Google to Use Balloons for Puerto Rico Phone Service

Alphabet Inc is sending high-altitude balloons to provide phone service to island devastated by Hurricane Maria. Alphabet Inc, the company that controls Google, is sending special balloons to Puerto Rico to help restore phone service after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month. The US Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the company’s application to provide the emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico. Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced...

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Why Discovering New Earth-Like Planets Matters (VIDEOS)

by Lucianne Walkowicz – From across the Galaxy, just shy of 40 light years away, seven long shadows sweep across our planet. These shadows belong to the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, seven Earth-sized worlds whose discoveries were announced with great fanfare this past week. Led by Michael Gillon of the University of Liege, an international team of astronomers deployed both space and Earth-based telescopes to make these incredible discoveries: three of the TRAPPIST-1 planets were revealed last year, with the recent announcement unveiling an additional four. Each world passes in front of its parent star from our point of view, creating those shadows – called “transits” – that dim the light of the star during the planet’s passage. The transits occur with each lap the planets make around their sun, and by measuring how long it takes between them, we can time the length of their year. From there, it’s just a few calculations to deduce how far they are from...

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NASA: Water Found on Mars

Scientists suggest liquid water is forming on contemporary Mars, search for signs of life will follow NASA announced on Monday that liquid saltwater exists on the surface of Mars – a discovery that scientists say indicates the “potential” for life on the planet. The historic findings by scientists from NASA and several US universities are based on research on dark, narrow and elongated streaks that appear on the surface of the Red Planet and which are known as “recurring slope lineae” (RSL). Research shows the streaks “appear and grow incrementally in the downslope direction during warm seasons”. NASA scientists suggest the streaks were formed as a result of salty “flows” or “seeps” because they bear a striking resemblance to the shapes and curves that water on Earth makes as it flows along the surface of the ground. The theory that water exists on Mars was first proposed by scientist Lujendra...

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European Comet Probe Wakes Up From Hibernation

Philae makes contact with controllers seven months after becoming the first spacecraft to land on a comet European Space Agency’s Philae probe has woken up and made contact with controllers, seven months after it went into hibernation on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The probe lost contact with its mothercraft Rosetta in November, 60 hours after becoming the first spacecraft to land on a comet. The craft’s battery had failed to charge after it bounced twice off 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A harpoon system had failed to activate correctly leaving the craft on its side beside a cliff about 1km from the original target. Last month Andrea Accomazzo, flight director of the ESA’s Rosetta Mission, told Al Jazeera he had almost given up hope the craft would wake up. “I don’t put too many hopes in having Philae reactivated,” Accomazzo said. “I consider it not impossible but extremely unlikely.” There had been hopes as the...

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NASA Spacecraft Smashes Into Mercury (VIDEO)

Collision of Messenger spacecraft with the planet brings an end to one of the space agency’s most productive missions NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has crashed into the planet Mercury after running out of fuel, in an incident expected by the US space agency. On Thursday, Messenger – which stands for ‘Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging’ – slipped out of orbit following a successful four-year tour of the rocky planet. NASA said it was powerless to stop gravity from dragging the spacecraft towards the planet. Its collision at a speed of more than 14,000kph added another small crater to Mercury’s already-pitted surface. Mercury is only slightly bigger than our moon and is the closest planet to the Sun, but until the $450m spacecraft arrived in Mercury’s orbit in 2011, little was known about the planet. Since then, the 485kg spacecraft has been using its seven scientific instruments to scan and feed...

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