cunniff (264218) writes "Remarkable statistics from the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii — 22% (+/- 8%) of stars have an Earth-sized planet in its habitable zone. From the press release, UC Berkley graduate student Erik Petigura says, "What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing,"
This, of course, raises the Fermi paradox again — if alien life is common, why haven't we seen it yet? This study will be used to spark further investigation, including proposals for space telescopes which might be able to image nearby Earth-sized planets." Link to Original Source top
cunniff (264218) writes "According to a press release sent out today, the Keck Observatory on top of Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, has discovered the first "Goldilocks" exoplanet — a rocky Earth-class planet within the liquid water zone of its parent star:
The new planet, known as Gliese 581g, is at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface... Gliese 581g has a mass 3 to 4 times that of the Earth and an orbital period of just under 37 days. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with a definite surface and that it has enough gravity to hold on to an atmosphere, according to Vogt.
Here we present a model with multiple levels of non-linear dynamic adaptive components based directly on the known or suspected responses of neurons within the visual motion pathway of the fly brain. By testing the model under realistic high-dynamic range conditions we show that the addition of these elements makes the motion detection model robust across a large variety of images, velocities and accelerations.
It is claimed in the paper that "The implementation of this new algorithm could provide a very useful and robust velocity estimator for artificial navigation systems." Additionally, the paper describes the algorithm as extremely simple, capable of being implemented on very small and power-efficient processors.
Best of all, the entire paper is public and hosted via a service that allows authenticated users to give feedback." Link to Original Source
cunniff writes "As has been discussed several times, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has a camera with sufficient resolution to image the Apollo lunar landing sites. Today, they posted the first results. Images of all the landing sites are there, with Apollo 14 being the current highest resolution — the astronaut tracks between the lander and the ALSEP package are even visible!
From the article: "In the current collection of images the best feature discrimination is in the Apollo 14 scene (astronaut tracks and ALSEP) even though the highest resolution picture covers the Apollo 16 site. This counter-intuitive result clearly shows that increased illumination (high signal) is a very significant factor in the true resolution of a picture."
It is anticipated that even higher resolution photos will follow in the coming weeks." top
cunniff writes "Several "geek" sites over the past few weeks have had stories about Steve Eves' quest to launch the largest scale model rocket ever. Today, it launched successfully in Maryland. The site with the original story has video of the launch and successful recovery." Link to Original Source