Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

David Szondy

The odor is based on chemicals outgassing from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Image: ESA...

Comets may be deep-frozen fossils that could provide clues as to the earliest days of the Solar System, but what does one smell like? Not very nice, says ESA, whose Rosetta space probe has discovered that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) has the aroma of rotten eggs and horse dung.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Krossblade SkyCruiser over London

Can’t decide if you want an airplane, a helicopter, or a flying car? Then why not all three at once? Arizona-based start-up Krossblade seems to think the same way with its SkyCruiser concept – an electric hybrid aircraft that not only switches between being an airplane and a quadcopter, but can be driven on the road as well.  Read More

The center of the exhibit is a giant radio tuner from the 1920s

If the 19th and 20th centuries were the Transportation Age, then the 21st century is the Information Age. Like most other ages, it didn't suddenly leap into being with the arrival of the Web or the smartphone – it has a history going back more than 200 years. The Science Museum in London is exploring this history in a new permanent exhibit called "Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World," which was recently opened by Queen Elizabeth II when she sent the first tweet by a British monarch.  Read More

Xenex's robots us UV radiation to kill Ebola viruses

Dealing with highly infectious diseases like Ebola is often like a logic problem. Disinfecting rooms is hard enough, but what about protective suits? True, they greatly reduce the chances of infection, but getting them off can bring the risk straight back again if the suit isn't decontaminated first. Xenex has created protocols that conform to those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its a line of robots that use UV lamps that to decontaminate hospital rooms and protective clothing exposed to the Ebola virus.  Read More

Artist's impression of a Kuiper Belt Object (Image: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon)

With NASA'S New Horizons spacecraft scheduled to pass Pluto next year, the space agency has announced the discovery of three Kuiper Belt objects (KBO); one of which may be the unmanned probe’s next destination. Located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the primordial asteroids were found after a detailed survey using the Hubble Space Telescope.  Read More

The RAZAR riflescope allows shooters to change focus without distraction

In combat, seconds count and a moment’s hesitation or distraction can mean the difference between life and death. So it's no small problem that modern riflescopes often require soldiers to look away from their targets or take their hands off their rifles in order to change magnification. Sandia National Laboratories’ Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) riflescope is capable of switching between high and low zoom magnifications at the touch of a button, allowing soldiers to concentrate on the battle rather than their scopes.  Read More

The TRV system is designed for on-demand return of small payloads from the ISS

So much attention is paid to how to get into space that we often forget that getting back can be just as difficult. For example, getting experiment samples back from the International Space Station (ISS) is a logistical nightmare. Intuitive Machines' Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) system may change that by making sending small payloads back to Earth as easy as mailing a parcel.  Read More

Artist's concept of the bloostar upper stages firiing

Reaching space in a balloon may sound like something out of a children’s book, but Spain’s zero2infinity company doesn't think so. The Barcelona-based company specializes in near-space balloon flights for scientific and engineering clients, and is working on a nanosatellite launch vehicle called bloostar, which uses a high-altitude balloon as a first stage and rockets for reaching orbit.  Read More

The powered landing capability of SpaceX's Falcon 9 makes it a good test bed for studying ...

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has made it no secret that he plans to go to Mars, and it looks like he’s giving NASA’s ambitions about the Red Planet a bit of a boost along the way. During a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in September, the space agency sent a pair of chase planes up to take high-resolution images of the booster as it made a powered test landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean as a way of gather critical engineering information for future Mars missions.  Read More

All three of NASA's orbiters were moved to the far side of Mars to protect them from comet...

After a dramatic, one-in-a-million-years close encounter between Mars and comet Siding Spring on Sunday, all five functioning US Mars probes survived and are reportedly healthy. NASA confirms that the Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter, along with the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity came through without a scratch and are returning valuable data on the comet.  Read More

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