Nasa Says Opportunity Rover Ready for Harsh Martian Winter

Red Planet is headed for harsh winter and Nasa rover Opportunity is not worried at all. The rover is conducting a “walkabout” survey of the “Marathon Valley” where it plans to face the upcoming Martian winter while studing the context for outcrops bearing clay minerals.

For several months starting October, the rover team plans to operate Opportunity on the southern side of the valley to take advantage of the sun-facing slope.

The site is in Mars’ southern hemisphere, so the sun is to the north during fall and winter days. Tilting the rover toward the sun increases power output from its solar panels.

The shortest-daylight period of this seventh Martian winter for Opportunity will come in January 2016.

“Our expectation is that Opportunity will be able to remain mobile through the winter,” said John Callas, project manager from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

“Marathon Valley” slices downhill from west to east for about 300 yards through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Opportunity has been investigating rock targets in the western portion of the valley since late July, working its way eastward in a thorough reconnaissance of the area.

The “walkabout” is identifying investigation targets in and near the valley floor. Rocks in reddish zones there contain more silica and less iron than most rocks in the area.

During the Martian late fall and winter seasons, Opportunity will conduct its measurements and traverses on the southern side of the valley.

“When spring arrives, the rover will return to the valley floor for detailed measurements of outcrops that may host the clay minerals,” added deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson from Washington University in St Louis.

Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Project landed twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004 to begin missions planned to last three months.

Both rovers far exceeded those plans. Spirit worked for six years and Opportunity is still active. The findings about ancient wet environments on Mars have come from both rovers.

Countdown Begins for Isro’s Milestone Astrosat Mission

The 50-hour countdown for the launch on September 28 of an Indian rocket carrying seven satellites, including the Astrosat – the country’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory that will help in understanding the universe – began on Saturday, the Indian space agency said.

India will cross the half-century milestone on Monday once it successfully injects the six foreign satellites into their intended orbit.

India has so far launched 45 foreign satellites for a fee.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the Saturday countdown for the launch of the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) began as scheduled at 8.00 a.m.

The rocket with seven satellites will blast off on Monday at 10.00 a.m. from the first launch pad of the rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

In 2008, Isro had launched 10 satellites in one go including India’s Cartosate-2A satellite.

Now, Isro will be launching seven satellites for the third time in its history.

On Thursday Isro’s Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) cleared the 50-hour countdown.

The 44.4 metre tall 320 tonne PSLV-XL version is a four-stage rocket with six strap-on motors for additional thrust during the initial phase of the flight.

The first and third stages are powered by solid fuel while the second and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel which will be filled during the countdown.

Apart from fuelling up the engines, all the systems would be checked and rechecked during the countdown.

On Monday morning the rocket will launch India’s Astrosat weighing 1,513 kg, apart from four from the US and one each from Indonesia and Canada.

The PSLV will carry a total payload of 1,631 kg during this mission.

Just over 22 minutes into the flight, the rocket will eject Astrosat at an altitude of 650 kms above the earth.

Soon after, six other satellites will be put into orbit and the whole mission will come to an end in just over 25 minutes.

Astrosat, with a life span of five years, will observe the universe through optical, ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray components of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing through a narrow wavelength band, the agency said.

The Indonesian 76 kg LAPAN-A2 is a micro-satellite from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, meant for providing maritime surveillance using automatic identification system (AIS), supporting Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out earth surveillance using video and digital camera.

The 14-kg NLS-14 (Ev9) of Space Flight Laboratory, University of Toronto Institute for Advanced Studies, is also a maritime monitoring Canadian nano satellite using the next generation AIS.

The remaining four LEMUR nano satellites from Spire Global Inc., San Francisco, US, are non-visual remote sensing satellites, focusing primarily on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking via AIS and high fidelity weather forecasting using GPS radio occultation technology, the Isro said.

What Is Supermoon Lunar Eclipse, How to Watch, and Everything Else

The Moon is at the centre of a rare celestial event this weekend. Known as a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse, it occurs only once every few decades and is visible only for a few hours. We explain how you can watch the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse, why it is a rare event, and how it occurs.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is in between the Moon and the Sun – or when the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow. It only occurs on full Moon nights. A lunar eclipse is set to occur this weekend, which will bathe the Moon in a red glow. This isn’t really a rare event as it occurs up to five times every year. So what makes this weekend’s lunar eclipse special? The fact that it’s coinciding with a supermoon, making it a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse.

The orbit of the Moon is elliptical, and the Earth is not at the perfect centre of its orbit. This means that one end of the Moon’s orbit is a lot closer to the Earth than the other end. The farthest end of the Moon’s orbit is called apogee and the point at which the Moon is closest to Earth is referred to as its perigee. When the moon is at its perigee, it becomes a supermoon – as it appears up to 14 percent larger in diameter and much brighter when viewed from Earth.

When a lunar eclipse occurs while the Moon is at its perigee, a rare celestial event takes place. This is called a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. According to Nasa, this is also known as a Super Blood Moon, Supermoon Eclipse, and Harvest Moon Eclipse. This combination of events is rare due to the number of conditions it needs to fulfil. Nasa says that it has only occurred five times since 1900. The last time a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse occurred was in 1982 and Nasa says if you miss it this weekend, then you’ll have to wait till 2033 for the next one. Nasa explains Supermoon Lunar Eclipse in the video below.

If you live in Africa, Europe, or the Americas you’ll be able to see the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse on Sunday night. The Supermoon accompanied by partial Lunar Eclipse begins at 9:07pm New York Time, with total eclipse slated to begin at 10:11pm. The total Supermoon Lunar Eclipse ends at 11:23pm Eastern time. If you can’t catch it for any reason, you can always tune in to the Nasa Supermoon Lunar Eclipse live stream.

Minecraft VR Support Unveiled At Oculus Connect 2

Minecraft VR

During Oculus Connect 2 this week Palmer Luckey has taken to the stage to announce that Minecraft VR will be supported by the Oculus Rift VR headset, and is set to launch during the Spring months of 2016 and will also provide support the Xbox One controllers.

Microsoft is now currently in the process of adding official virtual reality support for the Oculus Rift VR headset to be compatible with its latest Windows 10 operating system that officially launched back at the end of July this year.

The new virtual reality Minecraft game will be shipping in a special Windows 10 addition that will launched at around the same time as the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and hand controllers is expected to finally be made available to consumers.

As more details are made available by either Microsoft or Oculus in the coming weeks we will keep you updated as always on all the new information as it is made available.

Samsung Opens New US HQ In Silicon Valley

samsung hq

Samsung has announced that it has opened a new US headquarters in Silicon Valley, the company has called the new HQ the Samsung Electronics Device Solutions Division.

Samsung now has a new home in the US for research and development, marketing and sales, the new building is ten storey’s high and has 1.1 million square feet of office space.

samsung hq

More than 30 years of innovation and discoveries in Silicon Valley have helped define Samsung’s digital devices inside and out. On September 24, Samsung Electronics’ Device Solutions Division, part of its components business, celebrated the grand opening of its new American headquarters. Samsung’s DS teams have been spread across the area, and the brand new facility will join all team members together, allowing better communication across all disciplines.

samsung hq

 

Oculus Announces PC Partnerships To Create VR Ready Systems Under $1,000

Oculus Announces PC Partnership

During this weeks Oculus Connect 2 virtual reality conference which is currently ongoing. Oculus has announced a partnership with PC manufacturers to make sure that virtual reality PC systems will be available at launch to consumers priced under $1,000.

Oculus has created new partnerships with the likes of Dell, Asus and Alienware to create a range of ‘Oculus Ready’ PC systems will be available when the Oculus Rift VR headset officially launches during the first quarter of 2016.

The news of the partnerships was made by Oculus VP of product Nate Mitchell, who also explained that partnerships have been made with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to help bring the computers to market. The Oculus PC systems will carry a special ‘Oculus Ready’ tag to certify that the PCs specifications will support the higher graphical processing required to use the virtual reality headsets.

Unfortunately no specifications regard to what hardware will be included in the new Oculus PC systems has been unveiled as yet. But previously it has been suggested that users will require a graphics card similar to the Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD equivalent to be able to enjoy the Oculus Rift experience. As soon as more details are announced regards the hardware and confirmed prices are released we will keep you updated as always.

New Ultimaker 3D Printing Smartphone App Launches

Ultimaker 3D Printing Smartphone App

Prestigious 3D printer manufacture Ultimaker has this week announced the availability of a new 3D printing smartphone application that the company has created for both Android and iOS devices.

Matthijs de Deugd has taken to the Ultimaker blog announcing the launch of the application that has been designed to help make Ultimaker customers 3D printing experiences even more enjoyable.

As well as providing new users with a step-by-step guide to the initial setup of any Ultimaker 3D printer, the app also provides assistance to users when required, and offers contacts details of your local support expert when required. Ultimaker explains more :

There’s also access to Ultimaker’s entire raft of helpful 3D printing support pages packed with information about 3D printers, software and materials. Or you can ask your question directly to Ultimaker’s community of experts. The choice is yours.

The Ultimaker app is also full of useful, helpful and interesting 3D printing knowledge. The tips section is constantly updated with new advice on usage, optimization and maintenance topics. There’s a very clear and simple to follow troubleshooting guide too.

And on top of all this, you can catch up on the latest inspiring 3D printing stories from the Ultimaker professional community – alive with inspiring and original ideas. It’s the helpful little app that every maker needs in their pocket. So head over to your app store and download it for free now!

Countdown Begins for Isro’s Milestone Astrosat Mission

The 50-hour countdown for the launch on September 28 of an Indian rocket carrying seven satellites, including the Astrosat – the country’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory that will help in understanding the universe – began on Saturday, the Indian space agency said.

India will cross the half-century milestone on Monday once it successfully injects the six foreign satellites into their intended orbit.

India has so far launched 45 foreign satellites for a fee.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the Saturday countdown for the launch of the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) began as scheduled at 8.00 a.m.

The rocket with seven satellites will blast off on Monday at 10.00 a.m. from the first launch pad of the rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

In 2008, Isro had launched 10 satellites in one go including India’s Cartosate-2A satellite.

Now, Isro will be launching seven satellites for the third time in its history.

On Thursday Isro’s Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) cleared the 50-hour countdown.

The 44.4 metre tall 320 tonne PSLV-XL version is a four-stage rocket with six strap-on motors for additional thrust during the initial phase of the flight.

The first and third stages are powered by solid fuel while the second and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel which will be filled during the countdown.

Apart from fuelling up the engines, all the systems would be checked and rechecked during the countdown.

On Monday morning the rocket will launch India’s Astrosat weighing 1,513 kg, apart from four from the US and one each from Indonesia and Canada.

The PSLV will carry a total payload of 1,631 kg during this mission.

Just over 22 minutes into the flight, the rocket will eject Astrosat at an altitude of 650 kms above the earth.

Soon after, six other satellites will be put into orbit and the whole mission will come to an end in just over 25 minutes.

Astrosat, with a life span of five years, will observe the universe through optical, ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray components of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing through a narrow wavelength band, the agency said.

The Indonesian 76 kg LAPAN-A2 is a micro-satellite from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, meant for providing maritime surveillance using automatic identification system (AIS), supporting Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out earth surveillance using video and digital camera.

The 14-kg NLS-14 (Ev9) of Space Flight Laboratory, University of Toronto Institute for Advanced Studies, is also a maritime monitoring Canadian nano satellite using the next generation AIS.

The remaining four LEMUR nano satellites from Spire Global Inc., San Francisco, US, are non-visual remote sensing satellites, focusing primarily on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking via AIS and high fidelity weather forecasting using GPS radio occultation technology, the Isro said.

Nasa Says Opportunity Rover Ready for Harsh Martian Winter

Red Planet is headed for harsh winter and Nasa rover Opportunity is not worried at all. The rover is conducting a “walkabout” survey of the “Marathon Valley” where it plans to face the upcoming Martian winter while studing the context for outcrops bearing clay minerals.

For several months starting October, the rover team plans to operate Opportunity on the southern side of the valley to take advantage of the sun-facing slope.

The site is in Mars’ southern hemisphere, so the sun is to the north during fall and winter days. Tilting the rover toward the sun increases power output from its solar panels.

The shortest-daylight period of this seventh Martian winter for Opportunity will come in January 2016.

“Our expectation is that Opportunity will be able to remain mobile through the winter,” said John Callas, project manager from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

“Marathon Valley” slices downhill from west to east for about 300 yards through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

Opportunity has been investigating rock targets in the western portion of the valley since late July, working its way eastward in a thorough reconnaissance of the area.

The “walkabout” is identifying investigation targets in and near the valley floor. Rocks in reddish zones there contain more silica and less iron than most rocks in the area.

During the Martian late fall and winter seasons, Opportunity will conduct its measurements and traverses on the southern side of the valley.

“When spring arrives, the rover will return to the valley floor for detailed measurements of outcrops that may host the clay minerals,” added deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson from Washington University in St Louis.

Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Project landed twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars in 2004 to begin missions planned to last three months.

Both rovers far exceeded those plans. Spirit worked for six years and Opportunity is still active. The findings about ancient wet environments on Mars have come from both rovers.

Isro Scientists Give Thumbs Up to The Martian

A group of scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have thoroughly enjoyed Ridley Scott’s forthcoming space drama “The Martian” at a special screening of the film here.

The screening on Thursday was also attended by ten members from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

“I think the technology that they have shown and used, and the demonstration of working of spaceships were good. They have received guidance from Nasa. The film offers a good insight into the workings of space science. I felt you actually touched Mars, especially with the 3D glasses with which you view the film,” S. Arunan, a senior Isro scientist, said in a statement.

The director had sent out a message to the scientists as well.

In the message, Scott said: “Namaste, esteemed scientists of the Isro! I am Ridley Scott, director of the movie which you are about to watch. I guess I have something in common with most of you here; and that’s the love for science and space, a subject which has always fascinated me, as some of you would have seen in my earlier films.”

“Heartiest congratulations to you and India on the first anniversary of the successful Mars orbit mission (September 24). ‘The Martian’ is also about an ambitious Mars Mission but more importantly it’s about the human spirit.”

“When a human mission to Mars goes awry and a scientist gets left behind on Mars, scientists all around Earth collaborate to find a way to rescue him. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I and my team enjoyed making it.”

The film features Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who, when presumed dead on a mission to Mars, has to survive until rescue arrives.

“The Martian” also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover in important roles.

The film releases in India on October 2 and will be dubbed in three languages – Hindi, Tamil and Telugu