The International Space Station (ISS) may have detected the elusive so-called dark matter, which is believed to be the glue that holds the universe together. The discovery comes from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on-board the ISS, which has detected about 400,000 positrons.
Positrons are the antimatter partner particle of electrons. Positrons have been detected before, but these are a little different in composition. They have an energy signature that suggest they might have been formed when particles of dark matter collided with other particles of dark matter.
In other space news, Saturn has once again returned to the northern hemispheres nighttime skies. Saturn has always been my favorite object to view, not just because of its beauty, but because it's easy to find and view with minimal equipment. A decent set of binoculars as well as cheap department store telescopes can all resolve Saturn and its rings and you might even be able to notice some color in the rings if the skies are clear enough.
NASA has said that they will not be sending any commands to the Curiosity rover for the next four weeks due to the alignment of Mars, the sun, and Earth. Their fear is that the sun could corrupt commands sent to Curiosity and result in unexpected behavior or damage system components.
The [communications] moratorium is a precaution against possible interference by the sun corrupting a command sent to the rover.
Curiosity will be operating in an autonomous mode, running off of commands sent up before the moratorium went into place. After May 1, Curiosity will be able to send back the results of its testing. NASA won't be completely out of touch with the rover as it will still be sending information back to let researchers know its still alive.
We will maintain visibility of rover status two ways. First, Curiosity will be sending daily beeps directly to Earth. Our second line of visibility is in the Odyssey relays.
You can expect to not receive any Curiosity updates during the next four weeks. After that, the team plans to conduct another drilling to confirm and extend what was learned from a drilling that took place in February.
It's been a long and drawn out wait for the Raspberry Pi Model A to be released, but it is finally here and on sale in the US for a mere $25. Surprisingly the Model A is not being launched at Element14 as everyone might think.
Allied Electronics, a Texas based component supplier appears to be the first to market with the new $25 credit card sized Linux computer. The Model A is a dumbed down version of the vastly popular Raspberry Pi model B and differs in just a few missing components such as the LAN interface.
Unfortunately it appears that Allied has already sold out of the Model A's which leads us to wonder, why do these component houses not order several tens of thousands of units. They always blame supply, but Arduino was able to overcome supply shortages faster than Raspberry Pi has seemed to. If you know your product is going to sell in the hundreds of thousands almost overnight, why not scale up production to meet that demand?
NASA requests $100 million, wants to find an asteroid in space, drag it toward the Moon and send astronauts to study it
NASA has an interesting plan that would see them find an asteroid in space, drag it toward the Moon and send astronauts to study it. NASA are requesting $100 million for the mission, which is coming in the middle of their fight over the 2014 budget continues in Washington.
The idea comes from the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology back in 2011. Scientists have said that the plan is capable of being played out within the next decade, and would be a very good move for future endeavours by US engineers to plunder asteroids with robotic mining for water and metals. NASA has requested $100 million, with Keck researchers admitting that the actual operation would cost as much as $2.6 billion and it would take at least six years to grab an asteroid close to Earth.
The researchers have said that there could be as many as 20,000 pieces of space debris within a decent distance from the Earth, but it could take astronauts up to six months to travel to the asteroid in order to pull it back toward the Moon.
NASA have said that if politicians don't get in their way, a major announcement for this plan could be in their future.
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.
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.
"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."
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
Last week I reported on a comet that was set to make an appearance in our twilight skies and even though it has dimmed past naked eye visibility, those with binoculars, telescopes and DSLR's can still view the spectacular Comet Pan-STARRS. Astronomers, astrophotographers and photographers across the US have captured some stunning images during it's week long visit and I want to share them with you.
First up is an image taken from Sumter, South Carolina by my good friend and fellow astrophotographer Hap Griffin (source #1). He captured the image which includes Pan-STARRS and the crescent moon in a single frame as they set behind a tree line near his home.
Up next is a breath-taking shot of Pan-STARRS that was taken by photographer Chris Cook (source #2) at First Encounter Beach, Massachusetts. The shot features Cook and his son standing on a hill gazing in wonderment at such a beautiful scene.
Scientist at the CERN research facility in Switzerland announced recently that they are "certain" that they have found the so-called "God Particle" known as the Higgs boson.
For years now scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been using the Large Hadron Collider to accelerate atoms to near the speed of light just for the purpose of smashing them together in hopes of seeing the elusive Higgs boson particle.
This week at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the scientists say that have their proof - or at least part of it:
"The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is."
This means that we have not only discovered the long theorized Higgs boson, but we have discovered that more than one type exists. One spokesperson said the particle they found has the "spin parity" of a "Standard Model Higgs boson", and that further tests will be needed to verify if that is indeed the case.
In the on-going news surrounding America's favorite space rover, NASA has confirmed that Mars was once suitable for life. These results come from the successful drilling of a rock by the Curiosity rover and subsequent analysis of the powdered rock.
John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist:
We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that, if this water had been around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.
The rock contained sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. All of these elements are key to life and show that Mars could have once supported life.
David Blake, principal investigator for Curiosity's CheMin instrument:
I think this is probably the only definitively habitable environment [outside of Earth] that we have described and recorded
Previous results from the Opportunity rover, which was located on a different portion of Mars, found that the previous aqueous environment was extremely acidic and not suitable for life. With these results, it becomes even more likely and possible that extra-terrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe.
How do you feel about these results?
SpaceX is working on pioneering the exploration of the next frontier: Space. The private company has already had huge successes, winning the contract to deliver payloads to the International Space Station aboard its rockets. Now the company is working on developing a reusable Grasshopper rocket. You can see the latest test below:
It's not clear when SpaceX will make use of this rocket, as it comes with a somewhat peculiar design. The rocket is designed to take off and land vertically on its metal legs. The rocket has been undergoing testing since September 2012 and this latest test saw the rocket climb to 262.8 feet and hover before landing.
The 100-foot-tall rocket has a good distance to go before making it to space, but it seems to be well on its way. "The US is a country of explorers. People need to believe that [space travel] is not going to bankrupt them," stated Musk at his SXSWi keynote.
Whether you like Arduino or not, you have to admit that the small Italian company founded my Massimo Banzi has truly revolutionized the way the DIY world does things. Today Arduino released its next official product, the GSM Shield.
Arduino has paved the way for things such as cheap, easy to use development boards, all the way to DIY gaming controllers, and now they are looking to truly connect the internet of things wherever you may be. The GSM Shield partnered up with Telefonica Digital to "design a tool that is greatly simplifying the process of building Internet of Things applications based on the GSM mobile phone network".
The GSM Shield also includes a Telefonica SIM card that includes a worldwide data tariff which can be used anywhere there is a cellular signal. Features include the ability to have the Arduino send an SMS message when a sensor or data set reaches a specific threshold, or even send and receive voice calls directly to your Arduino based project.
A groundbreaking operation is being called a success this morning after doctors successfully replaced 75% of a man's skull with a 3D printed prosthetic. The replacement skull was created by an additive deposition 3D printing process.
Oxford Performance Materials in Connecticut then gained approval from US regulators earlier this week and had kept the procedure a secret until now. The company says that it is now able to provide bone-like replacements that are etched in a way that promotes real bone growth and skin adhesion.
Oxford Performance Materials says that more than 500 patients in the US monthly could benefit from this new type of surgery and that it can produce an implant within two weeks of receiving 3D scans of the damaged area. The patients name was not released nor was the name of the location that the surgery took place.
Google offer $20 million for the first privately-funded company to land a robot on the moon and send back high-def video
Google of all companies are offering a $20 million prize to the first privately-funded company to land on the moon, explore its surface by moving at least 500 meters, and send back high-definition video back to us here on Earth by 2015.
There's a second-place prize too, with $5 million to whoever completes the same mission. Bonus prizes are on offer for who can travel more than 5km, find water or discover any traces of man's past on the moon, such as the Apollo site. The possibilities are endless, and exciting for those of us who won't be involved with the trip.
High-def video from the moon? I'd love for a company to install a 4K-capable camera on the moon, live-streaming 24/7 - now that would be something.