This week on Crave, we're back from CES with a look at some of the wackier stuff we spotted at the show. Then, Canadian astronaut Christopher Hadfield gives us a highly important grooming lesson on the safest way to clip our nails in outer space, and the Hal 9000 computer replica from ThinkGeek refuses to cooperate. … Read more
I love it when engineers show off.
NASA scientists, having apparently nothing better to do, have shot an image of the Mona Lisa to the moon by piggybacking it on laser pulses. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece was successfully received by an instrument aboard the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) some 240,000 miles away.
"This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," MIT's David Smith, head of the spacecraft's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), said in a release.
"In the near future, this type of simple laser communication might serve as a backup for the radio communication that satellites use. In the more distant future, it may allow communication at higher data rates than present radio links can provide." … Read more
Great audio can be expensive, but Ben Carter's ambitious Kickstarter project aims to make a serious dent in the price of quality turntables. A $150 pledge secures an Orbit belt-drive turntable, fitted with an Ortofon phono cartridge. As I write this blog, and just a few days after the Kickstarter project was launched, Carter has already passed the halfway mark to reaching his $60,000 goal!
I spoke with Carter on Thursday; he has a background in marketing and consulting, and Bob Hertig is handling the engineering for the project. Orbits will be manufactured by U-Turn Audio in the … Read more
A small X-ray telescope was boosted into orbit by an air-launched Pegasus XL rocket Wednesday, the first step in an ambitious low-cost mission to study supermassive black holes believed to be lurking at the cores of galaxies like Earth's Milky Way and probe the creation of heavy elements in the cataclysmic death throes of massive stars.
The innovative telescope, built around an extendable 33-foot-long Tinkertoy-like mast with nested X-ray mirrors on one end and sensitive detectors on the other, also will study the mechanisms responsible for stellar explosions and look for clues about what powers the energetic jets of … Read more
After only 15 minutes of play, I'm already disoriented and feeling queasy but I'm going back in; Hexagon is both dizzying and addicting.
Developed by Terry Cavanagh (known for VVVVVV), Hexagon throws you in an orbital endurance run where you must guide a triangle around a (you guessed it) hexagon and dodge collapsing obstacles. Sounds simple, right? Try surviving for even 20 seconds on your first couple of tries.
Each stage is separated by 10-second runs and themes itself after a shape. Each level throws faster, more-complex patterns to try and crush your three-sided friend. In addition to … Read more
It might be a while before 3D printers make their way into people's homes, but it's definitely going to be a really long time before the OrcaM Orbital Camera System becomes a household appliance. And if it ever comes to that, you're probably going to need a bigger house.
Developed by a German company called Nek (site is in German), the OrcaM uses a system of seven cameras to create 3D models of any object placed inside its "reconstruction sphere."
Currently, the machine is limited to objects that are no larger than 31.5 inches … Read more
China's main Space Post Office is actually on the ground in Beijing, but they're happy to route letters through the galaxy's only true "satellite" branch in orbit so you can bag a one-of-a-kind postmark.
Yes, thanks to cuts to NASA's funding, it seems the Chinese have now rocketed ahead of us in the postal space gimmick department. The idea is for space nuts to send e-mails to a computer aboard the Chinese spacecraft Tiangong-1, currently in orbit, which routes the message back to the main Space Post Office to be printed out, stuffed into a commemorative envelope with a special postmark, and sent on to its addressee.
The orbital philatelic experiment is meant to boost business for China's postal service, which has been suffering as people move online. Makes you wonder why the U.S. Postal Service didn't set up shop at Cape Canaveral years ago.… Read more
Almost 20 years to the day after it was launched into space to collect data on Earth's atmosphere and interactions with the sun, NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is coming back home--in pieces--and there's a higher than normal chance one of them will hit someone.
But before you run to grab your diamond and titanium alloy umbrella that I know you have somewhere in the back of the hall closet for just such an occasion, it's important to note that there's only a 1 in 21 trillion chance that a piece of the space junk will hit you specifically, according to an AP report. A NASA scientist apparently told the AP that there is a 1 in 3,200 chance that a piece of the satellite will hit someone on Earth, which is much higher than the 1 in 10,000 threshold NASA has adopted as an acceptable risk. That rule was put in place after the UARS satellite was launched in 1991.
CNET attempted to confirm the figure, but NASA's East Coast media headquarters is closed for the day. We've reached out through other channels, but did not immediately receive a response. I called U.S. Strategic Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, which also houses the Joint Space Operations Center that "works around the clock detecting, identifying, and tracking all manmade objects in Earth orbit, including space junk," according to a NASA release.
A communications officer there told me that she believed NASA had worked with another agency to come up with a risk model for the UARS re-entry. NASA often uses software called--in typical NASA naming style--ORSAT, for Object Re-entry Survival Analysis Tool, to figure these sorts of things out.
IBM has created what they're benignly calling "cognitive semiconductors," which are computers that can actually learn, think, and creatively process information. So, that sounds like a good idea, right? I mean, seriously, great work, IBM, but when one of your big backers is DARPA, you can't fool us. We know Skynet is upon us. Also, don't get caught with your patents down!Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (640x360) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS (640x360)… Read more