Hubble captures first-ever predicted exploding star
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the image of the first-ever predicted supernova explosion. The reappearance of the Refsdal supernova was calculated from different models of the galaxy cluster whose immense gravity is warping the supernova’s light.
Many stars end their lives with a with a bang, but only a few of these stellar explosions have been caught in the act. When they are, spotting them successfully has been down to pure luck – until now. On 11 December 2015 astronomers not only imaged a supernova in action, but saw it when and where they had predicted it would be.
Congress: NASA must not only go to Europa, it must land
The Congressional budget deal to fund NASA for the fiscal year 2016 includes $1.63 billion for planetary science, of which $175 million is designated for the “Jupiter Europa clipper mission.” It has a target launch date of 2022.
But the new budget legislation does not stop there. It further stipulates, “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept.” In other words, it’s against the law to fly the mission to Europa without a lander.
NASA’s using PlayStation VR to train its space robots
Virtual Reality tricks the human brain. According to a Road to VR report, NASA and Sony have been working together on Mighty Morphenaut, a PlayStation VR demo that allows operators to practice control over a humanoid in space. The experience recreates the robot’s environment, essentially a simulated space shuttle, so that a user can learn how to get the humanoid to complete a task or move around obstacles from a safe distance.
NASA’s longtime efforts to build a dexterous humanoid for space explorations led to the rise of Robonauts — dexterous humanoids that are designed to assist or even replace humans in space. According to their site on Robonauts, “one advantage of a humanoid design is that [it] can take over simple, repetitive, or especially dangerous tasks on places such as the International Space Station.” While the space agency has made strides in building the machine and sending it to the ISS (Robotnaut 2 was successfully launched into space in 2011), it continues to work on ways to control the humanoid from a distance.
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