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Finding the Source of the Pioneer Anomaly

Thirty years ago, the first spacecraft sent to explore the outer solar system started slowing unexpectedly. Now we finally know what happened

14 min read
Illustration: noemotion
Illustration: noemotion

Some 40 years ago, a quarter-ton lump of circuits and sensors slipped Earth’s surly bonds, sped past the moon and Mars, and hurtled toward Jupiter. The probe, Pioneer 10, and its sister ship, Pioneer 11, which followed a year later, were true trailblazers. They gave humanity its first close-up glimpses of worlds beyond the solar system’s asteroid belt. They also left behind a mystery—one that has simultaneously baffled and inspired astrophysicists for years.

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New Filter Doubles Nuclear Fuel Extractable from Seawater

It pulls uranium out at record rates—but real-world tests are still to come

3 min read
illustration of a blue stream of water traveling diagonally to the lower left, intersecting with a white filter membrane substance with yellow and red atomic stick models floating around in the upper half of the image
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences/Nature Sustainability

The International Atomic Energy Agency expects nuclear power to grow significantly in the coming decades, by up to 82 percent by the year 2050. That would create an increase in demand for uranium that reserves on land may not be able to meet.

But the world’s oceans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, contain at least 500 times more uranium than in all known terrestrial reserves. That equates to more than 4.5 billion metric tons of the element in seawater, albeit present at an extremely dilute concentration of 3.3 parts per billion, and scientists have been trying to find efficient ways to extract it.

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Video Friday: Guitar Bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Closeup of a robotic arm strumming an acoustic guitar

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Testing TRM Performance in AESA Radar Antennas

In this webinar you will learn more about solutions for high test speeds and throughput as well as how to cover multiple tests with one set-up.

Speaker:

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