Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Moon 2.0 Is The Next Mission For X Prize Group, And Google

Google is going to the moon, and it will spend $30 million to get there.

Google GOOG will sponsor the newest contest by the X Prize Foundation, which three years ago handed $10 million to a team that sent SpaceShipOne into suborbit and back twice over a two-week period. The nonprofit foundation seeks to promote scientific breakthroughs that benefit humanity.

In the new contest, which officials referred to as Moon 2.0, teams will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the moon. It will have to roam at least 500 meters of the lunar surface and complete several missions, such as transmitting photos and videos back to Earth.

A grand prize of $20 million will be awarded to the first team to do this no later than Dec. 31, 2012.

A second place award of $5 million will go to a second team that can complete this by Dec. 31, 2014.

Bonuses of $5 million will be awarded for additional tasks.

Seems like it should be more :-) Maybe add a zero. ;-)

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

http://dialog.newsedge.com/newsedge.asp?site=2006121916143901110346&block=folderstory&briefs=off&action=XMLStoryResult&smd=true&storyid=p0906509.2rw&rtcrdata=off

TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 6 /PRNewswire/ — The aerospace industry has taken notice of a California researcher who, using off-the-shelf components, built and successfully demonstrated the world’s first successful amplified photon thruster. Dr. Young Bae of the Bae Institute first demonstrated his Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT) with an amplification factor of 3,000 in December, 2006.

Major aerospace agencies and primary contractors have since invited Bae to present his work, including NASA JPL, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory). Senior Aerospace Engineer at AFRL, Dr. Franklin Mead, “Dr. Bae’s PLT demonstration and measurement of photon thrust (is) pretty incredible. I don’t think anyone has done this before. It has generated a lot of interest.”

Recently, the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, a peer-reviewed AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) (http://www.aiaa.org) Journal, accepted Dr. Bae’s PLT demonstration paper, “Photonic Laser Propulsion: Proof-of-Concept Demonstration” for publication this year. In his paper Bae documents in explicit detail how he overcame the inherent inefficiencies of traditional photon thrusters in generating thrust by amplification with the use of an innovative optical cavity concept. For decades rocket scientists have tried to overcome the inefficiency of photon thrusters by amplification based on optical cavities separated from laser sources, but failed. In contrast, Bae’s patent-pending PLT breakthrough places the laser medium within a resonant optical cavity between two platforms to produce a very stable and reliable thrust that is unaffected by mirror movement and vibration — ideal for spacecraft control or propulsion.

Looking promising!

groovychk: (sci-fi)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Thruster May Shorten Mars Trip

TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 7, 2007 — An amplified photon thruster that could potentially shorten the trip to Mars from six months to a week has reportedly attracted the attention of aerospace agencies and contractors.

Young Bae, founder of the Bae Institute in Tustin, Calif., first demonstrated his photonic laser thruster (PLT), which he built with off-the-shelf components, in December.

The demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 µN and is scalable to achieve much greater thrust for future space missions, the institute said. Applications include highly precise satellite formation flying configurations for building large synthetic apertures in space for earth or space observation, precision contaminant-free spacecraft docking operations, and propelling spacecraft to unprecedented speeds — faster than 100 km/sec.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Bae said in a statement from the institute. “PLT has immense potential for the aerospace industry. For example, PLT-powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.”

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Battery-like device could power electric cars - CNN.com

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine.

An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised “technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries,” meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.

By contrast, some plug-in hybrids on the horizon would require motorists to charge their cars in a wall outlet overnight and promise only 50 miles of gasoline-free commute. And the popular hybrids on the road today still depend heavily on fossil fuels.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” said Ian Clifford, chief executive of Toronto-based ZENN Motor Co., which has licensed EEStor’s invention. “The Achilles’ heel to the electric car industry has been energy storage. By all rights, this would make internal combustion engines unnecessary.”

—-

This sounds awesome. Too good to be true almost. So it probably is. :-(

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

‘Veronica Mars’ Joins ‘Heroes’ - Kristen Bell lands guest arc on NBC hit - Zap2it
NBC has scored a major casting get for “Heroes,” landing former “Veronica Mars” star Kristen Bell for a guest-starring role in the coming season.


Cool - even better than Lost. :-)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Variety.com - Helen Slater
Former “Supergirl” star Helen Slater has signed on to appear on the CW’s reworking of the Superman saga. Slater will play the aunt of “Smallville’s” recently cast Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort). Slater will appear in the sixth episode of the upcoming season, two weeks after ex-Superman Dean Cain (”Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”) is scheduled to appear. Slater has recently done guest gigs on “Crossing Jordan,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

This rocks. And as bad as the movie was I still enjoyed it. She’s always been my favorite superhero.
Also - If she is Kara’s aunt that would mean she is playing Lara, Kal-el’s mother! Awesome!

groovychk: (sci-fi)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Got this from AICN.
Zach Quinto - Sylar from Heroes - is playing Spock.
The rest are TBD but here’re some guidelines.

STAR TREK
Feature Film
SAG
PARAMOUNT PICTURES/BAD ROBOT

[JAMES KIRK] 23-29 Handsome,cocky self assured and earnest. Great physical condition. 6 ft or less

[LEONARD(BONES)MCOY] -28-32 Medic on the Enterprise. Smart, clever and a bit danger-loving. Dark hair, blue eyes.

[UHURA] 25ish -African American. Brilliant, beautiful, heroic and FUN!, Uhura is almost tom-boyish - as if she grew up in a houseful of brothers.

[SULU] 25-32 -Asian American male (preferably Japanese). Helmsman on the Enterprise. Extremely fit, capable and dedicated. A bit of a wildcat

[MONTGOMERY(SCOTTY) SCOTT] -28-32 a brilliant ship’s engineer. Must be able to do a flawless Scottish accent!

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Bionic Woman

Day & time:
Wednesdays (9-10 p.m. ET) on NBC

Premiere date:
WEDNESDAY
SEPTEMBER  26, 9/8c

http://www.nbc.com/Bionic_Woman/

Loved the show when I was growing up. I spent a lot of time playing Jaime Sommers when I was little. :-)
The preview I’ve seen looks pretty cool and Kara Thrace is in it too!

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

SUMMER PRESS TOUR: ‘Farscape,’ ‘BSG’ webisodes
The “Farscape” franchise will live on as a live-action Web series. Sci Fi Channel executive Craig Engler confirmed that the company has closed a deal with The Jim Henson Company for a 10-episode webisode series. So far no stars or writers are signed to appear and no story plotted, but if successful, the project could lead to re-igniting the franchise on the air.

Also in development, “Farscape” actor Ben Browder and producer/director Andrew Prowse are creating the six-hour miniseries “Going Homer,” a modern take on “The Odyssey” about a 12-year-old boy who sees Greek and Roman deities walking among us. Young Homer and his father flee a custody battle and journey from Los Angeles to Ithaca, N.Y., encountering a mystical landscape along the way.

UPDATE:

iF MAGAZINE: Will the original cast be returning for FARSCAPE?

DAVE HOWE (SCI-FI CHANNEL EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT): We don’t know. Literally, we closed the deal yesterday, so we haven’t gotten into any of the creative conversations about casting, or story; all of that is yet to come. It is based on FARSCAPE so it will involve the characters from the series, but we don’t know who or what.


Wow. I really hope this happens.

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

SPACE.com — Bigelow’s Second Orbital Module Launches Into Space
A privately-built space station prototype successfully launched into orbit Thursday from a Russian missile base, kicking off the second test flight for the U.S. firm Bigelow Aerospace.

Genesis 2, an inflatable module laden with cameras, personal items and a Space Bingo game, rocketed spaceward atop a Dnepr booster from a silo at Yasny Launch Base, an active Russian strategic missile base in the country’s Orenburg region. Liftoff occurred at 11:02 a.m. EDT (1502 GMT) though it was near evening at the Russian launch site.

“It was beautiful,” Bigelow Aerospace corporate counsel Mike Gold, who attended the launch, told SPACE.com immediately after the Dnepr blastoff. “Genesis 1 is about to have company.”

Genesis 2 is a near-twin of Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis 1 module, which launched in July 2006 and remains operational today, but carries a series of enhancements and additional cargo, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based spaceflight firm has said. Both spacecraft are prototypes for future commercial orbital complexes that Bigelow Aerospace, and its founder and president Robert Bigelow, hope to offer for use by private firms and national space agencies.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

First artificial life ‘within months’
Scientists could create the first new form of artificial life within months after a landmark breakthrough in which they turned one bacterium into another.
In a development that has triggered unease and excitement in equal measure, scientists in the US took the whole genetic makeup - or genome - of a bacterial cell and transplanted it into a closely related species. This then began to grow and multiply in the lab, turning into the first species in the process. The team that carried out the first “species transplant” says it plans within months to do the same thing with a synthetic genome made from scratch in the laboratory. If that experiment worked, it would mark the creation of a synthetic lifeform.

Very radical work and very cool.

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Nuclear rockets could cut cost of Moon base - space - 28 June 2007 - New Scientist Space
Howe envisions using a nuclear engine similar to one designed and tested in the 1960s called Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA). In the NASA-funded NERVA design, hydrogen gas is heated by nuclear reactions in a uranium reactor and expelled to produce thrust.

I am ALL for this. We are long past due on using nuclear rocket engines.

The higher efficiency of such an engine means almost 29 tonnes of cargo could be delivered to the Moon in a single Ares V launch, compared to 21 tonnes with the non-nuclear version. This would allow a 250-tonne lunar base to be constructed with only nine rather than 12 Ares V launches, Howe says.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

SPACE.com — Flight Log: The First Private Expedition to the Moon
ASPEN, Colorado - You don’t have to pack your bags quite yet, but
passenger travel to the Moon is on the flight manifest of a space tourist
company.

The price per seat will slap your wallet or
purse for a swift $100 million - but you’ll have to get in line as the first
voyage is already booked.

Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna,
Virginia, is in negotiations with the customers who will fly the first private
expedition to circumnavigate
the Moon.

“I hope to have those contracts signed by the
end of the year,” said Eric Anderson, Space Adventures’ president and CEO.

They are planning on using a Soyuz and doing a fly-by and return without entering orbit. Soyuz was designed for lunar travel so should be almost good to go!
Sounds very groovy.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

IBM’s Blue Gene passes petaflop milestone: News - Hardware - ZDNet Australia
IBM has devised a new Blue Gene supercomputer — the Blue Gene/P — that will be capable of processing more than 3 quadrillion operations a second, or 3 petaflops, a possible record. Blue Gene/P is designed to continuously operate at more than 1 petaflop in real-world situations.

Blue Gene/P marks a significant milestone in computing. Last November, the Blue Gene/L was ranked as the most powerful computer on the planet: it topped out at 280 teraflops, or 280 trillion operations a second during continuous operation.

Put another way, a Blue Gene/P operating at a petaflop is performing more operations than a 1.5-mile-high (2.4km) stack of laptops.


Very cool. Quite an accomplishment.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Exclusive: Supergirl Soars Into Smallville - TV Guide News Report | TVGuide.com
Look, up in the sky: It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Supergirl?! When Smallville returns for its seventh season this fall it will be revealed that Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is not the only member of his family to survive the destruction of the planet Krypton. His cousin Kara “was sent to Earth in a ship that arrived at the same time as baby Kal-El’s,” reveals executive producer Al Gough, referring to Clark by his Kryptonian name. “But there was a problem and she’s been in suspended animation for the last 16 years. We’ll find out in the season premiere that the big dam break in last season’s finale is the reason she’s finally awoken.”

Gough says this latest visitor from the DC Comics universe “will help Clark get in touch with his Kryptonian roots. With his [adopted] father dead and his [adopted] mother moved to Washington [to become a U.S. Senator], and Lana blown up, suddenly there’s some family in his life.”

Like her cousin, Kara will have enhanced physical abilities generated by Earth’s yellow sun. “She has all of Clark’s powers and a couple he doesn’t have yet,” Gough teases. “She can fly. And her response when Clark asks why is ‘obviously girls mature faster than boys.’”

Kara, a teenager when Krypton exploded, was sent to Earth by her father, Zor-El (Kal-El’s uncle), to look after her younger cousin. But while in suspended animation she didn’t age and now it’s Clark who must be the mentor. “She becomes enamored with our culture: clothes and iPods and stuff,” Gough says. “We’ll have a lot of fun as she gets acclimated.”

Kara makes her debut in the season premiere of the CW drama and will appear in about half of this season’s episodes. A casting notice is set to go out shortly, and producers hope to unveil their new addition at July’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. –Rich Sands

Very Cool Indeed! I can’t wait to see who they pick to play her.

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Mars rover finds “puddles” on the planet’s surface - space - 08 June 2007 - New Scientist Space
A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars.
The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet’s thin atmosphere.
If confirmed, the existence of such ponds would significantly boost the odds that living organisms could survive on or near the surface of Mars, says physicist Ron Levin, the report’s lead author, who works in advanced image processing at the aerospace company Lockheed Martin in Arizona.
Along with fellow Lockheed engineer Daniel Lyddy, Levin used images from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website. The resulting stereoscopic reconstructions, made from paired images from the Opportunity rover’s twin cameras, show bluish features that look perfectly flat. The surfaces are so smooth that the computer could not find any surface details within those areas to match up between the two images.
The imaging shows that the areas occupy the lowest parts of the terrain. They also appear transparent: some features, which Levin says may be submerged rocks or pebbles, can be seen below the plane of the smooth surface.

This would be pretty damn cool.

Update: Much higher res pics here

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

The end of the plug? Scientists invent wireless device that beams electricity through your home | the Daily Mail
Scientists have sounded the death knell for the plug and power lead.
In a breakthrough that sounds like something out of Star Trek, they have discovered a way of ‘beaming’ power across a room into a light bulb, mobile phone or laptop computer without wires or cables.
In the first successful trial of its kind, the team was able to illuminate a 60-watt light bulb 7ft away.

This would be great. Need lots of studies on body effects though.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Mercury Messenger flew by Venus yesterday. Hopefully it worked flawlessly and we’ll have a lot of pics and data soon.

SPACE.com — MESSENGER Flyby of Venus a Dress Rehearsal for Mercury
MESSENGER is expected to collect more than 6 gigabytes of data about the Venus system and take more than 600 images during the 73- hour-flyby. The information will provide new observations about Venus’s atmosphere, cloud structure, space environment, and perhaps even its surface.

During its brief sojourn, MESSENGER will join a European spacecraft, Venus Express, that is currently in orbit around Venus. The two probes will work together to investigate how particles from the Sun’s solar wind affects and controls the upper layers of Venus’s atmosphere.

“By coordinating and comparing these observations, we will be able to maximize the science from both missions and potentially learn things that would not be revealed by one set of observations alone,” said study team member Ralph McNutt, also of APL.

Launched in August 2004, the MEcury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission is the first to visit our solar system’s innermost planet in more than 30 years, ever since NASA’s Mariner 10 mapped about 45 percent of its surface. MESSENGER’s mission is to map the entire planet, as well as gather information about Mercury’s composition and structure, its geologic history, and the makeup of its core and poles.

I can’t wait to see the pictures from this. I’ve never been real happy with the lack of visible-light hi-res pics of Venus.

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

Technology Review: Practical Holographic Video
The tyranny of two-dimensional computer and TV displays could soon be over. A team of MIT researchers has proposed a way to make a holographic video system that works with computer hardware for consumers, such as PCs with graphics cards and gaming consoles. The display, the researchers say, will be small enough to add to an entertainment center, provide resolution as good as a standard analog television, and cost only a couple hundred dollars.

I’m definitely getting one of these :-)

groovychk: (science)

Originally published at Twixel.net. You can comment here or there.

First habitable Earth like planet outside Solar System discovered
Munich, Apr 23 : An international team of astronomers from Switzerland, France and Portugal have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date.

The planet has a radius only 50 percent larger than Earth and is very likely to contain liquid water on its surface.

The research team used the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) 3.6-m telescope to discover the super-Earth, which has a mass about five times that of the Earth and orbits a red dwarf already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet.

Astronomers believe there is a strong possibility in the presence of a third planet with a mass about eight times that of the Earth in the system.

However, unlike our Earth, this planet takes only 13 days to complete one orbit round its star. It is also 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun.

However, since its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581, is smaller and colder than the Sun - and thus less luminous - the planet lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid!

Very neat.
Circling a red sun - a heavy gravity, habitable world where the sun is giant in the sky…. Sounds like Krypton. :-)

Good thing we’ve discovered kryptonite ;-)

Better article at - http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1501AP_Habitable_Planet.html

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