Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Far sighted space technology finds practical uses on Earth

Date:
April 25, 2011
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Technology developed for space missions to study the most distant objects in the Universe is now finding a host of practical applications back on Earth. A new kind of detector could have applications in hospitals, factories and airports.

QMC Instruments Ltd was involved in the design and manufactured the Corrugated horns for the HFI Instrument on Planck, ESA's Space based Cosmic Microwave Background experiment.
Credit: TK Instruments

Technology developed for space missions to study the most distant objects in the Universe is now finding a host of practical applications back on Earth. QMC Instruments Ltd., in partnership with the Astronomical instrumentation Group at Cardiff University, has built instruments for many major space missions, including Herschel and Planck. Now, expanding on that experience they are developing KIDCAM, a kind of detector that could have applications in hospitals, factories and airports.

Related Articles


Ken Wood is presenting the project at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.

The part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum including the far infra red and microwave is also called 'terahertz' radiation. Astronomers use this kind of radiation to study the Cosmic Microwave Background and the huge dust clouds where stars are born. The sensitive detectors they use will only operate at temperatures very close to absolute zero (minus 273C.) In Terahertz cameras like KIDCAM, those low temperatures are accessible in compact and less expensive ways using relatively new cooler technology. KIDCAM therefore has many potential day-to-day applications.

"We are all familiar with optical images of the surface of objects and X-ray images which penetrate through soft tissue to reveal bone structure. Terahertz observations give us something in between the two. For example, most clothing and packaging materials are transparent to Terahertz radiation, whereas skin, water, metal and a host of other interesting materials are not. This gives rise to some important day-to-day applications: detecting weapons concealed under clothing or inside parcels; distinguishing skin and breast cancer tissue; quality control of manufactures items and processes in factories. Our KIDCAM detectors are also very sensitive, and so we can look at the natural radiation emitted by the target. This means there are no safety issues like those associated with other imaging techniques which shine radiation, including X-rays, at the target," said Mr Wood.

Until recently, there have been many practical obstacles to using terahertz detectors. Terahertz sources have only become available to the non-specialist in the last 10 years and cooling the detectors to very low temperatures using liquid cryogens is costly and complicated.

"The instruments aboard the Herschel and Planck satellites need to be cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero so that emissions from the spacecraft don't drown out the faint signals that come from the very edge of the observable Universe," said Ken Wood.

"For KIDCAM, we have developed a kind of detector that can be operated in electrical coolers and therefore without the use of liquified gases. KIDCAM can be tuned to specific frequencies for specific applications, for instance to enhance the contrast between skin and plastic explosive for airport security scanners. Unwanted frequencies can be blocked to increase the camera's sensitivity. The experience that we gained working on astronomical missions has been invaluable in helping us do this. The race is now on around the world to produce devices that will realise the enormous potential of terahertz science and thanks to the ingenuity of UK astronomers we have made a great start."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Far sighted space technology finds practical uses on Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418201809.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2011, April 25). Far sighted space technology finds practical uses on Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418201809.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Far sighted space technology finds practical uses on Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418201809.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NTSB: Missing Planes' Black Boxes Should Transmit Wirelessly

NTSB: Missing Planes' Black Boxes Should Transmit Wirelessly

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) — In light of high-profile plane disappearances in the past year, the NTSB has called for changes to make finding missing aircraft easier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iconic Metal Toy Meccano Goes Robotic

Iconic Metal Toy Meccano Goes Robotic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 22, 2015) — Classic children&apos;s toy Meccano has gone digital, releasing a programmable kit robot that can be controlled by voice recognition. The toymakers say Meccanoid G15 KS is easy to use and is compatible with existing Meccano pieces. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The VueXL From VX1 Immersive Smartphone Headset!

The VueXL From VX1 Immersive Smartphone Headset!

Rumble (Jan. 22, 2015) — The VueXL from VX1 is a product that you install your smartphone in and with the magic of magnification lenses, enlarges your smartphones screen so that it&apos;s like looking at a big screen TV. Check it out! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Analysis: NTSB Wants Better Black Boxes

Analysis: NTSB Wants Better Black Boxes

AP (Jan. 22, 2015) — NTSB investigators recommended Thursday that long-distance passenger planes carry improved technology to allow them to be found more easily in a crash, as well as include enhanced cockpit recording technology. (Jan. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins