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Lego has announced that they will soon be offering up the next-generation of their Mindstorms line. The new system, which is the third-generation of its line, will be the EV3. EV3 sports a bunch of improved features in both hardware and software, where it's headed to the classroom and will also be used in Lego League competitions. Soren Thomsen of LEGO Education told Forbes:
We gathered information from teachers and coaches to meet their needs. This is a strong new kit that should last for a lot of years.
Some of the new features being built into EV3's kit include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the ability to add memory to the units - which is something that the Lego League teams have been asking for - as well as the file sizes of the programs being streamlined. The new EV3 has a 3D instruction manual which should make it easier for users to see all the pieces from all angles, allowing them to design and construct their own robots.
The EV3 is available right now for preorder and will ship in the fall semester of 2013.
Every Friday, I like to end my week here at TweakTown with a science post, and this week I want to show you a stunning new image released by astronomers from the Gemini South Observatory in Chile. The "Cosmic Bullets" pictured below are roughly 1,500 light years away from the earth and were first discovered in 1992.
This image of "cosmic bullets" in the Orion Nebula (M42) was taken on the night of Dec 28th 2012 using a new adaptive optics system which is equipped with five laser guide stars and three deformable mirrors to correct atmospheric distortion. Each cosmic bullet is about 10 times the size of Pluto's orbit around our sun, which is roughly 3.67 billion miles.
The cosmic bullets are made up of enormous clumps of gas packed with iron atoms, and were ejected from deep within the Orion Nebula. They are most likely propelled by strong winds expelling gas at supersonic speeds from a region of massive star formation, outside and below this image's field of view.
Lego just announced a new Mindstorms kit that packs one heck of a punch. The EV3 kit is designed to introduce a younger generation to the joys of building and programming robots while still keeping things fresh for their existing Mindstorm fans.
The new EV3 kit is centered around the EV3 Intelligent Brick which features an ARM9 SOC, which includes more memory and a much more robust processor than previous Mindstorm bricks. Users can now remove the tether from their Mindstorm project and take advantage of the new "on brick programming" feature.
The EV3 is running on a new Linux-based firmware and can be programmed with a USB port and storage can be augmented by an on-board SD card slot. The EV3 kit will also include full Android and iOS app compatibility out of the box. Availability is set for the second half of 2013 and will carry a MSRP of $349.99
Captains Log, Star Date 90616.41: A petition to build a real life Starship Enterprise was sent to the White House by engineer BTE Dan. No surprises here but Dan is the author of detailed plans for constructing a life-size, flyable starship Enterprise as posted on his website last year.
The proposal was submitted to the White House's official "We the People" channel, which promises an administration response to any petition that gathers at least 25,000 signatures. "We have within our technological reach the ability to build the 1st generation of the USS Enterprise," BTE Dan wrote in the petition, viewable here.
This comes just a month after a petition to build a Death Star like the spherical spaceship in the movie "Star Wars" garnered that critical mass, and is currently awaiting its official response.
SpaceTT: NASA reportedly 'mulling over' mission to capture 550 ton asteroid and put it in lunar orbit
NASA may have shut the space shuttle down, but that does not mean that it is slowing down its ideas for space missions. The agency is said to be considering a mission to send a robotic craft to capture a 1.1 million pound asteroid.
Once captured, the asteroid would then be placed into lunar orbit and could be used to help "deflect" Earth-threatening asteroids. The craft would be launched on an Atlas V rocket and would cost an estimated $2.6 billion which is just a bit more than the Curiosity mission to Mars costed.
The proposed craft would travel to the target asteroid, measure and match its spin and speed, and then retrieve the asteroid using a 10 meter tall, 15 meter wide bag. Being a big proponent of NASA, I really hope this gets the funding and we see it happen in my life time.
I am a huge fan of all things Space and Space science. I am absolutely a sucker for good images of rocket launch photos and videos. Space.com has just released their list of the best launch images of 2012.
The list features launches from both the US and Russian space programs and the images are quite stunning. The image above was taken by my good friend and Astro Club buddy Hap Griffin during the Launch of NROL-15 aboard a Delta 4 Heavy in May 2012. Sadly it did not make the list, but it is by far my favorite launch photo from 2012.
Hopefully this coming year I will be able to travel down to the Kennedy Space Center to capture some astounding launch images myself.
Over the last 30 years Landsat 5 has orbited the earth a total of 150,000 times, and transmitted roughly 2.5 million images back to earths surface. Now, after a fatal gyro failure, the imaging satellite that was originally designed for a three year mission is finally being decommissioned.
Over the past 3 decades, if a natural disaster occurred, Landsat 5 photographed the from-space photos the public saw. It has malfunctioned in the past, but the malfunctions were always recoverable. In 2011 imaging was suspended due to a transmission error and now a gyro has failed permanently, rendering the satellite unfit for duty.
Landsat 5's death leaves the USGS with only one functioning bird in space, Landsat 7. Another USGS satellite is set to launch in February of 2013 though and has been named... you guessed it, Landsat 8.
NASA just released two free E-books on the Hubble Space Telescope and it's yet-to-launch successor the James Webb Space Telescope. Both E-books are packed full with interactive features that let readers watch such things as galaxy collision simulations, and manipulate a telescope model between pages.
The Hubble, which launched in 1990 is set to come to its end of life cycle in 2013. The space-based telescope has no doubt supplied us with some of the most interesting images ever seen by mankind. It's replacement, the James Webb is almost three times the size of the Hubble and will continue the tradition of bringing breath-taking images to us here on earth.
"These new e-books from NASA will allow people to discover Hubble and Webb in a whole new way - both the science and the technology behind building them," Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist on the Webb telescope project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. "They collect all of the amazing resources about these two observatories in an excellent product that I think people will really enjoy."
Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on the International Space Station, recorded a Christmas carol in space. While that alone is pretty awesome, the fact that he was able to make it sound good with all the background noise is the really impressive part. When he made a comment regarding the noise with his original post, people asked him just how loud it is on the ISS, so he made a recording.
As you can hear in the recording, there is quite a bit of noise. Most of it comes from the fans and ventilation system that is keeping the astronauts alive, so we doubt they are complaining too much. Besides, they have optional earplugs and noise cancelling headphones to keep it at bay.
Hundreds of thousands of children, as well as adults will receive a telescope on Christmas this year. In a strike of luck, the Moon and Jupiter will converge in the night sky on Christmas night and provide a stunning view for all to see. The duo will be so bright that even those in inner cities will be able to observe the celestial event.
Shining brightly to the upper left of the moon, naked eye viewers will see Juipter, our solar systems largest planet. Those with binoculars or small telescopes will be able to make out at least 3 of Jupiters moons as well. Sky-watchers with larger scopes are encouraged to try and observe Jupiters Great Red Spot which is shrinking.
As viewed from the eastern and central United States, the moon and Jupiter will appear closest together during the late afternoon or early evening hours on Tuesday (Dec. 25). From New York, they'll be closest together at 6:25 p.m. EST (2325 GMT); from Chicago, it'll be 5:18 p.m. local time (2318 GMT). The event is visible world wide though so grab your favorite warm beverage and head outside to view the special event.