Tag Archives: Rosetta

Futurology ~ Planets, Mars, probes, seafloor, robots, weather and mass extinctions


The Rosetta probe is having its comet-ride closest to the sun
The Rosetta probe is having its comet-ride closest to the sun

‘Young Jupiter’ — Astronomers from Stanford and the Kavli Institute have discovered a new exoplanet orbiting 51 Eridani that strongly resembles a young Jupiter. They say its similarities could help us to understand how our own solar system formed. It’s a convenient discovery, because 51 Eridani is less than 100 light-years away, and only about 20 million years old.
~ Phew, it’s still youthful! 

Rosetta probe now in serious tanning range — The European Space Agency has released pictures taken by the Rosetta probe at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it reached its closest approach to the Sun. The comet has now travelled 750 million kilometers since Rosetta arrived, and the increased solar radiation has caused ices to sublimate and created jets of gas.
~ Break out the sunblock! You are at perihelion!

Mars One still completely full of s__t — After watching a two-hour debate on the feasibility of the Mars One mission last night, Maddie Stone thinks she finally understands its problem. “It’s not that the company is broke. It’s that we don’t yet have the technology to sustain human life on Mars, and Mars One still won’t admit it.”
~ That’s fighting’ talk. But basically, if you go there, you will die, but you might not even make it as you might die on the way. Not really selling it, Mars One.

Hubble might soon look like a toy — The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be “in many ways a hundred times” more capable than Hubble, isn’t launching until 2018, but already astrophysicists are thinking about its successor. They’re calling it the High Definition Space Telescope (HDST) which would have a 12-metre segmented mirror.
~ I actually already have toys that look like toys – much cheaper.

PinataDigital seafloor map can help in climate change predicting — We know less about the deep ocean than we do about the surface of Mars. But if we want to really understand how humans are impacting the Earth, we need to start looking deep into the murk. That’s why scientists created the first digital map of the seafloor’s geologic composition. The latest map, published in the journal Geology, is the first to describe the diverse sedimentary composition of the seafloor. And that’s important, because patterns in sediments can help scientists unravel past environmental changes and predict our planet’s future.
~ But it looks like a piñata. And it missed New Zealand again. 

Universal language — We know a lot about language but we know relatively little about how speech developed. Most linguists agree a combination of movement and sound like grunts and pointing probably got us started, but how we decided which sounds to use for different words remains a mystery. Now, an experimental game has shown that speakers of English might use qualities like the pitch and volume of sounds to describe concepts like size and distance when they invent new words. If true, some of our modern words may have originated from so-called iconic, rather than arbitrary, expression—a finding that would overturn a key theory of language evolution.
~ And you were hoping it was love …

Cheap, 3D-printed stethoscope challenges top model — Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician working in the Gaza strip, has 3D-printed a 30-cent stethoscope that beats the world’s best $200 equivalent as part of a project to bottom-out the cost of medical devices. It out performed the gold-standard Littmann Cardiology 3. They now intend to make a range of ultra-low cost medical devices for the developing world.
~ Yay! I can hardly wait for the affordable pulse oximeter. And also to know what that is.

Robot builds robots, learns and builds better ones — An experiment was carried out at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with ETH Zurich, and the results were published in the journal PLOS One. A mother bot (a big robotic arm) designed, built, and tested “generations” of ten “kids”: tiny, cube-shaped bots. The mother used what it observed in each experiment to churn out even better-performing offspring the next go-around.
~ I think the best response is ‘oh shit’.

Robo-Weather — Microsoft researchers Ashish Kapoor and Eric Horvitz are using machine learning to make more accurate weather predictions over a 24-hour period. So while this robo-brain won’t be able to help you with a five-day forecast, it can more accurately tell you if rain or shine is more likely during the course of your day.
~ If only we could tell if it was raining just by feeling, seeing or hearing it …

Robots simulate mass extinctions — By simulating a mass extinction on a population of virtual robots, researchers have shown these cataclysmic events are important contributors to organisms’ ability to evolve, a finding that has implications to evolutionary biology, the business sector – and even artificial intelligence.
~ OK, this is now all too robo-incestuous.

Futurology 21~ possible Dark Matter, not water from comets and more


Space Station shot in Infra-Red
Space Station shot in Infra-Red

Possible Dark Matter spotted — Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe. While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster.
~ It clearly wants to avoid spotting – hope we haven’t annoyed it. 

Comets didn’t bring the water — Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet. The results are published in the journal Science. The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out.
~ It’s just a different flavour – I say embrace it. 

Our Space Station in Infra Red — The above image was taken 70m from the ISS as the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle docked with it earlier this year. Obtained using Laser Infrared Imaging Sensors, the images were obtained to help researchers develop better automated rendezvous procedures for use out in space. (Main picture, above).
~ Can’t see anyone waving, anyway.

Artificial skin feels pressure, dampness, heat — A new, stretchy artificial skin can pick up many of the sensations from the real thing, and could someday cover a lifelike prosthetic hand.
The skin was developed by researchers in South Korea, and combines the ability to sense pressure, temperature, and humidity.
~ Handy. 

Scientists invent a new form of ice — A new form of ice has just been created in a lab. It consists of frozen water molecules spun into a tiny, intricate, empty cage.
~ They did this because, er … there was nothing on TV that day?

3D printed dress — The garment here is a 3D-printed dress, made by design studio Nervous System. Although it’s not the first 3D-printed dress (that honour goes to a burlesque star), it’s one of the first to be made on Nervous System’s Kinematics system, software which can create complex structures composed of articulated modules. What that means is a 3D-printed dress that requires no assembly: take the pile of plastic out of the printer, wash it off, unfurl it, and you’ve got a dress.
~ A dress of sorts, anyway.

Super-duper map — The US Geological Survey and Esri have created a zoomable map that lets you explore all of the world’s ecological land units down to an astounding 250 metre resolution.
~ What? Why isn’t the washing out?!

Futurology 10 ~ Rosetta, ant-radio, nanobeads, UFO, solar, exo-pants, DNA advances


A photo of an Earth-origin spaceship over 400 million kilometres away from Earth
A photo of an Earth-origin spaceship over 400 million kilometres away from Earth

Spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth — Above is a photo of a spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth. It’s Rosetta, floating in the black vacuum of space, photographed by its Philae daughtership, a lander that will soon arrive to the object on the background, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
~ Let’s hope it leaves no space-stone unturned.

And now it knows where to land — Site J is the area chosen for its unique scientific potential and minimum risk to the lander. Choosing a landing site was not easy. Comet Churymov-Gerasimenko’s strange, rubber ducky-like shape has presented a host of operational challenges.
~ You’d think the Churymov-Gerasimenkians would have rolled out the red carpet, after all that trouble.

Ant-sized radios — Radios made of silicon and measuring a few millimeters each have been developed by researchers at Stanford University. You can fit dozens of them on a penny and the good news is that they’re dirt cheap to manufacture.
~ I had no idea ants listened to the radio. at least they can carry these ones instead of just having to live inside them.

Nanobeads to sweep your blood — Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created what is essentially an artificial spleen. The device made of wire and plastic may not resemble the fleshy organ in our bodies, but its series of blood channels mimics the microarchitecture of spleens.
Blood passing through these channels encounters magnetic nanobeads coated with a protein called mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a natural immune protein that binds to the surfaces of bacteria, viruses, fungi, pathogen, and toxins.
~ So far only labtest animals are getting the benefits. 

The 1960s TV Series UFO predicted today’s cutting-edge military tech — This classic TV show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson had its share of late-’60s, early-’70s schlock, such as military officers whose mini-skirt uniforms included purple wigs. But U.F.O also had strong characters, nuanced plots and extremely cool technology that, in retrospect, was decades ahead of its time.
~ And the cars!

Solar tech enhances oil recovery — Glasspoint Solar Inc installs aluminium mirrors near oil fields to concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has invested heavily into this.
~ Cynical or what?!

Exoskeleton pants — Exoskeletons that give you superhuman strength sound incredibly awesome but also look incredibly awkward and bulky and uncomfortable. So what about a soft exoskeleton that you wear like a pair of pants?
Harvard researchers recently won a DARPA grant of up to $US2.9 million to develop the Soft Exosuit – so far, it’s created a proof-of-concept suit that resembles black leggings, threaded with cables and attached to a bulky battery pack at the waist.
~ Also excellent for extended dancing sessions. 

Europeans came from three ancestry groupings — A recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Tübingen in Germany has found that present day Europeans are descendants of three different groups of people: a near-eastern farmer group, an indigenous hunter-gatherer group, and an ancient North Eurasian group from Siberia.
~ In my case it was mum, dad and, er …

And if that’s interesting … Check out this story about what they can gather from your DNA these days.
~ Modern-day hunting and gathering.