s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 05/04/2021 13:00:14
"NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has emerged from its first night on the surface of Mars," reports NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was deployed from the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover on April 3rd. In the days to come, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet. From the report: Evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical components and damage the onboard batteries required for flight. "This is the first time that Ingenuity has been on its own on the surface of Mars," said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "But we now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters, and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team. We're excited to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test."

To ensure the solar array atop the helicopter's rotors could begin getting sunlight as soon as possible, Perseverance was instructed to move away from Ingenuity shortly after deploying it. Until the helicopter put its four legs onto the Martian surface, Ingenuity remained attached to the belly of the rover, receiving power from Perseverance, which touched down at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. The rover serves as a communications relay between Ingenuity and Earth, and it will use its suite of cameras to observe the flight characteristics of the solar-powered helicopter from "Van Zyl Overlook."

slashdot le : 24/03/2021 02:00:11
The US space agency says it expects now to fly the first helicopter on Mars in early April. From a report: The little chopper was carried to the Red Planet by the Perseverance rover, which made its dramatic landing in Jezero Crater just over a month ago. Called Ingenuity, the 1.8kg, twin-rotor aircraft will attempt a series of short hops in Mars' rarefied air. If successful, it would represent something of a "Wright Brothers moment", says Nasa. This is a reference of course to Orville and Wilbur Wright, who in 1903 conducted the historic first heavier-than-air, powered aircraft flight here on Earth. And to mark the connection, the agency revealed that a postage stamp-sized piece of fabric from a wing of the brothers' plane has been taped to Ingenuity.

At the moment, the chopper is still attached to Perseverance, to its belly. A protective covering was released at the weekend and in the coming days the craft will be lowered to the ground. Engineers have identified a 10m by 10m area in Jezero that they're calling the "airfield". This is at one end of a 90m "flight zone", inside which perhaps five sorties will be performed. Perseverance will endeavour to record everything on camera. "We are going to do our very best to capture Ingenuity in flight," said Nasa engineer Farah Alibay. "We're going to be taking images, we're hoping to take video." This will be challenging, she cautioned. Both rover and helicopter function autonomously and carry separate clocks. The timing devices will need to be in sync for the photography to catch the action.

slashdot le : 23/03/2021 02:00:10
According to Deadline, Warner Bros. will return to releasing its theatrical films exclusively in theaters next year, ending the studio's 2021 experiment of releasing major films simultaneously on its HBO Max streaming service and in theaters for the first 30 days they're released. The Verge reports: The news comes as part of an announcement from Warner Bros. of a new deal with Regal cinemas owner Cineworld, the second largest theater chain in the world. After over six months of shutdowns, Regal's theaters will reopen in April, and they'll begin showing Warner Bros. films like Kong vs. Godzilla and Mortal Kombat alongside their HBO Max debuts. When Warner Bros. films come back to theaters in 2022, Regal theaters will once again have full exclusivity (with no HBO Max or paid streaming rental competition). But that exclusivity window will be for a much shorter amount of time: Regal will only have a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window, half of the 90-day standard that existed in years past.

slashdot le : 17/03/2021 12:00:08
AmiMoJo shares a report from ScienceAlert: The menagerie of bacterial and fungal species living among us is ever growing -- and this is no exception in low-gravity environments, such as the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers from the United States and India working with NASA have now discovered four strains of bacteria living in different places in the ISS -- three of which were, until now, completely unknown to science.

Three of the four strains were isolated back in 2015 and 2016 -- one was found on an overhead panel of the ISS research stations, the second was found in the Cupola, the third was found on the surface of the dining table; the fourth was found in an old HEPA filter returned to Earth in 2011. All four of the strains belong to a family of bacteria found in soil and freshwater; they are involved in nitrogen fixation, plant growth, and can help stop plant pathogens. Basically, good bacteria to have around if you're growing things.
The research has been published in Frontiers in Microbiology.

slashdot le : 12/03/2021 09:00:11
Adrian Cho writes via Science Magazine: From 1966 to 1974, France blew up 41 nuclear weapons in above-ground tests in French Polynesia, the collection of 118 islands and atolls that is part of France. The French government has long contended that the testing was done safely. But a new analysis of hundreds of documents declassified in 2013 suggests the tests exposed 90% of the 125,000 people living in French Polynesia to radioactive fallout -- roughly 10 times as many people as the French government has estimated.

The findings come from a 2-year collaboration, dubbed the Moruroa Files, between Disclose, a French nonprofit that supports investigative journalism; Interprt, a collective of researchers, architects, and spatial designers affiliated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who focus on environmental issues; and the Science & Global Security program at Princeton. The findings were presented on 9 March on the project's website, in a book, and in a technical paper posted to the arXiv preprint server. Most French Polynesians were exposed to a relatively small amount of radiation, and the central issue is who is eligible for compensation under French law.