Insights

This Week in Space (and STEM-y) News

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by Jill Cassidy

THINGS THAT ARE LARGER THAN LIFE

The “Godzilla of Earths”

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics just discovered a planet that is 2.3 times the size of Earth and 17 times heavier.  It has been named Kepler-10c because it was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

What Did the Press Release Say?

It was a lot of science speak, but the takeaway is that this discovery has debunked previous assumptions regarding locating potentially habitable planets.

Potentially Habitable?  Really!?

No need to break out Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner just yet.  Scientists are saying that Kepler-10c is probably too close to its star to be hospitable to life. It’s okay; we’re sad, too.  Nothing a little John Lithgow syndication can’t fix.

Quote of the Week

“Studying these objects is exciting because it represents a completely new model of how stellar interiors can work.” – Astrophysicist Emily Levesque, and she’s not talking about Property Brothers

THINGS THAT ARE NOT A BIRD NOR A PLANE

Google Satellites

Sources close to the big G say the company plans to invest more than $1 billion on a fleet of satellites in low Earth orbit in order to bring Internet access to unwired regions of the globe.

Umm…How Many?  I’m Starting to Have Flashbacks to Gravity and Flying Debris

Still in flux, but it’s been reported that the project will start with 180 small, high-capacity satellites.

Pipe Dream?

I wouldn’t put anything past Mr. Page.  Google definitely has the resources at its disposal for this foray and has been vocal about its goals to extend Internet coverage to underserved populations.  (See: Project Loon’s high-altitude balloons and the April acquisition of Titan Aerospace.)  It will be interesting to see how regulatory hurdles come into play.  Stay tuned, grasshoppers.

REPEAT AFTER ME …

What to Say When There’s No More Candy to Crush …

Try looking in deep space.  NASA and Rovio Entertainment are celebrating the two-year anniversary of Angry Birds Space by releasing a new update called “Beak Impact.”  The mission: asteroids.  (Too soon to say if lassoing is involved.)  The update features a new character, the Mighty Buzzard.  Muse?  Obvious.

What to Say to Your Neighbor Who’s Installing Solar Panels …

Planes are where it’s at right now.  Solar Impulse 2, the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel, was successful in its inaugural flight.  SI2 boasts an impressive 236 ft. wingspan.  (To put this in perspective, a Boeing 737’s wingspan is 113 ft.)  The plane’s wings are covered by 17,000 solar cells, so just a couple more than your neighbor’s roof … What’s next up for our favorite sun-powered bird?  Attempting the first round-the-world solar flight in 2015.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

B is for Beyond … as in, Earth’s orbit.  And we’ve entered the second week of exploring Orion from A to Z.

This is what the Internet looks like, according to Ben Redford and crowdsourcing.  (If you’re feeling ambitious, there are seven Waldo’s.)

How’s stereolithography for dinner table conversation?  MIT spinout, Formlabs, has made a 3-D printer for the masses.  Buy yours today for $3299 (resin included).

Coming soon to a supercenter near you – LEGO female scientist minifigure sets.  I’ll take the paleontologist.  Thanks, Dr. Ellen Kooiljman.

(Always give credit where credit is due. I owe everything I know about writing to theSkimm. If you’re not a subscriber, you’re missing out.)

Image courtesy Harvard

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