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Hold on to your hats: LOHAN'S PRATCHETT mission launch imminent

Our US allies at Edge Research Laboratory are as we speak on the ground at Colorado Springs East Airport preparing for the imminent launch of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) PRATCHETT mission. Lift-off is scheduled for around 13:30 Mountain Daylight Time (19:30 GMT), and all being well, you should be able to …
Lester Haines, 13 Jun 2015
Approximate locations of five lander candidates initially identified in high-resolution OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera images taken in Dec 2014. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

Boffins, feeling around in dark for Philae, lit up by bright spot on Comet 67/P

Vid The European Space Agency has determined a "good candidate" for the location of its Philae probot, which successfully landed on Comet 67/P in November last year. Since then, the location of the spacecraft's final resting place has remained a mystery for boffins working on the Rosetta mission. However, on Thursday the ESA said …
Kelly Fiveash, 13 Jun 2015

Jurassic World: All the meaty ingredients for a summer blockbuster

Film Review Over twenty years later, the Hollywood dino franchise is back with a fourth film, Jurassic World, that ignores numbers two and three and attempts to recapture the magic that made the first an industry-changing, blockbuster ride. And it mostly succeeds. Whether dinosaurs can still interest the public twenty years later is, rather …
Locutus of Borg, aka Patrick Stewart aka Jean Luc Picard

GAZE upon our HI-RES DWARF PICS of Pluto, beams proud NASA

Pictures of the surface of Pluto snapped by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft are increasing in quality, as it edges closer to its July sojourn through the Pluto system. New pics from the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) taken between 29 May and 2 June show that Pluto is a "complex world with very bright and very …
Nantero_nanotube

Carbon nanotube memory tech gets great big cash dollop

Future memory hardware startup Nantero has had a big funding round, suggesting its technology is getting closer to becoming a reality. It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high …
Chris Mellor, 12 Jun 2015

POO-bomber space station 'nauts swap orbiter for rural Kazakhstan

Three astronauts have landed safely in Kazakhstan after spending nearly two hundred days aboard the International Space Station. Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of American NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti of Italian ESA, and Anton Shkaplerov of Russia's Roscosmos, safely landed their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at …
Uranus

Moon blocks Uranus for stargazers Down Under

Inhabitants of Australasia who enjoy peering into Uranus are going to be denied on June 12 as the strange globe slides behind the Moon. It's not often that planets get occulted by the Moon, and losing Uranus isn't that common an occurrence, and this one is something only people in the southern hemisphere can indulge in. Those of …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jun 2015

LOHAN'S PRATCHETT mission set to soar Saturday

Barring a last-minute change in the predicted weather, our US allies at Edge Research Laboratory will on Saturday dispatch the last Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) test payload into the stratosphere over Colorado. The mission – codenamed PRATCHETT in honour of the late Discworld author Sir Terry – is a final test of …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2015
The Martian

The Martian: Matt Damon sciences the sh*t out of the red planet

Preview Earlier this week, 20th Century Fox released a trailer for the Matt Damon and Ridley Scott vehicle The Martian, a due-in-November film based on a novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The book's really sweet, although aspiring novelists will wonder why they didn't think of the “astronaut left behind on Mars figures out how to …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jun 2015

ISS 'nauts quit orbiter and aim for Kazakhstan splashdown

Three astronauts aboard the International Space Station are leaving the orbiter and landing in Kazakhstan this afternoon. Their departure was delayed after an earlier rocket failure. No longer will Italy's first woman in space sip piss-derived espressos while her team eats caviar and showers us meagre planet-dwelling apes with …
A still from Eppendorf's epMotion video

Nobel bro-ffin: 'Girls in the lab fall in love with me ... then start crying'

A Nobel prize-winning scientist has apologised after he told sexist anecdotes at a conference for top women boffins in South Korea. Sir Tim Hunt, who has been a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1991, utterly misjudged his audience with these ridiculous comments: Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen …
Kelly Fiveash, 10 Jun 2015
Space: 1999's nuclear explosion on the Moon

TERROR in ORBIT: Dodgy rocket burp biffs International Space Station off track

A malfunction on a docked Russian spacecraft caused the International Space Station to shift from its normal orbital orientation, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday. NASA confirmed that the engines of Soyuz TMA-15M – one of two Soyuz spacecraft currently docked at the ISS – unexpectedly fired at 10:27am Central …

MONSTER GALAXY spotted hiding behind IMMENSE BLACK HOLE

Astro-boffins have detailed a "monstrous" galaxy near the edge of the charted universe, and have done so to an unprecedented degree of detail using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), with the assistance of a natural telescopic phenomenon known as a gravitational lens. According to the National Institutes of …

Glass door to the ancient past FOUND ON MARS

Rock-boffins have used data from satellites to scope out impact-crater glass on Mars for a glimpse into its past, based on the theory that glass formed during hypervelocity happenings can encapsulate and preserve earthly bio-signatures. A study lead by Brown University's Peter Schultz found that organic matter, including plant …
Nikola Tesla's fake lightning, Recuerdos de Pandora on Flickr CC2.0 license

Power your temperature sensor with this BONKERS router hack

The Internet of Things world could power a lot of things with WiFi signals, if only access points broadcast all the time instead of when they've got something to say. There's a bucket of research into scavenging ambient signals to power junk stuff things, and WiFi is a popular energy source, but it's intermittent. As the …
LDSD

FLYING SAUCER crashes into Pacific off Hawaii - NASA

Sailors in waters to the west of the Hawaiian island of Kauai will have just seen a curious sight indeed: a flying saucer screaming out of the sky and smashing into the Pacific. The craft was NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a 15-foot-wide saucer-shaped machine hooked up to a huge parachute to test methods for …
Iain Thomson, 9 Jun 2015
LightSail

Bill Nye's bonkers LightSail spaceship unfurls solar sails at last

Pic The Planetary Society says its LightSail spacecraft has finally deployed its 32 sq metre solar sails. The Earth-orbiting craft is now harvesting energy from the momentum of the Sun's photons, we're told. Motor is running! Sail is Deploying!!! 39 Years after Prof. Sagan spoke of it! — Bill Nye (@BillNye) June 7, 2015 It's been …
Iain Thomson, 8 Jun 2015

Au-mazing! Cornwall sold GOLD to Ireland back in the Bronze Age

Paleo-boffins from the the University of Southampton have found evidence of an ancient trade route for gold between Ireland and Cornwall in the south-west of Britain. The study suggests people were trading gold between the two islands as long ago as the early Bronze Age, around 2500BC. In a paper titled A Non-local Source of …

ROBOTS in sinister public-relations push ahead of coming WAR ON HUMANS

DARPA's robotics challenge concluded this weekend and $3.5m has been apportioned between the three best-performing teams. Robots that competed in the event were scored on how many of the eight tasks they managed to complete, with the amount of time taken to complete those tasks used as a tiebreaker. 23 teams participated in the …
Voyager mission logo

Voyager 2 'stopped' last week, and not just for maintenance

Voyager 2, the venerable space probe launched in 1977, “stopped” last week. Don't dig up your cache of food or prepare to welcome our Oort Cloud Overlords: the pause is a result of celestial mechanics. As the Tweet below explains, Voyager 2 is heading on its merry way and Earth is swinging around Sol as usual. But last week the …
Hieronymus_Bosch_magician

A pause in global warming? Pah, FOOLS. There was NO PAUSE

Scientists have made the inconvenient “pause” in global warming disappear with a wave of their statistical wand. A new paper published in Science by NOAA estimates that global temperature during period 1998 to 2012 increased twice as fast as all other estimates had calculated. However, the paper has immediately run into a wall …
A crack on comet 67P

ESA shortlists three medium-sized missions for 2025 launch

The European Space Agency (ESA) has whittled down the list of projects it is considering for deployment in the year 2025 and is now considering three missions for liftoff in that year. The three projects are: Ariel, aka Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, which would analyse the atmospheres of around 500 …
Terminator

DARPA unTerminators gather for Robotics Challenge finals in Hell*

Schwarzenegger-sized robots that can break through walls are the staple of Hollywood, but the real thing is coming to California. The US military's secret-squirrel super-science-project unit DARPA is preparing to hold the finals of its Robotics Challenge contest in Los Angeles this weekend. 25 teams are flying in to take part …
Iain Thomson, 4 Jun 2015
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Virgin Galactic will get into space 'within 18 months to two years'

Virgin Galactic will be carrying aloft its first paying customers "within 18 months to two years", according to chief executive George Whitesides. Speaking to the BBC at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Whitesides said the company is on track for lift-off "maybe sooner, but not much longer", despite being some way off finishing …
Lester Haines, 4 Jun 2015
Artist Impression of Giant Magellan Telescope

Half a billion for BLOODY BIG telescope in Chile

The planned largest optical telescope in the world, the Giant Magellan Telescope looks to go ahead, with its consortium signing off on the US$500 million build cost. The telescope is ambitious engineering: seven mirrors spanning a total of 25 metres, which the project says will focus “six times” the amount of light collected by …
Pluto's moon NIx

Hubble spots Pluto's moons are a chaotic mess of tumbling rock

Astronomy fans are still split over whether it was right to declassify Pluto as a planet in 2006 and call it a dwarf. Now the latest data from the Hubble Space telescope shows that the distant rock-ball is far weirder than we first thought. Pluto has one large moon, dubbed Charon after its discovery in 1978, and the two orbit …
Iain Thomson, 4 Jun 2015
ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) is one of six detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – image by Maximilien Brice CERN/Science photo library

Large Hadron Collider gives young ALICE a black-hole ray gun

CERN's Large Hadron Collider is ready to provide more scientific breakthroughs to the world after almost two years of slumber and months of recommissioning. Particle-physics boffins tell us the new LHC experiments are "ready to take data at the unprecedented energy of 13 TeV (trillion electron volts), almost double the collision …
LDSD

NASA shock: Flying saucer predicted over Hawaii on Wednesday

Pic On Wednesday, inhabitants of the Hawaiian island of Kauai will see a flying saucer rise up into the air, fire its rocket motors, and head into space – as NASA tests its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). The LDSD is a circular spacecraft resembling the UFOs of old. It is 15ft (4.5m) across and weighs 6,808 pounds (3, …
Iain Thomson, 2 Jun 2015

Sawfish are the VIRGIN MARYS of the SEA thanks to virgin births

Piscine boffins have discovered a number of sawfish which they believe are the first virgin-born animals ever found in the wild from a sexually reproducing species. In a Current Biology article titled Facultative parthenogenesis in a critically endangered wild vertebrate, the marine boffins document the first examples of viable …
Woman throttling man. Pic: quan ha

Fish boffins: Big-brain babes are brilliant, but benefit for boys is bijou

Aquatic boffins have discovered that increased brain size is only of benefit to female fish and not to males. In a rigorous experiment, the scientists constructed a watery Colosseum for guppies to fight it out against their natural predator, the pike cichlid. Larger brains are typically expected to provide animals with improved …

Attack of the IT monuments men: Museum wants your kit

Reg events If you think a technological legacy should be more than some undocumented code, a pile of scrap tin and half a draft user manual you really should come along to El Reg’s June 24 lecture. Kevin Murrell, co-founder of The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley (yes, that one), will be explaining why he really wants you to take …
Joe Fay, 2 Jun 2015

Swordfish fatally stabs man after man stabs, fatally, swordfish

Randy Llanes, a 47-year-old Hawaiian man, has died after leaping into the water to spear a swordfish, receiving a fatal injury in return for the one he delivered. The Department of Land and Natural Resources reports that the Kona fishing charter boat captain was fatally injured by a broadbill swordfish he had speared in the …
Plasma tubes above the ionosphere

Electrons ride huge plasma tubes above Earth

The huge energies in the ionosphere get shifted around in plasma “tubes”, observed for the first time by a Sydney University physics graduate student. The work by graduate student Cleo Loi shows that the plasmasphere (the soup of electrons stripped away from atoms in the ionosphere) is strongly aligned with Earth's magnetic …
LightSail's solar sail

LightSail mission stalled by .CSV log file embiggenment SNAFU

After an unexpected and nervous wait, the Planetary Society is cock-a-whoop to be in contact with its LightSail cubesat. In what is intended to be a test flight ahead of a more complex mission in 2016, the group launched its to-be-photon-powered LightSail on May 20. All went well in the launch, and the group blogged “all …

The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found

Worstall @ the Weekend The scene is an early morning current affairs radio show. Very important people talk to the nation here. John Humphrys (for it is he): Mr. Worstall, why is it that your new report shows that soon all will be dead? Worstall: John, it's 7am. Currently there is food in the fridges of the nation for breakfast. But in two hours time …
Tim Worstall, 31 May 2015
Hyperion, Saturn's moon, as imaged by Cassini. Credit: CICLOPS

It's not over 'til Saturn's spongy moon sings: Cassini probe set for final Hyperion fly-by

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is expected to complete its final close encounter with Hyperion, one of Saturn's many moons, on Sunday. The probe will pass Hyperion at a distance of around 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometres) tomorrow, the US space agency said. However, images from the fly-by won't be beamed back to Earth until Monday at …
Kelly Fiveash, 30 May 2015
Cheetah

MIT's robo-cheetah leaps walls in a cyborg hunt for Sarah Connor

Vid Robot builders at MIT have created a cyber-cat that can run and jump over objects without human control. Youtube Video The robot in question, the DARPA-funded Cheetah, is capable of leaping over walls 18 inches tall – more than half its own height – and continuing to run as fast as 22 kilometers per hour (13mph). "A running …
Iain Thomson, 29 May 2015
Fish Fossil

Hardcore creationist finds 60-million-year-old fossils in backyard ... 'No, it hasn’t changed my mind about the Bible'

Pic An ardent believer in creationism has dug up fish fossils that boffins say are 60 million years old. That's somewhat further back in time than the genesis of life described in the Good Book. If God does exist, he or she has a wicked sense of humor, it seems. Experts at the University of Calgary in Canada say that the bones – or …
Shaun Nichols, 29 May 2015

NASA hands Boeing first commercial crew contract for SPAAAACE

NASA is progressing towards what it describes as "returning America’s ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017" by handing aerospace and defense contractor Boeing the first of its commercial crew rotation missions. The Commercial Crew Programme has ordered its first crew …

High-flying LOHAN fan raises ale-filled tankard

We like to take the opportunity this fine May morning to once again thank all of those who backed our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign, and in particular the discerning backers who opted for a tankard as a reward. As many of them will attest, we've had a few issues getting intact glassware into …
Lester Haines, 29 May 2015

EU reduces science cuts as Juncker finds €500m down back of sofa

Fears that European Union funding for scientific research would be drastically cut have been somewhat allayed. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had wanted to siphon off money from the €80bn Horizon 2020 research programme to the European Fund for Strategic Investments, but following pressure from MEPs and …
Jennifer Baker, 29 May 2015
Reconstruction of past climate. Credit: Insititute of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

The 'echo chamber' effect misleading people on climate change

Trick-cyclists in America have come out with research which could explain why the debate on climate change continues to rumble on, even though there is a solid consensus on the facts of the matter. Essentially, according to the researchers, people tend to live in "echo chambers" as far as climate matters go, seeking out …
Lewis Page, 28 May 2015