NASA Tests Helper Robots Inspired By Star Wars And Powered By Android
The world is on fire! Literally. NASA just released a virtual video tour of Earth’s fires. As it turns out, agricultural fires in the Southeast and Mississippi River Valley are more visible from space than the forest fires of the West. See more…
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Mars Science Laboratory “Curiosity Rover” Mission Animation
For seven years, the scientists building NASA’s next-generation Mars rover have been refining every last detail aboard, in order to service one single goal: Searching for signs of life on Mars.
The result of that effort, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity, is getting its final tweaks in a pristine room, almost totally dust and microbe-free, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. It ships to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in June, in preparation for a late fall launch and nine-month interplanetary journey. NASA will choose the final landing site this summer.
As evidence of the latter, NASA has created a remarkable infographic that shows just how alarmingly fast Greenland is melting away. That chart shows, quite elegantly, the length of the melting season at various points along Greenland’s ice cap.
For most of the year, Greenland is totally frozen. But during summer months, some melting does occur. Because of rising temperatures, that melting season is starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before—in fact, in the places colored deep red on that map above, the melting season has lasted 60 days longer than the average of the last 30 years. That’s a whole hell of a lot of melting.
NASA gathered the data from meteorological satellites that measure tiny amounts of microwaves being emitted by ice and water. Since the signatures of each are slightly different, scientists can tell exactly when the ice cap is melting and when it is frozen.
So it’s amazing, and it really does seem like a human hand. But could your hand take a beating from a baseball bat and still work fine? DLR’s one can—thanks to those super-strong artificial tendons and clever spring assemblies that let the tendons “stretch”. The way the tendons are arranged (in what’s called an antagonistic manner) also means the “stiffness” or reboundability of each joint can be adjusted in real time by the arm’s computers. This trick even lets it safely catch a fast-moving ball (where previous robot appendages would suffer damage) because the springiness absorbs some of the incoming energy—just as your arm does. The DLR hand can also click its fingers, just for fun.
We admit, the video is a bit disconcerting without sound.