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Postby Boikat » Sun May 25, 2008 6:53 pm

Phoenix Lands on Mars.

So far, so good. At this time, the lander is powering up and checking itself out. The first pictures should be arriving relatively shortly.
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Postby Bmat » Sun May 25, 2008 7:04 pm

I hope it has a successful mission. I wonder what it will find.
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Postby NeoScribe » Thu May 29, 2008 7:05 pm

Those pictures were way cool. They even put a DVD on the little dude for atronauts to watch when if the ever get to Mars.
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Postby Qray » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:12 am

Granted, Phoenix is part of NASA's "do more for less cost" programs, but wouldn't you think they would have equipment on the lander that could tell the difference between salt and ice?

Images of the Dodo-Goldilocks trench at Yahoo.

Mars team ponders whether lander sees ice or salt

By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
Mon Jun 16, 2008


LOS ANGELES - Is the white stuff in the Martian soil ice or salt? That's the question bedeviling scientists in the three weeks since the Phoenix lander began digging into Mars' north pole region to study whether the arctic could be habitable.

Shallow trenches excavated by the lander's backhoe-like robotic arm have turned up specks and at times even stripes of mysterious white material mixed in with the clumpy, reddish dirt.

Phoenix merged two previously dug trenches over the weekend into a single pit measuring a little over a foot long and 3 inches deep. The new trench was excavated at the edge of a polygon-shaped pattern in the ground that may have been formed by the seasonal melting of underground ice.

New photos showed the exposed bright substance present only in the top part of the trench, suggesting it's not uniform throughout the excavation site. Phoenix will take images of the trench dubbed "Dodo-Goldilocks" over the next few days to record any changes. If it's ice, scientists expect it to sublimate — or go from solid to gas, bypassing the liquid stage — when exposed to the sun because of the planet's frigid temperatures and low atmospheric pressure.

"We think it's ice. But again, until we can see it disappear...we're not guaranteed yet," mission scientist Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said Monday.

Even if it's not ice, the discovery of salt would also be significant because it's normally formed when water evaporates in the soil.

Preliminary results from a bake-and-sniff experiment at low temperatures failed to turn up any trace of water or ice in the scoopful of soil that was delivered to the lander's test oven last week. Scientists planned to heat the soil again this week to up to 1,800 degrees, said William Boynton of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Phoenix landed in the Martian arctic plains on May 25 on a three-month, $420 million mission to study whether the polar environment could be favorable for primitive life to emerge. The lander's main job is to dig into an ice layer believed to exist a few inches from the surface.

The project is led by the University of Arizona and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lander was built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Last edited by Qray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Qray » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:45 am

Spitzer Space Telescope discover clutch of 'super-Earths'

Artist's concept of a fledgling solar system observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Image

NANTES, France (AFP) - European scientists on Monday said they had located five 'super-Earths', each of them between four and 30 times bigger than our planet, in a trio of distant solar systems.

The discovery suggests that at least one third of stars similar to our own Sun host these difficult-to-detect celestial bodies, multiplying previous estimates by five.

It also brings astronomers closer to finding planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets, that could potentially duplicate the conditions that gave rise to life on Earth.

"In a year or two, it is likely that we will find habitable planets circling small stars" such as the Sun, said Setphane Udry, a researcher at Switzerland's Geneva Observatory and a member of the team that made the discovery.

Three of the five 'super-Earths' -- so-called because they are several times the mass of our own planet -- orbit a star known as HD 40307 some 42 lights away, the scientists reported.

One light-year is roughly equivalent to 9.5 trillion kilometres (6 trillion miles).

They have 4.2, 6.7, and 9.4 times the mass of the Earth, and orbit their sun in periods of 4.3, 9.6, and 20.4 days, respectively.

The rapid orbits make the super-Earths easier to detect -- but it also means that they are probably gaseous balls of fire inhospitable to life as we know it.

The first exoplanet was detected in 1995, and less than 280 had been catalogued before today's findings, unveiled at an astronomy conference in Nantes, France.

But a new generation of powerful instruments is almost certain to expand the list rapidly, say scientists.

The recent batch of exoplanets were all spotted with the High-Accuracy Radial-Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), a 3.6-metre telescope and spectograph perched atop La Scilla mountain at the southern edge of Chile's Atacama Desert.

HARPS, sometimes called the "planet hunter", has uncovered 45 super-Earths since it began operation in 2004.

"Clearly these planets are only the tip of the iceberg," says Mayor. "The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS shows that about one third of solar-like stars have either super-Earth or Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."

Distant planets, even big ones, are too small to be directly observed, and can only be detected by measuring their impact on the movement of the stars they orbit.

"The mass of the smallest planets is 100,000 times smaller than that of the star, and only the high sensitivity of HARPS made it possible to detect them," says co-author Francois Bouchy, from the Astrophysics Institute of Paris.

All of the exoplanets unveiled Monday have masses four to 30 times greater than Earth's, and orbits at least seven times shorter. The further from the star, the harder they are to observe.

At the same conference, astronomers announced the discovery of two other planetary systems, also with the HARPS spectrograph.

In one, a super-Earth orbits the star HD 181433 every 9.5 days. The same star also hosts a huge, Jupiter-like planet that circles every three years.

The second system contains a fiery planet 22 times the size of Earth that circumnavigates its sun every four days, and a Saturn-like sphere with a three-year orbit.

"It is probable that there are many other planets present -- not only super-Earths, but Earth like-planets that we cannot yet detect," said Stephane Udry, also a researcher at the Geneva Observatory.
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Postby Dark Knight » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:32 pm

Most powerful atom-smasher: World destroyer?

World to end in August (maybe)

The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on next month.

But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures.

Will it, they wonder, spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot, dead lump?

Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials Cern - some of whom have been working for a generation on the US$5.8 billion ($7.6 billion) collider.

"Obviously, the world will not end when it switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge Atlas particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets.

"If I thought this was going to happen, I would be well away from here."

The collider is a ring of supercooled magnets 27km in circumference attached to huge barrel-shaped detectors. The ring, which straddles the French and Swiss border, is buried 100m underground.

The machine isn't expected to begin test runs until next month, and ramping up to full power could take months.

But once it is working, it is expected to produce some startling findings.

Scientists plan to hunt for signs of the invisible "dark matter" and "dark energy" that make up more than 96 per cent of the universe, and hope to glimpse the elusive Higgs boson, a so-far undiscovered particle thought to give matter its mass.

The collider could find evidence of extra dimensions, a boon for superstring theory, which holds that quarks, the particles that make up atoms, are infinitesimal vibrating strings.

The theory could resolve many of physics' unanswered questions, but requires about 10 dimensions - far more than the three spatial dimensions our senses experience.

The safety of the collider, which will generate seven times as much energy as its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years.

Physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million - long odds, but about the same as winning some lotteries.

But a Cern team this month issued a report concluding that there is "no conceivable danger" of a cataclysmic event and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with Cern, including one Nobel laureate, has endorsed its conclusions.

Critics of the collider filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was "a significant risk that ... operation of the collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet".

One of the plaintiffs, vphysicist and lawyer Walter L. Wagner, said Cern's safety report, released on June 20, had several major flaws, and his views on the risks of using the particle accelerator had not changed.

Yesterday US Justice Department lawyers representing the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The two agencies have contributed US$531 million to building the collider, and the Science Foundation has agreed to pay US$87 million of its annual operating costs.

"There is an army of scientists who know what they are talking about and are sleeping soundly,' said project leader Evans.

- AP


from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story ... d=10519409
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Postby Qray » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:03 am

Water on Mars Confirmed?
By Joe Pappalardo
July 30, 2008


Recent findings raise hopes that Thursday's Phoenix Mars Mission press conference could reveal big news, insiders say. Space community eager to hear results from lander’s sampling of ice trench.

In a discovery that could qualify as one of the most important in the history of space exploration, NASA’s Phoenix Mission may have confirmed the presence of water ice on the planet, Popular Mechanics has learned. The scheduling of a press conference for Thursday at 2 p.m. Eastern by NASA and the University of Arizona has raised hopes in the space community that scientists will announce the breakthrough. When pressed for details, a spokesperson for the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory refused to elaborate beyond saying that the Phoenix team would unveil new findings from the ongoing robotic mission to Mars. If the rumor holds true, it would be the first direct confirmation of water ice beyond Earth.

Data from recent missions to Mars has been building toward a confirmation of the presence of water ice. However, “this would be the first time we held it in our hands, so to speak,” says Bryan DeBates, a senior aerospace education specialist at the Space Foundation. Evidence from other locations in the solar system, including Earth’s moon, Saturn’s Enceladus moon and Jupiter’s Europa moon, have strongly hinted at the presence of water—NASA confirmed a liquid lake on Saturn’s Titan moon on Wednesday—but no direct observation of water has been made.

If the presence of water is confirmed on a small patch near the lander, the volume of ice on the Martian surface could be “extraordinary,” says Mary Bourke, a planetary research scientist with the Planetary Science Institute in Tuscon, Ariz. The landing site was chosen because the porosity of the soil appeared to lend itself to a build-up of water ice—and that type of soil is widespread on Mars. The presence of widespread water would make any mission to establish a manned Martian base far more feasible. (Of course, the presence of water would also greatly increase the likelihood that life exists, or once did exist, on the planet.)

Staff operating the Phoenix Lander from mission control in Arizona have been closely watching a patch of what they believed to be ice that was uncovered as the lander descended. The Phoenix Mars Lander has been scraping samples and dropping them into a spectrometer that heats the samples to determine their chemical composition. On Sunday, the Phoenix team changed the way it dug to reduce friction that prematurely heated the samples. On Tuesday, NASA scientists stated that the surface of the patch, dubbed “Snow Queen,” has changed between June and July. A camera mounted on a robotic arm captured those changes, which include 4-in. cracks and a visibly rougher surface texture.

Sources within NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hinted that the new findings could reveal details of the atmosphere as well as the ground—perhaps indicating that researchers have learned new lessons about the dynamics of the Martian environment by the way the exposed material reacts to the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. The fractures could have appeared as ice sublimated off the surface. It’s also possible that temperature changes made the surface crack. However, any findings about the atmosphere could have come independently of observations of the ice surface, since there are atmospheric instruments such as laser radar on Phoenix, so any atmospheric findings could be separate from the water ice issue. For some Mars researchers, that would be fine. “Research into Mars’ atmosphere really needs to be beefed up,” Bourke says. “Any information about it could be invaluable.”

Also, two European orbiters circling Mars have recently captured geological features that indicate the planet once had standing water for thousands of years, including river valleys and 13,000-ft. waterfalls. Next step after confirming the ice would be finding out if life ever existed—or still does, in some deep Martian aquifer. “NASA’s mantra has been ‘Follow the ice to find life,’” says DeBates. And if life does not exist there, earthlings may import some. “Establishing a Mars colony is going to be a lot easier to maintain, having water there,” DeBates says.
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Postby Dark Knight » Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:42 pm

Poof! Scientists closer to invisibility cloak
2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects. Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects.

The findings, by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, led by Xiang Zhang, are to be released later this week in the journals Nature and Science.

The new work moves scientists a step closer to hiding people and objects from visible light, which could have broad applications, including military ones.

People can see objects because they scatter the light that strikes them, reflecting some of it back to the eye. Cloaking uses materials, known as metamaterials, to deflect radar, light or other waves around an object, like water flowing around a smooth rock in a stream.

Metamaterials are mixtures of metal and circuit board materials such as ceramic, Teflon or fiber composite. They are designed to bend visible light in a way that ordinary materials don't. Scientists are trying to use them to bend light around objects so they don't create reflections or shadows.

It differs from stealth technology, which does not make an aircraft invisible but reduces the cross-section available to radar, making it hard to track.

The research was funded in part by the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation's Nano-Scale Science and Engineering Center.

from http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gnrH ... gD92FPIOG0
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Intel cuts electric cords with wireless power system

Postby Qray » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:49 am

Wireless electricity? In the article they say "it turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields. So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field."

Not being all that knowledgable on the subject, I was under the impression that not only was the human body affected by magnetic fields, but that the human body created it's own magnetic field.

Does anybody more versed in this subject know?

Intel cuts electric cords with wireless power system.

Thu Aug 21, 5:31 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Intel on Thursday showed off a wireless electric power system that analysts say could revolutionize modern life by freeing devices from transformers and wall outlets.

Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner demonstrated a Wireless Energy Resonant Link as he spoke at the California firm's annual developers forum in San Francisco.

Electricity was sent wirelessly to a lamp on stage, lighting a 60 watt bulb that uses more power than a typical laptop computer.

Most importantly, the electricity was transmitted without zapping anything or anyone that got between the sending and receiving units.

"The trick with wireless power is not can you do it; it's can you do it safely and efficiently," Intel researcher Josh Smith said in an online video explaining the breakthrough.

"It turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields. So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field."

Examples of potential applications include airports, offices or other buildings that could be rigged to supply power to laptops, mobile telephones or other devices toted into them.

The technology could also be built into plugged in computer components, such as monitors, to enable them to broadcast power to devices left on desks or carried into rooms, according to Smith.

"Initially it eliminates chargers and eventually it eliminates batteries all together," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said of Intel's wireless power system.

"That is potentially a world changing event. This is the closest we've had to something being commercially available in this class."

Previous wireless power systems consisted basically of firing lightning bolts from sending to receiving units.

Smith says Intel's wireless power system is still in an early stage of development and much research remains before it can be brought to market.

Rattner spoke of technological transformations he expects by the year 2050.

"You'd like to cut the last cord," Smith said.

"It's great that we have wireless email and wireless internet and stuff like that but at the end of the day it would be nice to have wireless recharge as well."
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Re: Science News

Postby The Master » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:04 pm

I believe Tesla experimented a lot with wireless transmission.
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Re: Science News

Postby Bmat » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:16 pm

The idea of getting rid of the jumble of wires under my desk really appeals. I tried using wire control tubes to combine those I could, but the wires are still a mess, and our cat keeps chewing them despite my covering them as much as I can.

I struggled with them a couple nights ago since my printer didn't work. I thought by reseating the plugs that it might help. No luck. So I unplugged the printer and got out my old printer. As I was struggling to get the wires sorted so I could collect the new printer wires, I discovered that I'd been reseating the plugs for the speakers only. So back went the old printer, out came the new printer, all the wires found again and reseated. The printer works. Meanwhile I'd wasted time and sweat just to get the printer working.

Yeah, I am really interested in wireless electricity.
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Re: Intel cuts electric cords with wireless power system

Postby Dark Knight » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:19 pm

Qray wrote:Wireless electricity? In the article they say "it turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields. So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field."

Not being all that knowledgable on the subject, I was under the impression that not only was the human body affected by magnetic fields, but that the human body created it's own magnetic field.

Does anybody more versed in this subject know?


There are alot of people who say it is, but them the expects say it is not, but then years later we may find out that it is effected... Years later after using a product we find it is harmful and then get round to banning it...
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