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NEWS | March 10, 2014

Pentagon Channel, Defense Laboratories Team Up for New Science TV Show

By John Ohab

Two of the Department of Defense's (DoD's) premier in-house research laboratories have joined forces with the Pentagon Channel to create a new science-focused TV show, Armed with Science.

The show explores the cutting-edge scientific research and technology development taking place at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). In the pilot episode, viewers get an inside look at NRL space robotics research and ARL work in novel weapons design and infrared imaging.

Armed with Science highlights the importance of science and technology to national defense and examines how DoD laboratories are addressing the complex challenges facing the military.

This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the scientists and engineers whose work will help our service members operate more safely and effectively, Captain Anthony Ferrari, Commanding Officer of NRL, said.

The Pentagon Channel will air the pilot episode: Monday, March 10th at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. EDT; and Thursday, March 13th at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. EDT. The full episode and segments are also available online on the NRL YouTube channel.

The episode features NRL efforts to develop robotic technology that can help repair, reposition, or update satellites. Satellites play a critical role in the Navy's global presence by enabling communications, weather prediction, and navigation and precise timing, among other capabilities. But, when a geosynchronous satellite breaks, there is no way to fix it.

We build them, launch them, and can never get close to them, said NRL aerospace engineer Bernard Kelm. Satellite servicing would help the defense capability.

NRL's Spacecraft Engineering Department is working to develop robots that can autonomously dock with a satellite and support humans in fixing problems and making basic upgrades. In the episode, space roboticist Dr. Glen Henshaw demonstrates how scientists test how a robotic arm will reach out and touch a satellite in orbit. To simulate the frictionless environment of space, Henshaw floats a satellite model on NRL's one-of-a-kind 75,000-pound gravity offset table, which he compares to an upside-down air hockey table.

The show also explores the Army's super materials that operate across a spectrum of extreme environments to protect soldiers against threats they haven't yet seen. The materials that scientists and engineers design at an atomic scale will make up game-changing electronics, munitions, and armor for the military of the future. The show wraps up with super vision, or enemy detection made easier and faster with infrared radiated light that allows soldiers to see when there are zero visibility conditions.

The Pentagon Channel airs news, press conferences, Congressional hearings, and a variety of shows for service members and their families. Programming reaches more than 30 million households through commercial distribution on satellite and cable systems nationwide. In addition, the Pentagon Channel is streamed live 24/7 and is available on video-on-demand and podcast from its website.

Armed with Science is hosted by George Zaidan, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has worked on video projects with The Weather Channel, TED-Education, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine.

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