Science

DARPA wants to piggy-back satellites on jets to space

DARPA wants to piggy-back satellites on jets to space

Getting payloads from Earth and into space is shaping up to be big business, and now DARPA is weighing in with its own piggy-back proposal that could see jets help take satellites into orbit. Dubbed the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, the scheme isn't designed to challenge SpaceX and Boeing for their Launch America contracts, taxiing NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, but instead to act as a more affordable route to put up things like communication and weather satellites with relatively short notice. The goal is a roughly $1m delivery charge and, maybe more importantly, a far faster turnaround than existing methods.

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Planck knocks 100m years off oldest stars, no Botox needed

Planck knocks 100m years off oldest stars, no Botox needed

Age may only be a number, but it turns out some of the oldest stars in the universe could be a lot younger than believed, according to new results from the Planck telescope. While scientists had previously estimated that the first stars began to shine 440m years after the Big Bang, itself pegged at 13.8 billion years ago, new results from the decommissioned ESA space telescope suggest that may have been off by as much as 100m years. Spilling the stars' age secrets are freshly calculated maps of cosmic background radiation, that help explain when reionization of the universe began.

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Singapore students print 1st 3D Concept Car in Asia

Singapore students print 1st 3D Concept Car in Asia

When you think of printers, you probably think of the big, heavy boxes on or under your desks. For quite a while now there have been 3D printers capable of printing any 3D object you can dream up in CAD, for example. The new technology has come a long way from its infancy only a few years ago. These days you can print everything from replicar dinosaur bones, to a Stradivarius imitation, to ultra-light bicycles, and now even whole cars. Students from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have succeeded to print an entire urban solar electric car.

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NASA Pluto photos arrive after 9 year mission

NASA Pluto photos arrive after 9 year mission

The New Horizons mission has sent back its first photos here after 9 years and 1 month since launch. Onboard the LORRI craft, an 8.2-inch (20.8-centimeter) aperture focuses visible light to a charge-coupled device - a digital camera, that is to say, works with a telescope aimed directly at one of our furthest cousins in the Solar System: Pluto. February 4th (yesterday) also marks what would've been Clyde Tombaugh's 109th birthday - Tombaugh is credited with first discovering Pluto all the way back in 1930.

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One-ton rodent used tusks like elephant

One-ton rodent used tusks like elephant

A paper has been produced by three researchers in which they predict the bite force of the largest rodent to have ever been discovered. Philip G. Cox, Andrés Rinderknecht, and Ernesto Blanco collaborated on a paper in which they suggest that the rodent called Josephoartigasia monesi used its incisors like tusks, "processing tough vegetation with large bite forces at the cheek teeth." Hows that for a horrifying image for you? A 2,205-pound (1000 kg) (over a ton) rodent with tusks, ready to eat your shrubberies at a moment's notice!

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NASA heads to Europa to seek life… in 7 years

NASA heads to Europa to seek life… in 7 years

Let's get real about the NASA Jupiter moon Europa mission just given the thumbs-up by the White House yearly budget this week. While the news is booming, there's something important to remember - we're not nearly prepared yet to get there. NASA still needs to begin orbiting Jupiter with a craft like the Europe Clipper to get a better look at Europa. After that, a landing could possibly be attempted - and at that time we're looking at a touch-down "as early as" the year 2022.

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Big Bang evidence evaporates

Big Bang evidence evaporates

The Big Bang theory has not been disproven. Get that idea out of your mind as fast as possible. Instead, a team of scientists have, this week, produced a paper which disproves their previous findings that suggest they'd found the first "direct evidence" that the Big Bang had happened in the way it's widely accepted to have happened. Instead of knowing when - 10 or so seconds after the Big Bang happened - the universe ballooned and expanded at a super-fast rate, we're back to where we were before the BICEP2 team announced their findings this past March. That's all.

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Pink sea slugs stick to Northern California

Pink sea slugs stick to Northern California

The Hopkins' rose nudibranch sea slug has appeared in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Bodega Bay over the past couple of weeks. This is strange, according to local scientists, as these tiny slugs don't generally appear anywhere north of San Luis Obispo. It's been suggested that these pink creatures have found themselves in strange places due to changes in ocean temperature over the past year. These slugs are amongst several abnormal creatures to appear in the area here in early 2015.

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Philae isn’t lost just yet

Philae isn’t lost just yet

While the European Space Agency (ESA) lost contact with their comet lander Philae in November, "there is good confidence" they'll be able to make contact once more. So says Stephan Ulamec, lander manager at the German Space Agency (DLR). Ulamec also warned that should the ESA get in contact with Philae via Rosetta, "it may be that they only get very limited periods of operation in the [dark] pocket, and they will have to plan for more modest science sequences." If Philae is able to reach out to Rosetta, that is.

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