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Showing posts from October 2, 2015

The Real Mars Lander in 'The Martian': Fact Checking the Film's NASA Probe

A historic NASA spacecraft makes more than just a cameo appearance in "The Martian," the new Ridley Scott movie about an astronaut stranded on Mars. The 20th Century Fox film, which opened in U.S. theaters on Friday (Oct. 2), follows NASA's third crewed mission to land on the Red Planet in 2035. By the movie's timeline, Ares 3 crew member Mark Watney (Matt Damon) walks on Mars 23 years after the space agency's most recent real-life "martian," the robotic rover Curiosity, arrived to search for environments habitable to supporting past and present life.


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Dazzling Rocket Launch Marks 100th Liftoff for United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket blasted a communications satellite into orbit today (Oct. 2), marking the 100th consecutive successful liftoff for the company.


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Ring in Oktoberfest with These Space Beers

In 2014, the Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing Co. sent vials of brewer's yeast on a rocket to more than 70 miles (112 kilometers) above the Earth. The final product is an imperial stout called Ground Control, which has now been taste-tested and approved by members of the Space.com staff (check out the video). Ground Control is available to the public, but if you can't find it in your area, we have a long list of cosmic-themed beers to make your Oktoberfest a little more out-of-this-world.


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NASA Satellite Spies Hurricane Joaquin Replacing an Eye

Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm that is currently battering the central Bahamas, appears to be replacing its eye, according to weather forecasters. New satellite views of the intense hurricane appear to show the storm's eye obscured, which could indicate that a new eye is forming around the old one, NASA said. This process, known as eyewall replacement, occurs naturally in powerful tropical cyclones.


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ULA needs relief on Russian engines before GPS launch bid: CEO

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, on Friday said it would not bid in a U.S. Air Force competition to launch a GPS satellite unless it received some relief from a ban on use of Russian rocket engines. ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno told reporters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that the company was seeking a partial waiver on trade sanctions enacted last year that ban U.S. military use of the Russian RD-180 engine that powers ULA's primary workhorse Atlas 5 rocket. Bruno said the company needed a decision on that issue before it could submit a bid for the GPS launch competition, which marks the first time in nearly a decade that launches of large U.S. military and satellites will be opened to competition.

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30-Foot Fingernails: The Curious Science of World's Longest Nails

A man in India earned a Guinness World Record this week for doing, well, nothing at all. He didn't eat a bunch of hot dogs or jump off a building. All he did was forgo basic hygiene, by growing out his fingernails for an astonishingly long time.


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Vaccines May Protect Kids Against Strokes, Too

Parents have yet one more reason to vaccinate their children: Routine immunizations may reduce the risk of childhood stroke, according to a new study. Childhood strokes are rare, estimated to affect between three and 13 children per 100,000. The new study, led by Dr. Heather Fullerton of University of California, San Francisco, confirmed previous findings that minor infections may trigger acute ischemic strokes in children who are at risk.

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General Electric producing science fiction podcast series

In a sign that what is old is new again, U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co is producing its own science fiction podcast series in an effort to raise its profile among a younger, tech-savvy audience. GE, in partnership with The Slate Group's podcast network Panoply, is running "The Message," a fictional eight-episode podcast that will follow the decoding of a 70 year-old message from outer space. "It's science fiction meets real science," said Andy Goldberg, GE's global creative director.


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General Electric producing science fiction podcast series

By Jessica Toonkel (Reuters) - In a sign that what is old is new again, U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co is producing its own science fiction podcast series in an effort to raise its profile among a younger, tech-savvy audience. GE, in partnership with The Slate Group's podcast network Panoply, is running "The Message," a fictional eight-episode podcast that will follow the decoding of a 70 year-old message from outer space. The cryptologists decoding the message turn to a real ultrasound technology developed by GE to decode the messages. ...


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Snakes Use 'Leg Genes' to Make Phalluses

Snakes lack limbs, but new research finds that they still have DNA crucial to limb development lurking in their genomes. A new study, published today (Oct. 1) in the journal Developmental Cell, reveals that the same genetic snippets that control the outgrowth of limbs (called enhancers) during embryonic development in mammals are crucial to the development of the phallus in both mammals and reptiles — including legless snakes. "It tells us that we are a little bit myopic in thinking about what these limb enhancers are doing in mammals," said study leader Doug Menke, a genetics researcher at the University of Georgia.


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All Ears! What Human Ancestors' Hearing Was Like

Human ancestors that lived about 2 million years ago had hearing abilities similar to those of chimpanzees, but their ears had some slight differences that made their hearing more humanlike, a new study finds. The finding — based on virtual models of early hominin (the ancestors of modern humans), modern chimp and human ears — suggests that, unlike chimps, these now-extinct human ancestors had a remarkable sensitivity to high-frequency sounds. "[The hominins'] hearing pattern is similar to a chimpanzee['s], but slightly different," said lead researcher Rolf Quam, an assistant professor of biological anthropology at Binghamton University in New York.


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Bronze Age Britons Mummified Their Dead, Analysis Reveals

The rainy climate of the British Isles might not seem like the best place to preserve human bodies through time, but a new scientific analysis of ancient bones reveals that Bronze Age Britain was a mummy hotspot. Specifically, archaeologists found that human remains had been preserved in various ways during the Bronze Age, a period lasting from about 2200 B.C. to 750 B.C. "The results demonstrate that Bronze Age populations throughout Britain practiced mummification on a proportion of their dead, although the criteria for selection are not yet certain," the researchers wrote.


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With Hurricane Joaquin, the Only Prediction Is Uncertainty

As Hurricane Joaquin strengthens over the Bahamas, forecasters are split on how badly the storm could batter the U.S. East Coast, if it even makes landfall at all. "We don't know what is actually going to be felt from Joaquin. It's too early — it's still sitting in the middle of the Bahamas," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.


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Does 'The Martian' Movie Do the Book Justice? Yes. Yes, It Does

The new movie, opening Friday, trades some of the book's nonstop danger for glorious Martian vistas and more NASA at work, and I'm not complaining. The movie "The Martian," is based on Andy Weir's book of the same name, and tells the story of an astronaut who is accidentally left behind on Mars and must struggle to survive. When watching "The Martian," all I could think was that the movie version of protagonist Mark Watney had it easy.


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'The Martian' and Reality: How NASA Will Get Astronauts to Mars

NASA wants the world to know that putting boots on Mars is not just a sci-fi dream. Setting up a crewed outpost on Mars is NASA's chief long-term goal in the realm of human spaceflight. Indeed, the space agency's operational robotic Mars craft — the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, and the orbiters Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) — can be seen as scouts for the human pioneers to come, NASA officials say.


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Student-built solar motorbikes hit the road in Kenya

Surrounded by motorbikes running on polluting fossil fuels, Omondi sits astride his solar-powered rechargeable motorcycle, which uses technology developed by students from the University of Nairobi. Charles Ogingo, Robert Achoge and James Ogola – all final year students – have built a system they call Ecotran, which captures the sun’s energy, stores it in batteries, and uses it to charge a motorcycle’s electric motor.

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Atlas rocket blasts off with Mexican communications satellite

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from a seaside launch pad in Florida on Friday to put a communications satellite into orbit for Mexico. The 195-foot (59-meter) tall rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, lifted off at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Perched on top of the rocket was the Boeing-built Morelos-3 communications satellite, a duplicate of a spacecraft lost during a Russian Proton rocket launch in May. It was the 100th launch for ULA since its formation in 2006, all of which have been successful.

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