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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 29

Google will invest $80 million in solar farms in California, Arizona

Google is pumping another $80 million into alternative energy projects, where it will partner up with solar developer, Recurrent Energy, and private equity firm KKR & Co. on the two projects.

 

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The $80 million will be used on six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona, with the sunlight being captured enough to generate power for more than 17,000 homes. Google said on its official blog: "You'd think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope -- we're still as into it as ever, which is why we're so pleased to announce our 14th investment."

Comet ISON is now bright enough to view with binoculars

Comet ISON may not be putting on the dazzling display we were promised repeatedly over the last year, but the chunk of space ice has made itself visible to the general public as of late. Anyone with binoculars of at least 10x50 power is now able to view ISON as it brightens to a magnitude of 8.

 

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ISON will continue to brighten as it approaches the Sun and comes within 730,000 miles of the solar surface. As it begins to make its way around the sun and back out into the far reaches of our solar system, ISON will become naked eye visible for a brief period in December, and will best be viewed just after sunset, and just before sunrise. Those wishing to see ISON now, can find the icey traveler with binoculars at the "nose" of the constellation of Leo.

Continue reading 'Comet ISON is now bright enough to view with binoculars' (full post)

Russia to open the Commercial Space Station hotel, in space, by 2016

I haven't traveled too much in my life, but if there's one place I'd love to visit it would be space, and it looks like it's becoming more of a reality each day, especially thanks to Russia.

 

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Orbital Technologies, a Russian company, has announced plans to build a hotel... in space. The hotel would be for commercial use, and is officially known as the Commercial Space Station, which will be capable of housing 7 guests throughout 4 cabins. The Commercial Space Station will float about the Earth at 350km, with guests enjoying the zero-gravity feel.

 

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There'll be no flowing water, so if you want to shower, you'll have to use wet wipes. What about going to the bathroom? Well, that will be carried through flowing air, with both water and air being filtered and recycled in the satellite itself, and then reused by the occupants of the hotel. There is a strict no-alcohol law on the space hotel, too.

Continue reading 'Russia to open the Commercial Space Station hotel, in space, by 2016' (full post)

India is on its way to Mars, would be the fourth to the red planet

Getting to Mars isn't easy, with countries like China failing so far, but now India ia having its turn, successfully launching the Mars Orbiter Mission, which is a satellite looking through the red planet's atmosphere for chemicals like methane.

 

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The spacecraft will take approximately 300 days to reach Mars, but it is doing so very cheaply, with a cost of just $72 million. The Mars Orbiter Missions team is saving money be using Earth's orbit to speed up the launch speed. We should hear more in the coming months of how the MOM is doing.

You thought solar power was good? How about power from the moon?

I have to admit, I rent a house that is solar-powered and it is amazing. My bills dropped from around $1600 per quarter to around $30 and I could not be any happier, unless I was pulling power from the moon.

 

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This is exactly what André Broessel, a European architect and engineer has built. A weatherproof harvesting system that can accept power from multiple light sources, including our moon. The liquid-filled glass sphere design not only looks great, but it is able to turn light into heat, meaning it can harvest the rays of our sun, and our moon.

 

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The sphere is made to me mounted on buildings individually, or in arrays, with a computerized control system taking control, tracking available illumination in the day, but it can also track the moon and harness its energy. I'd like one, now.

'Reverse microwaves' are coming, will cool drinks down in seconds

In a "why didn't I think of it first" we can expect the microwave industry to be completely turned on its head, with a next-generation microwave coming which will be a 'reverse-microwave' which will be capable of chilling down a drink in 45 seconds.

 

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The new reverse-microwave will be capable of chilling down soft drinks and wine bottles from room temperature to just four degrees in seconds. The device will cool drinks of all shapes and sizes to different temperatures without disturbing the contents of the drink itself, or the carbonation. The technology has been developed with the help of research funding from the European Union, which works with the help of a cooling vortex which spins the drink around.

 

This starts a stop-start rotational sequence which creates something known as a Rankine vortex, which is a collapsed vortex in a viscous fluid. The drink will be rotated quickly around twin axes in water which will keep the drink in its original state, all while cooling it down for your pleasure. V-Tex created the technology, where it has said that the process requires just 20% of the energy required by standard drink chillers.

US Army wants to move from fuel to solar power

The US Army's job of protecting fuel convoys is an important one, where it sees a casualty for every 24 missions in some years. Commanders have now found a way to save lives through energy conservation, moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy such as solar power.

 

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Richard Kidd, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army in charge of energy security, Richard Kidd, said: "there is no supply chain vulnerability, there are no commodity costs and there's a lower chance of disruption. A fuel tanker can be shot at and blown up. The sun's rays will still be there." The US Army is cutting down on fossil fuel use and moving toward renewable energy sources, where it will spend $7 billion buying electricity generated by solar, wind, geothermal and biomass projects over the next 30 years.

 

Another benefit, is that renewable energy projects in the US are mainly financed by third parties, meaning that a government shutdown won't affect the US Army's energy supplies or its members of the armed forces.

LeakedTT: AMD Hawaii R9 290X GPU specs, lick your lips, folks

aWe're all used to the naming scheme that AMD has adopted for its GPUs, with the current high-end single GPU being the Radeon HD 7970. This is all going to change with the next generation of GPUs from the chipmaker, and we have some leaked specifications to now share with you.

 

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The next-gen GPUs from AMD will adopt a new name, with the high-end GPU to arrive as the Hawaii R9 290X GPU. This GPU is set to be based off of AMD's second generation Graphics CoreNext architecture, based on a 28nm process and will go head-to-head with NVIDIA's best GPU, the GTX Titan. We should expect an estimated die area of 430 mm², which is 18% bigger than Tahiti.

 

On top of that, the R9 290X - this is going to get very confusing, but we'll get used to it soon enough - will feature 2,816 stream processors across 44 clusters of 64 stream processors each. This represents a 37.5% increase over its predecessor, Tahiti. Base clock speeds should float at around 900MHz, but we should see overclocked models that will pass this easily.

Continue reading 'LeakedTT: AMD Hawaii R9 290X GPU specs, lick your lips, folks' (full post)

SpaceTT: Saturn, Venus and the Moon to appear side by side tonight

Tonight will be one of the last nights that you will be able to catch a trio of heavenly bodies hanging out in the night sky in the same neighborhood. This evening's sky watchers in the northern hemisphere will be treated to Saturn, Venus, and the Crescent Moon all within a few degrees of each other.

 

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Tonight around 45 minutes after sunset, you will be able to look toward the southwestern sky and see the waxing crescent moon. To the lower right, you will see a very bright star which is actually the planet Venus. Above Venus, you will see another brightly lit star that will actually be the planet Saturn. The distance between the moon and Saturn will be roughly 5 degrees, which is equal to about half your fist or 3 fingers held at arm's length.

 

This will also be one of the last spectacular shows Saturn provides us for the year, because in just a few weeks, it will have dipped below the horizon and become visible to those in the southern hemisphere. For those of you with medium power binoculars or a telescope of at least 30-power, you would be able to view Saturn's rings tonight, even with it so close to the moon. I plan on taking out my telescope and imaging gear and getting a couple nice still shots of the trio. If you get any good shots, post them up in the comments and I will share them on our TweakTown Facebook Page.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Saturn, Venus and the Moon to appear side by side tonight' (full post)

Virgin Galactic could be ready for passenger trips in 2014

Last Thursday, Virgin Galactic's private spaceship flew higher and faster than it has ever before. This experience provided company officials the confidence they needed to announce that the vehicle is on track to start taking passengers on suborbital jaunts next year.

 

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This was the second time that Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has had a rocket-powered test flight, which took off on Thursday morning from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. SpaceShipTwo reached a maximum altitude of 65,000 feet, and hit a top speed of Mach 1.6, which is 1.6 times the speed of sound - or around 761 mph.

 

The first test flight saw SpaceShipTwo reach just 56,000 feet and a speed of just Mach 1.2, which took flight on April 29.

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