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Japanese Robot Shoots Breeze With Astronaut
December 20, 2013
A humanoid robot named "Kirobo" has had a chat with a Japanese astronaut on the ISS. The robot, also from Japan, is designed to process questions and construct answers from its vocabulary bank, as opposed to regurgitating preprogrammed responses. Asked if he could handle zero-gravity conditions, the robot replied, "I'm used to it now, no problem at all."
Norway Dashes Cold Water on Bitcoins
December 16, 2013
Norway's government ruled that Bitcoins don't qualify as a real currency, and it will treat them as an asset -- as opposed to a legitimate currency -- that is subject to capital gains tax. Many countries have been weighing in on how they will treat Bitcoins. Earlier this month, China said that its banks and financial institutions shouldn't handle the digital currency.
NASA May Schedule Spacewalks to Fix ISS Cooling Loop
December 13, 2013
NASA on Wednesday shut off one of the two external cooling loops on the International Space Station and has been struggling to fix it since. The problem appears to be in the flow valve within a pump module. There has been speculation that the situation could be more serious than NASA has acknowledged. Some noncritical systems in various nodes and laboratories have been powered down.
MX-1 to Shoot for Moon - and $20 Million
December 7, 2013
Moon Express on Thursday unveiled the design of its MX-1 robotic spacecraft to more than 10,000 attendees at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Moon Express plans to deploy the unmanned MX-1 to the moon and perhaps capture Google's Lunar XPrize. The MX-1 will be able to perform a variety of scientific and commercial functions.
China Flies Jade Rabbit Rover to the Moon
December 2, 2013
China has launched a rover that is en route to the surface of the moon, marking the first time the Middle Kingdom has embarked on a moon-bound rover mission. The rover, called "Jade Rabbit," is affixed to a rocket that launched at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning local time. If all goes to plan, it is expected to land on the moon in mid-December. China has had two lunar orbit missions.
MAVEN to Search Mars' Atmosphere for Evolutionary Clues
November 19, 2013
NASA's MAVEN mission is under way following Monday's successful launch from Cape Canaveral of a spacecraft that will explore Mars' upper atmosphere and seek answers to questions about the planet's evolution. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, craft is scheduled to travel for 10 months and reach Mars in September 2014. MAVEN is the first mission targeting Mars' upper atmosphere.
Space Agency: Pay No Attention to That Plummeting Satellite
November 11, 2013
The European Space Agency has predicted that when its fuel-less, Earth-bound, 2,000-pound research satellite crashes, it will likely crash into the ocean or polar regions. The satellite was expected to crash down some time on Sunday or Monday, according to the agency, which added, "with a very high probability, a re-entry over Europe can be excluded." Good news for Europeans, bad news for polar bears.
NSA-Bashing Brazil Claims It Spied Better
November 6, 2013
Few if any countries have been more outspoken, incredulous and chest-thumping over U.S. spying revelations than Brazil. Last summer, after Edward Snowden's leaks had made the rounds, Brazilian lawmakers proposed a law that would require e-businesses to store data in Brazil -- and only Brazil. Then, after it was revealed that the U.S. had spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Rousseff canceled a state visit to the U.S.
Kepler's Search for Life: Cosmic Haystack Just Got a Lot Bigger
November 5, 2013
Around a fifth of the Sun-like stars in the Milky Way are orbited by Earth-sized planets capable of sustaining life, suggests a study of data obtained by NASA's Kepler and the Keck Observatory. Those planets, up to twice Earth's size, are orbiting their stars in the so-called habitable zone -- that is, the range of orbits that would permit liquid water to exist on the surface.
Russian 'Pirates' Offer Hobbled NASA a Helping Tech Hand
October 8, 2013
Russia's Pirate Party wrote a letter to NASA offering to host the agency's website, which is currently out of commission because of the government shutdown. The Pirate Party -- a minority political movement in many European countries predicated on privacy and transparency -- informed NASA that it could use the party's dedicated servers until the U.S. government got off the ground.
A Satellite's-Eye View on Mobile Payments
September 17, 2013
Turn-by-turn directions have become a common technological enhancement to the automotive world thanks to a set of satellites dedicated to the task. To date, these radio positioning signals have been supplied to consumers primarily by the U.S. military through a satellite constellation called "GPS," or Global Positioning System. Essentially, receivers on the ground interpret the signals and tell you where you are.
Voyager's Intrepid Flight a Reminder of Human Audacity
September 13, 2013
NASA has confirmed that after 36 years of journeying, Voyager 1 has reached interstellar space. Voyager 1 has been traveling for about a year through a transitional plasma region in the space between the influence of Earth's sun and other stars. "Voyager 1 is the first true stellar explorer from Earth," said James R. Webb, Ph.D., professor of physics and director of the SARA Observatory.
Huawei Blasts US for Illegal NSA Spying
September 13, 2013
Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei is taking a PR victory lap following reports suggesting that the National Security Agency spied on the company. Earlier this week, Brazilian TV network Globo revealed a raft of documents that purportedly came from Edward Snowden. The files implicate the NSA, along with its British snooping ally, GCHQ, in spying on numerous targets.
Earth-to-Moon Laser Tests Could Ignite New Era in Space Comms
August 30, 2013
NASA is poised to launch a mission that will use lasers in a test of two-way communications between the Earth and the moon. The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration will herald a new area of space communications. The LLCD equipment will be on board the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, which will launch Sept. 6 using Orbital Science's Minotaur V rocket.
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It's Off to the Asteroid Mines We Go?
August 13, 2013
Researchers in the UK recently identified 12 small asteroids close enough to Earth to be used in mining operations that could begin as early as 2021. The research was part of a larger effort by both private and public institutions to learn more about the potential for tapping into asteroids that could contain large deposits of valuable resources including platinum, iron-nickel ore or gold.
Boeing Shows Off Space Taxi's Sleek Interior
July 23, 2013
Boeing unveiled the interior of its Crew Space Transportation-100 commercial spacecraft Monday, giving the public a first look inside the craft and offering two NASA astronauts the chance to climb inside and test it. The company designed the CST-100 to be a safe, reliable and cost-effective way to send astronauts to Low Earth Orbit destinations, including the International Space Station.
The Moon May Soon Become a Stargazer
July 19, 2013
The International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express have definitively announced the first mission to the Moon's south pole, tentatively scheduled for 2016. It will involve delivering the International Lunar Observatory to Malapert Mountain, a roughly 3-mile-high rise on the surface of the Malapert lunar crater, to conduct astronomical observations and communications with Earth.
New Rover to Take Up Hunt for Martian Life in 2020
July 10, 2013
NASA is gearing up for a 2020 Mars rover mission designed to search for signs of past life, according to a 154-page report released Tuesday. The unnamed 2020 mission's search for life is the "next logical step" for Martian exploration, NASA said. The new rover's design will be based on its predecessor, Curiosity, which landed on Mars last summer and is still roaming the planet's surface.
Pocket Spacecraft Wants to Fly You to the Moon
July 2, 2013
Pocket Spacecraft is offering ordinary people the opportunity to track and personalize their own tiny spacecrafts on a journey to the moon. Pocket Spacecraft is hoping to raise about $440,000 via its Kickstarter campaign to finance a mission that would send small polyimide discs called "Scouts" aboard a larger spacecraft, the Interplanetary CubeSat mothership, into space.
NASA's Voyager Edges Closer to the Stars
June 29, 2013
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is close to becoming the first human-made object to travel between the stars. The spacecraft, which is now more than 11 billion miles from the sun, has entered the so-called "magnetic highway," showing two of the three signs that could confirm it has entered interstellar space: the presence of charged particles from the sun shooting out into space; and cosmic rays
In Space, No One Can Hear PayPal Cha-Ching
June 27, 2013
It was once virtually unthinkable for a company to operate on a global scale, but if a recent move by PayPal is any indication, this small planet of ours may soon be just the beginning. In fact, PayPal on Thursday announced the launch of PayPal Galactic, an initiative that's designed to address the upcoming need for universal payments from space.
Little Kirobo to Become First Robot Space Talker
June 27, 2013
The first human-robot conversation in space will take place later this year aboard the International Space Station. The chat will be between Kirobo, a humanoid communication robot, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. "I believe that this development is a significant milestone in the exploration of space," said William I. Newman, a professor of earth and space sciences at UCLA.
3D Food Printer Could Sustain Long-Distance Space Explorers
May 22, 2013
In space no one can hear you call out for pizza, but technology being developed in a NASA-funded project might let astronauts print one instead -- or any number of potentially delectable meals. Systems and Materials Research Corporation received a $125,000 grant from NASA to build a prototype device that prints food.
Fusion Rocket Could Hurtle Astronauts to Mars in 30 Days
April 11, 2013
Scientists from the University of Washington and private company MSNW are working on a fusion-powered rocket that could slash the estimated four-year round trip from Earth to Mars to a maximum of 90 days. The technology might also make flights to Mars affordable. The launch cost alone of such a manned flight using chemical rocket fuel would be about $12 billion, according to UW.
Thruster Problem Pushes SpaceX Capsule Off Schedule
March 1, 2013
Private spaceflight company SpaceX's Friday launch of a Dragon capsule ran into problems shortly after it separated from its Falcon 9 rocket, and the resulting delays could move a planned docking with the International Space Station from Saturday to Sunday. "Issue with Dragon thruster pods," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the morning launch.
1-2 Celestial Punch Raises Questions About Space Object Defenses
February 16, 2013
A blazing meteor streaked across the skies of Russia on Thursday, leaving a large smoke trail in its wake before blowing up over the remote town of Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountains. More than 1,000 people reported injuries, and windows across the region were shattered by a deafening sonic boom.
Landsat 8 Pushes the Earth-Monitoring Envelope
February 12, 2013
Landsat 8, loaded with several technological advancements for better data-gathering, blasted off Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance. The latest satellite in the 41-year-old Landsat program has enhanced capabilities to record the changes happening on the planet.
Fleet of FireFlies to Probe Space for Mineral-Rich Asteroids
January 24, 2013
Deep Space Industries on Tuesday announced plans to launch a robotic fleet to scour space for asteroids that can be mined. The company will send out its FireFly spacecraft in 2015 on journeys of two-to-six months. DSI will build the 55-lb. FireFlies using CubeSat technology. The company will work with NASA and other partners to identify targets of opportunity.
'Black Beauty' Meteorite Points to Mars' Kinder, Gentler Past
January 5, 2013
After a year of study, researchers have concluded that a Martian meteorite found in the Sahara desert in 2011 is a new class of meteorite -- one that adds credence to the idea that life may have existed on the Red Planet. The meteorite, Northwest Africa 7034, nicknamed "Black Beauty," is black and about the size of a baseball.
Alzheimer's Could Be the Trade-off for Deep-Space Pioneers
January 3, 2013
Cosmic radiation could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease among astronauts, adding to the health risks it's already known to pose. Researchers at the University of Rochester looked at the effect of high-mass particles with a high charge. These so-called "HZE particles" are the nuclei of elements that include iron, silicon, titanium and calcium.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
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