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NASA's Curiosity rover, when not checking in on Foursquare, is discovering new things all the time - this time, it is digging into Mars' surface looking for water.
Curiosity whipped its drill out and started chewing into the bedrock of Mars, digging a 0.63- by 2.5-inch hole. We won't find out the results to its discovery for a few days yet as the rover will analyze its findings, hoping to find water. The picture above shows the first ever hole drilled into the red planet, and while it may seem like it was easy, it really wasn't. Louise Jandura, Chief Engineer of the rover's sample system says:
Building a tool to interact forcefully with unpredictable rocks on Mars required an ambitious development and testing program. To get to the point of making this hole in a rock on Mars we made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth.
Let's face it; most of our readers would love the chance to talk to an astronaut who is orbiting the earth inside the international space station. In fact, Americans have long been fascinated with communicating with astronauts while in space.
NASA has announced that U.S. astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn along with Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will be fielding questions live during a Google+ hangout that will take place on February 22nd at 11AM US Eastern time.
It is becoming pretty common for astronauts to communicate with the public during their extended trips on the International Space Station. Recently Hadfield hosted an AMA on Reddit, and has had a back and forth series of tweets with William Shatner of Star Trek fame. I hope to be one of the lucky people to get a question answered during the hangout. Maybe I will see you there!
If you've been following the progress of the Curiosity rover on Mars, there's a bit of new information to add to your trivia knowledge. NASA has officially used the last tool on Curiosity in a test to make sure it is functioning. Curiosity is equipped with a drill capable of drilling into rocks to retrieve samples from inside.
The ability to drill into rocks is an important one as these stones record the history of the planet millions and billions of years at a time. NASA is currently testing the drill to make sure everything is functioning properly. After positive results come back, NASA will order Curiosity to drill further into this rock to obtain samples.
The samples will then be analyzed in Curiosity's on-board chemistry lab to determine their chemical and mineral composition. The hope is that the results will show that life either existed previously or could have existed.
We have all done it before; you get to work and realize that you forgot to charge your phone the night before. Now you can forget plugging in that USB cable for a battery boost, because the Epiphany One Puck will charge your phone by recycling the heat in your beverage into electricity.
The technology behind the Epiphany One Puck is quite simple actually. A Peltier is used to convert the heat into electric energy by thermo-electric-cooling. Basically as one side of the Peltier gets hot, the other side cools down and electrons are shed, generating electricity.
We have seen this technology before and in fact it is used in custom PC cooling setups all the time. Cooler Master even built an entire CPU cooler based on a TEC. The company behind the Epiphany One Puck is about to wrap up their quite successful Kickstarter, so if you want one you better hurry quick to get in on the savings.
If you are anything closely related to a science geek, space nerd, casual star gazer or hard core astronomer, you have most likely heard of Comet ISON. NASA has just released awesome video of the comet streaking through space. ISON could prove to be the largest comet the Earth has seen in recorded history later this fall.
Later this year, Comet ISON will make a close pass to Earth and as it approaches the sun, its tail will glow as well as grow. Many leading authorities believe that ISON will be the largest comet ever witnessed from Earth's surface. At its peak it could be brighter than the full moon, and its tail could stretch the width of 96 full moons.
Chances are high that ISON might even be bright enough to be visible during the daytime, which is virtually unheard of. I for one have set aside several days in November and December to photograph and observe the great comet, which is believed to have originated in the Oort Cloud and has an orbit of several hundred thousand years.
Scientists develop 3D-printed embryonic stem cells, we could soon see lab-made organ transplants a reality
3D printers are huge right now, where we're not only looking towards the world's first 3D-printed building, but we have the European Space Agency talking about a 3D-printed base... on the Moon. The latest 3D printing news is scientists working with 3D-printed embryonic stem cells that could one day lead us toward lab-made organ transplants.
A team at the Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland are the ones who have developed a method for 3D printing clusters of human embryonic stem cells in various sizes. Researchers have previously, and successfully printed 3D cells before, but this is the first time that embryonic cell cultures have been build in 3D.
With human embryonic stem cells capable of replicating pretty much any type of tissue in the human body, this is huge news. The scientists at the Heriot-Watt believe that lab-made versions could one day found their way into organ transplants, making donors unnecessary.
Want a drone and can't afford the crazy expensive models? Well, Bitcraze has you covered with their new quadrotor drone that measures just 4-inches across. This pint-sized drone is extremely extensible due to the use of open-source code and components. The best way to let you check out the drone is with the following video:
It's small, which allows it to be used indoors. This is something you can't necessarily do with larger drones. Another benefit of the small size is that it makes it safer to use. It's pretty hard to do much damage with something as small and light as the Crazyflie Nano.
Pre-orders for this awesome little drone are up on Seeed and will set you back $149. If you want a more advanced drone with more sensors, you can pick up the $173 version that comes with a magnetometer and altimeter, which could be useful for flying without actually looking at the drone.
When the Raspberry Pi was first announced, there were many skeptics that thought a $35 fully functional Linux computer was just a pipedream. Then the launch of the Raspberry Pi model B took the world by storm, selling out in mere hours globally.
This morning the long awaited and much anticipated Raspberry Pi Model A was released in Europe for $25. For less than the cost of dinner for two, you can get a fully functional Raspberry Pi, that is missing the Ethernet jack, one USB port, and only contains 256MB RAM. On the Model A network connectivity is achieved by a USB WiFi adapter that is supplied by the end-user.
For now the Raspberry Pi Model A is only available in Europe at the moment. I do have it on good authority from my sources within Element14, that we will be seeing the Model A state side very shortly. For now US customers can purchase the Model A from UK distributors, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation warns of a slight delay.
Until now, shifting around data in 3D has been but a pipe dream, but the University of Cambridge have broken outside of that dream and began experimenting with a chip that is capable of much, much more.
The team at Cambridge have put a layer of ruthenium atoms between cobalt and platinum, where the researchers have found they can move data bo th up and down, in an otherwise silicon-based design through spintronics. This method uses the magnetic field manipulation to send information across the ruthenium to its destination.
This layering is perfect enough to create a "staircase" that has the data take one step at a time, incredible stuff! Unfortunately there's no ETA on whether this would take the step (pun intended) to real-world circuitry, but with all steps - it will eventually happen.
Sunjammer, NASA's codename for the largest solar sail ever constructed, should leave the launch pad in 2014 and head into space to demonstrate "propellant-less propulsion."
The giant solar sail measures about 124 feet per side and boast a whopping total surface area of nearly 13,000 square feet. The project is being contracted by L'Garde Inc., and is being supervised under NASA's Space Technology Program within the agency's Office of the Chief Technologist.
Sunjammer will launch into space on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and will be testing several of the technologies features in the following months. These include successful deployment of the sails, vector control of the sail-tipped vanes, navigational accuracy, and ease of maintenance at a gravitationally stable orbit location of Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 1, which lies about 200,000 miles from the Earth's surface.