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Submission + - Laser Communication System Sets Record with Data Transmissions from Moon (

sighted writes: NASA reports that it has used a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 384,633 kilometers (239,000 miles) between the Moon and the Earth at a download rate of 622 megabits per second. The transmissions took place between a ground station in New Mexico and the LADEE robotic spacecraft now orbiting the moon.

Submission + - Mars Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars (

sighted writes: "NASA is announcing that analysis of a rock sample collected by the Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. The statement says that scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater last month. The announcement quotes Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program: 'A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment. From what we know now, the answer is yes.'"

Comment Lots more eyes than one (Score 3, Informative) 256

Nitpick with the summary: the rover is not 'one eyed'. It uses a bunch: That said, it does have that one big laser on its head: Robots on Mars with lasers. It doesn't get much better.

Comment Re:I don't understand this picture (Score 1) 32

Where do the rings on the upper half of the planet come from and why do they seem offset from the other rings?

Let's see if I can clearly put this into words: Those are the rings passing in front of the dark side of the planet. They're translucent. The light reflected from the sun-illuminated part of the rings to either is reflecting off the cloud-tops on the night side of the planet, through the rings, to the camera.

Comment The mission let kids select lunar pictures (Score 3, Informative) 39

One of the interesting parts of this mission is MoonKAM, which let grade school and middle school kids select targets on the lunar surface for the orbiters' cameras to inspect. It returned some pretty interesting (if low-res) images until a solar flare recently took the imaging system down. If you're interested, there's some more info about GRAIL: today's announcement from NASA, and a public lecture tomorrow with a live feed.

Submission + - Spectacular New Views of Saturn's Polar Vortex (

sighted writes: "Today the robotic spacecraft Cassini returned some jaw-dropping images of the odd hexagon in the planet's north polar region. The hexagon has been seen before, but the change of season has more fully revealed the feature in visible light. Cassini also zoomed in on the churning vortex at the north pole itself. The south pole features a similar maelstrom."

Comment Re:Props to submitter and editor (Score 4, Interesting) 180

So glad you found it useful, and thank you for saying so. If, however - just for the sake of familiarity - people still want a link to some random guy's website, here's my latest space-related project: Except it still doesn't have ads. Oh well, what can you do?

Submission + - Rover Finds Ancient Streambed on Martian Surface (

sighted writes: "NASA reports that its Curiosity rover mission has found evidence that a stream once ran vigorously — and for a sustained amount of time — across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is, of course, earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but NASA says this evidence, images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels, is the first of its kind."

Submission + - Nazi Buddha came from space (

another random user writes: An ancient Buddhist statue that was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s was originally carved from a highly valuable meteorite.

The researchers believe it was carved from a piece of the Chinga meteorite that fell in the border region of eastern Siberia and Mongolia about 15,000 years ago.

The debris from the crash was only discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, but the individual fragment from which the stature was carved was collected many centuries before.


Submission + - Spacecraft Departs Giant Asteroid En Route to Dwarf Planet (

sighted writes: "Today the robotic spacecraft Dawn, powered by its ion engines, left orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta and began its journey to the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The event happened to take place on the 35th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager 2 mission to the outer planets."

Real computer scientists like having a computer on their desk, else how could they read their mail?