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Astronauts on the ISS Have Trouble With Work-Life Balance, Too

February 20, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow What's one thing astronauts wish they had more of (aside from showers and Snickers and, occasionally, gravity)? The same thing most of us would like more of: time. At an event at NASA's Washington headquarters this morning, three astronauts currently aboard the ISS -- NASA astronauts Kevin Ford and Thomas ...

Meteorite Strikes Are Actually Quite Common

February 15, 2013 Early this morning, a meteor exploded in the sky above Russia, causing a shockwave that blew out windows, crippled communications infrastructure, and injured hundreds of people. The blast was terrifying for the people who witnessed it, and were touched by it, in person; but it's scary, too, for anyone who ...

Next Stop for Controversial Airport Scanners: Office Buildings?

February 12, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Last month, the Transportation Security Administration ended its contract with the airport scanner maker Rapiscan, pledging to remove the company's controversial backscatter x-ray machines from the country's airports. This may have been good news for plane passengers concerned with the scanners' health effects, and good news as well for passengers ...

What's This Weird Hunk of Metal We Just Found on Mars?

February 8, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Mars is, on the one hand, a source of unending fascination. It is, after all, Mars. And we're exploring it with, you know, a nuclear-powered robot that leaves Morse code in its tracks. But Mars, on the other hand -- and no offense to it or to said robot -- ...

Good for science, bad for your nightmares: Moths that drive robots

February 6, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow A group of silkworm moths, coached by researchers at the University of Tokyo, just took a driving test. Instead of their moms' old minivans, however, they were given another machine: a robot. The idea of all this wasn't so much to test the robomoths' driving capabilities -- moths are notoriously ...

What Does the Sun Sound Like?

January 30, 2013 Robert Alexander is a data sonification specialist, which means that his job is, essentially, to convert data into sounds. Alexander takes collections of flat, static numbers -- stock price variations, wind speeds, human pulse rates -- and transforms them into music. "I think of myself as an explorer," Alexander says ...

Here is the robot that will extract water from the moon

January 30, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow One of the biggest challenges of space travel has very little to do with the traveling itself, and more to do with everything that happens afterward. How will humans sustain themselves if we send them back to the moon (and, as planned, to Mars)? Food, even freeze-dried, is heavy. Water, ...

Hillary Clinton traveled 956,733 miles during her time as Secretary of State

January 30, 2013 Hillary Clinton was many things as Secretary of State. One of the most notable, however, was "well-traveled." During her four years as the nation's top diplomat -- and particularly during her final year in that post -- Clinton fashioned herself as something of a George Clooney of global affairs, spending ...

Women in combat: An idea whose time has come, aided by technology

January 25, 2013 "Women," Time magazine wrote last year, "are not small men." This is ... true. And yet for a long time, the military -- an organization that operates under the core auspices of pragmatic conformity -- sort of ignored its truth. Martial technologies -- uniforms, weapons, vehicles -- have tended to ...

TSA has ended its contract with controversial scanner maker Rapiscan

January 18, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Here's the latest in the long, strange, often frustrating saga of airport security scanners: The Transportation Security Administration has ended a contract with Rapiscan, the manufacturer of the controversial backscatter screener. The reason, per the TSA? It wasn't that the machines subjected consumers to objectionably high levels of radiation -- ...