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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 51

SpaceTT: Saturn's rings and its moons are remnants of our solar system's birth

NASA has released a new study done on the findings of its Cassini spacecraft that is orbiting Saturn. The findings suggest that the planet's mesmerizing rings and beautiful planets are ruminants of the early formation of our solar system.


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Since the findings indicate that the rings and moon formed at the same time our solar system was forming, they are four billion year old time capsules that can help scientists understand more about the planetary nebula of gas and dust in which our solar system formed from.


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"Studying the Saturnian system helps us understand the chemical and physical evolution of our entire solar system," Cassini scientist Gianrico Filacchione, of Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, said in a statement. "We know now that understanding this evolution requires not just studying a single moon or ring, but piecing together the relationships intertwining these bodies."

Continue reading 'SpaceTT: Saturn's rings and its moons are remnants of our solar system's birth' (full post)

'Express' flights to the International Space Station takes travel time down from two days to just six hours, no frequent flier miles included

Normal trips from Earth to the International Space Station take around two days, but the first manned "express" flights to the ISS happened today, a journey which will cut down the time from two days to just six hours.


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The flight is being manned by one NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, and is expected to have docked by 12:10am EDT. This is the first manned express flight, but there have been numerous unmanned cargo flights taking the six-hour express flight to the ISS.

Pi MusicBox creates a Raspberry Pi and Spotify mashup that we love

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services available, and Raspberry Pi is one of the hottest devices on the market right now. It only seems natural that they find each other and mesh into a form of music streaming goodness.


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Pi MusicBox is a bootable Debian image designed to work with the Raspberry Pi and implements Modipy, which is a music streaming server. One of the awesome features of Modipy is its ability to stream music straight from Spotify as well as playback from local storage. It can be remote controlled from any Music Player Daemon (MPD) or web browser.


There are MPD apps for virtually every OS you can think of including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and Linux. Pi MusicBox would make the perfect wireless music streaming device for those who do not want to shell out the funds for something like a Sonos or Wi-Fi enabled stereo.

Continue reading 'Pi MusicBox creates a Raspberry Pi and Spotify mashup that we love' (full post)

Google's self-driving car parks in parking space reserved for Nobel laureates

We won't deny the fact that Google's self-driving car is very well equipped when it comes to computing power. It has an massive array of sensors and is able to process all of that data in near real-time. But, can the car compete with, say, a UC Berkeley Nobel laureate? The car sure seems to think so:


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The parking spot looked perfectly acceptable to it. This brings up an interesting question about Google's self-driving car and parking. Is the car able to tell where it is legal to park? Can it detect handicapped signs and limited time parking signs? All questions that I'm sure will be answered as the technology progresses.

ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet

For the last 50 years or so, it has been widely accepted that an impact from an asteroid was the direct cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs, but it appears that that theory has now been turned upside down. A recent report that was given at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference suggests that it was not an asteroid that caused the demise of the dinosaurs, but was actually a comet.


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This theory is based on the fact that 180km wide Chicxulub crater in Mexico is simply too large to have been caused by a meteor, which is supported by the lack of an abundance of iridium. An element which would have been kicked up in vast quantities if such a large asteroid were the source of the crater.


Dr. Jason Moore, of Dartmouth College said: "You'd need an asteroid of about 5km diameter to contribute that much iridium and osmium. But an asteroid that size would not make a 200km-diameter crater," He theorized that the crater was created by something moving much faster than an asteroid, something with less rock and more ice.

Continue reading 'ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet' (full post)

Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean

From the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, significant pieces of Saturn V's rocket engines have been recovered. What makes this a big announcement is the fact they've been there for over 40 years, and recovered thanks to a privately-funded expedition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.


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Bezos explained the site of the discovery three miles below the surface, more than 400 miles from Florida's east cost as "an underwater wonderland, an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo programme." The Amazon founder announced over a year ago that they had located the engine pieces that took man to the moon in 1969.


After three weeks abord a recovery vessel named 'Seabed Worker', Bezos and his team are on their way back to Cape Canaveral with their pieces of the Saturn V rocket engines. Bezos said in a statement on the expedition website: "We're bringing home enough major components to fashion displays of two flown F-1 engines. Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult. We might see more during restoration. The objects themselves are gorgeous."

Continue reading 'Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean' (full post)

SpaceX's Merlin rocket engine approved for use

Space enthusiasts get excited: SpaceX's new Merlin rocket engine has been approved for use. Gaining this qualification wasn't easy. The Merlin rocket engine was subjected to a total of 28 tests amounting to 1,970 seconds of total test time. SpaceX has said that this amounts to 10 full missions of use.


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The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program. With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9's Flight 6 this year.


The Merlin will see its first use launching a weather and communications satellite into low-Earth orbit. After that, Merlin will be used to launch a satellite into geosynchronous orbit. The Merlin engine has been in development for about two years.

New under-skin implant beams back blood test data to your smartphone

Researchers just released information on a new half-inch long medical sensor that is implanted under the skin, and can send data back to your smartphone via Bluetooth. This technology will greatly benefit those who have to test their blood on a regular basis like diabetes and cancer patients.


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The device is capable of streaming back information on things like blood glucose levels, monitoring cholesterol and even predict heart attacks before they occur by sensing minute changes in blood chemistry. The sensor is also able to aid in the treatment of cancer patients by monitoring chemotherapy treatments using five built in sensors.



The device has already been successfully tested on animals, and researchers are hoping to begin human trials soon. The first patients to trial the device will be those whose treatment requires a large amount of blood testing to be done. As someone who has some blood sugar issues, I would love to be able to test my glucose levels without having to stick my finger ever again.

More details on Raspberry Pi's camera module surface, still aiming for $25 and up to 2592x1944 stills

Since its release, the Raspberry Pi has been changing the DIY landscape much like the Arduino did in 2009-2011. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been hard at work developing the most anticipated add-on module it has developed to date, the camera module.


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Today Raspberry Pi released a blog post detailing how the upcoming $25 camera module was created, and in that document we learn some interesting information about the camera. A fixed focus 5MP sensor capable of 2592x1944 stills, but also 1080p30, 720p60 and 640x480p60/90 video is featured. The lens is fixes so that means no auto focus will be present.


The camera will connect to the Raspberry Pi via two connections. I2C will handle the basic functions like start, stop, change resolution, and adjust exposure time. The much higher bandwidth CSI bus will handle the pixel data from the sensor back to the processor.


Each pixel produced are 10 bits wide compared to the 8-bit pixels you are used to seeing with standard JPGs. Raspberry Pi configured things this way so that they can adjust parts of the dynamic range, which will reduce "gaps" that cause banding in images. In the blog post, the foundation said that they are very close to releasing the camera module now and that the $25 price point is still there.

Continue reading 'More details on Raspberry Pi's camera module surface, still aiming for $25 and up to 2592x1944 stills' (full post)

3D-printed guns are on their way, Defense Distributed receives federal firearms license to manufacture them

Defense Distributed has received a federal firearms license, with company head Cody Wilson announcing this would allow his company to manufacture and sell the group's guns. The news comes from Defense Distributed's Facebook page, where they uploaded a photo of the license with a note saying "The work begins!"


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Wilson has said that the Type 7 license he received will allow him the same rights as other manufacturers, where he adds: "I can sell some of the pieces that we've been making. I can do firearms transactions and transport." Wilson will be required to, of course, keep records on what his company makes and sells, but he doesn't have plans to sell anything until he receives a supplemental license to make a broader range of firearms.


Defense Distributed seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to 3D-printed gun companies, successfully testing 3D-printed rifle lowers and high-capacity magazines.

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