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Vasimr VX-200 Reaches Full Power Efficiency

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  about 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Ad Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR® VX-200 rocket prototype demonstrated its highest power efficiency and performance so far in tests, which ended Friday November 19 at the company’s Houston laboratory. Last week’s results met the efficiency milestone set by the company as it specifies the requirements for the VF-200 flight engine for the International Space Station. The VX-200 is the full power laboratory prototype that provides the technical basis for the design of the flight hardware."
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Researchers trap antimatter atoms

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  about 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "In the movie Angels and Demons, scientists have solved one of the most perplexing scientific problems: the capture and storage of antimatter. In real life, trapping atomic antimatter has never been accomplished, until now. “This is a major discovery. It could enable experiments that result in dramatic changes to the current view of fundamental physics or in confirmation of what we already know now,” says Rob Thompson, head of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary and co-investigator in the ALPHA collaboration, one of two teams competing to gain a better understanding of antimatter and our universe."
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UK Astronomers Find Snooker Star System

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  about 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "UK Astronomers have discover an unusual star system which looks like, and may even once have behaved like, a game of snooker. They looked at a binary star system which is 1670 light years away from Earth. NN Serpentis is actually a binary star system consisting of two stars, a red dwarf and a white dwarf, which orbit each other in an incredibly close, tight orbit. By lucky chance Earth sits in the same plane as this binary star system, so we can see the larger red dwarf eclipse the white dwarf every 3 hours and 7 minutes."
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Cosmic curiosity reveals ghostly dead quasar

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  about 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "While sorting through hundreds of galaxy images as part of the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project two years ago, Dutch schoolteacher and volunteer astronomer Hanny van Arkel stumbled upon a strange-looking object that baffled professional astronomers. Two years later, a team led by Yale University researchers has discovered that the unique object represents a snapshot in time that reveals surprising clues about the life cycle of black holes."
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Solar Shield Protecting the North American Power

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Every hundred years or so, a solar storm comes along so potent it fills the skies of Earth with blood-red auroras, makes compass needles point in the wrong direction, and sends electric currents coursing through the planet’s topsoil. The most famous such storm, the Carrington Event of 1859, actually shocked telegraph operators and set some of their offices on fire. A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warns that if such a storm occurred today, we could experience widespread power blackouts with permanent damage to many key transformers. A new NASA project called “Solar Shield” could help keep the lights on."
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NASA and DARPA Announce a "100 Year Starship"

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "The Director of NASA's Ames Center, Pete Worden has announced an initiative to move space flight to the next level. This plan, dubbed the "Hundred Year Starship" has received $100,000 from NASA and $ 1 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Ames Director went on to expound how these efforts will seek to emulate the fictional starships seen on the television show Star Trek. He stated that the public could expect to see the first prototype of a new propulsion system within the next few years."
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How to Deflect an Asteroid with Today's Technology

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart is among an international group of people championing the need for the human race to prepare for what will certainly happen one day: an asteroid threat to Earth. Schweickart said the technology is available today to send a mission to an asteroid in an attempt to move it, or change its orbit so that an asteroid that threatens to hit Earth will pass by harmlessly. What would such a mission entail?"
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The Milky Way Galaxy Might Be Square

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Just like being stuck inside and not being able to see what the outside of your house looks like, we’re trapped inside the Milky Way galaxy and aren’t able to see its complete structure. Most of us have this vision of a circular, spiral galaxy with gracefully curving spiral arms. Nope, says a group of astronomers from Brazil. The Milky Way might be square. Not like a box, but, in places, the spiral arms are straight rather than curved, giving the Milky Way a distinctly square look. And our solar system sits right on one the straightest parts of an outer arm."
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Mysterious pulsar with hidden powers discovered

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Observations with NASA's Chandra, Swift, and Rossi X-ray observatories, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and ESA's XMM-Newton have revealed that a slowly rotating neutron star with an ordinary surface magnetic field is giving off bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. This discovery may indicate the presence of an internal magnetic field much more intense than the surface magnetic field, with implications for how the most powerful magnets in the cosmos evolve."
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Saturn's Rings Formed from Large Moon Destruction

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "The formation of Saturn's rings has been one of the classical if not eternal questions in astronomy. But one researcher has provided a provocative new theory to answer that question. Robin Canup from the Southwest Research Institute has uncovered evidence that the rings came from a large, Titan-sized moon that was destroyed as it spiraled into a young Saturn."
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Martian Methane Gets Even More Mysterious

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Mars' atmosphere consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains small amounts of oxygen and water, as well as trace amounts of methane. The methane — although small in percentage — might be the most intriguing because the source of this very short-lived gas remains a mystery. And the mystery has just gotten a little more puzzling, as the lifetime of methane in Mars atmosphere appears to be even shorter than scientists has originally thought. Using observations from the Mars Global Surveyor — which functioned in orbit around for almost ten years — a group of scientists from Italy have determined the methane in the atmosphere of Mars lasts less than a year."
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Solar Power Could Soon Compete with Oil

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "A new process that simultaneously combines the light and heat of solar radiation to generate electricity could offer more than double the efficiency of existing solar cell technology, say the Stanford engineers who discovered it and proved that it works. The process, called "photon enhanced thermionic emission," or PETE, could reduce the costs of solar energy production enough for it to compete with oil as an energy source."
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What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Two new papers based on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan’s surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized “methane-based life.”"
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Signs of water found on Saturnian moon Enceladus

Matt_dk Matt_dk writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Matt_dk (1306071) writes "Scientists working on the Cassini space mission have found negatively charged water ions in the ice plume of Enceladus. Their findings, based on analysis from data taken in plume fly-throughs in 2008 and reported in the journal Icarus, provide evidence for the presence of liquid water, which suggests the ingredients for life inside the icy moon. The Cassini plasma spectrometer, used to gather this data, also found other species of negatively charged ions including hydrocarbons."
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