Science Friday: Moon, Mars, Mercury and Iron Man!

It is time once again to engage your brain with this week’s Science Friday! Learn how to make gigantic liquid telescopes on the moon, see Mercury as never before, give the Phoenix lander an icy send-off, and put your TV in your pocket! All this plus our gadget of the week: The Hal-5 robotic suit that will turn you into Iron Man!

Giant Liquid Telescopes on the Moon
A team of astronomers and opticians may have found a way to make “unbelievably large” telescopes on the Moon. Any liquid, if put into a shallow container and set spinning, naturally assumes a parabolic shape—the same shape needed by a telescope mirror to bring starlight to a focus. The biggest liquid-mirror telescope on Earth, the Large Zenith Telescope which spins mercury, is 6 meters across and cost less than $1 million to build — only a few percent the cost of a solid-mirror telescope of the same diameter. Since mercury is not workable for the moon, scientists are looking to ionic liquids for a lunar scope. “Ionic liquids are basically molten salts,” scientists explain. “Their evaporation rate is almost zero, so they would not vaporize in the lunar vacuum. They can also remain liquid at very low temperatures.” More info…

Concept image of the liquid lunar telescope

Mercury As Never Seen Before

The MESSENGER spacecraft made its latest flyby of Mercury last Monday, and the first of more than 1,200 high-resolution images are arriving back at Earth now. The spectacular image below of an unseen side of the planet reveals a dramatic system of globe-straddling rays which appear to emanate from a young crater. This view is distinctly unique from what MESSENGER saw during its first flyby last January. When all of these data have been digested and compared, we will have the first global perspective of Mercury. More info…

One of the first images sent back from MESSENGER’s most recent flyby

Frozen Death Looms for Phoenix Mars Lander

After more than four months on the arctic plains of the red planet, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s days are finally numbered. As the sun begins to set for the frigid Martian winter, the spacecraft will lose its energy supply, freeze and eventually fall into a mechanical coma from which it will likely never wake up. But whether or not Phoenix will survive that long is uncertain and depends on how the spacecraft’s systems handle -184 F (-120 C) temps and the setting sun. Come fall, the sun starts to dip below the horizon more each day until winter, when it sets for good and doesn’t rise again until the spring. With no solar energy feeding the solar panels for months, the lander will likely not live up to its name and rise again after winter. More info…

Bluish-white frost seen on the Martian surface by Phoenix

Flexible Screens Could Lead to Foldable Computers
Researchers from Sony and the Max Planck Institute in Germany believe “Rigid television screens, bulky laptops and still image posters are to be a thing of the past”. Earlier this week, they demonstrated a flexible television screen which could result in people folding up their computer and putting it in their pocket. It is all organic, flexible and transparent with an extremely low energy requirement, while it has an almost unlimited viewing angle and high efficiency. There is no need for a backlight and response times are 10 times faster than LCDs, meaning ultra-smooth motion without blurring. Previous attempts at flexible screens (as seen in the video below) were hampered by size and resolution problems, while the image was also affected when the screen was folded.

An earlier version of Sony’s flexible display

Gadget of the Week: The HAL-5 Robotic Suit for Tony Stark Wannabes
Back in 2005, University professor Yoshiyuki Sankai designed Hal-5, a robotic suit. This was just the start of his work, which would hopefully allow people to overcome being handicap. It now looks as though HAL is finally here and ready to be mass produced by Cyberdyne staring this Friday. You will be able to rent the HAL robotic suit for a mere $2,200 per month. Sankai hopes that HAL will be able to help elderly people overcome disabilities by giving them super-strength mechanical assistance when they send brain signals to move their limbs. It looks like the suit was designed for good, but it could be used for awesome if someone decides to take this suit to the limit, and become a real life Iron Man. How cool.

The HAL-5 will make you into Iron Man


Science Quickies
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Ok Hal 5 suit,, take me to the supermarket ,,I gotta get some meat for dinner,,,

“Im sorry Martman,,,,,,,, I cant do that”

anyone think someone will rip off the HAL-5 idea and make it combat-ready?
*scratches chin*

Not trying to start up political nonsense. Just an honest question.

“It now looks as though HAL is finally here and ready to be mass produced by Cyberdyne staring this Friday.”

Is that really the company’s name?!


Mongo think same thing. Something familiar about that name.

Mongo also remember something about microphone on Mars lander being turn on so we hear sound on Mars. did scientist peoples do? Mongo want hear!

Yes folks that is really the name. A company called Cyberdyne is making a powered robotic suit. Makes ya think just a little bit no?

Doesn’t look like Schwarzenegger at all… :-)

#5 That is TERRIFYING.

So when Grandma wants a kiss, Grandma’s gettin’ herself a KISS. You can’t run from the mustache and giant mole anymore!

Uh, How much does that suit cost?

The army actually already has something like this, a robotic suit that can allow a soldier to lift a thousand pounds. The scary part is that the Army wants future versions to be Iron Man type suits, that can also go on Autonomous mission without a human driver. I’ve seen the one that they are testing now and it looks just like a T-800 indoskeleton. Creepy.

oh, 2,000 a month? Not bad. Better than a car.

If one of these things can save a soldier or sailors life, i’m on board

How come they always have to do this? A movie comes out, they start implementing the movie into reality.

Cyberdyne? Really?

Geez, the world really is gonna end.

Just as long as only the US has the suits, Mankind will survive.

#11 What could save even more soldiers lives than an iron man suit?
I find the concept very logical.
Everyone have a nice weekend

#15 – That kind of arrogant comment is exactly why most of the world dislikes America.


Holy crap!
“Their next project, codenamed Skynet, is described as an ‘advanced AI project’ aiming to develop self-awareness in computer technology.”

Save us Connor!

Gotta admit, the robot suit looks cool as hell, but the name Cyberdyne does creep me out a bit.

#15: yeah, yeah, alright and now please spare us that kind of bullshit

I have to get engaged with my brain? D’oh! Why can’t empty promises and beer be enough?

Holographic TV? I guess that’s cool as long as the Hannity filter is working.

Thanks Kayla!! Let’s each pull on our super suits and have some fun.

Don’t know if I’d call anything mechanical “HAL”. Bad luck? ;D

Where the heck is the power supply for that exoskeleton? It’s gotta use a chunka power. Granny’s got to stay near a wall socket … or carry a generator, spewing carbon monoxide.

Still … pair that up with the Jet Pack from last week, and we’ve almost got Iron Man. Who’s out there making repulsors?

That spinning, low-evaporation-in-a-vacuum ion salt telescope device sounds like science fiction. Very cool. I love innovations that expand our horizons.

Scott B. out.


An ‘Ironman’ exo-skeletal suit for disabled people called HAL-5. Manufactured by Cyberdyne.

I pulled 4 Sci-fi references out of that.

Exoskeleton suit-Ironman
for disabled people – Darth Vader / Star Wars
HAL – 2001
Cyberdyne – Terminator

I’m glad to see our current innovators have a good sense of humor XD

try mantis

but this rental thing has me thinking. what are they going to do when i return it? are they just going to spray i tlike the shoes at the bollwing alley?

Cyberdyne? Skynet? :D

Oh, those two beady white eyes of Mercury staring at us, makes me quiver. Let’s build a great big liquid telescope on the moon and stare back at Mercury on our micro flexi screens.

Mongo Zen thought of the Day: “What is the sound of one Mars clapping?”

Could be used for awesome? I didn’t know TrekMovie quoted Strong Bad. Unless Strong Bad quoted someone else when he said that. Funny, everyone else is worried about Skynet and the US military and all I can say is “Strong Bad?”