China

Houston Firm NanoRacks To Take Chinese Experiment To International Space Station 11 11

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger reports that for the first time a Chinese experiment will fly on the International Space Station, thanks to an arrangement between a research group based at the Beijing Institute of Technology and a private firm in Houston called NanoRacks. The deal seems to have been designed to avoid the prohibition against space cooperation between the Chinese regime and NASA, since the space agency is not directly involved. The experiment, which involves the effects that space radiation has on DNA, will be carried to the ISS by another private firm, SpaceX. Presumably the experiment would be run by a non NASA crew member to avoid any direct involvement with the space agency.
Space

Pictures of a Comet From 9 Meters Away 46 46

An anonymous reader writes: Back in November, the European Space Agency triumphantly put a lander on the surface of a comet and then tragically lost contact with it when it failed to anchor and couldn't harvest enough energy to stay operational. In June, the lander awoke and for a short time was able to send more data back. Now the ESA has published a bunch of pictures and scientific papers about the data gleaned from Philae's short windows of activity, including images of its descent to the surface. Phil Plait summarizes and analyzes the release. The most impressive image is from a mere 9 meters over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An animated gif shows the lander's descent near the surface through a handful of pictures. Two shots of the same area from the Rosetta probe show where Philae bounced off the surface, ejecting an estimated 180kg of material in the process. It's a fascinating, close-up look at a very distant and unusual world.
Science

Tiny Black Holes Could Trigger Collapse of Universe—Except That They Don't 139 139

sciencehabit writes: If you like classic two-for-one monster movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, then a new paper combining two bêtes noires of pseudoscientific scaremongers—mini black holes and the collapse of the vacuum—may appeal to you. Physicists working with the world's biggest atom-smasher—Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—have had to reassure the public that, even if they can make them, mini black holes, infinitesimal version of the ones that form when jumbo stars implode, won't consume the planet. They've also had to dispel fears that blasting out a particle called the Higgs boson will cause the vacuum of empty space to collapse. Now, however, three theorists calculate that in a chain reaction, a mini black hole could trigger such collapse after all.
NASA

Challenger, Columbia Wreckage On Public Display For First Time 42 42

An anonymous reader writes: A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center is letting the public see wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia shuttles after keeping it from view for decades. Two pieces of debris from each lost shuttle and personal reminders of the astronauts killed in the flights will be on display. The AP reports: " NASA's intent is to show how the astronauts lived, rather than how they died. As such, there are no pictures in the 'Forever Remembered' exhibit of Challenger breaking apart in the Florida sky nearly 30 years ago or Columbia debris raining down on Texas 12 years ago. Since the tragic re-entry, Columbia's scorched remains have been stashed in off-limits offices at the space center. But NASA had to pry open the underground tomb housing Challenger's pieces — a pair of abandoned missile silos at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — to retrieve the section of fuselage now on display."
Japan

JAXA Successfully Tests Its D-SEND Low-Noise Supersonic Aircraft 31 31

AmiMoJo writes: JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has successfully tested its low sonic boom demonstration aircraft D-SEND#2. The unmanned aircraft is floated up to 30,000m by balloon and released, falling back to earth and breaking the sound barrier in the process. The sonic boom created is measured on the ground. The project aims to halve the noise created by sonic booms, paving the way for future supersonic aircraft.
ISS

Video Urthecast Brings You Earth Images and Videos from the ISS (Video) 16 16

Most of us probably won't ever visit the International Space Station (ISS) and look down at the Earth (motto: "The only planet we know has beer, so let's not ruin it"). Looking at pictures and videos made by cameras mounted on the ISS is about as close as we're going to get. There's already an ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment on Ustream, but Urthecast is putting out higher-definition images than what you see on Ustream, and has plans to put out even clearer images and video before long. While Urthecast is likely to accumulate plenty of "oohs" and "aahhs" as it rolls along, according to CEO Scott Larson their real objective is to sell imagery -- and not necessarily just from the visible light band of the overall spectrum -- to industrial and government users. People like us are still invited to look at (and marvel at) lovely images of our planetary home.

NOTE: Today's video is about 4:30 long. If you want to watch and listen to more of Mr. Larson, we have a second "bonus" (Flash) video for you. Or you can read the transcript, which covers both videos.
NASA

NASA's Drone For Other Worlds 30 30

An anonymous reader writes: A group of engineers is building a new drone. What sets this apart from the hundreds of other drone development projects going on around the world? Well, these engineers are at the Kennedy Space Center, and the drone will be used to gather samples on other worlds. The drone is specifically designed to be able to fly in low- or no-atmosphere situations. Senior technologist Rob Mueller describes it as a "prospecting robot." He says, "The first step in being able to use resources on Mars or an asteroid is to find out where the resources are. They are most likely in hard-to-access areas where there is permanent shadow. Some of the crater walls are angled 30 degrees or more, and that's far too steep for a traditional rover to navigate and climb." They face major challenges with rotor and gas-jet design, they have to figure out navigation without GPS, and the whole system needs to be largely autonomous — you can't really steer a drone yourself with a latency of several minutes (or more).
Space

Poor Pilot Training Blamed For Virgin Galactic Crash 83 83

astroengine writes: SpaceShipTwo co-pilot Michael Alsbury was not properly trained to realize the consequences of unlocking the vehicle's hinged tail section too soon, a mistake that led to his death and the destruction of the ship during a test flight in California last year. Responsibility for the accident falls to SpaceShipTwo manufacturer Scaled Composites, a Mojave, Calif., company owned by Northrop Grumman Corp, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined at a webcast hearing on Tuesday (PDF). Poor oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial spaceflights in the United States, was also a factor in the accident, the NTSB said.
Technology

Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard 109 109

schwit1 writes: If quantum computing is at the Goddard level that would be a good thing for quantum computing. This means that the major fundamental breakthrough that would put them over the top was in hand and merely a lot of investment, engineering and scaling was needed. The goal of being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems with quantum computers is similar to being able to travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets. Conventional flight could not achieve those goals because of the lack of atmosphere in space. Current computing seems like they are very limited in being able to tackle NP-hard and NP Complete problems. Although clever work in advanced mathematics and approximations can give answers that are close on a case by case basis.
NASA

Voyager's Golden Record For Aliens Now Available On SoundCloud 57 57

An anonymous reader writes: For years you've been able to listen to the sounds recorded on the golden records carried by the twin Voyager spacecraft online but NASA just made it a bit easier. The orginization just uploaded the recordings to SoundCloud. Now you can listen to a continuous stream of clips instead of clicking back and forth to hear the different tracks.
Space

Andromeda Galaxy's Secrets Revealed By Going Beyond Visible Light 37 37

StartsWithABang writes: The Andromeda galaxy is our closest large neighbor, dominating our local group with more than double the number of stars found in the Milky Way. While visible light can reveal a tremendous amount of information, it's by going to shorter (UV) and longer (IR) wavelengths that we can learn where the newest, hottest stars are, find that they form in clusters along the arms and in the center, see through the (visible) light-blocking dust, and pinpoint the location of the neutral gas that will form the next generation of stars.
NASA

German Scientists Confirm NASA's Controversial EM Drive 516 516

MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using "negative matter."
The Almighty Buck

Smithsonian Increases Goal For Spacesuit Crowdfunding Effort 106 106

An anonymous reader writes: The recently launched Kickstarter campaign by the Smithsonian to preserve Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit has surpassed its goal. As of Saturday, the campaign raised about $525,000, and now The National Air and Space Museum has increased its goal to $700,000 in order to save Alan Shepard's Mercury spacesuit.
Operating Systems

HardenedBSD Completes Strong ASLR Implementation 66 66

New submitter HardenedBSD writes: A relatively new fork of FreeBSD, HardenedBSD, has completed its Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) feature. Without ASLR, applications are loaded into memory in a deterministic manner. An attacker who knows where a vulnerability lies in memory can reliably exploit that vulnerability to manipulate the application into doing the attacker's bidding. ASLR removes the determinism, making it so that even if an attacker knows that a vulnerability exists, he doesn't know where that vulnerability lies in memory. HardenedBSD's particular implementation of ASLR is the strongest form ever implemented in any of the BSDs.

The next step is to update documentation and submit updates to the patches they have already submitted upstream to FreeBSD. ASLR is the first step in a long list of exploit mitigation technologies HardenedBSD plans to implement.
AMD

AMD Starts Rolling Out New Linux Driver Model, But Many Issues Remain 61 61

An anonymous reader writes: With the upcoming Linux 4.2 kernel will be the premiere of the new "AMDGPU" kernel driver to succeed the "Radeon" DRM kernel driver, which is part of AMD's long talked about new Linux driver architecture for supporting the very latest GPUs and all future GPUs. Unfortunately for AMD customers, there's still much waiting. The new open-source AMDGPU Linux code works for Tonga/Carrizo GPUs but it doesn't yet support the latest R9 Fury "Fiji" GPUs, lacks re-clocking/DPM for Tonga GPUs leading to low performance, and there are stability issues under high-load OpenGL apps/games. There's also the matter that current Linux users need to jump through hoops for now in getting the code into a working state with the latest kernel and forked versions of Mesa, libdrm, new proprietary microcode files, and the new xf86-video-amdgpu user-space driver.
NASA

Pluto's Haze 63 63

Today brings another release of images from NASA's New Horizons probe. This time, it includes an image taken seven hours after closest approach, when the probe was looking back at Pluto. It captured the dwarf planet in silhouette: the body of the planet is in darkness, but the atmosphere is luminous with deflected sunlight. "A preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze -- one about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers)." Before this picture, scientists didn't expect to see such haze more than 30 kilometers above the surface.

Other findings released today include preliminary indications that Pluto's atmospheric pressure has dropped sharply from early observations. This may indicate that the atmosphere is in the process of freezing and falling to Pluto's surface. Finally, new close-up pictures of the surface transmitted back to Earth show direct evidence of nitrogen ice floes reminiscent of glacier movement on Earth. The dwarf planet also seems to be rich in methane ice and carbon dioxide ice.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Building an Open Source Community For a Proprietary Software Product? 85 85

An anonymous reader writes: I run a company that develops scientific computing software. Our core product is a traditional proprietary application — we develop the software and deliver the "binaries" to our customers. We're considering changing our deployment to include all of the source code and giving our customers some additional rights to explore and extend it. The codebase is HTML/JavaScript/Python/SQL, so a lot of the code is available in some form already, albeit minified or byte compiled.

Because we are in a scientific domain, most of our customers use Open Source software alongside our product. We also maintain Open Source projects and directly support others. We're strong supporters of Open Source and understand the value of having access to the source code.

We also support a free (as in beer) version of the software with a smaller feature set (production and enterprise elements that individual users don't need are removed). We'd like that version to use the same model as well to give users that don't need the full commercial version the ability to extend the software and submit patches back to us for inclusion in future releases.

Overall, we'd really like to find a model that allows our core product to work more like an Open Source product while maintaining control over the distribution rights. We'd like to foster a community around the product but still generate revenue to fund it. In our space, the "give the product away but pay for support" model has never really worked. The market is too small and, importantly, most customers understand our value proposition and have no problem with our annual license model.

We've looked at traditional dual licensing approaches, but don't think they're really right fit, either. A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer. My questions for the Slashdot community: Does anyone have direct experience with models like this? Are there existing licenses that we should look at? What companies have succeeded doing this? Who has failed?
United States

"Breaking Bad" At the National Institute of Standards and Technology 98 98

sciencehabit writes: Police are investigating whether an explosion inside a Maryland federal laboratory was the result of an effort to make drugs. Authorities who responded to the explosion at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found pseudoephedrine, Epsom salt and other materials associated with the manufacture of meth. Federal and local law enforcement agencies are investigating the cause of the explosion and if a security guard injured in the blast might have been involved. Sciencemag reports: "Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chairman at the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, got involved today, expressing grave concern over the incident in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. NIST is part of the Commerce Department. 'I am troubled by the allegations that such dangerous and illicit activity went undetected at a federal research facility. It is essential that we determine exactly where the breakdown in protocol occurred and whether similar activities could be ongoing at other federal facilities,' wrote Smith in an accompanying press release. He has requested a briefing with NIST no later than 29 July."
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Space

NASA Spies Earth-Sized Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-Like Star 134 134

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced that a new Earth-like planet has been discovered that may be the closest thing yet to a first true "Earth twin." Kepler 452b is located 1,000 light years away, is 60% larger than Earth, and orbits Kepler 452 at a distance similar to that between Earth and the Sun. "It is the first terrestrial planet in the habitable zone around a star very similar to the Sun," says Douglas Caldwell, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.