March 01, 2015

Carnival of Space 395

The Carnival of Space 395 is up at Everyday Spacer.

Examiner - Scientists mull how to find life on Europa

Ever since the Europa mission had been given the official nod of approval by NASA, scientists have been giddy with excitement at the prospect of exploring a new world where life might reside. The likely model for the mission is the Europa Clipper, which will orbit Jupiter and fly by the moon multiple times. According to a Tuesday story in the New Scientist, researchers are mulling over how to use the Europa Clipper to search for life.

Ordinarily, detecting life on Europa using a remote sensing satellite would be problematic at best. Whatever life that might exist on Europa would reside in the subsurface ocean, deep beneath the ice crust, warmed by the tidal forces exerted by Jupiter. Accessing that ocean would require a lander with a drill that would penetrate the ice crust.

However, in 2013, data gathered by the Hubble space telescope suggested that geysers of water from the interior ocean were escaping through vents in the ice crust.

NASA is planning the next round of planetary missions (Mark Wittington |

While attention has been focused on a multi-billion dollar mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, NASA is planning a number of new planetary missions. Most are grouped under the Discovery Program, small-scale missions with a cap of $450 million, and the New Frontier Program, which has a cap of $1 billion, according to a Tuesday story in Spaceflight Now.

If IPO can raise $100 million then 5 mile full scale Hyperloop will start construction in 2015

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), has announced that construction for a passenger-ready Hyperloop will begin next year.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, also known as HTT, is a research company formed using a crowd collaboration approach (a mix of team collaboration and crowdsourcing) to develop a transportation system based on the Hyperloop concept, which was envisioned by Elon Musk in 2013

A five-mile stretch of the Hyperloop system will be built in a new "sustainable 21st Century town" midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco called Quay Valley, which is also set to be built in 2016.

Wired has reported that HTT is looking at an open auction IPO offering to raise the money. HTT is looking to raise $100 million to build the test track (the full version is projected to cost between $7 and $16 billion).

Hyperloop as envisioned by Elon Musk was to develop a high speed, intercity transporter using a low pressure tube train which would reach a top speed of 800 miles per hour (1,300 km/h) with a yearly capacity of 15 million passengers

Lower Body Exoskeleton - Audi Chairless Chair part of exoskeleton for worker trend

Audi is testing a new technology that eases many assembly activities: the so-called “chairless chair.” This high-tech carbon-fiber construction allows employees to sit without a chair. At the same time, it improves their posture and reduces the strain on their legs.

* Three prototypes in use on assembly lines in Neckarsulm

* Carbon-fiber construction supports employees in assembly work

Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles. They produced about 1.75 million luxury cars in 2014. They have 11 production facilities in 9 countries.

The chairless chair eases many assembly activities. This high-tech carbon-fiber construction allows Audi employees to sit without a chair. At the same time, it improves their posture and reduces the strain on their legs.

Rossi states that 1 megawatt energy catalyzer is being used for commercial heat production

E-catworld reports that Rossi has stated that the 1 megawatt energy catalyzer (ecat) has a unit that is being used by a customer for production heat.

There has been constant assertions that Rossi is a fraud and scam artist.

Russian Prof Parkhomov has recently claimed to have replicated the Rossi E-Cat. Parkhomov and published fully open research. Others are racing to replicate and extend the work.

JC Renoir posted these questions, and Rossi provided the answers.

Q: Can you say now if the 1 MW plant is working? A: Yes

Q: Is it already producing heat in the factory of the Customer? A: Yes

Q: Is the Customer making its production using the heat made by the 1 MW plant? A: Yes

There is an andrea rossi website with newer pictures of the newer 1 MW plants. (H/T NBF reader Alainco)

February 28, 2015

Brain Organoids

A new method for growing human brain cells could unlock the mysteries of dementia, mental illness, and other neurological disorders.

Researchers have used brain organoids for an investigation of microcephaly, a disorder characterized by small brain size, with Andrew Jackson of the University of Edinburgh. Using cells derived from a patient with microcephaly, the team cultured organoids that shared characteristics with the patient’s brain. Then the researchers replaced a defective protein associated with the disorder and were able to culture organoids that appeared partially cured.

This is just the beginning, says Lancaster. Researchers such as Rudolph Jaenisch at MIT and Guo-li Ming at Johns Hopkins are beginning to use brain organoids to investigate autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy. What makes cerebral organoids particularly useful is that their growth mirrors aspects of human brain development. The cells divide, take on the characteristics of, say, the cerebellum, cluster together in layers, and start to look like the discrete three-dimensional structures of a brain. If something goes wrong along the way—which is observable as the organoids grow—scientists can look for potential causes, mechanisms, and even drug treatments.

China getting three to five times as many submarines each year compared to the USA

China is building some "fairly amazing submarines" and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

Mulloy said the quality of China's submarines was lower than those built by the United States, but the size of its undersea fleet had now surpassed that of the U.S. fleet. A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines.

In its last annual report to Congress about China's military and security developments, the Pentagon said China had 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

The US Navy has a 30 year shipbuilding plan and there are Department of Defense (DoD) and Navy guidance documents. The USA is plans to get 2 to 3 submarines per year for the next 20 years.

Congressional Report of China Navy Modernization

Here is a report on China submarine acquistions.

If China went from 52 subs in 2012 to more than 71 in early 2015 then China must have gotten about 10 per year in 2013 and 2014. China's military budget is increasing at about 10 to 15% per year for the next ten years or more. This means that China can sustain a 10+ submarine per year acquisition rate indefinitely.

Child policies will determine if China's working age population drops 12% by 2050 or increases 5%

Across China, only one million eligible families applied to have a second child under the newly relaxed policy, just a third of the number authorities had expected.

“A lot of women working in high-competitive jobs look like they are less likely to have a second child,” Professor Zheng ZhenZhen of the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Institute of population and labor statistics said.

Some experts are calling for an accelerated removal of restrictions on a second child, warning that the country’s birthrate is moving towards a dangerously low level.

A poll taken place in five provinces in China, including Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing showed it doesn’t matter if families already had a child, over 30 percent said they wouldn’t have a second child.

A report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also known as CASS, said the fertility rate in China is at a dangerously low level, at 1.4 children per woman.

This number is close to the global warning of a low fertility trap, which could result in an ageing population and a labor shortage. Experts are calling on the government to fully lift all restrictions to have a second child, and the sooner the better, along with adjusting the family planning policy even more.

Stanford analysis of working age (15-64) population in 2050 based on 2008 UN medium projection. This is before the recent China policy shift which is boosting births by 1 million per year from about 15.5 million per year.

Project Solaris for enabling and then scaling space based light deflection

Project Solaris is to harness space based solar. It will use a distributed system composed of a multitude of small light deflecting units (cm-sized to µm-sized). These units will be uniformly scattered over a disc shaped plane and kept in place using different techniques (radiation pressure and/or electric fields and/or magnetic fields, or other methods). Easy deployment, fault tolerance and live scalability are some of the advantages that this system could provide.

[Image Credit: Nembo Buldrini]

Leonard Nimoy on Youtube

February 27, 2015

Spacex will try to launch two satellites on Sunday

SpaceX is now targeting a 10:49 p.m. Sunday launch of two commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the 45th Space Wing confirmed.

The launch had previously been scheduled for late this Friday.

SpaceX plans to launch two communications satellites from the Space Coast late Sunday but has no plans to try to land a used booster on a barge this time around.

Leonard Nimoy who played Spock on Star Trek has died

Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for playing the emotionless, pointy-eared Spock on the "Star Trek" television series, died on Friday. He was 83.

His granddaughter, Dani, confirmed the death on Twitter. She called him "an extraordinary man." Nimoy revealed a year ago that he had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

NASA Dawn's spacecraft will insert into dwarf planet Ceres orbit late next week and then spiral down for 20 months

NASA's Dawn spacecraft will be in orbit around Ceres in one more week. NASA has released a photo of Ceres

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

"Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations," said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn will enter orbit around Ceres on March 6. As scientists receive better and better views of the dwarf planet over the next 16 months, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of its origin and evolution by studying its surface. The intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus.

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDAM

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