The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was launched by Nasa in 1991 to study numerous chemical constituents of the atmosphere. But in a couple of days it's coming home, or rather crashing to Earth, maybe at a spot near you. The spacecraft will break into pieces during re-entry, though only some of it will burn up in the atmosphere. It's expected to re-enter on or around 23 September in a zone between 57 degrees north latitude and 57 degrees south latitude and may be strewn across 800 Km. Watch out for fireballs and red hot pieces of metal - more at
STETHOPHONE: Researchers from the University of Oxford are doing their bit for health in developing countries with a new stethoscope. An external microphone attached to the base of an egg cup focuses and collects sounds such as the heartbeat. This feeds into a smartphone, creating phonocardiograms. Computer analysis of the recordings helps diagnose health problems. Cellphones are common even in developing countries, making this a cheap option where medical services are scarce. Sounds like it'd beat a regular stethoscope hollow. Details at medgadget.com.
KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY: There aren't many doctors in in the Punjab region of northern India. But that doesn't stop locals from getting appointments with physicians. Healthpoint is a for-profit service that beams doctors in via broadband and a large screen TV. A consultation costs less than $1, and diagnostic tests cost very little too. Local health workers run routine tests and send the results to a doctor for analysis. Low cost broadband and reliable wireless communication are increasing in the area, making this kind of medicine more practicable. Hmm, lessons here for us too? Technology Review has more.
HIGH FLYING VIDEO: Science educator James Drake took 600 still images of Planet Earth rolling by below the ISS. He pulled the images from the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth database. Then he combined them all into a timelapse video. The video shows a trip down the planet from around Vancouver to Antarctica, with the ionosphere and stars too. Spot the gigantic light pollution from the cities. Infinity imagined has more details and there's the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth plus a bit of video on YouTube.
OUT OF THE BLACK: Black boxes from crashed planes are searched out for their data to explain the accident. But just think if black box data could be retrieved and analysed to help prevent crashes in the first place. Researchers are using cluster analysis to mine flight data for unusual elements. Some airlines monitor 88 flight parameters throughout each flight, but cluster analysis can show up anomalies without having specific parameters in mind. This analysis could pinpoint aircraft that need a closer inspection than usual, or human error. Is there an app for that? MIT news has all the details.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz