In this economy, you got to look to ways to save money…so this Science Friday takes a look at some low budget science including going to space in a microcraft (if you don’t mind the claustrophobia), making buildings on the moon without water, outsourcing moon missions to India and getting your X-Rays with Scotch Tape. And with all that money you save, you can afford the gadget of the week: the walking robotic plant of the future!
Micro Spacecraft to Blast
Stupid Brave Rider Into Space
If you are truly desperate to get into space, Copenhagen Suborbitals has a crazy plan to cram you into the nosecone of a minuscule missile, blasting you into space and returning you safely to Earth, all by your lonesome self. The entire tip of the nosecone is transparent, showing the rider a magnificent view of the rapidly approaching cosmos. If this interests you, be my guest, but being smashed into a tiny transparent coffin described as having “only limited arm movement” and shot into space at 3G forces isn’t really my cup of tea.
This is not the way I want to die
“Waterless” Concrete Seen As Building Block on Moon
A recently published article demonstrates a concept of creating concrete structures on the lunar surface without the use of water. Traditional concrete comprises a binder — cement and water — mixed with aggregates. While some parts of the Moon may have water, that resource may be more valuable for astronaut’s consumption rather than building structures. Research shows that those astronauts can turn to a new type of waterless concrete that uses lunar soil as the aggregate and sulfur as a binding agent. This is helping pave the way for future long-term lunar missions and the building of a lunar base.
New concrete for lunar buildings
India Launches First Mission to the Moon
Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the Moon, was successfully launched the morning of October 22 in Sriharikota, India and was injected into a highly elongated orbit around the Earth. This marked the beginning of Chandrayaan-1’s journey to the Moon, which will culminate with a major maneuver– the lunar orbit insertion – in about two weeks. Two NASA instruments which will assess lunar minerals and ice deposits are onboard the craft and will help pave the way for future lunar missions. More info…
X-Rays From Scotch Tape
Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape. It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers. So is this a health hazard for unsuspecting tape-peelers? No X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation. Read the article in Nature.
A sticky new way to get X-ray particles
Gadget of the Week: Robotic Plant that Finds the Sun
If your poor, mistreated plant had legs, it would walk itself in front of the sun and out from the dank corner that it sits, slowly drying up and dying. Unfortunately for your plant, evolution hasn’t decided that legs are a priority for plants. Fortunately for it, however, we live in the age of robots, so you can just go ahead and finish the job that evolution started. Introducing the first robot plant that finds the sun and stays alive, despite your neglect.
The walking robotic plant of the FUTURE!
Video of the Week: 1,000mph Rocket Car
Get out of the way, everybody, because here comes Bloodhound, the world’s fastest car. The British-designed Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car) was unveiled in London today, with plans for a record-breaking supersonic run in 2011. The 42-foot land rocket will reach Mach 1.4 when it blasts across an as-yet undetermined desert, zipping along at a speed that’s literally faster than a speeding bullet.
Picture of the Week: NGC 7331
This striking image of the well-studied NGC 7331 galaxy was produced using data from the Calar Alto Observatory in southern Spain. Perhaps the deepest view of the region yet, the image data were processed to reveal sharp details of all sizes in both bright and faint areas. More info…
Science Link of the Week: Stargazing with the Mars Rovers
This website of Spirit Nighttime Observations displays some impressive imagery taken by the Mars Rover’s cameras pointed skyward. Check out the great photos of meteors, stars, and Mars’s moons. Thanks Leon for the tip!
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- NASA launches mission to explore outer solar system
- Dr. Atomic puts science into song
- Mysterious dead water effect caught on film