Space

High School Students Discover Pulsar With Widest-Known Orbit 19

Posted by timothy
from the dancing-light dept.
Science 2.0 reports that A team of high school students analyzed data from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and discovered a never-before-seen pulsar which has the widest orbit of any around a neutron star - one among only a handful of double neutron star systems. ... This pulsar, which received the official designation PSR J1930-1852, was discovered in 2012 by Cecilia McGough, who was a student at Strasburg High School in Virginia at the time, and De'Shang Ray, who was a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland. These students were participating in a summer Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) workshop, which is an NSF-funded educational outreach program that involves interested high school students in analyzing pulsar survey data collected by the GBT. Students often spend weeks and months poring over data plots, searching for the unique signature that identifies a pulsar. Those who identify strong pulsar candidates are invited to Green Bank to work with astronomers to confirm their discovery.
Space

NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out! 174

Posted by timothy
from the well-those-might-be-more-like-suggestions dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: HR 2039: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 (press release, full text, and as a pretty RGB bitmap) is in the House. In $18B of goodies we see things that actually resemble a space program. The ~20,000 word document is even a good read, especially the parts about decadal cadence. There is more focus on launch systems and manned exploration, also to "expand the Administration's Near-Earth Object Program to include the detection, tracking, cataloguing, and characterization of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects less than 140 meters in diameter." I find it awesome that the fate of the dinosaurs is explicitly mentioned in this bill. If it passes we will have a law with dinosaurs in it. Someone read the T-shirt. There is also a very specific six month review of NASA's "Earth science global datasets for the purpose of identifying those datasets that are useful for understanding regional changes and variability, and for informing applied science research." Could this be an emerging Earth Sciences turf war between NOAA and NASA? Lately it seems more of a National Atmospheric Space Administration. Mission creep, much?
Space

Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope 265

Posted by timothy
from the not-in-their-backyard dept.
sciencehabit writes: Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) – a state agency established to advocate for native Hawaiins — voted Thursday to withdraw their support for construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. The vote follows weeks of protests by Native Hawaiians who say the massive structure would desecrate one of their most holy places. The protests have shut down construction of the telescope, which would be the world's largest optical telescope if completed. The vote, which reverses a 2009 decision to endorse the project, strikes a powerful if symbolic blow against a project that, for many native Hawaiians, has come to symbolize more than a century of assaults against their land, culture and sovereignty.
Medicine

Space Radiation May Alter Astronauts' Neurons 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-that-episode-of-star-trek dept.
sciencehabit writes: NASA hopes to send the first round-trip, manned spaceflight to Mars by the 2030s. If the mission succeeds, astronauts could spend several years potentially being bombarded with cosmic rays—high-energy particles launched across space by supernovae and other galactic explosions. Now, a study in mice suggests these particles could alter the shape of neurons, impairing astronauts' memories and other cognitive abilities. In the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with executive function, a range of high-level cognitive tasks such as reasoning, short-term memory, and problem-solving, neurons had 30% to 40% fewer branches, called dendrites, which receive electrical input from other cells.
NASA

New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-argue dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last year, NASA's advanced propulsion research wing made headlines by announcing the successful test of a physics-defying electromagnetic drive, or EM drive. Now, this futuristic engine, which could in theory propel objects to near-relativistic speeds, has been shown to work inside a space-like vacuum. NASA Eagleworks made the announcement quite unassumingly via NASASpaceFlight.com. The EM drive is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum; the engine, invented by British scientist Roger Sawyer, converts electric power to thrust without the need for any propellant by bouncing microwaves within a closed container. So, with no expulsion of propellant, there’s nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum during acceleration.
Space

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Launches Its First Rocket 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the delivering-books-via-rocketry dept.
Zothecula writes: Billionaires who made their cash in dot-coms from the 1990s successfully launching commercial rockets is officially a trend, now that Jeff Bezos has followed in the footsteps of Elon Musk with Wednesday's successful test flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle. "Our 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine worked flawlessly, powering New Shepard through Mach 3 to its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Guidance, navigation and control was nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent. The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect. Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return." Here are the images and video.
Space

New Solar Telescope Unveils the Complex Dynamics of Sunspots' Dark Cores 17

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The high-resolution images, taken by the New Solar Telescope (NST), show the atmosphere above the umbrae (the dark patches in the center of sunspots) to be finely structured, consisting of hot plasma intermixed with cool plasma jets as wide as 100 kilometers. These ground breaking images are being captured by scientists at NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO). Sunspots are formed when strong magnetic fields rise up from the convection zone, a region beneath the photosphere that transfers energy from the interior of the Sun to its surface. At the surface, the magnetic fields concentrate into bundles, which prevent the hot rising plasma from reaching the surface. This energy deficit causes the magnetic bundles to cool down to temperatures about 1,000 degrees lower than their surroundings. The NST takes snapshots of the Sun every 10 seconds, which are then strung together as a video to reveal fast-evolving small explosions, plasma flows and the movement of magnetic fields.
NASA

Messenger's Mercury Trip Ends With a Bang, and Silence 108

Posted by timothy
from the hell-of-a-way-to-go dept.
mpicpp writes with an expected followup: Nasa's Messenger mission to Mercury has reached its explosive conclusion, after 10 years in space and four in orbit. Now fully out of fuel, the spacecraft smashed into a region near Mercury's north pole, out of sight from Earth, at about 20:00 GMT on Thursday. Mission scientists confirmed the impact minutes later, when the craft's next possible communication pass was silent. Messenger reached Mercury in 2011 and far exceeded its primary mission plan of one year in orbit. That mission ended with an inevitable collision: Messenger slammed into our Solar System's hottest planet at 8,750mph (14,000km/h) — 12 times quicker than the speed of sound. The impact will have completely obliterated this history-making craft. And it only happened because Mercury has no thick atmosphere to burn up incoming objects — the same reason its surface is so pock-marked by impact craters. According to calculations, the 513kg, three-metre craft will have blasted a brand new crater the size of a tennis court. But that lasting monument is far too small to be visible from Earth.
Japan

Submersible Photographs WW2 Japanese Sub's Long-Lost Airplane Hangar 74

Posted by timothy
from the flight-was-delayed-and-then-cancelled dept.
Zothecula writes: Until the 1960s, Japan's three I-400-class subs were the largest submarines ever built. They were so large, in fact, that they could each carry and launch three Aichi M6A Seiran amphibious aircraft. The idea was that the submarines could stealthily bring the planes to within striking distance of US coastal cities, where they could then take off and conduct bombing runs. Now, for the first time since it was scuttled at the end of World War II, one of the sunken subs' aircraft hangars has been photographed. The M6A on display at the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center is worth seeing, if you get a chance.
Space

NASA Probe Spies Possible Polar Ice Cap On Pluto 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the coldest-of-the-cold dept.
astroengine writes: As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft rapidly approaches Pluto for its historic flyby in July, the dwarf planet is gradually sliding into focus. And in the latest series of observations beamed back from the fringes of the Kuiper belt, surface features are becoming evident including the stunning revelation that Pluto may possess a polar ice cap. "As we approach the Pluto system we are starting to see intriguing features such as a bright region near Pluto's visible pole, starting the great scientific adventure to understand this enigmatic celestial object," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington D.C. "As we get closer, the excitement is building in our quest to unravel the mysteries of Pluto using data from New Horizons."
Space

Armadillo Aerospace Resurrected On Kickstarter By the Team Members 29

Posted by Soulskill
from the reaching-for-the-sky dept.
savuporo writes: Team members from John Carmack's defunct suborbital rocket company, Armadillo Aerospace, have re-launched the suborbital rocket project now as Exos Aerospace through a Kickstarter campaign. While original Armadillo efforts stopped just shy of actually getting to space, the team intends to pick up where they left off, rebuild and make it into a sustainable suborbital payload business. Carmack, while not involved, says their core is "arguably the most competent in suborbital alt-space."

There are multiple other small launcher startups springing up again across the globe — Rocket Labs recently unveiled their new engines, Firefly is making progress, and Lin Industrial also announced their rocket recently.
Space

Russian Cargo Mission To ISS Spinning Out of Control 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-not-to-order-pizza-for-the-ISS dept.
quippe writes: Many sources report that a Russian spacecraft, launched successfully (video) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier Tuesday, is in big trouble now after having a glitch shortly after liftoff. There is a video on YouTube (credit: NASA) of the space ship spinning out of control. Recovery attempts haven't gone well so far, but they will continue. If they can't regain control, the ship will likely burn up when it falls back into the atmosphere. Current speculation points to greater-than-expected lift by the third-stage, because the apogee is 20km higher than planned. The ship does not seem to pose a threat to the ISS at the moment.
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Should I Build a Maker Space For a Liberal Arts College? 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-it-out-of-LEGO dept.
XxtraLarGe writes: I work for a small liberal arts college, and have been asked to research makerspaces. I have done a bunch of initial research which tells me a lot about equipment being used, as well as location, etc., but what I'm not finding are what to know before you start, or what it takes to make the effort worthwhile.

I'd be interested in hearing from other educators, staff, students and other maker community members on Slashdot that had makerspaces at their schools or community — can be any level — and what was the experience like? 3D printer, 3D scanner & Laser cutting machines seem to be a given, so I'd like to hear what kinds of think-outside-the-box equipment/materials did you have? We are considering putting it in our library, which seems to be a popular choice with most schools. There's also the possibility of having it somewhere in town that it could be more accessible to members of the community, maybe even as a co-op.
Earth

Signs of Subsurface 'Alien' Life Found In Antarctica 106

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-friends dept.
astroengine writes: An airborne survey of a presumably dry Antarctic valley revealed a stunning and unexpected interconnected subsurface briny aquifer deep beneath the frozen tundra, a finding that not only has implications for understanding extreme habitats for life on Earth, but the potential for life elsewhere in the solar system, particularly Mars. The briny liquid — about twice as salty as seawater — was discovered about 200 miles underground in a region known as Taylor Valley. The aquifer is widespread, extending from the Ross Sea's McMurdo Sound more than 11 miles into the eastern part of valley. A second system was found connecting Taylor Glacier with the ice-cover Lake Bonney. But the survey, which covered 114 square miles, may have just uncovered the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
PC Games (Games)

Kerbal Space Program 1.0 Released After 4 Years of Development 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
hampton2600 writes: The beloved space simulator game Kerbal Space Program has just hit version 1.0 after four years in development. It has risen to prominence in public beta, but the full release brings a host of new features: "The flight model has had a complete overhaul, meaning the lift is now calculated correctly to all lift-generating parts, which includes lifting bodies. The drag simulation has also been completely revised, and uses automatically pre-calculated data based on the each part’s geometry, to be finally applied based on not just the orientation of parts in flight, but also taking other parts into consideration. ... A new heating simulation has been implemented together with the improved aerodynamics. Now, not only temperature but also energy flux is considered when making heat calculations, meaning radiative, conductive, and convective heating and cooling are all simulated and all parts have their individual thermal properties. Parts will emit a blackbody radiation glow if they get hot enough." To the mun!
Space

Holographic Principle Could Apply To Our Universe 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-cool-for-the-third-dimension dept.
New submitter citpyrc sends this news from the Vienna University of Technology: The "holographic principle" asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon. Up until now, this principle has only been studied in exotic spaces with negative curvature. This is interesting from a theoretical point of view, but such spaces are quite different from the space in our own universe. Results obtained by scientists at Vienna (abstract) now suggest that the holographic principle even holds in a flat spacetime, like ours.
Space

Cosmologists Find Eleven Runaway Galaxies 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-outta-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Discovery News reports that 11 homeless galaxies have been identified by Igor Chilingarian, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Moscow State University, and his fellow astronomers. "The 11 runaway galaxies were found by chance while Chilingarian and co-investigator Ivan Zolotukhin, of the L'Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie and Moscow State University, were scouring publicly-available data (via the Virtual Observatory) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the GALEX satellite for compact elliptical galaxies."
Robotics

Tiny Robots Climb Walls Carrying More Than 100 Times Their Weight 19

Posted by samzenpus
from the carrying-a-heavy-load dept.
schwit1 writes: Mighty things come in small packages. The little robots in this video can haul things that weigh over 100 times more than themselves. The super-strong bots — built by mechanical engineers at Stanford — will be presented next month at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle, Washington. The secret is in the adhesives on the robots' feet. Their design is inspired by geckos, which have climbing skills that are legendary in the animal kingdom. The adhesives are covered in minute rubber spikes that grip firmly onto the wall as the robot climbs. When pressure is applied, the spikes bend, increasing their surface area and thus their stickiness. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach easily.
Space

Mystery of the Coldest Spot In the CMB Solved 45

Posted by timothy
from the also-known-as-the-wet-spot dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern of overdensities and underdensities in the very early stages of the Universe. It's fluctuations just like these that give rise to the stars, galaxies, groups and clusters that exist today, as well as the voids in the vast cosmic web. But effects at the surface of last scattering are not the only ones that affect the CMB's temperature; if we want to make sure we've got an accurate map of what the Universe was born with, we have to take everything into account, including the effects of matter as it gravitationally grows and shrinks. As we do exactly this, we find ourselves discovering the causes behind the biggest anomalies in the sky, and it turns out that the standard cosmological model can explain it all.
Games

How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 34

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tase-me-bro-it's-only-a-game dept.
On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)