space

Elon Musk Testing ‘X-Wing’ Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones For Landing

B3EsTeDIUAAO86M.jpg-large Let’s face it: Elon Musk is probably a time traveller sent back to help us leave earth behind and achieve the next phase of human evolution. The inventor and entrepreneur issued a minor tweet storm today, in which he detailed a new SpaceX program to test the function of “X-Wing” style grid fins that could help spacecraft navigate upon re-entry after delivering personnel or… Read More

NASA taught astronauts about zero gravity using cats

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It is a well-known phenomenon that a cat falling upside down has the ability to turn its body mid-air so that it lands on its feet. Nobody had attempted to analyze the the “falling cat” movement mathematically until 1969, when T.R. Kane and M.P. Scher of Stanford, California created a model cat and conducted a study that was funded by NASA to help astronauts orient their bodies in zero gravity. Read more…

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Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

HughPickens.com writes: Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world’s deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. “You go along the ocean bottom and there’s nothing, effectively,” says Max Coleman. “And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It’s just literally teeming with life.” Bacteria, inside the shrimps’ mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads. According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues “about what life could be like on other planetary bodies.” It’s life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh “whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that’s released there, through hydrothermal vents.” Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa’s icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








3D printer installed on the International Space Station

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We just got closer to self-sufficiency in space with the installation of a 3D printer aboard the International Space Station

The Zero-G is the first 3D printer built for zero gravity. It was designed by Bay Area startup Made In Space, and it arrived on the International Space Station on Sept. 22, according to Gigaom

The inability to manufacture spare parts keeps space missions dependent on resupply from Earth. Now, if a spare part on the ISS breaks, Made In Space’s team on Earth could design a new one to be re-printed by the astronauts. Read more…

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Scientists stumped by mysterious explosion that lit up Russian sky

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What in the world exploded over Russia on Nov. 14?

That’s the $64 question, as scientists, meteorologists and, well, Mashable staff were left totally stumped as to what caused the skies over the Sverdlovsk region in Russia to light up one night last week.

First, the visual evidence.

At least three drivers captured the mysterious flash at night on Nov. 14. Their videos show a sudden yellowy-orange explosion that illuminates the night. Two of them show the flash seemingly originating from within the clouds.

But a third video, also taken by dash cam, seems to show the explosion emanating from the ground. Read more…

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Want to bury your hair on the moon? That’ll be £200 ($300)

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LONDON — It’s unlikely that most of us will be walking on the moon any time soon, but a British-led consortium is offering the next best thing.

Lunar Mission One is selling the chance to send your photos or DNA into space in a time capsule to be buried under the lunar surface.

The team has just unveiled plans to land a robotic probe on the Moon in 10 years’ time, dropping off a public digital archive of human history and science, but they need financial help to the tune of £500 million ($780 million).

They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the initial £600,000 ($940,000) required to get the project off the ground, with extra fundraising planned for 2015. Read more…

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Elusive Dark Matter May Be Detected With GPS Satellites

An anonymous reader writes: Two researchers say time disparities identified through the network of satellites that make up our modern GPS infrastructure can help detect dark matter. In a paper in the online version of the scientific journal Nature Physics, they write that dark matter may be organized as a large gas-like collection of topological defects, or energy cracks. “We propose to detect the defects, the dark matter, as they sweep through us with a network of sensitive atomic clocks. The idea is, where the clocks go out of synchronization, we would know that dark matter, the topological defect, has passed by.” Another reader adds this article about research into dark energy: The particles of the standard model, some type of dark matter and dark energy, and the four fundamental forces. That’s all there is, right? But that might not be the case at all. Dark energy may not simply be the energy inherent to space itself, but rather a dynamical property that emerges from the Universe: a sort of fifth force. This is speculation that’s been around for over a decade, but there hasn’t been a way to test it until now. If this is the case, it may be accessible and testable by simply using presently existing vacuum chamber technology

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Comet lander ‘sniffs’ the atmosphere, finds organic molecules

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Philae may have just sniffed its way into the history books.

The European-made comet lander that bounced down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last week is officially in hibernation, its primary battery exhausted after a 10-year trip with its parent spacecraft, Rosetta.

But while Philae is taking a power nap, scientists back on Earth are busily examining the data the feisty little lander sent home before shutting down. In a series of experiments, it used its instruments to sample the comet’s atmosphere and hammer a probe into the icy surface. Read more…

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‘Starshade’ helps find planets by blocking out the stars

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“Starshade” technology that could help astronomers find and characterize rocky, Earth-like alien worlds was put to the test earlier this year in the Nevada desert.

A starshade, also dubbed an external occulter, is a precisely shaped screen that flies in far-away formations with a space telescope. The device blocks a star’s light to create a high-contrast shadow, so that only light from an orbiting exoplanet enters the telescope for detailed study.

While a starshade to hunt alien planets has not been flown before, researchers studying the technique are drawing upon a track record of success in fielding large, deployable antennas in space. Some designs foresee a fully deployed starshade measuring some 110 feet (34 meters) in diameter, with a 65-foot (20 meters) inner disk and 28 outstretched flower-like petals, each over 22 feet (7 meters) in length. Read more…

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‘Starshade’ helps find planets by blocking out the stars

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“Starshade” technology that could help astronomers find and characterize rocky, Earth-like alien worlds was put to the test earlier this year in the Nevada desert.

A starshade, also dubbed an external occulter, is a precisely shaped screen that flies in far-away formations with a space telescope. The device blocks a star’s light to create a high-contrast shadow, so that only light from an orbiting exoplanet enters the telescope for detailed study.

While a starshade to hunt alien planets has not been flown before, researchers studying the technique are drawing upon a track record of success in fielding large, deployable antennas in space. Some designs foresee a fully deployed starshade measuring some 110 feet (34 meters) in diameter, with a 65-foot (20 meters) inner disk and 28 outstretched flower-like petals, each over 22 feet (7 meters) in length. Read more…

More about Stars, Astronomy, Telescope, Us World, and Space