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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 11

North Korea launches more missiles, raising military tensions further

North Korean president Kim Jong-un's military has been busy as of late, with the country conducting another missile test. This time around, the country launched two missiles which landed in the Sea of Japan off its eastern coast, according to the South Korean government.

 

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The most recent missile test likely involved 30-millimeter shells fired with the country's multiple-rocket launchers. The projectiles have a maximum range of 110 miles, and don't violate UN resolutions that prohibit the country from developing ballistic missiles.

 

North Korea has conducted three missile tests in the past week, raising political tensions as Chinese president Xi Jinping heads to Seoul to discuss the current situation. China is a longtime North Korea ally, and is a major aid supplier to the impoverished country. The North Korean government offered this advice to China, which has growing ties to South Korea: "Don't forget us, don't sell us out."

Britain to pump millions into industrial robotics research

Britain's Technology Strategy Board is overseeing part of a 400 million pound investment into robotics, in what the plan's authors say could see the United Kingdom leading in robotic research.

 

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"Robots have often been positioned as a thing of the future, but today's strategy-launch emphasises the fact that they are very much of the here and now," Science Minister David Willets said. The Technology Strategy Board will invest cash into certain geographies like Bristol in England and Edinburgh in Scotland, which are already leading the charge in robotics. Any research will join existing technologies such as nuclear plant safety monitors and self driving cars, where the country is already excelling.

 

Experts told the BBC, however, that the UK is well behind other European nations in the use of industrial robotics. Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield said "it's a massive market" and that the country has "already slipped well behind," but added there's a ton of talent in British universities and a lot of potential for further development.

Armed drones keeping U.S. personnel safe in Iraq, US government says

U.S. military personnel on the ground in Iraq to help try to offer guidance to stabilize the country are being protected by armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Both manned and unmanned aircraft have been flying over Iraq, conducting a few dozen reconnaissance trips each day, and drones will now be armed as U.S. boots hit the ground.

 

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There are currently 90 military advisers and 90 intelligence analysis personnel in Iraq, with an additional 120 expected to arrive soon. To help keep the Americans safe, Predator drones with Hellfire missiles are patrolling the skies, in an effort to keep the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) from launching attacks.

 

"The reason that some of those aircraft are armed is primarily for force protection reasons now that we have introduced into the country some military advisers whose object will be to operate outside the confines of the embassy," said Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, Defense Department press secretary, during a press conference.

Danish, US donors to the rescue as UK faces sperm shortage

The United Kingdom is having to import sperm stocks from abroad due to a serious shortage of donors in Britain, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has warned.

 

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According to a report from the group, imports make up almost a quarter of donated samples in Britain. It's thought that native donations dropped considerably thanks to the dropping of a clause that would have offered total anonymity to donors in 2005. Back in '05, imports made up just one in ten samples in Britain.

 

The majority of these are from the United States and Denmark, with the latter country being home to the biggest sperm bank in the world. You can check out the official British government records here, should you want to for any reason.

Scientists create supercooling system to keep organs fresh for days

One of the big challenges when it comes to performing organ transplants is to keep the organ fresh during the trip from the donor to the recipient. If the two live in different part of the country or world, keeping those organs fresh and viable can be difficult. Scientists have devised a new supercooling method that has the potential to keep the organs fresh for days.

 

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Currently organs can only remain fresh and viable for less than 24 hours during transportation. Scientists have developed a new supercooling process that in lab tests has shown to be able to keep a rat liver fresh and viable for three days.

 

The supercooling technique reportedly connects the organ to a machine that perfuses it with nutrients and cools it so minus 6C. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the ability to share donated organs around the world.

NASA flying saucer ship completes successful test of the coast of Hawa

NASA has been testing out a new spacecraft that will eventually be used on missions to Mars called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator or LDSD. This spacecraft looks like a flying saucer and inflates something NASA calls a Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator that looks like a large doughnut, but is a pressure vessel that is designed to slow the spacecraft during the first stages of entry into the atmosphere of Mars.

 

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During the test, the spacecraft was lifted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai using a giant helium filled balloon. Once to an altitude of 36,500 meters, the spacecraft was release and pushed to 55,000 meters at a speed of Mach 4 using a solid fuel thruster.

 

The inflatable air bags were then deployed to slow the vehicle during decent to Mach 2.5. NASA says that the test went mostly well, but the Supersonic Disk Sail Parachute didn't deploy properly. The spacecraft was recovered along with all the data recorders and vehicle hardware from the waters off the Hawaiian coast.

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles to provoke rivals

Just days after launching three short-range missiles, North Korea followed up with an additional missile test. South Korean military officials believe two short-range Scud ballistic missiles were fired, and the country didn't designate no-sail zones during the launch.

 

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It's not uncommon for North Korea to launch missiles while snubbing Washington and Seoul, as political tensions in Asia continue to mount. The Scud-type missiles launched from Wonsan and flew more than 300 miles, where they landed harmlessly into the ocean, military specialists in South Korea said. It's difficult to determine the true capabilities of the North Korean military, as the country sometimes greatly exaggerates its successes.

 

The country also plans to indict two Americans currently held in North Korea for "hostile acts," pressuring Washington and Seoul even further. It's a delicate time in the Korean Peninsula - earlier in the year it looked like both sides were willing to openly discuss political tensions - but talks have cooled with Pyongyang and Seoul slinging mud at one another.

United States joins international treaty that bans landmine use

The United States is the latest country to put an end to purchasing and using anti-personnel landmines, with President Barack Obama pressured by other countries to join the international ban treaty. The global treaty includes the production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines, which reportedly kills 15,000 people each year - and most casualties are civilians.

 

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"Today at a review conference in Maputo, Mozambique, the United States took a step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future," said Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman.

 

However, the U.S. won't immediately get rid of all mines, but administration officials said the arsenal will be scaled down. The U.S. invests the most funds, $2.3 billion since 1993, to aid in global de-mining programs, and has shifted focus towards "smart" mines that will disable after a pre-programmed amount of time.

Continue reading 'United States joins international treaty that bans landmine use' (full post)

Scientists plan on breeding bald, heat-resistant chickens

The inevitability of intensifying global warming isn't just a problem for humans - it's a problem for the world's livestock too. Now, to make chickens a little less susceptible to the heat, one team of scientists has started research to breed poultry that are born bald.

 

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Carl Schmidt, a geneticist at the University of Delaware, is embarking on a mission to Uganda and Brazil, where chickens have naturally shed their feathers over the years, according to Gizmodo UK. Schmidt's worried about feeding the world by 2050, adding that it'll be made even worse "if the climate does continue to change."

 

"We're going to be seeing heat waves that are both hotter and longer," Schmidt said in an interview with Modern Farmer. "We need to learn how to mitigate the effect of climate change on animals - we need to figure out how to help them adapt to it." For now, Schmidt plans a programme of selective breeding rather than alterations to their core genetics. But as well as breeding a whole new race of heat-resistant super-chickens, Schmidt and the team are also investigating other elements of selective pressure. "We're isolating the genetic variants that have allowed them to survive," Schmidt said.

NASA Orion crew capsule successfully completes parachute test

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.

 

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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.

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