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ASK OCE — November 3, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 15


More than 200 years ago, Italian scientist Alessandro Volta developed the first electrical battery. It represented the first continuous, practical, and reproducible source of electrical current and a critical step in the accelerated study of electromagnetism and the development of electrical components.

Known as the “voltaic cell” or “voltaic pile,” the first battery was made of two plates of zinc and copper with brine-soaked flannel between them.

In 1774, while serving as a professor of physics at the Royal School in his native Como, Italy, Volta invented the electrophorus, which produced static electricity. Five years later, he moved to the University of Pavia, where he designed the voltaic pile.

Volta’s fame grew quickly, and in 1801 he was brought to Paris by Napoleon, who awarded him with a gold medal. The voltaic pile served as the basis for a great deal of early scientific research into the generation of electricity. Thirty years later, when Michael Faraday built the first dynamo, the foundations of reliable electricity production had been clearly established.

In This Issue

Message from the Chief Engineer

A View from the Outside: ESA’s Mars Express Survives Ultra-Low Power Eclipse Season

This Week in NASA History: Apollo 4 Lays Ground Work for Moon Landing

APPEL Holds 13th Masters Forum

National Research Council Assesses NASA’s Space Communications Office

Remembering a Leader from Apollo: Rocco Petrone

Government Brief: FAA Publishes New Commercial Space Safety Standards

Aerospace Bookshelf: Harrison Schmitt’s Return to the Moon

Archimedes Archive: Alessandro Volta Inventor of the Battery

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