The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just awarded Virginal Galactic their first operating license, allowing them to start using their SpaceShipTwo craft for commercial use - as soon as certain guidelines are met. This means that the company - owned by billionaire Richard Branson - will soon be able to shuttle paying passengers into space.
Other than making the flights legal, the license dictates the conditions required before Virgin Galactic can actually let any passengers on board SpaceShipTwo, which will be carried by White Knight Two (below) roughly 99 kilometres (62 miles) into the sky.
Once everything is squared away with the FAA, SpaceShipTwo - a spacecraft designed to hold two pilots and six passengers - will hitch a ride w [ ... ]
Taken from a range of just 17 000 km, these images were snapped during the spacecraft's closest approach to Pluto, from its flyby of the dwarf planet in July this year. They document an 80-kilometre strip of the planet's surface, offering an intimate perspective of its cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains. The photos scan from Pluto's jagged horizon about 800 kilometres north-west of the informally named Sputnik Planum, across the al-Idrisi mountains, over the shoreline of Sputnik, and across its icy plains.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft completed the first of three final flybys of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. On October 14, Cassini passed within 1838 kilometers (1142 miles) of Enceladus, providing unprecedented views of the moon’s north polar region. What's more, researchers predict that is contains a global ocean lying beneath its icy crust. Researchers found the magnitude of the moon's very slight wobble, as it orbits Saturn, can only be accounted for if its outer ice shell is not frozen solid to its interior, meaning a global ocean must be present.
Since its discovery in 2010, researchers have been trying to solve the mystery of dark streaks that appear and disappear seasonally on the planet's surface (shown above). Scientists are now claiming that this phenomenon, known as the recurring slope lineae, is caused by a bath of saltwater. What is still unknown, however, is where the water is coming from, or if the chemistry is even right for supporting life.
The study, titled "CFT 70 (Countermeasure and Functional Testing in Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest Study)," aimed to learn more about how human bone and muscle might deteriorate in space. According to Drew Iwanicki, who took part in the study and who is pictured above, he experienced some serious headaches because of increased blood pressure to his head. His spine went through some serious pain, and staying horizontal was difficult. However, as soon as the bed was tilted to the vertical position, after 70 days of course, his legs felt heavier and his heart started to beat at 150 BPMs. [ ... ]
NASA scientists have nominated eight potential new targets for a 2020 Mars mission. They're focusing on ancient river deltas and hot springs as sites that have the best chance of preserving signs of life on the red planet. New sites can still be considered, and mission engineers have yet to weigh in on the technical feasibility of landing the rover in the nominated sites.
Watch the Nikon Coolpix p900 camera zoom into the moon. This is the first bridge camera on the market with an 83x optical zoom, and it sure is something. It also includes a digital zoom, which reaches to 166x, or 4,000 mm.
What is the difference between optical and digital zoom?
An optical zoom is a true zoom lens, like the zoom lens you’d use on a film camera. They produce much better-quality images. Some cameras offer a digital zoom, which is simply some in-camera image processing. When you use a digital zoom, the camera enlarges the image area at the center of the frame and trims away the outside edges of the picture. The result is the same as when you open an image in your photo-editing program, crop away the edges of the picture, and t [ ... ]
After a journey spanning nine years and almost 5 billion kilometres, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is closer than ever to everyone’s favourite former planet, Pluto. On 14 July 2015, New Horizons is expected to fly within 12,000 km of the lonely cosmic body - about the distance between Seattle and Sydney - zooming through the orbits of its five tiny moons.
Margaret Hamilton was the leader of the team that developed the flight software for the agency's Apollo missions. The concepts she and her team created became the building blocks for modern 'software engineering.' One example of the value of Hamilton's software work occurred during the Apollo 11 mission. Approximately three minutes before Eagle's touchdown on the moon, the software over rode a command to switch the flight computer's priority processing to a radar system whose 'on' switch had been manually activated due to a faulty written operations script provided to the crew. The action by the software permitted the mission to safely continue.
I'd like to share this mind-opening video. Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer. By far, one of the best...
It was very big news around two months ago... Sadly, Philae landed incorrectly in a rather awkward position due to technical failings. After all, it was trying to land on the harsh, unstable, deteriorating/burning up surface of a comet. It bounced three times to a site away from the targeted position and ended up in a shady place with insufficient sunlight to recharge its energy reserves. And so it died out after 60 hours of touchdown.
Recent tabloids have now reported that Philae is missing! Scientists from the European Space Agency have tried to analyze the images that Philae returned but things just keep on getting more a [ ... ]
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