The NASA rover Opportunity sent back a couple of surprising images from Mars last week, both of which were taken with its Pancam, revealing the rather sudden appearance of a small rock. Researchers were surprised at the quick change, and though they offered a couple possible explanations, an investigation was kicked off to try and determine how it happened. Fast-forward through the weekend, and an analysis has offered a new surprise: the chemical composition is unlike anything previously analyzed on the Red Planet.
As a tech company, Google has been known to branch out into different areas of interests, from self-driving cars to smart wearable technology and, more recently, to robotics. One thing it has dipped its toe in also quite recently is the field of quantum computing, having jointly purchased a fancy D-Wave 2 supercomputer. Now its A.I. Lab Team is trying to give an update on just how much that $10 million expenditure is worth.
A few NASA rovers have been working their way through the Red Planet, each working to expand scientists' knowledge of Mars and its history. As part of this, large quantities of images are taken and shuttled back to Earth, where researchers analyze them. Recently, the rover Opportunity sent back two images of the same area that had one surprising difference: the sudden appearance of a rock that hadn't been there shortly before.
There are several teams participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The contest is to see what team can create a robot that is capable of performing a set of specific tasks. The robots developed may one day be able to help humans in an emergency situation like a nuclear meltdown or other challenge. One of the teams participating is the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory or JPL.
Scientists are always exploring our planet looking to make new discoveries. For all of recorded history, Antarctica has been covered with a massive sheet of ice many miles thick. This thick coating of ice hides all the actual land underneath form view.
Yesterday marked the liftoff of the first of eight official missions to the International Space Station for Orbital Sciences. Orbital sent its Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS atop its Antares rocket. The rocket launched successfully from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA is hard at work on the space launch system and capsule that will replace the retired space shuttle fleet to carry American astronauts into orbit and to the ISS. The Orion capsule that will carry the crew and cargo into orbit is currently in testing. NASA is also working on the rocket that will push the capsule into orbit.
Scientists have been using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope to examine two nearby exoplanets. The two teams of scientists have announced that they have discovered thick layers of clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanets. The exoplanets are described as a "warm Neptune" and a super-Earth.