NASA plans to send a helicopter to Mars

May 14, 2018 by  
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A small, autonomous helicopter could soon soar above the rusty rocks of Mars . Dubbed the Mars Helicopter, the rotorcraft is hitching a ride to the Red Planet as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission. The BBC said this could be the first test of “heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet.” “After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world,” NASA’s Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said . The technology demonstration has been many years in the making; it started in 2013 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Mars Helicopter weighs just under four pounds, with a fuselage about as big as a softball. It has twin, counter-rotating blades that will slice the air at nearly 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm), which, according to NASA , is “about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.” Related: NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars Solar cells will help the Mars Helicopter charge its lithium-ion batteries , and it’s equipped with a heating mechanism to survive frigid Martian nights. NASA is planning as many as five flights over a 30-day test campaign. The first flight could see the Mars Helicopter fly up to 10 feet and hover there for around 30 seconds. As it flies farther and longer in following tests, it could travel “up to a few hundred meters” and soar for around 90 seconds. JPL Mars Helicopter project manager Mimi Aung said in NASA’s statement, “The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet. The atmosphere of Mars is only one percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up. To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and powerful as it can possibly be.” NASA describes the Mars Helicopter as a high-risk, high-reward project. The agency said in their statement if the technology demonstration doesn’t work, the Mars 2020 mission won’t be impacted — but if it does, “helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground level.” + NASA Via the BBC Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA plans to send a helicopter to Mars

UK government wants to ‘eliminate’ wet wipes in plastic crackdown

May 8, 2018 by  
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It’s not just plastic bottles and plastic bags clogging waterways — wet wipes are a pervasive problem, and the United Kingdom government is planning to banish them in a plastic waste crackdown. A Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson told The Independent , “As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes.” Many wet wipes, which contain plastic, are still flushed down toilets — and according to the BBC , are behind around 93 percent of sewer blockages in the UK. The Defra spokesperson didn’t say whether or not it would be illegal to sell or buy wet wipes. She did say, “We are continuing to work with manufacturers and retailers of wet wipes to make sure labeling on packaging is clear and people know how to dispose of them properly — and we support the industry’s efforts to make their customers aware of this important issue.” Related: Wet wipe pollution is clogging up riverbeds across the UK The BBC said manufacturers will either have to design wipes free of plastic, or people will have to live without them. They quoted Defra as saying it is “encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and are working with industry to support the development of alternatives, such as a wet wipe product that does not contain plastic and can therefore be flushed.” Besides congesting rivers, wet wipes are also part of so-called fatbergs , or congealed mounds of trash and fat in sewers — and the BBC said fatbergs are mainly comprised of wet wipes. The Independent said there are thought to be at least 12 fatbergs beneath London . Earlier this month, a UK environmental organization revealed over 5,000 wet wipes in a space as big as half of a tennis court near the River Thames . Tens of thousands of the wipes are sold every year in Britain. Via The Independent and the BBC Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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AeroMobil reveals flying taxi that transforms from car to electric airplane

March 26, 2018 by  
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Designed for both the skies and the streets, the AeroMobil 5.0 is the latest futuristic creation from the Slovakia-based flying car company. Rather than taking off as a traditional airplane does, the AeroMobil 5.0 is able to gain altitude through vertical thrust from powerful rotors embedded in retractable wings that deploy when you are ready to hit the skies. A rear propeller provides the vehicle with midair thrust. Billed as the “first and only electric VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing vehicle) to also drive on the road,” the AeroMobil 5.0 could potentially someday be your taxi, offering convenient flights right at your doorstep. The AeroMobil 5.0 is designed to complement previous models of flying car from the company, including the AeroMobil 4.0. “The multi-product strategy means we can provide urban travel with the AeroMobil 5.0 VTOL and intra-city travel with the AeroMobil 4.0 STOL,” said Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of AeroMobil, in a statement . “Our strategy solves the limitations of alternative VTOL concepts which are tied to dedicated landing pods rather than also using the existing road infrastructure .” Related: Uber and NASA team up to launch flying taxis by 2020 The AeroMobil 5.0 is designed to seat four passengers, with each rider having access to a personalized experience thanks to a sophisticated advanced data, communications and media system onboard. The cumulative experience at AeroMobil and developed technologies upon which the new flying car is based has made the company quite confident in its ability to finally deliver on that long-held dream of owning, or at least riding in, a flying car. “AeroMobil 4.0 STOL uses several patented technologies, a highly innovative combustion engine and has the benefit of using existing aerospace and automotive technology, combined in a unique way, thus achieving far greater energy efficiency , speed and range than any electric VTOL,” said AeroMobil Chairman Patrick Hessel in a statement . “It is also designed within existing regulation , hence enabling much sooner go-to-market in 2020 than the electric VTOL category, which in general is being mooted as ready for shipment in 2025”. Via Carscoops Images via AeroMobil

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A modern makeover put this prefab home in touch with its picturesque surroundings

March 26, 2018 by  
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Oslo-based architectural firm  Skapa Architects has breathed new life into an old, outdated prefab home by converting it into a light-filled living space. Located on Norway’s stunning Snarøya peninsula, the revamped home – dubbed Villa Bergheimveien – sports a new cedar facade and a living space that the architects opened up to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. Starting with the exterior, the architects removed the home’s overhanging eaves and replaced the original dark siding with pale cedar boards . With the new facade hiding gutters and other utilitarian functions, the original house took on a clean, modern feel that blends in with the pristine coastal landscape. A new extension at the back of the site connects the pool and the surrounding green space. Transparent, fully retractable sliding doors link the home’s interior to its natural surroundings. Related: The minimalist Yoshino Cedar House was built entirely out of locally-sourced timber Once the renovation began, the architects worked to create better connection throughout the 2,692 square-foot space. The home’s new contemporary aesthetic continues throughout the interior, which has an open floor plan enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows that offer beautiful views from almost anywhere in the home. The main level houses two bedrooms and a bathroom, while the basement level houses a study, a sauna, and extra bedrooms. Both of the home’s two levels open up to terraces that provide stunning views of the sea. In addition to the new extension, the architects created an open-air courtyard where the house’s occupants can sit and read quietly or entertain guests. Large aluminum panels mark the walkway to the courtyard and pool area, adding a touch of industrial chic to the design. + Skapa Architects Via Dwell Images by Skapa Architects [gallery

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A modern makeover put this prefab home in touch with its picturesque surroundings

Kitty Hawk is testing electric self-flying taxis in New Zealand

March 13, 2018 by  
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Self- flying taxis could zip through the skies of New Zealand if Kitty Hawk has anything to do about it. Financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, the company has reached an agreement with the country to test the planes for an official certification process, according to The New York Times — and aim for a commercial network in three years. Kitty Hawk could beat Uber in building a network of electric self-flying taxis. They’ve found a collaborator in New Zealand; prime minister Jacinda Ardern told The New York Times, “We’ve got an ambitious target in New Zealand of being net carbon zero by 2050 …exciting projects like this are part of how we make that happen.” Related: Google co-founder Larry Page secretly invested over $100M in two flying car startups Kitty Hawk’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, called Cora , will have a range of around 62 miles to start . 12 independent lift fans power the taxi so it can take off and land much like a helicopter , and doesn’t require a runway. With a 36-foot wingspan, the aircraft flies between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground at around 110 miles per hour. Two passengers can ride inside, and The New York Times said the company is developing an app enabling travelers to call a self-flying taxi. The publication said Kitty Hawk doesn’t intend to sell their VTOL planes, but rather operate the commercial network. Kitty Hawk is based in California, and a company called Zephyr Airworks is their operator in New Zealand. The project went by the code name Zee.Aero for a while, which Kitty Hawk said was the name of their Cora team during the development stage. The New York Times pointed out nearly every prediction about how fast air taxis would take to the skies has been wrong — it remains to be seen if Kitty Hawk will be able to deliver. + Kitty Hawk + Cora Via The New York Times Images via Kitty Hawk

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Kitty Hawk is testing electric self-flying taxis in New Zealand

World’s first biofuel flight between the US and Australia powered by mustard seeds

January 31, 2018 by  
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The world’s first biofuel flight between the United States and Australia landed in Melbourne after a 15-hour trip. The Guardian reported the blended fuel was 10 percent derived from brassica carinat, which Qantas describes as a “non-food, industrial type of mustard seed.” They said the use of blended biofuel in the flight would save about 18,000 kilograms, or around 39,683 pounds, of carbon emissions . A Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 soared between Los Angeles and Melbourne in the trans-Pacific biofuel flight. The trip saw carbon emissions reduced by seven percent compared against Qantas’ usual flight over the route. Per the airline, “Across its lifecycle, using carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent compared to traditional jet fuel .” Related: Watch a Boeing 737 and a Tesla Model S battle it out Brassica carinata works as a fallow crop , meaning it can be cultivated between regular crop cycles, per The Guardian. Qantas said the crop can be sown in fallow areas, and is water efficient. Steve Fabijanski, CEO of Agrisoma , the agricultural-technology company behind the crop, said in a statement, “Biojet fuel made from carinata delivers both oil for biofuel and protein for animal nutrition while also enhancing the soil it’s grown in.” The crushed seeds can produce a high-protein meal for livestock, poultry, and dairy markets, according to Qantas. One hectare of the seed yields 2,000 liters, around 528 gallons, of oil, according to Qantas. That can produce 400 liters, or around 106 gallons, of biofuel, and 1,400 liters, around 370 gallons, of what the airline described as renewable diesel. University of Sydney agriculture expert Daniel Tan told The Guardian farmers can use mustard seeds as a source of sustainable fuel , saying, “Almost within a day after harvesting, they can press the oil out in their own shed and use it straight into their tractors.” Field trials have shown the crop should do well in Australia’s climate. + Qantas Via The Guardian Images via Qantas ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s first biofuel flight between the US and Australia powered by mustard seeds

Boeing to reveal mysterious space plane of the future

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boeing is set to release a new plane that the company claims to be “the future of air power.” In a video posted on Twitter, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, offered a glimpse of its new creation, which seemed to bear some resemblance to the Batmobile. The plane is being developed by Phantom Works, the company’s advanced design division, and is being kept tightly under wraps until its to-be-announced reveal date. However, rumor has it that the new aircraft may be suited for space travel. This would follow Boeing’s X-37B plane, first built for the United States military, which is capable of traveling outside of Earth’s atmosphere . Boeing was recently granted another contract from the Pentagon to develop the XS-1 space plane, which would provide “short-notice, low-cost access to space”, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA ). It is possible that this new mystery plane has nothing to do with space travel , with some speculating that it could be a new electric aircraft designed to take-off and land vertically. Related: Swiss pilot plans to fly solar airplane to the edge of space The aviation giant recently acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, which last year won a DARPA contract to build the XV-24A LightningStrike VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) plane. When released, it will include new innovative features, such as “hybrid-electric propulsion ducted fans” and an “innovative synchronous electric-drive system,” according to Aurora . The plane also boasts increased hovering efficiency of 70 percent and is able to carry at least 5,000 pounds. Whatever this mystery plane is, news of it comes on an historic week for Boeing, during which the last 747 to ever fly on an American airline will make its final landing in Detroit . Via the Telegraph Images via Boeing and DARPA

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Gorgeous copper-clad home celebrates craft in the Pacific Northwest

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boasting lakeside views and a strong attention to craftsmanship, the Brook Bay Residence is a gorgeous luxury home nestled on Washington’s Mercer Island. Architect Rick Sundberg , currently Principal at Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young (SKL) Architects, designed this two-story residence that embraces the outdoors yet preserves client privacy. Copper and dark-stained cedar wrap around the handsome home that’s filled with high-end materials and the clients’ extensive art collection. Located across Lake Washington from Seattle , the 4,400-square-foot Brook Bay Residence features an L-shaped design with a cantilevered wing to take advantage of lake views. Dark-stained cedar wraps around the cantilevered wing, which houses the master suite, while copper clads the public areas. Natural light floods the cool and contemporary interior featuring wood casework and a wide array of custom designs by local craftspeople that include entry doors with antique Chinese wood panels, blackened steel staircase, a glass and metal chandelier, interior copper panels, and a dining table of wood, steel, and concrete. Related: Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinki’s most multicultural districts In contrast to the public area’s blackened concrete floors and granite—which provide a sleek backdrop to the client’s extensive Pacific Northwest art collection—the private spaces are lined with lighter-toned materials. Inviting timber wraps around the master bedroom and the office, while the spa-like bathroom is surrounded with beautiful limestone and eucalyptus cabinetry. “It’s about thinking where you are during the course of the day and how we can make you feel more calm or comfortable,” said Sundberg. + Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects Images by Ben Benschneider

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Clever switches use your OCD tendencies to save electricity

December 21, 2017 by  
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Do you have a habit of forgetting to turn off the lights? Thai designer Pakaporn Teadtulkitikul has a smart solution for those of us with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Meet the OCD Switch, a clever light switch that takes advantage of our preference for pattern and symmetry to encourage users to turn the lights off and save electricity . When turned on, the switch is visually misaligned with its background, only to be set back in its proper place once turned off. Winner of a 2017 Red Dot Design concept Award , the OCD Switch is a simple and beautiful solution to a common problem. Pakaporn looked to basic human psychology to develop her concept and explored basic shapes and patterns familiar to the human brain for the design. Her final concept shows a white circular light switch with a ribbed pattern that is disrupted when turned on. Related: Obsession with material possessions makes you anxious and depressed The Red Dot design statement explains: “Observations about human behaviour and the subconscious tells us that human beings are naturally attracted to order, pattern and symmetry ; they feel uncomfortable when those are interrupted or when things seem off-balance. That is how we can trick the brain and manipulate the user’s routine behaviour to trigger a response.” + OCD Switch Via Yanko Design

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New Passenger Drone can fly you to work hands-free with zero-emissions

September 28, 2017 by  
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Get ready to commute in style. For the past three years, Passenger Drone has been developing a zero-emissions , easy-to-use passenger drone that has the potential to eliminate stressful commutes. With 16 electric engines, the drone can travel up to 80 km/h while barely making a noise. Not only will the Passenger Drone limit air and noise pollution , it could reduce stress levels and improve the general health of commuters around the world. Daily commutes to the office can be quite burdensome to the average worker. In the United States, the average travel time to work is 25.4 minutes. Most of that time is spent sitting in traffic or in public transportation — environments that can produce stress even before the workday has begun. Passenger Drone seeks to improve the overall health of the populace and reduce pollution by improving daily commutes. The newly-unveiled electric aircraft is slightly larger than a car and allows commuters to select their destination, then sit back and relax. The quick-flying drone can travel up to 80km/h, and it features a lightweight body made of carbon fiber composites. The Passenger Drone’s 16 electric engines offer some distinct advantages – according to the company, the “engine system sheds the complexity of most quad-copters providing enhanced safety, performance, greater payload and range, and less noise than anything else available on the marketplace.” Related: Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky Passenger Drone envisions the aircraft becoming the “go-to” form of daily transportation for hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of commuters in the future. Said the company, “Air travel has historically been seen as an expensive proposition, due in great part to the small volume of production seen in today’s aerospace industry. Mass production of the Passenger Drone could potentially revolutionize traditional notions of transport .” + Passenger Drone Images via Passenger Drone

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