airshowfan writes "When a geosynchronous satellite is launched into space, no human ever gets to touch it again. This means that, other than for minor software issues, there is no way to fix it if it breaks, so it has to work perfectly, almost autonomously, for 20 years non-stop. There is also no way to refuel it once it's out of thruster fuel, the reason why it can't last more than 20 years even if it gets to that mark working very well, with batteries and solar cells still going, which is often the case. If only there were a robotic spacecraft in geostationary orbit that could change broken satellite components and refuel those older satellites, then satellites would be a lot less risky and would last a lot longer. Does this robotic spacecraft mechanic sound like science fiction? It launches tonight."
notyou2 writes "Steve Chu, Nobel prize winner and Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, recently presented a talk at Google. It's a balanced look at all aspects of the energy problem and its effects, from global warming to emerging technologies, and well worth viewing. 'Among America's most serious concerns are (i) national security, which is intimately tied to energy security, (ii) economic competitiveness, and (iii) the environment. These issues transcend our national boundaries and have serious implications for the world. At the core of these problems is need to secure clean, affordable and sustainable sources of energy. Solutions must come from a combination of improvements on both the demand and supply side, and science and technology will be an essential part of the solution. After briefly describing the energy problem, the remainder of the talk will describe areas of research that may lead to transforming technologies.'"