Excerpts from science, technology, environment and health reports from around the web

NASA’s rover Curiosity begins extended exploration on Mars

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is beginning a long-awaited, 5-mile-long journey across the terrain of the red planet to begin exploring a rocky area known as Mount Sharp, 11 months after the rover arrived on the planet's surface, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “With drives on July 4 and July 7, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has departed its last science target in the 'Glenelg' area and commenced a many-month overland journey to the base of the mission's main destination, Mount Sharp,” NASA reported in a July 8 announcement.

Cellphone microscopes: a how-to-guide

Tiny microscopes that can be fitted onto any mobile phone with a camera and used to diagnose illnesses in remote areas may have the potential to revolutionise healthcare in developing world.

Just last month, an international group of scientists published a paper in which they showed how such a microscope can be used to detect worm disease in Tanzania.

Using your smartphone’s eyes and ears to log your every move

Many of us already record the places we go and things we do by using our smartphone to diligently snap photos and videos, and to update social-media accounts. A company called ARO is building technology that automatically collects a more comprehensive, automatic record of your life.

ARO is behind an app called Saga that automatically records every place that a person goes. Now ARO’s engineers are testing ways to use the barometer, cameras, and microphones in a device, along with its location sensors, to figure out what someone is up to and where. That approach should debut in the Saga app in late summer or early fall.

Researchers build 3-D structures from liquid metal

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed 3-D printing technology and techniques to create free-standing structures made of liquid metal at room temperature.

The researchers developed multiple techniques for creating these structures, which can be used to connect electronic components in three dimensions. While it is relatively straightforward to pattern the metal “in plane”—meaning all on the same level—these liquid metal structures can also form shapes that reach up or down.

How Dropbox could rule a multi-platform world

Dropbox, the fast-growing file-synching and file-sharing service, today announced new tools that could help the company become an indispensable ally to developers in an increasingly fragmented mobile ecosystem.

The growth of smartphones and tablets spawned a whole new app economy, as well as a vexing problem for app developers: how to make an app that’s running on one device, such as a game on an Android smartphone, sync up with the same game running on every other device a person may use, from iPads to Linux laptops.

Mars 2020: NASA’s going bold – on a budget

For many, the pinnacle of Mars research would be sending human scientists to explore the surface, gather specimens, and study them with high-tech instruments, either there or back here on Earth.

That's what we did with the Apollo missions, and it transformed our understanding of the moon's surface. NASA's vision for Mars, announced Tuesday at a press conference at NASA's headquarters in D.C., isn't quite that grand, but it's surprisingly close – and they're doing it on a budget.