- Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, think they may have found a way to track weather in space—a remarkable feat considering that a single blast of solar wind particles has the potential to knock out a multimillion dollar satellite. Using a technique known as neutral atom imaging, researchers can take rough, low-resolution satellite data and create more informative composite images of the solar-wind-driven particles trapped in the magnetosphere (a magnetic layer around the Earth). These pictures show the ebb and flow of the particles as they near the Earth and are drawn around and down the magnetic field lines. Researchers use the pictures to formulate weather maps for the radiation belts. With a better understanding of the weather in space, researchers can accomplish a variety of key tasks, such as protective navigation guidance to satellites and scheduling of astronauts' spacewalks at safer times.
- As part of its efforts to develop optical lithography tools for future-generation semiconductor processes, industry consortium International SEMATEC is installing a 157-nm F2 laser microstepper at the Resist Test Center of its Advanced Tool Development Facility. The Exitech tool, which offers an image field size of 1.5 by 1.5 mm, will be used mainly to conduct high-resolution exposures at 157 nm for the resist development programs of International SEMATEC, its member companies, and resist manufacturers. Work is expected to begin in the first quarter of this year.