Blue Origin Reveals New Glenn Rocket That Will Take Humans Into Orbit

Blue Origin Reveals New Glenn Rocket That Will Take Humans Into Orbit

For space fans, this is rapidly turning into a rather exciting century. Blue Origin, the company run by Amazons Jeff Bezos, has announced plans to build a massive new rocket that will take people and cargo to Earth orbit and beyond. And they also hinted at something even bigger and better in the future.

The rocket is named New Glenn, after John Glenn, who became the first American astronaut to orbit Earth in 1962. If youve been keeping up with Blue Origin, youll note that their previous rocket was also named after an American spaceflight pioneer; New Shepard was named after Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the first American to go to space.

This new rocket is Blue Origins endeavorto seriously enter the orbital launch business. Their New Shepard rocket, a relatively meager 15 meters (50 feet) tall, has only been used for short hops into space, and will likely just take paying customers on quick jaunts in the near future. The much larger New Glenn, on the other hand, will make Blue Origin a serious player in the rocket market.

There will be two versions of the rocket, used to take both satellites and people to space. A two-stage variant of the rocket, that is with two sections, will measure 82 meters (270 feet) tall and will be used for missions to low-Earth orbit (LEO). A three-stage version measuring 95 meters (313 feet) tall is also in development, for missions beyond LEO perhaps the Moon and Mars. Both will use the companys BE-4 engine, and the first stage of both will land back on the ground and be reusable, building on the test flights of New Shepard.

New Shepard has launched and landed successfully four times to date. Blue Origin

In terms of height, these rockets will be the tallest in operation (aside from NASA’s Space Launch System, if it’s built), and second in history only to the Saturn V. In terms of power, theyll have about 3.85 million pounds of thrust and liftoff, which is more than the most powerful rocket currently in operation, the Delta IV Heavy (2.1 million pounds), but less than SpaceXs upcoming Falcon Heavy (5.1 million pounds).

Nonetheless, its an important announcement for Blue Origin, a company that for so long was shrouded in secrecy but now is ready to show its hand to the world. Bezos was not quite ready to announce a first launch date, though, or show any images of the rockets development, but he did say in an email it would fly before the end of this decade from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

And, at the end of the announcement, he hinted at something even more impressive on the horizon. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong, he said. But thats a story for the future.

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Google Shows How Earth Has Changed In The Last 33 Years

Google Shows How Earth Has Changed In The Last 33 Years

A few years ago, Google launched Timelapse, a project that showed how our planet has changed between 1984 and 2012. The project was done in collaboration with the US Geological Survey, NASA, and TIME magazine, and combined the historic images withfreely accessible Google Earth data.

Now, the Mountain View company has re-launched the project by adding four years of images (from 2012 to 2016), petabytes worth of data, and a new approach to imaging techniques that gives better satellite images (both old and new) with less image artifacts and truer colors.

The team had to go through 5 million pictures collected by five different satellites to create a perfect cloud-free image for each year of the project. The project works just like Google Maps, so you can search any location on Earth and look at how it has changed over the past three decades.

The team chose 25 compelling locations that showsome incredible differences year on year, such as Dubai sprouting the Palm Islands or Lake Aral slowly disappearing due to human changes to the hydrology of the region.


Tibet, seen from 1984 to 2012. Google

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Ad Agency Uses Elderly to Game Viral Videos

Ad Agency Uses Elderly to Game Viral Videos


What’s the secret to making a video go viral? It’s a question that bedevils all ad agencies these days as clients demand to be the next Old Spice or Evian.

While others attempt to devise an organic route to viral success, Toronto-based agency John St. has a better idea: Just pay interns across the world to endlessly click on your would-be hit video. Above, the agency outlines its “Buyral” program. It began with in-house “clickterns,” but expanded worldwide thanks to the “ip.propegator.” Now, Buyral encompasses the elderly and preschoolers.

“It’s simple. Now you can pay for the clicks you need to make your video go viral,” a voiceover explains. As an agency exec notes, “Once we bypassed the viewing process, our world opened up.”

Before you get outraged, consider John St.’s previous viral program, “Catvertising.”

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Physicist Claims to Have Proven Mathematically That Black Holes Do Not Exist

Physicist Claims to Have Proven Mathematically That Black Holes Do Not Exist

There has been a great deal of study and debate surrounding the mysteries of black holes. The University of North Carolina’s Laura Mersini-Houghton believes that the reason there is so much uncertainty is because black holes don’t exist. Her paper has been submitted to ArXiv, but has not been subjected to peer review. Earlier this year, she published a paper with approximate solutions in the journal Physics Letters B

Astrophysicists have been studying black holes for decades. It is widely believed that when a star 20 times more massive than our Sun or larger dies and collapses, it can condense into an incredibly small area known as the singularity that is extremely dense. It is surrounded by an event horizon, which is a region where the gravitational pull is so strong, not even light can escape. It is essentially the “point of no return.”

Stephen Hawking first theorized in 1974 that due to quantum effects at the event horizon, it releases radiation now known as Hawking radiation. Over time, shedding this radiation can pull mass away, in a process known as evaporation. However, Mersini-Houghton states that so much radiation is shed from the star when it collapses, it is simply not possible for it to form a black hole.

Mersini-Houghton claims that she has clearly and effectively reconciled Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with quantum mechanics. Though the two have never necessarily been at odds on a large scale, physicists have previously been unable to merge the two cohesively. In terms of relativity, the formation of the black hole can be predicted. However, in quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle doesn’t really permit one to know exactly where something is located. It’s possible to get pretty close, but not exactly. This is just one of many ways in which quantum theory and Einstein’s classical field theory fail to align when it comes to black holes. 

“Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories – Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum mechanics – for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony,” Mersini-Houghton stated in a press release. “And that’s a big deal.”

However, not everyone is on board with Mersini-Houghton’s conclusions. William Unruh, a theoretical physicist from the University of British Columbia, pointed out some fatal flaws in the paper’s argument. 

“The [paper] is nonsense,” Unruh said in an email to IFLS. “Attempts like this to show that black holes never form have a very long history, and this is only the latest. They all misunderstand Hawking radiation, and assume that matter behaves in ways that are completely implausible.”

According to Unruh, black holes don’t emit enough Hawking radiation to shrink the mass of the black hole down to where Mersini-Houghton claims in a timely manner. Instead, “it would take 10^53 (1 followed by 53 zeros) times the age of the universe to evaporate,” he explains.

“The standard behaviour by such people [who don’t understand Hawking radiation] is to project that outgoing energy back closer and closer to the horizon of the black hole, where its energy density gets larger and larger,” he continued. “Unfortunately explicit calculations of the energy density near the horizon show it is really, really small instead of being large– Those calculations were already done in the 1970s. To call bad speculation “has been proven mathematically” is, shall we say, and overstatement.”

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Google Lunar X Prize Robot Built to Find Lunar Water

Google Lunar X Prize Robot Built to Find Lunar Water


The search for water ice on the moon could be led someday by a robot armed with a 4-foot drill. With the first prototype of the lunar rover, called Polaris, comes the prospect of eventually extracting resources from the moon, asteroids or other planets through space mining.

Polaris is the robot of choice for Astrobotic Technology, one of many private teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for landing robotic explorers on the moon. But Astrobotic also wants to build a lasting business out of its lunar exploration efforts by testing the technologies needed for space mining.

“This rover is a first step toward using off-Earth resources to further human exploration of our solar system,” said John Thornton, president of the Pittsburgh-based  robotics company, which unveiled the prototype Oct. 8.

Polaris is the size of a golf cart and tall enough to wield a 4-foot drill. It can move a foot per second on its 2-foot-wide wheels and carry 150 pounds (70 kilograms) of drilling equipment and science instruments. Between its heavy drill and batteries and its lightweight wheels and chassis, the robot weighs about 330 pounds (150 kilograms).

Polaris will need to withstand frigid temperatures as low as minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 Celsius).

The lunar rover’s power comes from solar panels designed to point toward the sun as it peeks just above the moon’s south pole.

A lack of GPS on the moon required a workaround. Astrobotic hit upon the clever idea of having the rover match whatever it sees on the surface with pictures of satellite images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

If Polaris reaches the moon, it could be perhaps the first of many robots that scout sites for space mining operations. NASA has already begun talking with about putting its own ice-prospecting instruments on the private rover — one of nine contracts worth $3.6 million that the U.S. space agency has awarded to Astrobotic.

This article originally published at TechNewsDaily

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Hubble Captures Image Of Galactic Merger

Hubble Captures Image Of Galactic Merger

Oh dear, a relatively close neighbor of ours—the spiral galaxy NGC 7714—has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy, and now its spindly arms are all twisted out of shape and long streams of its stellar material have been dragged out into space. The Hubble Space Telescope captured the dramatic interaction of this merging pair, which astronomers are calling Arp 284

NGC 7714 is 100 million light-years from Earth, and it’s a typical Wolf-Rayet starburst galaxy. That means the extremely hot and bright stars within the galaxy began their lives with dozens of times the mass of our sun—but they quickly lose most of it due to strong winds.

Based on these newly released Hubble images, NGC 7714 has witnessed some violent events in its recent past. According to a European Space Agency (ESA) release, the tell-tale signs of brutality can be seen in NGC 7714’s misshaped arms and the smoky, golden haze stretching out from the center of the galaxy. Sometime between 100 and 200 million years ago, NGC 7714 drifted too close to a smaller companion galaxy named NGC 7715, and the two began disfiguring each other’s structure and shape. 

The ongoing merger has created a ring and two long tails of stars emerging from NGC 7714. These make up a bridge between the two galaxies, acting as a pipeline to funnel material from NGC 7715 towards its much larger companion and triggering bright bursts of star formation. Most of the bustle of star-forming activity is happening at the galactic center, but new stars are also being sparked throughout the whole galaxy. 

The smaller companion NGC 7715 lies just outside the frame of the composite image above (it would be off the top of the image), but you can see both of the galaxies below in this wider-field image from the Digitized Sky Survey. (The bright star on the left is around a billion times closer than the galaxy.)

Images: ESA, NASA with acknowledgement to A. Gal-Yam/Weizmann Institute of Science (top), NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey 2 (bottom)

Photo Gallery

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