This week in Science Friday, we have more news on the space tourism race into sub-orbit, some awesome images of Mars’ moon, sugar-powered transportation, and a reported alien attack! Also, check out this week’s Trekkish gadget of the week: The Illumination Shower!
Space Tourism Race Heats up
For all you skeptics out there about the fate of space tourism in our lifetime, you’ll be glad to know that more and more news keeps popping up about companies from all over the world building their own sub-orbital flight vehicles designed for the general public. Xcor Aerospace, the California based company, plans to enter the industry with a two-seat rocket ship capable of suborbital altitudes more than 37 miles above the Earth. The Lynx is expected to fly in 2010, and even has the interest of the Air Force Reasearch Laboratory piqued.
The Lynx, suborbital flight vehicle of 2010?
Mars Orbiter Images Martian Moon, Phobos
This stunning, enhanced-color image of Phobos — the Martian moon named for the Greek god of horror — was recorded by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it passed within some six thousand kilometers of Phobos last month. “Marsshine” — sunlight reflected by Mars on to Phobos — also reavealed Stickney crater, a feature nearly half the diameter of Phobos itself, so large that the impact that blasted out the crater likely came close to shattering the tiny moon.
A stunning image of Phobos, Mars’ moon
Cars of the Future: Powered by Sugar?
Chemists are in development of a “revolutionary” process for converting plant sugars into hydrogen, which could be used to cheaply and efficiently power vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells without producing any pollutants.
The system, which involves combining plant sugars, water, and a cocktail of enzymes, is said to be the world’s most efficient method for producing hydrogen. The production, storage, and distribution of low cost sustainable hydrogen has been a roadblock for hydrogen fuel cells, but this new method is likely to revolutionize the industry. For more, see the Zhang research team website.
Percival Zhang, the scientist behind this new process
‘Aliens’ Attacking Bosnian Man with Meteorites
Five meteorites have fallen on Radivoje Lajic’s house in the past six months. There is only one possible conclusion. Lajic says, "I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don’t know what I have done to annoy them but there is no other explanation that makes sense. The chance of being hit by a meteorite is so small that getting hit five times has to be deliberate." The rocks, which have been confirmed by Belgrade University scientists to be actual meteorites, have prompted Lajic to install a steel-girder reinforced roof on his home.
The Romulans have launched a preemptive strike!
Gadget of the Week: Illumination Shower (How Trekkies Get Clean)
Ever wanted to see how it feels to go through transport? Stepping into the Illumination Shower might be as close as you can get right now. With a doughnut-shaped light above you emitting a cool glow while water cascades down upon you like rainfall, just close your eyes and you can easily imagine that you’re beaming down with an away team to free Captain Kirk from the Romulans. Now I feel unclean without one! By Spiritual Mode.
I hope they come with heisenberg compensators
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- NIST working on a “Deathalyzer”
- NASA goes low tech to fix a high tech problem
- Phoenix Mars Lander on track for May landing