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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 34

Iran reportedly sends Monkey into space, returns safely back to Earth

Iranian media outlets are reporting that Iran has successfully sent a monkey into space. Reports from the AFP state that the monkey made it to an altitude of 75 miles before returning back home safely inside a space capsule.

 

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"Iran successfully launched a capsule, codenamed Pishgam (Pioneer), containing a monkey and recovered the shipment on the ground intact," the defense ministry's aerospace department said in a statement. This is a major leap forward for Iran's space program and paves the way for its plans to send a manned mission to the moon.

 

This is not the first time Iran has sent living creatures into space; the country has previously launched a ten-foot research rocket carrying a mouse, two turtles and some worms. Today's news adds credence to its ongoing mission to send a human to space by 2020, and to have an astronaut on the moon by 2025.

NASA becomes a suspicious observer, discovers how our Sun stores and releases energy

NASA scientists are reporting that they've discovered the first clear evidence of energy transfer from our Sun's magnetic field to the solar atmosphere, or corona, a scientific theory that now has substantial backing.

 

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The new findings come courtesy of NASA's suborbital telescope, the High Resolution Coronal Imager, which has captured the highest ever resolution images of the solar corona to date, sporting five times the amount of detail than previous tools used to study our closest star. The telecope launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico back in July of last year, and has already put smiles on scientists' faces.

 

The telescope's 10-minute flight had it take 165 images of a large, active region of the Sun's corona. These images showed the evolution of the magnetic field, as well as the releases of energy at temperatures of between a mind-boggling two million and four million degrees. Hi-C principal investigator, Jonathan Cirtain, a heliophysicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, says:

 

Scientists have tried for decades to understand how the sun's dynamic atmosphere is heated to millions of degrees. Because of the level of solar activity, we were able to clearly focus on an active sunspot, and obtain some remarkable images. Seeing this for the first time is a major advance in understanding how our sun continuously generates the vast amount of energy needed to heat its atmosphere.

Continue reading 'NASA becomes a suspicious observer, discovers how our Sun stores and releases energy' (full post)

Star Trek-like 'tractor beam' has been created by scientists

Scientists have created a real-life 'tractor beam' which uses light to attract objects according to research published by Nature Photonics and led by the University of St Andrews. The researchers' hopes are it could eventually lead to medical applications where it would target and attract individual cells.

 

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To us mere mortals, a tractor beam is usually thought of along side Star Trek, where the beam was used to move much bigger objects. Back in 2011, researchers out of China and Hong Kong showed how it could've been done with laser beams of a specific shape, and we've also had NASA funding a study which looked into how the technique might be used to manipulate samples in space.

 

The new study lead researcher, Dr Tomas Cizmar, research fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, said while the technique is new, it has huge potential. He continues:

 

The practical applications could be very great, very exciting. The tractor beam is very selective in the properties of the particles it acts on, so you could pick up specific particles in a mixture. Eventually this could be used to separate white blood cells, for example.

Continue reading 'Star Trek-like 'tractor beam' has been created by scientists' (full post)

DNA used to store MP3 files, holds 2.2 petabytes per gram

Researchers out of the European Bioinformatics Institute are claiming to have successfully encoded 154 Shakespeare sonnets, as well as an MP3 of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and crammed it all into a single DNA strand. This information costs of around 739KB of data.

 

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Better yet, researchers were able to read those files again with 100% accuracy leading to the possibilities of eventually storing data within the strands of our DNA. With DNA being just chemical-based instruction manuals for developing highly complex organisms with a seemingly never ending variety of permutations. A researcher involved with the testing said:

 

We realized that DNA itself is a really efficient way of storing information. Over a second beer, we started to write on napkins and sketch out some details of how that might be made to work.

 

A single gram of DNA can is capable of storing an incredible 2.2 petabytes of information, with the paper claiming "We recovered 757,051 bytes of information from 337 pg of DNA (above), giving an information storage density of ~2.2 PB/g (= 757,051/337 x 10-12)".

Happy 9th birthday to NASA's Opportunity rover

We'd like to extend our warmest wishes to Opportunity for it's ninth birthday today. Opportunity originally landed on the Red Planet late January 24, 2004, three weeks after a twin rover named Spirit landed. Unfortunately, Opportunity is likely lonely as the twin rover stopped functioning in 2010.

 

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Curiosity can keep Opportunity company. Opportunity was originally only supposed to have a 90-day mission, so it has far exceeded that in the past nine years.

 

"No one could've imagined how good the exploration and scientific discovery would be for this vehicle, looking from the perspective of nine years ago," said John Callas, Opportunity's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's been a phenomenal accomplishment."

 

Thanks to Opportunity's long life, it's odometer is getting close to the record for most ground covered on the surface of another world. Currently, the Soviet's Lunokhod 2 holds the record with 23 miles traversed on the moon. Opportunity sits at 22.03 miles on its odometer. Here's to another nine years of life!

Listen to the sound of the sun, generated from data gathered by SOHO

Ever wonder what the sun sounds like? Well, you can now find out for sure thanks to Robert Alexander. He is a data sonification specialist, which basically means he turns numbers into sounds and music. "I think of myself as an explorer," Alexander says in the video below. "I live in the space between art and science and technology."

 

 

Alexander relied on data collected by SOHO, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory, to generate the music. Motherboard's Michael Byrne says, "He's rendered solar flares as a human choir, and turned the sun's rotation into a a tribal beat." He managed to detect a hum from the data, which cycled every 27 days, the same rotational period as the sun.

 

Take a look at the video and let us know what you think of it. It really does the best job of explaining it.

SpaceTT: Evidence of once water filled lake found on Mars, says NASA

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found evidence that the 57 mile wide, 1.4 mile deep McLaughlin Crator once was filled with water that flowed from an underground source.

 

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The evidence lies in the bottom of the crator where there are layered, flat rocks which contain carbonate and other minerals that form only in the presence of water. Small channels in the crator wall also resemble something you might find in a dried up lake bed here on Earth.

 

The findings were published in the latest edition of Nature Geoscience, and lend even more evidence that Mars could have once been a habitable planet. "This new report and others are continuing to reveal a more complex Mars than previously appreciated, with at least some areas more likely to reveal signs of ancient life than others," said Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Evidence of once water filled lake found on Mars, says NASA' (full post)

SpaceTT: NASA tests transmitting data with lasers by beaming Mona Lisa into space

A successful test of laser communication has just been complete by researchers at NASA according to Space.com. The agency tested laser transmission of data into space by beaming the Mona Lisa from earth to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter some 240,000 miles away.

 

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The LRO, which has been orbiting the moon since 2009, was chosen over other space craft because it was already fitted with laser communication gear. The image of the Mona Lisa was subdivided into 150 x 200 pixel segments and then beamed to the LRO from the Goddard Flight Center at a rate of about 300 bits per second.

 

"This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," said David Smith, a researcher working with the LRO's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter. "In the near future, this type of simple laser communication might serve as a backup for the radio communication that satellites use."

SpaceTT: NASA unveils 'BEAM', an inflatable habitat module for ISS

Earlier this week, I reported on NASA's plans to add an inflatable habitat module to the International Space Station. Today the space agency has released photos and a simulation animation on how the module will connect to the ISS.

 

Officially named the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM for short, the module will test expandable space habitat technology. While early reports showed the module as being quite large, the photo above is said to depict the actual size of the module that will fly into space.

 

 

BEAM is scheduled to launch on SpaceX's eighth cargo resupply mission to the ISS, which has been contracted by NASA for some time in 2015. As seen in the video above, astronauts will use the stations robotic arm to install the inflatable BEAM module and a two year test of the module will commence.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: NASA unveils 'BEAM', an inflatable habitat module for ISS' (full post)

SpaceTT: Astronomers discover largest objects in known universe

A multinational team of astronomers have discovered the largest objects in the known universe. In research led by the University of Central Lancashire, the team recently observed a large quasar group comprised of dozens of highly energetic "star-like" objects.

 

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Each object averages about 500 Megaparsecs, with the entire group being close to 1,200 Megaparsecs at its widest point. If that makes no sense to you, the distance between our Milky Way, and our closest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, is about 0.75 Megaparsecs. If this new object was within 100 light-years of Earth, it would dominate the entire night sky. For those who are curious, 1 Megaparsec equals 3,261,633.44 light years.

 

This discovery will have huge implications on the study of cosmology. Einstein's Cosmological Principal states that the universe looks the same regardless of the observation point when viewed at a large enough scale. If you combine this principal with modern theories, we shouldn't be able to find objects larger than 370Mpc. This new quasar group is not the first to question Einstein's theory either. Other smaller objects have been discovered that add weight to the challenge.

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