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Curiosity selfie as it drills for water

Curiosity rover's broken arm heals, exploration-as-normal resumes

The Curiosity rover's arm is working again! In late February, NASA shut down the robotic limb after a short circuit led to errors. By March 7th, the space agency expressed optimism that the arm would come good. And last week, it did: NASA reports that last Wednesday the nuclear-powered laser-equipped space tank once again …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Mar 2015
Tea

Boffins brew up FIRST CUPPA in SPAAACE using wireless energy (well, sort of)

Japanese scientists have claimed a breakthrough in beaming energy wirelessly, after they used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power though the air to a receiver a short distance away. That amount of power is enough to run an electric kettle, researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) enthused. "This was …
Kelly Fiveash, 15 Mar 2015

LOHAN chap compiles 'tenner a week' cookbook

It's a tip of the chef's hat today to Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) chap Neil Barnes, who's released a cookbook inspired by his participation in the Live Below the Line challenge, with all profits going to Malaria No More UK. Neil Barnes in his flight suit with LOHAN patch Last year, paragliding aficionado Neil …
Lester Haines, 15 Mar 2015
Cosmic rays hitting Earth

Wham! NASA claims 'picture-perfect' blast-off for tricky MAGNETIC EXPLOSIONS mission

Vid NASA boffins crowed that the U.S. space agency had successfully launched its four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft into Earth's orbit on Friday. The mission, the first of its kind, involves studying the so-called magnetic reconnection phenomenon that is understood to cause powerful explosions in our solar system. It's …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Mar 2015
Birthdays in Pi. Image credit: Wolfram Alpha

Pi(e) Day of the Century is upon us! Time to celebrate 3/14/15 in style, surely?

It's the 14th of March, which means only one thing to maths nerds in the good ol' US of A: Pi Day. Americans, who insist on putting the month before the day (crazy, right?) when it comes to date arrangement, celebrate the mathematical constant that frames our science and maths – 3/14. It also happens to be Albert Einstein's …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Mar 2015
Bigelow module on the ISS

SpaceX to deliver Bigelow blow-up job to ISS astronauts

Vid + pic Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace has been showing off the latest addition to the International Space Station: an inflatable module that will be used as a lounge and test facility in orbit. Youtube Video The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is a 13ft by 10ft inflatable capsule that will be lofted up to the ISS as part of …
Iain Thomson, 14 Mar 2015
"Image from the glassbrain project, neuroscapelab.com, UCSF

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime exhibition – blurs scientific interest with grotesque curiosity

Review "Within minutes of death, adult female blowflies arrive to lay eggs on a cadaver". So reads one of the captions at the Wellcome Collection's magnificently macabre: Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime exhibition. Morbid titillation, however, isn't the intent. The point is that forensic scientists can pinpoint the time of death by …
Kat Hall, 14 Mar 2015

LOHAN unleashes 'waiting for the FAA' collector mug

It's fair to say that waiting for US Federal Aviation Authority approval for our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch is a bit like sitting blindfolded in a room twiddling your thumbs while trying to imagine what paint drying on the wall of an adjacent room looks like. Suffice to say, we're doing our best to gee up the FAA snail - but in …
Lester Haines, 13 Mar 2015
Ganymede

ALIEN LIFE drenched in HOT FLUID on Jupiter's Ganymede – is that so?

The Hubble space telescope is usually eyeing up far away galaxies, but a novel technique has allowed it to peer inside the largest moon in our Solar System – and find signs of water. Jupiter's Ganymede is massive, about twice the size of Earth's moon, and has both an iron core and its own magnetosphere. Just as with Earth, that …
Iain Thomson, 13 Mar 2015
Dunce

Chief Scientist slams handcuffing research funds to uni reforms

There are faint hints that the Australia's federal government might reconsider the policy that ties future research funds to its attempt to deregulate university fees. At the same time, the Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has gone on the record to call the policy a serious problem for research. The faint scent of a change in policy …
MIlky Way

Does my star look big in this? Milky Way 50 per cent fatter than expected

Vid The Milky Way galaxy could be up to 50 per cent wider than the previously estimated – a whopping 150,000 light years across, potentially – according to boffins. "In essence, what we found is that the disk of the Milky Way isn't just a disk of stars in a flat plane: it's corrugated," said Heidi Newberg, professor of physics, …
Iain Thomson, 11 Mar 2015
Chameleon

Boffinry listicle MADNESS: ONE THING you need to know about CHAMELEONS

An inter-disciplinary team of scientists from the University of Geneva has figured out how chameleons manage to exhibit their complex and rapid colour changes by using the crystals in their skin. "Ever since their description by Aristotle, chameleons have populated myths and legends," says the team of Swiss boffins, evidently …
Philae GIF

Rosetta probe to try contact with Philae lander on Thursday

The European Space Agency (ESA) says its comet-circling Rosettta probe will try to make contact with the Philae lander starting Thursday. In case you've come in late, this story starts in 2004 when the ESA sent a craft called Rosetta in the direction of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta's payload included Philae, a lander …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Mar 2015
Dwarf Galaxy found by the Dark Energy Survey

Dark matter surveys turn up new satellites … orbiting the Milky Way

Dwarf galaxies circling the Milky Way, some with only a few hundred stars, could yield new hints about dark matter, according to boffins from the University of Cambridge and the Dark Energy Survey. The two groups independently discovered the dwarf galaxies while combing over first year's worth of data published by the Dark …
Our playmonaut tries out a jetpack, watched by a circling vulture

LOHAN leaps aloft & ports into virtual flight logger

Last October, our US allies at Edge Research Laboratory sent up a Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) avionics package to determine just how our Vulture 2 spaceplane's servos and batteries would handle the cold way up in the stratsophere. Shortly afterwards, the chaps from "Drone Flight Logbook" outfit Exmaps got in …
Lester Haines, 10 Mar 2015
Europa rebooted

Boffins probe mystery of ANTARCTIC BLOOD GLACIER

Scientists have retrieved samples thought to be the cause of a red stain on Taylor Glacier, a 54km-long tongue in Antarctica. The stain has earned the name Blood Falls and is thought to be the result of iron-rich material trapped in a sub-glacial lake. Scientists have analysed Blood Falls' water in the past, and found microbes …

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Smažený sýr

It's back to basics this time around for our post-pub nosh neckfiller, following an audacious leap into the challenging waters of English muffins and hollandaise sauce. Say hello, then, to classic Czech wobbly dining delicacy smažený sýr ("fried cheese") – aka "smazak" to its mates – which has for years been dispensed by street …
Lester Haines, 8 Mar 2015
Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Is there a cure for cancer sitting at the back of the medicine cabinet already?

A solid tumour is the perfect example of a complex adaptive system at work. It is an ecosystem with competitive and cooperative networks of cells at play. This is one of the reasons why cancer is so difficult to treat. Historically, the approach has been to blast tumours with the most toxic drugs at our disposal – cytotoxic …
Curiosity's view of Mount Sharp

NASA: Curiosity rover's BROKEN ARM doesn't SPELL DOOM for Mars mission

NASA boffins are confident that its Mars-dwelling space tank Curiosity will return to full duty as early as next week, after its mission was temporarily scuppered by a short-circuiting arm. The U.S. space agency said yesterday that it was continuing to analyse what had gone wrong with the rover's arm movements. As The Register …
Kelly Fiveash, 7 Mar 2015
Killer whale

MENOPAUSAL KILLER WHALES are wise old birds, trick-cyclists claim

Post-reproductive female killer whales act as key "repositories of ecological knowledge" to younger family members, a new study has claimed. Menopause is a rare and mysterious phenomenon among animals on Earth. Only humans, resident killer whales and short-finned pilot whales are predisposed to outlive their reproductive years …
Kelly Fiveash, 7 Mar 2015
A truck disabled by Lockheed Martin's ATHENA laser

In assault on American values, Lockheed BLASTS PICKUP with RAYGUN

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a new laser cannon prototype by using the weapon to punch through the engine block of a small truck from a mile away. The device, dubbed ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset), was – according to reports – able to burn through the vehicle's engine manifold "in a matter of seconds," disabling it …
Ceres

Will NASA's Dawn spot ALIEN LIFE on asteroid belt dwarf world Ceres?

Vid + Pic After seven years, and more than three billion miles of travel, the Dawn spacecraft has been captured by the gravity of the Solar System's dwarf planet Ceres. The NASA probe entered a stable orbit at 0439 PST (1239 UTC) on Friday. "We feel exhilarated," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission at the …
Iain Thomson, 6 Mar 2015
Mars with oceans

Boffins say Mars had ocean covering 20 per cent of planet

NASA boffins have popped out a new paper, Strong water isotopic anomalies in the martian atmosphere: Probing current and ancient reservoirs, in which they advance a theory that Mars once had substantial oceans. The theory outlined in the paper relies on measurements of the types of water found on Mars. Yes, we do mean “types” …
Darren Pauli, 6 Mar 2015
Gravity lens makes supernova appear four times

Massive gravitational lens flare unveils EINSTEIN CROSS SUPERNOVA

Vid “That's odd” must be a scientist's favourite phrase: a set of images of a distant supernova has shown off a phenomenon first predicted more than 50 years ago in 1964. The supernova was spotted in Hubble images by Dr Patrick Kelly of Berkeley while searching for distant galaxies – and because of the effect of gravitational …
The Tanami Desert en route to Willowara

Australia's new broadband satellites won't be all the help Willowra needs

One of the things we've been asked about our project to figure out how to improve network performance at the Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre in the remote Australian town of Willowra is why we are bothering. It's a decent question to ask because Australia is building a new Long Term Satellite Solution (LTSS) that promises multi- …
she should look alarmed

Virtual reality WHIPLASH CHAIR in shutdown scare

MWC 2015 Incongruous among the mobile marketing solutions and miscellaneous apps in the Spanish section at Mobile World Congress was the VR experience from Spanish company Whiplash. On a stand which was significantly too small, the company demonstrated its two-axis articulated seat tied to binocular displays. As one hapless potential …
Simon Rockman, 5 Mar 2015

UK spaceport, phase two: Now where do we PUT the bleeding thing?

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has narrowed its shortlist of potential locations for Europe's first spaceport, which would provide a UK base for future commercial space flights and satellite launches. In response to a three-month consultation on the plans, the UK government said that it had received "widespread support …
OUT-LAW.COM, 5 Mar 2015
Homo jaw

Boffins find Earth's earliest Homo in Ethiopian hilltop

It looks like mankind's earliest ancestors go back a lot further than first thought. After 13 years digging in the Rift Valley region of Ethiopia, team of researchers have found a 2.8-million-year-old jawbone from our genus. Creatures of the genus Homo were thought to have evolved around two million years ago, producing various …
Iain Thomson, 5 Mar 2015
Stegosaurus

Sophie the Stegosaurus was a teenaged fat lass claims triple-D model

Pic + vid Scientists at the Natural History Museum have used 3D models to work out what its famous Stegosaurus would have weighed when she was alive. And the answer is: a lot. The dino exists today at the London museum as a skeleton nicknamed Sophie after the daughter of the hedge fund manager who bought the ancient bones. It is the most …
Iain Thomson, 4 Mar 2015

Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship

Pics A team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has located the final resting place of monster Japanese battleship Musashi, some 70 years after she was consigned to the depths off the Philippines during the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf. The discovery marks the end of an eight-year search for the sunken behemoth, according to Allen' …
Lester Haines, 4 Mar 2015

Lost WHITE CITY of the MONKEY GOD found after 500 years

In a scene straight from Raiders of the Lost Ark, archaeologists believe they have found the fabled lost White City of the Monkey God in Honduras. Aided by former Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers, the team of scientists uncovered the location in the Mosquitia jungle, along Honduras's eastern coast, over 500 years after the …
Kat Hall, 4 Mar 2015
Curiosity's robotic arm probes first rock

Curiosity rover RENDERED ARMLESS by short circuit

Humanity's Mars-resident nuclear-powered, laser-packing space tank Curiosity has a broken arm. NASA boffins said the problem emerged on 27 February when "the rover was conducting an early step in the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to laboratory instruments inside the rover." During that operation " …

Atomic keyring's eerie blue glow lights SPB lab

The news last week that El Reg merchandising tentacle Cash'n'Carrion had sourced new tritium-powered glowrings prompted some atomic-powered nostalgia from those readers who'd bought the original Traser. Way back in 2002, we laid our hands on a big batch of these novelty keyrings, and promptly shifted thousands of them. No …
Lester Haines, 3 Mar 2015
Waves and particles (original resolution)

Is light a wave or a particle? Beaming boffins prove it's BOTH

The old conundrum is right: not only is light both a wave and a particle, but Swiss boffins have captured it behaving as both at the same time. And this is what it looks like (click for the bigger version): EPFL wave and particle image Upper image - light as wave Lower image - light as quanta Image: EPFL The researchers …
DSS 35 deep space telescope

NASA upgrades Rosetta, Voyager and moon landing tracker

NASA has upgraded the Australian facility housing antennae that captured signals from the first Moon landing and still helps to track the Voyager missions. The Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station already houses Deep Space Stations (DSS) 34, 43, 45 and DSS 46. The latter is a 26 metre antenna that received the first video of …
SpaceX launches electric satellites into orbit

SpaceX lofts two all-electric ion-drive comsats to Clarke orbit

Pics Another month, another successful SpaceX launch. This time, a Falcon 9 sent into orbit a twin set of communications satellites that eschew chemical-engine propellant in favor of solar power. Typically, half the weight of a satellite is its propulsion fuel, used to maneuver it into position once in space. However, the two just- …
Iain Thomson, 2 Mar 2015

US military SATELLITE suddenly BLOWS UP: 'Temperature spike' blamed

In a story reminiscent of the movie Gravity, near-Earth orbits have a bunch of new space junk chunks to worry about after a satellite exploded. After an event was first noticed by orbital tracking company CelesTrak, the US Air Force has confirmed to Space News that the 20-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight …
Planet Labs' Doves in their coop

Satellite cannon starts shooting Doves, this time under control

The nano-sat launcher aboard the International Space Station has stopped malfunctioning and started spitting its payload into space as intended. The NanoRacks deployment was due last year, but was interrupted when it started launching its 6kg Planet Labs Doves satellites without instructions. The fault was traced to over- …
Spacewalking outside the ISS. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA 'nauts complete another EPIC SPACEWALK to route cables around ISS

Astronauts working on NASA's International Space Station have snaked yet more cabling around the orbiting science lab. Live images of Terry Virts' and Barry Wilmore's latest spacewalk were beamed down to Earth and aired via the U.S. agency's live TV feed. The 'nauts carried out the installations to reconfigure the ISS for new …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Mar 2015
Grad James Stevenson, astronomer Jonathan Lunine and chemical engineer Paulette Clancy, with a Cassini image of Titan in the foreground of Saturn, and an azotosome, the theorised cell membrane on Titan. Credit: Cornell University

BOFFINS: Oxygen-free, methane-based ALIENS may EXIST on icy SATURN moon Titan

Scientists believe they have come up with a solid model for a new type of methane-based, oxygen-free life form that could thrive in the harsh, icy conditions of Saturn's mysterious freezing moon, Titan. The researchers at Cornell University reckon they have come up with "the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it." …
Kelly Fiveash, 28 Feb 2015
Hyperloop plans

Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

Billionaire space baron Elon Musk has inked a deal with land developers in California to allow his company to begin installing an over-hyped, loopy new transport system appropriately dubbed Hyperloop. Previous mutterings from Musk had suggested that the first railgun-like tube-way would be constructed by Hyperloop Transportation …
Kelly Fiveash, 28 Feb 2015

Churchill's blood valued at £560,000. Take that Stalin!

The blood circulating in Winston Churchill's veins was worth around £560,000, on the basis of a valuation placed on a small phial of it being auctioned next month. Dukes Auctions is estimating the phial of his blood obtained by a nurse in 1962 could fetch £1,000, although a spokeswoman from the auction house said that due to the …
Kat Hall, 27 Feb 2015