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New Comet May Outshine Moon

An exciting piece of news from over at Geekologie.

A new comet, which has been discovered near Saturn, could become one of the brightest ever recorded when it speeds past the Sun in late 2013/early 2014.

The comet, entitled Comet ISON (C/2012S1) will burn up past the sun.  Although it won’t be as large as the moon, it may well outshine it, and perhaps even be visible during the day.

Although nothing is certain, and only time will tell whether it will actually be as bright as experts claim, it seems that the comet will reach its optimum position for viewing in the weeks following the 28 November 2013.  Comets vary in their composition, and this to a large extent determines who bright they will be from Earth.

It’s the second exciting comet forecast for next year, as Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) will pass by in March 2013, and should be visible in the evening sky.

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NASA Working On Warp Drive

In the second of today’s new technology stories, it’s the exciting news that NASA have begun work on warp drive.  

[quote]Perhaps a Star Trek experience within our lifetime is not such a remote possibility.”[/quote] - Dr. Harold White.

It would appear that NASA now believe that a real life-warp drive is now possible, by rejigging the energy requirements of previous hypotheses.

Dr. White’s team are working on loopholes that are believed to exist in certain mathematical equations.  Such loopholes, though they may sound like nothing, may indicate that warping the fabric of space-time is possible.

According to Gizmodo, “The Eagleworks team has discovered that the energy requirements are much lower than previously thought. If they optimize the warp bubble thickness and “oscillate its intensity to reduce the stiffness of space time,” they would be able to reduce the amount of fuel to manageable amount: instead of a Jupiter-sized ball of exotic matter, you will only need 500 kilograms to “send a 10-meter bubble (32.8 feet) at an effective velocity of 10c.” ‘

Read the entire story at Gizmodo.

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Endeavour’s Last Flight HD

A really nice video taken from Gizmodo, with some gorgeous shots of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s last flight in California.

The video is shot using a RED Epic camera at 5K resolution with Canon 800mm 5.6 lens in slow motion—-96 frames per second.

This was the last flight of any space shuttle.

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Martian Spheres Puzzle Experts

The discovery of a collection of strange spherical objects on Mars has caused a stir over at NASA.

Despite all the fuss made over the Curiosity rover in recent months, the discovery has actually come from earlier rover Opportunity.  

The strange spheres resemble earlier objects – the ‘blueberries’ – which were discovered to be rich in hematite.

Yet these new discoveries are fundamentally different.

Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca stated:

[quote]This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission. They are different in concentration. They are different in structure. They are different in composition. They are different in distribution. So, we have a wonderful geological puzzle in front of us. We have multiple working hypotheses, and we have no favorite hypothesis at this time. It’s going to take a while to work this out, so the thing to do now is keep an open mind and let the rocks do the talking.[/quote]

More as NASA discover it.

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HD Curiosity Descent (30 FPS)

Someone with apparently too much time on their hands has spent four weeks putting together an HD video of NASA’s Curiosity rover’s descent.  He’s retouched the original footage, upping the quality considerably, and adding in some fake sound effects for dramatic effect.

It’s being raved about online at the moment, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily as jaw-dropping as everyone claims (perhaps cause seeing the original was awe-inspiring enough), it’s still worth a watch.

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Obama In Armstrong Tribute

From the BBC:

US President Barack Obama has led tributes to astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, who died on Saturday at the age of 82.

Mr Obama said on his Twitter feed: “Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time.”

Hundreds of millions watched Armstrong land on the Moon on 20 July 1969 and describe it as: “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The line became one of the most famous quotes of the 20th Century.

Armstrong’s family confirmed his death in a statement on Saturday, saying he had died from complications after surgery to relieve four blocked coronary arteries.

The family statement praised him as a “reluctant American hero” and urged his fans to honour his example of “service, accomplishment and modesty”.

“The next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink,” the family said.

Mr Obama thanked Armstrong for showing the world “the power of one small step”.

‘Nerdy engineer’

Last November he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian award.

Many of Armstrong’s colleagues and friends paid tribute to him as a modest, private man who never sought the limelight.

Michael Collins, a pilot on the Apollo 11 Moon mission, said: “He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.”

Armstrong famously refused most public appearances and interviews.

In a rare interview with Australian TV this year, he reflected on a moment during his three hours on the Moon when he stopped to commemorate US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.

“It was special and memorable, but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” he said.

More than 500 million TV viewers around the world watched its touchdown on the lunar surface.

Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin collected samples, conducted experiments and took photographs during their moonwalk.

Mr Aldrin told the BBC he would remember his colleague as a “very capable commander and leader of a world achievement”.

“We’re missing a great spokesman and leader in the space programme,” he said.

Apollo 11 was Armstrong’s last space mission. In 1971, he left the US space agency Nasa to teach aerospace engineering.

President Obama described him as “one of the greatest American heroes of all time”

Born in 1930 and raised in Ohio, Armstrong took his first flight aged six with his father and formed a lifelong passion for flying.

He flew Navy fighter jets during the Korean War in the 1950s, and joined the US space programme in 1962.

Correspondents say Armstrong remained modest and never allowed himself to be caught up in the glamour of space exploration.

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000 in a rare public appearance.

Nasa chief Charles Bolden paid tribute to him as “one of America’s great explorers”.

“As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.”

A private service will take place in Cincinnati for the astronaut.  There are no further details available, and it looks to be a very private affair.

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Curiosity Descent in HD

A high-definition video, created from picture stills as Curiosity made its descent towards Mars, has been released on YouTube.

As one of the top commenters stated, for some reason, you expect there to be sound!

Even without it, it’s quite a ride.

Here’s Entrepreneur’s handy guide to understanding what’s going on in the video!

Before video starts – parachute deploys

0:00 - Heat shield separation

0:21 - Heat shield impacts surface (bottom left)

0:25 - Parachute separation, rocket-powered descent

0:34 - Rocket hover, wheels deploy, begin skycrane descent

0:40 - Touchdown