NASA to launch new device for aerosol detection

In order to investigate the layers and composition of clouds and tiny airborne particles like dust, smoke and other atmospheric aerosols, NASA has developed an instrument called the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS. The instrument is expected to reach the orbit with a satellite launch in late December.

Aerosols are both natural and man-made, and include windblown desert dust, sea salt, smoke from fires, sulfurous particles from volcanic eruptions, and particles from fossil fuel combustion.

Currently, scientists get a broad picture of clouds and air quality conditions in the atmosphere and generate air quality forecasts by combining satellite, aircraft, and ground-based data with sophisticated computer models. However, most datasets do not provide information about the layered structure of clouds and aerosols.

CATS will provide data about aerosols at different levels of the atmosphere. The data are expected to improve scientists’ ability to track different cloud and aerosol types throughout the atmosphere.

These datasets will be used to improve strategic and hazard-warning capabilities of events in near real-time, such as tracking plumes from dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires. The information could also feed into climate models to help understand the effects of clouds and aerosols on Earth’s energy balance.

Alongwith the study of climate changes, the device will also allow them to investigate air quality and how atmospheric particles affect daily life on Earth. This ranges from volcanic eruptions, dust storms, pollution levels and wildfire outbreak.

By infusing CATS data directly into aerosol models, data from CATS can make a difference in tracking and responding to impacts of natural activity in the future and in taking prevention measures.

It is unclear if the launch will affect the natural aerosols market in any way which are used for commercial purposes and differ in their composition.


Observation satellite ready to be used for commercial imagery

An Earth observation satellite, SPOT 7, which was launched in July this year and was built by Airbus, is now available for commercial use.

Together with its earlier variants ,SPOT 6, Pléiades 1A & 1B, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, the new satellte allows Airbus Defence and Space to offer customers a full palette of satellite imagery data spanning multiple resolution and spectral wavelengths.

As SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 will be functioning as a couple, the overall acquisition capacity is boosted to six million square kilometers per day which is equivalent to the land mass of France.

This means that every day, every point on the globe can be viewed both in high-resolution by a SPOT satellite and in very high-resolution by a Pleiades satellite.

While the two couple satellites can cover wide areas with a resolution of 1.5m, Pleiades 1A and 1B focus on more targeted zones with a greater level of detail (50cm products). And for guaranteed monitoring, surface motion or for frequently cloud covered areas, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X can dependably acquire very high-resolution (from 0.25m to 40m products) and wide-area radar images independent of the weather conditions.

Airbus has established a new cooperation with the Azerbaijani satellite operator firm, Azercosmos, and it is expected that the two firms will be utilizing the satellites in a joint venture. The deal has been reported to be a long-term cooperation that will include transfer of ownership of the SPOT 7 satellite to Azercosmos, the provision of a ground segment for the exploitation of the satellite, and a training program for operational capacities development. It also encloses a commercial agreement related to the distribution of SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 data to respective customers of both parties.

Airbus Defence and Space will continue to provide full access to the SPOT 6 and 7 capacities and as it continues to deliver commercial satellite imagery service to its customers globally.


This new technology might obliterate the LED market

A new technology in its nascent form is about to hit the display market, and it has the potential to push LED, LCD and its entire family into history.

Prysm is a San Jose based private firm which has spent the last five years developing an innovative technology called Laser Phosphor Display (LPD).

Unlike the previous family of displays, LPD is a new category of large displays. It offers flexibility, scalability, better lifetime and high quality image resolution. The technology is expected to leave a much less carbon footprint than LED lights and is therefore being promoted as a greener alternative as well.

To further the claim of LPD proponents, the electricity it consumes is about 1/20th of that of a standard LED light

Essentially, the fundamental components of the system are solid state lasers and a phosphor screen. As the modulating lasers scan across the screen, phosphors emit red, green and blue colors to create a seamless, high resolution image. Ultimately, the LPD design translates into superior image quality (with no motion blur); near 180 degree viewing angle from above, below or side;  240hz refresh rate; high contrast; and a longer life than conventional displays.

Furthermore, because the phosphors constituting the video image are at the screen surface with minimal filtering, LPD is a bright –and highly efficient –emissive display.

Will LPD technology be an HD game-changer, as its proponents predicts? Given the technology’s potential for improving the quality, lowering the cost, and reducing the environmental impact of the large format displays, the market seems to ripe for its entry. However, not every technology that seems better has always performed well in the industry. Marketing efforts and educating consumers about one’s product has a lot bigger role to play in a successful launch than technical data sheets.


OLED lighting hits mainstream America

If you were earlier undecided about choosing between LED and CLF lighting, the market is about to add to your confusion as it starts flooding with the new OLED light systems.

Where LED (light-emitting diode) lighting uses small, intensely bright sources of light, which are typically made to look like traditional light bulbs, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) lighting uses flat, dimmer sources of light, essentially resulting in a glowing square or rectangle. Steady advances in manufacturing technology have made OLEDs bright and long-lived enough to use, and now they’re going mainstream: Acuity Brands whose $2 billion in annual sales make it the largest lighting company in North America, is now selling OLED light fixtures in Home Depot.

Because OLED panels are not piercingly bright, they can be mounted in fixtures seen directly by the eye; there’s no need for reflectors or diffusers to cut the glare. The approach also opens new options for lighting designs.

At Home Depot, Acuity is selling two fixtures, each in configurations that can be suspended or that can be mounted directly to a wall or ceiling. The $300 Chalina is like a four-petal flower, with four square OLED panels arranged around a central one. The Aedan uses two elongated panels facing opposite directions and costs $200. The company also offers a variety of OLED fixtures for commercial customers.

OLED is seen by many as a premium in comparison to conventional lighting, even LED. The technology itself is more sophisticated; however the only concern is its pricing. And OLED unit can cost about 50 percent more than an LED. If that suits your budget in exchange for superior quality and reduced electricity bills, then you might as well should add it to your holiday bucket.


LG forms its new OLED division

Even as LG is reported to be in forward motion to showcase its new Quantum Dot 4K UHD TV in CES 2015, LG Display, the display-panel making affiliate of LG Electronics has formed a new OLED division that will exclusively focus on commercializing its namesake technology.

The South Korean tech giant has been quite open about its ambition to maintain the lead in OLED TVs that it has and is not afraid of being left alone as the sole vendor of the technology. Samsung has already opted for QD LCD technology on its TVs for next year citing low demand for OLED units, which is primarily because of its high price tag.

Even with signs or rejection from many of LG’s competitors, the firm is expected to release more models of TVs with OLED displays in 2015 as well.

LG’s new division is said to be headed by the company’s CTO Yeo Sang-deog, who was recently promoted to president from executive vice president for his contribution in securing LG’s OLED leadership and expanding client base in TVs and mobile.

All OLED related projects are expected to come under the umbrella of the new division. A new department to manage OLED buying clients has also been formed.

The aim behind this move is reported to be the scattered developmental work within LG on OLED technology based products, especially when LG is set to quadruple OLED panel production this month in an effort to bring down the price of OLED TVs, making them a more attractive option to consumers. The company’s 55-inch OLED TV currently costs almost $2,800, an exceptionally high price for a TV unit.

The South Korean tech giant is also hard at work to minimize burn-in effects, one of the biggest detractors to the touted technology, in which some images are left stuck on the screen when on-screen for long stretches. According to LG, products that are already in the market do not have this issue and that it looks forward to solving the problem permanently in the future.