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NASA-Created Travel Posters For Real Exoplanets Make Us Want To Book A Trip

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If you’re a fan of GFR, there’s a good chance you grew up dreaming of leaving footprints in alien sand, watching a sun other than our own sink below a mysterious horizon. Even though the prospect of venturing beyond our homeworld still seems impossibly distant for most of us, it’s a dream that lingers. If you’re forever dreaming about posting #yolo from the crest of Olympus Mons, these lovely travel posters mocked up by NASA are only going to make things worse…because they represent exoplanets discovered by the Kepler telescope, real destinations that you could, if you happened to have a starship lying around, actually visit.

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Twice as big in volume as the Earth, HD 40307g straddles the line between ‘Super-Earth’ and ‘mini-Neptune’ and scientists aren’t sure if it has a rocky surface or one that’s buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. One thing is certain though: at eight time the Earth’s mass, its gravitational pull is much, much stronger.

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NASA Scientists Control Robotic Arm With Kinect And Oculus Rift

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NASA JACORobots 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.”

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Remote-Controlled Space Robots Will Work Better When They Can See The Future

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While remote-controlled robots are awesome and can do loads of tasks that are too difficult and dangerous for humans, there’s still the problem of time delay. The further away the robot, the longer the lag, which means that space rovers are affected most of all. By the time a warning message travels through space, one of our precious rovers could conceivably be at the bottom of a crater or a probe might be nestled in the arms of an alien (okay, that would be pretty cool). To address these concerns, the good folks at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been working on a predictive system that will make robot space exploration faster and safer.

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Juno Will Use Earth For A Gravitational Slingshot As It Heads To Jupiter

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Juno spacecraftEven though NASA has been crippled by the government shutdown, maintaining enough staff and operations to keep our ISS astronauts alive, its spacecraft continue on their missions, supporting the argument that robots and artificial intelligence are indeed smarter than humans. Today, spacecraft Juno will fly by Earth for a boost that will help it reach speeds of roughly 165,000 miles per hour as it heads toward Jupiter.

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Why Peanuts Are Good Luck For NASA Engineers

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When the Curiosity rover landed on Mars a few weeks ago, you may have noticed numerous jars of peanuts on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers’ control boards and workstations during their jubilant celebration. This led many to wonder why the engineers enjoyed so many jars of peanuts and why were they in little commemorative jars?