Category / Technology
In the vast open spaces of southern Utah, Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart recently paid a visit to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Built and operated by a space advocacy group called the Mars Society, the research facility is investigating the feasibility of human exploration of Mars, using the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Since 2000, more than 100 small crews have served two-week rotations in the MDRS, conducting research in an on-site greenhouse, observatory, engineering area, and living space. Urquhart was able to accompany members of the Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission inside the MDRS facility, and on a simulated trip to collect Martian geological samples.
NASA's Mars rover Opportunity just celebrated its ninth anniversary on Mars - a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days. Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 3,212 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 108 months, Opportunity has driven a total of 35.48 kilometers (22.05 miles) across Mars -- not bad for a mission designed to last only three months.
The lure of a good story on a big screen remains universal. Though we watch movies in new ways made possible by mobile devices, streaming services, and private copies, the social experience of gathering in the dark to be transported together in collective imagination is undiminished. Almost every country has an awards ceremony or film festival, making the upcoming Academy Awards just one of an endless parade for film lovers. Gathered here are images showing us watching, making, and celebrating the motion picture.
After a 5 year absense the Fomula One teams returned to the United States for a race on the purpose built Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas. It was a race which could have decided both championships, but after 56 laps only was was resolved. Red Bull retain their Constructor’s title for the third year in a row, but Sebastian Vettel will have to wait until the last race in Brazil next week to find out if he too can win his third straight title.
The race in Austin was an exciting one, loads of overtaking, a fun circuit with great elevation and fast sweeping corners. Hamilton one the race after first ghunting down Webber and late on in the race hunting down and passing Vettel.
The Abu Dhabi grand prix was an amazing race. It started with Vettel being made to start in last place on the grid due to a fuel irregularity during qualifying. His main championship rival, Fernando Alonso was going to be about 15 cars in front of him and was sure to score some good points. At the head of the grid was Lewis Hamilton, who also dominated the early part of the race. However, his McLaren let him down once again and Kimi Raikkonen found himself in the lead. Kimi wouldn’t let it go and won his first race since his comeback. In the meantime Sebastian Vettel had climbed from last to third, just behind Alonso, due to some strong driving and some lucky breaks due to safety car situations. Two races to go and still three drivers in it to win it.
So, that was the 2012 Formula One season and it was a top notch edition. The Brazilian GP contained all the drama from the previous 18 races. Rain, crashes, wrong tire choices, overtaking, safety cars and a fight to the end for victory.
After 71 laps through debris and rain Jensen Button won the race, but the real attention was focussed on whether Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso would be crowned Formula One 2012 World Champion. Vettel was in a better position in the championship and on the grid, but after only 3 corners he was pushed back to last place when Bruno Senna thought he was his famous uncle and crashed into Vettel’s Red Bull. However, with some smart driving Vettel was back in contention and right on Alonso’s tail by the middle of the race. In the end Alonso finished second behind Button, but Vettel’s sixth place was enough to make him the youngest triple world champion ever.
There seems to be a pattern forming during the last few grand prix. For two thirds the race is processional and with about 15 to 10 laps to go things get exciting. Basically this was the Indian Grand Prix. Pirelli had brought some tires which lasted too long, meaning most cars could go for the one stop strategy, meaning less changing of positions. Sure, some overtaking was achieved, but often meaningless. Then again, these days anything is meaningless with Sebastian Vettel driving from pole to first across the line without incident.
It was the perfect PR weekend for Red Bull. First Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber absolutely dominated the Korean F1 weekend with a 1, 2 on the grid and a 1, 2 on the podium, enabling Vettel to take the lead in the world championship, and then Felix Baumgartner had 9.1 million viewers locked into his live jump on Youtube.
Advancements in robotics are continually taking place in the fields of space exploration, health care, public safety, entertainment, defense, and more. These machines -- some fully autonomous, some requiring human input -- extend our grasp, enhance our capabilities, and travel as our surrogates to places too dangerous for us to go. NASA currently has dozens of robotic missions underway, with satellites now in orbit around our moon and four planets -- and two more on the way to Ceres and Pluto. Gathered here are recent images of robotic technology at the beginning of the 21st century.
If you don’t live in Asia the Japanese Grand Prix is an early affair. Luckily I had two sick kids wake me up in time and we watched it from the comfort of our bed. I’ll admit I dosed off a few times, but I caught just enough to tell you the ride of the race was by local hero Kobayashi in his Sauber and that Sebastian Vettel simply creamed it. From pole to first place without so much as a wheel put wrong. Championship leader Alonso crashed out in the first corner and has now seen his comfortable lead been brought back to a mere 4 points. Other big news in the F1 paddock was Hamilton leaving McLaren and going to Mercedes, 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher retiring and making room for Hamilton and Sergio Perez leaving Sauber and going to McLaren.