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Galileo can't do the fandango: Two Euro GPS nav sats sent into WRONG ORBIT

Two Galileo satellites have been blasted into the wrong orbit, red-faced officials at the European Space Agency said today. Errant sats Doresa and Milena were launched on a Russian-built Soyuz rocket on Friday. But launch service outfit Arianespace admitted that the satellites failed to go into the correct orbit. "Complementary …
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Aug 2014
SpaceX's Grasshopper rises 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet), hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. Pic: SpaceX

SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk

Elon Musk's SpaceX team watched a prototype rocket spectacularly burst into flames over the company's test flight area in Texas on Friday. No one was injured in the explosion, the firm said. SpaceX had been testing its Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) vehicle in McGregor, Texas. One observer captured video images of debris tumbling out …
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Aug 2014
Galileo

Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico

Relevant Youtube video is relevant The European Space Agency has launched the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites from its launch pad in French Guiana. The boffins are now increasing the frequency of launches to get the entire network of 30 orbital birds ready by 2017 – three years early. The latest sats were launched on Friday …
Iain Thomson, 22 Aug 2014
The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

We're excited to announce that the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the relocation of our audacious ballocket mission launch to Spaceport America, is now live. Following the reveal of our substantial mugs earlier today, we've given in to reader browbeating and have added an …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014

Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole

Hats must be tipped today in tribute to Brit balloon bod Leo Bodnar, whose ultralight B-64 payload is about to complete its second circumnavigation of the planet. The 11g B-64 rig – comprising radio transmitter, LiPo battery and a couple of solar panels slung under a transparent film envelope (pics here) – launched on 12 July …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014

LOHAN gets laughing gear round promotional mug

As we reported yesterday, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has scrapped plans to launch the Vulture 2 spaceplane above Europe and is instead taking its audacious ballocket mission to Spaceport America in New Mexico. To fund the basic extra costs of the relocation, we'll be rattling the tin down at Kickstarter …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014
Liz Lowe with Golden Orb-Weaver

BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE

If you're a city-dweller who thinks spiders have gotten bigger over your lifetime, you might just be right, according to boffins from Sydney University. Looking at the harmless but impressive Oz arachnid Nephila plumipes – the Golden Orb-Weaver – they've found that urban specimens are fatter than their country cousins. The …
Precog Minority Report

Security precogs divine web vulnerabilities BEFORE THEY EXIST

Wayback is way ahead: Three million webpages are set to become hacker fodder according to research that could predict what websites will become vulnerable ahead of time. The research by Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin of Carnegie Mellon University used an engine which divined the future by looking at the past - more specifically, by trawling the Way …
Darren Pauli, 22 Aug 2014
Plasma ball

TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company

Yet another set of astonishing claims is being made for yet another “low energy nuclear reactions” (LENR) technology. A Californian outfit called Solar Hydrogen Trends is claiming to have a highly efficient process using solar energy to produce hydrogen from water. Specifically, in this release the company claims to turn one …
NASA Image - Ozone Hole

Carbon tetrachloride releases still too high, says NASA

Somewhere, a dry cleaner didn't get the memo: someone is putting an awful lot of carbon tetrachloride into the atmosphere, and NASA would like them to stop. Back in 1987, the compound was one of many ozone-depleting chemicals regulated under the Montreal Protocol. However, NASA said on Wednesday there's still too much of the …
comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

What a pain in the mass! Euro craft Rosetta to poke its probe in 10-BILLION-tonne comet

Vid The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has made the first measurement of the mass of the comet it's chasing – and has come up with a mass of 10 billion tonnes, plus or minus 10 per cent. comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Does my mass look big in this? Rosetta has spent the past ten years, and six billion kilometres, getting …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

The traditional portentous drumroll and fanfare of trumpets has added timpani and a throbbing bass synth crescendo today as we announce that the planned launch of our our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission has been relocated to New Mexico's Spaceport America. This shock news comes at the end of an epic struggle …
Lester Haines, 21 Aug 2014
Cyborg moth

Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue

Video Scientists at North Carolina State University in the US have implanted electrodes in a developing moth to closely observe and remotely control the creature's flight. Cyborg moth Cyborg moth takes to the wing In a paper published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, the lead author Dr Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2014
Azhdarchid pterosaurs

Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies

A new study by Russian paleontologists has revealed the dominance of a species of huge flying lizards that once flew over Earth's skies. Azhdarchid pterosaurs Azhdarchid pterosaurs ... creatures the size of small aircraft encircled the globe The creatures, named Azhdarchid pterosaurs after the Persian word Aždarha meaning …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2014
The ELMOFO electric racer

'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race

An Australian EV bearing the name ELMOFO has beaten petrol-powered competitors in an officially-sanctioned race – twice. Ahead of the FIA Formula E race in China in September, a battery-powered car managed three feats at a meet for the NSW SuperSports State Championship: it won two out of three heats against petrol-powered …
Terry Lovejoy's comet discovery

Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet

It's too early to be certain, but with confirmation of a new, possibly near-Earth comet slated for a pass in early January 2015, sky-watchers will be working hard to calculate just how close it's going to come. The new object, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), is the fifth discovered by Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy. As Universe Today …
Curiosity looks down the ramp at the northeastern end of Hidden Valley towards Mount Sharp

CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap

Curiosity, our favourite Mars-cruising nuclear truck, has just dusted off its latest potential drilling target, the “Bonanza King” rock. Curiosity brushes potential drill target Bonanza King The rover used its aptly named Dust Removal Tool on its robotic arm to sweep off the red, oxidised dust on the surface of the planet and …
Our playmonaut tries out a jetpack, watched by a circling vulture

Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run

Vid Watch Video The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is still crunching numbers from last Friday's test run of the Vulture 2 spaceplane, which came at the end of an intensive week of brain surgery on the aircraft's Pixhawk autopilot. Hats off to Linus Penzlien and Andrew Tridgell for crafting and installing the …
Lester Haines, 19 Aug 2014
Rosetta

TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P

The European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed just how its Rosetta comet probe will close to within just 10km of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta arrived at the comet on August 6th and has since sent back lovely photos of the rock. The mission plan calls for even better photos to become possible by bringing Rosetta …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Aug 2014

Cargo truck crammed with garbage explodes IN SPAAAAACE

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have turned the Earth's atmosphere into their own personal trash incinerator after sending a cargo truck packed with rubbish to its fiery death. The orbiting litter louts packed the commercial spacecraft Cygnus full of rubbish and then steered it Earthwards so it would burn up in …
Jasper Hamill, 18 Aug 2014
Hallucigenia animation

Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away

The surrealist nightmare worm Hallucigenia, so-called because of its otherworldly appearance and apparent lack of place on the taxonomic ranks, has finally found its place in evolutionary history... and even appears to have some modern-day descendants. Hallucigenia animation Hallucigenia is one of the most bizarre-looking …

Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success

We're pleased to report that following four days of intense graft, including some hair-pulling over our Vulture 2 spaceplane's cantankerous Raspberry Pi rig, we've finally got some custom Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission parameters loaded into our rocket ship's Pixhawk autopilot. Linus Penzlien flew into Spain …
Lester Haines, 15 Aug 2014

Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people

Boffins have overturned the wisdom of parents everywhere by proving that stinky people with tattoos can play a vital role in society: by charging up mobile phones. Dr Joseph Wang and a team at UC San Diego have designed a temporary tattoo which acts as a sensor which contains an enzyme that strips electrons from lactate, …
Jasper Hamill, 15 Aug 2014
Photo by Michael Conen

NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe has spotted a rolling stone on Mars. On 3 July, the craft captured the image below, which NASA published this week and says depicts “a path resembling a dotted line from the upper left to middle right of this image is the track left by an irregularly shaped, oblong boulder as it tumbled …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Aug 2014
kilobot

What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this

Vid Harvard University computer scientists have built a 1,000-strong robot army that can form itself into shapes with little human input. KIlobots And I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords (click to enlarge) The machines, dubbed kilobots because there are 1,024 of them, each contain an Atmel micrcontroller, two …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2014
Basis health-tracking wearable

Intel launches Internet of Stuff Parkinson's research project

Intel has teamed up with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to test a way to use the Internet of Stuff for a useful end – to help find a cure for the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world. Youtube Video So far, wearable tech and the much-vaunted "Internet of Things" label (IoT) – or as …
Rosetta

Rosetta's comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is one FUGLY space rock

The European Space Agency's (ESA's) Rosetta probe reached its intended orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last week. Since then we've heard … well more or less nothing, actually. The ESA has said very little about what Rosetta is doing, or learning, way out there in the unfashionable parts of the solar system. But …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Aug 2014
Asteroid DA 1950

Spin doctors crack 'impossible' asteroid hurtling towards Earth

Pic Scientists studying a mysterious asteroid that could hit Earth in the 29th century think they've found the reason why the fast-spinning object hasn't blown itself apart. The asteroid, 1950 DA, is over a kilometer (0.62 miles) across and rotates completely every 2.1 hours, a speed once thought impossible since the forces involved …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2014
Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani

Stanford boffin is first woman to bag 'math Nobel Prize'

Iranian academic Maryam Mirzakhani is today the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Fields Medal, known as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics”. Mirzakhani, a professor of maths at Stanford University, landed the top gong for her work on the symmetry of curved surfaces. You can all about her research, right here [PDF]. "This …

Vulture 2 spaceplane brain surgery begins with remote incision

The programming of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's autopilot was going pedal to the metal yesterday as we finally resolved a cantankerous Raspberry Pi issue and got down to some proper Pixhawk wrangling. Linus Penzlien is in Spain to work with APM:Plane lead developer Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell on implementing some custom Low Orbit …
Lester Haines, 13 Aug 2014
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

CSIRO spells out cash-strapped astronomy future

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has explained how it plans to trim its astronomy work, after more than AUD$100 million was cut from its budget. With around 17 per cent, or AUD$3.5 million, sliced from its already-slender astronomy budget, the agency has just $AUD17 million to work …
TechDemoSat-1 shot of planet Earth

Blighty in SPAAAACE: Brit-built satellite films the Earth

Video Youtube Video of the satellite footage of the planet Earth. An experiment-filled Brit satellite has released a minute-long video of planet Earth – the first images of our home world captured by an entirely UK-built spacecraft. The TechDemoSat-1, made by Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), filmed the short sequence moments after …
The Pi in the Sky board mounted atop the Pi in the Vulture 2

Pi palaver perplexes LOHAN Pixhawk pair

The planned brain surgery on our Vulture 2 spaceplane's Pixhawk autopilot got off to a shaky start yesterday as the aircraft's onboard Raspberry Pi decided it didn't much fancy booting up. Autopilot wrangler Linus Penzlien touched down in Spain on Sunday ahead of an intensive week of graft during which he'll be working with APM: …
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2014
Pentax Q interchangeable-lens compact system camera

Japanese boffins invent 4.4 TREEELLION frames per second camera

Japanese boffins have invented a way to shoot video at 4.4 trillion frames per second. You read that right. 4.4 trillion. As in a million times a million, or 1012. The camera uses a technique called “Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography” that, as explained in Nature Photonics, uses “all-optical mapping of the …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Aug 2014

LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms

We invite readers to raise a glass or two today to autopilot wrangler Linus Penzlien, who touched down in Spain yesterday afternoon ahead of an intensive week of Vulture 2 spaceplane Pixhawk custom parameter programming and testing. And here is the man himself meeting local lass Ruperta this morning ahead of an intensive …
Lester Haines, 11 Aug 2014
A quantum-diamond experimental chip at TU Vienna

Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers

Building simple quantum gates is common, but creating something that could be built on transistor-like scale is a huge challenge. Now, boffins from the Technical University of Vienna, Japan's National Institute of Informatics, and NTT's Basic Research Labs are offering an architecture they reckon can be scaled up. What the …
The Yutu lunar rover

China to test recoverable moon orbiter

China is about to launch a lunar orbiter capable of returning home. The nation's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence announced over the weekend that the craft has been built and taken to the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. When it launches later this year, the un-named craft is …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Aug 2014
ANU's water tractor beam

ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water

Video The Starship Enterprise won't be deploying a tractor beam in space any time soon, but in what could be a boon for people trying to control oil spills, Australian National University physicists have created a tractor beam in water with simple wave generators. Their demonstration (video at the bottom) shows the ANU boffins …
Space X Dragon in Orbit

Lawsuit claims SpaceX laid off hundreds without proper notice, pay

Former employees of Elon Musk's SpaceX filed a class-action lawsuit against the private rocketry firm this week, alleging it unlawfully terminated hundreds of employees without giving proper notice or payouts for back wages and benefits. SpaceX reportedly let go between 200 and 400 workers from its factory in Hawthorne, …
The self-folding crawling robot in three stages

Tiny transforming bots: Meet these self-assembling 'thoughtful' droids

Rise of the Machines Engineers have come up with self-folding robots that can put themselves together and crawl away on their own – although batteries must be included. Three stages of the origami robots assembling Three stages of the origami robots assembling. (Credit: Seth Kroll) Foldable ‘bots are nothing new, but this is the first time that …

Fanfare of trumpets as LOHAN reveals mission patch

Cue the traditional portentous drumroll and fanfare of trumpets as we today reveal the final design for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch. And here without further ado is the motif that will shortly be adorning flight suits and lab coats worldwide: Our LOHAN mission patch design Readers are …
Lester Haines, 8 Aug 2014

'Be super careful with AI. It's potentially more dangerous than NUKES'

QuoTW This week will go down in IT history as the week Microsoft scrapped its long-running fixer-upper day of the week – Patch Tuesday. No longer will Tuesdays be about Redmond plugging the latest breaches in software and sorting out its security problems. Now Tuesdays will be about… updates. Yes, indeed, by changing the name of the …