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Akatsuki

Japanese hack gets space probe back on track

It took five years of painstaking work but the Japanese space agency has got its Akatsuki probe back on track. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has confirmed that a careful combination of telematics, testing, and tentative orbital corrections have put the atmospheric probe into orbit around Venus, albeit half-a- …
Iain Thomson, 7 Dec 2015

Brit 'naut Tim Peake will run the London Marathon – in space

Brit astronaut Tim Peake will participate in next year's London Marathon – albeit at an altitude of 400km and travelling at 28,800 km/h, relative to his fellow competitors. Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra Peake, along with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, is scheduled to blast off …
Lester Haines, 7 Dec 2015
Raspberry Pi in its space case

Weather finally cooperates with NASA, ISS resupply launch successful

A couple of Raspberry Pis are on the way to the International Space Station at last, after a resupply launch delayed three times due to bad weather finally hauled itself into orbit. The original launches suffered rain last Thursday and high winds on Friday and Saturday, but things finally went smoothly Sunday evening for the …
Thirty Meter Telescope

Work on world's largest star-gazing 'scope stopped after religious protests

Building work on the world's largest telescope has stopped after the Hawaiian Supreme Court sided with local groups and withdrew construction permits. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project broke ground last October – albeit briefly – as protesters flooded the site trying to stop the building work. Local groups claim the …
Iain Thomson, 4 Dec 2015
Virgin Galactic's

Beardy Branson bangs birds on Boeing

Sir Richard “Beardy” Branson's space company Virgin Galactic has decided to use a 747- 400 formerly used to ferry passengers as a satellite launch platform. Virgin Galactic's developed a rocket called LauncherOne, the design for which envisages that a conventional aircraft will hoist the rocket a fair distance into the …
NASA Atlas

Bad wind halts space station resupply mission

Pics Strong winds over the launch site and thick cloud cover have led NASA to delay its planned resupply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital Sciences Atlas Getting ready to rumble The launch would have been Orbital Sciences' first resupply mission to the ISS since last November, when the firm's Antares rocket …
Iain Thomson, 3 Dec 2015
Generic bones. Pic: Random McRandomhead, Flickr

How I found a small, weird-looking horned dinosaur from eastern USA

Most of what we know about North American dinosaurs comes from the western half of the continent, while those of the east are something of a mystery. So little is known, in fact, that even a scrap of bone can shed light on their diversity. That is what happened while I was exploring the collections at the Yale Peabody Museum, …
Nick Longrich, 3 Dec 2015

Boffins could tune telescopes to listen to lasers on Mars

Months after its July fly-by, New Horizons is still squeezing its images down pipe measured in bits-per-second – and that's a problem space boffins would like to solve in the future. As we know from NASA's successful LADEE test, lasers are a viable and truly broadband space comms medium – but firing a laser from (say) Mars and …
Galileo 7 and 8 liftoff Copyright ESA https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/

Galileo, Galileo, Galileo good two go

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that two more satellites in its Galileo satnav system are ready to assist you to your destination. Galileos 7 and 8, which both went aloft on 27 March, are now “performing as planned and meshing with the worldwide Galileo ground network.” ESA in-orbit test manager David Sanchez- …

Europe launches search for Einstein's space-time ripples

The European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is due to blast off tomorrow from Kourou, French Guiana, on its mission to "test the technology needed to develop future space-borne gravitational wave detectors". The launch date is not arbitrary. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein's …
Lester Haines, 1 Dec 2015

How business is taking the space race to new frontiers

Analysis Jeff Bezos may not have gone where no man has gone before, but in successfully landing its New Shephard rocket back on Earth, his rocket company Blue Origins has pipped ahead of rivals in the race to make space commercially viable. It’s a significant coup in the latest incarnation of the space race. And it may have given pause …
Lead ion collision as seen by the ALICE detector

LHC records biggest bang ever with 1 Peta-electron-volt jolt

With the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC's) refit and restart accomplished, the records just keep tumbling. CERN has announced the highest-energy ion collision ever. The data generated by the experiment is going to take time and supercomputers to analyse, but CERN says the two lead ions slammed into each other at more than 1 Peta …
International Space Station

Who owns space? Looking at the US asteroid-mining act

Comment An event of cosmic proportions occurred on 18 November when the US congress passed the Space Act of 2015 into law. The legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids. Although the act, passed with bipartisan support, still requires President …
Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa recorded this image from Kahler Asten, in Germany, on November 16, 2013. Credit: Waldemar Skorupa (Kahler Asten, Germany), via spaceweather.com

NASA pours cold comets on aliens-make-star-flutter theory

KIC 8462852 is a star in the Cygnus constellation about 1500 light years from here. Were it not for the fact that Kepler Space Telescope photos reveal fluctuates in brightness to a degree we've not previously seen in the cosmos, nobody would care. That fluctuation is, however, so odd that scientists recently floated in a …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2015

Suck it, Elon – Jeff Bezos' New Shepard space rocket blasts off, lands in one piece

Pics and vid The was much whooping and popping of champagne corks yesterday at Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos' space outfit Blue Origin: the company's New Shepard rocket successfully performed a VTOL flight – a vertical takeoff and landing. It's the organization's second attempt at bringing a rocket back to Earth in one piece. The technology …
Lester Haines, 24 Nov 2015

TV broadcast vans drive ESA from Perth

Urban sprawl and interference from TV broadcast vans have obliged the European Space Agency (ESA) to shutter its Perth station in Western Australia, which until now has been handling initial tracking of spacecraft soaring aloft from Kourou, French Guiana. Perth station "hosts a 15-metre antenna with transmission and reception …
Lester Haines, 24 Nov 2015

Randall Munroe spoke to The Reg again. We're habit-forming that way

In just over a decade Randall Munroe has become firmly established and it’s safe to say adored as the author of xkcd. Since starting in LiveJournal and moving to xkcd.com on 1 January 2006, Munroe has published over 1,600 webcomics which continue to amuse and enthuse netizens. His stick-driven dioramas offer glib observations …

Science Museum trumpets Da Vinci expo

London's Science Museum is trumpeting its forthcoming exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius, which opens its doors on 10 February next year. A view of the da Vinci exhibition Right now and for £10 (£7 concessions), you can grab a ticket for the "visually stunning" extravaganza which "highlights the immense …
Lester Haines, 24 Nov 2015

Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

The skeleton of a six-year-old infant unearthed in Austria is challenging the theory that syphilis was imported into Europe from the New World by the ship's crew of Christopher Columbus. The Austrian skeleton in its grave The well-preserved remains (above) were found in a cemetery in St. Pölten, some 65km west of Vienna, by …
Lester Haines, 23 Nov 2015
Solar filament eruption of August 31, 2012

Blocking out the Sun won't fix climate change – but it could buy us time

The Paris climate talks hope to set out how we can reduce the amount of carbon we’re pumping into the atmosphere. But emissions cuts alone may not be enough. Atmospheric CO2 is the blanket that keeps our planet warm and any further emissions will mean more global warming. Observations in recent years show that warming is …
Melted chocolate clock by Emily McCracken, CC2.0 license

World needs 252,288,000 seconds to decide fate of leap seconds

The International Telecommunications Union's (ITU's) debate on the future of leap seconds has decided a decision on the matter can wait for 252,288,000 seconds. The ITU's World Radiocommunication Conferences kicked off back on November 2nd and leap seconds were one item on the agenda because of international worries that the …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Nov 2015
SpaceX explosion

Taxi for NASA! SpaceX to fly astronauts to space station

There'll be champagne corks popping in Hawthorne, California, as NASA has finally given SpaceX clearance to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. "The authority to proceed with Dragon's first operational crew mission is a significant milestone in the Commercial Crew Program and a great source of pride for the …
Iain Thomson, 21 Nov 2015

Roundworm infection increases female fertility

Scientists have – slightly improbably – discovered that infection by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides increases fertility in women belonging to Bolivia's Tsimane ethnic group. In their abstract, published in Science, the researchers explain that they studied "nine years of longitudinal data from 986 Bolivian forager- …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2015
Valkyrie robot head

NASA palms off blunder-bot Valkyrie for top US universities to fix

It can put Man on the Moon, but NASA has turned to universities to get its clumsy humanoid robot Valkyrie up to scratch. The robot, now dubbed R5, competed two years ago in the DARPA robotic challenge, and tied with two other teams for last place after failing to complete any of the specified tasks. Now the agency has awarded …
Iain Thomson, 20 Nov 2015
protoplanet

Astronomers catch first sighting of a planet's birth pangs

Scientists have long postulated that planets are formed by accretion of matter in giant discs of matter around stars, and now an inventive researcher has found a way to spot a far-away world being born. "This is the first incontrovertible detection of a planet still in the process of forming – a so-called 'protoplanet'," said …
Iain Thomson, 19 Nov 2015
Terminator

Rise of the handy machines: UK gears up for first Robotics Week

The UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) tentacle of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is inviting humans to get involved in the first UK Robotics Week, scheduled to run from 25 June - 1 July 2016. The event - supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2015

Red dwarf superflares batter formerly 'habitable' exoplanet

Humanity may have to rethink colonisation plans for exoplanet Kepler-438b, since what was hailed earlier this year as a candidate to support life as we know it, has now been declared decidedly inhospitable. The planet - a probably rocky world with a diameter 12 per cent bigger than Earth - was identified back in January, …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2015
UNSW entanglable atom on silicon

Belling that cat: Oz boffins pass entanglement test

Entanglement is easy to generate, but if you want to prove you have entanglement - and that's one of the many holy grails of quantum computing - you have to pass what's called "Bell's inequality test". Doing it in silicon is even better, and that combination has the corks popping at the University of New South Wales. Their …

Game of Photons: Boffins make ICE with FIRE

Laser refrigeration, that counter-intuitive application of the technology, has taken an important step towards reality, with scientists from the University of Washington chilling water by 36°F (20°C). That's enough of a change, in normal real-world conditions, for the research team led by assistant professor of materials …
The void galaxy MCG+01-02-015

Hubble finds lonely 'void galaxy' floating in cosmic nothingness

“In a galaxy far, far away” you don't see much, it seems. The image at the top (here for readers on mobile devices) is one of the latest shots retrieved from Hubble, and the galaxy that's front-and-centre is one of the loneliest ever snapped. It even has to suffer a dull, prosaic name: MCG+01-02-015. In spite of its apparent …

Today's exoplanet weather: 1,000°C, glass rain, 8,700 km/h winds

Those readers who enjoy complaining about the weather might like to consider a short weekend break on 'hot Jupiter' exoplanet HD 189733b, where conditions will give them something to really moan about. Studies of HD 189733b – discovered in 2005 transiting the star HD 189733, which lies some 63 light years from Earth in the …
Lester Haines, 13 Nov 2015
493 Griseldis showing a debris trail

Ouch! Subaru telescope catches astroid prang

Astronomers have announced evidence that a main-belt asteroid called 493 Griseldis took a hit from another object in March of this year. Shots taken by the Subaru 8m optical telescope showed that Griseldis had grown a tail – and unlike a comet's tail, which points away from the sun, the asteroid's tail was “not in the …
German Aerospace Center depiction of Philae on Comet 67/P

Now we know why Philae phouled up comet landing

Exactly a year ago, mankind's first ever attempt to land on a comet did not go according to plan - and the European Space Agency (ESA) has just released a report explaining why. The Philae lander was carried for 10 years on the Rosetta probe as it built up speed and approached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But when it was …
Iain Thomson, 12 Nov 2015
The supervoid

Big Bang left us with a perfect random number generator

UK Home Secretary Theresa May will have to revamp the Investigatory Powers Bill to ban astrophysics: the cosmic background radiation bathes Earth in enough random numbers to encrypt everything forever. Using the cosmic background radiation – the “echo of the Big Bang*” – as a random number generation isn't a new idea, but a …

Robotic arm provides infosec automation for dodgy card readers

Video Blighty-based infosec firm MWR InfoSecurity has created an automated fuzz tester to shore up vulnerabilities which may be affecting any device people are slotting their "Chip and Pin" cards into. Most infosec researchers who have dug into the terminal-smartcard authentication procedure have found that vulnerabilities are often …
Automatic asteroid mining

US Congress grants leftpondians the right to own asteroid booty

Asteroid mining operation Planetary Resources is as pleased as punch with those members of the US Congress who've backed "historic legislation" H.R.2262 – aka the "SPACE Act of 2015". The act "recognizes the right of US citizens to own asteroid resources they obtain as property and encourages the commercial exploration and …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015
Tesla Coil, Steve Beger (Flickr), Creative Commons 2.0

Old tech, new battles: Inside F-Secure’s formidable Faraday cage

A Faraday cage, originally commissioned and assembled 10 years ago as a means to allow Finnish security firm F-Secure to test Bluetooth-based mobile malware, is still finding productive work even though the type of malware that spawned its creation is long dead. The copper-lined, 4-by-3 metre enclosure is still used for mobile …
John Leyden, 11 Nov 2015

Glowing dust doughnut circles white dwarf

Extremely patient astroboffins have put together the first image of debris rings around a white dwarf, obtained over 12 years of Very Large Telescope observations. Researchers led by Christopher Manser of the University of Warwick’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group used Doppler tomography* to snap the rings of SDSS1228+1040, …
Lester Haines, 11 Nov 2015

Boffins teach Wi-Fi routers to dance to the same tune

Research presented to this week's IEEE International Conference on Network Protocols suggests a fairly simple enhancement to Wi-Fi could help deal with the chronic congestion caused by its popularity. It would be nice if twenty different base stations in twenty different apartments could coordinate their transmissions, but …
Cracks on Phoebus - NASA Goddard

Feeble Phobos flaking as it falls to Mars

Mars' larger moon, Phobos, is already showing signs of the structural failure that will one day mean it breaks up, according to boffins from NASA Goddard. The finding, announced here, was presented to November 10's annual Meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Maryland. Goddard's …
Pluto

Ice volcanoes just part of Plutonic pandemonium

Video Pluto just keeps getting stranger: the latest speculation to arise from analysis of data gathered by New Horizons is that it might have ice volcanoes. That's one possible explanation for put forward, in a press briefing at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, for the icy peaks that stunned the mission team back in July …
Einstein

Einstein's brain to be picked by satellites

The European Space Agency is to make the most of two satellite misfires by using them to test Einstein's theory of relativity. Last August, the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites were launched as part of a plan to create a Euro-run GPS system, but the launch didn't go according to plan. A failure in the fourth stage of the …
Iain Thomson, 10 Nov 2015