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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 44

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.

NASA develops lights to put you to sleep

Need to sleep? NASA's new lights could be just the thing. Invented to combat insomnia in space, the new lights will be used on the International Space Station. NASA calls the new lighting apparatus a "solid-state lighting module" and plans to use them in 2016 to combat the fatigue generated from sleepless nights.


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The problem in space is that there isn't a normal progression of light changes like on Earth. As the day progresses, the light changes color and intensity, which leads to humans' 24-hour day/night cycle. This transition prompts the brain to produce chemicals designed to put us to sleep.


The light uses red, blue, and white LEDs to mimic the light changes on Earth. Not only will this new lighting system work great in space, where nearly half of all medication used is to help people sleep, it can also be applied to users on the ground to help make them alert or sleepy. The project cost $11.2 million, for those that were wondering.

Raspberry Pi launches it's own "App Store"

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, the people behind the $35 Raspberry Pi have launched an "App Store" aimed at making it easier for developers of all ages to share their games, applications, tools and tutorials with other Raspberry Pi users.


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The "App Store" went live earlier this morning, 6 months after being announced by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton back in July. The foundation is hoping that the new App Store will become a onestop shop for all your Raspberry Pi development, productivity and entertainment needs.


On the Raspberry Pi blog the foundation writes: "We hope that the Pi Store will provide young people with a way to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to a make a little pocket money along the way; as well as offering commercial developers an easy way to get their software seen by the Raspberry Pi community,"

Continue reading 'Raspberry Pi launches it's own "App Store"' (full post)

SpaceTT: Watch the end of the world live online!

Convinced that the world will end on December 21 2012? Well thanks to the folks running the Slooh Space Camera, you can watch it all unfold online!


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The online Slooh Space Camera will broadcase a series of live cosmic shots all week starting today. The webcast which are free will aid in helping us keep track of any monster solar storms, impending asteroid strikes or other potential agents of the so-called "Mayan apocalypse" that doomsayers claim is set for Friday.


"By acting independently of any government agency, which assumedly would be disbelieved by the millions who are convinced a giant cover-up is in place, Slooh will observe the planets and the ecliptic plane for anything out of the ordinary," Said Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Watch the end of the world live online! ' (full post)

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