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Since the space shuttle fleet retired, astronauts in the US have had to hitch a ride into space with Russia to get to the ISS. That will all change eventually when the US gets its Orion crew capsule ready to take astronauts into space in a method similar to what we used in the Apollo days.
The crew capsule that will eventually let the US put its own astronauts into space is the Orion capsule, and that capsule has completed an important test. An Orion test capsule was strapped into the back of a USAF cargo plane and dropped out of the back of the aircraft at 35,000 feet.
NASA says that a drop from an aircraft at that altitude is the most realistic test yet for simulating reentry from space. In this test, the Orion was allowed to free fall for ten seconds to gain speed before the parachutes were activated to put additional stress on the chutes. Orion is set for its first space test in December, that test will be unmanned.
Just minutes after the Big Bang, scientists theorize that the universe blinked itself out of existence - that's the current, new theory, anyway. After spending $10 billion, decades of research and tests, and the world's largest particle accelerator, scientists theorize the universe itself doesn't exist, or that it shouldn't exist.
One of the researchers said thanks to finding the Higgs Boson particle, it shows that the universe may have blinked out of existence moments after the Big Bang itself. This researcher continued: "This is an unacceptable prediction of the theory ... if this had happened, we wouldn't be around to discuss it!"
Australian astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy says: "I love this idea of bringing together two discoveries found at the biggest extremes of size you can imagine. From studying the Higgs Boson at tiny scales much smaller than an atom to (potentially) measuring Inflation by searching into the distant past of our enormous universe".
The North Korean military successfully launched three short-range projectiles during a missile test, likely aimed at antagonizing political leaders in South Korea. It's not uncommon for North Korea to conduct military exercises off its eastern coast when it wants to raise political tensions and frustrate U.S. leaders.
The projectiles flew an estimated 115 miles into the Sea of Japan, and South Korean officials are trying to determine what was fired.
"We are analyzing our data to try to figure out what type of projectiles they were and why the North fired them," said a South Korean official. "Our military has increased its monitoring activities in case the North should fire more projectiles."
The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) is interested in developing a Humvee-mounted anti-drone laser able to disrupt the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that might attack patrols. If successful, the Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move (GBAD) will help Marines on the ground, using hardware that can be placed on light-tactical vehicles.
There is greater concern of enemies using UAVs to track and target Marines, so they are able to be more effective when launching attacks. The anti-drone laser system will be deployable on a Humvee or Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, after officers requested mobile directed-energy weapons that can eliminate threats.
"We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat," said Col. William Zamagni, ONR expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department head, in a statement. "GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces."
NASA has been operating the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars for an entire Martian year, which is 687 Earth days. Curiosity is currently rolling across Gale crater and has found new evidence that millions of years ago the crater was covered by an icy glacier and liquid water. Glacial evidence shows that they were particularly prominent in areas around the central mound of Gale crater called Aeolis Mons.
NASA has evidence that these glaciers exist thanks to images captured with the HiRISE and CTX cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the HRSC on the Mars Express probe. Images for those spacecraft have revealed evidence of a concave basin and lobated structures along with moraines and fan-shaped deposits.
All of that evidence hints that glaciers once covered the area. The team of scientists say that the glacier on Mars was likely similar to one that is on Iceland today here on Earth, that glacier is called Breiðamerkurjökull. This evidence supports the theory that millions of years ago, Mars was a much colder and wetter environment.
Students from MIT and other universities are preparing to make a time capsule mission that will go much further than putting something in the ground on Earth to be dug up years later. These students will be sending three satellites to mars that will be packed with stuff having to do with life on Earth.
The contents taken to the red planet by the satellites will include video, messages, voice recordings, and pictures. Students will encapsulate the content in CubeSats and the project will have the assistance of NASA and Explore Mars. Currently, the launch date for the project is set for 2017.
Executive director of Explore Mars Chris Carberry wants this project to spark curiosity of the public. He said: "Every member of this team wants to send humans to Mars one day, and this is one way to inspire the public. A group of students having the motivation to put together a viable mission like this and raise the funds themselves, that in itself is inspiring."
Astronomers have discovered what might be the coolest and dimmest white dwarf star ever discovered. The faint star is believed to be so cool that its carbon has crystallized making it into something akin to a diamond the size of the Earth.
The star was discovered by David Kaplan and colleagues using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank Telescope and Very Long Baseline Array. Other observatories were also used to make the discovery.
SpaceX has officially postponed the planned launch of its Falcon 9 rocket with six commercial satellites onboard marking the third time that the launch has been postponed. The launch was supposed to take place on Sunday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The six satellites aboard the Falcon 9 rocket are owned by Orbcomm Inc and are designed to provide messaging services around the world. SpaceX is a private firm owned and operated by Elon Musk, the same man who is head of EV maker Tesla.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency used the Boeing-led Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) System, which intercepted and destroyed a dummy target over the Pacific Ocean. Military researchers have big hopes of using the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), attached to the intercept booster, to help prevent ballistic missiles from hitting the mainland United States.
If the test was unsuccessful, the Pentagon would have likely reevaluated deploying more interceptors on the west coast - there are 30 of them in silos located in California and Alaska.
"The operational complexity of the GMD system is a major engineering challenge, but we have drawn upon our unmatched expertise to work toward today's successful intercept," said Norm Tew, Boeing VP and VMD program director, in a press statement. "This test enables us to continually modernize and improve the system, providing even greater capabilities to protect this country."
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will no longer be allowed to fly over U.S. national parks, with concerns of safety and noise complaints. The ban covers all 84 million acres of land the National Park Service manages, so visitors won't be able to fly their drones while visiting parks.
A visitor at the Grand Canyon National Park crashed into the canyon and disrupted park visitors observing a sunset. Later in the month, Zion National Park officials noted an unmanned aircraft frightened bighorn sheep at the park.
"We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care," said Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service Director, in a press statement. "however, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience."