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Research  Fall 2010

Multiple Planets Transiting Same Star Discovered by NASA’s Kepler Mission

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NASA has announced the discovery of two Saturn-size planets, as well as one likely Earth-size planet, all transiting a star called Kepler 9. This is the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet transiting the same star.

The observations are published in Science, in an article co-authored by Tim Brown, a UC Santa Barbara affiliated scientist. The measurements were made using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft and were confirmed by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

"This system of planets is a thrilling example of the Kepler mission’s power," said Brown, scientific director of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Network, which is based in Goleta, Calif., and affiliated with UC Santa Barbara.id Valentine, professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara, found two high-profile studies that examined events during the Ice Age, including a period in which water in the channel became anoxic. "It became a dead zone," Valentine said. "We're hypothesizing that these features may have been a major contributor to those events."

Artist's rendition of Kepler Spacecraft. credit: NASA/Kepler mission/Wendy Stenzel

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Report: Artificial Reef Restoration Going Strong

UC Santa Barbara scientists confirmed that the Wheeler North Reef had achieved nine of its 14 first-year benchmarks in the coastal waters off San Clemente, Calif. Southern California Edison built the reef to compensate for environmental damage done by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. According to the North County Times, the benchmarks met include:
  • Reef rock placed in 2008 was found to be stable and not sinking into ocean floor sand.
  • The new reef was found to have an abundance of fish, similar to nearby natural reefs.
  • Diverse species of fish were present in the new reef.
  • Density and production of young fish were similar to natural reefs.
  • There were no signs of invasive species that could attack kelp.

UCSB technology key component of Intel’s revolutionary chip

Intel has used groundbreaking technology developed in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara to create a prototype chip that uses light to move data at up to 50 billion bits per second (50Gbps). That’s fast enough to transmit an entire HD movie in a second.

A key component of this blazing fast optical data connection is the hybrid silicon laser, the earlier product of a partnership between Intel and a UC Santa Barbara team led by Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering John Bowers. Transmitting data optically, rather than as electrical signals, is faster and more energy efficient.

UCSB Part of $122-million "Artificial Photosynthesis" Project

UC Santa Barbara is participating in an ambitious project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal is to develop a cost-effective method of generating energy from sunlight by mimicking the process plants use to produce energy: photosynthesis.

Eric McFarland, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is leading UC Santa Barbara’s part in the project. McFarland will help develop automated systems that will allow enormous numbers of chemical compounds to be rapidly synthesized and screened to identify those with the most potential for use in an artificial photosynthesis system.

A major focus of the artificial photosynthesis project, McFarland says, is on developing technology that not only works, but also is cost-effective. "It has to be something that will produce energy at a competitive price," McFarland says.

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