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NASA's Garver Proposes Carving Piece Off Big Asteroid For Near-Earth Mining 110

MarkWhittington writes "According to a July 26, 2013 story in Space News, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver mused about what appeared to be a change to the space agency's asteroid snatching mission at the NewSpace 2013 conference. Apparently the idea is to send a robot to a larger asteroid than originally planned, carve out a chunk of it, and then bring it to lunar orbit for an crew of astronauts to visit in an Orion space ship. Garver's proposed change would widen the number of target asteroids and would test technologies important for asteroid mining. But it would also increase the complexity and certainly the cost of the asteroid mission. There are a lot of unanswered questions, such as what kind of mechanism would be involved in taking a piece of an asteroid and moving it? At the same conference Garver had hinted at a willingness to consider mounting a program of "sustainable" lunar exploration, as some in Congress have demanded, concurrent with the asteroid mission."

NASA Considers Putting an Asteroid Into Orbit Around the Moon 171

Zothecula writes "To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can't go to the asteroid, then the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission (PDF) to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission. Now, Keck researchers say NASA officials are evaluating the plan to see whether it's something they want to do. The total cost is estimated to be roughly $2.6 billion."

Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists 221

An anonymous reader writes "Cheap handheld terahertz scanners that do the same thing as those big bulky full-body scanners at the airport could be in your doctor's and dentist's office soon. The Semiconductor Research Corp. has successfully sponsored chip maker Texas Instruments in making cheap CMOS chips that do the same thing as those refrigerator sized full-body scanners at the airport. The resulting handheld versions can be tuned to look inside your teeth in the dentist chair and under you skin at the doctor's office. The best part is that terahertz rays are completely safe, unlike the X-rays used today by dentists and doctors which can cause cancer. Count me in!"

Prehistoric Gene Reawakened To Battle HIV 360

Linuss points out research published in PLoS Biology that demonstrates the reawakening of latent human cells' ability to manufacture an HIV defense. A group of scientists led by Nitya Venkataraman began with the knowledge that Old World monkeys have a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein that can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. They examined the human genome for any evidence of a latent gene that could manufacture such a protein, and found the capability in a stretch of what has been dismissively termed "junk DNA." "In this work, we reveal that, upon correction of the premature termination codon in theta-defensin pseudogenes, human myeloid cells produce cyclic, antiviral peptides (which we have termed 'retrocyclins'), indicating that the cells retain the intact machinery to make cyclic peptides. Furthermore, we exploited the ability of aminoglycoside antibiotics to read-through the premature termination codon within retrocyclin transcripts to produce functional peptides that are active against HIV-1. Given that the endogenous production of retrocyclins could also be restored in human cervicovaginal tissues, we propose that aminoglycoside-based topical microbicides might be useful in preventing sexual transmission of HIV-1."

Jet Stream Kites Could Power New York City 263

Damien1972 writes to tell us that researchers from the Carnegie Institution and California State University claim that a fleet of kites could harvest enough energy to run New York and other major cities, especially if they are affected by polar jet streams. "Using 28 years of data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction and the Department of Energy, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and Cristina Archer of California State University, Chico compiled the first global survey of wind energy available at high altitudes in the atmosphere. They found that the regions best suited for harvesting this energy align with population centers in the eastern U.S. and East Asia, although they note that 'fluctuating wind strength still presents a challenge for exploiting this energy source on a large scale.'"

Leveraging always beats prototyping.