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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 30

Kickstarter-funded ARKYD space telescope reaches funding goal

Planetary Resources' Kickstarter goals for their ARKYD space telescope have been reached, a goal of a hefty $1 million. The project saw 11,000 backers, and should launch into orbit in 2015.

 

 

This means that a new round of add-ons for the extra-committed, oh goodie! Backers can purchase a special mission patch for $7, additional selfie photos starting from $25, and for the really committed, you can purchase a half-size ARKYD replica for just $600. Planetary Resources has longer term goals, which could see a second ground stations, selfies during the beta stage and even hunts for undiscovered planets.

Continue reading 'Kickstarter-funded ARKYD space telescope reaches funding goal' (full post)

Google's engineering director says humanity is close to achieving immortality

Google's engineering director, Ray Kurzweil, has come out with a crazy prediction - that the human race will soon develop the technology to keep us alive forever. CNBC reports that Kurzweil told the Global Future 2045 World Congress this week that life expectancies "will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now."

 

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Kurzweil added that within "probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress." This means that Kurzweil thinks within the next 20 years, technology will have reached a point to add more years to our lives than the pace we currently live at through natural ageing. I don't quite think we'll get there, with all of the government regulation and the idea that everything has to be about making money - and everyone not dying surely has to have some serious consequences.

 

If no one died, how would the economies of the world work exactly? If you could live for 5000 years, you'd live a much different life than you would now, wouldn't you? It really does make you think - what do you think about living forever?

Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test

I think mainstream science has been suppressed for a very long time now, and it's about time that we find out, as a human race, what the reality of our existence really is. The first steps in this, are reversing the mainstream points of science. It looks like NASA could do something good here, with their latest field test that could prove that there is a possibility of faster-than-light travel.

 

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Harold White and his team at NASA have been working on something called the Alcubierre Drive. This new method could use a solution which would see a craft placed within a space that is moving faster than the speed of light. This means that the craft itself isn't moving at the speed of light, meaning the craft itself doesn't need a propulsion system capable of travelling at that speed. This is where things get a little confusing, so grab your white lab coat and come on a walk with me.

 

The Alcubierre Drive is based on Einstein's field equations, which suggest that a spacecraft could indeed travel faster than the speed of light. But, instead of the craft itself pushing past the speed of light, it would do so by contracting space from in front of it, and expanding the space behind it - a nice trick. It's this type of science that I love reading about, and I think this is the future of space travel - thinking outside the box, which this kind of is.

Continue reading 'Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test' (full post)

Sharp achieves the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency with 44%

I've finally moved into a house with solar power and enjoying the benefits of our star for my power consumption, which is a lot. But Sharp Corporation have just achieved something of a milestone in that they've reached the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 44.4%.

 

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They achieved this by using a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell. These solar cells, in laymen's terms, use a lens-based concentrator system that focuses sunlight on the cells which in turn, generate electricity. Sharp's huge breakthrough is part of a research and development effort that are a part of the "R&D on Innovate Solar Cells" project which is promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

 

Hopefully this means we'll see a bright future for solar power, which I hope someday powers everything from our smartphones to buildings and houses. You can read some more detailed information at the source.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield to retire from the Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency Commander Chris Hadfield is undoubtably the poster child for not only NASA, but the Canadian Space Agency, as well as the International Space Station. He wowed us with his tweets from space as well as the plethora of videos he being back down to earth and hosted on YouTube, and now he is hanging up his space suit.

 

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Yesterday Commander Hadfield announced that he would be retiring from the CSA after a 21 year career. The commander of the first Canadian to take a spacewalk outside of any official spacecraft and he was also the first to take command of the ISS. He said that after his retirement he would continue to pursue new professional challenges.

 

 

Commander Hadfield brought social networking from space to a whole new dimension and I expect he will be most remembered for his cover of Space Oddity in which he took artistic liberty and change the lyrics to more fit a modern space station astronaut. From one space geek to another I wish you all the best Commander, and I hope that wherever you land you will once again rocket into the heavens and bring us along for the ride.

See all of Curiosity's work on Mars in just 1:06 in this time lapse video

The way NASA has marketed Curiosity has resulted in a soft spot in my heart for the Mars rover. This morning, Curiosity tweeted out a time lapse video of all her work over the last nine months. The video runs for just one minute, six seconds and is the work of Karl Sanford, a fan of Curiosity.

 

 

The pictures used for the time lapse video are from Curiosity's Front Hazard Avoidance Cameras and were obtained from NASA's Curiosity picture dump. Thankfully, NASA has provided all of this data for public use. Without that, this time lapse video wouldn't have been possible.

 

We want to hear your thoughts on Curiosity and the video embedded above. Should funding for NASA be increased to fund projects such as this? Let us know!

Continue reading 'See all of Curiosity's work on Mars in just 1:06 in this time lapse video' (full post)

ScienceTT: NASA looking to bring Star Trek replicator to life, funding 3D printer capable of printing food

"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" It's the classic line from TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain Picard walks up to the Replicator in his living quarters and orders a cup of tea. While some have likened that scene with the consumer level 3D printers of today, we are still unable to replicate food from thin air. NASA is looking to change that.

 

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With 3D printers growing cheaper and more popular by the day, it only makes sense for NASA to investigate the use of RepRap style 3D printers for making a hot slice of pizza, right? Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor received a $125,000 grant from the agency to build a prototype 3D printer with the aim of automating food creation.

 

 

The idea behind the project is to take a RepRap Mendel 3D printer and convert the extrusion head to print a mixture of "nutrients" that will form the basis of the food product you wish to eat. Contractor says the nutrient cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, making them stable enough for space travel. The project will begin with a proof of concept test where he will print chocolate and the plan is to ramp up from there.

Continue reading 'ScienceTT: NASA looking to bring Star Trek replicator to life, funding 3D printer capable of printing food' (full post)

SpaceTT: NASA releases chart displaying the driving distances of Mars and Moon craft

I often sit back and think about things man has accomplished in space. The one thing that I keep going back to is the fact that we have driven vehicles on both the Martian and Lunar surfaces. While this may not impress some, you need to consider that just 100 years ago more than half of the country still rode horses for transportation and more than that were still without electricity.

 

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This morning, NASA released a new infographic that details the distance we have driven vehicles and robots on the surfaces of Mars and the Moon. The Russian Lunokhod 2 holds the record at the moment with 37km of travel on the moon, while NASA's Opportunity Rover comes in a very close second, having driven 35.76km in Mars.

 

Apollo 17's Lunar Rover comes in a close third traveling 35.74km, while the Lunar Rover on Apollo 15 managed to go 27.8km. Rounding out the list is NASA's Curiosity which has managed to travel 0.7km in the months since landing. Holding the record for least distance traveled is the Sojourner Rover which barely moved 1 meter before flunking out.

Google and NASA team up to launch new Quantum supercomputer lab

This morning, Google announced that it has teamed up with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association to launch a new quantum supercomputer lab. Google sees quantum computing as offering a lot of potential in the areas of speech recognition and web searching, while NASA will most likely use the machine to crunch astrophysical equations.

 

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The team will be purchasing a D-Wave Two Quantum Computer with plans to house it in NASA research center in California. The D-Wave Two has a 512-qubit (that's quantum bit) processor and will offer more-than-zippy speeds at up to 11,000x faster than a standard Intel chip. "We believe quantum computing may help solve some of the most challenging computer science problems particularly in machine learning," said a post on Google's research blog.

SpaceTT: Serious malfunction shuts down NASA's Kepler Space Telescope

This morning we are waking up to the news that NASA's Kepler Space Telescope may have just came to an early end of mission due to a faulty piece of orientation hardware. The fault falls within one of the wheels that stabilize and help keep the spacecraft pointed in the right direction.

 

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When Kepler needs to be repositioned or stabilized for image capturing, three wheels are spun up to take advantage of centripetal force. Kepler needs three of its wheels running at all times to ensure a stable orientation. On Wednesday NASA officials announced that one of those three wheels had stopped functioning, which put the telescope into "safe mode."

 

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Unfortunately, unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler is far away from our reach and was not designed to be serviceable. Plus, with the shuttle program long gone, it's not like we would have a way to get to it anyway. "Kepler's not in a place where I can go up and rescue it, or any other astronaut," said John Grunsfeld, the head of science at NASA, and the man who is famous for repairing the Hubble.

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