone. This includes information about available jobs, career fairs, and Agency news. NSA is also employing Smartphone tagging on many of its printed recruitment advertisements. Users with Smartphones equipped with Android or other operating systems can scan the tags and launch a video related to the ad.

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Sunday - 01/23/2011, 11:18pm EST

New Fiber-Optic Cables Offer Upgrade for Warplanes

Military aircraft are typically burdened with miles of heavily shielded copper wire cables that connect many types of components. The cabling is often heavy, yet fragile, subject to deterioration, as well as expensive. More modern aircraft employ multimode digital fiber-optic cables. A network program created by DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - aims to replace current aircraft wiring with a single-mode fiber-optic network, where each fiber can carry multiple digital and analog signals. The program will develop prototype photonic transmitters and receivers - and will support advanced electronic warfare, radar and communications systems. Such systems have the potential to save the Defense Department billions of dollars over the lifecycle of an aircraft fleet. Prototype digital transmitters are designed to support tuning over 32 wavelength channels, each carrying 10 gigabit-per-second data rates.

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Sunday - 01/23/2011, 11:16pm EST

IRS Expands E-File Program

The Internal Revenue Service has opened its 21st season of electronic filing. The agency has sent reminders to taxpayers saying e-file remains the best way to get fast refunds and ensure accurate tax returns, particularly following several changes in the tax law. A number of tax deductions and credits for were extended for 2011 and 2012. To date, the IRS says it's processed over one-billion returns through e-files. In 2010, nearly 100 million people - or 70-percent of taxpayers - used IRS e-file. IRS commissioners anticipate that more tax return preparers will be using e-file this year. They anticipate starting to process tax returns impacted by December's tax law changes by mid-February. Even with the delay, the IRS says e-file remains the fastest option. It will take less than two weeks to process an e-filed return, but as many as four to six weeks to process a paper return.

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Sunday - 01/23/2011, 11:15pm EST

Bio-based Polymers Heal Themselves

An Iowa State University associate professor and associate of the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory has been working with polymers that repair themselves when they crack. He's worked with polymers made from vegetable oils. Now - he's working to combine the two technologies. Michael Kessler is researching and developing biorenewable polymers that are capable of healing themselves as they degrade and crack. He says - if successful, the research will provide biorenewable alternatives to petroleum-based resins, which he says could have a huge economic and environmental impacts. The technology has evolved into a system that embeds catalysts and microcapsules containing a liquid healing agent inside the polymer. As cracks develop, they rupture the microcapsules and release the healing agent.

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Monday - 01/17/2011, 12:17pm EST

JFK Presidential Library Unveils Access To Digital Archives

To help mark the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, officials with the National Archive and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, have unveiled the nation's largest online digitized presidential archive. It provides unprecedented global access to the most important papers, records, photographs and recordings of President John F. Kennedy's thousand days in office - making them accessible without traveling to the Kennedy Library in Boston. The Digital Archive includes over 200,000 pages, 300 reels of audio tape containing over 12-hundred recordings of telephone conversations, speeches and meetings, 300 museum artifacts, 72 reels of moving images and 15-hundred photos. It's now available to teachers, students, scholars, and others through the website jfklibrary-dot-org.

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Monday - 01/17/2011, 12:10pm EST

NASA Mission Discovers First Rocky Planet

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10-b. It's 1-point-four times the size of Earth, making it the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system. Team leaders at NASA'a Ames Research Center in California say it's also the first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun. The size of the exoplanet can be derived from periodic dips in brightness. Kepler's ultra-precise photometer measures the tiny decrease in a star's brightness that happen when a planet crosses in front of it. The distance between the planet and the star is calculated by measuring the time between successive dips as the planet orbits the star. As a result of the analysis, that star orbited by the planet - Kepler-10 - is now one of the most well-characterized planet-hosting stars in the universe.

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Monday - 01/17/2011, 12:09pm EST

Genome Sequencing Produces Finer, Healthier Chocolate

The production of high quality chocolate, and the farmers who grow it, will benefit from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome. An international team, including scientists from the National Science Foundation, sequenced the DNA of a variety of Theobroma cocoa, considered to produce the world's finest chocolate. Many growers currently prefer to grow hybrid cocoa trees that produce chocolate of lower quality more resistant to disease. Increasing the productivity and ease of growing cacao can help to develop more sustainable economies. Other genes were found that influence the production of flavonoids, natural antioxidants, hormones, pigments and aromas. Altering the genes for these chemicals might produce chocolate with better flavors, aromas and even healthier chocolate.

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Sunday - 01/09/2011, 02:31pm EST

FCC Examines Services Offered by Travelers Info Stations

The Federal Communications Commission is asking the public to weigh in on a plan to expand the services offered by travelers information radio stations. The stations now typically broadcast traffic information - often near airports or major interchanges - and typically at the high end of the AM band. The FCC wants to expand what the stations broadcast to include weather reports, Amber alerts, and public health warnings. The stations would also get a power boost under the FCC proposal. Many of the stations operate on solar-power or have battery back-up power systems that enable them to continue to provide broadcast information to travelers regionally during significant power outages.

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Sunday - 01/09/2011, 02:29pm EST
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