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NASA’s Curiosity rover drives over the rocky surface of Mars on aluminum wheels, which are becoming pockmarked with holes much faster than predicted. This week, NASA decided to go ahead and drive the rover backward for 329 feet; a technique developed during testing on Earth to better preserve the wheels. The agency also reassessed Curiosity’s route to Mount Sharp, where the rover is expected to find water-related minerals, to be easier on the aluminum.

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Chuck Hull of 3D Systems invented the first-ever 3D printer in the early 1980s. The first thing he printed? A tiny cup that could serve as an eye wash, according to a CNN interview. The printer worked similarly to its descendants today: a laser seals together particles of material to build an object layer by layer.

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For $20 a month, startup pharmacy PillPack will deliver your drug prescriptions by mail. The service relies on a team of robots that dispense and inspect packets filled with patients’ daily doses. The packets are designed to make it simple for patients to keep track of if they have taken their pills.

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Five months after Kickstarter backers awarded 3D scanner maker Fuel3D with more than $325,000, private investors have chipped in with an additional $2.6 million in early stage financing. Fuel3D said the money will go toward development of its scanner. The company will also pursue another financing round before the summer and potentially file for an IPO as soon as next year.

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Just two months after landing on the moon, China’s first moon rover has been declared permanently broken. Jade Rabbit began having problems late last month, and operators were unable to restore it to working order. New Scientist reports that the failure is likely due to a mechanical fault that led to the rover exposing its sensitive equipment to cold nighttime temperatures. The fault may have been caused by lunar dust, which can quickly scratch up equipment.

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Images sent back to Earth by NASA’s Mars orbiters show a curious feature: long black lines that scientists believe could have been created by flowing liquid water. While Mars is too cold for the fresh and salt water that fills Earth’s oceans and lakes, water on Mars could contain chemicals that act as an antifreeze, allowing it to stay liquid. Scientists have noticed that the flows happen seasonally. It’s possible that there is no water involved at all, but they aren’t yet sure how that could be explained.

NASA Mars water flow

In Brief

After 3D Systems lowered its expectations for earnings per share for the last quarter of 2013 this morning, its stocks took a dive, bringing fellow 3D printing companies like Stratasys and Voxeljet down as well. 3D Systems was down 27.4 percent this morning and has since bounced back a little bit to being down 15.07 percent, closing at $64.34. The company lowered its expectations after higher than expected spending on research and development, sales and marketing expenses and acquisition concentration costs.

In Brief

Can’t wait until mid-February to buy a 3D printer from Dell? ATT is now selling Cube 2 3D printers in its online store for $1,229. While MakerBot has been the main printer company pursuing sales in mainstream outlets, the Cube 2, which is made by 3D Systems, has long had a place in schools and other learning spaces. It’s regarded as an easy-to-use entry level 3D printer.

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Cyclists have been some of the earliest people to benefit from 3D printing, which makes it ultra-easy to customize bike parts. 3Ders reports that the U.K.’s Empire Cycles has paired with metal 3D printing expert Renishaw to 3D print mountain bike frames. Made of titanium alloy, the bikes are both strong and lightweight.

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In response to Los Angeles County’s  attempt to tax Hawthorne, Calif.-based space firm SpaceX, a bill is now working its way through the state Legislature that would exempt  private space companies from paying property taxes on space stations or rockets. The bill passed the Assembly 64-5 and is now on its way to the Senate.

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