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NASA Camera Network Tracks Meteorites

NASA is creating a camera network across the US designed to track meteorites as they enter the atmosphere. Based on the data gathered, the information can help scientists learn where these rocks land as well as their origins. The All-Sky Fireball Network is a fully-automated network that uses computers and AI for detection and analysis. Images and data are sent to NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. The system now consists of three cameras in three states, but plans are to expand the network in the eastern US since there are existing networks in the western portion of the country. To that end, NASA is actively seeking organizations including schools, planetariums, and science centers to host the devices. The information gathered is publically available.  (SlashDot)(Singularity Hub)(NASA All-Sky Fireball Network)

Component Prices Climb After Quake, Shortages Possible

Prices for consumer electronics components are rising after the earthquake in Japan. Damage to critical infrastructure such as power supply and transportation has disrupted the industry’s production and supply chain, leading to an increase in prices. The greatest concern is for the memory chip market as Japan produces roughly 40 percent of the world’s NAND flash, which is found in USB storage and solid state drives. Reports are that DRAM prices are up by about 7 percent while NAND prices are up by as much as 10 percent. Toshiba has said its shipments could decrease by 20 percent, although its plants are reported to be operating normally. Texas Instruments’ Miho facility is closed until at least July while a second facility is offline until mid-April. Silicon wafer producers have reportedly stopped operations, which could affect a wide range of devices. IHS iSuppli says any possible shortages won’t be seen until the end of March or the start of April since inventories were plentiful. The firm reports these pricing upticks are the result of “the psychological impact of the disaster” rather than actual shortages. Other components that might eventually be in short supply include LCD TV panel components such as color polarizers, displays for handheld video games and cellular phones, microcontrollers, and standard logic. IHS iSuppli says Japan produced nearly 14 percent of the global electronic equipment factory revenue in 2010. (International Business Times)(Wall Street Journal)(Computerworld)(IHS iSuppli)

Low Power Memory Possible Using Phase-Change Material

University of Illinois researchers have developed a new form of low-power digital memory based on phase-change materials and nanotechnology that purports to both consume much less power – at least 100 times less power, say researchers -- and operate at faster speeds than other PCM approaches. This new memory could prolong the battery life of all sorts of products and could make 3D stacked chips possible. The researchers say they have been able to achieve such low power by using carbon nanotubes as electrodes rather than metal wires. The full results are published in Science Magazine. (SlashDot)(Gizmag)(Science)

ARM Architecture Moving to the Data Center

ARM-based technologies are typically used in devices such as smartphones and tablets, but chip designers are eager to take advantage of the chip architecture’s low power use in data center settings. Calxeda released some details about its first ARM-based server chip, which it claims can be used to build low-power servers, consuming roughly 5 watts per node, with up to 480 cores. It will compete not only with Intel and AMD, which are planning to offer low-power server chips, but also other ARM-based server processors from chip makers including Nvidia and Marvell. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(eweek)(Calxeda)

Internet Proves Resilient in Disaster

The Internet is proving resilient in times of natural disasters. The AFP reports that roughly five million people watched one specific clip featuring raw video of the Japanese tsunami on Saturday. Google offered a person finder service that, by Sunday, had reportedly gathered more than 81,000 records of people leaving messages in English and Japanese seeking information on friends and family. ( Cross Family Links)(Google Friend Finder)(Facebook Japan Tsunami)(AFP)

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