Self-Driving Electric Pods to be Installed near London

Self-Driving Electric Pods to be Installed near London

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A fleet of 100 automated “pod cars” will be installed in Milton Keynes, a small city north of London. They will run between the train station, downtown and various offices in-between.

ULTra Personal Electric Transportation Pods are rubber-tyred, battery-powered unmanned vehicles, easily capable of carrying 4 passengers and their luggage. With a total carrying capacity of up to 450kg, the Ultra pods are perfectly suited to accommodate wheelchairs, prams and bicycles. Compliant with disability legislation.

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“The Ultra system offers security and convenience by providing a non-stop journey that gives passengers exclusive use of their vehicle. Each pod is monitored by CCTV and a dedicated team of controllers are on hand to help at the push of a button.”

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via inhabitat

source ULTra Personal Electric Transportation Pods

Source: Worldlesstech

What is the Milky Way?

What is the Milky Way?

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The Earth orbits the Sun in the Solar System, and the Solar System is embedded within a vast galaxy of stars. Just one in hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. Ours is called the Milky Way because the disk of the galaxy runs across the sky as a band of glowing light, like spilled milk.

Astronomers had suspected the Milky Way was made up of stars, but it wasn’t proven until 1610, when Galileo Galilei turned his rudimentary telescope towards the heavens and resolved individual stars in the band across the sky. With the help of telescopes, astronomers realized that there were many many more stars in the sky, and all of the stars that we can see are a part of the Milky Way.

If you could travel outside the galaxy and look down on it from above, you’d see that the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy measuring about 120,000 light-years across and about 1,000 light-years thick. For the longest time, the Milky Way was thought to have 4 spiral arms, but newer surveys have determined that it actually seems to just have 2 spiral arms: they are called Scutum–Centaurus and Carina–Sagittarius.

Artist’s conception of the Milky Way galaxy. Credit: Nick Risinger

Artist’s conception of the Milky Way galaxy. Credit: Nick Risinger

It’s very difficult to figure out what the Milky Way looks like exactly, because we’re embedded inside it. If you’d never been out of your house, you wouldn’t know what it looked like from outside. But you’d get a sense by looking at other houses in your neighborhood.

Our Sun is located in the Orion Arm, a region of space in between the two major arms of the Milky Way. The spiral arms are formed from density waves that orbit around the Milky Way. As these density waves move through an area, they compress the gas and dust, leading to a period of active star formation for the region.

Astronomers estimate that there are between 100 and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, and think that each star has at least one planet. So there are likely hundreds of billions of planets in the Milky Way, and at least 17 billion of those are the size and mass of the Earth.

Our Sun is located about 27,000 light years from the galactic core. At the heart of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole, just like all of the other galaxies. This monster is more than 4 million times the mass of the Sun.

This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our Sun takes about 240 million years to orbit the Milky Way once. Just imagine, the last time the Sun was at this region of the galaxy, dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and the Sun has only made 18-20 trips around in its entire life.

The Milky Way, like all galaxies, is surrounded by a vast halo of dark matter. Nobody knows what it is, but its mass helps keep the galaxy from tearing itself apart as it rotates.

It’s believed that our galaxy formed through the collisions of smaller galaxies, early in the Universe. These mergers are still going on, and the Milky Way is expected to collide with Andromeda in 3-4 billion years. The two galaxies will combine to form a giant elliptical galaxy, and their supermassive black holes might even merge.

The Milky Way and Andromeda are part of a larger collection of galaxies known as the Local Group. And these are contained within an even larger region called the Virgo Supercluster.

Dung Beetle. Credit – Kay-aftrica

Dung Beetle. Credit – Kay-aftrica

You might be amazed to know that dung beetles actually navigate at night using the Milky Way. If you’ve never seen the Milky Way with your own eyes, you should take the chance when you can. Go to a place with nice dark skies, free from light pollution. Look up and appreciate the Milky Way, and wave hello to all the neighboring stars who share our galaxy with us.

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Article by Fraser Cain originally posted on Universe Today

High-Flying Balloon Dispute Follows ‘World View’ Announcement

High-Flying Balloon Dispute Follows ‘World View’ Announcement

Web pages for proposed balloon flights from Paragon Space Development Corp.’s World View (top) and zero2infinity’s Inbloon (bottom).

Web pages for proposed balloon flights from Paragon Space Development Corp.’s World View (top) and zero2infinity’s Inbloon (bottom).

The newly announced World View balloon flight concept shares a number of “striking” similarities to an older proposal for ‘near-space flight experience’ balloon rides, according to the head of the zero2infinity Inbloon project.

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Both concepts are competing in the nascent high-altitude balloon market, which would see these craft fly high in the stratosphere with paying clients and/or payloads on board. Some of them would be paying tourists to look at the view, while others would be institutions looking to get above most of the Earth’s atmosphere for scientific and other purposes.

The groundwork for zero2infinity’s Inbloon has been in the works since about 2002, founder Jose Mariano Lopez Urdiales said. So far, the Spanish company has run three test flights with micro versions of its balloon; the last one was in September. A ride high in the atmosphere would (when it happens) cost the equivalent of $150,000 (110,000 Euros).

World View — backed by Arizona’s Paragon Space Development Corp., which is involved in several startup space projects — announced in late October that it would offer rides to the high atmosphere for $75,000 each. Few details were provided, but Paragon president Jane Poynter told Universe Today that more announcements will come. She added that the company has been thinking about this kind of work seriously for at least a decade.

The companies were in talks for Paragon to provide life support systems for Inbloon, Urdiales said, but Paragon decided to go its own route. The World View announcement came shortly after Urdiales was told of Paragon’s decision, he added.

“We were speaking to them for a couple of years. They learned about our business and what we were doing,” Urdiales said in late October.

“A month ago or so, they said ‘We’re not going to be able to supply you. We don’t think we’re going to be able to export this to Spain.’ And then we said, ‘Fine, we’re talking to other suppliers’ … and then they launched this thing. The commonalities are striking.”

As examples, Urdiales said a lot of the marketing language was similar and that the artists’ concepts of the balloon designs for the two companies also appeared to be about the same. He added, however, that he is not planning to pursue any formal action because he would rather focus on running safe flights. The first human-rated Inbloon flight is expected in 2014, he said.

“The hard part is getting the investment, and doing the flight. Both things are pretty hard, and require a level of integrity. Otherwise the tests don’t work and you break something and you [could] kill people.”

World View told Universe Today that Paragon has been pursuing this idea independently for years, long before they heard of Urdiales’ plans. The company did not comment on Urdiales’ claims about previous business talks.

World View Experience.mp4 from World View on Vimeo.

“Let me start by emphasizing that we are not duplicating anyone’s plans. The World View concept has been an interest of ours for many years,” Paragon’s Poynter told Universe Today in an e-mail.

“It is worth mentioning, I think, that the idea of human flight using high altitude balloons is not a recent development. In fact, the origins of this idea date back to the 1950s with the work of Otto Winzen and others.  As for our own origins, [co-founder] Taber [MacCallum] went to high-altitude balloon launches as a child, as his father is an astrophysicist and was studying gamma-ray astronomy using high-altitude balloon launches of telescopes.

“That experience translated,” she added, “later in life, to Paragon’s work on a commercial airship project a decade ago for tourism and cargo. We began developing World View long before we heard about Jose and his initiative. In fact, we’ve been looking at commercial uses of lighter-than-air craft for a long time.”

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The URL for World View, worldviewexperience.com, was registered Aug. 24, 2013, according to public domain records. Inbloon’s URL, inbloon.com, was registered May 6, 2009.

Article by Elizabeth Howell originally posted on Universe Today

Countdown Commences for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

Countdown Commences for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

Unveiling a breathtaking view of the majestic Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV C25 with its passenger, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft inside. The Mobile service tower is also seen in the background. Credit: IRSO

Unveiling a breathtaking view of the majestic Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV C25 with its passenger, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft inside. The Mobile service tower is also seen in the background. Credit: IRSO

The countdown has commenced and the excitement is building for India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – which will conduct a detailed study of the Martian atmosphere and is the nation’s first ever mission to the Red Planet.

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The 56 hour 30 min countdown started at 6:06 a.m. IST today (Nov. 3), according to an official statement from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) leading to liftoff on Tuesday, Nov 5, from a seaside launch pad in Srihanikota, India.

MOM is the first of two new Mars orbiter science probes from Earth set to blast off for the Red Planet this November. Half a globe away, NASA’s MAVEN orbiter remains on target to launch barely two weeks after MOM on Nov. 18 – from the Florida Space Coast.

A bird’s eye view of the Spaceport of India Panaromic view of First Launch Pad with 44 meter tall PSLV-C25 rocket during launch rehearsal – Ready to commence the space voyage of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft. The Mobile service tower and the Second Launch Pad are also seen.Credit: ISRO

A bird’s eye view of the Spaceport of India
Panaromic view of First Launch Pad with 44 meter tall PSLV-C25 rocket during launch rehearsal – Ready to commence the space voyage of ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft. The Mobile service tower and the Second Launch Pad are also seen.Credit: ISRO

ISRO will broadcast the momentous MOM launch live at – starting at 14:00 hrs IST.

“The Launch Authorisation Board has approved & cleared the PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission launch on Nov 05, 2013 at 14:38 hrs IST (9:08 UTC, 4:08 a.m. EST)” from the state-of-the-art Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Srihairkota, located on India’s east coast in Andhra Pradesh state.

MOM is on schedule to lift off atop the powerful, extended XL version of India’s highly reliable four stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25).

Fueling of the PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission rocket stages is now in progress following a completely successful dress rehearsal and launch countdown exercise completed on Oct. 31.

“The filling of propellants into the Roll Control Thrusters as well as the Fourth stage of the PSLV C25 rocket [with mixed nitrogen oxides and monomethylhydrazine] is completed,” ISRO declared a short while ago.

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During the dress rehearsal the vehicle systems were powered, the health was normal and the spacecraft & launch vehicle integrated level checks were completed.

Two tracking ships have been deployed to the Indian Ocean to relay critical in flight telemetry.

The 44 meter (144 ft) PSLV will launch MOM into an initially elliptical Earth parking orbit of 248 km x 23,500 km. A series of six orbit raising burns will eventually dispatch MOM on a trajectory to Mars around December 1.

Graphic outlines India’s first ever probe to explore the Red Planet known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). Launch is set for Nov. 5 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Srihairkota, India. Credit: ISRO

Graphic outlines India’s first ever probe to explore the Red Planet known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). Launch is set for Nov. 5 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Srihairkota, India. Credit: ISRO

Following a 300 day interplanetary cruise phase, the do or die Mars orbital insertion engine will fire on September 21, 2014 and place MOM into an 366 km x 80,000 km elliptical orbit.

MOM arrives about the same time as NASA’s MAVEN orbiter. They will significantly bolster Earth’s armada of five operational orbiters and surface rovers currently investigating the Red Planet.

MAVEN and MOM will “work together” to help solve the mysteries of Mars atmosphere, the chief MAVEN scientist told Universe Today.

“We plan to collaborate on some overlapping objectives,” Bruce Jakosky told me. Jakosky is MAVEN’s principal Investigator from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Spacecraft attached to the 4th stage of PSLV-C25 and ready for heat shield closure. It is slated to launch on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Spacecraft attached to the 4th stage of PSLV-C25 and ready for heat shield closure. It is slated to launch on Nov. 5, 2013. Credit: ISRO

The 1,350 kilogram (2,980 pound) MOM orbiter, also known as ‘Mangalyaan’, is the brainchild of ISRO.

‘Mangalyaan’ is outfitted with an array of five indigenous science instruments including a multi color imager and a methane gas sniffer to study the Red Planet’s atmosphere, morphology, mineralogy and surface features. Methane on Earth originates from both biological and geological sources.

Stacking of the PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission rocket stages at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, India. Credit: IRSO

Stacking of the PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission rocket stages at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, India. Credit: IRSO

MOM’s 15 kg (33 lb) science suite comprises:

MCM: the tri color Mars Color Camera images the planet and its two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos

LAP: the Lyman Alpha Photometer measures the abundance of hydrogen and deuterium to understand the planets water loss process

TIS: the Thermal Imaging Spectrometer will map surface composition and mineralogy

MENCA: the Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser is a quadrapole mass spectrometer to analyze atmospheric composition

MSM: the Methane Sensor for Mars measures traces of potential atmospheric methane down to the ppm level.

Scientists will be paying close attention to whether MOM detects any atmospheric methane to compare with measurements from NASA’s Curiosity rover – which found ground level methane to be essentially nonexistent – and Europe’s upcoming 2016 ExoMarsTrace Gas Orbiter.

Although there are no NASA instruments on board MOM, NASA is providing key communications and navigation support to ISRO and MOM through the agency’s trio of huge tracking antennas in the Deep Space Network (DSN).

“At the point where we [MAVEN and MOM] are both in orbit collecting data we do plan to collaborate and work together with the data jointly,” MAVEN’s PI Jakosky told me.

“We agreed on the value of collaboration and will hold real discussions at a later time,” he noted.

India would become only the 4th nation or entity from Earth to survey Mars up close with spacecraft, following the Soviet Union, the United States and the European Space Agency (ESA)- if all goes well.

Past attempts to reach the Red Planet from both China and Japan have unfortunately failed.

Some observers speculate that India’s MOM mission will ignite a new Asian Space Race.

The $69 Million ‘Mangalyaan’ mission is expected to continue gathering measurements at the Red Planet for at least six months and hopefully much longer.

Long live MOM !

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Article by Ken Kremer originally posted on Universe Today

Mystery of why hot water freezes faster than cold is solved

Mystery of why hot water freezes faster than cold is solved

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Scientists claim to have solved the mystery of why hot water freezes faster than cold and it is because the strange behavior of atom bonds.

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The Mpemba effect is the theory that warmer water can freeze faster than colder water.

Scientists have known the phenomenon since the time of Aristotle in Ancient Greece, but until now they have struggled to explain why.

A research by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has revealed the bonds that hold water molecules together cause the effect.

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A water molecule is made from an oxygen atom joined to two hydrogen atoms with covalent bonds (a bond that involves the sharing of two electron pairs). When a hydrogen atom drifts close to an oxygen atom, it bonds with it, creating a hydrogen bond. It’s the strange behaviour of these bonds that explains the Mpemba effect.

The Mpemba effect, named after Erasto Mpemba, is the assertion that warmer water can freeze faster than colder water. Although there is anecdotal support for the effect, there is no agreement on exactly what the effect is and under what circumstances it occurs. There have been reports of similar phenomena since ancient times, although with insufficient detail for the claims to be replicated.

The phenomenon seems contrary to intuition, but a number of possible explanations for the effect have been proposed. Further investigations will need to decide on a precise definition of “freezing” and control a vast number of starting parameters in order to confirm or explain the effect.

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Read more Medium.com

via Telegraph

Source: Worldlesstech

A rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse Live

A rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse Live

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A spectacular geocentric celestial event of 2005 was a rare hybrid eclipse of the Sun – a total or an annular eclipse could be seen depending on the observer’s location.
Image © Left: Fred Espenak – Right: Stephan Heinsius

The incredibly rare Hybrid Eclipse live.

Join the Slooh Broadcast Team on November 3rd for complete coverage from Kenya, Gabon, and the Canary Islands.

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Today’s hybrid solar eclipse is most widely visible beyond the central shadow track as a brief partial eclipse from northeastern Americas through Africa, and along the track in an annular phase for only the first 15 seconds.

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For Fred Espenak, aboard a gently swaying ship within the middle of the Moon’s shadow track about 2,200 kilometers west of the Galapagos, the eclipse was total, the lunar silhouette exactly covering the bright solar disk for a few brief moments. His camera captured a picture of totality revealing the extensive solar corona and prominences rising above the Sun’s edge.

But for Stephan Heinsius, near the end of the shadow track at Penonome Airfield, Panama, the Moon’s apparent size had shrunk enough to create an annular eclipse, showing a complete annulus of the Sun’s bright disk as a dramatic ring of fire. Pictures from the two locations are compared above.

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How rare is such a hybrid eclipse?

hybrid eclipse is a unique type of central eclipse where parts of the path are annular while other parts are total. This duality comes about when the vertex of the Moon’s umbral shadow pierces Earth’s surface at some points, but falls short of the planet along other portions of the eclipse path. The curvature of Earth’s surface brings some geographic locations along the path into the umbra while other positions are more distant and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow.

Calculations show that during the 21st century just 3.1% (7 out of 224) of solar eclipses are hybrid while hybrids comprise about 5% of all solar eclipses over the period 2000 BC to AD 3000.

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sources APOD,   universetoday

Source: Worldlesstech