Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 184
Lego has announced that they will soon be offering up the next-generation of their Mindstorms line. The new system, which is the third-generation of its line, will be the EV3. EV3 sports a bunch of improved features in both hardware and software, where it's headed to the classroom and will also be used in Lego League competitions. Soren Thomsen of LEGO Education told Forbes:
We gathered information from teachers and coaches to meet their needs. This is a strong new kit that should last for a lot of years.
Some of the new features being built into EV3's kit include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the ability to add memory to the units - which is something that the Lego League teams have been asking for - as well as the file sizes of the programs being streamlined. The new EV3 has a 3D instruction manual which should make it easier for users to see all the pieces from all angles, allowing them to design and construct their own robots.
The EV3 is available right now for preorder and will ship in the fall semester of 2013.
Commander Chris Hadfield, currently on the International Space Station, recorded a Christmas carol in space. While that alone is pretty awesome, the fact that he was able to make it sound good with all the background noise is the really impressive part. When he made a comment regarding the noise with his original post, people asked him just how loud it is on the ISS, so he made a recording.
As you can hear in the recording, there is quite a bit of noise. Most of it comes from the fans and ventilation system that is keeping the astronauts alive, so we doubt they are complaining too much. Besides, they have optional earplugs and noise cancelling headphones to keep it at bay.
Sometime around 2015, NASA will incorporate a next-generation spacesuit that has a bunch of new features, but most noticeably, a new design. The new Z-1 NASA spacesuit will arrive in 2015 and offers a bunch of new advantages compared to the current and previous designs.
The biggest change would be the rear-entry hatch which lets an astronaut put the suit on from the back, and when finished, they just have to close the rear hatch. The current astronaut wear, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit, which has been in use since 1982, requires the wearer to put the pant and top portions on separately, and then connect them together.
Jumping into the spacesuit makes more sense, with its hatch being very handy for quick in-and-out experiences in the spacesuit. There's also a new suit port. Usually stored internally, the suit could attach to the exterior of the space vehicle, and the astronaut could easily enter the suit from inside the vehicle.
Defense contractor Rheinmetall have just tested their 50kW high-energy laser weapon, which was a complete success. The 50kW laser works by looking for a target using something they call the 'Skyguard radar system', locks the target in with an optical scanner before it goes to work.
After it has looked for its target, locked it in, it will fire multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. The German-made HEL cannon was capable of cutting through a 15mm-thick steel girder, but that's not all - it managed to do so from over 3,200 feet away. If you thought that was impressive, the laser was able to taking down a UAV, where after reaching the programmed fire sector, the laser weapon engaged the UAV's immediately, destroying them in seconds - keep in mind that these UAVs were flying at high speeds. Pew, pew indeed.
Lastly, the laser system was used in detection, pursuit and successful engagement of "an extremely small ballistic target". The team used a steel ball measuring in at 82 mm, travelling at 50 meters per second. This was used to replicate a mortar round, which the Skyguard fire control unit detected immediately, tracked the target, engaged it and destroyed it mid-air.
SpaceTT: North Korean satellite most likely dead and tumbling through space, according to astronomers
I'm sure most of you heard about that satellite that was launched into space by North Korea. Most of the developed world is upset at the country for this missile launch as many believe it was actually a test of a ballistic missile and not just to put a satellite in space. However, it looks like that satellite may now be broken.
"It's tumbling and we haven't picked up any transmissions," said Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks global rocket launchings and space activity. "Those two things are most consistent with the satellite being entirely inactive at this point."
The reason for failure isn't immediately clear, though it appears as though the onboard systems have failed. "It's clear that the rocket part of this mission worked very well for the North Koreans," Dr. McDowell said in an interview. "They ended up in the right orbit. But the preponderance of the evidence suggests that the satellite failed either during the ascent or shortly afterwards."
The satellite should not fall to Earth or cause any massive havoc, according to scientists. The satellite was said to be carrying a camera to observe Earth, which requires the satellite to be rock-steady, something it clearly isn't.
Convinced that the world will end on December 21 2012? Well thanks to the folks running the Slooh Space Camera, you can watch it all unfold online!
The online Slooh Space Camera will broadcase a series of live cosmic shots all week starting today. The webcast which are free will aid in helping us keep track of any monster solar storms, impending asteroid strikes or other potential agents of the so-called "Mayan apocalypse" that doomsayers claim is set for Friday.
"By acting independently of any government agency, which assumedly would be disbelieved by the millions who are convinced a giant cover-up is in place, Slooh will observe the planets and the ecliptic plane for anything out of the ordinary," Said Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman.
NASA's next step into the dark beyond is with their Orion capsule, which is looking to enter its first test flight in 2014. NASA's Apollo missions are behind them, so the space agency are looking into the future with their Orion spacecraft and Delta IV rockets to send man into space.
Part of the process is to make sure that the Orion capsule will survive the extreme temperatures of re-entry, and even though Orion is one of the most advanced spacecraft ever designed, testing is still necessary.
The Apollo missions most important part of surviving re-entry is thanks to its heat shield which protects the ship during re-entry. The Orion capsule takes it a step further where it's composed of two parts: a Titanium skeleton that is bolted to a carbon fiber skin. This takes nearly 3,000 bolts to hold the skeleton to the skin, after this the heat shield is shipped to Textron Defense Systems just outside of Boston, where they'll add the final layer of albative material.
40 years ago today, the last men to walk on the surface of the moon blasted off and headed for home. Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions to the moon, a feat we have not ventured to repeat since.
After three days exploring the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan (pictured above) and Harrison Schmitt lit the engine on the upper (ascent) stage of their lunar module "Challenger" and launched off the surface at 5:55 p.m. EST (2255 GMT) on Dec. 14, 1972. The word "Ignition" which was voiced by Schmitt was the last words ever spoken by man on the surface of the moon.
Schmidt was also the first geologist and professional scientist to fly on an manned NASA mission. Eugene Cernan, commander of the mission was the last human to leave a footprint on the surface and with his words "Lets get off" an era came to an end.
Raspberry Pi, an ARM based micro computer that runs Linux, has seen a huge surge in its user base since its release. The reason for this is no doubt its price point of $35, which gets you a fully capable Linux machine with 512mb of memory, USB, Ethernet, and SD Storage. Well the Pi just got cheaper, with the model A costing a mere $25.
The model A has not yet been released for sales yet, but some boards did wind up in the hands of Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries as well as Pete Wood of Design Spark. Both of whom has released videos covering the new little ARM board.
Skywatchers across the globe are in for a major treat tonight as the Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight along with a new unnamed meteor shower. With the moon at its new phase tonight the skies will be as dark as possible for the breathtaking event which is expected to produce around 100 "shooting stars" an hour.
To view the event you simply need to lay on your back and watch the constellation of Gemini. The meteors will seem to magically appear from that constellation. The action will be taking place all night with things really heating up starting at 10:00 local time and going into full effect around 2am. "Meteors from the new shower (if any) will be visible in the early evening, with the Geminids making their appearance later on and lasting until dawn," Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a statement.
For those of you unfortunate enough to have cloudy skies tonight like me, NASA will host a live web chat overnight from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EST (0400 to 0800 GMT), complete with live video of streaking meteors captured by a special camera at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. It will all happen here: