Tesla Roadster in space could collide with Venus or Earth

February 19, 2018 by  
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Elon Musk isn’t the only person amused by a Tesla in space — scientists at the University of Toronto and Charles University have devoted their attention to figuring out just what might happen to the Roadster officially classified by NASA as a celestial object . Researchers think the space-traveling car could ultimately crash into Venus or Earth — but don’t panic yet. University of Toronto Scarborough assistant professor Hanno Rein and his team think the red Tesla Roadster could collide with our planet or Venus, but probably not for millions of years. They ran several simulations with “sophisticated software that can track the motion of objects in space,” according to the University of Toronto . Related: Elon Musk releases historic video of Starman cruising through space in a Tesla Roadster The probability that Musk’s Tesla will collide with Earth during the next one million years is six percent, and 2.5 percent for Venus. The scientists ran simulations for the first three million years of the Tesla’s journey in outer space , although Rein said the most likely outcome is that the car will crash into either Earth or Venus in the next 10 million years. If the car does crash into Earth, any future people probably won’t need to be too concerned because most or all of the Tesla will probably burn up in our planet’s atmosphere . The vehicle is on “a Mars and Earth crossing orbit, meaning it will travel on an elliptical path that repeatedly carries it beyond Mars and then back to Earth’s orbital distance from the sun,” according to the press release. If you happen to be alive in 2091, the scientists think that year will mark the first close encounter of the Tesla with Earth, when the car will pass within a few hundred thousand kilometers. Those Earth encounters will likely impact the Tesla’s journey. University of Toronto Scarborough postdoctoral fellow Daniel Tamayo said in a statement, “Each time it passes the Earth, the car will get a gravitational kick. Depending on the details of these encounters, the Tesla can be kicked onto a wider or smaller orbit , so it’s random. Over time the orbit will undergo what’s called a random walk, similar to the fluctuations we see in the stock market, that will allow it to wander the inner solar system .” The scientists submitted their research for publication to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ; a preprint is available here . Rein and Tamayo were joined by David Vokrouhlicky of Charles University. The university’s press release did not say what might happen to the Roadster’s passenger, Starman . + University of Toronto Images via Elon Musk on Instagram and Ken Jones

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Tesla Roadster in space could collide with Venus or Earth

Two Trappist-1 planets are highly likely to be habitable

January 24, 2018 by  
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Scientists have concluded that two planets orbiting the dim dwarf star known as Trappist-1 are highly likely to be habitable by humans due to the potential presence of water and sufficient heat. Trappist-1 and its seven orbiting planets were discovered last year, elating scientists who had never encountered a solar system with so many Earth-size planets in a habitable zone of space. This new revelation indicates there may be more Earth-like planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy than once thought. To determine the habitability of the Trappist-1 planets, Dr. Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute and colleagues in Hungary constructed mathematical models of each planet, including its interior. From these models, the team found that six of the seven planets are likely to have water, solid or liquid, while one may even host a global ocean . In an innovative move, the team also used models of each planet’s orbit to extrapolate their surface temperatures. “The planets are also on eccentric orbits – kind of egg-shaped – so every time the planet goes around the star it gets stretched and squeezed,” Barr told the Guardian . This effect is known as tidal heating and increases the likelihood of habitability by warming the planet and facilitating a more dynamic flow and chemistry within the planet’s mantle. Related: New periodic table sorts 3,700 known exoplanets into 18 categories In a paper to be published in  the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics , the team concluded that planets d and e are the two most likely to be habitable by humans. Planet d is estimated to have an average surface temperature of 15C (59F), though it may be as low as just above the freezing point for water. In contrast, planet e is thought to have temperatures that parallel those of Antarctica . Ultimately, more research needs to be done to determine the precise conditions of these planets, including whether they are able to hold water or if they possess an atmosphere. A successful launch of NASA ‘s next-generation telescope, the James Webb, will likely shed more light on these fascinating exoplanets. In the meantime, computer models offer glimpses into worlds that may harbor extraterrestrial life. Via the Guardian Images via NASA   (1)

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Two Trappist-1 planets are highly likely to be habitable

NASA debuts KRUSTY nuclear reactor for future Mars residents

January 19, 2018 by  
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Researchers at NASA , Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Department of Energy announced they have successfully tested a small nuclear reactor that may someday provide power to human habitats on Mars and beyond. Called Kilopower, or KRUSTY (Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology), the reactor comes in several versions to meet certain power needs, from 1 kilowatt (enough to power a small kitchen appliance) to 10 kilowatts, four or five of which would be required to provide power for a habitat on Mars. “Kilopower’s compact size and robustness allows us to deliver multiple units on a single lander to the surface that provides tens of kilowatts of power,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, during a press conference on Thursday . Kilopower could support manned missions to Mars in several ways. “We would need power on Mars for two primary reasons,” said Patrick McClure, Project Lead for Reactor Development at Los Alamos, in the video above . “The first is that astronauts need power for their habitat, so that they can make oxygen , purify water, but prior to their arrival, we need to make liquid oxygen and propellant so that they can get off the Martian surface.” Kilopower provides a fairly straightforward solution, requiring a minimal number of parts and thus lightweight, for the power needs of any planet-bound mission. Related: MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests The system works by incorporating steam-pipe technology, in which a sealed tube in a heat pipe circulates fluid throughout the reactor while generating heat . The heated fluid then travels to a Stirling engine, where it pressurizes gas to power a piston connected to a motor that generates electricity . Combining these parts makes for a reliable, simple device for providing power for all kinds of space missions. As for next steps, the research team intends to conduct a full-power test of their device in March. If all goes well, the sky may well be the limit for this compact powerhouse. Via Engadget and Space.com Images via NASA (1)

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SpaceX’s upcoming launch of reused rocket marks historic first for NASA

November 30, 2017 by  
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SpaceX will launch a recycled Falcon 9 rocket into space for an upcoming NASA resupply mission to the International Space Station. While the private space travel company founded by Elon Musk has already launched previously used rockets into space and back, this marks the first instance in which the company will reuse a rocket for NASA. “NASA participated in a broad range of SpaceX data assessments and inspections regarding use of a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage booster,” said NASA in a statement made to The Verge , confirming the groundbreaking launch. This institutional support from the agency marks a major accomplishment for SpaceX, which has emphasized the promise of its reusable rockets. A typical SpaceX mission involving a Falcon 9 rocket includes an initial launch into space, where it completes a particular objective such as cargo delivery or placing satellites into orbit, followed by a return into Earth’s atmosphere and a landing onto one of SpaceX’s launching pads. It is possible that these Falcon 9 rockets could be used for three or more launches, though further testing is required. Related: SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year At the moment, only a few of SpaceX’s customers, such as Luxembourg-based communications company SES and satellite operator Bulgaria Sat , have opted for resuable rockets. However, the numbers are poised to grow, particularly after SpaceX’s upcoming launch with NASA .  Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has decided to launch a new satellite with SpaceX’s reused rockets, despite past challenges involving the destruction of a Spacecom satellite when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket it was to be launched on exploded. While NASA has voiced optimism about expanding its use of resuable rockets, it has also made clear that it will tread carefully in using this new technology. Meanwhile, the US military has offered some positive words for reused rockets, with General John W. “Jay” Raymond, head of US Air Force Space Command, claiming to Bloomberg that it would be “absolutely foolish” to not explore the option as a cost-saving measure. Via The Verge Images via SpaceX/Flickr   (1)

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NASA confirms asteroid came from another solar system – and it’s incredibly bizarre

November 21, 2017 by  
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The presence of an unidentified object hurtling through our solar system recently prompted a call to action from observatories throughout the world. NASA has confirmed that it’s the first object to arrive from another star – and it may be as long as a quarter mile. While the rocky asteroid, dubbed ‘Oumuamua, is definitely not piloted by aliens, it could give us clues into the formation of other solar systems. In late October, scientists thought they might have observed an object that came from outside the solar system with the aid of the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope. The International Astronomical Union reclassified the object from a comet to an interstellar asteroid, per a November 14 release . NASA’s Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a November 20 press release : “For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist.” Related: Scientists might have spotted the first object from outside our solar system Yesterday the journal Nature published a study on the find , led by scientists at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. NASA helped fund the work. The bizarre asteroid could have been “wandering through the Milky Way , unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system,” according to the agency. ‘Oumuamua – Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first” – has a slightly reddish hue, and is around 10 times as long as it is wide, according to NASA, which said the asteroid’s aspect ratio is bigger than any other asteroid or comet we’ve ever observed. And it varies widely in brightness: “by a factor of 10 as it spins on its axis every 7.3 hours.” It’s likely dense, comprised of metals or rock, without ice or water, and could have been reddened by irradiation from cosmic rays . A few of Earth’s big ground-based telescopes are still tracking ‘Oumuamua. It’s around 124 million miles away from our planet and will probably be too faint for detection around mid-December. It will head for the constellation Pegasus after exiting our solar system. Via NASA Images via European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser and the International Astronomical Union

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Brilliantly renovated Rusty House is wrapped in a layer of rusted steel

November 21, 2017 by  
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Exposed raw steel wraps around this small house in the Czech Republic , renovated by OK PLAN ARCHITECTS . Covered with a vibrant layer of pre-rusted sheet metal (CorTen), the Rusty House is a minimalist residence that surprises passersby with its unusual exterior and layout maximizes the potential of its tiny plot. After living in the house for twelve years, the owner decided to renovate the interior of the house and “soften” the appearance of the main living space. OK PLAN ARCHITECTS helmed the renovation process which included landscaping  the surrounding garden. Related: Rusty tin shed transformed into beautiful two-story studio in Sydney Exposed concrete, galvanized steel and corrugated sheet metal dominate the house. The architects added layers to the interior, including oak ceiling panels, in order to improve the organization of the interior and its acoustic performance . Custom-made furniture and fixtures were added to bring an element of modernity to the place. Older kitchen cabinets were replaced, and a new fireplace installed in the living room. The architects blended the old and the new to respond to new functional and aesthetic demands, while preserving the rawness of the original structure. + OK PLAN ARCHITECTS Photos by BoysPlayNice Photography

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Brilliantly renovated Rusty House is wrapped in a layer of rusted steel

The world’s first space nation officially in orbit with new satellite

November 16, 2017 by  
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Space is now officially home to the known universe’s first “space nation”. Asgardia launched its very first satellite, Asgardia-1, into orbit on November 12, 2017. Only about the size of a soccer ball, the satellite traveled aboard a NASA commercial cargo vehicle to make its two-day journey from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to the International Space Station. The “nanosat” contains .5 terabytes of data from 18,000 of Asgardia’s 114,000 citizens to demonstrate the nation’s ability to store data independently of any earthbound state or corporation; it also contains items of national heritage, including Asgardia’s flag, coat of arms, and developing constitution. Named after Norse mythology’s city of the skies, Asgardia was founded by Russian scientist Dr. Igor Ashubeyli in October 2016. Since the country’s founding, people of many nationalities have signed up to become Asgardians. “I really want to be able to see if human beings are able to have more opportunity to express their opinions,” said Rayven Sin, an Asgardian artist based in Hong Kong , according to CNN . “The society we live in now — everything seems to be either capitalism or communism — there’s a lot of conflict. As a human being, I would hope (to see) if we could have other ways (of living). For a better life, and for more options.” Related: The isolated Pacific graveyard where spaceships go to die Once properly prepped and equipped at the International Space Station , Asgardia-1 will take flight and enter orbit on its own, where it is expected to remain for five to eighteen months before it burns up. However, this is only the beginning of Asgardia’s story. The space nation plans to seek official recognition from the United Nations as an independent nation, a challenging feat to say the least, as well as constructing orbiting habitats on which Asgardians can live. Even Ashubeyli acknowledges the challenges ahead. “We have to be like a normal country. All countries have problems, and soon we will have the same problems,” he said to CNN . “But we will have more than normal countries because we are not on Earth.” Via CNN Images via James Vaughn/Asgardia

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Elephants should be recognized as legal persons, argues Connecticut lawsuit

November 16, 2017 by  
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Should elephants be viewed as legal persons in the eyes of the court? A new lawsuit filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) argues yes. The group says three elephants, owned by a traveling Connecticut zoo, should have “the fundamental right to bodily liberty” and be placed in an animal sanctuary instead. Beulah, Karen, and Minnie are three elephants owned by the Commerford Zoo in Goshen, Connecticut. The animals give rides and appear in circuses, fairs, weddings, and movies. They’re between 33 and 50 years old, and the zoo has owned them for at least 30 years. But according to the NhRP, the United States Department of Agriculture has cited the zoo more than 50 times for not adhering to the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act. People have described the elephants as sick or sad, with one Yelp review describing facilities as a “stockyard of despair.” Related: New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal status as a person NhRP filed the lawsuit with the Connecticut Superior Court, requesting the elephants be released to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 sanctuary, where NhRP says “their right to bodily liberty will be respected.” NhRP founder and attorney Steven Wise said the case isn’t about animal welfare, but animal rights , saying in a statement, “What they are doing is depriving Beulah, Karen, and Minnie of their freedom, which we see as an inherently cruel violation of their most fundamental right as elephants. If Connecticut common law courts truly value autonomy, as previous rulings suggest they do, they too will see their situation in this light and order the elephants’ release from captivity.” Commerford Zoo owner Tim Commerford told The Washington Post, “It’s not right to rip them from my family, from their home.” According to The Washington Post, legal personhood has been applied to corporations in the United States, a New Zealand river , and chimpanzees and a bear in Argentina and Colombia. But Pepperdine law school professor Richard Cupp told The Washington Post it’s better to help captive animals with expanded animal welfare laws. Giving legal personhood to animals could loosen the definition, he argued, which could harm vulnerable humans. He said, “It would not surprise me if these animals could be put in a better situation. But we should focus on human responsibility…Our expansion of animal protection laws has been dramatic over the last 20 or 30 years. I’m arguing that should continue.” Via the Nonhuman Rights Project ( 1 , 2 ) and The Washington Post Images via Joel Mbugua on Unsplash and Anne Zwagers on Unsplash

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Vienna cocktail bar is hidden underground in an 18th-century cellar

November 16, 2017 by  
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The places hidden beneath our feet are sometimes home to a city’s coolest spaces. That’s the case for the krypt.bar , a subterranean cocktail bar in Vienna , tucked away in a forgotten 18th century cellar that was only recently uncovered after renovations on Berggasse—a famed street associated with Sigmund Freud. Designed by Büro KLK , this secret bar breathes new life into a historic setting and is decorated with minimalist furniture designs of the International Style. The 18th century cellar on Vienna’s traditional Berggasse was found after workers struck upon a bricked up staircase. It let to a twelve-meters-deep cellar with handsome brick vaults . Further digging into cellar’s history showed that it once operated as a semi-legal establishment in the jazz area of the mid-20th century. Related: Historic 7th-century cellar in Spain renovated to celebrate the history of wine-making Büro KLK preserved the brick vaults and underground feel of the place, and added luxury materials and high-quality furnishings such as Knoll’s famous Platner Arm Chairs and Ubald Lug’s Sofa DS-1025. Write the designers: “The whole static structure as well as the ventilating pipes and further installations, were cladded in composition gold. The floor plate is covered with a layer of Italian nero marquina marble manually laid in a herringbone bond. The cladding of the bar counter was cut out of a massive block of Sahara noir laurent gold marble applied in a mirrored pattern, and the counter plate was crafted out of a massive European walnut.” + Büro KLK Photography: David Schreyer

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Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

November 2, 2017 by  
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Many people once thought Earth was unique in outer space in its ability to support life. Recent discoveries could shatter that notion, like one new analysis of information from the Kepler Space Telescope . An international team led by Susan Thompson of the SETI Institute has discovered there might be 20 worlds where life could dwell. There could be as many as 20 habitable planets in space , according to this new discovery. One of the most promising worlds is KOI-7923.01. It’s 97 percent Earth’s size, and has a year comprised of 395 days. It is a bit colder than Earth – think more tundra and less tropical island – but it is warm enough, and it’s big enough to hold liquid water so crucial for life. Jeff Coughlin of the NASA Ames Research Center told New Scientist, “If you had to choose one to send a spacecraft to, it’s not a bad option.” Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets Many of the habitable worlds orbit stars similar to the sun. The star KOI-7923.01 orbits is a little colder than the sun, and that fact together with the exoplanet’s distance away makes KOI-7923.01 cooler than Earth. The time to complete an orbit varies among the potentially habitable worlds – at 395 days, KOI-7923.01 takes the longest. Some of the worlds finish an orbit in mere Earth weeks, or months. The quickest orbit is just 18 Earth days. Coughlin told New Scientist his team is around 70 to 80 percent sure these habitable worlds are solid candidates – they’ll need to confirm their hunch with further observations, such as from the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based observatories. The original Kepler mission unearthed the planets, but it gazed at the same part of the sky for just four years until its reaction wheels broke, hindering its aiming ability. That means we’ve only glimpsed the planets just once or twice, and, according to New Scientist , the signals could be wobbly. The scientists recently submitted their research to a journal in the middle of October. Via New Scientist Images via NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle and NASA/W. Stenzel

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Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

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