Science

Houston we have a problem: Kepler spacecraft in Emergency Mode

Houston we have a problem: Kepler spacecraft in Emergency Mode

The Kepler spacecraft may have just been given a new lease in life, entering into a new K2 mission after it successfully completed its original task in 2012. However, it seems that the space telescope is showing some signs of fatigue. On April 7, during a scheduled contact, the spacecraft was discovered to be in Emergency Mode or EM. The exact cause of that mode switch remains unknown. Needless to say, the NASA team in charge of Kepler is hard at work at investigating the cause and getting the spacecraft back in working condition.

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Alphabet unveils new bipedal robot that’s all legs

Alphabet unveils new bipedal robot that’s all legs

While the Google-parent company Alphabet is planning to sell its military-related robotics firm Boston Dynamics, that doesn't mean they don't have other robot projects in development. SCHAFT, which operates under Alphabet's X division (formerly known as Google X), has just unveiled a new bipedal creation in Japan at the New Economic Summit. The name is still unknown, but the bot is capable of climbing stairs, walking across uneven terrain, and even self-balancing.

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SpaceX successfully lands rocket on sea droneship for first time

SpaceX successfully lands rocket on sea droneship for first time

SpaceX has made history, successfully landing one of its rockets on a droneship in the ocean. A video shows the rocket pulling off a perfect landing, gracefully sliding down out of the sky and onto the landing pad, no hiccups or issues to be seen. This marks a first for the company; President Obama chimed in to congratulate it, saying, "It’s because of innovators like you & NASA that America continues to lead in space exploration."

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Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

Pluto’s ‘ice spider’ is NASA’s most striking find this month

We’re not even halfway through April yet, and NASA’s already tantalizing us with some fascinating discoveries this month. The most recent one involves an “ice spider” on Pluto, a large part of the planet’s landscape featuring “an unusual geological feature” the space agency describes as looking like a big ol’ spider. A color image of the region was snapped by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last summer, and the photo has just recently been made public.

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Brightest X-ray laser gets stronger with an upgrade

Brightest X-ray laser gets stronger with an upgrade

One of the most powerful x-ray lasers in all the world is getting a serious upgrade that will boost its power even further. Construction on the laser upgrade began a few days ago at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The construction project will see the addition of a second X-ray laser beam that is an average of 10,000 times brighter than the first laser and 8,000 times faster.

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Supermassive black hole found sitting in the middle of cosmic nowhere

Supermassive black hole found sitting in the middle of cosmic nowhere

Scientists have discovered one of the largest black holes that has ever been found. Interestingly, the supermassive black hole sits in what scientists consider a cosmic backwater. Finding such a massive black hole in such an out of the way place is akin to finding a gigantic skyscraper in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The gigantic black hole contains 17 billion times the mass of our sun.

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Supernovae left radioactive debris on Earth 3 million years ago

Supernovae left radioactive debris on Earth 3 million years ago

The explosive death of stars have always been of interest to scientists. The chemical reactions and emissions from this phenomena usually holds clues to the very formation of the universe itself. Considering that these stars are usually thousands, if not millions, of light years away, by the time we do "see" a supernova, it means it really happened ages ago. So when scientists discover traces of radioactive debris from supernovae still lingering on earth, they are understandably pleasantly surprised and excited.

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Study finds robotic Paro seal is therapeutic for dementia patients

Study finds robotic Paro seal is therapeutic for dementia patients

A study conducted by Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing has found that therapeutic robots — in this case, Paro the robotic seal — can help calm and comfort elderly individuals afflicted with dementia. The study observed 920 instances where Paro provided some type of therapeutic effect for dementia patients, “improving the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and reducing the usage of psychotropic medications,” said Paro designer Dr. Takanori Shibata.

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Tigers have been poached to extinction in Cambodia

Tigers have been poached to extinction in Cambodia

The Indochinese tiger is extinct in Cambodia, it has been announced, and humans are to blame. Poachers targeting both the tigers and the prey they need to survive have driven the tigers from Cambodia’s forests, and though conservationists plan to reintroduce them into the region, they face an uphill battle. Conservationists working in the nation made the announcement on Wednesday, saying, “Today, there are no longer any breeding populations of tigers left in Cambodia, and they are therefore considered functionally extinct."

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Single DNA molecule used to create smallest diode in all the land

Single DNA molecule used to create smallest diode in all the land

Researchers have created the world's smallest diode and they did it using a single molecule of DNA. The creation was devised by researchers from the University of Georgia and Ben-Gurion University in Israel. The creation has shown for the first time that nanoscale electronic components can be made using a single DNA molecule. The breakthrough is seen as an advance that could aid in the search for replacement in silicon chips.

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Pluto’s heart may be heavy enough to have tipped it over

Pluto’s heart may be heavy enough to have tipped it over

One of the coolest things about Pluto that was shown in the images sent back by the New Horizons probe is the heart-shaped area on the surface dubbed Tombaugh Regio. Scientists have been researching the data gathered by New Horizons and the study is now suggesting that the heart-shaped area might be heavy enough to have tipped the dwarf planet on its side. The west side of the heart called Sputnik Planum with its smooth surface is through to be what remains of a large crater that filled with nitrogen ice.

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Reverse photosynthesis breaks down plants for clean biofuels

Reverse photosynthesis breaks down plants for clean biofuels

Researchers have discovered what is being called a major milestone in the world of biofuels: reverse photosynthesis, a process that uses the sun’s rays to break down plants rather than build them up. Such a discovery has two major benefits over current methods used to break down plant biomass — the process itself is faster, and because the sun is being used, the process produces far less pollution, potentially providing a solution to one of the petrochemical industry’s biggest problems.

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