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Back in 2004, the European Space Agency launched a spacecraft called Rosetta that had a mission to meet up with a comet and land on its surface. The comet that was the target for the mission is called 67P/CG and after a decade of traveling through space, Rosetta has entered the gravitational pull of the comet.
Rosetta is set to land on the surface of the comet in November. When Rosetta is ready to start the next phase of the mission, it will fire an explosive harpoon into the surface of the comet to send the Philae lander down to the surface of the comet.
Mission controllers are putting the spacecraft into a series of triangular paths around the comet that will each take 3-4 days to complete. The goal is to gather all the data possible so we can learn more about comets.
A University of California, Santa Barbara professor has created a robot that is capable of scoping out an environment or building, using just Wi-Fi signals. In order for this to work, there needs to be two robots, with one broadcasting wireless transmissions to another robot positioned on the opposite end, which measures them.
Walls and objects within a building or house usually reduce the signal strength of Wi-Fi, but the receiver can distinguish between empty and occupied spaces to create an accurate map of the area. This isn't the first time that robots have been able to brag about x-ray vision superpowers, with the Cougar20-H surveillance robot from a few years ago that used a bunch of sensors to get the work done.
Researchers believe that in the near future, this type of technology will be used for search and rescue missions, where people could be trapped under rubble after an earthquake or explosion. The technology could also be advantageous in archaeological digs, too.
A top Dell Research and Development executive has claimed the company is working on technology to read people's moods, and a commercial application may be on the shelves by 2017.
According to Jai Menon, Dell is actively developing software that can interpret brain activity and register when a user is in different emotional states. He expects this kind of technology to find potential applications at home and at work. "If I can sense the user is working hard on a task, an intuitive computer system might then reduce distractions, such as allowing incoming phone calls to go directly to voicemail and not letting the user be disturbed," he told the BBC. "Similarly, if they've been concentrating for a long time, maybe it could suggest a break."
The claims will certainly have privacy advocates on edge, as critics suggest some computer companies already know too much about users. But Menon insisted there will be positive uses for consumers, such as in the gaming sector. "If someone is playing a game and it sense they are bored, it could ratchet up the level of challenge automatically," he said.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has recorded another success for placing a satellite in orbit above the Earth. SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket after an early delay this week. The Falcon rocket placed the AsiaSat 8 satellite into orbit without further issues.
The launch of the rocket was delayed from 1:25 am EST to 4am EST due to a last minute issue with the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. The first stage issue was fixed, and the launch went off without a hitch. AsiaSat 8 was placed in orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth.
At that altitude, the satellite will be used to provide satellite TV service and telecom service to customers in China, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East for the next 15 years. SpaceX will launch another AsiaSat later this month.
The Earth is one of the most volcanically active bodies in our solar system, but it's not alone in having volcanic activity. Jupiter's moon Io is one of the most volcanically active bodies scientists have ever observed and three massive eruptions were discovered on the surface of the moon. These three major events were imaged in August 2013, but the images have only now been released.
The trio of eruptions was recorded in a two-week span, surprising researchers because only 13 major eruptions have been recording between 1978 and 2006. Scientists expect a massive outburst once every one or two years. This event recorded three extremely bright outbursts in a span of two weeks.
The scientists believe that these outbursts show that if they looked at Io more frequently, more outbursts would be noted. Io is only 2300 miles wide, making it about the same size as the Earth's moon. The volcanic activity is the result of Jupiter and neighboring moons pulling on Io causing its insides to heat up.
NASA has announced that it plans to send several pieces of equipment to Mars early in the next decade. The gear will include seven instruments that will be placed on a Martian rover, with two of the devices designed specifically to see if the atmosphere on the planet can be used to make oxygen.
The oxygen NASA wants to generate isn't for some sort of terraforming of the planet, rather NASA wants to generate the oxygen for use in making rocket fuel. The goal of the oxygen-making instrument is to see if NASA might be able to support bigger missions to Mars in the future.
Astronauts that eventually walk the surface of Mars could also use the oxygen made to breathe while on the planet. The test device being sent to mars will be called Moxie and has the ability to make three quarters of an ounce of oxygen an hour. If the process works, a device one hundred times the size will travel to Mars in the 2030s.
Elon Musk has founded some of the biggest companies involving technology, such as PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Musk thinks we need to build a home for humans on Mars as soon as possible, but when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), he has his reservations.
Over the weekend, Musk tweeted about a book recommendation, but after that he said: "We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes." Musk isn't new to his stance on AI, where back in June the SpaceX founder said he has even considred the possibility of a 'Terminator'-like scenario. Musk has also admitted that he's even invested money into AI companies, where he wants to keep an eye on where AI is going.
Reuters is reporting that the wreckage of a crashed drone was found outside of a maximum security prison in South Carolina, where it is believed that the drone was attempting to deliver contraband into the prison.
The UAV was reportedly delivering phones, marijuana, tobacco and more into the Lee Correctional Institution. The discovery of the drone wreckage eventually lead to the arrest of 28-year-old Brenton Lee Doyle, and a search for a second suspect. Stephanie Givens, the spokeswoman for the State Department of Corrections has said: "officials believe it was the first time an unmanned aircraft had been used in an effort to breach prison walls in the state."
This is a first for South Carolina, but it's nothing new for some other prisons around the world. Down in my part of the world, Australian authorities arrested a man who was controlling a drug-packed drone, and before that four people were arrested in Georgia on charges of delivering tobacco into a prison yard with a drone.
The International Space Station requires a constant stream of new components, food, and water to remain in operation. Sometimes the US send up supplies and scientific gear and sometimes the resupply ships come from Europe. A new supply mission is underway from the ESA that sent an Ariane 5 rocket into space with a cargo ship aboard to resupply the ISS.
This particular resupply mission had something onboard that astronauts on the ISS will really appreciate, cappuccino and tiramisu. The resupply ship is set to dock with the ISS on August 12 at about 9:30 am. This is the last resupply mission that the ESA will perform.
After this resupply mission all future resupply will be handled by Russian Progress spacecraft and the Japanese HTC cargo ships. In the US resupply, missions will be handled by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences. Among the 5941 pounds of material on the resupply ship are cappuccino, water, oxygen, air, research gear, and spare parts. The cargo ship also contains 1896 pounds of fuel to be used by the Russian thrusters aboard the ISS.
There has been a bit of debate over the years amongst scientists and astronomers on how exactly the Moon was formed. A detailed study of the shape of the moon has revealed some new details on its shape, which in turn shed a bit of light on how the moon may have formed.
When you look at the night sky, the moon appears to be a sphere. However, the analysis of the shape of the moon shows that it is actually slightly lemon-shaped. This study looked at the Moon as it would be if millions of meteorites hadn't hit the surface and knocked chunks off it.
"If you imagine spinning a water balloon, it will start to flatten at the poles and bulge at the equator," Ian Garrick-Bethell said. "On top of that you have tides due to the gravitational pull of the Earth, and that creates sort of a lemon shape with the long axis of the lemon pointing at the Earth."
"The moon that faced us a long time ago has shifted, so we're no longer looking at the primordial face of the moon," Garrick-Bethell said. "Changes in the mass distribution shifted the orientation of the moon. The craters removed some mass, and there were also internal changes, probably related to when the moon became volcanically active."