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Research portals, build-it yourself spacecraft and 3D craniums

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Energy Department highlights access to research

The Department of Energy is rolling out new measures it hopes will increase public access to DOE data, scholarly publications and other department-funded research.

The agency on Aug. 4 launched a web-based portal it dubbed Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science (PAGES), to provide free access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts and published scientific journal articles within 12 months of their publication.

The PAGES site will include access to DOE-funded authors' research manuscripts produced by the Energy Department’s National Labs and grantee institutions, as well as public access offerings of publishers. For publisher-hosted content, DOE said it is collaborating with the publisher consortium CHORUS -- the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States.

PAGES will initially contain a basic collection of accepted manuscripts, but will add more metadata and links, anticipating growth of 20,000 to 30,000 articles and manuscripts annually.

DOE said its Office of Science has issued new requirements for researchers, requiring all proposals for research funding to include a data management plan describing whether and how the data generated in the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved.

NASA opens next round of CubeSat initiative for space hopefuls

More than 20 states and U.S. territories are getting the chance to participate in the next round of NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative, giving teachers and students a hands-on opportunity to design, build and operate small research nanosatellites.

CubeSat, part of the White House Maker initiative, aims to engage space enthusiasts to help NASA reach its exploration goals. CubeSats are small research space rafts, measuring about 4 cubic inches.

In addition to giving students and teachers the chance to work with flight hardware and participate in the creative process, “it also provides a low-cost pathway to space for research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan,” according to a blog post on the NASA website.

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to launch a small satellite from at least one participant in each state over the next five years. NASA has already selected 114 CubeSats from 29 states, 17 of which have been launched, with nine more scheduled in the next year.

Selected experiments from this round of the initiative are “slated to be flown as auxiliary payloads on agency rocket launches or be deployed from the International Space Station beginning in 2015 and running through 2018,” according to the post.

Proposals for this round must be submitted to NASA by Nov. 25.

Army uses 3D printing to study brain injuries

Defense Systems reports that Army Research Laboratory scientists are using 3D printing technologies to study the dangerous effects of shockwaves on the human brain, as part of an effort to find the best materials to prevent damage.

To better study the effects of shockwaves and to develop new techniques and materials to mitigate their effects, ARL researchers are creating synthetic cranial bones that will be used in experiments that would simulate combat blasts.

Surveilling the NSA

Privacy rights groups have released video of their blimp flyby of the National Security Agency's massive data center facility in the Utah desert. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace and the Tenth Amendment Center made the video of the June 27 flight of a 135-foot-long blimp emblazoned with an "Illegal Spying Below" banner. The groups have been bitter opponents of the NSA's data surveillance programs.

The group said it released what it called a "short documentary" on Aug. 5 to rein in those programs, "just as the U.S. Senate has introduced a new version of the USA Freedom Act."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced that legislation on July 29. The bill aims to narrow the scope of government data surveillance, barring collection of information relating to a particular service provider or to a broad geographic region, such as a city, zip code or area code.

The groups have also started, a website showing how members of Congress voted on mass surveillance legislation.

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