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Earth

Asteroid Day On June 30 Aims To Raise Awareness of Collision Risks 8 8

Posted by samzenpus
from the extinction-level-event dept.
benonemusic writes: International organizers--including Queen's Brian May, an astrophysicist--have organized the world's first Asteroid Day on June 30, as a means to raise awareness for future collision risks and encourage actions to minimize the threats from such events. "If we can track the trajectories of asteroids and monitor their movement in our solar system, then we can know if they are on a path to impact Earth," former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart told the organizers of Asteroid Day in a statement. "If we find them early enough, we can move them out of Earth's orbit, thus preventing any kind of major natural disaster."
Space

The Underfunded, Disorganized Plan To Save Earth From the Next Giant Asteroid 84 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the how's-that-space-program-coming-along dept.
New submitter citadrianne sends a story about the beginnings of our asteroid defense efforts, and how initial concern over an asteroid strike wasn't sustained long enough to establish consistent funding: Until a few decades ago, the powers that be didn't take the threat of asteroids very seriously. This changed on March 23, 1989, when an asteroid 300 meters in diameter called 1989FC passed within half a million miles of Earth. As the New York Times put it, "In cosmic terms, it was a close call." After this arguably close brush with total annihilation, Congress asked NASA to prepare a report on the threat posed by asteroids. The 1992 document, "The Spaceguard Survey: Report of the NASA International Near-Earth-Object Detection Workshop," was, suffice it to say, rather bleak.

If a large NEO were to hit Earth, the report said, its denizens could look forward to acid rain, firestorms, and an impact winter induced by dust being thrown miles into the stratosphere. ... After reports from the National Research Council made it clear that meeting the discovery requirement outlined in the Congressional mandate was impossible given the lack of program funding, NEOO got a tenfold budget increase from 2009 to 2014. Yet it still faces a number of difficulties. A program audit released last September described the NEOO program as a one-man operation that is poorly integrated and lacking in objectives and oversight.
ISS

A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension 292 292

Posted by timothy
from the harsh-news dept.
MouseR writes with bad news about this morning's SpaceX launch: About 2:19 into its flight, Falcon 9 exploded along stage 2 and the Dragon capsule, before even the stage 1 separation. Telemetry and videos are inconclusive, without further analysis as to what went wrong. Everything was green lights. This is a catastrophe for SpaceX, which enjoyed, until now, a perfect launch record. TechCrunch has coverage of the failure, which of course also means that today's planned stage one return attempt has failed before it could start; watch this space for more links. Update: 06/28 15:06 GMT by T : See also stories at NBC News, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press (via ABC News). According to the Washington Post, what was a catastrophe for this morning's launch is only a setback for the ISS and its crew, rather than a disaster: A NASA slide from an April presentation said that with current food levels, the space station would reach what NASA calls “reserve level” on July 24 and run out by Sept. 5, according to SpaceNews. [NASA spokeswoman Stephanie] Schierholz said, however, that the supplies would last until the fall, although she could not provide a precise date. Even if something were to go wrong with the SpaceX flight, she said, there are eight more scheduled this year, including several this summer, “so there are plenty of ways to ensure the station continues to be well-supplied.” Of note: One bit of cargo that was aboard the SpaceX craft was a Microsoft Hololens; hopefully another will make it onto one of the upcoming supply runs instead.

Elon Musk has posted a note on the company's Twitter channel: "Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data."
Earth

Weather Promising for Sunday Morning SpaceX Launch 49 49

Posted by timothy
from the ask-the-north-koreans dept.
USA Today reports that the weather looks good for Sunday morning's planned launch at 10:21, Florida time (14:21 GMT) of SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule, loaded with a docking adapter intended for future manned-crew access to the International Space Station. An excerpt: "The forecast calls for a 90% chance of weather good enough to permit SpaceX's 208-foot Falcon 9 rocket to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during an instantaneous launch window. ... "This is actually pretty cool, because it does play right into our next Crew Dragon program," [Hans] Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for mission assurance, said of the docking adapter in a separate news briefing. "It's something that we bring up for our own future, and so we're really motivated to bring this up." Related: astroengine points out that as part of this launch, SpaceX will make another attempt at landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform off the coast of Florida after sending the Dragon cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. Although SpaceX is hoping to achieve something the rocket industry has never done before (true usability of rocket engines, cutting costs), it's not the only game in town — Blue Origin, ULA and Airbus all have rocket return desires.
Space

Why Didn't Voyager Visit Pluto? 98 98

Posted by timothy
from the personal-spat dept.
Flash Modin writes: NASA built the twin Voyager spacecraft for a rare planetary alignment that put Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune within reach at once. Originally, Voyager 1 was programmed to see Pluto in 1986, but managers targeted Saturn's planet-like moon Titan instead. That choice made Pluto impossible by vaulting Voyager 1 from the orbital plane. Interestingly, Voyager 2, which couldn't reach Pluto, made the case for New Horizons by revealing Neptune's moon Triton as a kidnapped Pluto. "I'm very glad that they chose not to go to Pluto in 1986," says New Horizons head Alan Stern. "We'll do a better job at Pluto with modern instruments than they would have, and they did a much better job at Saturn..."
Science

Protesters Block Effort To Restart Work On Controversial Hawaii Telescope 295 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-look-from-here dept.
sciencehabit writes: An attempt to restart construction on what would be one of the world's largest telescopes was blocked yesterday, after state authorities escorting construction vehicles clashed with protesters blockading the road to the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano. Officers from Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and construction workers for the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), turned back from the summit shortly after noon Wednesday, citing concerns for public safety after finding the road blocked by boulders. The withdrawal followed several hours of clashes with Native Hawaiian protesters blockading the road, culminating in the arrests of 11 men and women, including several protest organizers. The protesters have said the $1.4 billion TMT would desecrate sacred land.
NASA

Touring NASA's Space Shuttle Cockpit Trainer 18 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the almost-as-complex-as-the-crap-flightsim-fans-use dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Now that the space shuttles have been retired, NASA has been shutting down and cleaning out all of the equipment dedicated to keeping them in service. One such tool was the Crew Compartment Trainer II, a full-size replica of a space shuttle cockpit. Astronauts trained on it to become familiar with the operation of many onboard systems. Just before it was removed, Ars got a chance to tour it, and took a ton of pictures in the process. Quoting: "The forward windows are surprisingly small, and visibility dead ahead is limited to a very narrow section of the window. Both the pilot and commander have fighter-style HUDs (heads-up displays), which are used mainly during landing to keep them lined up and on target with the runway. ... Bloomfield walked me through a few procedures, and it was fascinating how complex the shuttles were in some areas and how primitive they were in others. The on-board computers of course received numerous updates throughout the vehicles' lives, but even in their final iteration they wouldn't have won any speed awards."
Space

SpaceX Breaks Down Its Rocket Landing Attempts 72 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the third-time's-a-charm dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Twice now, SpaceX has attempted to land one of its rockets on a barge in the ocean after it delivered a payload to orbit. Each attempt came very close, and provided some fascinating imagery. In a new post on their website, SpaceX explains where they're at with rocket landing technology, and what went wrong with the earlier trials: "That controlled descent was successful, but about 10 seconds before landing, a valve controlling the rocket's engine power (thrust) temporarily stopped responding to commands as quickly as it should have. As a result, it throttled down a few seconds later than commanded, and—with the rocket weighing about 67,000 lbs and traveling nearly 200 mph at this point—a few seconds can be a very long time. With the throttle essentially stuck on 'high' and the engine firing longer than it was supposed to, the vehicle temporarily lost control and was unable to recover in time for landing, eventually tipping over." They believe they've solved the issues that cropped up in the earlier tests, and they're looking forward to the next attempt, which will happen on Sunday if the weather cooperates.
Space

Black Hole Awakens After 26 Years 58 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-back-to-sleep dept.
schwit1 writes: For the first time since 1989, the black hole in V404 Cygni, a system comprising a black hole and a star, has reawakened, suddenly emitting high energy outbursts beginning on June 15. The outbursts are probably occurring because the black hole is gobbling up material that has fallen into it. While the 1989 outburst helped astronomers gain their first understand of the behavior of a black hole in a star system, this outburst will help them understand how such systems evolve and change over time. The European Space Agency (ESA) reports: "First signs of renewed activity in V404 Cygni were spotted by the Burst Alert Telescope on NASA's Swift satellite, detecting a sudden burst of gamma rays, and then triggering observations with its X-ray telescope. Soon after, MAXI (Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image), part of the Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station, observed an X-ray flare from the same patch of the sky. These first detections triggered a massive campaign of observations from ground-based telescopes and from space-based observatories, to monitor V404 Cygni at many different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum."
Space

OneWeb Secures "Largest Ever" Rocket Acquisition For Satellite Internet Launch 45 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the sending-them-up dept.
Mickeycaskill writes: Virgin, Airbus and Qualcomm-backed satellite Internet venture OneWeb has acquired 65 rockets and $500 million in funding to launch its satellites by 2019. OneWeb has partnered with Airbus to produce 900 microsatellites which will provide "affordable", fast, low-latency Internet to remote parts of the world and to ships, planes and oil rigs. It has also been suggested the network will be a cheaper way for mobile operators to expand coverage in rural areas. Other partners include Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Coca-Cola and Totalplay, all of whom have committed financial, technical or manufacturing support to the project.
Space

Stellar Rejuvenation: Some Exoplanets May Get Facelifts 29 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-look dept.
astroengine writes: Astronomers may have discovered an exoplanet that has found the elixir to planetary youth, knocking billions of years off its age. Until now, stellar rejuvenation has been pure conjecture, but after studying a white dwarf star called PG 0010+280, it turns out that one very interesting explanation for an excess in detected infrared radiation may be down to the presence of an exoplanet that was given a facelift. "When planets are young, they still glow with infrared light from their formation," said Michael Jura of the University of California, Los Angeles, co-author of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal. "But as they get older and cooler, you can't see them anymore. Rejuvenated planets would be visible again." This rejuvenation happens when stellar material shedding from a dying red giant star falls onto an exoplanet, causing heating and making it appear younger.
Mars

DARPA Is Already Working On Designer Organisms To Terraform Mars 136 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-bacteria dept.
MarkWhittington writes: Space visionaries dream of a time when human beings will not only settle Mars, but will terraform the Red Planet into something more Earth-like, with a breathable atmosphere, running water, and a functioning biosphere. Evidence exists that Mars was more or less Earth-like billions of years ago before the atmosphere leached away into space and the water became frozen under the ground and at the poles. Terraforming Mars is decades away from the beginning and probably centuries away from the end. But DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is already genetically engineering organisms that will help turn the Red Planet blue, according to a story in Motherboard.
The Almighty Buck

The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher 937 937

Posted by samzenpus
from the rent-is-too-damn-high dept.
jones_supa writes: Skyrocketing rents and multiple roommates — these are the kinds of war stories you expect to hear in space-constrained cities such as New York and San Francisco. But the rental crunch has been steadily creeping inland from coastal cities and up the economic ladder. Bloomberg takes a look at the vicious cycle that keeps rents spiraling higher. People paying high rents have a harder time saving for a down payment, preventing tenants from exiting the rental market. Low vacancy rates let landlords raise rents still higher. Developers who know they can command high rents (and sales prices) are spurred to spend more to acquire developable land. Finally, higher land costs can force builders to target the higher end of the market. The interesting question is how long can this last before we reach a level that is not affordable to the majority of the demographic that is being serviced.
Mars

Elon Musk Probably Won't Be the First Martian 167 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-musk-to-mars dept.
pacopico writes: In a new biography on him, Elon Musk goes into gory details on his plans for colonizing Mars. The author of the book subsequently decided to run those plans by Andy Weir, the author of The Martian. Weir's book is famous for its technical acumen around getting to and from The Red Planet. His conclusion is that Musk's technology, which includes the biggest rocket ever built, is feasible — but that Musk will not be the first man on Mars. The interview also hits on the future of NASA and what we need to get to Mars. Good stuff. Weir says, "My estimate is that this will happen in 2050. NASA is saying more like 2035, but I don't have faith in Congress to fund them."
Internet Explorer

HP Researchers Disclose Details of Internet Explorer Zero Day 49 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-see-if-the-Won't-Fix-tag-can-withstand-PR dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers at HP's Zero Day Initiative have disclosed full details and proof-of-concept exploit code for a series of bugs they discovered that allow attackers to bypass a key exploit mitigation in Internet Explorer. The disclosure is a rarity for ZDI. The company typically does not publish complete details and exploit code for the bugs it reports to vendors until after the vulnerabilities are fixed. But in this case, Microsoft has told the researchers that the company doesn't plan to fix the vulnerabilities, even though the bugs were serous enough to win ZDI's team a $125,000 Blue Hat Bonus from Microsoft. The reason: Microsoft doesn't think the vulnerabilities affect enough users.

The vulnerabilities that the ZDI researchers submitted to Microsoft enable an attacker to fully bypass ASLR (address space layout randomization), one of the many mitigations in IE that help prevent successful exploitation of certain classes of bugs. ZDI reported the bugs to Microsoft last year and disclosed some limited details of them in February. The researchers waited to release the full details until Microsoft fixed all of the flaws, but Microsoft later informed them that they didn't plan to patch the remaining bugs because they didn't affect 64-bit systems.
The Internet

SpaceX and OneWeb -- Same Goal, Different Technology and Strategy 54 54

Posted by timothy
from the up-in-the-air-all-the-same dept.
lpress writes: OneWeb has announced that Airbus will manufacture their Internet-connectivity satellites and told us more about their plans and progress. Both OneWeb and their competitor SpaceX have the same goal — global Internet connectivity and backhaul using satellite constellations, but their technologies and organizational strategies are different. SpaceX will use many more satellites than OneWeb, but they will be smaller, shorter-lived, cheaper and orbit at a lower altitude. They are also keeping more of the effort in-house. This is competitive capitalism at its best — let's hope both succeed.
The Military

The US Navy's Warfare Systems Command Just Paid Millions To Stay On Windows XP 192 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another? dept.
itwbennett writes: The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,' said Steven Davis, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. And that reliance on obsolete technology is costing taxpayers a pretty penny. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy's communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
Sony

Sony Releasing New 1TB PlayStation 4 In July 98 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-storage dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Known as the 1TB PS4 Ultimate Player Edition (or PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player 1TB Edition depending on who you're talking to), Sony is launching a new PlayStation 4 next month. With the ever-growing market for downloadable content, it's difficult to have too much disk space. Recognizing this, Sony is doubling the size of the largest capacity PS4. The 1TB console will launch next month in the US, Asia and Europe, and the announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft announced a 1TB version of its Xbox One. Gamers in Japan will be able to get their hands on the console by the end of June, but the rest of the world will have to wait until July 15. There's no word on pricing, but Sony has detailed a few other changes that have been made to this version of the console.
Space

Mauna Kea Telescope Construction Slated To Resume 65 65

Posted by timothy
from the you've-got-to-see-the-bigger-picture dept.
After an earlier halt to the work of constructing the "world's most advanced and powerful telescope" (and subsequent loss of support from an organization acting on behalf of native Hawaiians,) the Thirty Meter Telescope is again in "on again" mode. From the Associated Press article as carried by U.S. News & World Report: The Mauna Kea site provides a clear view of the sky for 300 days a year, with little air and light pollution. The telescope project was developed as a collaboration between U.S. and Canada universities and the national institutes of Japan, China and India. Gov. David Ige in April said the Thirty Meter Telescope board is legally entitled to "use its discretion to proceed with construction." He said he respected the rights of protesters to appeal in court.