Friday, April 30, 2010
The Air Force's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2—designed to attack global targets at Mach 20—has disappeared nine minutes into its first test flight, just after separating from its booster. Contact was lost, and it hasn't been found yet.
The Falcon was supposed to splash down in the Pacific Ocean after a 30-minute, 4,100-nautical-mile test flight. Not to be confused with the unmanned X-37B space shuttle—which launched on April 22—the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 blasted off last week from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Minotaur IV rocket.
Instead of completing its flight, however, the Air Force lost all contact with the aircraft. According to DARPA's Johanna Spangenberg Jones:
Preliminary review of data indicates the HTV-2 achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20. Then contact with HTV-2 was lost. This was our first flight (all others were done in wind tunnels and simulations) so although of course we would like to have everything go perfectly, we still gathered data and can use findings for the next flight, scheduled currently for early 2011.
Just that: The telemetry data signal vanished, and the aircraft is nowhere to be found. Being a semi-secret project, nothing else has been disclosed. The only logical explanations are 1) a massive structural failure, 2) Nazi UFOs or 3) somebody lost it in a beer garden. I will pick number two for the time being.
The hypersonic glider is built by Lockheed Martin under a DARPA program. It's designed to launch conventional weapons against any target in the planet in just one hour. This capability makes it a perfect substitute for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Unlike ICBMs loaded with conventional heads, the plane can't be mistaken with a nuclear missile, so it won't make other nuclear powers to hit the red button.
This ad for Latinworks' Parental Control Bar urges parents to protect their kids from the seedier sides of the internet. But if you're going to organize your folders like that, what the hell do you expect?
I dont know about the Parental Control Bar but that picture took some serious skill. haha
Water ice and organic molecules have been discovered on an asteroid's surface for the first time. Researchers glimpsed the ice on 24 Themis, a frosty rock that could be the key to understanding how Earth became the blue planet.
"What we've found suggests that an asteroid like this one may have hit Earth and brought our planet its water," said astronomer Humberto Campins of the University of Central Florida, the lead of one of the two separate teams that reported similar findings April 28 in Nature.
While there is plenty of debate around how Earth got its oceans, this new evidence suggests some of the water came from extraterrestrial sources. Here's how it may have happened: More than four billion years ago, after a massive collision between Earth and another large object created the moon, our planet was completely dessicated. Then, during the Late Heavy Bombardment period that followed, during which lots of asteroids hit Earth, the ice that the objects carried became our store of water.
"The more we find in our asteroid belt objects that do have water, the more convinced we are that that was a possible process to rehydrate the earth," said NASA astrobiologist Mary Voytek.
The ice on Themis 24 could be a sort of time capsule from the early solar system and could be similar to the ice that may have arrived on Earth from asteroids during the Heavy Bombardment.
"The ice that we see there, right now, is sort of related to the ice that could have come from the main asteroid belt that hit us about 4 billion years ago," astronomer Henry Hsieh of Queen's University Belfast told NPR. "It gives us a way to kind of probe the cousins of the asteroids that hit us and probably gave us water in the early stages of the Earth's formation." Hsieh wrote a commentary that accompanied the stories in Nature.
The presence of ice and organic molecules on the surface of an asteroid is the latest in a string of discoveries that collectively indicate water ice is a more common substance than we might have thought. In just the past few years, scientists have confirmed the presence of ice at the moon's north pole as well as beneath the surface of Mars.
That is crazy stuff. Imagine if we actually found out how the world started.
What happens when you take an iPhone up in an F16 fighter jet for a few dog fights, bringing it up to speeds of 9Gs? The pixels start to melt off the screen. Badass.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft has cancelled Courier, the folding, two-screen prototype tablet that was first uncovered by Gizmodo.
We're told that on Wednesday, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer Microsoft execs informed the internal team that had been working on the tablet device that the project would no longer be supported. Courier had never been publicly announced or acknowledged as a Microsoft product.
It appeared from the leaked information last year that a Courier prototype was probably near to completion. The combination of both touch- and pen-based computing was compelling. Perhaps the strong launch of Apple's iPad, currently the only available "mobile tablet" from a major vendor, caused Ballmer to reassess the commitment of Microsoft in a soon-to-be-crowded market.
We contacted Microsoft, who confirmed that Courier will not go into production. Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications Frank Shaw told us:
At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.
It is a pity. Courier was one of the most innovative concepts out of Redmond in quite some time. But what we loved about Courier was the interface and the thinking behind it—not necessarily its custom operating system.
In fact, it makes sense for Microsoft to continue to trim away splinter versions of its core operating systems and focus on Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 unity across all its devices. Hopefully some of the smart thinking we have seen in Courier will find its way into Microsoft's tablets, whether they're powered by Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7.
If we hear anything more, we'll let you know. As always, feel free to contact me if you have additional details.
This is "elastic water," a substance researchers have created in Japan that's 95% water yet retains a jelly-like texture that's perfect for sticking tissues together.
The stuff is made by adding two grams of clay and "a small quantity of some organic matter" to regular old water. And if they're able to figure out how to increase its density, it could produce eco-friendly plastic materials. Also, I bet it feels real weird when you squeeze it.
I wonder how it keeps its shape from such a small amount of the clay they are adding. It is still awesome.
The new camera will sit on top of Curiosity's mast filming at ten frames per second in high definition 3D video. It will share space with the Mastcam 100, a fixed 100-millimeter camera (above) and the Mastcam 34, which offers a wider angle at a fixed 34-millimeter (below). The 3D eyes were originally scrapped from the project because of budget cuts. Cameron talked with Bolden and made the perfect case: It will make the public connect better with the mission. Cameron is right. NASA should do a better work at marketing their science to normal people. High definition three-dimensional video could be perfect to transmit the magnificent desolation of Mars' surface. The best thing next to actually going there.
This is awesome, there will be new perspective of looking at Mars.
Four years in the making, the Acadalus tripod head uses motors and an inclinometer to relieve you of fiddling and make sure your shots are absolutely, positively straight. Of course, that perspectival perfection comes at a price: $5000.
Not everyone needs instant leveling at the touch of a button. But for those who do, Acadalus CPS-H1 will do the trick. PDN Gear Guide verifies that the Acadalus, which is made in Switzerland and modeled after flight simulators, levels shots perfectly at the touch of a button, as promised.
In addition to the $5000 Acadalus studio kit, the 2800 mAH 18.5 V lithium ion battery will run you $500, a worthy investment if you want to use its self-leveling powers when you're shooting with your tripod on uneven ground. And compared to the rest of your setup, that's probably pocket change anyway. [Acadalus via Wired via Crunchgear]
Pretty cool idea, I like the fact it levels it self out so you can get some fast camera shots.