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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 33

Curiosity will be out of touch with Earth for next four weeks

NASA has said that they will not be sending any commands to the Curiosity rover for the next four weeks due to the alignment of Mars, the sun, and Earth. Their fear is that the sun could corrupt commands sent to Curiosity and result in unexpected behavior or damage system components.

 

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The [communications] moratorium is a precaution against possible interference by the sun corrupting a command sent to the rover.

 

Curiosity will be operating in an autonomous mode, running off of commands sent up before the moratorium went into place. After May 1, Curiosity will be able to send back the results of its testing. NASA won't be completely out of touch with the rover as it will still be sending information back to let researchers know its still alive.

 

We will maintain visibility of rover status two ways. First, Curiosity will be sending daily beeps directly to Earth. Our second line of visibility is in the Odyssey relays.

 

You can expect to not receive any Curiosity updates during the next four weeks. After that, the team plans to conduct another drilling to confirm and extend what was learned from a drilling that took place in February.

Raspberry Pi Model A goes on sale in the US for $25

It's been a long and drawn out wait for the Raspberry Pi Model A to be released, but it is finally here and on sale in the US for a mere $25. Surprisingly the Model A is not being launched at Element14 as everyone might think.

 

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Allied Electronics, a Texas based component supplier appears to be the first to market with the new $25 credit card sized Linux computer. The Model A is a dumbed down version of the vastly popular Raspberry Pi model B and differs in just a few missing components such as the LAN interface.

 

Unfortunately it appears that Allied has already sold out of the Model A's which leads us to wonder, why do these component houses not order several tens of thousands of units. They always blame supply, but Arduino was able to overcome supply shortages faster than Raspberry Pi has seemed to. If you know your product is going to sell in the hundreds of thousands almost overnight, why not scale up production to meet that demand?

NASA requests $100 million, wants to find an asteroid in space, drag it toward the Moon and send astronauts to study it

NASA has an interesting plan that would see them find an asteroid in space, drag it toward the Moon and send astronauts to study it. NASA are requesting $100 million for the mission, which is coming in the middle of their fight over the 2014 budget continues in Washington.

 

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The idea comes from the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology back in 2011. Scientists have said that the plan is capable of being played out within the next decade, and would be a very good move for future endeavours by US engineers to plunder asteroids with robotic mining for water and metals. NASA has requested $100 million, with Keck researchers admitting that the actual operation would cost as much as $2.6 billion and it would take at least six years to grab an asteroid close to Earth.

 

The researchers have said that there could be as many as 20,000 pieces of space debris within a decent distance from the Earth, but it could take astronauts up to six months to travel to the asteroid in order to pull it back toward the Moon.

 

NASA have said that if politicians don't get in their way, a major announcement for this plan could be in their future.

SpaceTT: Saturn's rings and its moons are remnants of our solar system's birth

NASA has released a new study done on the findings of its Cassini spacecraft that is orbiting Saturn. The findings suggest that the planet's mesmerizing rings and beautiful planets are ruminants of the early formation of our solar system.

 

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Since the findings indicate that the rings and moon formed at the same time our solar system was forming, they are four billion year old time capsules that can help scientists understand more about the planetary nebula of gas and dust in which our solar system formed from.

 

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"Studying the Saturnian system helps us understand the chemical and physical evolution of our entire solar system," Cassini scientist Gianrico Filacchione, of Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, said in a statement. "We know now that understanding this evolution requires not just studying a single moon or ring, but piecing together the relationships intertwining these bodies."

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Saturn's rings and its moons are remnants of our solar system's birth' (full post)

'Express' flights to the International Space Station takes travel time down from two days to just six hours, no frequent flier miles included

Normal trips from Earth to the International Space Station take around two days, but the first manned "express" flights to the ISS happened today, a journey which will cut down the time from two days to just six hours.

 

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The flight is being manned by one NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, and is expected to have docked by 12:10am EDT. This is the first manned express flight, but there have been numerous unmanned cargo flights taking the six-hour express flight to the ISS.

Pi MusicBox creates a Raspberry Pi and Spotify mashup that we love

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services available, and Raspberry Pi is one of the hottest devices on the market right now. It only seems natural that they find each other and mesh into a form of music streaming goodness.

 

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Pi MusicBox is a bootable Debian image designed to work with the Raspberry Pi and implements Modipy, which is a music streaming server. One of the awesome features of Modipy is its ability to stream music straight from Spotify as well as playback from local storage. It can be remote controlled from any Music Player Daemon (MPD) or web browser.

 

There are MPD apps for virtually every OS you can think of including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux. Pi MusicBox would make the perfect wireless music streaming device for those who do not want to shell out the funds for something like a Sonos or Wi-Fi enabled stereo.

Continue reading 'Pi MusicBox creates a Raspberry Pi and Spotify mashup that we love' (full post)

Google's self-driving car parks in parking space reserved for Nobel laureates

We won't deny the fact that Google's self-driving car is very well equipped when it comes to computing power. It has an massive array of sensors and is able to process all of that data in near real-time. But, can the car compete with, say, a UC Berkeley Nobel laureate? The car sure seems to think so:

 

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The parking spot looked perfectly acceptable to it. This brings up an interesting question about Google's self-driving car and parking. Is the car able to tell where it is legal to park? Can it detect handicapped signs and limited time parking signs? All questions that I'm sure will be answered as the technology progresses.

ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet

For the last 50 years or so, it has been widely accepted that an impact from an asteroid was the direct cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, but it appears that that theory has now been turned upside down. A recent report that was given at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference suggests that it was not an asteroid that caused the demise of the dinosaurs, but was actually a comet.

 

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This theory is based on the fact that 180km wide Chicxulub crater in Mexico is simply too large to have been caused by a meteor, which is supported by the lack of an abundance of iridium. An element which would have been kicked up in vast quantities if such a large asteroid were the source of the crater.

 

Dr. Jason Moore, of Dartmouth College said: "You'd need an asteroid of about 5km diameter to contribute that much iridium and osmium. But an asteroid that size would not make a 200km-diameter crater," He theorized that the crater was created by something moving much faster than an asteroid, something with less rock and more ice.

Continue reading 'ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet' (full post)

Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean

From the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, significant pieces of Saturn V's rocket engines have been recovered. What makes this a big announcement is the fact they've been there for over 40 years, and recovered thanks to a privately-funded expedition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

 

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Bezos explained the site of the discovery three miles below the surface, more than 400 miles from Florida's east cost as "an underwater wonderland, an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo programme." The Amazon founder announced over a year ago that they had located the engine pieces that took man to the moon in 1969.

 

After three weeks abord a recovery vessel named 'Seabed Worker', Bezos and his team are on their way back to Cape Canaveral with their pieces of the Saturn V rocket engines. Bezos said in a statement on the expedition website: "We're bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult. We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous."

Continue reading 'Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean' (full post)

SpaceX's Merlin rocket engine approved for use

Space enthusiasts get excited: SpaceX's new Merlin rocket engine has been approved for use. Gaining this qualification wasn't easy. The Merlin rocket engine was subjected to a total of 28 tests amounting to 1,970 seconds of total test time. SpaceX has said that this amounts to 10 full missions of use.

 

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The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program. With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9's Flight 6 this year.

 

The Merlin will see its first use launching a weather and communications satellite into low-Earth orbit. After that, Merlin will be used to launch a satellite into geosynchronous orbit. The Merlin engine has been in development for about two years.

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