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Deep Space Travel May Hasten Alzheimer’s Disease

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Astronaut

With as much as there is to do on this planet, one might think it would be enough to satisfy every whim and fancy. But there’s an entire universe out there that has barely been explored, and however many generations it takes, humans are going to make those kinds of trips. But hopefully with an all new stance on precautions.

For a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) exposed mice to varying degrees of radiation, including levels similar to those experienced by an astronaut flying to Mars. Lead researcher M. Kerry O’Banion, professor of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and his team studied the effects of high-mass, highly charged particles on neurodegeneration, focusing on the brain processes known to be a part of the development of Alzheimer’s. They did their research partly at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Long Island’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, which has the particle accelerators needed to smash matter and reproduce radioactive particles found in space.

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Listen To What The International Space Station Sounds Like

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Sometimes when I make a point to notice how quiet it is around me, I’ll find that it isn’t quiet at all. Bugs are the usual culprits, banding together for a thousands-strong symphony that I suspect would become increasingly maddening if that’s all I ever heard. It’s a good thing I’m not an astronaut, for the sake of both NASA and my sanity.

Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, has only been up there in orbit for less than two weeks, but he’s already a headline maker. He recently sent back a recording of the mechanical ambiance of how the ISS sounds to its astronaut inhabitants. Give it a listen here, before somebody releases the Auto-Tune remix.

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NASA’s New Mars Rovers Look Like Medieval Weapons

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NASA goes medieval! Over the past few years, NASA has made their rovers to look friendly and acceptable to human eyes. For example, the Mars Rover Curiosity almost looks like Pixar’s Wall-E. But NASA’s new design for an upcoming rover has a more medieval look, as it resembles a spiked battle mace.

Hedgehog

The Phobos Surveyor

Engineers and scientists from Stanford, MIT, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have designed new rovers called Phobos Surveyors, nicknamed “hedgehogs.” This rover will explore the Martian Moon of Phobos in the near future. The rover would deploy one or more mace-like ball rovers from its mothership, which will remain in orbit around the moon. It will have the ability to launch and leap across the moon’s surface to collect data and explore.

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Walt Disney Among Nine Artists Immortalized In Craters Named for Them

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craterFor the past ninety years, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been naming all of the celestial bodies found in our universe. The alphanumeric proper names all look like suitable passwords for important email accounts, but more common names do catch on for some. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a star, asteroid or planet being named. Sometimes it’s just a crater. C-R-A. A group of Mercury’s craters to be exact. T-E-R. Are you grasping on that one of these was named after the cr(e)ater of a very famous M-O-U-S-E? Try not to shriek at all the wordplay just then.

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been in Mercury’s orbit since March 2011, after years of flying by the planet. For nine of Mercury’s impact craters, the MESSENGER’s Science Team were allowed by the IAU to name them after time-spanning artists from the world over. “The MESSENGER team appreciates the timely approval by IAU of the names for this new list of impact craters,” says ESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Because these features are areas of active geological study by our team, the formal names will make it easier to communicate our findings to colleagues in the planetary sciences. More importantly, the naming of these features marks another opportunity to honor those on our planet who have advanced the arts across many eras and cultures.” The group joins 86 others named since MESSENGER’s first fly-by.

The most famous of the group is none other than Walt Disney (1901-1966), whose landmark work in animation and theme parks mean his name is probably spoken aloud in some capacity once every few milliseconds. I wonder if they’ll set up a Victrola to play “It’s a Smaller World Than Ours After All.” Speaking of music, Chicago blues maestro Muddy Waters (1915-1983) was also recognized, as were pianist and ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin (1868-1917) and European jazz musician Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969), responsible for the haunting scores for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Knife in the Water, among others.

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NASA’s New Spacesuit Prototype Will Take You To Infinity And Beyond

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Comparison

There’s been an ongoing back-and-forth conversation between real-life science and science fiction for decades. Star Trek gave us communicators, and we eventually got flip-open cell phones that looked an awful lot like them. During the run of Babylon 5, creator J. Michael Straczynski fielded inquiries from NASA scientists interested in someday using the design of the show’s Starfury fighters as the basis of real-life cargo loader craft. Now NASA has released a first look at their new spacesuit design, and it leaves you wondering: Just how many times have they watched Toy Story?

Dubbed the “Z-1,” the prototype was developed under the AES suit project, which is working to have a new “vacuum-compatible” suit design ready for use by no later than 2015. The Z-1 is described as a “soft exploration extravehicular activity (EVA) suit configuration.” As explained by Spacesuit Engineer Kate Mitchell, that means most of the Z-1 is made up of “pliable fabrics when unpressurized.” The Z-1 — and whatever iterations follow it until they settle on a final design — will be the first new spacesuit design for NASA since the 1992 introduction of the current EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit). There’s no word if the Buzz Lightyear dome and color scheme was intentional, and so far Star Command isn’t returning our calls.

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NASA Releases Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday Video

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It was a good run while it lasted. According to some conspiracy theorists, the world will come to an end on December 21st 2012 at the end of the Mayan calendar. But the U.S. Government and NASA want to assure people that we will all still be here on December 22nd. To convince naysayers, NASA released a video entitled “Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday” explaining why the world will not end. Check out the video below…

The video continues to explain why the Mayan calendar is more advanced than anything we have seen today in our modern world but also explains the cultural and mathematical differences between Mayan and Western ideals. The biggest misconception about the Mayan calendar is that it doesn’t end but rather it rolls over like a car’s odometer.