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Today Elon Musk unveiled the new landing leg attachments that have been fitted to Space X's Falcon 9 rocket. The legs are intended to make recovery of the rocket's lift stages easier and more efficient. Currently Space X glides the first stage of the rocket into the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles from the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida. As you would expect, this form of recovery is expensive, and time consuming.
With the addition of the new landing legs, Space X hopes to eventually fly the rocket's first stage back to a landing site near the launch pad, and have it land itself vertically, making recovery and reuse much easier and far cheaper than current methods. The new landing legs are built out of a carbon fiber outer skin with a honeycomb inner layer comprised from high-alloy aluminum. The legs are planned to play on the Falcon 9's mission to the International Space Station on March 16th, but the first stage will be guided to the Atlantic for this first flight as Space X needs to test how the legs handle take off before attempting a vertical landing.
The US Navy has developed a five-pound Spike mini-missile, a precision device that is reportedly the "world's smallest guided missile" available. The speed and missile range are classified, but Spike can be launched from the ground using a stationary launcher or from unmanned aerial vehicles - and a shoulder-launched version is in development.
The Spike missile costs about $50,000 to manufacture and measures only 2.5 inches in diameter, being built as part of the NAVAIR project at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. Using a small camera mounted on the missile, operators are able to accurately modify Spike's trajectory before it detonates.
"Most of our weapons are fairly large because they're taking out very big targets," said Scott O'Neill, project developer, said in a media statement. "We've started looking at, with miniaturization of electronics, what does that mean to weaponry? How small can we make weapons and keep them effective against the targets that we're talking about?"
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hopes to make it easier for troops on the ground, fighting in remote locations where airstrikes aren't readily available, to use smartphones to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Specifically, DARPA wants help with the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded Systems (ARES) design concept.
"Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don't have their own helicopters," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, in a press statement. "ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success."
The ARES is in its third and final phase, with Lockheed Martin currently taking the lead on DARPA's research.
Electronics company Samsung Electronics and researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have teamed up to establish the UCSF-Samsung Digital Health Innovation Lab. The UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco will host the research and technology lab designed for mobile health trial testing.
The health and medical worlds are heavily involved in the "Internet of Everything," and wearable computing, health sensors, next-generation medical software, and similar technologies are pushing the industry forward.
"There are many new sensors and devices coming onto the market for consumers, but without medical validation, most of these will have limited impacts on health," said Dr. Michael Blum, UCSF associate vice chancellor for Informatics, in a statement. "Meanwhile, many practitioners also have creative ideas for new devices, but they lack the technological knowledge to fully develop them."
There is increased interest in mobile health solutions, which can be used by doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners in the field - but HIPAA regulations, standardized formats, and other issues must be properly addressed.
NASA researchers are developing a humanoid robonaut, called Robonaut 2, which could be able to one day work with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). The Robonaut 2 is a $2.5-million device that will also be able to contribute to general tasks as well.
Robonaut research for medical purposes is still in its early stages, so don't expect the humanoids to be in space providing health support immediately. The R2's camera-equipped head lets controllers on Earth see a medical process, and the robonaut has extremely good dexterity so the appropriate amount of pressure could be used during treatment.
"I would say that within an hour I trained him more than with other students I'm working for a week, so I think that he's learning really fast," said Dr. Zsolt Garami, from the Houston Methodist Research Institute, in a recent interview with Space.com.
Astronauts stationed aboard the ISS often are from the United States, Europe or Russia, and come from different backgrounds - the ability to have a robonaut available to either handle all medical issues, or lend a hand, would be greatly beneficial. As space nations look towards potential manned trips to Mars, having a robotics platform with the specialized ability to help with medical emergencies.
The United States Navy is ready to begin rolling out next-generation futuristic weapons that sound like something out of your favorite Sci-Fi movie - but will play an important role in the development of modern warfare.
The new laser system will be deployed on the USS Ponce later this year, and can be controlled by a single person. The laser will be used with a focus on defense against aerial drones, speed boats, and any type of threat to allied warships. Although it's cheaper than missiles or traditional smart bombs, and can fire continuously at targets, it won't be as effective in poor weather conditions.
In addition to the laser, Navy officials want to deploy an electromagnetic rail gun by 2016, which could one day replace regular firearms - and include the ability to launch projectiles almost seven times the speed of sound, according to military sources.
Installing new weapons systems on US military ships helps the Navy "fundamentally change the way" warfare is conducted on an evolving battlefield.
Zero G is one of those companies that I sincerely hope I get a chance to do business with one day. Their zero gravity experience is something I really hope to experience at least once in my life, but these new photos of Kate Upton posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, while on a Zero G flight may hold me over until I can experience the flight myself.
To keep on the topic of Science & Space, let me let Zero G explain how the zero gravity flights work. Below is an excerpt from their website.
Aboard our specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G's passengers experience true weightlessness.
Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 degrees to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is "pushed over" to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.
A new Apple iPhone app gives users the chance to track unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks launched by the U.S. military on targets overseas. Drone strike location, date, and victims of each strike will be shared - along with a map visually identifying the geographic location. The app is available for free in the iTunes store.
The app was submitted to Apple for approval five times before it was finally allowed into the app store. Until designers renamed it from "Drones+" and removed published drone information, Apple was more receptive of supporting the app.
"The drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata," app creators recently said.
There is still a large amount of controversy related to drone attacks, so it's curious to see an iPhone app like this released. Recent drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan have raised U.S. political tensions in the continued battle against Islamic-based terrorist groups.
Using a smartphone can lead to an easier time for medical experts to offer remote medical consultations with patients, according to JAMA Dermatology.
Since many hospitals don't have inpatient dermatologist services available to patients, it can be difficult for patients to receive treatment frequently. Using the term of "teledermatology," in-person doctors and remote specialists can work together to more accurately determine possible medical issues.
"Triage decisions were as follows: if the in-person dermatologist recommended the patient be seen the same day, the teledermatologist agreed in 90 percent of the consultations," according to the study abstract. "If the in-person dermatologist recommended a biopsy, the teledermatologist agreed in 95 percent of cases on average."
Doctors and patients could find one day easier methods to diagnose medical issues such as skin disorders without being forced to visit the office.
BrightSource Energy has just confirmed where the world's largest solar thermal plant is: California. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has just been enabled in the state.
The solar array is backed up by both Google and NRG Energy, producing a total of 392MW of power from its 173,500 multi-mirror units. Generating this much energy, the massive solar farm can power 140,000 nearby homes, and represents 30% of all the solar thermal energy in the United States. The solar farm takes up a massive 5.5 square miles of space, and is unfortunately creating trouble for nearby wildlife and birds.