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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 2

NASA's closest Sun probe flyby gave scientists 'mind-blowing' results

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 7 hours ago

NASA has got the results back from their Parker Solar Probe flyby, and they have shined a new light on how space weather works.

Surprisingly, the results contradicted some expectations that scientists had regarding how solar winds behave. According to the results, there are flips in the Sun's magnetic field direction called "switchbacks", which can sometimes even point the winds back at the Sun. At the moment, the cause of these "switchbacks" is still unknown to scientists, but through the understanding of them, we could learn a deeper understanding of how stars are born.

Scientists were again shocked at the discovery of solar winds traveling at speeds that are "nearly ten times larger than predicted by the standard models", said Justin Kasper, principal investigator at the University of Michigan. Scientists also discovered that the Sun's radiation vaporizes dust particles at about 3.5 million miles around itself. The Parker Probe is at the moment suffering in terribly hot conditions, but scientists say the information that it is providing them is revolutionary.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will take NASA's 'Robot Hotel' to the ISS

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 day, 7 hours ago

SpaceX and NASA like to send some funny things to the International Space Station, but what's more amusing than a 'Robot Hotel' hitching a ride on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket?

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NASA has announced that SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will be transporting NASA's 'robot hotel', or more formally known as the "Robotic Tool Stowage" unit. So what is this 'hotel'? The unit is designed to protect robots that will be working on the International Space Station when they aren't in use. Basically, this 'hotel' or more like a glorified garage for space robots.

Two robots have already got accommodation booked in NASA's space robot hotel. Both guests are called Robotic External Leak Locators or RELL for short. The name explains exactly what they are used for -- finding leaks on the external hull of the International Space Station. The robots have been previously used and stored inside the ISS, but since space inside the ship is the most optimal spot for storing, its better for work-flow and ease of storing to have them outside the station.

Interstellar visitor photographed, revealing a 100,000 mile-long tail

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 2 days, 5 hours ago

A comet called 2I/Borisov entered our solar system from a distant realm, and as it makes its way through our neighborhood astronomers have snapped some good photos of it.

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A team of astronomers from Yale University located in Connecticut managed to capture some photos of Comet 2I/Borisov on Sunday, November 24. These photos were taken with the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and revealed to onlookers that the comet's tail measured in at about 100,000 miles long. To put this distance into perspective, that same distance is more than 40% the distance to the moon.

With a tail being that long, you'd imagine the size of the comet to be substantially large -- alas it isn't. Astronomers estimate 2I/Borisov's nucleus (center) to be just 1 mile in diameter. On December 8th, 2I/Borisov will make its closest pass to our Sun, then three weeks after that it will safely glide past Earth. Yale astronomy professor Greg Laughlin said, "Astronomers are taking advantage of Borisov's visit, using telescopes such as Keck to obtain information about the building blocks of planets in systems other than our own".

Continue reading 'Interstellar visitor photographed, revealing a 100,000 mile-long tail' (full post)

Scientists confused: black hole so big it 'shouldn't even exist' found

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 5 days, 8 hours ago

Astronomers have stumbled across a black hole that is so damn large that they are perplexed at how it even exists.

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Just this past Thursday, astronomers managed to find a black hole that is so big that it challenges our current models of black holes. The black hole called LB-1 is 15,000 light-years from Earth and measures in at a mass of 70 times greater than the Sun. Astronomers have said that this black hole is twice as massive as anything scientists thought to be possible.

According to Liu Jifeng, a National Astronomical Observatory of China professor who led the research, "Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution". Generally, scientists and astronomers believe there are two types of black holes. First, of which are stellar black holes, these are more common, up to 20 times more massive than the Sun and form when a star collapses in on itself.

Continue reading 'Scientists confused: black hole so big it 'shouldn't even exist' found' (full post)

Computation at the speed of light achieved, new device bridges big gap

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 5 days, 8 hours ago

Scientists have managed to create the first ever device that can program either photons or electrons with information.

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Harish Bhaskaran's Advanced Nanoscale Engineering research group at the University of Oxford, partnered with other research universities have conceived the first-of-a-kind electro-optical device. This device paves the way forward for achieving faster and more energy efficient memories and processors. For some time humans have been toying with the idea of being able to transfer information at the speed of light, now that idea is within reach.

This device uses light to encode as well as transfer information, which means that the speed of which the information is travelling is that of -- light. So how did the researchers do this? Originally there was a compatibility issue between photons and electrons being used for data storage. So, the researchers reduced the lights size down into nanscopic dimensions and combined that with an increase in energy density. For a more detailed explanation, visit this link here.

Continue reading 'Computation at the speed of light achieved, new device bridges big gap' (full post)

ISS astronauts forced to poop in diapers after toilets go out of order

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 week ago

If you are aboard the International Space Station (ISS) the last thing you want to have to do is to wear an adult diaper to relieve yourself. Unfortunately, that's what astronauts are going to have to do in the near future.

According to the Sputnik Insight Twitter account which tracks all news regarding the ISS, that "All toilets are out of order on the ISS" and that astronauts will soon have to be forced into using diapers in the near future. According to the Sputniknews website, there are two toilets aboard the ISS, both of which are Russian made.

The first toilet is located in the US module, while the second is located in the Russian one. ISS commander Luca Parmitano is reportedly informing NASA that the US toilet is singling that its out of order and not working, while the Russian one is reportedly filled to the maximum. NASA has since said that the US module toilet is 'operational', but we are yet to confirm if this is true or not. This situation seems sh*tty, hopefully it's worked out soon.

This next-gen door handle kills 99.8% of germs and is self-powered

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 week, 1 day ago

When you go and think about places in public that would be coated in everyone's germs, what's the first place you think of? I think of public bathroom door handles.

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I'm probably not alone in doing this, but when I'm at a public bathroom, I will try to completely avoid touching the entrance and exit door handle, as I know it's covered in everybody's germs. Luckily, my problem could soon be solved as two students out of China have managed to create a self-cleaning door handle.

The door handle uses ultraviolet light to keep itself germ-free. It has aluminum handles at either end and a thin layer of titanium dioxide covering the glass. When the ultraviolet light is enabled, it triggers a chemical reaction that kills off 99.8% of the germs present. How does the UV light turn on? Easy. The two graduate students thought of that and equipped the door handle with a small generator that uses the kinetic energy of the door opening and closing to power itself. What an incredible invention!

Space travel hits speed bump, study finds microgravity gives leaky gut

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 week, 1 day ago

Colonization of other planets may have just hit a speed bump, as a new study has indicated that humans in microgravity environments have their gut severely affected.

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According to a new study by biomedical scientists at the University of California, Riverside, humans that are induced in simulated microgravity, such as spaceflights, have been found to have disrupted the functioning of their epithelial barrier. The epithelial barrier is a bunch of cells that line our intestines and stop any bacteria, fungi, or viruses from spreading throughout our body.

Declan McCole, a professor of biomedical sciences at the UC Riverside School of Medicine, who led the study, said "Our findings have implications for our understanding of the effects of space travel on intestinal function of astronauts in space, as well as their capability to withstand the effects of agents that compromise intestinal epithelial barrier function following their return to Earth."

Continue reading 'Space travel hits speed bump, study finds microgravity gives leaky gut' (full post)

Universe first: three supermassive black holes found at galaxy's heart

By: Jak Connor | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 week, 2 days ago

Originally, astronomers believed that the galaxy NGC 6240 was a result of two galaxies merging together. Recently that theory has been thwarted with newly discovered information.

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Astronomers are observing NGC 6240, which is located about 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. For quite some time, astronomers have been confused by this galaxy, but recently a new study has been conducted using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT,) along with the advanced 3D MUSE Spectrograph. This study has shone a new light on NGC 6240, revealing to researchers that the galaxy isn't a result of two colliding galaxies, but instead three.

The most surprising part is that originally, astronomers believed there to be two black holes located at the heart of NGC 6240 (the two galaxies). But after the recent study was finished, astronomers have now discovered that there are three supermassive black holes there, marking the first time ever that astronomers have discovered such a large concentration of them. Dr Peter Weilbacher of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) said, "Up until now, such a concentration of three supermassive black holes had never been discovered in the universe. The present case provides evidence of a simultaneous merging process of three galaxies along with their central black holes."

Continue reading 'Universe first: three supermassive black holes found at galaxy's heart' (full post)

Black Mirror becomes reality: Massachusetts police tests robot dog

By: Anthony Garreffa | Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: 1 week, 2 days ago

The Massachusetts State Police bomb squad is playing around with using robot dogs in the line of fire, leasing out the autonomous Spot robot from Boston Dynamics in some new trials.

Radio station WBUR and the ALCU are reporting that the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad borrowed Boston Dynamics' Spot robot dog, using the AI-driven bot between August and November. The Massachusetts State Police bomb squad won't exactly explain what they used Spot for, but did note it was used as a "mobile remote observation device" that kept an eye on devices and specific locations.

Could we see a gun-toting robot dog in the future, given that the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad are testing Boston Dynamics scarily good technology? No. Boston Dynamics have a specific license in place that restricts Spot from being used for any task or job where it would "harm or intimidate people". As an AI-powered quick-moving surveillance and diagnostics device? Perfect.

Black Mirror, stop warning of us of what is coming.