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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 52

Comet ISON partially survives its close encounter with the sun

Over the last year, I have been reporting on Comet ISON, and its impending extremely close encounter with the sun. Yesterday, while many of us were sitting down to dinner tables, and enjoying a nice meal with friends and family, ISON skirted through the very upper region of the sun.

 

 

ISON reached perihelion, its closest point to the sun, around 1:30pm EDT yesterday afternoon. Initial reports were that the icy traveler had succumbed to the intense heat and gravity that is present just 750,000 miles from the sun. In fact, all of the images coming out of NASA's SOHO observatory indicated that ISON took a sharp turn into the sun just before perihelion and vaporized.

 

Fortunately this morning new data has been released that shows that ISON's nucleus or partial chunk of its nucleus managed to survive. In the video above, you can see what appears to be a jet of debris getting flung away from the Sun just a few degrees above the comets entry point. It is still unclear whether or not any of this debris will become visible to the naked eye from earths surface in the next few weeks, but all is not lost. The data that ISON has provided the scientific community is simply massive and will allow scientist to study not only comets, but the suns magnetosphere for decades to come.

Continue reading 'Comet ISON partially survives its close encounter with the sun' (full post)

Fly into space using Bitcoins thanks to Virgin Galactic

It seems that as every day passes, Bitcoins grow more popular with the mainstream, and today is no exception. This morning, Virgin Galactic announced that it has began accepting Bitcoin as payment for round trip flights into space. The announcement came from Virgin Galactic founder, Richard Branson in a blog post.

 

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"Virgin Galactic is one of the universe's most exciting, futuristic companies. Bitcoin, the virtual currency, has really captured the imagination recently as one of the world's most innovative businesses looking to the future. So we think it is about time Virgin Galactic customers can choose to pay with bitcoins." said Branson in the blog post.

 

Branson went on to say that he has invested in Bitcoins himself, and that he finds it fascinating how a global currency has been created so quickly. "For people who can afford to invest a little in bitcoins, it's worth looking into." he said.

Chinese scientists use water to create metal, can print it, too

Yeah, science, b****. You all know the show, but science really is a magical thing, isn't it? Well, three Chinese scientists have found a new way to create metal, from liquid at room temperatures.

 

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This metal can then be printed onto pretty much anything, as would ordinary ink. It will stick to surfaces such as rubber, paper, t-shirts, or even a leaf. Yes, a leaf, from an actual tree. The biggest thing to take away from this, according to the MIT Technology Review,e is that the alloy of gallium and indium that the scientists discovered.

 

It's printable at room temperature, compared to other circuit inks that require massive temperatures, upwards of 400C/752F. This is an issue when you want to print onto something that much catch fire, or perish, such as paper. The three scientists explain: "Different from the former direct writing technology where large surface tension and poor adhesion between the liquid metal and the substrate often impede the flexible printing process, the liquid metal here no longer needs to be pre-oxidized to guarantee its applicability on target substrates."

 

The best bit? It's cheap. MIT says that the technology involved in this innovation is "cheap and simple," which should hopefully mean we see it commercialized, quick.

NASA set to launch the MAVEN mission to Mars today, watch it live

We know quite a bit about the surface of Mars, and have visited the red planet's surface several times now. One thing we do not know very much about though is the composition of the clouds and the very thin Atmosphere that surrounds Mars. Today NASA will launch a new probe aimed at the 4th planet that will study these things and lend us further insight into what Mars once was, and what it is today.

 

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Today at 1:30pm Eastern, NASA will "Light the candle" otherwise known as an Atlas 5 rocket, and set MAVEN on its way to the Martian atmosphere. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution or "MAVEN" probe will be put into a highly elliptical orbit around Mars and the probe will actually dip deep into the atmosphere to collect and study gasses that are present in clouds and the atmosphere in general. The purpose is to understand how Mars' atmosphere reacts with the Sun and what might have caused it to mostly disappear over the last several hundred million years.

 

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MAVEN will orbit the planet and when its mission is done, the orbiter will be crashed into the surface of the planet. While this may seem like a waste, after several thousand dips deep into the atmosphere of Mars, MAVEN will have become quite weathered and its instruments, surface, solar panels, and other hardware will be near failure. Crashing the probe into the surface is the safest way to decommission the probe at the end of its life. For those who wish to watch the launch take place today at 1:30PM Eastern, NASA is streaming the launch live on NASA TV.

Google will invest $80 million in solar farms in California, Arizona

Google is pumping another $80 million into alternative energy projects, where it will partner up with solar developer, Recurrent Energy, and private equity firm KKR & Co. on the two projects.

 

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The $80 million will be used on six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona, with the sunlight being captured enough to generate power for more than 17,000 homes. Google said on its official blog: "You'd think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope -- we're still as into it as ever, which is why we're so pleased to announce our 14th investment."

Comet ISON is now bright enough to view with binoculars

Comet ISON may not be putting on the dazzling display we were promised repeatedly over the last year, but the chunk of space ice has made itself visible to the general public as of late. Anyone with binoculars of at least 10x50 power is now able to view ISON as it brightens to a magnitude of 8.

 

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ISON will continue to brighten as it approaches the Sun and comes within 730,000 miles of the solar surface. As it begins to make its way around the sun and back out into the far reaches of our solar system, ISON will become naked eye visible for a brief period in December, and will best be viewed just after sunset, and just before sunrise. Those wishing to see ISON now, can find the icey traveler with binoculars at the "nose" of the constellation of Leo.

Continue reading 'Comet ISON is now bright enough to view with binoculars' (full post)

Russia to open the Commercial Space Station hotel, in space, by 2016

I haven't traveled too much in my life, but if there's one place I'd love to visit it would be space, and it looks like it's becoming more of a reality each day, especially thanks to Russia.

 

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Orbital Technologies, a Russian company, has announced plans to build a hotel... in space. The hotel would be for commercial use, and is officially known as the Commercial Space Station, which will be capable of housing 7 guests throughout 4 cabins. The Commercial Space Station will float about the Earth at 350km, with guests enjoying the zero-gravity feel.

 

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There'll be no flowing water, so if you want to shower, you'll have to use wet wipes. What about going to the bathroom? Well, that will be carried through flowing air, with both water and air being filtered and recycled in the satellite itself, and then reused by the occupants of the hotel. There is a strict no-alcohol law on the space hotel, too.

Continue reading 'Russia to open the Commercial Space Station hotel, in space, by 2016' (full post)

India is on its way to Mars, would be the fourth to the red planet

Getting to Mars isn't easy, with countries like China failing so far, but now India ia having its turn, successfully launching the Mars Orbiter Mission, which is a satellite looking through the red planet's atmosphere for chemicals like methane.

 

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The spacecraft will take approximately 300 days to reach Mars, but it is doing so very cheaply, with a cost of just $72 million. The Mars Orbiter Missions team is saving money be using Earth's orbit to speed up the launch speed. We should hear more in the coming months of how the MOM is doing.

You thought solar power was good? How about power from the moon?

I have to admit, I rent a house that is solar-powered and it is amazing. My bills dropped from around $1600 per quarter to around $30 and I could not be any happier, unless I was pulling power from the moon.

 

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This is exactly what André Broessel, a European architect and engineer has built. A weatherproof harvesting system that can accept power from multiple light sources, including our moon. The liquid-filled glass sphere design not only looks great, but it is able to turn light into heat, meaning it can harvest the rays of our sun, and our moon.

 

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The sphere is made to me mounted on buildings individually, or in arrays, with a computerized control system taking control, tracking available illumination in the day, but it can also track the moon and harness its energy. I'd like one, now.

'Reverse microwaves' are coming, will cool drinks down in seconds

In a "why didn't I think of it first" we can expect the microwave industry to be completely turned on its head, with a next-generation microwave coming which will be a 'reverse-microwave' which will be capable of chilling down a drink in 45 seconds.

 

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The new reverse-microwave will be capable of chilling down soft drinks and wine bottles from room temperature to just four degrees in seconds. The device will cool drinks of all shapes and sizes to different temperatures without disturbing the contents of the drink itself, or the carbonation. The technology has been developed with the help of research funding from the European Union, which works with the help of a cooling vortex which spins the drink around.

 

This starts a stop-start rotational sequence which creates something known as a Rankine vortex, which is a collapsed vortex in a viscous fluid. The drink will be rotated quickly around twin axes in water which will keep the drink in its original state, all while cooling it down for your pleasure. V-Tex created the technology, where it has said that the process requires just 20% of the energy required by standard drink chillers.

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