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NASA to fire 1Gbps laser 'Wi-Fi' ... into spaaaaace

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 06:02:07 GMT

You may be struggling with crappy broadband – but future astronauts will be able to easily Netflix and chill in orbit

NASA hopes to use lasers to shoot data to and from the International Space Station and Earth at gigabit-per-second rates by 2021.…

TRAPPIST-1's planets are quiet. Quiet as the grave, in fact

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 02:57:08 GMT

Sorry, ET fans: these aren't the exoplanets you're looking for

Boiled dry or extra-terrestrial snowballs, it turns out that the multi exoplanets orbiting the star dubbed TRAPPIST-1 are almost certainly inhospitable to life.…

Now THAT'S a landslide victory: Astroboffins snap avalanche on a comet in science first

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:01:07 GMT

Plus: Rubber-ducky rock may split in half one day

Pics Scientists have seen a landslide on a comet for the first time ever, it was announced on Tuesday.…

Large Hadron Collider turns up five new particles

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 07:04:05 GMT

This is the stuff that binds Quarks together

Boffins poring over data from the Large Hadron Collider's “Beauty” experiment are blinking in surprise, having turned up five new particles in one hit.…

Murder in space: NASA orders astronauts to KILL cripples – then fire bodies back to Earth

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:12:51 GMT

Podule returns home after grim experiment leaves 40 dead

After almost a month spent attached to the International Space Station, SpaceX's Dragon capsule has successfully returned to Earth. The podule, laden with science experiments including the bodies of 40 mice, is now on its way to NASA via ship.…

US military's latest toy set: Record-breaking laser death star, er, truck

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 21:43:22 GMT

An armored station with enough power to destroy an entire... drone

Vid Lockheed Martin says it is ready to deliver its most powerful laser weapon yet to the US military. This Death-Star-on-wheels can shoot down drones, missiles, and similar stuff, we're told.…

A big day for the ESA: Sentinel snaps and ExoMars brakes

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 05:58:04 GMT

That's snaps as in uses cameras and brakes as in slows down

If you're trying to sell something to the European Space Agency, today could be the day to move in and close the deal because there should be smiles all round after two missions achieved important milestones.…

60 slow-mo A-bomb test videos explode onto YouTube

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 04:06:23 GMT

Nuke boffins mine recently-declassified films of atmospheric tests for new insights

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has released a recently-declassified collection of films depicting atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted between 1945 and 1962.…

NASA swerves serious cash cuts – but Earth climate probes, asteroid snatcher face axe

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 23:21:11 GMT

And SpaceX will be happy

While some government departments are facing swinging cuts in President Trump's "America First" proposed budget, NASA appears to have escaped lightly – so far.…

Van Allen surprise: fewer nasty particles than NASA expected

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 05:27:05 GMT

Spacecraft might need lighter rad-shields, which means more payload!

Video After a three-year search, NASA's Van Allen Probes have worked out there's far fewer high-energy electrons in the Van Allen Belts than previously thought.…

SpaceX yoinks $96m GPS launch deal from under ULA's nose

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 23:36:43 GMT

Old monopoly crumbles as competition is introduced

The US Air Force has awarded a $96m contract to SpaceX to launch one of its next-generation GPS satellites, in a competitive contract that left the United Launch Alliance in the dust.…

Dark matter drought hits older galaxies: Boffins are, rightly, baffled

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 20:47:04 GMT

Study could explain how star systems go from amorphous blobs to beautiful spirals

The mystery surrounding dark matter deepens: scientists have discovered that the puzzling substance was less dominant in our universe's early galaxies.…

Oxford Uni boffins say internet filters probably won't protect teens

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:11:07 GMT

Probably better to, erm, talk to them and do some parenting

Researchers from the University of Oxford have suggested that, instead of rolling out internet filters, those who are concerned about what teenagers encounter online should spend some time helping their parents parent them.…

Blast from the past: Mass birth of early supermassive black holes explained at last

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 08:03:12 GMT

UV photons prevent gravitational collapse

The earliest supermassive black holes have always puzzled astronomers. These ancient voids – about a billion times the mass of the Sun – were discovered more than a decade ago and formed only 800,000 years after the Big Bang.…

Time crystals really do exist, say physicists*

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 07:02:07 GMT

*If we change the definition of 'time crystal', so scratch that Doctor Who screenplay, okay?

A new quantum state of matter has been experimentally observed for the first time, according to two papers published in Nature.…

NASA finds India's missing lunar orbiter with Earth-bound radar

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 01:58:06 GMT

Now that we can spot things the size of a fridge 380,000km away, dodging debris or asteroids should be easier

In 2009, a lunar orbiter launched by India went quiet and was never heard from again. Fast-forward eight years and NASA say it's spotted it using an Earth-based radar.…

If fast radio bursts really are revving up interstellar sailcraft, here's the maths

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 16:01:13 GMT

Astrophysicists handily crunch travelling aliens numbers just in time for Friday pub chat

Astrophysicists think that mysterious short millisecond-long blip of radiation may be distant aliens powering up their sailcraft. Over 20 such FRBs (fast radio bursts) have been detected since 2007.…

What went up, Musk come down again: SpaceX to blast sat into orbit with used rocket

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:02:37 GMT

Make-or-break launch this month for Elon's upstart

March is going to be a crunch month for SpaceX: it hopes to, for the first time ever, launch a commercial satellite into orbit using a previously used rocket.…

NASA's atom-chiller ready to fly to the ISS

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 08:06:45 GMT

Cold Atom Laboratory slated for August SpaceX supply mission

Plenty of readers will agree that the International Space Station would be a cool place to work, and it's getting cooler: a billionth of a degree above 0K (in a very small spot).…

Your Amazon order is confirmed: Eutelsat via Blue Origin. Estimated delivery date: 2022

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 06:02:14 GMT

Five years? What's the matter? Can't afford Prime?

Video Blue Origin, the orbital delivery service funded by Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos, has taken its first satellite launch booking. We're told the sat will be put into orbit in 2021 or 2022 – basically, once Bezos has finished building the rocket to do the job.…

Raw TRAPPIST-1 data lands tomorrow for crowdsourced hijinks

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 03:58:05 GMT

It's time for you lot to figure out what's going on up there on TRAPPIST's Earth-like planets

Astronomers and the astro-curious but software-savvy will be hovering over a download link waiting for midday Tuesday (US Eastern Time), when Kepler data for the TRAPPIST-1 system is published.…

Mars orbiter FLOORS IT to avoid hitting MOON

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 07:04:16 GMT

MAVEN was on track to come within seven seconds of Phobos

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft last week made a hasty burn to avoid a likely collision with Martian moon Phobos.…

Japan's Venus probe power plight panacea: Turn it off and on again ...and again and again...

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:16:04 GMT

Ill-fated Akatsuki suffers more setbacks – now, its cameras

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has said it is shutting down two of the five cameras on its planetary probe around Venus due to power glitches.…

BONG! Lasers crack Big Ben frequency riddle BONG! No idea what to do with this info BONG!

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 06:01:09 GMT

Uni bods hit bell where it hertz

Vibrations emitted by Britain’s most famous bell have been mapped for the first time by engineers from the University of Leicester.…

Move over, Bernie Ecclestone. Scientists unearth Earth's oldest fossil yet: 4bn years old

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:00:13 GMT

Brits catch God yet again screwing with our heads

Video As far as we know, nearly four billion years ago nothing walked the lands of Earth, but there was life in the seas. Now British boffins think they've found a fossil record of some of the earliest lifeforms on the planet.…

Fireball in Tasmania: Possible CubeSat re-entry sparks alien panic

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 01:30:07 GMT

Lemur-2-NATE came down yesterday and there's plenty more where it came from

A small satellite burning up in the atmosphere has led to big excitement.…

LUNAR-CY! SpaceX announces a Moon trip-for-two it'll inevitably miss the deadline on

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 23:05:19 GMT

2018? No. And we're assuming they'll be back in one piece

Two unnamed and presumably very well-heeled people have booked a flight around the Moon using unproven hardware from SpaceX.…

Machines taught how to 'smell' by new algorithm. How will they cope with shower-dodging nerds?

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:02:10 GMT

SIGSTINK: User body odor fault

Machines don’t have noses – but they can now attempt to identify scents thanks to a nifty new algorithm.…

Bee boffins prove sesame-seed brain is all you need to play football (well, that explains a lot)

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:03:53 GMT

The bee-autiful game

Video The humble bumblebee can be taught how to play soccer, even though its brain is only around the size of a sesame seed.…

Experimental satellite-slinger seeks cargo: What could go wrong?

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 04:58:04 GMT

ESA wants daredevils to help it test the Small Satellites Mission Service atop a Vega launcher

If you've got an application for a small satellite and a stomach for risk, the European Space Agency wants to hear from you. Next year, it's planning a multi-launch demonstration from its Vega spacecraft on a proof-of-concept flight for the Small Satellites Mission Service.…

MIT goes down to the wire: Brain cable pipes electricity, chemicals, light straight into minds

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:09:00 GMT

Polymer highway into the head promises easier neurological monitoring

MIT brain boffins have developed a tiny fiber that can carry chemical, electrical, and optical signals back and forth between the brain and an external device, offering an improved path for testing brain functions and interactions.…

Radioactive leak riddle: Now Team America sniffs Europe's skies for iodine isotope source

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 01:11:36 GMT

Readings raise fears of nuke, probably a boring factory fumble

The US military has sent one of its atmosphere-analyzing aircraft to Europe to hunt the source of a radioactive leak on the continent.…

LOST IN SPAAAAAACE! SpaceX aborts Space Station podule berthing

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:06:09 GMT

Navigational computer blunder halts cargo capsule hook-up

SpaceX today called off an attempt to berth its Dragon cargo capsule with the International Space Station after the, er, podule got a bit lost. It's fine, though: they'll try again on Thursday.…

Pack your bags! NASA spots SEVEN nearby Earth-sized alien worlds

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:41:34 GMT

It's a Trap...pist mini solar system 44 million years away by jet plane

Pics and video NASA has discovered a mini solar system of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a small cool dwarf star, including three within the Goldilocks zone where liquid water is possible.…

Gulp! Drones dodge spray from California's gaping moist glory hole

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:04:06 GMT

Spectators swallow hard as cloud seeds flow forth

Vid + pics Drone operators have been gazing in fascination as, for the first time in over a decade, the Lake Berryessa glory hole has been swallowing up excess water and shooting it down into Putah Creek.…

Amid new push to make Pluto a planet again... Get over it, ice-world's assassin tells El Reg

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:48:13 GMT

Boffins demand rule rewrite to restore glorified moon's dignity

The ongoing argument over whether Pluto is an actual planet or just a dwarf on the outskirts of the Solar System has heated up again – with a new proposal to reapply planetary status to the distant iceball.…

Automated, insight cannot be: Jedi master of statistics was good – but beware the daft side

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:02:05 GMT

Hans Rosling is gone, but dashboards and graphs are dangerous to knowledge

So, farewell then Hans Rosling, educator and "Jedi master of data visualisation". For in a world increasingly addicted to alternative facts, you pioneered software – Gapminder – and a viewer-friendly approach with bubble charts that allowed you to communicate simple important messages about the world through the medium of the Ted Talk.…

NASA extends trial of steerable robo-stunt kite parachute

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:33:06 GMT

Why chase balloons for hundreds of miles when you can drop the payload outside?

NASA will soon be testing high-altitude parachute systems that let astroboffins land valuable scientific research payloads from altitudes of 60,000 feet.…

European Space Agency slaps CC licences on its pics and vids

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:02:11 GMT

Space. The Final Frontier (for copyright). These are the free images and videos of the ESA

The European Space Agency has flung the data doors open: from today, it's adopted an open access policy for its trove of images and videos.…

SpaceX blasts back into the rocket trucking business

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:57:32 GMT

And then sticks the landing for good measure after pausing a day for hydraulic glitch

Elon Musk's rocket trucking business, SpaceX, is rolling on the celestial highway again after successfully launching a Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket, then landing the rocket's first stage back on terra firma.…

Jun-OH-NO! NASA's Jupiter probe in busted helium-valve drama

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 01:28:34 GMT

Science lab stuck on 53-day orbit, unable to catch a closer glimpse of alien gas world

NASA's Juno probe will not venture any closer to Jupiter, and will stay in its current 53-day orbit for the remainder of its mission. That's due to faulty helium valves in the propulsion system, space boffins announced today.…

Dead cockroaches make excellent magnets – now what are we supposed to do with this info?

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:01:10 GMT

They'll stick notes to fridges in the aftermath of nuclear war?

Fun Fact: Dead cockroaches stay magnetized far longer than their live brethren, according to real actual science.…

Baby supernova spotted, just three hours old and a real cutie

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:02:11 GMT

If 'cute' means 'explosively re-writes plenty of our theories about how stars behave'

In the kind of observational serendipity that astro-boffins live for: spotting the explosion of a supernova mere hours after the explosion's light started reaching Earth.…

Get it while it's hot: NASA's Space Poo contest winners wipe up $30k

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:00:05 GMT

As promised, story about space poo

US Air Force Colonel Thatcher Cardon, MD, has won a competition to develop a new diaper to cradle astronauts' soiled nethers for up to six days of spacefaring.…

Finally, a use for your mobile phone: Snapping ALIEN signal blurts

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 06:27:12 GMT

Citizen science project to find galactic bursts using selfie-taking pocket radio receivers

Friends, take out your mobiles in the name of science! Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are trying to look for fast radio bursts in the Milky Way galaxy with “low-cost radio receivers.” And by that, they mean, your smartphones.…

GRAPHENE: £120m down, finds it's still a long way from commercial potential

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 09:32:12 GMT

Wonder material, not wonder market

Graphene, the material with many extraordinary properties, has swallowed around £120m in UK government funds, but development and commercialisation is proving tortuously slow and increasingly dogged with disappointment.…

NASA picks three Martian wet patches for 2020 splashdown

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 05:34:05 GMT

Bug-hunting mission's final landing site candidates are thought to have seen water flow

NASA has decided its Mars 2020 mission will land a rover in one of three places, all of which are thought to have once seen liquid water flowing.…

Feel like a spot of planet-hunting? Here's 1,600 suns worth of data

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 04:06:14 GMT

Decades of exoplanet observations are yours for the downloading

Here's a treat for amateur exoplanet-hunters and experts alike: 20 years' worth of observations from the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, complete with application and tutorial.…

UK prof claims to have first practical blueprint of a quantum computer

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:06:09 GMT

Simultaneously is and isn't bollocks

A professor at the University of Sussex says he has the first practical blueprint for a quantum computer capable of solving problems that could take billions of years for a classical computer to compute. Oh yeah?…

High tides: Boffins spy on dolphins baked on poisonous piscines

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:02:07 GMT

Dude, quit bogarting the blowfish

Scientists in Australia have observed groups of dolphins sharing around a blowfish and getting out of their skulls on the toxins they produce.…