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Mars Rover's Epic Trek For the Crater Endeavor 145

Smivs writes "The BBC reports that NASA is to send its Mars rover Opportunity on a two-year trek to try to reach a crater called Endeavour. The robot will have to move about 11km to get to its new target — a distance that would double what it has already achieved on the planet. Endeavour is much bigger than anything investigated to date, and will allow a broader range of rocks to be studied. Detailed satellite imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will help pick out the best route ahead; and new software recently uploaded to Opportunity will enable the rover to make its own decisions about how best to negotiate large rocks in its path. Opportunity has just emerged from the 800m-wide Victoria Crater. Endeavour, by comparison, is 22km across."
Data Storage

New Speed Record For Magnetic Memory 26

Iddo Genuth writes "An experiment performed at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Germany has uncovered that a spin-torque switching of a nanomagnet is as fast as what is permitted according to the fundamental laws of physics' limit. This method of switching, also named ballistic switching, could allow for increased speeds in future non-volatile magnetic memories."

Bad Signs For Blu-ray 1276

Ian Lamont writes "More than six months after HD-DVD gave up the ghost, there are several signs that Sony's rival Blu-ray format is struggling to gain consumer acceptance. According to recent sales data from Nielsen, market share for Blu-ray discs in the U.S. is declining, and Sony and its Blu-ray partners are trying several tactics to boost the format — including free trial discs bundled into magazines and cheap Blu-ray players that cost less than $200."
The Military

US Congress Funds Laser Weapons 423

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports that the US Congress is funding laser weapons for use in the near future. Low-power lasers called 'dazzlers' are already being used in Iraq to temporarily reduce a person's vision. High-power laser weapons would allow precision attacks that minimize civilian casualties. From the Post: 'The science board said tactical laser systems could be developed for broader use because they "enable precision ground attack to minimize collateral damage in urban conflicts." The report suggested, for example, that "future gunships could provide extended precision lethality and sensing." The board also proposed using lasers to protect against rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned airborne vehicles by blasting them out of the sky. Last month, the Army awarded Boeing $36 million to continue development of a high-energy laser mounted on a truck that could hit overhead targets. But deployment is not expected until 2016, even if all goes well.'"

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