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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 39

China to launch manned mission spaceship in June 2013

It looks like China is taking off to the stars next year, with a new manned space mission locked in for June 2013. A senior official in charge of the manned space programme has said that the three-person crew would consist of two men and one woman, reports the BBC.

 

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China is the third country to independently send a person into space, second only after Russia and the United States. The new plan follows the flight of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which returned to Earth in late-June. The Shenzhou 9 was part of China's first manual space docking mission, which was a huge milestone in China's ambitious space programme.

 

The mission also saw another milestone: carrying China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang. Next year's mission could happen as early as June, but there are back-up launch windows slotted in for both July and August, according to Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the manned space programme.

Continue reading 'China to launch manned mission spaceship in June 2013' (full post)

Tokelau islands can now solely rely on solar power

Solar panels are slowing oozing their way across the world, being slapped onto peoples' houses to power their houses. But, some panels don't have enough tech inside to completely power your house from the sunlight captured.

 

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Well, research and development into new methods of capturing sunlight on solar panels is an ongoing thing, with the New Zealand territory of Tokelau being a great example. Tokelau is a group of three islands in the South Pacific which now has enough solar panel installations to completely meet their electrical needs.

 

Just recently, the islands relied on importing diesel fuel to power electrical generators, but as the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murry McCully has said, this has huge economic and environmental costs. The project was funded by the New Zealand government to the tune of $7 million, with a collection of solar panels installed on each of the three islands.

Continue reading 'Tokelau islands can now solely rely on solar power' (full post)

Boeing test out CHAMPS, a microwave missile capable of disabling electricity to multiple targets

Better slap that tin foil hat not only on yourself, but any electrically-powered devices you may own, which would be a lot because Boeing are working on something that could take them all out in a single shot.

 

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Boeing are working on a newly tested Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) that its missile can slams targets underneath with microwaves that can take down computers, power systems and pretty much anything electrical.

 

CHAMP can deliver a payload that is invisible, and the prototype is currently capable of targeting multiple individual buildings all without detonating anything, or hurting civilians with it's "blast". Boeing will develop CHAMP in a multi-year program, and currently has no guarantees this will end up as a product for the military's use. Imagine what these things could do if they were reverse-engineered. Worse, imagine what they could do if they were hacked.

Graphene could soon be used for flexible, ultra-thin devices

We all want thinner devices, but how about flexible? It's all an inevitability, but what materials would be used to deliver such devices to the masses? Well, it looks like graphene, a carbon-based material, could be the answer.

 

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The American Chemical Society, graphene is a "wonder material", which is 100 times stronger than steel and if stretched out thin enough, a single ounce of the material could cover 28 football fields. The ACS have said that the material is currently under development for use in solar panels "that could be used to cover the outside surface of a building, in addition to the roof".

 

As soon as these solar panels start getting bolted to buildings and houses, the next step would be smart devices. The ACS explains:

 

Touch screens made with graphene as their conductive element could be printed on thin plastic instead of glass, so they would be light and flexible, which could make cell phones as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into a pocket. Because of graphene's incredible strength, these cell phones would be nearly unbreakable.

Physicists could prove that we live in a computer simulation, probably without sunglasses, leather and slow-mo

When The Matrix came out in 1999, so many people walked out thinking "are we living in a computer program?" and it looks like physicists are thinking outside the square when it comes to our origins.

 

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Nick Bostrom has hypothesized that the existence of our race could end up being nothing more than the algorithmic results of a computer simulation. It may sound a little nuts, but it sounds no less crazy than some theories given to use by not science and religion.

 

The best bit of this is that researchers have reached the point where they have a way that they can test this thought experiment. A team of scientists out of the University of Bonn in Germany suggest that even the most powerful Universe simulation would be subject to certain limitations of its host Universe.

Continue reading 'Physicists could prove that we live in a computer simulation, probably without sunglasses, leather and slow-mo' (full post)

Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier skydiving from space

Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to reach a truly special milestone: skydiving from the edge of our planet toward the ground faster than the speed of sound. Baumgartner reached a top speed of 833.9mph (1342km/h).

 

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Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, spent two hours travelling up in a balloon to reach dizzying heights of 128,100 feet, (24 miles or 39km). After which he jumped out of his capsule, and spend four minutes in complete freefall, all in a pressurized spacesuit. This gave Baumgartner a world record for the highest ever freefall.

 

Once he hit the ground, he took a few steps and dropped to his knees, raising his hands in absolute triumph. Baumgartner said to the media just after his record-breaking skydive:

 

Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive.

Continue reading 'Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier skydiving from space' (full post)

New laser is being constructed, would be powerful enough to tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself

Well, this is interesting - the European Commission has approved the construction of three new huge research lasers, leaving the door open on a fourth that would, for a tiny instant, be several hundred times more powerful than the entirety of the power generated by the human race.

 

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Yes, that is very, very powerful. The scientists hope to actually create virtual particules from absolutely nothing. The fourth laser when at peak power in Europe's Extreme Light Infrastructure project (ELI) would combine a total of ten beams into a single pulse at 200 petawatts. The entire Earth doesn't even generate that much power at any one moment, and if we're talking scale, it is more total power than the Earth receives from our star, the sun.

 

This is not the type of laser that stays on continuously, and will only use this mammoth amount of power for just 1.5 x 10^-14 second .This is the same time that "it takes for light to travel from one side of a human hair to the other, if you shave your hair down by 90%", reports Dvice.

Continue reading 'New laser is being constructed, would be powerful enough to tear apart the vacuum of space-time itself' (full post)

Curiosity Rover may be hurt, JPL scientists see something metallic in a picture

In one of the pictures that Curiosity has taken and sent back to Earth, the JPL scientists spotted something that looks metallic in the sand below Curiosity. Now there are fears that our little Mars rover may be injured. Take a look in the picture and let me know if you can spot what the engineers did:

 

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Neither could I. The small speck of something is located towards the bottom of the image and engineers fear that it could be a part of Curiosity that fell off. They have now ordered Curiosity to take more pictures of the object and area so that they can determine if it is a part of Curiosity.

 

If it is, they should be able to determine what part of Curiosity it is and what affect this may have on the mission. Currently Curiosity has spent 65 days of the planned 668 day mission on the red planet. This means it's already 10 percent done. Let's just hope that this possible injury turns out to be nothing serious.

The first year-long mission on the International Space Station is set to happen in 2015 with Russian and American astronauts

Something I don't think I could ever do without half pissing my pants would be to spend twelve months up on the International Space Station (ISS). At the moment, there's an enforced six-month maximum stay on the ISS, but all this changes in 2015.

 

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In 2015, the maximum stay will increase to twelve months, where one Russian and one American will spend an entire year on the ISS. The mission is to help collect more data to help us work out a way of completing deep space travel.

 

There's already been plenty of data collected, mainly about the effects microgravity has on the human body, but because of the six-month only stays, there's not much information on long-term implications on the human body. Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager says:

 

In order for us to eventually move beyond low Earth orbit, we need to better understand how humans adapt to long-term spaceflight. The space station serves as a vital scientific resource for teaching us those lessons, and this yearlong expedition aboard the complex will help us move closer to those journeys.

Researchers design algorithms that could see lithium-ion batteries charge twice as quick as they do now

I'll take this technology yesterday, thanks - researchers out of the University of California San Diego are working on new algorithms that would see a reduction of 50% in charging times for lithium-ion-based batteries.

 

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Not only that, but we would be seeing cells run more efficiently, and could also slice production costs by 25%. Instead of tracking battery behavior and health with traditional methods of monitoring current and voltage, the team's mathematical estimate where lithium ions are within cells for more precise data.

 

With this new info in hand, the team were able to more precisely gauge battery longevity and control charging efficiency. The team were awarded $460,000 from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E research arm, where they'll use the new injection of cash to help develop the technology, as well as technology with automotive firm Bosch and battery manufacturer Cobasys, who both received the remainder of the $9.6 million grant.

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