Apollo News Snipets – February 2012
Brock Adam McCarty
- It seems that with each new month comes a slew of new patents and innovations that sound very promising for the solar energy industry. Here are a few of the recent improvements that caught my eye. (1) A research team at Oregon State University has shown that very common and easy to extract materials such as iron silicon sulfide could replace current solar metals and thereby lower the cost of the technology significantly. (2) Another team at Notre Dame University has produced 'solar paint' that can achieve a 1% light-to-energy conversion rate. While this is far behind the 10-15% of current solar panel technology, the team thinks they can improve upon the 1% rate – not to mention imagine the possibilities of covering every interior and exterior surface with a paint that can produce power! (3) Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have patented 'black silicon,' a highly absorptive silicon-based surface which will lower the costs to create these panels as well as improve the light-to-energy conversion rate by at least 1%. (4) And finally, scientists at Stanford University are developing improved fuel cells that employ crystalline nanoparticles of a copper compound to increase the number of recharges by 100-fold versus current battery technology. This is a huge stride toward making more durable batteries that can be used to store excess energy produced during the day by solar technologies.
- Landsat is one of the most important earth imaging missions ever launched with a robust global archive dating back to the 1970s.Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) released a large portion of its Landsat 4/5/7 database to the general public. The data is available at no cost though you do have to submit a proposal for access to the data here. Included in this release is a combination of Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) datasets ranging in dates from 1982 to 2003. Data from earlier Multispectral Scanner (MSS) missions will be added in the coming months. You can find out more about this dataset here.
- Are you a frequent user of US demographic data in your GIS analysis? If so, you might want to check out the new 2011 Esri Updated Demographics dataset. Built off the 2010 US Census, this dataset contains all the key demographic variables you need on population, income and households. The database also contains projected population figures for 2016. You can find out more about Esri's Update Demographic database here.
- And here is an interesting application of demographic data for the consumer. BANK ON is a non-profit whose mission is connecting unbanked and underbanked individuals and communities with banking products that are safe and meet their needs. As part of their services, they offer a simple to use search engine that shows estimates of unbanked and underbanked households in a community; as well as allows for download of supplementary demographic data on at-risk populations. You can find this search engine here and more info about BANK ON here.
- Have you checked the Basemap layers that are available in ArcMAP 10 recently? If not, you should have a look at the new National Geographic basemap. In true National Geographic tradition, the basemap is a cartographic masterpiece that can complement most geospatial projects. If you have not added a basemap in Arc 10, it is easy to do. Simply go to the FILE menu → ADD DATA → ADD BASEMAP and then select the National Geographic option. As long as you are connected to the Internet, after a few moments your streaming basemap will appear and is ready for you to zoom to your project location.