NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has detected deposits of impact glass on the Red Planet that may provide a fresh avenue for investigating the question of whether life ever existed there. The hope is that glass forged in the intense conditions created by an asteroid impact may have preserved microscopic signs of life, as it has here on Earth.
Geophysicists conducting drilling as part of geothermal research claim to have stumbled across the largest asteroid impact zone ever found on Earth. Covering a 400 km (249 mi) wide area in Central Australia, the two ancient craters are believed to be the result of a single meteorite that split in two moments before crashing into the Earth.
offer a way to get into space on the cheap. They're compact, inexpensive, and they can piggyback on larger launch payloads to get into orbit. The trouble is, this piggybacking is often like trying to hitchhike cross country on a ride that only goes to the edge of town. The European Space Agency is widening the scope a little by opening a competition for CubeSats to ride into deep space on its Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM).
If there were any dinosaurs around, they could tell you that an asteroid impact
can ruin your whole day. But if we did learn that one was actually going to strike the Earth in a month, what would the authorities do? To find out, the European Space Agency held its first ever mock asteroid drill to work on solutions and identify problems in how to handle such a catastrophe.
Apple has been awarded a fascinating patent on technology that can detect when a smartphone has been dropped, work out how far it is to the ground, and forcibly adjust the phone's rotation in mid-air so that it lands in a way least likely to damage critical components.
The animal kingdom is fertile ground for roboticists looking to improve on their designs, with everything from insects
providing inspiration. Now researchers at Georgia Tech are turning to cats to help soften robot landings. Rather than strapping some felines to a robot's underside, the team is studying the way cats twist in the air when falling to let future robots land safely from a jump or fall.
It's an ongoing problem within sports such as football and hockey ... players receive a severe blow to the head, yet they either don't realize that they've got a concussion, or they don't want to tell anyone so that they can keep playing. While there are already some helmet-mounted devices
that detect and report such impacts, Force Impact Technologies' FITGuard is built into a mouthpiece – which the company claims is a better approach to take.
While there are already iPhone cases that claim to protect against drops from up to 30 feet (9 m), most of those are actually more like housings that add considerable bulk to the phone. The Rhino Shield Crash Guard, however, takes a minimalist form, while reportedly still letting the phone withstand a 24-foot (7-m) drop.
In space, no one can hear you hit the Moon at near-hypersonic speed. Today, NASA's Ames Research Center announced that the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE)
made a controlled impact on the far side of the Moon some time between 9:30 and 10:30 pm PDT on Thursday, bringing to an end its mission to study the lunar atmosphere.
Another lunar mission is drawing to a close, if not with a bang, then a thump. On Thursday, NASA held a press conference to discuss the final weeks of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE)
mission before the spacecraft makes a controlled impact on the far side of the Moon on or before April 21.