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Hitomi

Jaxa's litany of errors spun Hitomi to pieces

Japan's space agency Jaxa has detailed the litany of errors that ended with the failure of its Hitomi (Astro-H) spacecraft. The agency has published a 90-page discussion of what caused the break-up. Their conclusions are pretty damning for the agency, centring around a lack of protocols to manage a major change in the craft's …
bees

Prospect of fertilisation really blows bees' hair back

There's one thing that literally makes bees' hairs stand up and quiver, say boffins: small electric fields emitted by flowers looking to get it on. According to research from Bristol University, flowers encourage pollination by transmitting electric signals that cause bees' hair to rapidly vibrate. The findings, published in …
Kat Hall, 31 May 2016

ISS 'nauts to face Mark Zuckerberg grilling

International Space Station (ISS) 'nauts Tim Kopra, Tim Peake and Jeff Williams will tomorrow enjoy a 20-minute Facebook Live vid Q&A session with Mark Zuckerberg. The action kicks off at 12:55pm ET / 11:55am CT / 10:55am MT / 09:55am PT / 16:55 GMT down at NASA's Facebook presence. Mere mortals are invited to join the event …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016
Artist's impression of Juno and Jupiter. Pic: NASA

Juno yields to Jupiter's gravitational embrace

NASA's Juno spacecraft last week crossed the Sun/Jupiter gravitational boundary and is now firmly in the gas giant's embrace. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Friday: "Today the gravitational influence of Jupiter is neck and neck with that of the Sun. As of tomorrow, …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016

ISS pump-up space podule fully engorged

The International Space Station (ISS) grew by 16m3 on Saturday as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was successfully inflated at the second attempt. Time-lapse images of the BEAM inflation. Pic: NASA TV Success: The ISS gains 16m3. Pic: NASA TV NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams spent around seven hours gradually …
Lester Haines, 31 May 2016
Collection of antique keys

Bletchley finds Hitler plain text war machine on Ebay, buys for £10

A World War II teleprinter Hitler used in strategic communications with generals has been bought on eBay for £9.50. The teleprinter more was noticed and snapped up by keen eyes at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. The precious machine was languishing in a Southend, Essex shed covered in rubbish. The plain- …
Darren Pauli, 31 May 2016

EU wants open science publication by 2020

Bet on furious lobbying to prevent this: the European Union's Competitiveness Council has recommended all scientific papers be made “open access” by 2020. The Dutch presidency of the EU has issued this media release explaining what's on the table. “From 2020, all scientific publications on the results of publicly funded …
Earth

Earth's core is younger than its crust surface

Back in the early 1960s, physicist Richard Feynman remarked that the centre of the Earth had to be a little younger than the surface, since it would experience gravitational time dilation. Now, boffins from two Danish universities have put a value to that difference, and while they agree with his hypothesis, they've corrected …
Rat

Rats revive phones-and-cancer scares

Mobile phones do cause cancers – and rats' cells are modulation-sensitive. That's what emerges from a preliminary study dropped on a pre-print server by America's National Toxicology Program. That news comes a few weeks after a huge study covering decades found that mobile phones weren't killing us. The new study hit the …
Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our Future

Boring SpaceX lobs another sat into orbit without anything blowing up ... zzzzz

It's almost routine now. After previous thrills and spills, Elon Musk and his team now don't just make rocket science look easy – they make it look like a quick trip to the corner store. On Friday, SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and then landed it successfully at sea, …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2016
Bigelow Aerospace's BEAM

NASA: We'll try again in the morning after friction ruins engorgement

After halting the first try on safety grounds, NASA is going to make another attempt to inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. The module, made up of layers of micrometeoroid-resistant fabric, was delivered to the ISS by SpaceX last month and was due for …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2016

Should space be a biz-free zone? Join us on June 22 to find out

Wait. Can you hear it? Yes, it’s final countdown for The Register Summer lecture series, bringing space and robots to a connected home near you. Actually, the venue is the Yorkshire Grey, just down the road from the Reg offices. But we can definitely guarantee spending an evening with us will leave you a lot more clued up our …
Joe Fay, 27 May 2016

NASA firms up Space Launch System nanosat manifest

NASA has announced three more CubeSats which will travel on the first mission of the Space Launch System (SLS), slated for lift-off in 2018. A total of 13 CubeSat berths are available aboard Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), which is primarily intended to dispatch an Orion capsule "to a stable orbit beyond the moon to …
Lester Haines, 27 May 2016
Upsala Glacier by https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidw/ cc 2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Mars' poles shrink during ice ages, boffins say

New analysis of Mars' poles suggest they get bigger when the red planet's not experiencing an ice age. A new paper, An ice age recorded in the polar deposits of Mars, reaches that conclusion after analysing data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD). As NASA explains, during Martian ice ages …
Simon Sharwood, 27 May 2016

ISS pump-up space podule refuses to engorge

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace earlier today scrubbed a first attempt to inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) - the "human-rated expandable structure" which is clamped to the International Space Station (ISS) for a two-year test. After "several hours of attempts to introduce air into the module" by ISS crew member …
Lester Haines, 26 May 2016
Twilight Zone, 'Time Enough At Last'

German boffins' clock drops 10 seconds in a billion-and-a-half years

Optical clocks are already so accurate that you can expect them to be out by a second every 15 billion years, but they suffer from frequent downtime. Now a group of boffins from The National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB, which stands for Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt) reckon they've got that problem licked, by …
wireless

German boffins smash records with 37km wireless spurt at 6Gbps

A team of German scientists has managed to establish a 6Gbps wireless link over a distance of 37 kilometers using newly developed antennas and receivers. The Advanced E Band Satellite Link Studies team established a connection between a base station and the town of Wachtberg using hardware with monolithically integrated …
Iain Thomson, 25 May 2016
BEAM at the ISS. Pic: Bigelow Aerospace

ISS 'nauts to inflate pump-up space podule

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will tomorrow pump up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) - the "first human-rated expandable structure that may help inform the design of deep space habitats". The engorgement is expected to begin at 10:10 GMT (6:10 AM EDT), with NASA TV's live coverage kicking …
Lester Haines, 25 May 2016
SLAC blows up a water stream with a laser

Boffins blow up water with LASERS, to watch explosions in slow-mo

Video Boffins at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford's PULSE institute have had fun blowing up water jets and droplets with an X-ray laser. For science, of course. What they say they want is to study the microscopic movies to understand what happens when liquids are vaporized by the world's brightest X-ray laser. …
Team Register, 25 May 2016

US 5th graders have a pop at paper plane record

A bunch of US 5th graders* yesterday came close to breaking the Guinness World Record for the highest-altitude paper plane launch, which currently stands at a dizzying 35,043m. The pupils from Spring Grove Elementary in Illinois hit 34,586m (113,471ft) with their balloon-lofted vehicle, and later lamented that "another 100 to …
Lester Haines, 24 May 2016

Galileo satnav fleet grows an extra pair

Europe's home-grown Galileo satnav network is two orbiting operatives closer to a full constellation following the successful launch earlier today of satellites 13 and 14. The pair blasted off atop a Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 08:48 GMT, en route to joining their fellow Galileos at an altitude of 23,222km …
Lester Haines, 24 May 2016

Asteroid-sampling spacecraft prepped for September launch

NASA's improbably acronmyed* "Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer" (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center ahead of a September launch on an asteroid-sampling mission. OSIRIS-REx will travel to near-Earth asteroid Bennu, arriving in 2018, and …
Lester Haines, 24 May 2016

Galileo satnav fleet waxes orbital

Europe's home-grown Galileo satnav system will take another step towards a full constellation tomorrow when satellites 13 and 14 head heavenwards from Kourou in French Guiana. Galileos 13 and 14 during encapsulation. Pic: ESA / CNES / Arianespace – JM Guillon Galileos 13 and 14 during encapsulation at Kourou. Pic: ESA / CNES …
Lester Haines, 23 May 2016
Plane. Image via shutterstock

Shakes on a plane: How dangerous is turbulence?

If you have ever travelled on an aeroplane, the chances are you have experienced some form of turbulence. For those of us who fly infrequently, it can be alarming and unnerving, but rest assured that for the pilots and crew who experience turbulence every day, it is business as usual. You will normally receive a message to …
Indian space agency ISRO

India launches hypersonic space shuttle precursor

India has successfully launched a scaled-down model of a planned “Reusable Launch Vehicle” (RLV). Today's launch was dubbed the “hypersonic flight experiment” (HEX) and saw a 6.5m, 1.75 tonne model of a winged spaceplane hoisted aloft atop a modified sounding rocket using the S9 engine India uses as an auxiliary for its PSV …
Simon Sharwood, 23 May 2016
Archimedes Mirror, Giulio Parigi

Google-backed solar electricity facility sets itself on fire

A troubled heliostatic power station is set to hit the anti-renewables meme-factories, after misaligned mirrors set the tower on fire. The Google-backed, US$2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System generates power by focussing sunlight on boilers at the top of three 140-metre (439-foot) towers and using the …
How the flying snake looks in simulation

The underbelly of simulation science: replicating the results

Replicating computer-simulated science is harder than you think, as a group of aerospace researchers from George Washington University have found. In fact, without decent versioning, documentation, publication of data and rigorous evidence standards, simulations that attract headlines both in academic and general media should …
HiFire 5B launch

Hypersonic flight test hits Mach 7.5

Australia's venerable Woomera rocket range last week hosted a successful hypersonic test in which the experimental HiFiRE rocket hit Mach 7.5 and an apogee of 278 km. The data-gathering experiment wasn't testing a hypersonic motor – sorry “Sydney to London in two hours” fans – but rather carried instruments to observe the …

Mars satellites show remains of massive tsunamis that ravaged Red Planet

Scientists think they have spotted the remains of two huge tsunamis on Mars caused by asteroids striking the planet back when it still had water. In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, the boffins say pictures from the imaging and radar satellites orbiting Mars show the effects of two separate asteroid strikes on …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2016

NASA's stadium-sized sandwich bag overflies Oz

The NASA Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) which lifted off from New Zealand earlier this week is heading for the open Indian Ocean, having traversed the south of Australia. According to the handy tracking map, the mighty orb and its payload were earlier today travelling west at an altitude of 108,970ft (around 33,220m). The …
Lester Haines, 19 May 2016

Africa poses for 7,000 snap mosaic

Boffins have used 7,000 images from Europe's Sentinel-2A Earth-watching satellite to construct a fine mosaic of Africa, shown entirely cloud-free in all its continental glory. The Sentinel 2-A mosaic of Africa Clear skies over Africa Most of the images - totalling 32 TB of data - were snapped between December 2015 and …
Lester Haines, 19 May 2016
"New and shiny" person lies with eyes closed, covered in grey glitter. Photo by Shutterstock

Would we want to regenerate brains of patients who are clinically dead?

A trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of patients who have been declared clinically dead has been approved. Reanima Advanced Biosciences aims to use stem cells, injections of peptides, and nerve stimulation to reverse “brain death as noted in clinical examination or EEG”, a project which at least scores …

Smartmobes in spaaace: NASA deploys Android nanosats

NASA has deployed a couple of CubeSats using off-the-shelf smartphone tech which it hopes will "test out the potential for using a network of small, low-cost satellites to perform complex science missions". The "Nodes" nanosatellites were ejected from the International Space Station on 16 May, along with a further three …
Lester Haines, 18 May 2016
Tractor sprays wheat crops under a blue sky. Photo by Shutterstock

SHOCK: GM crops are good for you and the planet, reckon boffins

In a rebuke to the EU, and environmental activists worldwide, the biggest scientific metastudy yet conducted of genetically modified foods concludes they’re good for human health and the environment. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an advisory body of scientists, finds no evidence of risks over …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 May 2016

Vostochny cosmodrome caught on Soyuz rocketcam

Russian space agency Roscosmos has released an impressive rocketcam video shot from the Soyuz-2.1a which last month became the first mighty lifter to depart the country's new Vostochny cosmodrome. The edited highlights footage shows the rocket leaving the pad, the separation of two of its four liquid-fuelled boosters, then …
Lester Haines, 18 May 2016
European commission photo via Shutterstock

Want a Brexit? Promise you'll sort out UK universities' £1bn research cash loss

Leaving the EU could mean UK universities lose a whopping £1bn research funding, according to report released by Digital Science today. Academics have already warned the UK that leaving the EU would hinder research. A letter to The Times was signed by more than 150 fellows from the Royal Society - including Stephen Hawking - …
Katyanna Quach, 18 May 2016
Dr Keevers with the prism solar cell

New solar cell breaks efficiency records, turns 34% of light into 'leccy

University of New South Wales boffins have laid hands on another record, with a solar cell demonstrating 34.5 per cent conversion efficiency. The work was carried out by Dr Mark Keevers and Professor Martin Green, who heads up the university's Centre for Advanced Photonics. It's the kind of result that would get Olympic …

Brit twitchers a-tizz at bearded vulture sighting

Brit birdwatchers are all a-tizz at the news that a bearded vulture has been spotted in Wales and Devon - the first time Gypaetus barbatus has set claw on UK soil. The bearded vulture, aka lammergeier or ossifrage, was spied on the Welsh side of the Second Severn Crossing last week, and then put in an appearance over Dartmoor …
Lester Haines, 17 May 2016

US schoolkids deploy Earth-watching CubeSat

The pupils of St Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia, watched yesterday as their diminutive STMSat-1 was ejected from the International Space Station (ISS), marking the first time an elementary school CubeSat has been deployed into space. St. Thomas More Cathedral School work on their CubeSat. Pic: NASA …
Lester Haines, 17 May 2016
NASA's SPB with its tow balloon

NASA 'Kilo-Kitty' Super Pressure Balloon goes aloft at last

NASA's latest attempt to launch its Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) in New Zealand has gone off without a hitch. The launch of the kilo-kitty mission had suffered repeated weather delays. After deciding to go ahead today, the balloon was laid out and a tow balloon inflated to lift the tip of the SPB off the ground. That was …

NASA flashes cash at advanced aerospace concepts

NASA has announced the eight projects with "the potential to transform future aerospace missions" which will receive funding under Phase II of its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The awards of up to $500,000 over two years will allow the recipients to advance their ideas, which "successfully demonstrated …
Lester Haines, 16 May 2016
Electric Mountain under construction, photo by First Hydro Company

Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

From the outside, Elidir Mountain looks like an old industrial site that has returned to nature. The slopes facing the Llyn Peris reservoir have been hacked into terraces by slate quarrying – this was once the second-biggest quarry in the world, with 3,000 workers – but they are now peaceful. Only a few buildings at ground …
SA Mathieson, 16 May 2016