Science

NASA names commercial crew for SpaceX and Boeing

NASA names commercial crew for SpaceX and Boeing

NASA has picked four veteran astronauts to be the first crew of a commercial spaceflight, as America turns to SpaceX and Boeing to cut its dependence on Russia. Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley, and Sunita Williams will now begin trining with the two companies developing private spacecraft, ahead of missions first to the International Space Station but, eventually, manned trips to Mars which are expected to take place sometime in the 2030s.

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New Horizon’s weirdest cargo will warm your heart

New Horizon’s weirdest cargo will warm your heart

Aboard the New Horizons craft as it edges closer to Pluto than we've ever been before is carried the ashes of its discoverer. Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh was the man that discovered our celestial neighbor Pluto. Now - thanks to some thoughtful NASA engineers - Tombaugh's mortal remains will be the closest that have ever traveled to our most distant Solar System cousin. This week NASA spoke with Tombaugh's children. "My Dad always said if he ever had the chance," said Tombaugh's son "he’d love to visit the planets in the solar system and around other stars." Now he will.

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This prosthetic arm is expandable with Lego

This prosthetic arm is expandable with Lego

A design student from Sweden's Umeå University has created what is quite possibly the coolest prosthetic arm imaginable for kids. Simply put, the arm is directly compatible with Lego, letting kids replace the standard hand-like gripping attachment for one they can easily start snapping plastic bricks onto. The prosthetic is specifically designed to be simple for kids to use, with little more than a twist-and-lock mechanism. Carlos Arturo Torres Tovar, the student who created the arm, even got Lego FutureLab and disabilities organization CIREC to collaborate on the project).

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3D printed robot built like a squid, hops like a rocket

3D printed robot built like a squid, hops like a rocket

A squishy, explosively-bouncing robot might herald the next age of 'bot design and could almost be a robo-squid, if only it had a beak. 3D printed robots aren't new, but this is the first time graduated layers of hardness have been used, allowing the explosion-powered blob created by engineers led by Nicholas Bartlett at Harvard University to not only adjust the direction it bounces off in, but to deform in a controlled way on landing that balances preserving the electronics while landing elegantly.

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NASA Mars Trek takes you on a tour of the Red Planet

NASA Mars Trek takes you on a tour of the Red Planet

Of all the planets in the solar system other than Earth, the most explored is Mars. NASA has a number of rovers and space ships in orbit around Mars and has mapped enough of the surface of the planet to give us a very detailed look at what it's like. If you want to do some virtual exploring of Mars on your own, NASA has a new Mars Trek website that you will want to check out.

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Study: global warming is limiting bumblebee travel

Study: global warming is limiting bumblebee travel

The number of bumblebees in North America and Europe is declining and the biggest cause is thought to be climate change. That’s according to a new study that was recently published in Science showing a trend since the 1970s where bumblebees are no longer traveling as far as they used to. Over this period of time, the travels of bumblebees have shrunk by as much as 190 miles from their previous southern limits, likely due to warming temperatures.

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter next July

NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter next July

Pluto is getting all the attention at the moment, and Ceres is also still capturing attention, but NASA is already eyeing the future and that future will include a close-up look at Jupiter. The space agency will be getting a close look via its Juno spacecraft, and it announced this week Juno's arrival date: July 4, 2016, less than a year from now. As with some of its other missions, NASA is hoping to find out how the planet formed and some information on its structure.

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Philips is developing LED ‘light growth recipes’ for indoor farms

Philips is developing LED ‘light growth recipes’ for indoor farms

Growing crops indoors has caught the public's attention in recent years, and organizations across the globe have worked at perfecting the farming method. So far indoor gardens have had many benefits: pest reduction, higher yields, better utilization of space, and more. Lighting is the biggest problem, though -- if you don't get it right your plants won't grow correctly and your yield will suffer as a result. Philips wants to end the problem, and it has launched a new research center as part of its efforts.

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Ancient monkey skull reveals tiny but complex brain

Ancient monkey skull reveals tiny but complex brain

In 1997 a 15 million year monkey skull was discovered, and for the first time researchers have peered inside to see what secrets it holds. What they found was surprising -- the brain was small but very complex. The skull comes from an ancient monkey known as the Victoriapithecus, and it was examined using X-rays and a 3D computer model based on the X-rays. The brain is said to have been “tiny” in relation to the monkey’s body size, coming in at more than 50-percent smaller than comparable modern monkeys. The level of complexity, however, was surprisingly high.

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We can now watch Pluto rotate in space

We can now watch Pluto rotate in space

As New Horizons begins its final approach toward Pluto, NASA presents a Google Earth-mapped surface of the spinning space body. The final approach toward the planet has begun - this NASA-led mission will get within a few thousand miles of Pluto on the 14th of this month. Today we get our first spherical map of the planet as placed with Google Earth onto our own planet. Strange as that may sound, it provides as accurate a visual for the planet as we've ever seen. You've seen the flat images before - now watch Pluto spin in space.

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