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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 42

SpaceTT: Jupiter and Moon align in Christmas skywatching treat

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.


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Rasberry Pi releases quick start guide to help jump start your projects

Due to overwhelming response, the Rasberry Pi foundation has released a "Quick Start Guide" for the Raspberry Pi. Citing that many people will find one under the tree or in a stocking this Christmas, the foundation wanted people to easily be able to get their new Pi boards up and running.


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The guide covers setting up the Pi for the first time. Users unfamiliar with how to connect the Pi to monitors, keyboards and a network are presented with a nice diagram. The guide gives step by step directions on installing an operating system and booting the Pi for the first time.


We are sure that this guide, although quite basic, will be an immense help to those receiving the Pi as their first development board. Do you have a Raspberry Pi, or are you expecting to find one under the tree? Let us know in the comments. If you would like to download the Quick Start Guide, just follow this link.

SpaceX's reusable rocket lifts cowboy into the air and lands back on its feet

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX has released images and video of the company's new Grasshopper rocket design taking a test flight. A six-foot tall mannequin dressed as a cowboy, was on board for test flight which ascended to 131 feet, hovered for a few seconds and then proceeded to land back on the launchpad in its original position.



The new rocket is currently in development and just entered it's testing phase last month. SpaceX is developing the grasshopper to hopefully have a lift stage that is reusable, and will land itself back in the upright position. This will significantly cut down on waste, material cost and the expense of having to send a ship to "rescue" the rocket from an ocean splash down.


SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.


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NASA looks to infinity, and beyond with their next-generation spacesuits

Sometime around 2015, NASA will incorporate a next-generation spacesuit that has a bunch of new features, but most noticeably, a new design. The new Z-1 NASA spacesuit will arrive in 2015 and offers a bunch of new advantages compared to the current and previous designs.


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The biggest change would be the rear-entry hatch which lets an astronaut put the suit on from the back, and when finished, they just have to close the rear hatch. The current astronaut wear, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit, which has been in use since 1982, requires the wearer to put the pant and top portions on separately, and then connect them together.


Jumping into the spacesuit makes more sense, with its hatch being very handy for quick in-and-out experiences in the spacesuit. There's also a new suit port. Usually stored internally, the suit could attach to the exterior of the space vehicle, and the astronaut could easily enter the suit from inside the vehicle.

Continue reading 'NASA looks to infinity, and beyond with their next-generation spacesuits' (full post)

Rheinmetall use 50kW laser weapon, pew pew to the max

Defense contractor Rheinmetall have just tested their 50kW high-energy laser weapon, which was a complete success. The 50kW laser works by looking for a target using something they call the 'Skyguard radar system', locks the target in with an optical scanner before it goes to work.


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After it has looked for its target, locked it in, it will fire multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. The German-made HEL cannon was capable of cutting through a 15mm-thick steel girder, but that's not all - it managed to do so from over 3,200 feet away. If you thought that was impressive, the laser was able to taking down a UAV, where after reaching the programmed fire sector, the laser weapon engaged the UAV's immediately, destroying them in seconds - keep in mind that these UAVs were flying at high speeds. Pew, pew indeed.


Lastly, the laser system was used in detection, pursuit and successful engagement of "an extremely small ballistic target". The team used a steel ball measuring in at 82 mm, travelling at 50 meters per second. This was used to replicate a mortar round, which the Skyguard fire control unit detected immediately, tracked the target, engaged it and destroyed it mid-air.



Meet the Pi-To-Go: A Raspberry Pi, screen and keyboard stuffed into a 3D-printed case

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Raspberry Pi, and this is one project I could not pass up on covering. Dubbed the Pi-To-Go, this micro linux laptop was created by Nathan Morgan.


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Nathan managed to stuff a 640x480 LCD, QWERTY keyboard with touchpad, rechargeable battery, Raspberry Pi model B, and a Samsung 64GB SSD all into a 3D printed case.


With WiFi, and more than 10 hours of battery life, this is one awesome little DIY computer! Nathan has been generous enough to share the build instructions, code and 3d files so you can build your own. You can see more photos and find all the build info at the source link below.

SpaceTT: NASA releases breathtaking image of Saturn's dark side

NASA recently released a new image of Saturn that can only be described as breathtaking. The image was captured by the Cassini spacecraft and features a view of Saturn's dark side with its rings and upper atmosphere being backit by the suns light.


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NASA positioned Cassini into Saturn's shadow on October 17th in order to capture the high solar phase, giving astronomers a look at the rings and atmosphere that otherwise would not have been seen.


NASA attempted a similar shot back in 2006 by stitching together over 160 photos taken over a period of three hours. This time however, Cassini was positioned in a much closer orbit which resulted in a much more detailed mosaic that only used about 1/3 the number of photos. Those seeking a high resolution image can find it avaliable for download on

SpaceTT: Hubble nebula photo reveals cosmic Christmas ornament

As a tradition, Observatories around the globe routinely release holiday themed astro-photos. This year the Hubble Space Telescope has released a breath taking image of NGC 5189, a planetary nebula in the constellation Musca.


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The image captured by Hubble, resembles a ribbon and glass bauble such as one might find hanging on a Christmas tree. The circular shape in the center of the nebula can be seen as an ornament made of blown glass, and the reddish knotted structure that flows around the middle looks like a tangled ribbon that holds the ornament in place.


A planetary nebula is one of the last stages in the life of a mid-size star like our sun. The dying star sloughs off its outer layers and shoots them out into the universe, resulting in the "ribbon-like" filaments surrounding the middle of the star. At the center of the nebula is a densely packed white dwarf star whose mass is stuffed into a volume about the size of Earth, but the entire planetary nebula is the size of our solar system.


DARPA shows off LS3 robot, could be a Terminator's four-legged best friend

There may not be another Terminator movie on the horizon, but defence research outfit DARPA, have just shown off their latest improvements to their four-legged LS3 robot. The tests involved two weeks of real-world testing in the woods of central Virginia.



The LS3 robot, also known as AlphaDog, showed off a bunch of improvements in its autonomy and manoeuvrability, and even when it fell over and rolled - it recovered nicely. LS3 is also capable of responding to voice commands, and while the LS3 is not as good as Siri or Google Search, it still is capable of some cool tricks such as "Leader Follow" decision making, where the robot itself will determine the best way to follow its human counterpart.


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All we need now is to see Arnold Schwarzenegger walking around with an LS3 and people would be getting scared pretty quickly.

SpaceTT: North Korean satellite most likely dead and tumbling through space, according to astronomers

I'm sure most of you heard about that satellite that was launched into space by North Korea. Most of the developed world is upset at the country for this missile launch as many believe it was actually a test of a ballistic missile and not just to put a satellite in space. However, it looks like that satellite may now be broken.


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"It's tumbling and we haven't picked up any transmissions," said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks global rocket launchings and space activity. "Those two things are most consistent with the satellite being entirely inactive at this point."


The reason for failure isn't immediately clear, though it appears as though the onboard systems have failed. "It's clear that the rocket part of this mission worked very well for the North Koreans," Dr. McDowell said in an interview. "They ended up in the right orbit. But the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the satellite failed either during the ascent or shortly afterwards."


The satellite should not fall to Earth or cause any massive havoc, according to scientists. The satellite was said to be carrying a camera to observe Earth, which requires the satellite to be rock-steady, something it clearly isn't.

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