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NASA is currently looking for proposals for a commercial satellite network to be put in orbit around Mars. The satellite network would be used to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to Mars.
"We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars."
NASA wants to avoid a communications gap foreseen for the 2020s and is seeking cost effective solutions to future communications needs. "Looking ahead, we need to seriously explore the possibility of the commercialization of Mars communications services," said Lisa May. "This will offer advantages to NASA, while also providing appropriate return-on-investment to the service provider." Communications currently use relay radios to send data from the surface of Mars to orbiters in place around the planet. With only one more orbiter, MAVEN, planned in the foreseeable future, NASA is predicting communications issues for future rovers sent to the surface of the planet.
SpaceX is working on a way to be able to retrieve the main stage of the Falcon 9 rocket to be reused for future flights. This month the Falcon 9 was used to put six ORBCOMM satellites into space and after that launch was completed successfully, the main stage of the rocket went on to perform another test.
The main stage fell back into the atmosphere at hypersonic velocity and a camera on the outside of the rocket recorded the landing process. As the rocket came back to a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean, the main rockets fired up twice to slow the rocket down to a velocity of near zero at touchdown.
You can see in the video above that the landing process appears to have performed flawlessly. The landing legs on the rocket pop out and the rocket lowers itself into a very soft landing in the water before toppling over on its side in the ocean, as planned. SpaceX says that the structural integrity of the rocket was damaged during the flopping over horizontally portion but the camera footage shows things performed as planned and data needed was gathered in the test. The goal is to eventually land the main stage on a floating landing pad for reuse with no refurbishment.
A new technology being developed at Western Michigan University hopes to give coaches and medical staff a better glimpse when a player suffers a concussion on the field. A new pressure sensor designed for helmets uses printed electronics that sends information to a smartphone, providing immediate data on hit severity.
All data can be stored so coaches and staff can monitor each player's complete history following a concussion-related incident.
"Basically, this device or system would eliminate the possibility of inaccuracies from field judgments made by coaches, who rely on the self-assessment or self-reporting of players," said Massood Atashbar, WMU electrical and computer science professor, in a statement to local media. "The coach would receive real-time, actionable information when one of the players receives a potentially dangerous and serious impact to the head."
The winners of Britain's Great British Space Dinner contest have been announced by the UK Space Agency, deciding the extraterrestrial diet of English former Army Major Tim Peake as he makes his way to the International Space Station.
School kids across the country were asked to think up a Brit-themed, nutritious dinner suitable for eating in space. Elementary and high-school students entered the competition, and the winners have just been chosen by Peake and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who will work together with the designers to turn the dishes into real meals, edible aboard the ISS.
Among the winning dishes were a fusion English-Indian meal of spicy food and a rhubarb and custard dessert, from Chloe in Nova Hreod Academy, Swindon, and a full English breakfast in the form of a burger from Archie in Abberley Parochial V.C. Primary School in Worcestershire. Pictured is the Rocket Lolley, a three course meal all-in-one made of tomato and basil soup, a spicy mackerel curry, and the Eton mess dessert, by the KFSPACEGIRLS team from Emmanuel College, Gateshead. "I'm incredibly impressed with the creative and mouth-watering entries we've received from children all over the UK," said Peake, who will be aboard the Station for six months. "I'm really looking forward to enjoying a Great British Space Dinner on board the International Space Station."
President Barack Obama confirmed Malaysia Airlines MH17 was likely shot down over eastern Ukraine by Russian-supported separatists using a surface-to-air missile. Obama and military experts speaking to mainstream media aren't discussing much reasoning behind how they know - but it's plausible a Department of Defense military satellite saw a heat signature when the missile hit.
The U.S. government uses space-based technology to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles, serving as an early warning system. Newer satellites ushered in the Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) network that can identify missiles quicker so they can be intercepted.
Federal governments won't provide detailed images of the crash site, which spans several square miles, but commercial satellite owners could release further details. Some Earth-watching satellites have started to take a closer look at the airspace above eastern Ukraine. However, cloudy weather has hampered such efforts, but it could still be possible to identify how much the scene has been tampered with by rebels.
The United Arab Emirates is a wealthy nation that makes most of its money off its vast oil reserves. The country is well known for building some very interesting attractions, such as the world's largest tower, and it is now putting its eyes on the heavens.
The UAE wants to send the first Arab spacecraft to Mars in 2021. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, says that the Arab mission to Mars will prove that the country can deliver scientific contributions to humanity.
"Our region is a region of civilization. Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize," said Al Maktoum, who is also UAE's vice president, in a statement. The UAE has wanted Arab nations to create a space agency similar to the ESA. The goal of the UAE is to send an unmanned probe to the red planet.
Scientists have discovered a new type of dinosaur in China that is said to be the largest four-winged dinosaur ever discovered. The fossil was discovered in northeastern China and shows a creature with tail feathers that were a foot long. The next longest tail feathers ever discovered on a dinosaur were 9-inches long.
The newly discovered fossil shows that the dinosaur had feathers on its wings and hind legs making it one of only a few four-winged dinosaurs ever discovered. Large, sharp teeth tell the scientists that the dinosaur was carnivorous and it had sharp claws.
The newly discovered dinosaur has been called Changyuraptor yangi, the first part of that name means long-feathered raptor and the latter part is to honor the financial supporter of the expedition. Overall, the dinosaur measured four feet long and weighed nine pounds.
Defense contractor BAE Systems has unveiled the Striker II helmet-mounted display system, giving fighter pilots enhanced tracking and night vision capabilities while in the cockpit. The fully digital system is able to project target data and coordinates directly to the pilot, along with providing night vision directly inside of the helmet.
The new technology has been designed to keep pilots safe, and provides operational information quickly within the pilot's field of vision.
"As the industry transitions from analogue to digital display solutions, Striker II brings a superior, fully digital capability to multiple platform types," said Joseph Senftle, BAE Systems' VP and GM of Communications and Control Solutions, in a press statement. "Designed to address evolving mission requirements with advanced digital night vision technology, our new HMD was built to be 'future proof' and seamlessly adaptable to technology advancements in the years ahead."
One of the most studied and definitely, the most visited planets in our solar system, other than Earth, is Mars. Humans have been studying Mars for centuries and only in the last several decades have we really begun to understand the red planet and what its surface looks like.
An awesome new geological map has been published that shows what the surface of Mars looks like and the map contains 30 years of data collected about the red planet. The map, pictured here, comes from the US Geological Survey. All the colors you see on the map represent parts of the crust of the planet formed at different times.
The green areas are believed to be lowland plains that are covered in sediment leftover for lakes and rivers that scientist believe covered the planet billions of years ago. All of the bright yellow dots are impact craters.
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a probe to study the surface of a comet and the comet that probe is targeting is known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An unexpected discovery was made recently that could affect the mission that Rosetta is on, its target comet isn't a single body as previously believed.
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been discovered recently to be what scientists call a contact binary. This means that the nucleus of the comet is made up of not one, but two bodies. The team believes that the comet came to be configured like this in one of two ways. The first is that a single large nucleus might have fractured at some time in the past creating the contact binary configuration.
The second way the comet could have come to this configuration is by the collision of two comets to form one. Rosetta is supposed to actually land on the surface of the comet and with this discovery, the discussion has now turned to which part of the comet would be the best to land on. The sequence of images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko seen here were taken last Friday. Rosetta is set to rendezvous with the comet August 6.