NASA To Offer Virtual Mars Walks Using Hololens

We may be a number of years off the first humans walking on Mars, but NASA plans to give us a sneak peek at what it may be like to walk on the Red Planet. Their new exhibit, named “Destination: Mars” has them teaming up with Microsoft to let visitors take a virtual walk across the surface of Mars thanks to the power of the Hololens augmented reality headset.

Destination: Mars will be powered by the OnSight mission operations tool, a cooperative development between Microsoft and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is capable of taking data recorded by the Curiosity rover, which has been roaming the Red Planet since 2012 and transfers the images to the Hololens which can make any room appear like it is actually the surface of Mars.

OnSight is already in use by NASA scientists, who use it to virtually experience Mars for themselves so they can better select future destinations for the Curiosity rover to visit. This new exhibit will be the first time that the experience will be available to the general public, allowing them to see the alien world in just the way a NASA mission scientist would.

The exhibition will be open at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida this summer where visitors will be able to virtually travel to a number of locations on Mars, accompanied by holographic guides like Aldrin and rover driver Erisa Hines who will point out the sites of key discoveries.

Ceres Looks Amazing in NASA’s New Fly-By Video

NASA released a beautiful new video that shows a fly-by of the dwarf planet Ceres, so if you came here hoping for a video on the Danish beer named Ceres, you’re out of luck. This is however much better and shows a very close fly-by of this tiny planetary object. The new video is composed out of images made with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and the simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center.

Before any of the conspiracy theorists come out and try to tell that the photos used to make this video have been manipulated, I can tell you that they have. The colours have been enhanced to make it more pleasant to watch and to show the subtle differences on the surface materials. The original non-enhanced photos would be quite boring to look at and scientists believe areas with shades of blue contain younger, fresher material, including flows, pits and cracks.

The images were captured during a phase that lasted from August 2015 to October 2015 where the spacecraft orbited Ceres at an altitude of just 1450 kilometers. Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but it wasn’t Dawn’s first stop. Dawn has previously orbiting the asteroid Vesta for 14 months back in 2011 and 2012 before it arrived at Ceres in March 2015.

While the photos for the video were taken from a very low orbit, the spacecraft is currently flying even lower while it is on its final mapping trip at about 385 kilometers height from the surface. That’s closer than the international space station is to earth.

“The simulated overflight shows the wide range of crater shapes that we have encountered on Ceres. The viewer can observe the sheer walls of the crater Occator, and also Dantu and Yalode, where the craters are a lot flatter,” said Ralf Jaumann, a Dawn mission scientist at DLR.

A Look At Time Magazines Selected Space Images Of 2015

Long lasting American magazine “Time” has recently announced a selected list of 55 space images that have captured the imagination of readers and experts alike, below is a look at just a few of these amazing and awe-inspiring pics.

Below is a fantastic image that was captured by The Hubble Space Telescope of the Eagle Nebula “Pillars of Creation”, this was published in January 2015 and it is an incredible image, the detail certainly captures the imagination of space for both budding and also veteran astronomers.   

The image below was captured by the New Horizons spacecraft of Pluto in July 2015, “The New Horizons mission is helping NASA understand worlds at the edge of the solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation”.   The image is fantastic and conveys a world that has previously been out of reach for explorers.  

Below is an image that was captured of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket which exploded just after launching from Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, on Oct. 28, 2014. The rocket was carrying an unmanned Cygnus spacecraft filled with NASA cargo, this image was finally released in 2015.  The image feels as if it has just been lifted from a blockbuster movie set or a newly released video game, certainly a spectacular image.

This image below is of Astronaut Scott Kelly who re-entered the International Space Station (ISS) after a space walk, as you do, the image is again spectacular and was released in October 2015. 

The final image was released in December 2015 and is of the Vega rocket that was launched with the aim of testing a variety of methods to detect gravitational waves, the image was released in December 2015. The image certainly conveys the power needed to propel a rocket into space.

A Visual Photographic Collage Of China’s Air Pollution

China’s air quality is poor to say the least, recent reports of families having to use an air purifier in their own homes to avoid breathing the air is quite shocking. The atmosphere in China has become worse over time to the point whereby it is difficult to recall a situation when the countries skies were not full of pollution, luckily, China and its Weather Network has produced a visual representation and it’s certainly worth a look.

Below is a series of snaps which has been stitched together and conveys the Beijing sky conditions most for most of the time in 2015, it is quite revealing when you consider how toxic the pollution is and is particularly evident when you look at images labelled 2015-12-1 and 2015-12-25.    

Image Below appears to be a colour chart of images that represent around 300 days of 2015, how do I know? yes I did count them and I came to around 290 days which I rounded up to 300, so give or take it is close to a year in total. The image also conveys the levels of extremes that exist and how it can be a danger to anyone’s health.

Below is an image which is quite fascinating, the sky here looks pretty natural and there is a good reason for this,  “during the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War commemoration of the 70th anniversary of victory” celebrations, the government  imposed air “quality protection measures”, this included a shutdown of factories and a ban on cars and high emission facilities. The result was a dramatic change that started from August 20th and continued until August 24th, 2015.

These images are interesting because tech has been used to document a hot topic climate issue in today’s world.

Image courtesy of geonews

ASUSTOR Adds Compatibility for All PLANET’s IP Cameras

ASUSTOR partnered up with PLANET to Create an even better cloud surveillance solution. ASUSTOR added compatibility for all of PLANET’s IP camera models, giving users that utilize the Surveillance Station functionality to turn their NAS into an NVR even more choices when it comes to cameras that they can use. All ASUSTOR NAS devices are now compatible with world renowned PLANET IP cameras. Traditional surveillance systems are a thing of the past thanks to the increased network bandwidth that has become available, both wired and wireless, making IP cameras the optimal choice.

ASUSTOR NAS not only provides a highly stable network storage system but also allows users to easily setup and install a surveillance management system. This is the first time that PLANET teams up with ASUSTOR, so it is quite nice to see that all their high-quality IP camera products now are compatible with ASUSTOR’s network storage servers.

Users that require a complete network surveillance solutions can get their high-quality surveillance feeds transferred and stored on ASUSTOR NAS via PLANET’s smart energy-saving PoE switches and related equipment. Furthermore, smart system functions help administrators with remote management while maintaining high-quality surveillance and productivity in any usage environment.

ASUSTOR’s Surveillance Center is a free, but you may need to purchase additional camera licenses, and it can be installed on all ASUSTOR NAS devices, instantly turning the NAS into a Network Video Recorder. Surveillance Center features a simple 5 step quick installation wizard that can complete camera additions within 90 seconds and configure recording, viewing and management settings.

A full list of compatible cameras can be found here.

NASA Discovers Flowing Water on Mars

A decades-old investigation into the possibility of life on Mars – a question even David Bowie was asking during the Seventies – has had one of its most important pre-requisites finally fulfilled: NASA has found evidence of flowing water on Mars. Not ice, not vapour, but actual liquid water.

“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the NASA Mars exploration programme, said. “Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.”

NASA’s findings, revealed in science journal Nature Geoscience, explain previously discovered streaks seen running down Martian slopes. The dark marks (above), first discovered in 2010, now appear to be salt deposits from evaporated water, quickly stripped away by the planet’s thin atmosphere. The water itself has not been observed, but its effects are now recognised.

While the source of this water is still unknown, NASA scientists presume that it emerges to the surface of the Red Planet from underground aquifers or ice deposits. “The mystery has been, what is permitting this flow? Presumably water, but until now, there has been no spectral signature,” Meyer added. “From this, we conclude that the RSL are generated by water interacting with percholorates, forming a brine that flows downhill.”

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Europe Mismanages Disposal Of Discarded Electronics

A ticking timebomb is in the form of the correct way to dispose electronic waste, the globe is producing unit upon unit of the latest gadget which in turn pumps chemicals and materials into these devices. The turnaround from purchase to waste is even shorter than ever and protocols need to be implemented with the aim of recycling, which decreases the environmental impact on the plant as possible.

Unfortunately, A European Union Funded project in conjunction with Interpol, the United Nations University, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, the WEEE Forum, the Cross Border Research Association, Zanasi and Partners and Compliance and Risks has found rather poor statistics.

They have found in Europe, “just 35% (3.3 million tonnes of 9.5 million tonnes) of used (but still functioning) and waste electronics and electrical equipment discarded by companies and consumers in 2012 wound up in official collection and recycling systems”. What happened to 6.2 million tonnes? It’s not like companies made it disappear, (reads more information) OK it is like companies made it disappear as the rest of the waste was “either exported, recycled under non-compliant conditions or simply thrown in waste bins”.

Responsible manufacturing and consumers who buy these electronics need to bear in mind disposal when throwing away items. The raw materials are toxic, think chlorofluorocarbons in fridges or Benzene and n-hexane which are chemicals thought to cause cancer and nerve damage, not such a problem? These chemicals have been used in the production of Apple products up until 2014.

Of course, as this report illustrates, an unknown but damaging factor is the criminal gangs who thrive off the illegal waste supply chain in some countries. Disposal of electronic waste is essential considering the amount which is being manufactured with the ratio increasing year on year, hopefully, more can be achieved in this area to decrease humans carbon footprint on the earth.

Thank you economictimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of open-electronics

NASA’s Kepler Telescope Finds New Earth-Like Planet

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope (above) has discovered an Earth-like planet within our galaxy. The planet, given the designation Kepler-452b, is thought to be older and larger than the Earth, but with a similar atmosphere and gravity that could be capable of sustaining life.

The Kepler Space Telescope was launched in March 2009, and during its lifespan has discovered over 1,000 new planets, but the discovery of Kepler-452b is considered to be its most important discovery to date.

A NASA statement reads, “Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years – another Earth.”

Kepler-452b appears to be what NASA calls a ‘Goldilocks’ planet, positioned within a zone not too close and not too far from the star that it orbits, ideal for sustaining life. It has twice the land mass of the Earth, has a 380-day year, and its atmosphere is capable of producing cloud cover and a rain cycle.

Jeff Coughlin, Kepler research scientist at SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, thinks that this discovery is just the beginning. “Is this the end? Hell no!” he said at the press conference announcing the discovery.

Thank you The Independent and NASA for providing us with this information.

Crytek Reveales Its Upcoming Virtual Reality Game

Crytek always strived to bring the most immersive user experience on the market. Today, virtual reality might be the key for the company, allowing them to place the player in a world where there are no limits to what creativity could accomplish.

The latest news shows that Crytek has worked hard on a new virtual reality title named Robinson: The Journey. Judging by its poster, the game is about a lot of exploration in a fully immersive VR experience. We see that the action takes place on an alien planet, filled with dense vegetation and dinosaurs.

The dinosaur addition leads us to believe that part of the game footage was already leaked in Crytek’s dinosaur VR demo previously demoed, but the company wants you to experience more than just some 3D animated creatures walking past or chasing you. Crytek’s Director of Production, David Bowman, said that the title aims at reshaping how people think about games.

What Bowman means is that the company plans on delivering players a means of fully interacting with its vast environment using the latest tech available on the market. However, VR tech is also known for its pesky nausea effect, so players may still be able to enjoy just a few minutes or maybe even an hour of continuous gameplay. Nonetheless, the title will still be one of the first to set the grounds for future VR games.

Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information

Star Wars Battlefront Multiplayer Details Revealed

There is still quite some time until EA launches their Starwars Battlefront game developed by DICE and in a recent blog post DICE now revealed the amount of multiplayer levels that will be available as well as where the inspiration for some of them comes from.

The Starwars theme allows for a literary endless universe of world possibilities. DICE however wanted to create something new and of their own for the game, but it should still fit the universe and give the player a great Star Wars experience. They decided on a lava planet and named it Sullust. DICE is located in Sweden and almost around the corner is Island, the perfect scenario to get inspiration for such a place. It has a breathtaking nature that appears dead, has lava and steam erupting from the surface and one that fascinates like no other. People who have visited the place always have a hard time to describe it, it is something that has to be experienced.

And you can do just that in the new Starwars Battlefront, at least when it comes to the experience and atmosphere. Granted, you’ll probably meet more storm troopers in the game than you would on the island itself, although I don’t know for sure.

“When the DICE team first set foot on the Icelandic surface, parts were bubbling, giving off short yet intense bursts of heat. The solid ground gently rumbled, reverberations felt from head to toe. They stood still, looking far and wide only to see eerie streams of smoke rolling across the horizon and over awkward arrangements of gigantic black rocks. The air was cool but surprisingly calm, as if life was non-existent. It was in this moment that they knew this was what players need to feel when trudging through the cold, dark, and unstable terrain of a previously unexplored planet and bringing this to Star Wars Battlefront would be one of their biggest challenges yet.”

There is no final count on how many maps the Battlefront Missions will cover, but we now know that there will be 12 multiplayer maps upon release and that Sullust is one of them. The lush forests of Endor or the tundra of Hoth were also mentioned as new maps that will allow you to re-live your favorite moments from the films.

The game has a release date that is set for 17th November, but if recent game release history is any indication then we should expect a delay on that.

International Astronomical Union (IAU) Planet-Naming Contest Opening Up

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will open up exoplanet naming contests starting next year, in an effort to cut off the complicated names following the once-strict naming guidelines.

Instead of having the next OGLE235-MOA53 b exoplanet, other suitable – and potentially amusing – names could be up for grabs.  It’s a difficult task for the IAU, as there are so many exoplanets being discovered, and trying to assign names too complicated is a major headache.

The IAU has teamed up with Zooniverse and created a list of 305 exoplanets in 206 solar systems – with astronomy organizations and researchers able to select planets to be named, which will begin in September.

Here is what an IAU representative said in a statement regarding the contest:

“People have been naming celestial objects for millennia, long before any scientific system of names ever existed.  Even today, almost every civilization and culture uses common names to describe the stars and planets visible to the naked eye, as well as their apparent distribution on the sky – constellations, asterisms [star patterns], etc.”

Several planet naming services have cropped up, allowing participants to pay a fee to vote, though the IAU quickly put a stop to those startups.  A public vote will open up in March 2015, with winning names unveiled to the public in August 2015.

Thank you to Space.com for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Space.com