Now that the Shuttle has been retired, new plans for NASA include trips to Mars with Curiosity in November and beyond. During a Cape Canaveral announcement tomorrow, NASA will chat up its Jupiter mission. The unmanned Juno will be launched soon and should hit the planet by July 2016. It will gather data regarding Jupiter's origin and evolution.
We don't know how we missed this one, but it seems that Tim Pryde's final project for the University of Dundee is Don-8r (Donator.) He was designed to panhandle to support the venture and help to provide funding to the Dundee Science Center. From the looks of the vidder, no one can resist the little beggar.
Humberto Campins, the University of Central Florida professor who discovered ice on asteroids last year, is now working on a new NASA project. The $8 million OSIRIS-REx is unmanned and will be launched in 2016 to map and take pieces of asteroid 1999 RQ36 with its robotic arm. After returning to Earth to turn over the samples, it will then go into orbit around the sun for other experiments. NASA is hoping to gain knowledge about our planet and track asteroids in the future.
While you await the release of Disney's Cars 2, which will be out June 24, you can at least play with its star, Fisher Price's RC version of Lightning McQueen with Geotrax Radio Control. This special Radiator Springs Edition claims to be 2X faster than wimpier Geotrax cars and includes phrases from Owen Wilson to show your superiority over non-verbal RC vehicles.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that President Obama has approved sending Predator drones to Libya, to help support the rebels there. Since they can provide better targeting, the hope is that they can reduce the amount of civilians and insurgents being killed. While there is not much news about the situation, it is believed that they are already in place.
(Update: It would seem that rebels have overtaken Misrata after a successful drone attack on a multiple rocket launcher that had been used against civilians there. We will try to continue to update and look forward to your comments.)
He's out! The ISS crew finally released Robonaut 2 from his packing crate last week and attached him to a pedestal in the Destiny research module. They even let him tweet, "It feels great to be out of my SLEEPR (crate,) even if I can't stretch out just yet. I can't wait until I get to start doing some work!"
R2 will commence with some maintenance chores and the hope is that eventually he can do a bit of spacewalking, er, hovering.
GM has been busily working on the EN-V, a battery-run vehicle that does its own thing if you are too tired or drunk to run it yourself. The car has a wireless antenna and GPS sensors that connect with a network to become autonomous. Chat it up with other En-v owners or push a button and it parks itself (six of them can fit in a standard space.)
Not only can the vehicle run itself, it is in contact with others so it will not collide with them. Of course, the EN-V doesn't chat with current cars, so they must have their own roadways. With all the potholes that are in disrepair in our neighborhood, we don't see that happening any time soon.
Japan sent an unmanned cargo ship to the ISS Jan. 22. The Kounotori 2 (the name means 'white stork') was launched atop an expendible H-2B rocket and hooked up Thursday with the space station. This is the second voyage for the Kounotori line as the first went up Sept., 2009. Astronauts used a robotic arm to catch the craft. After about 2 months, they will send it back toward earth filled with trash. It will meet its demise on the return trip by the heat of re-entry.
Northern Illinois University and DOER Marine today plans to send its 28 ft. long submarine under the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, a place too treacherous for humans. It was designed to check out conditions below where the ice is eroding because of warm water. The cigar-shaped sub flattens and expands once in the water and can shoot images as well and take measurements of the ice, water and sediment.
Because it runs on power from a generator, it could stay down there indefinitely but a fail-safe was built in so that it could be hauled up by cable, just in case. Their first test drive will occur in Lake Tahoe March 11.
When NASA finally gets around to heading towards Mars in 2012, the Curiosity rover will have a Radiation Assessment Detector equipped to check out the atmosphere to see if it is safe for humans and other living things. It consists of a charged particle telescope with 3 detectors and a cesium iodide calorimeter. The RAD will also be able to better determine if there is any life on the planet.