Tag Archives: agency

Mars rover Curiosity test fires the laser – pulverizes a rock just for fun (and science)

Johnny Five, aka the Mars rover Curiosity, continues its scientific journey. The nuclear-powered laboratory in-a-box pulled out it’s laser to blast a rock that got in its way. From NASA:

The mission’s ChemCam instrument hit a fist-sized rock named “Coronation” with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.

The energy from the laser creates a puff of ionized, glowing plasma. ChemCam catches the light with a telescope and analyzes it with three spectrometers for information about what elements are in the rock.

 

NASA said the main function of this was target practice to calibrate the ChemCam.

You gotta love the sense of play NASA is bringing to this mission. Not only are they releasing these stories about test-firing lasers, but they are all over social medial, including fan art on Facebook, a first-person Twitter account, sharing stories on Google Plus, and posting articles on their much more user-friendly website.

A great idea for the much beleaguered space agency, that I assume is a bid to get them back into America’s good graces…and taxpayer dollars.

***

Continue reading

Reforms in foster care showing good results – children in foster care drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.

Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.

 

Source: The Washington Post - Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times

Continue reading

Jet travels more than 13,000 mph (Mach 20) thanks to sleek aerodynamic systems

It’s amazing that this Hypersonic jet was able to travel more than 13,000 mph with heats of over 3,500 degrees.

During flight it experienced shockwaves, 100 times more powerful than expected, which caused it to spin. It then righted itself and flew for twice as long before technicians finally aborted the mission.

The full story:

In August the Pentagon’s research arm, known as DARPA, carried out a test flight of an experimental aircraft capable of traveling at 20 times the speed of sound.

The arrowhead-shaped unmanned aircraft, dubbed Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, into the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere…then glided above the Pacific at 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20.

The plan was for the Falcon to speed westward for about 30 minutes before plunging into the ocean near Kwajalein Atoll, about 4,000 miles from Vandenberg.

But it was ended about nine minutes into flight for unknown reasons. The launch had received worldwide attention and much fanfare, but officials didn’t provide much information on why the launch failed.

via LA Times

 

Then last week, DARPA said in a statement:

The flight successfully demonstrated stable aerodynamically-controlled flight at speeds up to Mach 20 for nearly three minutes. Approximately nine minutes into the test flight, the vehicle experienced a series of shocks culminating in an anomaly, which prompted the autonomous flight safety system to use the vehicle’s aerodynamic systems to make a controlled descent and splashdown into the ocean.

“The initial shockwave disturbances experienced during second flight, from which the vehicle was able to recover and continue controlled flight, exceeded by more than 100 times what the vehicle was designed to withstand,” said DARPA Acting Director, Kaigham J. Gabriel. “That’s a major validation that we’re advancing our understanding of aerodynamic control for hypersonic flight.”

…larger than anticipated portions of the vehicle’s skin peeled from the aerostructure. The resulting gaps created strong, impulsive shock waves around the vehicle as it travelled nearly 13,000 miles per hour, causing the vehicle to roll abruptly. Based on knowledge gained from the first flight in 2010 and incorporated into the second flight, the vehicle’s aerodynamic stability allowed it to right itself successfully after several shockwave-induced rolls. Eventually, however, the severity of the continued disturbances finally exceeded the vehicle’s ability to recover.

via DARPA

Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2)

 

Congress orders FAA to integrate drones into the U.S. aviation system

As the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prepares to let civilian unmanned aircraft operate in domestic airspace, universities including Embry-Riddle have created majors in flying and building drones. Enrollment is accelerating as students look for new opportunities in an aviation job market pummeled by airline bankruptcies.

The drone industry, estimated worldwide at $5.9 billion annually, will expand to $11.3 billion by 2021.

During the past 10 years, drones have become a vital military tool in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating a platform to attack terrorists without risking pilots’ lives and giving ground troops a chance to see their opponents from the air.

Congress passed bills in December and February that ordered the FAA to create six test sites for flying unmanned aircraft alongside regular planes. The agency must also complete a plan for integrating unmanned flights into the aviation system by Sept. 30, 2015.

Unmanned aircraft could be used for photography, police surveillance and monitoring pipelines and power lines. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has special permission to use drones.

more at - Bloomberg

 

Here are a selection of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), used by the military. I suspect the first to be employed privately will be the helicopters for police surveillance.

A BQM-74E aerial drone is launched from the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) during a live-fire exercise.
Global Hawk Drone.
First flown in 2002, the Boeing X-45A was the first modern UAV designed specifically for combat strike missions. The stealthy, swept-wing jet has fully retractable landing gear and a composite, fiber-reinforced epoxy skin. Its fuselage houses two internal weapons bays.
The U.S. Navy's Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) launches into its flight test program.
A Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is being attended to by three soldiers at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan.
A Northrop Grumman RQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System.

 

// Photos – An Honorable German, Rennett Stowe, Cliff1066, Marion Doss, US Army Africa, & Marion Doss

// Thx to Kosso K

Sunscreen prevents sunburns, but little else is known about their safety

Sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays.

FDA’s failure to finalize its 1978 sunscreen safety standards both epitomizes and perpetuates this state of confusion. EWG’s review of the latest research unearthed troubling facts that might tempt you to give up on sunscreens altogether.

That’s not the right answer – despite the unknowns about their efficacy, public health agencies still recommend using sunscreens, just not as your first line of defense against the sun.

Here are the surprising facts:

- No consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.

- Some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.

- The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.

- Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.

- Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.

- Europe’s better sunscreens.

- The 34th summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.

 

keep reading – each fact has an explanation at EWG

 

// Thx to Swiss Miss, Photo via Robert S. Donovan

One million robots in three years – Foxconn’s Robot Kingdom

The largest private employer in China, Foxconn with over 1 million employees, is finally facing stiff labor costs. This is great news for the U.S. manufacturing sector who may be able to lure some work back to the United States.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the global market, but for now the advantage is all for the robots:

Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday.

The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers’ dance party Friday night.

Foxconn, the world’s largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia.

via Xinhua News Agency

A quote from Foxconn reveals that the issue of rising labor costs for the company are just going to get worse:

…talked about moving its human workers “higher up the value chain” and into sexy fields such as research.

via The Economist

FDA ruling – cigarette makers must be transparent about chemical additives

A ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires tobacco companies to be transparent about the chemicals in their products. This hasn’t yet happened, despite all the warnings and labels on cigarettes, and it’s no wonder considering:

“Over 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds are present in tobacco and the smoke that emanates from tobacco. A list of 93 HPHCs has been established by the FDA that tobacco companies will need to inform consumers about in their products sold throughout the country.”

The act, called the The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, requires “makers of tobacco products, as well as importers, to report what HPHCs (harmful and potentially harmful constituents) exist in their products or the smoke that comes from their products, by brand and sub-brand.”

“They will also have to back up any “reduced harm” claims with compelling proof, the Agency added.”

It will be interesting to see what the results of this are. I have smoked tobacco products sold in other countries, from Europe to the Caribbean, and noticed a vast difference in the quality. Not to mention a seemingly lower amount chemicals in them, meaning I cough less, have less aftertaste, and don’t get as addicted.

 

// Quotes from Medical News Today, thx to Amelia S.

Continue reading