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One of the most studied and definitely, the most visited planets in our solar system, other than Earth, is Mars. Humans have been studying Mars for centuries and only in the last several decades have we really begun to understand the red planet and what its surface looks like.
An awesome new geological map has been published that shows what the surface of Mars looks like and the map contains 30 years of data collected about the red planet. The map, pictured here, comes from the US Geological Survey. All the colors you see on the map represent parts of the crust of the planet formed at different times.
The green areas are believed to be lowland plains that are covered in sediment leftover for lakes and rivers that scientist believe covered the planet billions of years ago. All of the bright yellow dots are impact craters.
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a probe to study the surface of a comet and the comet that probe is targeting is known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An unexpected discovery was made recently that could affect the mission that Rosetta is on, its target comet isn't a single body as previously believed.
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been discovered recently to be what scientists call a contact binary. This means that the nucleus of the comet is made up of not one, but two bodies. The team believes that the comet came to be configured like this in one of two ways. The first is that a single large nucleus might have fractured at some time in the past creating the contact binary configuration.
The second way the comet could have come to this configuration is by the collision of two comets to form one. Rosetta is supposed to actually land on the surface of the comet and with this discovery, the discussion has now turned to which part of the comet would be the best to land on. The sequence of images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko seen here were taken last Friday. Rosetta is set to rendezvous with the comet August 6.
Shortly after firing two more ballistic missiles in its latest tests, North Korea has launched more than 100 artillery shells into the ocean, using multiple rocket launchers. There have been more than 100 missile, rocket and artillery tests conducted by North Korea so far in 2014, with military experts expecting tests to continue.
North Korean President Kim Jong Un will order additional missile tests, in an effort to annoy South Korea and the United States, while developing its controversial ballistic missile capability. It's ironic because North Korea wants to meet with political leaders from the south, but will continue its missile tests regardless of what happens.
"The North fired 100 artillery shells between 11:43 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.," according to the South Korean government. "The shells fell 1-8 km north of the NLL [Northern Limit Line] in the East Sea. The artillery pieces are evaluated as having ranges between 3 and 50 km, and there were no shells that fell south of the NLL."
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) successfully shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as Israel and Hamas continue intense fighting in Gaza. The drone was likely unarmed and was promptly shot down with a Patriot missile, causing a large explosion - but Hamas said other drones were also sent into Israel to conduct "special missions."
Although there is fear of armed UAVs, there are little details about the Hamas drone technology, and security experts say there is little fear of air threats targeting Israeli populations. Hamas reportedly says the group has surveillance drones, armed-missile drones, and some type of craft able to nose-dive into targets - a concern if some type of improvised explosive device (IED) is placed on the kamikaze aircraft.
"Drones are probably bigger and more problematic to smuggle into Gaza through tunnels than normal rockets, they are probably more expensive, and they are going to be more vulnerable and easier to shoot down," said Paul Schulte, London's King College senior research fellow of the department of war studies. "Their remote controlling could also be jammed by Israel."
Google has partnered with biotech giant Novartis to create "smart" contact lenses that will allow diabetics to track blood glucose levels. The lenses would allow diabetics to measure glucose levels in tear fluid, with the data immediately sent to a smartphone or other mobile device. The contacts should also be able to help the eye better focus if a medical scare occurs.
Novartis wants to "transform eye care" and hopes to commercialize the Google X contact lens technology, as the biotech company looks to utilize technology to help manage human medical diseases and conditions.
"We are looking forward to working with Google to bring together their advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs," said Joseph Jimenez, Novartis CEO, in a press statement. "This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye."
The United States Marine Corps is developing the Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC), which will be used to replace the Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC). The UHAC could help shuttle Marines, supplies, and vehicles quickly and safely to the shore, including unloading multiple tanks.
The UHAC has two tracks utilizing foam flaps that allow it to cover rough terrain and still be buoyant while in the water. The current prototype is about 18-feet high, meaning it's not necessarily difficult to see, but developers hope to streamline it a bit smaller before final production. It should also be able to travel up to 25 mph at top speed in the water, though only reaches 5 mph during testing.
U.S. military researchers are always investigating how they can develop next-generation technology to improve battlefield efficiency. The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab has a difficult task to create realistic technologies while fighting falling budgets, and hopes its UHAC shows what the department can truly do.
Typically, when we talk about missions to the ISS to resupply the crew aboard the space station, we are talking about SpaceX. The other company that has a contract in the US to resupply the ISS is Orbital Sciences, and it has just launched its third mission to the ISS.
Orbital put its Cygnus unmanned spacecraft into orbit yesterday with a cargo hold packed with supplies for the space station. Among the supplies aboard the spacecraft was food, science gear, and mini satellites. Cygnus launched and was successfully put into the required orbit to link up with the ISS after a "perfect" launch. Orbital has one more resupply mission set for this year with three to take place in 2015.
"Today's mission was the fourth successful launch of Antares in the past 15 months and the third deployment of Cygnus in less than year," said David W. Thompson, Orbital's president and CEO. "So far, our second operational CRS mission is off to a great start with Cygnus operating exactly as anticipated at this early stage of the mission. We are very pleased to be a reliable partner with NASA to meet their need for reliable, regularly scheduled cargo resupply for the ISS."
One of the things that NASA spends lots of money searching for is life on other planets. That life doesn't necessarily have to be another intelligent species; it could be nothing more than some bacteria or other simple life forms. NASA has recently predicted that 100 million world's in the Milky Way galaxy might host alien life.
The space agency recently outlined a roadmap that it will follow in an effort to discover exoplanets that might host alien life. That roadmap includes the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017 and the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
The most interesting prediction by NASA is that we will find alien life in the next 20 years with a high chance that it is outside our solar system. "Do we believe there is life beyond Earth?" said former astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone."
A brand new material made from carbon nanotubes is so densely black that it isn't entirely visible to the human eye, if a British company's research is to be believed.
The maker of the material, Surrey NanoSystems, built the so-called Vantablack out of a coating comprising carbon nanotubes. According to the researchers, it absorbs just 0.035 percent of visible light, causing much of the light shined on the material to never appear again. As the company's CTO Ben Jensen explains: "It's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there," he said. "It just looks so strange." Because it absorbs so much light the material can even distort the appearance of objects around it.
Right now the applications for such a material are unclear - but surprise, surprise, it seems like there could be military uses for Vantablack that it's not allowed to talk about at this point. The material will be publicly launched at Britain's Farnborough International Airshow this week - where show-goers will be free to take a look at it, if they can find it at all.
Bonnie Scotland could be host to one of the first commercial spaceports outside of the United States according to new plans that have just been unveiled by the country's government.
Scottish voters will soon decide whether or not the country claims independent from the United Kingdom - and according to its government today, only national sovereignty could lead to heavy development of its space industry. A Scottish spaceport would primarily serve to launch satellites, but there are hopes it would also draw in attention from lofty galactic tourism operators like Virgin and XCor.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander, suggested Scotland could take a pivotal role in developing the UK's space industry. The Scottish government, however, seemed to suggest the country could be better going at it alone. "Scotland is proving that it has the expertise to attract and support such a specialized, global industry," a spokesperson told the BBC. "And as such an independent Scotland will be an attractive option for spaceport pioneers."