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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 45

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 NASA.gov

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)

NASA's Orion spacecraft to take flight in 2014

NASA's next step into the dark beyond is with their Orion capsule, which is looking to enter its first test flight in 2014. NASA's Apollo missions are behind them, so the space agency are looking into the future with their Orion spacecraft and Delta IV rockets to send man into space.

 

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Part of the process is to make sure that the Orion capsule will survive the extreme temperatures of re-entry, and even though Orion is one of the most advanced spacecraft ever designed, testing is still necessary.

 

The Apollo missions most important part of surviving re-entry is thanks to its heat shield which protects the ship during re-entry. The Orion capsule takes it a step further where it's composed of two parts: a Titanium skeleton that is bolted to a carbon fiber skin. This takes nearly 3,000 bolts to hold the skeleton to the skin, after this the heat shield is shipped to Textron Defense Systems just outside of Boston, where they'll add the final layer of albative material.

Continue reading 'NASA's Orion spacecraft to take flight in 2014' (full post)

NASA releases video that explains why we all will still be here December 22

NASA apparently doesn't believe in the Mayan prophesy that the world will cease to exist on December 21, 2012. They don't believe in it so much that they have actually taken time out of their busy schedule to produce a video to explain to you and me why the world will not actually be ending as predicted.

 

 

The video is titled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday" and was set to be released on December 22, but NASA has decided to release it early, maybe as a sign they aren't so confident that they will be around on the following day to release it. The video goes over many reasons that the world won't be ending as "predicted."

 

However, it's likely that this still won't dispel most conspiracy theorists' theories on how the world is going to end. After all, the Mayans had access to much better technology than we do today, and would be able to predict our demise just about as well as they did theirs. Do you believe the world is ending on December 21, 2012? How will it happen?

Continue reading 'NASA releases video that explains why we all will still be here December 22' (full post)

SpaceTT: Man last set foot on the moon 40 years ago today

40 years ago today, the last men to walk on the surface of the moon blasted off and headed for home. Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions to the moon, a feat we have not ventured to repeat since.

 

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After three days exploring the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan (pictured above) and Harrison Schmitt lit the engine on the upper (ascent) stage of their lunar module "Challenger" and launched off the surface at 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) on Dec. 14, 1972. The word "Ignition" which was voiced by Schmitt was the last words ever spoken by man on the surface of the moon.

 

Schmidt was also the first geologist and professional scientist to fly on an manned NASA mission. Eugene Cernan, commander of the mission was the last human to leave a footprint on the surface and with his words "Lets get off" an era came to an end.

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Man last set foot on the moon 40 years ago today' (full post)

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