Spacesuits Of The Future May Feature “Take Me Home” Buttons To Bring Back Astray Astronauts

Science fiction thrillers frequently feature accidents that cause astronauts to float away into space. Though this has yet to happen in the real world, it is a risk every astronaut is well-aware of when embarking on a spacewalk or Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). To prevent the nightmare scenario, space explorers are not only tethered to the spacecraft but also fitted with a backup safety kit.

Dubbed Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER), the “life jacket,” which is worn like a backpack, contains a bottle of pressurized nitrogen and tiny thrusters. In the unlikely event that an astronaut gets untethered, he/she can use the joy-stick-like controller attached to the front of the spacesuit to return to the spacecraft. The only drawback is that SAFER is manually operated, which means it is of no use if the astronaut becomes unconscious, gets injured, or is simply too panicked to navigate back. The system also requires an extensive amount of ground training.

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MIT Researcher Wants To Light Up The World With Glowing Plants

MIT Glowing Plants

If Michael Strano has his way, homes and streets of the future will be lit up with “green” energy — literally — from glowing plants and trees. While that may sound like a lofty goal, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor of chemical engineering and his team are well on their way to realizing the dream with a luminescent plant, which they hope will someday replace your bedside or table lamp!

To create the glowing plants, the scientists turned to fireflies for assistance. In the bioluminescent insects, an enzyme called luciferase reacts with a molecule called luciferin, causing it to release light. Another molecule, dubbed coenzyme A, helps the process along by getting rid of a byproduct of the reaction that inhibits luciferase activity.

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