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NASA Offers Bounty For Improved Asteroid Detection Algorithms 38

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dara Kerr reports at CNET that NASA is launching an 'Asteroid Data Hunter' contest to inspire the creation of algorithms that identify asteroids in images captured by ground-based telescopes. ... The winning solution must increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computer systems. 'Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun,' says Chris Lewicki. 'We are excited to partner with NASA in this contest to help increase the quantity and knowledge about asteroids that are potential threats, human destinations, or resource rich.' NASA's goal is to discover those unknown asteroids and then track and characterize them. For the contest, citizen scientists will be allowed to study images taken from ground-based telescopes to see if they can develop improved algorithms for identifying asteroids. If dangerous asteroids are found, NASA could determine if they'd be viable for a re-direction into a lunar orbit. 'For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills through the NASA Tournament Lab to solve tough problems,' said Jason Crusan, NASA Tournament Lab director. 'We are now applying our experience with algorithm contests to helping protect the planet from asteroid threats through image analysis.'"

Felix Baumgartner Prepares for Supersonic Skydive Attempt in New Mexico 77

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner has tempted fate with quite a few spectacular skydiving feats; now, he is preparing to be the first man to intentionally exceed the speed of sound by jumping from a balloon instead of staying inside a plane or a rocket. The jump is planned for Tuesday over New Mexico. National Geographic lists some of the various (deadly) things that could go wrong.

Tata Intends To Sell Air-Powered Car In India 398

Diggester writes "Tata Motors (an Indian car manufacturer) is changing things up with the first car to run on air, the Airpod. The Airpod's technology was originally created in France at Motor Development International but has since been bought by Tata in hopes of bringing it to the Indian consumer car market. With virtually zero emissions and at the cost of about a penny per kilometer, it is definitely one of the most environmentally and economically friendly vehicles in the world. The tank holds about 175 liters of compressed air that can be filled at special stations or by activating the on-board electric motor to suck air in from the outside. Costing about $10,000, this car could beat out most smart cars from the market." If flying cars aren't available, sucking cars seem like a nice stop-gap.

World's Largest Amateur Rocket Prepares For Second Attempt 76

Plammox writes "Last year, non-profit, volunteer-based Copenhagen Suborbitals failed at launching what they call the world's largest amateur rocket, because of a frozen LOX-valve. This year, the sea launch platform 'Sputnik' has become self-propelled, eliminating the need for their home-built submarine(!). Sputnik is on its way into the Baltic Sea right now and a launch attempt is expected on Friday. However, one of the founders warns that even if ignition should occur, it might very well look like this."

Using Fusion To Propel an Interstellar Probe 155

astroengine writes "We've heard of nuclear pulse propulsion being the ideal way to travel through interstellar space, but what would such a system look like? In the 1970's, the British Interstellar Society's (BIS) Project Daedalus was conceived to fire pellets of fusion fuel out the rear of an interstellar space probe that were ignited using a powerful laser system. The 'pulsed inertial confinement fusion' wouldn't be 'vastly different from a conventional internal combustion engine, where small droplets of gasoline are injected into a combustion chamber and ignited,' says Richard Obousy, Project Leader and Co-Founder of Project Icarus. Now, building on the knowledge of Daedalus, the researchers of Project Icarus have prepared a nifty animation of a fusion pulse propulsion system in operation on the original Daedalus vehicle."

New Aluminum-Ice Rocket Propellant Tested 130

eldavojohn writes "With the problem of moving conventional rocket fuel to the Moon and Mars on their minds, researchers from Purdue and Penn State successfully tested and demonstrated the use of aluminum-ice (ALICE) as fuel. In a paper from last August they outlined how it would work (PDF), and now they know it does. also has more information on the paper and how nano-scale aluminum functions as a fuel."

Irish Astronomers Investigate Sky Explosion 157

puroresu writes "Astronomers in Ireland have appealed to the public to contact them with eyewitness accounts of a massive explosion in the sky over the country. From the BBC: 'Astronomy Ireland chairman David Moore said: "So far, reports have been registered by residents in west Cork, Kerry, Cavan and as far north as Donegal, thus suggesting that this spectacular event may have been witnessed by people all over the country. In the past two decades there have been two major explosions in the skies over Ireland. When we investigated these, we were able to conclude that one was a Russian military satellite that exploded over the country, and the other was a rock from space."'"

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall