Jupiter is set to give Mars and Saturn a run for their money when it comes to being the most talked-about planet in the coming years. The news that Jupiter’s moon Europa contains water vapor plumes helped solidify the Solar System’s biggest planet as a particularly important exploration target, especially when it comes to the search for life. A number of missions, including Juno, which is scheduled to arrive in 2016, have Jupiter in their sights, including the ESA’s JUICE (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer) probe, which is due to launch in 2022. Now it seems that Russia will join the fun, presumably by linking up with the JUICE mission by sending a probe to explore Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.
(arrives at this story late because I was too busy staring at that which this story is about)
Oh, hello there. I was just getting my mind blown out of my ass by these outstanding representations of some of the horror genre’s most recognizable locations, created entirely out of paper. The project/exhibit is called “Horrorgami,” and it is the work of kirigami artist Marc Hagan-Guirey through his Paper Dandy company. That’s the literal explanation. How I’d really like to describe this series is just to begin drooling and pointing while stamping my foot over and over. Perhaps it isn’t the most mature way to being talking about something, but then my maturity is flimsier than the paper used to create these incredible pieces.
Driverless cars and solar-powered cars are nothing new these days, even if they’re not mainstream (yet). But Ford, good ol’ Detroit-based Ford, has ended 2013 and begun 2014 with a couple of major announcements and innovations that may shift associations with the company from the classic American truck to cutting-edge, power-saving vehicles.
You may have heard of the Ford Fusion, which comes in many models. The S and SE have all the fun gadgets, including voice-activation, cameras, sensors, lane tracking, and parking and driving assistance, and get about 22 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway. The Hybrid version gets 47 miles per gallon and comes with a customizable SmartGauge (SmartEVERYTHING, see?) that keeps track of pretty much everything.
Robots in space — two great tastes that taste great together. They might go to Mars ahead of the humans to set up facilities, 3-D printed robotic spiders might build spacecraft, and robots might make isolated astronauts less lonely. Yet another robotics advancement at NASA pairs humans and robots, allowing humans to control the actions of robotic counterparts using a good ol’ Microsoft Kinect and something called the Oculus Rift.
The Kinect sensor provides the position tracking, while the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset allows for rotational tracking and the first-person experience one gets when playing a game in virtual reality. When the user has the view he needs, he can perform tasks which control the real-time movements of robotic arm. NASA has been using a JACO robotic arm developed by Kinova, a Canadian company that specializes in rehabilitation and research. The arm has three fingers, six degrees of freedom, and is designed to represent a “new generation of lightweight portable robotic manipulators.”
We’ve been highlighting several ongoing science fiction marathons this week, but those will be drawing to a close with the end of the holidays. If you still want to keep your DVR stocked with science- and science fiction-related programming, you’ll want to figure out where the hell TCM is on your cable or satellite. Beginning tomorrow night, and continuing throughout the month of January, TCM will be filling their Friday-night lineup with classic movies that “delve into issues of scientific discovery, exploration and alteration, with some side trips into science fiction.”
Sure, that description sounds kind of broad, so let’s get specific. Each of the Friday-night events will focus on different scientific themes, ranging from “Scientists on a Mission” to “Great Inventors” to “Mad Scientists.” And as we all know, mad science is the very best science. Tomorrow night’s themes are “Nobel Prize Winners” and one of our favorites here at GFR, “Rocket Science.”
Given my fascination with the universe, my love for Carl Sagan, and my hopes that the reboot of Cosmos will take viewers by storm, it’s only appropriate that my last post of the year would be about space — and more specifically, about a planetary scientist who arranged a pretty awesome photo op of Earth from the Cassini spacecraft.
Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini Imaging Science team and professor of astrophysics and planetary scientists, is following in Carl Sagan’s footsteps, especially when it comes to appreciating the significance of Earth as the “pale blue dot.” The phrase refers to a photograph taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 probe on its way out of the Solar System, nearly four billion miles from Earth. At Sagan’s request, NASA had the probe turn around and take a photo of Earth, which Sagan then elegantly wrote about. While the photo provides some perspective on the enormity of the universe and the relative smallness of Earth, the original image wasn’t actually that good, and Porco has been wanting to update that image for a long time.