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NASA has announced that the Kepler spacecraft has discovered a new Earth-like planet orbiting a star much like our sun about 560 light years away from us. The new planet has been dubbed a mega-Earth by scientists studying it. That name comes from the fact that the scientists believe the planet is about 17 times heavier than the Earth.
The team originally expected the massive planet to be a gas giant rather than a rocky world. The planet orbits its star every 45 days. The official name for the planet is Kepler-10c. To determine the weight of the planet, the team used special instruments to measure its density and found it was much heavier than Earth.
If you have ever watched the slick show on TV called Cosmos that is hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or seen the memes online that feature his visage, you are familiar with the astrophysicist. Tyson has said that alien contact is the next frontier, but that contact may have already come and gone.
Tyson says that his greatest fear is that we have already been visited by extraterrestrials, but they chose to not make contact with us. He says that his fear is that they decided there is no intelligent life on Earth.
Researchers around the world are hard at work designing and building robots that can perform all sorts of tasks. One of the robots that these researchers are working on is the Raptor. The bot gets its name from the fact that it is modeled after the velociraptor dinosaur.
Raptor was designed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The both has two legs and a thirds appendage that is like a tail. During tests of the robot on a treadmill, it was able to achieve speeds of over 28 mph.
A rumor is making the rounds that internet giant Google is set to spend over $1 billion to purchase satellites that will be placed into orbit to provide broadband. According to people familiar with the project, Google will be using the low altitude satellites to bring internet access to portions of the country where wired broadband isn't available.
Sources claim that Google will start with 180 small, but high-capacity satellites that will orbit at lower altitudes than traditional satellites. The number of satellites could later be expanded. The satellites that Google will use are reportedly from a communications start-up called O3b Networks.
It's now possible for scientists to regrow actual teeth thanks to the efforts of a team of scientists. A Harvard-led team of researchers found that using a laser beam could trigger human dental stem cells, causing them to create dentin - the kind of tissue that's found underneath the enamel and makes up the majority of the average tooth.
It's historically been difficult to coax stem cells into this kind of specialized growth, according to Digital Trends. But this new technique has done the trick in a lab environment and with animal models. This laser method, outlined in the Science Translational Medicine journal, could even be used for different organic materials if development continues.
It's probably not time to throw out the Colgate just yet, but for now this is a promising step forward in the area of regenerative stem cell research.
Military researchers are helping develop millimeter-scale robotic leg structures to give U.S. soldiers on the battlefield a technological advantage that could save lives. Current robots typically require operating soldiers to lower their weapons, and are unable to traverse the same rough terrain that soldiers might find themselves in.
Researchers hope to use future systems available to autonomously enter and exit buildings, continuously send information to troops on the ground, and to conduct defense and surveillance activities.
"Think of it as a camera on wheels, where soldiers have a one or two-pound sensor that they can throw into a building to assess situational awareness," said Dr. Brett Piekarski, Army Research Laboratory's Micro and Nano Materials and Devices Branch chief. "The soldier controls it like a video game to complete the task."
A few days back we mentioned that NASA was working with a group of amateur scientists to get communications with a satellite that launched in 1978 back up and running. The satellite is called the ISEE-3 and NASA has announced that after all these years of no contact from the satellite, it has been contacted and is responding.
The satellite is responding to commands according to team members. The scientists said, "Our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth."
SpaceX has been ferrying supplies and other items to and from the ISS successfully for a long while now. The company has a commercial resupply contract with NASA. SpaceX also has plans to eventually send astronauts into space aboard a new version of the Dragon capsule dubbed the Dragon V2.
The Dragon V2 capsule was unveiled this week showing the SpaceX capsule that is designed to carry seven astronauts into space. The capsule will be able to bring humans to the ISS and return them to Earth. Once approved for use the Dragon V2 will eliminate the need for US astronauts to hitch a ride to the ISS on Russian Soyuz capsules.
Thanks to the joint efforts of MIT and NASA, the moon has now been equipped with an enviable 19mbps internet connection.
Yes, that moon. A satellite orbiting the extraterrestrial space rock is able to pick up a laser and then refocus it into optical fiber, before being converting this back into data. Four telescopes in New Mexico shone infrared light to the moon, but an engineering problem emerged in sending the signals uninterrupted by the Earth's atmosphere.
"Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometre distance spreading out the light beam," MIT Lincoln's Mark Stevens said. "It's doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light-causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver."
The result is an internet connection that somehow manages to trounce the average here on Earth - including in countries like Britain, according to the Mirror.
Robotics is a growing industry both for science and research and for hobbyists who want to build a robot in their own home. Intel has announced a 3D printed robotics kit that will be on the market by the end of the year. The consumer version of the kit will sell for $1600.
Those who want to build their bot from the ground up will also be able to get their hands-on the hardware reference designs allowing them to 3D print the basic parts and assemble the kit on their own. A kit with the parts for the bot that can't be 3D printed will go on sale at 21stCenturyRobot.com.