Civic Center Plaza

Adjacent to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Mountain View, Calif., the Civic Center Plaza on Monday hosted a technology showcase sponsored by NASA Ames Research Center and its partners.

More than 40 exhibits highlight some of the leading-edge projects NASA is researching in life sciences, robotics, information technology, transportation, and more.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Solar concentrators

As research continues to find more reliable forms of alternative energy which are scalable and renewable, some researchers are focusing on concentrating sunlight to boost the energy collected by photovoltaic panels.

It may sound like a simple idea, but using reflective surfaces like mirrors to focus sunlight onto small areas of photovoltaic solar collectors, which minimizes the amount of silicon needed, greatly reduces the production costs per kilowatt.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Science on the plaza

While downtown festivals and fairs are typically known for arts, crafts, and food, as a hub of Silicon Valley's innovation in science and technology, Mountain View has deep connections to thinkers like Google, NASA, Adobe, Sun Microsystems and SETI.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is the world's largest airborne observatory and features a 2.5-meter-diameter infrared telescope mounted in a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. From altitudes of 41,000 to 45,000 feet, SOFIA will enable scientific observations that Earth-based telescopes cannot.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

NASA air mechanic's branch

The Air Mechanic's Branch at NASA researches helicopter design in the 40-foot by 80-foot wind tunnel run by the United States Air Force. This working model of an ultra-light carbon fiber plane designed by the team features rotating propellers, or proprotors, for lift and propulsion.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

A 7.7% scale wind tunnel model

This is a 7.7 percent scale wind tunnel model of a NASA Crew Exploration Vehicle designed to measure lift, drag, stability, and air pressure as the vehicle slows from supersonic to subsonic speeds during its return to space.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


NASA's Kepler, a mission tasked with scouring a section of the universe in search of Earth-like planets, used its high-powered telescope to take these negative images of space.

Each panel was recorded from separate sensors and contains millions of stars. Kepler's instrument--a photometer--is a light meter that can simultaneously measure the brightness variations of more than 100,000 stars with a precision of about 20 parts per million.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Planetary sculpture

A planetary sculpture at the center of Mountain View's Civic Center Plaza at the NASA Science and Technology Showcase Monday June 29, 2009.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


LCROSS, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensor Satellite, launched last week, has a mission objective to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a shadowed crater near a lunar pole.

The module, which sill separate into two pieces, will first crash one section into the moon causing a deep crater.

Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Vertical Flight Simulator

The Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) is the one of the largest 3D motion simulators in the world. Housed in a 10-story building, the range of motion of the simulator is unmatched, moving as much as 60 feet vertically and 40 feet horizontally.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Electric cars

KleenSpeed researches technologies in electric propulsions for racing, seeking to apply the knowledge of extreme condition development to a scalable system for the transportation industry.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


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