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The U.S. Army Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was test launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, but something went wrong and officials triggered a self-destruct sequence. It's unknown what kind of problem the aircraft had, but was destroyed just four seconds after launching, according to military officials.
Developed as part of the U.S. military's Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was created by the Sandia National Laboratory. A successful test in November 2011 saw the craft fly from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands, as the U.S. Army saw the unique glide vehicle pass through a successful series of ground testing and simulations.
"Due to an anomaly, the test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after lift-off to ensure public safety," according to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense. Officials have launched an "extensive" investigation to determine what went wrong during the second launch.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard reportedly shot down an Israeli stealth spy drone near a nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, located about 185 south of Tehran. In addition, Iran also used the media attention to announce Iranian-manufactured UAVs and missiles - to be used for defensive purposes only. Even if Iran managed to shoot down the drone, there would be questions related to the country's defensive capabilities to allow an aircraft to get so close to the enrichment site.
"A spy drone of the Zionist regime was intercepted by a surface-to-air missile," said an official statement released by the Revolutionary Guard. "The vigilant reaction of our defense system downed this drone before it could reach the skies over Natanz."
There is global concern regarding Iran's expanding nuclear program, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear Israel and other nations want to closely monitor Tehran's efforts. The volatile country says the nuclear capabilities would be used to enhance the life of Iranians, not for developing a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Researchers found full-body X-ray scanners found in U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013 weren't as effective as the TSA led us to believe - with knives, firearms, and explosives successfully concealed. In addition, scanner operating software could be manipulated to alert "all-clear" to the scanner operator, even if there was contraband found.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, Johns Hopkins University and University of Michigan contributed to the study. The scanner in question, the Rapiscan Secure 1000, was pulled from airports last year because of privacy concerns. The test unit was purchased on eBay and featured the same proprietary software and settings as the units used by the TSA.
"Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan computer science professor, in a statement. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."
Drone pilots might be flying missions thousands away from the battlefield, but can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just like Marines and soldiers with boots on the ground. In a U.S. Air Force study, 4.3 percent of around 1,000 drone operators suffered from moderate to severe PTSD - still a lower number than the 10 to 18 percent of personnel on deployment, however.
It's not uncommon for drone operators to conduct reconnaissance on targets before launching a missile, getting a rare glimpse of their normal lives. Some of the survey respondents noted recurring nightmares, trouble falling asleep, difficulty concentrating and intrusive thoughts, among other symptoms.
"I would say that, even though the percentage is small, it is still a very important number, and something that we would want to take seriously so that the folks are performing their job are effectively screened for this condition and get the help that they [may] need," said Wayne Chappelle, a clinical psychologist and consultant USAF School of Aerospace Medicine.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is interested in learning more about British space plane engine technology that could be used for future U.S. military hypersonic aircraft. The Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) is being developed by England-based Reaction Engines for the Skylon space plane.
The engine was supported by $100 million in funding from the British government and European Space Agency (ESA), with private financing matching the same figure - and millions more are expected to be invested into the program. Reaction Engines has had the next-generation engine in development for more than two decades, ensuring SABRE features both rocket and air-breathing modes.
"AFRL is formulating plans to look at advanced vehicle concepts based on Reaction Engine's heat-exchanger technology and SABRE engine concept," said AFRL officials, in a statement recently sent to Space.com.
Researchers impressed with octopuses and squid and their impressive camouflage abilities have created a color-changing camouflage technology. A study published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" journal revealed a new flexible material consisting of light sensors and temperate-sensitive dye. The technology is able to detect and adapt colors based on its surroundings, but is currently limited to black and white only.
Researchers wanted to study animals in the wild, specifically cephalopods able to camouflage themselves, in an effort to create a new material from collected data. The U.S. Navy has helped fund research, but there has been a great amount of interest from private sector companies hoping to utilize this type of custom material.
"Real cephalopods are capable of levels of active camouflage orders of magnitude more sophisticated than our system," said John Rogers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researcher, in a statement. "But we hope to eventually design manmade systems that rival those we see in biology."
The U.S. Navy is currently testing the Lockheed Martin Fortis exoskeleton, designed to help Navy ship maintenance personnel carry heavier loads. Lockheed has developed two separate exoskeleton suits and will work closely with the Navy to analyze which one is better designed to help workers.
Testing will be done at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington. The unpowered, lightweight Fortis exoskeleton increases the wearer's overall strength and endurance, and testing is being done as part of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) program.
"Ship maintenance often requires use of heavy tools, such as grinders, riveters or sandblasters," said Adam Miller, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control director of new initiatives. "By wearing the Fortis exoskeleton, operators can hold the weight of those heavy tools for extended periods of time with reduced fatigue."
NASA's Curiosity rover has been picking its way over the rocks and sand of Mars for a long time now on its way to the ultimate goal of reaching Mount Sharp in the center of Gale Crater. Curiosity was taking a path through what has been dubbed Hidden Valley, which is a sandy area about the length of a football field.
However, Curiosity ran into a problem with its chosen path recently when the rover and its controllers discovered that the sand in Hidden Valley was much slipperier than expected. NASA scientists are now assessing alternative routes that would take Curiosity north of the valley and hopefully find more traction for the 1-ton rover.
"We need to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the wheels and Martian sand ripples, and Hidden Valley is not a good location for experimenting," Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California said in a statement.
The medical threat from shock waves related to improvised explosive device (IED) blasts and other explosions pose a significant threat to military personnel. Advancements in synthetic human physiology research is helping provide a glimpse of realistic blast testing, with artificial cranial bones focused on skulls of the 20- and 30-year old soldiers deployed.
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) wants to create a uniform response that can be used to develop better helmets and technology to reduce the impact of blast waves and blunt impact related to explosions.
"The mechanical properties of the human skull challenge with age and depend on the health of the individual," said Dr. Thomas Plaisted, ARL Materials and Manufacturing Science Division materials engineer. "Donor skulls that may be available for testing would typically come from older people, and the properties of those skulls can be highly variable and may not have the same response as the average skull of the Army Soldier population."
Self-driving trucks could be arriving in Britain by 2015, it has been suggested, although some critics suggest the way the trials have been proposed might not be the safest thing for the UK's roads.
A report in the Sunday Times claimed politicians in the UK had taken trips to Sweden to see how the autonomous systems work, and that tests are to follow in 2015. The Department for Transport was quick to say that it has not made an official decision on whether or not to trial the technology, and it asserted that road safety is of "paramount importance".
The idea is a system that can largely commandeer a vehicle by itself - but one that will retain a driver in the cab for safety reasons, in case anything goes wrong. A fleet would be directed by the driver at the head of the convoy, and each truck behind would communicate by wi-fi, as well as being monitored with infrared cameras and motion detection sensors.