NASA communicates with spacecraft 13 billion miles from Earth

December 4, 2017 by  
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For the first time in 37 years, NASA has communicated with Voyager 1 – which is 13 billion miles away from Earth. The space agency made contact with the spacecraft to reorient it and activate its back-up thrusters to better send information back to Earth. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the only known spacecraft cruising beyond our solar system. Prior to leaving, Voyager 1 and its sister ship Voyager 2 gathered, then transmitted to Earth, the first detailed data from Jupiter , Saturn and Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. NASA’s most recent communication with the spacecraft has made adjustments to its alignment, which should extend its usable life by two to three years as it continues its flight into new interstellar territory. Voyager 1 still communicates with scientists on Earth through the Deep Space Network, a communications system designed in the 1970s that allowed the most recent adjustments to Voyager 1’s trajectory to occur. Voyager 1 has primarily used its main thrusters, which periodically make adjustments to the spacecraft’s flight path to ensure optimum functionality. However, over the years, the main thrusters have become worn down, requiring the earthbound team to turn to Voyager 1’s back-up thrusters, which had not been used since 1980.  “The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,” said Chris Jones, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Related: SpaceX to launch reused rocket in a historic first for NASA Despite its long hibernation, Voyager 1’s back-up thruster system returned to duty without major incident. “The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test,” said Todd Barber, propulsion engineer at JPL. The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all.” The team intends to conduct the same operation with Voyager 2, which is expected to leave the solar system within the next few years. Via Science Alert Images via Kevin Gill/Flickr   (1) and NASA

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NASA communicates with spacecraft 13 billion miles from Earth

14 green holiday gifts for gadget geeks

December 4, 2017 by  
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Looking for a great green gift for the gadget lover on your list? We’ve got you covered with the state of the art. From an amazing wheel that gives any bike an electric boost to a keyboard made of sustainably harvested wood and even a watch powered by body heat , we’ve rounded up 14 gadget gifts that are sure to please. Check them out here ! GREEN GIFTS FOR GADGET GEEKS >

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14 green holiday gifts for gadget geeks

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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Four Earth-sized planets discovered orbiting the nearest sun-like star

August 9, 2017 by  
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We may be one step closer to finding a “second home” for humans, thanks to research conducted by an international team of astronomers. By observing wobbles in Tau Ceti, a sun-like star 12 light years away, scientists discovered that four Earth-sized stars are orbiting it. Two of the planets have masses as low as 1.7 Earth mass (which is rare), while the other two are super-Earths — meaning they could potentially support life. To monitor the wobbles of the sun-like star, the team employed techniques sensitive enough to detect variations as small as 30 centimeters per second. “Our detection of such weak wobbles is a milestone in the search for Earth analogs and the understanding of the Earth’s habitability through comparison with these analogs,” said lead author Fabo Feng, from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. “We have introduced new methods to remove the noise in the data in order to reveal the weak planetary signals.” While the outer two planets around tau Ceti are the right size to be habitable worlds, massive amounts of debris around the star likely reduce their habitability due to the intense bombardment of comets and asteroids . Nonetheless, the discovery is an exciting one. “We are now finally crossing a threshold where, through very sophisticated modeling of large combined data sets from multiple independent observers, we can disentangle the noise due to stellar surface activity from the very tiny signals generated by the gravitational tugs from Earth-sized orbiting planets,” said co-author Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. Mikko Tuomi, from the University of Hertfordshire, added, “We are slowly learning to tell the difference between wobbles caused by planets and those caused by stellar active surface. This enabled us to essentially verify the existence of the two outer, potentially habitable planets in the system.” Related: Couple buys 100% sun-powered home built for the Solar Decathlon The team wrote that sun-like stars are believed to be the best targets for finding habitable Earth -like planets. Tau Ceti is, indeed, very similar to our solar system’s Sun in both its brightness and size. Additionally, both stars host multi-planet systems. The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal and is available online. + Astrophysical Journal Via Phys.org Images via Colourbrand, Pixabay and J. Pinfield/RoPACS/University of Hertfordshire

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Pence vows America will put boots on the face of Mars in near future

July 7, 2017 by  
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During a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, Vice President Pence made a bold promise that in the near future, the United States of America will send astronauts to both the moon and Mars. Now the chair of the National Space Council — which was revived this last Friday – Pence explained that new, ambitious goals will ensure America becomes a leader in space exploration  once again. “Here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars,” said Pence. He then applauded the space organization’s efforts to make “science fiction ‘science fact.” Pence made sure to pay homage to Donald Trump, as well, who he referred to as a “champion” who will “usher in a new era” of American space leadership. According to CNN , Pence then noted the importance of space exploration for American national security interests. He also reaffirmed President Trump’s desire, which was revealed during his inaugural address in January, for the US to “unlock the mysteries of space.” He said, “I can assure you that under President Donald Trump , American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth.” Plans to reconvene the National Space Council before the end of summer were also shared. Reportedly, the Council will be comprised of many experts who are sourced from government agencies, such as the military , private industries, and academic institutions to enhance the present space policy. Related: NASA unveils 6 prototypical deep space human habitats for Mars and beyond Originally established in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, the National Space Council was discontinued in 1993. One individual pleased with President Trump’s executive order to revive the Council is NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. Said Lightfoot, “The establishment of the council is another demonstration of the Trump administration’s deep interest in our work, and a testament to the importance of space exploration to our economy, our nation, and the planet as a whole.” Support from the White House is undoubtedly a positive achievement for the NASA, which already has plans to send humans — specifically teachers, farmers, and engineers — to Mars by 2030. With the revival of the National Space Council and a renewed vigor to investigate the “final frontier,” America may very well become a leader in space exploration. Via CNN Images via  Schriever Air Force Base , Pixabay

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NASA scientist thinks lasers could cut the trip to Mars down to 30 minutes

February 24, 2016 by  
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So, everyone knows that Mars is really far away, right? Right now, it takes months to travel the vast distance, but one scientist thinks there is a way to cut that down to half an hour . This wild idea belongs to Philip Lubin, a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Experimental Cosmology Group . His theory involves firing a laser at a tiny spacecraft to help it achieve much faster travel speeds. Read the rest of NASA scientist thinks lasers could cut the trip to Mars down to 30 minutes

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NASA scientist thinks lasers could cut the trip to Mars down to 30 minutes

Foster + Partners unveils 3D-printed Mars settlement built by robots for NASA competition

September 28, 2015 by  
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Thoth Technology patents 12-mile-high inflatable space elevator

August 14, 2015 by  
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The hardest part about space travel is actually getting to space. Tearing through Earth’s atmosphere and escaping its gravitational pull requires a huge amount of fuel and money to be successful. A Canadian space technology company, Thoth Technology, has just been granted a patent for an inflatable space elevator that promises to reduce the cost of getting to space by 30 percent. The patent is for an elevator more than 12 miles (20 km) high and 755 ft in diameter, supported by pneumatically pressurized cells filled with air or another gas. Read the rest of Thoth Technology patents 12-mile-high inflatable space elevator

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Increased demand for lion bones threatens endangered species more than ever

August 14, 2015 by  
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The king of the jungle is in more trouble than ever. Researchers are now warning that endangered lions could be targeted for their bones , in addition to all the other reasons hunters are killing the majestic cats. In parts of Asia, tiger bones are used in traditional medicine and lion bones are replacing them to a growing degree. This increasing market could lead directly to a further decline in already unstable lion populations in Africa. Read the rest of Increased demand for lion bones threatens endangered species more than ever

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Increased demand for lion bones threatens endangered species more than ever

Can solar power pull Greece out of debt?

August 14, 2015 by  
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There are few signs for relief for Greece as their government agrees to yet more harsh austerity terms in exchange for another bailout from international creditors. The debt crisis began in 2009, and as the Greek government struggles to find a resolution, living conditions are rapidly deteriorating. But Greenpeace believe they can help boost the economy and provide energy security by installing solar panels across the country. The organization plans to start with installations on the island of Rhodes—dubbed the “Island of the Sun”—and has launched a crowd funding campaign with a “symbolic” goal of $1 million to support the project. Read the rest of Can solar power pull Greece out of debt?

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