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Military researchers are helping develop millimeter-scale robotic leg structures to give U.S. soldiers on the battlefield a technological advantage that could save lives. Current robots typically require operating soldiers to lower their weapons, and are unable to traverse the same rough terrain that soldiers might find themselves in.
Researchers hope to use future systems available to autonomously enter and exit buildings, continuously send information to troops on the ground, and to conduct defense and surveillance activities.
"Think of it as a camera on wheels, where soldiers have a one or two-pound sensor that they can throw into a building to assess situational awareness," said Dr. Brett Piekarski, Army Research Laboratory's Micro and Nano Materials and Devices Branch chief. "The soldier controls it like a video game to complete the task."
A few days back we mentioned that NASA was working with a group of amateur scientists to get communications with a satellite that launched in 1978 back up and running. The satellite is called the ISEE-3 and NASA has announced that after all these years of no contact from the satellite, it has been contacted and is responding.
The satellite is responding to commands according to team members. The scientists said, "Our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth."
SpaceX has been ferrying supplies and other items to and from the ISS successfully for a long while now. The company has a commercial resupply contract with NASA. SpaceX also has plans to eventually send astronauts into space aboard a new version of the Dragon capsule dubbed the Dragon V2.
The Dragon V2 capsule was unveiled this week showing the SpaceX capsule that is designed to carry seven astronauts into space. The capsule will be able to bring humans to the ISS and return them to Earth. Once approved for use the Dragon V2 will eliminate the need for US astronauts to hitch a ride to the ISS on Russian Soyuz capsules.
Thanks to the joint efforts of MIT and NASA, the moon has now been equipped with an enviable 19mbps internet connection.
Yes, that moon. A satellite orbiting the extraterrestrial space rock is able to pick up a laser and then refocus it into optical fiber, before being converting this back into data. Four telescopes in New Mexico shone infrared light to the moon, but an engineering problem emerged in sending the signals uninterrupted by the Earth's atmosphere.
"Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometre distance spreading out the light beam," MIT Lincoln's Mark Stevens said. "It's doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light-causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver."
The result is an internet connection that somehow manages to trounce the average here on Earth - including in countries like Britain, according to the Mirror.
Robotics is a growing industry both for science and research and for hobbyists who want to build a robot in their own home. Intel has announced a 3D printed robotics kit that will be on the market by the end of the year. The consumer version of the kit will sell for $1600.
Those who want to build their bot from the ground up will also be able to get their hands-on the hardware reference designs allowing them to 3D print the basic parts and assemble the kit on their own. A kit with the parts for the bot that can't be 3D printed will go on sale at 21stCenturyRobot.com.
Until the US has its own spacecraft that is certified for carrying passengers, American astronauts heading to the ISS continue to hitch a ride with Russia. Recently a Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS after a perfect launch from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The spacecraft had three crewmembers on board with one Russian, one German, and one American. US and Russian space agencies have continued to work together despite tensions over Russia actions in Ukraine.
Items that traveled into space during the early NASA space missions can bring big money at auction. Recently a number of items from some of the Apollo moon missions were auctioned off. One of the items that raised the most money was a hand controller from the Apollo 15 Lunar module called Falcon.
It raised the most money in the auction with the winning bidder paying $610,063 for the controller. Commander Dave Scott used that hand controller to land on the surface of the moon along with pilot James Irwin on July 30, 1971.
A group of researchers has created a new remote controlled robot that is called the OutRunner. The robot gets its name from the fact that it can run very quickly with a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The team behind the bot says that it could be one of the fastest all terrain robots in the world.
The robot is able to run on a single charge for up to two hours. Dimensions for the robot are under 2-feet tall and it weighs about three pounds. It has three legs on each side of the central motor and has its own processing unit.
Researchers around the world are working on drone aircraft. When most of us think of drones, we think of large aircraft that are used for surveillance. Not all drones are large though, some are as small as insects. A group of researchers has created a tiny drone that looks like a bug.
Fourteen different research teams have been working on solutions for small drones that have mechanisms adapted from nature and use mechanisms found in birds, bats, insects, and snakes. One of those drones is a small unit that is designed to investigate in hard to reach areas. The small flying robot is about the size of a penny and can take off, land, and hover for sustained periods. Teams are continuing to study insects to determine how they stay aloft in windy conditions.
NASA and a group of amateur astronomers are working together to put an old satellite back on task. When the little satellite, known as ISEE-3, flies back by the Earth next month, scientists will have a short window to attempt to communicate with the old satellite and get it back to work on its original mission. The problem for NASA with getting the satellite back on task was that it didn't have the resources to take on the project due to a tight budget.
Amateur scientists stepped up and took up the challenge of communicating with the satellite. NASA has endorsed the group, known as ISEE-3 Reboot Project. The original mission for the satellite was created in the Carter Administration. ISEE-3 stands for International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 and was launched in 1978.