Science, Space, Health & Robotics News - Page 399
Virgin Galactic successfully completes first test flight of its commercial space plane
Our readers seem to have quite an interest in space, and who wouldn't? As part of the commercialization of space and space travel, Virgin Galactic has successfully completed the first test flight of its space plane, which will eventually be used to take ordinary citizens into space.
Don't start packing your bags quite yet, though, as Virgin Galactic didn't even make it into space on this first test flight. The plane behaved as expected and flew for around 10 minutes before returning to the ground. It was shuttled to an altitude of 47,000 feet before being released to fly on its own.
After being released, the plane flew up to 55,000 feet and broke the sound barrier. Virgin Galactic expect to test the plane in space by the end of the year and plan to have real flights for everyone available starting in 2015.
Continue reading: Virgin Galactic successfully completes first test flight of its commercial space plane (full post)
NASA goes low-budget, launches three smartphones into orbit
NASA have just launched three Nexus One smartphones into orbit as part of a low-budget, experimental satellite program that uses off-the-shelf components.
The three Android-powered devices are now circling high above the Earth, encased in 4-inch metal cubes, at an altitude of around 150 miles and will burn up on re-entry within the next two weeks. NASA's mission of each PhoneSat is easy, they just have to take photos of the Earth and send back periodic radio messages.
The mission is to see if the smartphones are capable of supplying the "brains" of future satellites, which would make satellites much cheaper in the future. NASA launched the smartphones into orbit on Sunday when Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket lifted off from Virginia. Amateur radio operators had begun notifying NASA that they could pick up radio signals from the satellites within hours of the launch.
Continue reading: NASA goes low-budget, launches three smartphones into orbit (full post)
SpaceTT: Mars One officially announces astronaut search for one-way trip to Mars
This afternoon Mars One officially announced the opening of its search and application process for the first manned mission to the planet Mars. Mars One is looking for two men and two women from different nationalities to man a one-way trip to Mars in 2023.
The trip to Mars is not for the light hearted, or those who are not willing to give up everything they have known. "While it is possible that, within the lifetime of the early settlers on Mars, there will be opportunity to bring one or more back to Earth, it cannot be anticipated nor expected", reads part of the mission briefing on the Mars-One.com website.
While I fully support this endeavor, and am immensely excited about humans leaving the planet Earth and populating another world, I still feel that a colonization mission is nothing more than suicide and will remain so until we develop a form of terraforming that would render the Martian atmosphere more hospitable for human life. I think a more technology appropriate approach would be for an orbital mission where we send explorers on a mission to orbit the planet before returning home.
Continue reading: SpaceTT: Mars One officially announces astronaut search for one-way trip to Mars (full post)
SpaceTT: Hubble Telescope takes a new look at the Horse Head Nebula, resulting image will blow your mind
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Hubble Telescope taking flight in orbit around the earth. To celebrate the occasion it revisited one of my favorite monuments in the night sky; the Horse Head Nebula (IC 434).
Located within the Orion Nebula (M42), the Horsehead is a massive star forming region which is comprised of dust and gas. The Hubble first imaged the Horse Head about 20 years ago and the resulting visible light image can be seen above. The red or pinkish glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left.
The new image of the great Horse Head can be seen above. It shows the region in infrared light, which is made up of longer wavelengths than visible light and can see through the dusty cloud that usually obscures the nebula's inner regions. The result is a rather amazing, and stunning looking structure, made of delicate folds of gas.
Continue reading: SpaceTT: Hubble Telescope takes a new look at the Horse Head Nebula, resulting image will blow your mind (full post)
Raspberry Pi Model A goes on sale in the US for $25
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?
Continue reading: Raspberry Pi Model A goes on sale in the US for $25 (full post)
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.
Continue reading: NASA requests $100 million, wants to find an asteroid in space, drag it toward the Moon and send astronauts to study it (full post)
ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet
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.
Continue reading: ScienceTT: Source of great dinosaur extinction was not an asteroid, but actually a comet (full post)
Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean
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."
Continue reading: Saturn V rocket engines recovered from the bottom of the ocean (full post)
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.
Continue reading: More details on Raspberry Pi's camera module surface, still aiming for $25 and up to 2592x1944 stills (full post)
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.
Continue reading: 3D-printed guns are on their way, Defense Distributed receives federal firearms license to manufacture them (full post)