Science & technology

NASA’s New Horizons Team Finds Haze, Flowing Ice on Pluto

Just seven hours after closest approach, New Horizons aimed its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) back at Pluto, capturing sunlight streaming through the atmosphere and revealing hazes as high as 80 miles (130 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface. A preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze -- one about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers).

U.S. Army tests drone-blasting cannon

While drones becomes more prevalent, U.S. Army engineers are testing technology that can be used to blast potentially hostile unmanned aerial systems (UAVs) out of the sky. The Extended Area Protection and Survivability Integrated Demonstration program (EAPS ID) at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey has been developing a gun-based solution to defend against C-RAM (counter rockets, artillery, and mortars) technology, according to a U.S. Army press release.

U.S. News & World Report Can Hackers Really Target Your Smart Car?

As major automakers continue to roll out cars with Wi-Fi features connecting the vehicles with smartphones and other devices, their innovations are likely to catch the eye of hackers as well as tech-hungry customers, opening up a new asphalt playing field in the arena of cybersecurity. "My concern is where we are heading in the future. As we head toward more automated drive systems, then the possibilities for hacking open up even more," says Akshay Anand, an analyst with automotive research company Kelley Blue Book.

Committee Discusses New Accomplishments in the Exploration of the Solar System

Witnesses discussed the importance of these missions in inspiring students to pursue STEM studies. Dr. Braun said, "Planetary science is one of America's crown jewels. A unique symbol of our country's technological leadership and pioneering spirit, this endeavor has consistently demonstrated that the United States is a bold and curious nation interested in discovering and exploring the richness of worlds beyond our own for the betterment of all. In addition to informing our worldview, these missions are inspirational beacons, pulling young people into educational and career paths aligned with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the foundation of continued U.S. economic competitiveness and global leadership in a world that is becoming more technologically advanced with each passing year."

Success of NASA missions revives funding debate

The recent success of NASA missions prompted a new debate Tuesday on budget cuts to the U.S. space program. Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology called upon some of the country’s top planetary scientists to describe the latest NASA missions and the future of space exploration. Members of Congress lauded NASA for its recent historic achievements, namely the New Horizons' flyby of Pluto, as they advocated for restoring funding that is set to be eliminated.

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

3D-printing basic electronic components

UC Berkeley engineers, in collaboration with colleagues at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, have developed a 3D printing process for creating basic electronic components, such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, and integrated wireless electrical sensing systems.

NASA’s New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s Heart

Pluto’s icy mountains have company. NASA’s New Horizons mission has discovered a new, apparently less lofty mountain range on the lower-left edge of Pluto’s best known feature, the bright, heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region). These newly-discovered frozen peaks are estimated to be one-half mile to one mile (1-1.5 kilometers) high, about the same height as the United States’ Appalachian Mountains.

NASA Captures EPIC Earth Image

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

Cybersecurity, the singularity and the rise of the silicon based life form

The singularity, a term coined by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge and popularized by futurist Ray Kurzweil, strikes fear into some of those familiar with artificial intelligence. Simply put, The singularity will come to pass once artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Those that fear the singularity worry that we will create an artificial life form to do our bidding, which will, in an ironic twist, rise up and enslave us.

NASA’s New Horizons Discovers Frozen Plains in the Heart of Pluto’s Heart

In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. “This terrain is not easy to explain,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “The discovery of vast, craterless, very young plains on Pluto exceeds all pre-flyby expectations.”

Continued destruction of Earth’s plant life places humankind in jeopardy, say researchers

Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth’s declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

3-D printed food

3D printers could revolutionize food processing in the next 10 to 20 years, said Hod Lipson, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at Columbia University, speaking at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation. “The technology is getting faster, cheaper, and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing.”

A jet engine powered by lasers and nuclear explosions?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent (US 9,068,562) to Boeing engineers and scientists for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine. “A stream of pellets containing nuclear material such as Deutrium or Tritium is fed into a hot-stop within a thruster of the aircraft,” Patent Yogi explains. “Then multiple high powered laser beams are all focused onto the hot-spot. The pellet is instantly vaporized and the high temperature causes a nuclear fusion reaction.

IBM announces first 7nm node test chips

IBM Research has announced the semiconductor industry’s first 7nm (nanometer) node test chips, which could allow for chips with more than 20 billion transistors, IBM believes — a big step forward from today’s most advanced chips, made using 14nm technology.

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