Tech Universe: Friday 8 June

By Miraz Jordan

Mars bound? The Mars One venture is looking at the ultimate reality TV show. Photo / Supplied
Mars bound? The Mars One venture is looking at the ultimate reality TV show. Photo / Supplied

MARS SURVIVOR: Will reality TV take us to Mars? The Mars One venture thinks so. They have a plan to send habitats and supplies to Mars starting around 2016 to prepare a settlement for four humans who will arrive in 2023 and live there until they die. After that more humans will arrive in batches every two years to build out the settlement. This is no government project, but a private initiative, and the whole thing will be televised on a grand scale to help raise funds. Are we going to the other planets now for real? Mars One.

Watch the Mars One promotional video here:

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Canada's big, and monitoring its Arctic territories is a huge job. Northrop Grumman says its Block 30 RQ-4B Global Hawk uncrewed surveillance aircraft, with a few modifications, would be perfect for the task. In the Arctic satellite communications are spotty and the craft also needs wing deicing and engine anti-icing capability.

A mere three aircraft could cover the whole of Canada's north though. Or how about a satellite with a super duper telescope instead?
FlightGlobal.

DON'T LOOK AT GIFT SCOPES: In spite of plenty of problems the Hubble Space Telescope has contributed a huge amount to our knowledge of space. But apparently the US also had two spy telescopes that are as big as Hubble but with more power and 100 times the field of view. And they've just been in storage all this time. It seems they're no longer needed for spying though, and have been donated to NASA. Now NASA have a new problem: they may be unable to afford to put the telescopes into orbit. The scopes need instruments and cameras, as well as to have their own mission. What a waste! The Washington Post.

GOGGLE EYED: At the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid researchers have created a pair of goggles that can help people with visual handicaps to see obstacles. A virtual reality helmet includes two cameras and a computer that processes the images. Then two microscreens display coloured outlines of objects in view. The system can help people who need high contrast to be able to see objects ahead of them. Once the system is proved to work the team will improve its ergonomics. The idea of a helmet is off-putting. Surely they can find a way to put everything except the glasses and cameras in a pocket. AlphaGalileo.

KINECT CONNECT: British engineers think the Kinect could work as the basis of an in-orbit proximity sensor and docking system. They're developing tiny satellites that will be launched together on the same rocket. Incorporating a Google Nexus One Android phone, the satellites will map the Earth with their 5-megapixel camera and conduct scientific and engineering experiments. On command, the satellites will use the Kinect to find one another and dock using a simple magnetic system. The engineers suggest that in future a system like this could be used in modular satellites that can connect for specific purposes. Snap on satellites FTW. BBC.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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