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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 37

Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean

From the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, significant pieces of Saturn V's rocket engines have been recovered. What makes this a big announcement is the fact they've been there for over 40 years, and recovered thanks to a privately-funded expedition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.


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Bezos explained the site of the discovery three miles below the surface, more than 400 miles from Florida's east cost as "an underwater wonderland, an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo programme." The Amazon founder announced over a year ago that they had located the engine pieces that took man to the moon in 1969.


After three weeks abord a recovery vessel named 'Seabed Worker', Bezos and his team are on their way back to Cape Canaveral with their pieces of the Saturn V rocket engines. Bezos said in a statement on the expedition website: "We're bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult. We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous."

Continue reading 'Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean' (full post)

SpaceX's Merlin rocket engine approved for use

Space enthusiasts get excited: SpaceX's new Merlin rocket engine has been approved for use. Gaining this qualification wasn't easy. The Merlin rocket engine was subjected to a total of 28 tests amounting to 1,970 seconds of total test time. SpaceX has said that this amounts to 10 full missions of use.


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The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program. With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9's Flight 6 this year.


The Merlin will see its first use launching a weather and communications satellite into low-Earth orbit. After that, Merlin will be used to launch a satellite into geosynchronous orbit. The Merlin engine has been in development for about two years.

New under-skin implant beams back blood test data to your smartphone

Researchers just released information on a new half-inch long medical sensor that is implanted under the skin, and can send data back to your smartphone via Bluetooth. This technology will greatly benefit those who have to test their blood on a regular basis like diabetes and cancer patients.


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The device is capable of streaming back information on things like blood glucose levels, monitoring cholesterol and even predict heart attacks before they occur by sensing minute changes in blood chemistry. The sensor is also able to aid in the treatment of cancer patients by monitoring chemotherapy treatments using five built in sensors.



The device has already been successfully tested on animals, and researchers are hoping to begin human trials soon. The first patients to trial the device will be those whose treatment requires a large amount of blood testing to be done. As someone who has some blood sugar issues, I would love to be able to test my glucose levels without having to stick my finger ever again.

More details on Raspberry Pi's camera module surface, still aiming for $25 and up to 2592x1944 stills

Since its release, the Raspberry Pi has been changing the DIY landscape much like the Arduino did in 2009-2011. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been hard at work developing the most anticipated add-on module it has developed to date, the camera module.


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Today Raspberry Pi released a blog post detailing how the upcoming $25 camera module was created, and in that document we learn some interesting information about the camera. A fixed focus 5MP sensor capable of 2592x1944 stills, but also 1080p30, 720p60 and 640x480p60/90 video is featured. The lens is fixes so that means no auto focus will be present.


The camera will connect to the Raspberry Pi via two connections. I2C will handle the basic functions like start, stop, change resolution, and adjust exposure time. The much higher bandwidth CSI bus will handle the pixel data from the sensor back to the processor.


Each pixel produced are 10 bits wide compared to the 8-bit pixels you are used to seeing with standard JPGs. Raspberry Pi configured things this way so that they can adjust parts of the dynamic range, which will reduce "gaps" that cause banding in images. In the blog post, the foundation said that they are very close to releasing the camera module now and that the $25 price point is still there.

Continue reading 'More details on Raspberry Pi's camera module surface, still aiming for $25 and up to 2592x1944 stills' (full post)

3D-printed guns are on their way, Defense Distributed receives federal firearms license to manufacture them

Defense Distributed has received a federal firearms license, with company head Cody Wilson announcing this would allow his company to manufacture and sell the group's guns. The news comes from Defense Distributed's Facebook page, where they uploaded a photo of the license with a note saying "The work begins!"


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Wilson has said that the Type 7 license he received will allow him the same rights as other manufacturers, where he adds: "I can sell some of the pieces that we've been making. I can do firearms transactions and transport." Wilson will be required to, of course, keep records on what his company makes and sells, but he doesn't have plans to sell anything until he receives a supplemental license to make a broader range of firearms.


Defense Distributed seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to 3D-printed gun companies, successfully testing 3D-printed rifle lowers and high-capacity magazines.

SpaceTT: Comet Pan-STARRS shows off in brilliant fashion in the March skies

Last week I reported on a comet that was set to make an appearance in our twilight skies and even though it has dimmed past naked eye visibility, those with binoculars, telescopes and DSLR's can still view the spectacular Comet Pan-STARRS. Astronomers, astrophotographers and photographers across the US have captured some stunning images during it's week long visit and I want to share them with you.


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First up is an image taken from Sumter, South Carolina by my good friend and fellow astrophotographer Hap Griffin (source #1). He captured the image which includes Pan-STARRS and the crescent moon in a single frame as they set behind a tree line near his home.


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Up next is a breath-taking shot of Pan-STARRS that was taken by photographer Chris Cook (source #2) at First Encounter Beach, Massachusetts. The shot features Cook and his son standing on a hill gazing in wonderment at such a beautiful scene.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Comet Pan-STARRS shows off in brilliant fashion in the March skies' (full post)

CERN researchers confirm they have found the "God" Higgs boson particle

Scientist at the CERN research facility in Switzerland announced recently that they are "certain" that they have found the so-called "God Particle" known as the Higgs boson.


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For years now scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been using the Large Hadron Collider to accelerate atoms to near the speed of light just for the purpose of smashing them together in hopes of seeing the elusive Higgs boson particle.


This week at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the scientists say that have their proof - or at least part of it:


"The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is."


This means that we have not only discovered the long theorized Higgs boson, but we have discovered that more than one type exists. One spokesperson said the particle they found has the "spin parity" of a "Standard Model Higgs boson", and that further tests will be needed to verify if that is indeed the case.

NASA confirms Mars was once able to support life

In the on-going news surrounding America's favorite space rover, NASA has confirmed that Mars was once suitable for life. These results come from the successful drilling of a rock by the Curiosity rover and subsequent analysis of the powdered rock.


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John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist:

We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that, if this water had been around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.


The rock contained sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. All of these elements are key to life and show that Mars could have once supported life.


David Blake, principal investigator for Curiosity's CheMin instrument:

I think this is probably the only definitively habitable environment [outside of Earth] that we have described and recorded


Previous results from the Opportunity rover, which was located on a different portion of Mars, found that the previous aqueous environment was extremely acidic and not suitable for life. With these results, it becomes even more likely and possible that extra-terrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe.


How do you feel about these results?

SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket takes off and lands safely

SpaceX is working on pioneering the exploration of the next frontier: Space. The private company has already had huge successes, winning the contract to deliver payloads to the International Space Station aboard its rockets. Now the company is working on developing a reusable Grasshopper rocket. You can see the latest test below:



It's not clear when SpaceX will make use of this rocket, as it comes with a somewhat peculiar design. The rocket is designed to take off and land vertically on its metal legs. The rocket has been undergoing testing since September 2012 and this latest test saw the rocket climb to 262.8 feet and hover before landing.


The 100-foot-tall rocket has a good distance to go before making it to space, but it seems to be well on its way. "The US is a country of explorers. People need to believe that [space travel] is not going to bankrupt them," stated Musk at his SXSWi keynote.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: SpaceX's Grasshopper rocket takes off and lands safely' (full post)

Arduino unveils GSM Shield that includes SIM card and global data tariff

Whether you like Arduino or not, you have to admit that the small Italian company founded my Massimo Banzi has truly revolutionized the way the DIY world does things. Today Arduino released its next official product, the GSM Shield.



Arduino has paved the way for things such as cheap, easy to use development boards, all the way to DIY gaming controllers, and now they are looking to truly connect the internet of things wherever you may be. The GSM Shield partnered up with Telefonica Digital to "design a tool that is greatly simplifying the process of building Internet of Things applications based on the GSM mobile phone network".


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The GSM Shield also includes a Telefonica SIM card that includes a worldwide data tariff which can be used anywhere there is a cellular signal. Features include the ability to have the Arduino send an SMS message when a sensor or data set reaches a specific threshold, or even send and receive voice calls directly to your Arduino based project.


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