Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 19, 2020

Wrap up: The latest in technology

By SHIVNI PATEL | April 12, 2020

ventilator

JAMES HEILMAN, MD / CC BY-SA 4.0

Companies like Tesla, Ford and Dyson are helping manufacture ventilators to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NASA considers making a telescope out a lunar crater

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking at the earth’s closest celestial neighbor as potential real estate for its newest telescope.

In a press release on April 7, NASA announced that the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program would be awarding a total of $7 million to 23 “potentially revolutionary concepts” in early-stage tech development. 

Robotics technologist Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay is one scientist whose idea was selected, and he wants to turn a crater on the far side of the moon into a telescope. 

Bandyopadhyay’s proposed design includes suspending a receiver into the deep end of a three- to five-kilometer diameter crater, deploying a one-kilometer diameter wire mesh into the crater and placing rovers on the crater’s periphery. Bandyopadhyay explained in his proposal why locating the lunar telescope on the far side of the moon would be beneficial. 

“The moon acts as a physical shield that isolates the lunar-surface telescope from radio interferences/noises from Earth-based sources, ionosphere, Earth-orbiting satellites, and sun’s radio-noise during the lunar night,” he wrote. 

The idea is far from coming to fruition, however, as NASA noted that all projects supported by the NIAC are still in the “early stages of development,” and many will require a decade or more of technology development before being implemented. The ideas, nonetheless, are “revolutionary concepts” that may eventually become reality.

DARPA develops new tool to counteract jet lag and diarrhea for soldiers overseas

To this day, travelers’s diarrhea and jet lag remain prevalent among U.S. soldiers deployed overseas, but the technology branch of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) may have found a solution to these medical problems.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced in a press release on April 6th that they have begun the process of developing the “ADvanced Acclimation and Protection Tool for Environmental Readiness (ADAPTER),” which can be either ingested or implanted. The ADAPTER is capable of helping maintain soldiers’ circadian rhythms, which halves the time needed to reestablish normal sleep patterns after jet lag. The press release also noted that the technology will remove the top five bacteria responsible for diarrhea in travelers. 

Tesla designing a ventilator that uses Model 3 tech

When asked on Twitter last month by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for help with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded that he would reach out to de Blasio’s team to “understand potential needs.” 

Tesla has since begun developing a new ventilator amid the shortage caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

In a video posted on April 5 to Tesla’s official YouTube channel, engineers walked viewers through updates on ventilator design at the company, including a guided demonstration of their prototype model.

Tesla’s engineering director Joe Mardall appears in the video, standing in front of a whiteboard and explaining the “high-level schematic design,” noting that they used a lot of Tesla parts in the construction of their prototype. 

Amid criticism recently directed at Musk for trying to manufacture a new ventilator design rather than producing based on existing designs, Mardall explained the company’s rationale. 

“We wanna use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of, and we can go really fast, and they’re available in volume,” Mardall said in the YouTube video. 

Many Tesla vehicle parts are visible in the video’s guided tour of the prototype. For instance, the air-mixing chamber is made of a car part from Tesla’s line, as an engineer explained.

Tesla’s ventilator design repurposes parts including those from its newest Model 3 technology, which should theoretically quicken development and manufacturing of the ventilators.

Besides Tesla, many other companies are attempting to address the ventilator shortage by boosting production or designing newer models. American companies Ford and GE Healthcare announced last week that they plan on producing as many as 50,000 ventilators by July by using the design of the Airon Corp. Like Tesla, others have begun designing newer models. Since receiving an order from the British government for 10,000 ventilators, Dyson began developing a design that has not yet been approved.

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