New NASA technology to help drones land safely

  NASA scientists have developed a new software that will help drones automatically spot the best places to crash-land in case of an emergency, without hurting anyone on the ground. Increasing numbers of drones in the sky raises the risk to people and property below being hit when these unmanned aerial vehicles develop mechanical problems. Now, Patricia Glaab, an aerospace technologist at NASA Langley Research Centre in the US, and colleagues have developed a crash-landing software for drones. During eight test flights, the technology successfully spotted safer landing sites such…

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NASA Releases New Image of Mysterious ‘Bright Spots’ on Ceres

For a brief period last spring—before Pluto sucked up all the “dwarf planet” mojo—Ceres was the most important minor planetary body in the solar system (as far as Earth was concerned). In March, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully entered into orbit around the 587-mile diet planet, providing scientists with an unparalleled up-close view of the largest object in the main Asteroid Belt. While most of Ceres’s glamour shots were full of gray rocky whatever, it also boasted an unexpected series of intriguing “bright spots.” The nature of these mysterious glowing spots,…

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‘Blowing my mind’: New breathtaking NASA photographs show icy mountains on Pluto

Mankind’s first close-up look at Pluto did not disappoint on Wednesday. The pictures showed ice mountains on Pluto about as high as the Rockies and chasms on its big moon Charon that appear six times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Especially astonishing to scientists was the total absence of impact craters in a zoom-in shot of one otherwise rugged slice of Pluto. That suggests that Pluto is not the dead ice ball many people think, but is instead geologically active even now, its surface sculpted not by collisions with cosmic…

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New Horizons: Spacecraft survives Pluto encounter

Data in its first call home since Tuesday’s flyby suggest the spacecraft experienced no upsets as it hurtled past the icy world at 14km/s (31,000mph). The signal came through a giant dish in Madrid, Spain – part of a Nasa network of communications antennas. The message took four hours 25 minutes to traverse 4.7 billion km of space. The tension mounted as scientists and engineers at mission headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, waited for telemetry information. So there was joy and relief when the signal was received at 01:52 BST; scientists…

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Nasa Challenge Invites Public Inputs About Long-Term Stay on Mars

  The US space agency has sought ideas from people about what is necessary to ensure a continuous human presence on the Red Planet. The new Nasa challenge invites the public to write down ideas, in detail, for developing the elements of space pioneering necessary to stay on Mars for longer period. This could include shelter, food, water, breathable air, communication, exercise, social interactions and medicine. “Participants are also encouraged to consider innovative and creative elements beyond these examples,” the US space agency said in a statement. The first three…

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Nasa’s Curiosity Rover Data Boosts Hope for Liquid Water on Mars

Research from Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity has strengthened hopes that liquid water may exist near the surface of Mars, astrophysicists said on Monday. The clue comes from the presence in the soil of calcium perchlorate, they said. This is a type of salt that is highly absorbent and lowers the freezing point of water so that it remains liquid. The compound is a signature of “very salty salt water a brine,” according to the study, appearing in the scientific journal Nature. “When night falls, some of the water vapour in…

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Show Nasa There’s No Place Like Home on Earth Day

Just like last year’s global selfie, Nasa is inviting people across the globe to share pictures and videos of their favourite places on Earth using social media – and tag them #NoPlaceLikeHome – on Earth Day that falls on April 22. “At Nasa, we explore lots of planets and there is a lot to love: the mountains on Mars, the rings of Saturn, the 99.77-degree axial tilt of Uranus. But how about a little something for the home team? It’s Earth Day. Let’s explore our home planet, too,” the US…

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