Posts tagged technology

NASA preparing for comet encounter this weekend
Comet Siding Spring will be making its closest pass to Mars this Sunday, bringing with it a wealth of information about the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Siding Spring - named after the Australian observatory which first identified it - comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system. It’s thought that the comet has come straight from the Oort cloud, making it the first time it has passed this close to the sun, giving scientists a unique opportunity to observe it and gather data as it passes only 87,000 miles (139,500km) from the surface of Mars. That’s less than half the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and close enough for NASA to decide to ‘hide’ satellites currently orbiting Mars to avoid the trail of debris. Their orbits have been altered just enough to ensure they will all be passing behind Mars at the time the worst of the comet dust is passing, while allowing them to still observe as much of the comet encounter as possible.
NASA has been hard at work repurposing a wide range of spacecraft for this comet encounter, with Mars satellites like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) - which normally faces down towards Mars - being turned skywards to capture the event. Instruments on Martian soil are also being used to gather data, with cameras on the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers being adjusted to observe the comet.
Images of the comet will be posted in the days and weeks to come, at mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.
Read more space stories at 8 Bit Future.

NASA preparing for comet encounter this weekend

Comet Siding Spring will be making its closest pass to Mars this Sunday, bringing with it a wealth of information about the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Siding Spring - named after the Australian observatory which first identified it - comes from the Oort Cloud, material left over from the formation of the solar system. It’s thought that the comet has come straight from the Oort cloud, making it the first time it has passed this close to the sun, giving scientists a unique opportunity to observe it and gather data as it passes only 87,000 miles (139,500km) from the surface of Mars. That’s less than half the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and close enough for NASA to decide to ‘hide’ satellites currently orbiting Mars to avoid the trail of debris. Their orbits have been altered just enough to ensure they will all be passing behind Mars at the time the worst of the comet dust is passing, while allowing them to still observe as much of the comet encounter as possible.

NASA has been hard at work repurposing a wide range of spacecraft for this comet encounter, with Mars satellites like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) - which normally faces down towards Mars - being turned skywards to capture the event. Instruments on Martian soil are also being used to gather data, with cameras on the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers being adjusted to observe the comet.

Images of the comet will be posted in the days and weeks to come, at mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.

Read more space stories at 8 Bit Future.

Saturn’s moon may hide an ocean.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has returned data showing that Mimas may contain either a liquid water ocean, or a frozen core shaped like a football. Because the moon formed over four billion years ago, the expectation was that its core would have relaxed into a more or less spherical shape by now. So if Mimas’ core is oblong in shape, it likely represents a record of the moon’s formation, frozen in time.

If Mimas possesses an ocean, it would join an exclusive club of “ocean worlds” that includes several moons of Jupiter and two other Saturn moons, Enceladus and Titan. A global ocean would be surprising, said Tajeddine, as the surface of Mimas does not display signs of geologic activity.

Saturn’s moon may hide an ocean.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has returned data showing that Mimas may contain either a liquid water ocean, or a frozen core shaped like a football. Because the moon formed over four billion years ago, the expectation was that its core would have relaxed into a more or less spherical shape by now. So if Mimas’ core is oblong in shape, it likely represents a record of the moon’s formation, frozen in time.

If Mimas possesses an ocean, it would join an exclusive club of “ocean worlds” that includes several moons of Jupiter and two other Saturn moons, Enceladus and Titan. A global ocean would be surprising, said Tajeddine, as the surface of Mimas does not display signs of geologic activity.

I’m in mission control at NASA/JPL as part of a #NASASocial ! There’s a live stream coming up at 2pm, check it out at www.upstream.tv/nasajpl2
Edit: Predictive text fail! It’s http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

I’m in mission control at NASA/JPL as part of a #NASASocial ! There’s a live stream coming up at 2pm, check it out at www.upstream.tv/nasajpl2

Edit: Predictive text fail! It’s http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

Saw this parked up in Palo Alto today.

Anyone know what’s up with this? Pretty interesting anyway…

I’m in the US to do a bit of sightseeing and visit NASA/JPL on Monday. Yesterday I managed a trip to Google’s San Francisco office to try on Glass (the other photo is the view from their office - wow!). It was cool, and much lighter than I expected, but not quite cool enough to throw down $1,500 for at this point.

Video: Microsoft RoomAlive.

This looks like an even more developed version of IllumiRoom, which was shown in prototype form last year.

From Microsoft Research:

RoomAlive is a proof-of-concept prototype that transforms any room into an immersive, augmented entertainment experience. Our system enables new interactive projection mapping experiences that dynamically adapts content to any room. Users can touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that seamlessly co-exists with their existing physical environment. The basic building blocks of RoomAlive are projector-depth camera units, which can be combined through a scalable, distributed framework. The projector-depth camera units are individually auto-calibrating, self-localizing, and create a unified model of the room with no user intervention. We investigate the design space of gaming experiences that are possible with RoomAlive and explore methods for dynamically mapping content based on room layout and user position. Finally we showcase four experience prototypes that demonstrate the novel interactive experiences that are possible with RoomAlive and discuss the design challenges of adapting any game to any room.

Check out this awesome CGI video.

Made by Chris Jones, who says it was “hand-made with Lightwave, Sculptris and Krita, composited with Davinci Resolve Lite”.

Facebook buys WhatsApp for $21.8 billion.
$21.8 billion!
Facebook closed the deal today, making it by far the biggest tech acquisition recently, well ahead of Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype and Facebook’s earlier purchase of Instagram for over $1 billion - the size of that deal was considered by some to be surprisingly large at the time.

Facebook buys WhatsApp for $21.8 billion.

$21.8 billion!

Facebook closed the deal today, making it by far the biggest tech acquisition recently, well ahead of Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype and Facebook’s earlier purchase of Instagram for over $1 billion - the size of that deal was considered by some to be surprisingly large at the time.

Japanese construction giant eyeing up a space elevator.
Obayashi Corporation have announced an intention to have a space elevator operational by the year 2050. While acknowledging that current technology can’t build the 96,000 kilometer long cable, they say it’s only a matter of time before technology makes the idea possible.

Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of rockets. It will take seven days to get there.
The company said the fantasy can now become a reality because of the development of carbon nanotechnology.
"The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible," Mr Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi, said.

"Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it."

Japanese construction giant eyeing up a space elevator.

Obayashi Corporation have announced an intention to have a space elevator operational by the year 2050. While acknowledging that current technology can’t build the 96,000 kilometer long cable, they say it’s only a matter of time before technology makes the idea possible.

Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of rockets. It will take seven days to get there.

The company said the fantasy can now become a reality because of the development of carbon nanotechnology.

"The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible," Mr Yoji Ishikawa, a research and development manager at Obayashi, said.

"Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimetre-long nanotubes but we need much more… we think by 2030 we’ll be able to do it."