X-47B makes its first landing on an aircraft carrier, the aircraft just took a giant leap for unmannedkind
The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B is an unmanned drone, and it has completed its first successful landing on an aircraft carrier at sea. We reported on the X-47B being the first unmanned drone to take off from an aircraft carrier, but landing unmanned? Remarkable.
Considering aircraft carriers are constantly moving with the ocean waves, even an experienced pilot would have trouble landing on one. It's not an easy thing to do, but unmanned, run purely on technology, algorithms and equipment? That's quite an achievement. The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) is designed to fly mostly on its own, without much hands-on time from shipboard operators.
The precision landing was just that: precise. It is a huge step for multiple reasons, as this has been a procedure set in motion after quite a few years, and nearly a billion US dollars. On Wednesday, the X-47B made a 35-minute flight from the Navail Air Station at Patuxent River, Md., to the aircraft carrier, where it hooked onto the 3 wire with its tailhook and came to a perfect stop from a speed of approximately 145 knots in less than 350 feet.
Ever wanted access to your very own satellite orbiting the earth? Now you can have just that for a mere $250 per week
Traditionally, it has been pretty hard to get access to a satellite that is in orbit, but one California-based company is looking to change that. NanoSatisfi is developing small cube satellites that cost considerably less than $1 million to develop and launch, which is considerably less than traditional satellites that range anywhere from $500 million to several billion just for development.
The satellite in question is what is known as an ArduSat which is a cube satellite based on the open source Arduino development platform. This satellite is made of the same stuff that you blink your LEDs with. The satellite contains multiple cameras, a Geiger counter, a magnetometer, as well as an ambient light sensor. The entire package measures just 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and weighs in at a mere 2.2 pounds.
Some you might remember the ArduSat from its Kickstarter campaign which raised more than $100,000 and went on to garner an additional $1.2 million from external investors. The satellite is set to launch on August 4 and for just $250 a week, any interested parties can borrow the tiny vessel and explore everything that outer space has to offer.
We know most of our readers enjoy SpaceX and space in general, so we thought you'd enjoy watching SpaceX's reusable Grasshopper rocket launch to 1,066 feet and return to its launch pad.
The video was shot from a hexacoptor hovering above the test flight. The actual test flight took place June 14, but the video was just recently released for all to watch. The Grasshopper is part of SpaceX's push to make use of reusable rockets. The company believes that reusable rockets are the future of space travel and that they will reduce the price of traveling to space.
SpaceX's CEO believes that it will cost $500,000 to move a family to Mars by 2029. Would you be willing to pay that?
Microsoft could be onto something important with their Microsoft Research Asia division, who are working on a technology that provides your smartphone with the ability to detect your mood.
Not only that, it will detect your mood and post it to your social networks in real-time. If you thought the NSA PRISM system was bad, just wait until there's technology that posts to your Facebook wall that you're in a really bad mood. But, Microsoft researchers have said: "privacy concerns aside, these moods would enhance social networks by allowing users to share mood states automatically."
This would help users "know better how and when to communicate with others." I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want something detecting my mood all day every day, you wouldn't feel safe with your emotions at all.
It looks like adoption rates of solar power are about to get much better, with the cost of photovoltaic solar panels expected to drop to around 36c per watt by 2017, according to new research by cleantech market research firm, GTM Research.
Solar panels are currently backed up by natural gas and other types of power plants on the electricity grid... but with solar panels costing just $0.36 per watt, this would make it a good idea to install many more solar panels to back each other up instead of relying on another, older, Earth- and human-harming way of generating power.
At 36c per watt, 1000W of solar power is only going to cost you $360. With these costs arriving by 2017, we're not far from a far brighter (pun intended) future. Read more on this at the source.
Planetary Resources' Kickstarter goals for their ARKYD space telescope have been reached, a goal of a hefty $1 million. The project saw 11,000 backers, and should launch into orbit in 2015.
This means that a new round of add-ons for the extra-committed, oh goodie! Backers can purchase a special mission patch for $7, additional selfie photos starting from $25, and for the really committed, you can purchase a half-size ARKYD replica for just $600. Planetary Resources has longer term goals, which could see a second ground stations, selfies during the beta stage and even hunts for undiscovered planets.
Google's engineering director, Ray Kurzweil, has come out with a crazy prediction - that the human race will soon develop the technology to keep us alive forever. CNBC reports that Kurzweil told the Global Future 2045 World Congress this week that life expectancies "will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now."
Kurzweil added that within "probably less than 15 we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress." This means that Kurzweil thinks within the next 20 years, technology will have reached a point to add more years to our lives than the pace we currently live at through natural ageing. I don't quite think we'll get there, with all of the government regulation and the idea that everything has to be about making money - and everyone not dying surely has to have some serious consequences.
If no one died, how would the economies of the world work exactly? If you could live for 5000 years, you'd live a much different life than you would now, wouldn't you? It really does make you think - what do you think about living forever?
Thought the speed of light was fast? NASA is about to get a speeding ticket with their next field test
I think mainstream science has been suppressed for a very long time now, and it's about time that we find out, as a human race, what the reality of our existence really is. The first steps in this, are reversing the mainstream points of science. It looks like NASA could do something good here, with their latest field test that could prove that there is a possibility of faster-than-light travel.
Harold White and his team at NASA have been working on something called the Alcubierre Drive. This new method could use a solution which would see a craft placed within a space that is moving faster than the speed of light. This means that the craft itself isn't moving at the speed of light, meaning the craft itself doesn't need a propulsion system capable of travelling at that speed. This is where things get a little confusing, so grab your white lab coat and come on a walk with me.
The Alcubierre Drive is based on Einstein's field equations, which suggest that a spacecraft could indeed travel faster than the speed of light. But, instead of the craft itself pushing past the speed of light, it would do so by contracting space from in front of it, and expanding the space behind it - a nice trick. It's this type of science that I love reading about, and I think this is the future of space travel - thinking outside the box, which this kind of is.
I've finally moved into a house with solar power and enjoying the benefits of our star for my power consumption, which is a lot. But Sharp Corporation have just achieved something of a milestone in that they've reached the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 44.4%.
They achieved this by using a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell. These solar cells, in laymen's terms, use a lens-based concentrator system that focuses sunlight on the cells which in turn, generate electricity. Sharp's huge breakthrough is part of a research and development effort that are a part of the "R&D on Innovate Solar Cells" project which is promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
Hopefully this means we'll see a bright future for solar power, which I hope someday powers everything from our smartphones to buildings and houses. You can read some more detailed information at the source.
Canadian Space Agency Commander Chris Hadfield is undoubtably the poster child for not only NASA, but the Canadian Space Agency, as well as the International Space Station. He wowed us with his tweets from space as well as the plethora of videos he being back down to earth and hosted on YouTube, and now he is hanging up his space suit.
Yesterday Commander Hadfield announced that he would be retiring from the CSA after a 21 year career. The commander of the first Canadian to take a spacewalk outside of any official spacecraft and he was also the first to take command of the ISS. He said that after his retirement he would continue to pursue new professional challenges.
Commander Hadfield brought social networking from space to a whole new dimension and I expect he will be most remembered for his cover of Space Oddity in which he took artistic liberty and change the lyrics to more fit a modern space station astronaut. From one space geek to another I wish you all the best Commander, and I hope that wherever you land you will once again rocket into the heavens and bring us along for the ride.
The way NASA has marketed Curiosity has resulted in a soft spot in my heart for the Mars rover. This morning, Curiosity tweeted out a time lapse video of all her work over the last nine months. The video runs for just one minute, six seconds and is the work of Karl Sanford, a fan of Curiosity.
The pictures used for the time lapse video are from Curiosity's Front Hazard Avoidance Cameras and were obtained from NASA's Curiosity picture dump. Thankfully, NASA has provided all of this data for public use. Without that, this time lapse video wouldn't have been possible.
We want to hear your thoughts on Curiosity and the video embedded above. Should funding for NASA be increased to fund projects such as this? Let us know!
ScienceTT: NASA looking to bring Star Trek replicator to life, funding 3D printer capable of printing food
"Tea, Earl Grey, Hot" It's the classic line from TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain Picard walks up to the Replicator in his living quarters and orders a cup of tea. While some have likened that scene with the consumer level 3D printers of today, we are still unable to replicate food from thin air. NASA is looking to change that.
With 3D printers growing cheaper and more popular by the day, it only makes sense for NASA to investigate the use of RepRap style 3D printers for making a hot slice of pizza, right? Mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor received a $125,000 grant from the agency to build a prototype 3D printer with the aim of automating food creation.
The idea behind the project is to take a RepRap Mendel 3D printer and convert the extrusion head to print a mixture of "nutrients" that will form the basis of the food product you wish to eat. Contractor says the nutrient cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, making them stable enough for space travel. The project will begin with a proof of concept test where he will print chocolate and the plan is to ramp up from there.
I often sit back and think about things man has accomplished in space. The one thing that I keep going back to is the fact that we have driven vehicles on both the Martian and Lunar surfaces. While this may not impress some, you need to consider that just 100 years ago more than half of the country still rode horses for transportation and more than that were still without electricity.
This morning, NASA released a new infographic that details the distance we have driven vehicles and robots on the surfaces of Mars and the Moon. The Russian Lunokhod 2 holds the record at the moment with 37km of travel on the moon, while NASA's Opportunity Rover comes in a very close second, having driven 35.76km in Mars.
Apollo 17's Lunar Rover comes in a close third traveling 35.74km, while the Lunar Rover on Apollo 15 managed to go 27.8km. Rounding out the list is NASA's Curiosity which has managed to travel 0.7km in the months since landing. Holding the record for least distance traveled is the Sojourner Rover which barely moved 1 meter before flunking out.
This morning, Google announced that it has teamed up with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association to launch a new quantum supercomputer lab. Google sees quantum computing as offering a lot of potential in the areas of speech recognition and web searching, while NASA will most likely use the machine to crunch astrophysical equations.
The team will be purchasing a D-Wave Two Quantum Computer with plans to house it in NASA research center in California. The D-Wave Two has a 512-qubit (that's quantum bit) processor and will offer more-than-zippy speeds at up to 11,000x faster than a standard Intel chip. "We believe quantum computing may help solve some of the most challenging computer science problems particularly in machine learning," said a post on Google's research blog.
This morning we are waking up to the news that NASA's Kepler Space Telescope may have just came to an early end of mission due to a faulty piece of orientation hardware. The fault falls within one of the wheels that stabilize and help keep the spacecraft pointed in the right direction.
When Kepler needs to be repositioned or stabilized for image capturing, three wheels are spun up to take advantage of centripetal force. Kepler needs three of its wheels running at all times to ensure a stable orientation. On Wednesday NASA officials announced that one of those three wheels had stopped functioning, which put the telescope into "safe mode."
Unfortunately, unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler is far away from our reach and was not designed to be serviceable. Plus, with the shuttle program long gone, it's not like we would have a way to get to it anyway. "Kepler's not in a place where I can go up and rescue it, or any other astronaut," said John Grunsfeld, the head of science at NASA, and the man who is famous for repairing the Hubble.
No longer do Navy drones have to be land-based. The United States Navy has officially tested the X-47B on an aircraft carrier and it is the first unmanned aircraft to be launched from an aircraft carrier. Even cooler, the X-47B was launched from the aircraft carrier using the steam-powered catapult.
To be fair, the system was piloted by a person located on the aircraft carrier. After taking off, the drone was piloted to a runway on land for landing. With this first test successfully completed, the X-47B will now have its automatic navigation and landing tested.
The US Office of Naval Research has successfully flown a drone for two entire days using a tank filled with liquid hydrogen. The previous experiment used a hydrogen fuel cell as its power source, flying for a then record time of 26 hours.
The new test used a cryogenic storage tank filled with liquid hydrogen, flying for 48 hours, breaking the previous record by nearly an entire day. We should expect this technology to continue to impress, just give it a few more years.
Yesterday, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) discovered an ammonia leak in a coolant loop that cools the power system attached to one of the large solar arrays on the ISS. NASA officials say that the crew of six is in no danger and that this leak will most likely result in the array being shut down until the leak is fixed.
This same system has had leaks before, in 2007 a leak in the same spot was discovered, but was much smaller then and was such that it did not warrant an immediate repair. It was so small that the system was recharged with just eight pounds of ammonia in 2011 during a visit from the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Last November, an attempt to repair the leak was made during spacewalks made by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese space flyer Akihiko Hoshide. The fix was only temporary though and now it has reared its ugly head again.
"It is a serious situation, but between crew and experts on the ground, it appears to have been stabilized. Tomorrow we find out for certain," space station commander Chris Hadfield of Canada wrote Thursday via Twitter, where he posts updates as @Cmdr_Hadfield.
This morning Google and Time released the culmination of a project in which they teamed up with NASA and the US Geological Survey to produce a historical perspective on how Earth has changed over the past 30 years.
The project takes satellite imagery produced by the LandSat program and stitches them together removing clouds and haze to produce animated GIF images of how a region has changed over the past three decades. The Time.com hosted site features a handful of pre-chosen sites such as the Amazon Rainforest, Las Vegas, Dubai, Mendenhall Glacier and the Oil Sands fields in Russia.
The project consists of literally millions of individual images taken by the LandSat satellites that have been orbiting Earth at an altitude of over 400 miles since the 1970's. The project began in 2009 when Google began working with the USGS to make the entire archive of LandSat imagery available to the public.
NASA has decided to get rid of their Windows-powered notebooks on the International Space Station (ISS) and replace with them with Linux-powered counterparts. On top of this, the first humanoid robot in space, R2, is powered by Linux.
Keith Chuvala, who has quite a mouthful of titles, is a United Space Alliance contractor, manager of the Space Operations Computing (SpOC) for NASA, and leader of the ISS's Laptops and Network Integration Teams, recently explained that NASA decided to move away from Windows, and in to the arms of Linux for the ISS's PCs. He said:
We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable - one that would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust, or adapt, we could.
I know I'm not the only one on the TweakTown staff that loves space. I also believe many of our readers happen to be space fans following Curiosity's journey on Mars. We now have three stunning panoramic images stitched together from over 60 raw images taken by the rover. These panoramas allow a wider field of view so you can get a better sense of where Curiosity is working.
Ken Kremer, creator of the panoramas:
I chose these scenes because they vividly tell the story of what NASA seeks to accomplish with Curiosity in the search for signs of life on Mars as well as tell the science story of the entire mission at a glance - one panorama is worth a thousand words, so to speak.
The images are stunning and really give a good idea of what the red planet's horizon looks like. In two of the three panoramas, Mount Sharp rises majestically in the background. This was done on purpose, according to Kremer, because it's "a dramatic backdrop as well as being the rover's ultimate destination."
Maybe these pictures will help encourage people to sign up to live in the Mars Colony.