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NASA has ordered two American astronauts to do some urgent repairs on the International Space Station, a job that could continue right into Christmas for the astronauts, and the space agency.
Station managers decided it needed to send out two astronauts as soon as possible, with the spacewalk to see a pump with a bad valve being replaced. The task will require two to three spacewalks, which will take place on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday - Christmas Day. NASA astronaut, Rick Mastracchio, said: "The next week will be busy with space walks so not much tweeting from here."
With half of the International Space Station's cooling system shut down, this job is a top priority. With the six-man crew on board requiring all non-essential equipment be turned off, including some science experiments. The astronauts themselves are safe, but NASA of course wants the system up and running at 100% once again, especially if another failure is to occur, which could put the lives of the astronauts, and the ISS itself at risk.
This morning Gigastone announced the launch of a new USB On-The-Go drive designed for use with both standard and mobile USB capable devices. On-the-Go drives are growing ever more popular recently with the introduction of Android devices that can utilize their USB port for external storage.
The all new Gigastone On-The-Go drive features a capacity of up to 32GB and allows content from mobile devices, PCs, and Macs to be quickly transferred between each other. The device also functions as an easy to use external storage solution for Android Devices.
"People today face a dilemma of having material stored on their PC or laptop and needing it on their smartphone or tablet," said Sherry Chapman, senior director of marketing at Gigastone. "Our new dual-drive, bi-directional On-The-Go USB/MicroUSB connector is the perfect way for 'on-the-go' individuals to save, backup, or transfer files. And the process is as easy as 1-2-3."
The US Navy is now capable of launching drones from submarines, using their torpedo tubes, while under the water - incredible, isn't it? The US Naval Research Laboratory announced the news, stating it can now launch a drone into the air from a submerged submarine.
The drone itself will fly around for around an hour, which isn't too bad for reconnaissance missions. Obviously this is just the beginning, and this technology will continue to improve as time goes on. The future of this technology will be exciting for military applications, which I'm sure the military is getting a big grin on their face about right about now.
Back when I first reported on Comet ISON, the entire astronomical community was convinced that if given the chance, ISON would bloom into the brightest comet in recorded history. ISON was deemed something special because this visit was its first into the inner solar system, and no one knew how it might react to the suns immense heat.
As ISON passed earth and headed towards the sun, it brightened a great bit and it looked as though we might get the spectacular once in a lifetime show that had been promised, but on Thanksgiving day that all changed. As the comet approached perihelion it seemed to take a quite sharp turn into the sun and hours passed without any sign of the ball of ice and rock. Shortly after many had declared ISON dead, a glimmer of hope appeared in the form of a bright v shaped cloud of dust that was heading away from the sun.
Many though that a fraction of ISON may have survived and that just a rocky nucleus was all that was left. If true, ISON could have flared back up to naked eye visibility once it was far enough away from the sun to not be out-shown by the suns glare. Unfortunately what we though was a solid intact nucleus turned out to be fragments of the comet that were rapidly disintegrating, and new images have shown that the bright dust trail left by ISON's remains have began to fade into obscurity. As of today, the official word appears to be that ISON has met its fate and was mostly vaporized upon its entry into the Suns coronasphere.
While most Americans will be hitting up those Cyber Monday sales, China will be launching a rover to the moon. 3:30am on Sunday morning, a rocket carrying "Jade Rabbit" will take off, headed to the moon.
State broadcaster CCTV, took to Twitter, saying: "The Chang'e 3 is set to be launched for its moon mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 2." If the mission is successful, it will be a massive win for China, which hopes to have a permanent space station by 2020, and will eventually send a man to the moon.
All eyes are on China as we shift into the new week.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."