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A proposed LOHAN mission patch

LOHAN seeks stirring motto for spaceplane mission patch

Competition The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has decided that in the best tradition of space endeavour, our audacious Vulture 2 spaceplane mission needs a proper embroidered patch so that we may reach for the heavens in style. In fact, having something to sew on your flight suit/lab coat is pretty well obligatory, and …
Lester Haines, 14 Jul 2014
International Space Station

Chow rocket blasts off for ISS: Awww, freeze-dried ice cream AGAIN

A private space company has launched its third mission: an Antares rocket sending a freighter packed with food – among other things – to the International Space Station. Orbital Sciences Corp's unmanned Cygnus spacecraft lifted off from Virginia's eastern shore yesterday strapped to a 13-storey high Antares rocket, which is …
Jasper Hamill, 14 Jul 2014

Space geeks' resurrected NASA Sun probe ISEE-3 now on collision course with THE MOON

The attempt by a team of crowdfunded space hackers to recover one of NASA's most historic satellites has run into problems: the spacecraft's engines are stubbornly refusing to fire, leaving it on a possible collision course with the Moon. The ISEE-3 reboot Team Space hacking team has the right stuff Last week the team …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jul 2014
sniper t-shirt 24.7.03

Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet

Video The military boffins at DARPA have just released footage of their first successful shots of a bullet dubbed EXACTO (EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance) that can be steered onto a target when fired from a standard rifle. The video, shot at a government firing range in February and April, shows two .50-cal rounds maneuvering in …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jul 2014

Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Pics "Pics or it didn't happen" is a common commentard cry down here at El Reg, so we're disappointed to report that last week's audacious mission to send a pint of London Pride to the upper atmosphere ended without airborne imagery. The BALYOLO - BAL (Balloon) YOLO (You Only Live Once) - flight launched last Saturday from the The …
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2014
Artist's impression of the Lythronax argestes

US authorities round up ILLEGAL DINOSAURS for repatriation

A group of unusual Asian immigrants, smuggled into the US by unscrupulous criminals, has been returned to its country of origin following an investigation by federal immigration and security operatives. The AP reports that US Attorney Preet Bharara announced the repatriation of no less than 18 distinguished Mongolians this week …
Lewis Page, 11 Jul 2014

World Meteorological Organization says climate data is uncool

The World Meteorological Organization's Commission for Climatology has called for governments to refresh their “climate normals” more often. Climate normals are thirty-year chunks of weather observations that are used as baselines for comparison with more recent events. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the data …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jul 2014

Cosmic dust riddle BREAKTHROUGH: Study tackles stuff of the universe

Astronomers have long wondered where all the strange dust that hangs about in space originates. They're also interested in how all the cosmic dust clouds form despite all the solar flares, supernovas and other potentially dust-blasting events. A new study that was published in Nature this week may provide some answers. The …
Total Recall

Cranial RAM cram plan aims to restore memory

Brain implant chips – beloved of conspiracy theorists and science fiction writers alike for decades – have finally made it onto the US government's research list, courtesy of DARPA. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, home to research into humanoid robots, guided bullets, Spider-Man-style climbing pads, suspended …
Artist's impression of an exoplanet orbiting a star in the cluster Messier 67

Give an exoplanet a new name: Fill in this form and hope these astro-boffins pick your $input

You won't be able to give a planet an insulting name to denigrate a politician, but if you're part of the amateur astronomy world, you can help bestow names on exoplanets. The International Astronomical Union has opened up 305 exoplanets for public input into naming, with public astronomical organisations, or “non-profit …
Buzz Aldrin, spaceman. Pic NASA

Man FOUND ON MOON denies lunar alien interface

Space ace Buzz Aldrin has admitted glimpsing a UFO during his journey to the Moon – but insisted it was not an extraterrestrial visitation. The second man on the Moon answered questions during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, touching on missions to Mars, aliens, and the dubious accuracy of the film Gravity. Aldrin's AMA …
Jasper Hamill, 9 Jul 2014
Smallpox virus

Dead letter office: ancient smallpox sample turns up in old US lab

It's a scene reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark's climax: something very dangerous is put in storage by a government agency, and forgotten. America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to hose down fears about its control of stockpiles, following the startling discovery of 1950s-era smallpox samples in a …
Printed GHz diode

Printed diode can slurp power from phone signals

A group of Swedish researchers has created a printed diode that can use the radio output of a smartphone for power – and along the way has answered a long-standing question about how printed diodes work. In this paper at PNAS, the researchers demonstrate a device created by printing a niobium silicide layer over a silicon paste …
Artist's concept of the Voyager spacecraft in space.

In space no one can hear you scream, but Voyager 1 can hear A ROAR

Hero space probe Voyager 1 has sent home what NASA is calling a “sound” from the cosmos. The venerable spacecraft – now 19,093,090,914km from Earth at the time of writing and moving further away at a rate of about 15km a second – recorded the “noise” in March. That was when a pressure wave caused by a coronal mass from the Sun …

Would it be BAD if the Amazon rainforest was all FARMS? Well it WAS, once

It's generally assumed that it would mean a disaster for the planet if the rainforests of the Amazon were to be replaced with farmland. But it turns out that, actually, much of the area was indeed farmland just a few thousand years ago. We learn this from new research just published in the august Proceedings of the National …
Lewis Page, 8 Jul 2014

Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system

Vid It's a tip of the hat today to Reg reader Joshua Thumim for putting the humble Raspberry Pi into the service of humanity with a simple but effective feline repellent system. Joshua explained: For the last few years, pretty much every time I (or my two small kids) wanted to use the garden I'd first have to remove 3-5 cat …
Lester Haines, 8 Jul 2014
Artist's impression of world's largest flying bird, <i>Pelagornis sandersi</i>

'BIGGEST BIRD EVER': 21-foot ripsaw-beaked flying HORROR

Pic Boffins have identified the fossil remnants of a vast creature that had a jagged-edged ripper beak, and appears to have had the largest wingspan of any bird ever. Artist's impression of world's largest flying bird, Pelagornis sandersi Artist's impression of world's largest flying bird, Pelagornis sandersi. Credit: Liz Bradford …
Contraceptive pill

Wireless-controlled contraception implant is coming, says MIT

MIT's decade-plus pitch to embed microchip-based drug-dispensaries in humans has been re-framed as a microprocessor-based, wireless-controlled, fully Internet-of-Things-compliant, implantable contraceptive. Since 1999, MIT's Robert Langer et al have been pitching the idea of using microchips to deliver medicines. The idea, way …

Boffins urge European Commission to reboot electric brain project

More than four hundred scientists have signed an open letter asking the European Commission to rethink the Human Brain Project (HBP), a €1.19b attempt to build a computer capable of simulating the human brain. The HBP has been pitched as beneficial for neuroscience and computer science. The former discipline gets a whole new …
ESA's "Dropship" drone

European Space Agency demos MARS LANDINGS BY DRONE

The European Space Agency has used an off-the-shelf quadcopter to demonstrate the latest output of its StarTiger rapid-development program: precision guidance and safe delivery of a rover-like vehicle onto a simulated Mars surface. Getting to Mars is one thing, but as the ESA knows only too well, executing a successful landing …
isee3

It's alive! Space hackers fire up zombie Sun probe's engines

An international team of space geeks has successfully fired up the engines of long-defunct NASA satellite ISEE-3. Now the gang says it'll try to kick the bird into an Earth orbit that will enable it to carry on performing the mission it was launched for 36 years ago. ISEE-3 team celebrates Team celebrates the rocket's red …
Iain Thomson, 7 Jul 2014

Alabama quadchopper hits THREE THOUSAND FEET next to AIRPORT

Vid An Alabama UAV enthusiast has been told by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to steer clear of airports after he sent a quadcopter up to 1,100m (3,609 feet) within five miles of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM). Michael Mayhew posted an impressive video of the DJI Phantom 2 flight on YouTube, and shared …
Lester Haines, 7 Jul 2014

Going up: Fancy a virtual flight to 30km above the PLANET?

Those of you who've always fancied a trip to 30km above the Earth's surface, but have neither the money nor a pair of cojones the size of a plucky Playmonaut's, are directed to this interesting KickStarter campaign in support of a "Virtual Ride to Space". Dr Aaron Knoll - a "lecturer in the field of plasma propulsion" at …
Lester Haines, 7 Jul 2014
The Warlipiri Education and Training Trust

Help us out readers: How would you sniff and store network traffic?

Having successfully averted the XP-ocalypse at the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre in the remote Australian desert community of Willowra, Vulture South's operatives felt pleased with themselves. As regular readers will know, our encounter with the facility, run by the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, led to …
Artist's concept: NASA's Space Launcher System

Boeing to start work on most powerful rocket ... EVER!

NASA and Boeing have inked a key contract that should see agency's Space Launch System take to the skies in 2017. Under the $US2.8 billion contract, the aerospace giant will be building the core stage of the space giant: the Space Launch System will stand 212 feet (more than 64 metres) tall, and will be powered by a combination …
Communicating using the magnetometer

Phone motion sensors can receive data

Video Boffins from the University of Oulu in Finland and Huazhong University in China have put together a prototype that uses an Android smartphone's magnetometer as a short-range one-way communications channel. The applications for such a system are limited, of course: magnetic fields decay very quickly, so the system has a range of …
Namibia's HESS-II radio telescope

HESS-II scope spots its first pulsar

Namibia's HESS-II telescope has shown off two-years' worth of software upgrades, identifying gamma rays at 30 GeV emanating from the Vela pulsar. Vela is a well-known object, having been associated with the supernova remnant of the same name in 1968, and is visible in the radio, optical, X-ray and gamma spectra. HESS-II's …
The Pi in the Sky board mounted atop the Pi in the Vulture 2

Vulture 2 fills beak with Pi in the Sky

It's all go at the front end of our magnificent Vulture 2 , and following the recent taming of the spaceplane's cantankerous canards, we've now mounted a hot-off-the-press Raspberry Pi in the Sky - the dedicated telemetry board for the Raspberry Pi. Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will know that …
Lester Haines, 4 Jul 2014

Booze in SPAAAACE! Brit rocket boffin preps bold stratobeer mission

A British rocket scientist with a sideline in High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) tomfoolery will tomorrow push the envelope of space endeavour by attempting to send a pint of London Pride bitter into the stratosphere. When he's not boffining it up down at European Astrotech, Chris Smith can be found propping up the bar of his local …
Lester Haines, 4 Jul 2014
Artist's conception showing the inner four planets of the Gliese 581 system. GJ 581g, potentially habitable, is in the foreground. Credit: Lynette Cook/NSF

ANGRY ALIENS hit by BEBO SPAMGASM probably don't exist

The world is breathing a collective sigh of relief today as interstellar war with aliens from the well-known prospective "Goldilocks" worlds orbiting the star Gliese 581 has been averted – because the planets don't actually exist. Youtube video of the planets orbiting Gliese 581 In the heady early days of the search for planets …

Japan makes Prius palatable with road map to hydrogen cars

Japan has outlined a 25-year roadmap to get hydrogen-powered cars onto its roads, hydrogen-powered machinery into its factories and fuel cells into millions of homes. The nation's Ministry, for Economy Trade and Industry, recently outlined the plan, which has three phases. In the first, the nation aims to commercialise a …
Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid.

LIFE on Titan: If there's one thing aliens HATE, it's a SALTY BALL

Astro-boffins have come up with new and compelling evidence that the ocean buried inside Saturn’s largest moon Titan is probably as salty as Earth’s Dead Sea, sadly making it an unlikely location for alien life. Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, …
The canards bolted to the Vulture 2, with Playmonaut in his seat

Experts suspiciously eye LOHAN's cantankerous canards

As ever, we're grateful for our reader experts' feedback on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, and today we have a round-up of your comments on the Vulture 2 spaceplane's cantankerous canards. As we reported last month, the aircraft's forewings have finally been tamed, and here they are attached to the …
Lester Haines, 3 Jul 2014
qubit

Boffins cage qubits inside superconducting silicon

Boffins at the University of Maryland's Joint Quantum Institute think they're on the verge of creating qubits (quantum bits) that could be fabricated using technologies close to today's silicon techniques. The JQI group wants to create a blend of superconductor-style qubits and semiconductor qubits: superconducting wires and …
The Tharsis payload at 30km

Brit SPACE HEDGEHOG team flies student Mars payload

We're pleased to report that the team behind the 2013 space hedgehog drama - which saw a knitted mascot dramatically go awol over Blighty - has finally got a cluster of student experiments in the air without mishap. Last March, CASSiE (Cosmic Ambassador for Space Science and Engineering) accompanied 70 miniprojects packed into …
Lester Haines, 2 Jul 2014
Encapsulation of OCO-2 ahead of launch

NASA: Satellite which will END man-made CO2 debate in orbit at last

Updated NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) not only managed to lift off today, it also achieved successful separation from its booster stack and got into orbit. Youtube Video The satellite – which will study the absorption of sunlight by carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere – is the third attempt to get a CO2-measuring craft …
Jeffrey Meldrum

Like frozen burgers, 'Bigfoot' DNA samples have a touch of horse

Oxford boffin Professor Bryan Sykes' quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot by DNA testing supposed samples of the mythical beasts' fur and flesh has come up with dogs, bears and horses, but no Sasquatches, Yetis or Abominable Snowmen. In a study soon to be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Sykes and colleagues …
NIST's one-way photonic metamaterial

NIST shows off one-way photon-passing metamaterial

If photonics is ever to displace or supplement electronics in microprocessors, the operations we perform on electrons need to be replicated on photons. A group at NIST is the latest to demonstrate a photonic diode – a device that passes light in one direction only, similarly to how diodes pass electrons in one direction only. …
Encapsulation of OCO-2 ahead of launch

NASA aborts third attempt at finally settling man-made CO2 debate

NASA's third attempt to bring some much-desired clarity to the debate over human-produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been postponed today after two previous rocket liftoffs ended in disaster. The space agency’s last effort to measure the CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere was the Glory satellite in 2011, which crashed into the …
Rosetta

Comet-chasing Rosetta spies SWEATY prey

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta comet-chaser has clocked 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko "releasing the equivalent of two small glasses of water into space every second" - enough to " fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about 100 days". Graphic showing rate of water vapour outgassing from the comet It's going to take a …
Lester Haines, 1 Jul 2014
The LDSD's rocket motor fires. Pic: NASA

NASA flying saucer vids show fire in the sky

NASA has released some entertaining short video clips from last Saturday's test of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), showing how the future Mars payload delivery tech flight featured a mighty thruster, some hot airbag action and a while lot of a-whoopin' and a-hollerin'. The LDSD launched below an enormous helium- …
Lester Haines, 1 Jul 2014
Artist's illustration of Supernova 1987A

Speed of light slower than we thought? Probably not

With the simple headline “Einstein was wrong”, yet another piece of questionable physics has garnered world attention. It starts with this kind of canned statement, which originated at Phys.org and apparently arose from this uncritical write-up at the Medium-hosted Physics at Arxiv blog. To quote Physics at Arxiv, “James …