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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 18

$8 million unmanned research submersible lost near New Zealand

Over the weekend, a very expensive and important research submersible was lost off the coast of New Zealand. The research vessel was unmanned and was owned by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The sub is called the Nereus and a portion of it is believed to have imploded.

 

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The sub was working at a depth of 6.2 miles under the surface of the ocean. At that dept, the pressure on the outside of the submersible was 16000 pounds per square inch. The sub was built-in 2008 and was 30 days into a 40-day expedition of a deep ocean trench. The researchers controlling the sub lost contact with it eight hours into a planned nine-hour dive in the deepest part of the trench.

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Iran successfully copies the CIA's RQ-170 drone, test flights soon

Back in 2011, the Islamic Republic took down one of the United States' Lockheed Martin Sentinel RQ-170 drones, but between that event and now, Iran has been working on making a copy of the US spy drone, something the country just started showing off.

 

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Iran will be doing some test flights soon, according to officials at the IRGC's Aerospace Exhibition. Iran showcased its reverse-engineered drone next to the original US built on, with the exhibition seeing Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, state that the Iranian model sports an advanced system of data collection, video and radar telecommunications.

 

During a broadcast on Iranian TV, an officer said: "Our engineers succeeded in breaking the drone's secrets and copying them. It will soon take a test flight". When Khamenei looked at the drone, he said: "This drone is very important for reconnaissance missions". The United States used its Sentinel RQ-170 UAV during covert operations in Afghanistan from 2005-2007. It was used as it is one UAV that is hard to detect with long range radar thanks to its special stealth coating - making it visible from a distance of around 40km.

Continue reading 'Iran successfully copies the CIA's RQ-170 drone, test flights soon' (full post)

Self-healing plastic is capable of clotting like blood

Scott White from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been working on something quite incredible: a plastic that is lined with something similar to an artificial vascular system, just like the veins and arteries that see the blood flow through your body, that can repair for larger breaks.

 

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This new system features two different liquids, with the first containing long, thin molecules, and the other with three-sided molecules, in separate channels. Once these fluids mix, a reaction sees them joining together to create a scaffold, which forms a thick gel. Mixing in some other ingredients causes the gel to solidify over a few hours.

 

Once the plastic is fractured, the vascular system is damaged, with the two liquids pouring out. The liquids mix together, forming a restorative gel. This gel can fill a 4mm hole with 35mm of surrounding cracks within 20 minutes, hardening in a 3-hour span of time. The patch that is created is around 60% as strong as the original plastic, so we're not talking about a complete 100% strength, but this is an incredible feat nonetheless.

 

The researchers working on this new liquid have said that it is possible to create giant sheets of plastic with cross-crossing channels, which would see entire structures capable of recording from damage. One of the researchers, Jeff Moore, explained to New Scientist: "You pay the price for being able to repair this damage, but it is certainly one that nature has figured out how to tolerate. If you just look to things like bone or trees, they are all vascularised".

Scientists have created the first living thing with 'alien' DNA

"Alien" DNA has been created, with scientists creating the first organism using "alien" DNA. When it comes to normal DNA, which is found in the genes of every single organism, the twin strands of the double helix are bonded with each other with four bases - known as T, G, A, and C.

 

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This new organism adds two new bases, X and Y, which creates a new strand of DNA that has never occurred in the billions of years of Earth's evolution, or anywhere else in the universe. The created, "alien" DNA also reproduces normally, preserving the new DNA during its reproduction. This new breakthrough should pave the way for highly customized organisms, which include bacteria, animals and even humans.

 

This study was 15 years in the making, had scientists at the Scripps Research Institute working hard for over a decade, with their research published in Nature Today, with "A semi-synthetic organism with an expanded genetic alphabet". If you want to read more on the alien DNA, check out the source here.

NASA considers sending greenhouse to Red Planet in 2021

As NASA and other space programs ramp up Mars research, the U.S. space agency is interested in creating a plant-growth experiment in mid-2020. As part of the Mars Plant Experiment (MPX) project, it could be an important step towards potential manned missions and colonization endeavors.

 

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"In order to do a long-term, sustainable base on Mars, you would want to be able to establish that plants can at least grow on Mars," said Heather Smith, MPX deputy principal investigator, in a statement. "This would be the first step in that... we just send the seeds there and watch them grow."

 

MPX would focus more on being a self-contained project, rather than trying to plant seeds in the Martian dirt. The rover would provide water and researchers will check back within 15 days to see if the greenhouse project is successful.

NASA is looking for a new way to kill bacteria

NASA takes a lot of time to kill bacteria and other contaminants on spacecraft that it sends into space. It's particularly important to kill off any bacteria that might be on a spacecraft that will land on the surface of another planet to prevent contamination. The problem NASA is having is that some of the bacteria on spacecraft are nearly impossible to kill.

 

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In fact, some have proven so resilient that NASA is looking for new ways to kill bacteria on future spacecraft. Some of those bacterial spores can survive space and NASA fears that it might be sending life out into space away from Earth. This poses problems for future missions that may send probes to other world's.

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You can now watch a livestream broadcast of the Earth from the ISS

On April 18, 2014, the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment was launched. HDEV was launched in the "trunk" of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that has been setup outside of the International Space Station (ISS).

 

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There are four commercial HD video cameras on-board, which were installed on the External Payload Facility of the ESA Columbus module a few days ago. The cameras and electronics require a pressurized box in order to protect them from the dark beyond that is space. Anyone can connect to this and watch a livestream of Earth from UStream, something you can do here.

 

There will be moments of blackness when the ISS is in orbital night, which happens every 90 minutes, and lasts for around 40 minutes. Downtime is something that happens too, but this could be due to early problems of the new setup. The biggest point here is that it is all part of a student project, and not the government or NASA doing this - many years ago.

NASA shows off Buzz Lightyear-like Z-2 spacesuit

NASA has been working on the spacesuit of the future in an effort to design a suit that is easier for astronauts to work with in the harsh environment of space. NASA recently announced the winner of its space suit design challenge and an external layer called "Technology" will be added to the Z-2 space suit in the future.

 

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That "Technology" layer uses some cool tech with glow in the dark patterns and electroluminescent wiring. That spacesuit tech took the top spot in the competition grabbing about 63% of all votes cast, or about 147,000 votes.

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Elon Musk confirms Falcon 9 achieve soft touchdown, but lost to storm

Today, SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk, announced that the company's Falcon 9 rocket's boost stage had successfully achieved a soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean, a major milestone for private spaceflight. This milestone will enable SpaceX to reuse the fuel container as well as some rocket parts which will save the company millions and allow for quicker turnaround times between launches.

 

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Unfortunately, Musk said that while the soft landing was successful, the boost stage was lost to the depths of the Atlantic due to a stormfront that caused very rough seas. Musk said that based on the data that was received during the lading, the Falcon 9's landing legs did infact deploy and the rocket stood vertical in the ocean for several seconds before the storm causing it to sink. SpaceX did confirm that they have video footage of the landing, and will post it on their website once internal analysis and editing have finished.

German scientists have frozen light for a record-breaking 60 seconds

If you had told scientists 100 years ago that we would be freezing light, they would be astounded - how would you have done it? Well, German scientists have done just that: frozen light for a record-breaking 60 seconds.

 

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Why would you want to freeze light? For one, to make sure that it stays in place to ensure that it keeps its quantum coherence properties - to make it possible to build light-based quantum memory. This means that the longer light can be held in place, the better it is for computation. This would pave the way for more secure quantum communications, over longer distances.

 

Holding light is no easy task however, as you can't just call in Mr Freeze and ask him to say "Stick Around". Light is an electromagnetic radiation that moves at an incredible 300 million meters per second. On top of that, over 60 seconds, light can travel around 11 million miles (or 18 million km), or 20 round trips to the Moon.

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