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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 18

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.

Scientists say after spending $10 billion: the universe doesn't exist

Just minutes after the Big Bang, scientists theorize that the universe blinked itself out of existence - that's the current, new theory, anyway. After spending $10 billion, decades of research and tests, and the world's largest particle accelerator, scientists theorize the universe itself doesn't exist, or that it shouldn't exist.

 

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One of the researchers said thanks to finding the Higgs Boson particle, it shows that the universe may have blinked out of existence moments after the Big Bang itself. This researcher continued: "This is an unacceptable prediction of the theory ... if this had happened, we wouldn't be around to discuss it!"

 

Australian astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy says: "I love this idea of bringing together two discoveries found at the biggest extremes of size you can imagine. From studying the Higgs Boson at tiny scales much smaller than an atom to (potentially) measuring Inflation by searching into the distant past of our enormous universe".

Continue reading 'Scientists say after spending $10 billion: the universe doesn't exist' (full post)

North Korea successfully test fires three short-range projectiles

The North Korean military successfully launched three short-range projectiles during a missile test, likely aimed at antagonizing political leaders in South Korea. It's not uncommon for North Korea to conduct military exercises off its eastern coast when it wants to raise political tensions and frustrate U.S. leaders.

 

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The projectiles flew an estimated 115 miles into the Sea of Japan, and South Korean officials are trying to determine what was fired.

 

"We are analyzing our data to try to figure out what type of projectiles they were and why the North fired them," said a South Korean official. "Our military has increased its monitoring activities in case the North should fire more projectiles."

Continue reading 'North Korea successfully test fires three short-range projectiles' (full post)

U.S. Navy wants Humvee-mounted anti-drone lasers ready for troop use

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) is interested in developing a Humvee-mounted anti-drone laser able to disrupt the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that might attack patrols. If successful, the Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move (GBAD) will help Marines on the ground, using hardware that can be placed on light-tactical vehicles.

 

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There is greater concern of enemies using UAVs to track and target Marines, so they are able to be more effective when launching attacks. The anti-drone laser system will be deployable on a Humvee or Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, after officers requested mobile directed-energy weapons that can eliminate threats.

 

"We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat," said Col. William Zamagni, ONR expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department head, in a statement. "GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces."

Curiosity rover finds evidence of ancient glaciers on Mars

NASA has been operating the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars for an entire Martian year, which is 687 Earth days. Curiosity is currently rolling across Gale crater and has found new evidence that millions of years ago the crater was covered by an icy glacier and liquid water. Glacial evidence shows that they were particularly prominent in areas around the central mound of Gale crater called Aeolis Mons.

 

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NASA has evidence that these glaciers exist thanks to images captured with the HiRISE and CTX cameras on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the HRSC on the Mars Express probe. Images for those spacecraft have revealed evidence of a concave basin and lobated structures along with moraines and fan-shaped deposits.

 

All of that evidence hints that glaciers once covered the area. The team of scientists say that the glacier on Mars was likely similar to one that is on Iceland today here on Earth, that glacier is called Breiðamerkurjökull. This evidence supports the theory that millions of years ago, Mars was a much colder and wetter environment.

MIT students to send three satellites to Mars in three years

Students from MIT and other universities are preparing to make a time capsule mission that will go much further than putting something in the ground on Earth to be dug up years later. These students will be sending three satellites to mars that will be packed with stuff having to do with life on Earth.

 

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The contents taken to the red planet by the satellites will include video, messages, voice recordings, and pictures. Students will encapsulate the content in CubeSats and the project will have the assistance of NASA and Explore Mars. Currently, the launch date for the project is set for 2017.

 

Executive director of Explore Mars Chris Carberry wants this project to spark curiosity of the public. He said: "Every member of this team wants to send humans to Mars one day, and this is one way to inspire the public. A group of students having the motivation to put together a viable mission like this and raise the funds themselves, that in itself is inspiring."

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