Solar Powered Airplane

Pathfinder is NASA's solar-powered, remotely piloted aircraft, and it has collected imagery of forest and coastal zone ecosystems on Kauai, Hawaii.

This aircraft can spend long periods of time over the ocean, and it monitors storm developments; provides

more accurate predictions of hurricanes; monitors croplands and forests; and provides early warning of crop

damage or fire.

Pathfinder is also equipped with scientific instruments in the testing phase: a high spectral resolution Digital Array Scanned Interferometer (DASI) and a high spatial resolution Airborne Real-Time Imaging System (ARTIS).

Flights are conducted at altitudes between 22,000 feet and 49,000 feet. Pathfinder recently set an altitude record for propeller-driven planes with a flight over 71,000 feet.

Pathfinder's wingspan is to about 99 feet. Solar arrays on the upper wing surface provide up to 7,200 watts of power for the craft's six electric motors and other electronic systems. The aircraft is designed, manufactured and operated by AeroVironment Inc., of Simi Valley, Calif., under a jointly sponsored research agreement with NASA.

For additional information, contact Dryden Flight Research Center, NASA, P.O. Box 273, Attn.: PAO, Mail Stop TR42, Edwards, CA 93523. Call Fred Brown at 805/258-3449.

Heart Beat

Seconds count for rescuers trying to locate victims buried under landslides, collapsed buildings or water.

Life Guard, a portable rescuing device developed by DKL, helps rescuers find survivors by detecting ultra low-frequency electric and magnetic signals naturally generated by the heart. It can penetrate concrete, metal, earth and wood. At short range, it has detected people through a 10-meter-wide earthen barrier.

Life Guard's digital display, electronic compass bearing and GPS compatible metering circuitry provides a visual indication of victims and operates in all weather conditions.

It weighs 0.8kg (1.75 lb.) and requires four AA batteries. DKL's Life Guards come in three models and range in price from $5,999 to $13,995.

For additional information, contact DKL, 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1005, Washington, DC 20006. Call 202/861-8870.

It's All On The Wrist

WristRecord, by Ichor, is a portable computer system that can store important medical information -- patient demographics, medical history, etc. -- on a digital wristband.

According to Dr. Frank Overdyke at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, the device provides an accurate and convenient method of recording and supplying patient data, and it is an effective tool for reducing mistakes associated with misplaced or difficult-to-find information on a patient's chart.

WristRecord consists of a tiny computer memory chip -- 15 mm in diameter with a compressed data capacity of 8KB -- placed on the patient's ID bracelet. Data on the chip is retrieved or updated by a hand-held personal computer with a Windows CE-based platform. Patient information can be encrypted to maintain privacy and easily integrated with other hospital systems.

Upon the patient's discharge from the hospital, the chip is removed from the bracelet; the data is downloaded to a desktop computer; and the chip is erased for reuse.

Further development and evaluation of higher capacity (64KB) memory devices and hand-held computers is currently underway. The memory chip costs about $10, and the palm-top computer and reader cost about $500.

For additional information, contact Ichor Corp., 4750-A Goer Drive, North Charleston, SC 29418. Call 803/529-0045.

Blinking Evidence

To help police find crime-scene evidence, researchers at Sandia National Laboratory are developing an evidence detection system that detects fingerprints, semen, urine, saliva and other organic substances, which carry clues to a criminal's identity. The system relies on weak fluorescent emissions -- normally invisible to the naked eye -- which all types of organic substances release.

The system consists of a flashing lamp and a pair of modified 3D goggles that make the organic substance appear to blink, which allows investigators to locate potential evidence more quickly.

Researchers plan to test a prototype of the system by 1999 and make it available for licensing and manufacture soon thereafter. The Albuquerque Police Dept.'s crime lab agreed to test a prototype system at actual crime scenes.

For additional information, contact Sandia National Labs, 1515 Eubank N.E., Albuquerque, NM 87123. Call John

German at 505/844-5199.

January Table of Contents

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