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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 18

Detailed Moon analysis determines it to be slightly lemon-shaped

There has been a bit of debate over the years amongst scientists and astronomers on how exactly the Moon was formed. A detailed study of the shape of the moon has revealed some new details on its shape, which in turn shed a bit of light on how the moon may have formed.

 

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When you look at the night sky, the moon appears to be a sphere. However, the analysis of the shape of the moon shows that it is actually slightly lemon-shaped. This study looked at the Moon as it would be if millions of meteorites hadn't hit the surface and knocked chunks off it.

 

"If you imagine spinning a water balloon, it will start to flatten at the poles and bulge at the equator," Ian Garrick-Bethell said. "On top of that you have tides due to the gravitational pull of the Earth, and that creates sort of a lemon shape with the long axis of the lemon pointing at the Earth."

 

"The moon that faced us a long time ago has shifted, so we're no longer looking at the primordial face of the moon," Garrick-Bethell said. "Changes in the mass distribution shifted the orientation of the moon. The craters removed some mass, and there were also internal changes, probably related to when the moon became volcanically active."

Scientists discover origin of 18th century wood ship under WTC

One of the big mysteries that remained after the September 11 attacks was an old wooden ship that was discovered under where the towers once stood during clean up. While excavating the site, a wooden ship was discovered in the earth leaving scientists to wonder where the ship came from and what it was doing there.

 

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Scientists have used tree rings in the lumber used to build the ship to learn something about where it came from and when it was built. The rings in the lumber reveal that the trees matched other lumber that was cut down about 280 years ago near Philadelphia. The researchers believe the wood was harvested in 1773 and was cut down somewhere around the time of the Boston Tea Party.

 

The rings in the lumber help the scientists pinpoint its year and location of origin while providing a bit of history about the climate in the area where it was harvested. The ship is believed to have been constructed by a small shipyard, because details in the design of the ship are unlike those used by larger shipyards. The ship is believed to have been retired in the city, coved by garbage and landfill, and then the Twin Towers were built over it.

Scientists measure record waves in Arctic Ocean that may break up ice

Historically much of the Arctic Ocean is covered in ice, even in the summer. Scientists say with global warming that ice pack is starting to melt. Arctic Sea ice faces another way that ice may break up and melt faster, massive waves.

 

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Typically, with ice covering the surface of the ocean, waves aren't recorded. Scientists have recently measured record setting waves in the Arctic Ocean. Sensors under the water that communicate via satellite have recorded swells in the Arctic Ocean of around 16-feet high.

 

The largest wave measured was 29-feet high. The scientists say these massive and uncommon waves could break ice up and make it melt faster than it would from global warming alone. These waves were measured in a part of the Arctic Ocean near Alaska called the Beaufort Sea.

An artificial leaf could be the future of space travel

Space travel has a variety of restrictions, especially when it comes to humans making that trip across the sea of stars. Humans rely on oxygen to live, and so do other things like trees and plants.

 

 

Julian Melchiorri, a graduate from the Royal College of Art, has created the very first man-made, biologically functional leaf that is capable of taking in carbon dioxide, water, and light and releases oxygen. This leaf features chloroplasts, which are the part of a plant cell where photosynthesis happens, suspended in body made of silk protein.

 

Melchiorri explains: "This material has an amazing property of stabilizing (the chloroplast) organelles. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does". Most can see the potentials of this for space travel, but it has big potential here on Earth, too. We could see front of buildings and lampshades made from the material, where it would exhale fresh air with just a thin coating of this new leaf material.

Continue reading 'An artificial leaf could be the future of space travel' (full post)

Prepare yourself for the next-generation of water balloon fights

As a kid, I spent countless hours in the battlefield that was water balloon fights, but filling up those little balloons and tying them up took so much valuable time, but not anymore! Tinnuss Enterprises' Bunch O Balloons looks to revolutionize water balloon fights, and has taken to Kickstarter to fund its device.

 

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The company has raised over $690,000 from Kickstarter, and considering it only asked for $10,000 - this might end up being one of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time. The idea behind Bunch O Balloons is to fill as many balloons as possible, in the shortest amount of time. The device is capable of both filling, and typing up a crazy 100 water balloons per minute.

 

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The Bunch O Balloons can fill 37 balloons up simultaneously, meaning that no party will be without water balloons. If you want one of these awesome Bunch O Balloons, you can pledge for the $17 version, which ships in September... of 2015. Most of the other packages are gone, but this isn't surprising. Now I'm off to pledge some money, as my daughter will be four years old by the time I get this, and she's going to love it.

NASA Opportunity rover sets record for longest off-Earth driving

NASA has several spacecraft and rovers on and around Mars performing scientific studies of the Red Planet. The Opportunity rover has been on the surface of Mars since 2004 and recently set a record. Opportunity has set a record for the longest distance ever driven off the Earth.

 

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Opportunity has been on the surface of the Red Planet for a decade and has driven 25 miles. The previous record for the most miles driven off-Earth was held by the Soviet Union Lunokhod 2. The record was grabbed on July 27 as Opportunity drove 157 feet to reach 25.01 miles on the odometer.

 

If the rover continues to operate, it will reach its next major investigation site mission called Marathon Valley. Scientists want to study this area because they believe clay minerals are exposed close together at the site.

Cassini discovers 101 distinct geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus

One of the bodies in our solar system that is under investigation by NASA is Saturn and its moons using the Cassini spacecraft. Cassini has been studying the icy Saturn moon called Enceladus and so far, it has discovered 101 active geysers on the surface of the icy world. The interesting thing about this discovery is that liquid water is believed to be reaching the surface of the planet from an underground sea.

 

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Cassini has been eyeing the southern polar terrain for nearly seven years as scientists have studied the tiger stripe fractures in the area on the surface of the moon. These geysers and the large fractures were discovered on the moon years ago.

 

Scientists believe that the geysers and liquid water believed to be under the surface of the moon are caused by the repeated flexing of Enceladus by the gravitational forces of Saturn as the moon orbits the planet. Another theory was that there may be a back and forth rubbing action cause by friction of opposing walls that turns ice into the geysers. Cassini has now proven that the geysers coincide with small-scale hot spots that are only a few dozen feet across and are too small to be caused by frictional heating leaving gravitational forces as the cause for the liquid water and hot spots.

Desktop solar panel production 3D prints a solar panel in 15 seconds

Two inventors based in the Philippines have made something that should open up the world's eyes, with a homemade solar panel production factory. The system they use is small enough to fit on a desktop, and is capable of making between 300,000 and 1 million solar panels every year - with one solar panel made every 15 seconds.

 

 

By reducing the labor intensive process, which sits at around 50% of the total cost, the machine can radically reduce the amount it costs to make solar panels. The pocket-sized solar panel producer could change the way the world looks at electricity, and solar power. A homemade solar panel can reduce the requirement for power outlets in the home, the same power outlets that power your smartphones, computers, lights, and more.

 

 

The duo took to Kickstarter to fund their venture, with the funds required pledged very quickly. The two men are now raising additional funds to redesign the CNC laser cutter that will arrive with open source technology. They plan to power the solar power maker using solar panels, with the product receiving continuous improvements, and with it being open source, the community can help out with the product.

Continue reading 'Desktop solar panel production 3D prints a solar panel in 15 seconds' (full post)

Russian space agency regains control of sex gecko satellite Foton-M4

Russia has regained control of a space satellite containing five geckos, which are the subjects of an experimental study examining how weightlessness impacts their sex lives.

 

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It was previously feared that Russian space agency Roscosmos' Foton-M4 satellite could crash to earth, bringing down the geckos with it, if control was not reasserted. It stopped responding to commands in mid-July, and specialists were quickly put to task to restore communications. The gecko sex satellite operated on autopilot in the meantime.

 

Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported at the time that the satellite was perfectly safe, but did not comment on the safety of the geckos but it seems they're alive and well. Now that control has been regained the satellite will continue to observe the geckos, along with other items for separate experiments like mushrooms and plant seeds.

Excavation of Ice Age sinkhole packed with fossils starts next week

Scientists are set to begin excavations at a sinkhole in Wyoming that holds the fossilized remains of some animals that lived during the Ice Age. The cavern holds the skeletons of mammoths and dire wolves that are said to be preserved in unusually good condition.

 

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This excavation will mark the first exploration of Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming since it was discovered in the 1970's. The cavern is 85-feet deep and formed a natural repository for fossil records dating back 100,000 years.

 

The cave was formed when the limestone bedrock at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains collapsed. Over the years, thousands of animals fell into the 15-foot wide mouth of the cave that would have been concealed by vegetation. The cave is 120-feet wide at the base and is cold and damp helping to preserve the fossils.

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