This week in a very spacey edition of Science Saturday, wave bon voyage to Mars rover Curiosity, win $500k for sending humans to another star, tour the universe and help scientists discover new objects in our galaxy, and see Star Trek on This Week @ NASA. All this and more plus our gadget of the week: Futuristic transparent airplane!
Pentagon Awarding $500k for Best Plan for Man-rated Interstellar Travel
The U.S. Defense Department is holding a contest to design a program that will get a human to another star, and they are awarding half a million dollars to the winning idea. 150 competitors have already begun the challenge, and officials say that some “big names” are among those interested. Competitors must come up with an idea that would send a human to another star in about a century. The fastest rocket today would take 4,000 years to get to Proxima Centauri, the Sun’s nearest stellar neighbor. “This is not just about thinking new rocket methods,” said David Neyland, director of DARPA’s tactical technology office to AP. “It is also about coping with extended life in space, raising issues of medicine, agriculture, ethics and self-reliance.”
Faster then light travel: Possible within 100 years?
Mars Rover Packed and Shipped, Ready for Launch
Last Thursday, June 16th, was the last chance to get a glimpse of Mars rover Curiosity on Earth. That’s because bunny-suited JPL scientists packed and loaded the largest lander ever bound for the Red Planet and shipped her of to Kennedy Space Center where she will launch from this November. Check out this time-lapse video of Curiosity being wrapped in Amerstat and Kapton tape, ready for shipment.
Two Cool Interactive Universe Tools: Nova’s Solar System Tour & Zooniverse’s Milky Way Project
Here’s just two more ways you can explore and interact with our universe. First, check out a great 3-dimensional map of our solar system, put together by PBS’s NOVA program, that let’s you zoom around the planets and moons of sector 001.
Scientists studying our universe need your help in identifying interesting objects in deep space. Zooniverse is working with scientists using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope to croud source the immense number of images coming back to Earth. Navigate the galaxy and identify bubbles, knots, star clusters, and other objects hidden throughout these images such as young stars, supernova remnants and never-before-seen galaxies.
Take part at The Milky Way Project.
Star Trek: The Exhibition on This Week @ NASA
This Week @ NASA (or TW@N), is a weekly video podcast developed by NASA featuring all of the weekly news going on at various NASA facilities. This week’s edition includes the opening of Star Trek: The Exhibition at the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex. Check out the video below (and jump to 10:24 for Star Trek).
Jump to 10:24 for Star Trek: The Exhibition
Gadget of the Week: Transparent Airplane of the Future
If Airbus truly creates it’s “airplane of the future” by 2050, as they claim, air travel will cease to be a stressful burden and become an incredible adventure. Every aspect of the craft is designed to be tailored to the passenger, including mood lighting, biomorphing seats capable of massage and acupuncture, and even a transparent fuselage. Yes, no longer will you be trapped in a dark tube, but you’ll be a part of the panorama in which you are flying. How incredible would that be? Of course, they may need to take a page from Scotty’s book and invent transparent aluminum to make this a reality.
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.
- Voyager 1 still making scientific discoveries – almost 34 years after it’s launch. Check out the radio interview with Chief Scientist Ed Stone on NPR’s Science Friday
- Are honeybees feeling depressed? A lower pitched buzz may indicate honeybee emotions