illiteratehack writes "NASA has selected a 39-year-old chief technology officer to become a trainee astronaut. Josh Cassada is the current chief technology officer and co-founder of Quantum Opus, a firm that specialises in photonics. Cassada is one of eight individuals selected by NASA from 6,100 applicants for astronaut training, though what their future mission may be has yet to be revealed." Of the astronaut trainees selected, four of them are women — a new record.
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Lasrick writes "Evie Sobczak won a trip to Jet Propulsion Lab for her biofuel invention: 'For a fifth-grade science fair, Evie Sobczak found that the acid in fruit could power clocks; she connected a cut-up orange to a clock with wire and watched it tick. In seventh grade, she generated power by engineering paddles that could harness wind. And in eighth grade, she started a project that eventually would become her passion: She wanted to grow algae and turn it into biofuel.'"
Thorfinn.au sends this quote from Space.com: "The pervading carpet of perchlorate chemicals found on Mars may boost the chances that microbial life exists on the Red Planet — but perchlorates are also perilous to the health of future crews destined to explore that way-off world. Perchlorates are reactive chemicals first detected in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix lander that plopped down on Mars over five years ago in May 2008. It is likely both of NASA's Viking Mars landers in 1976 measured signatures of perchlorates, in the form of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Other U.S. Mars robots — the Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity — detected elemental chlorine. Moreover, orbital measurements taken by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft show that chlorine is globally distributed. [Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith] said microbes on Earth use perchlorate for an energy source. They actually live off highly oxidized chlorine, and in reducing the chlorine down to chloride, they use the energy in that transaction to power themselves. In fact, when there's too much perchlorate in drinking water, microbes are used to clean it up, he said. Furthermore, seasonal flow features seen on Mars may be caused by high concentrations of the brines of perchlorate, which has a strong attraction to water and can drastically lower its freezing point, Smith told SPACE.com. The high levels of perchlorate found on Mars would be toxic to humans, Smith said."
MarkWhittington writes "A draft version of the 2013 NASA Authorization Bill nixes any funding for President Obama's asteroid retrieval mission and instead directs NASA to return astronauts to the lunar surface as soon as possible, funding of course permitted. The NASA bill is currently working its way through the House Science Committee. Thus far the Senate has not taken up NASA authorization. However the cancellation of the asteroid retrieval mission and an insistence on returning to the moon, which both President Obama and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden have opposed, would place Congress on a collision course with the White House should that version of the bill be passed by both houses of Congress."
William Robinson writes "Astronomers have discovered 26 new likely black holes in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy — the largest haul of black hole candidates ever found in a galaxy apart from our own. The central region of the Andromeda galaxy is chock-full of black holes, according to extensive observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory." These 26 black hole candidates add to nine previously known for a grand total of 35.
nedko.m writes "NASA's Mars rover 'Opportunity' found clay minerals in an ancient rock on the rim of the Endeavour Crater on Mars. The discovery suggests that neutral-pH water — slightly salty, and neither too acidic nor too alkaline for life — once flowed through the area, probably during the first billion years of Martian history. Opportunity's latest discovery fits well with one made recently on the other side of the planet by the rover's bigger, younger cousin Curiosity, which found strong evidence that its landing site could have supported microbial life in the ancient past. Such observations could help scientists map out Mars' transition from a relatively warm and wet world long ago to the cold and dry planet we know today"
An anonymous reader writes "Discovered a day before its closest approach to Earth, Asteroid 2013 LR6 came within roughly 65,000 miles of the planet as it flew over the Southern Ocean of Tasmania, Australia at 12:42 a.m. EDT on June 8. Despite being more than half the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the 30-foot-wide asteroid posed no threat, according to NASA."
coondoggie writes "NASA today said it would team up with Lego to offer a competition to see who can build the coolest models of future airplanes and spacecraft. The 'NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build' competition is open now with an entry deadline of July 31. Winners in each category will be selected by a panel of NASA and LEGO officials and announced Sept. 1."
Lucas123 writes "At the Consumerization of IT conference in San Francisco this week, several speakers agreed the next big shift in the corporate establishment will not be technological but social, away from top-down responsibility for innovation and change. Businesses are on the cusp of a leadership revolution because millennials moving into the workforce are 'the most authority-phobic' generation in history, according to Gary Hamel, a management educator at the London School of Business. Not only should low-level workers be incentivized for being creative, they should be given the power to spend corporate money on research and development, Hamel said. By doing that, companies will diversity their experimental capital. 'If you don't do that, you'll never change that innovation curve,' he said. Hamel was not alone. Kevin Jones, a consulting social & organizational strategist for NASA's Marshall and Goddard Space Flight Centers, agreed that traditional corporate culture needs a radical shakeup. 'The values of management today are different from the values of the social enterprise and different from the values of the consumerization of IT — and they're not mixing very well,' Jones said. 'That's where we're having the battle.'"
CowboyRobot writes "This week NASA kicks off its second Sample Return Robot Challenge, in which teams compete for a chance to win $1.5 million. Participants must demonstrate a self-operated robot capable of locating and collecting geologic samples from diverse terrain. Eleven teams from the U.S. and overseas gather for the challenge from June 5 through 7 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. The Sample Return Robot competition is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program launched by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, which develops and tests hardware for use in NASA's future missions. NASA said the goal of the challenge is to encourage innovation in autonomous navigation and robotics technologies, which the agency could potentially use to explore a "variety of destinations in space" and in "industries and applications on Earth.""
coondoggie writes "NASA wants to test out 3-D printing technology onboard the International Space Station to find out if the technology could be used to manufacture parts in space." NASA may not be creating any production parts this way for a long time yet, but they've got to start somewhere.
An anonymous reader writes "Asteroid 1998 QE2 has an estimated diameter of 2.7 km. This asteroid will have a close approach with Earth at about 15.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0392 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 2059 UT on 2013 May 31 and it will reach the peak magnitude ~10.8 on May 31 around 2300 UT." Radar images of the asteroid taken Wednesday show that 1998 QE2 has its own tiny moon, about 600 meters wide. Phil Plait explained how the images were taken, and what further information we gleaned from them. 'The very presence of the moon is a good thing. By measuring how long it takes to go around the primary, the mass of the primary can be found using math known for centuries (the more massive the big asteroid, the faster the moon will go around it at a given distance). We also know the size of the primary, so that means we can find its density, and therefore what it’s made of (probably mostly rock).'
An anonymous reader writes "A new study based on observations last September by the Curiosity rover on Mars has confirmed that pebble-containing slabs of rock found on the Martian surface were part of an ancient streambed. The work provides some of the most definitive evidence yet that water once flowed on Mars. '[The pebbles'] smooth appearance is identical to gravels found in rivers on Earth. Rock fragments that bounce along the bottom of a stream of water will have their edges knocked off, and when these pebbles finally come to rest they will often align in a characteristic overlapping fashion. ...It is confirmation that water has played its part in sculpting not only this huge equatorial bowl but by implication many of the other landforms seen on the planet.' According to NASA, 'The stream carried the gravels at least a few miles, or kilometers, the researchers estimated. The atmosphere of modern Mars is too thin to make a sustained stream flow of water possible, though the planet holds large quantities of water ice. Several types of evidence have indicated that ancient Mars had diverse environments with liquid water. However, none but these rocks found by Curiosity could provide the type of stream flow information published this week. Curiosity's images of conglomerate rocks indicate that atmospheric conditions at Gale Crater once enabled the flow of liquid water on the Martian surface.'"
astroengine writes "A radiation sensor inside NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows that even under the best-case scenario and behind shielding currently being designed for NASA's new deep-space capsule, future travelers will face a huge amount of radiation. The results, based on Curiosity's 253-day, 348-million-mile cruise to Mars, indicate an astronaut most likely would exceed the current U.S. lifetime radiation exposure limit during one round trip mission. "Even for the shortest of missions we are perilously close to the radiation career and health limits that we've established for our astronauts," NASA's chief medical officer Richard Williams told a National Academy of Sciences' medical committee on Thursday."
An anonymous reader writes "Kepler may be down, but now NASA has another planet-hunting tool in mind. The space agency is preparing the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) observatory in order to follow in Kepler's footsteps. NASA has been searching for alien planets for several years now. Learning about strange exoplanets such as enormous, hot 'Jupiters' and 'rogue planets' that actually cruise through space without a parent star certainly adds to the body of research concerning our universe. Yet what scientists are really interested in are the Earth-like planets that may hold the potential for life."
Kiera Wilmot, the Florida high school student who was expelled from her school after an unauthorized science experiment was misperceived as a weapon (at least for purposes of arrest and charging), won't be going to jail. She will, though, be going to Space Camp, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign started by author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickham. All charges against her have been dropped.
astroengine writes "In a recent batch of images beamed back to Earth from Mars rover Curiosity's MAHLI camera, obvious signs of wear and tear could be seen in the 'skin' of the robot's wheels. Considering Curiosity is only 281 sols (Mars days) into its mission and roved less than a kilometer after landing, surely this doesn't bode well? Fortunately, there's good news. 'The wear in the wheels is expected,' Matt Heverly, lead rover driver for the MSL mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News. 'We will continue to characterize the wheels both on Mars and in the Marsyard, but we don't expect the wear to impact our ability to get to Mt. Sharp.'"
gbrumfiel writes "Last week, Google and NASA announced a partnership to buy a new quantum computer from Canadian firm D-Wave Systems. But NPR news reports that many scientists are still questioning whether new machine really is quantum. Long-time critic and computer scientist Scott Aaronson has a long post detailing the current state of affairs. At issue is whether the 512 quantum bits at the processor's core are 'entangled' together. Measuring that entanglement directly destroys it, so D-Wave has had a hard time convincing skeptics. As with all things quantum mechanical, the devil is in the details. Still it may not matter: D-Wave's machine appears to be far faster at solving certain kinds of problems (PDF), regardless of how it works."
cervesaebraciator writes "According to Quartz, '[Anjan Contractor's] Systems & Materials Research Corporation just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer. But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3-D printing, envisions a much more mundane — and ultimately more important — use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3-D printer, and the earth's 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor's vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.' No word yet on whether anyone other than the guy trying to sell the technology thinks it'll make palatable food."
cylonlover writes "Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word 'may' is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations?"