Science

NASA flirts with far-out tech: Methane subs and solar sails

NASA flirts with far-out tech: Methane subs and solar sails

A submarine for diving through lakes of methane, a tiny satellite designed to snare an asteroid, and solar sail for deep-space probes are all among NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program for 2014, as the space agency hunts for the next big thing in exploration. Several of the new NIAC proposals, notable for often taking more outlandish approaches to science and technology than mainstream NASA research, tackle planetary exploration such as the advances needed for human missions to be safe and affordable.

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Jupiter’s volcanic moon spews “curtains of fire”

Jupiter’s volcanic moon spews “curtains of fire”

Three huge volcanic eruptions from Jupiter's moon Io are forcing astronomers to rethink how peaceful space might be, with "curtains of fire" consisting of tens of cubic miles of lava surging from the orbiting mass. Fountains of lava gushed from gaps in Io, one of Jupiter's four moons, in a two week period in August 2013, NASA says, despite having previously been thought to be rare events.

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Algorithm extracts audio from silent video using vibrations

Algorithm extracts audio from silent video using vibrations

It feels almost like a scene straight out of a spy movie or crime procedural show. You only have a video a of man talking with his back to the camera. No audio to tell you clearly what he's saying and there are no lips to read to give you a clue. But by observing just the movement of the leaves of a plant nearby, you are able to reconstruct what the man is saying, stop his evil plot, defeat the bad guy, and save the day.

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Robot bees being built to replace real bugs

Robot bees being built to replace real bugs

A little over a year after the first robot insect swarm was introduced by Harvard University’s Robert Wood, the bee problem in the United States hasn’t gotten any better. It’s not a problem of too many bees - on the contrary. Researchers are looking into ways to create artificial bees because of incredible losses of bees - and we need bees to pollinate the food we eat.

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Corning donates $1.8M in hardware to private space telescope

Corning donates $1.8M in hardware to private space telescope

A cancelled NASA program appears to be the source of a major stash of mirror components Corning will soon be donating to a private cause. Suggesting the original project will not be revealed due to customer confidentiality, Corning has made note that they’ll be sending the collection to BoldlyGo Institute. This group will be aiming to put its ASTRO-1 telescope into orbit within the next 15 years.

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NASA IceCube hunts climate change and cost savings

NASA IceCube hunts climate change and cost savings

NASA will take advantage of new tiny satellite technology, CubeSats, to test a new weather-monitoring technology that could help unlock the secrets of climate change, the space agency has announced. IceCube - also known as Earth-1, is around a foot long and four inches wide, and takes advantage of satellite standardization expected to make launching orbiting probes faster and more cost-effective.

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