Sharon Gaudin

About the Author Sharon Gaudin


NASA tests foldable, robotic scout for Mars

The next NASA rover to head to another planet might take a little robotic scout along with it.

This robot can fold up its wheels and tuck itself away or unfold and pop up like a piece of origami.

That’s what NASA is saying about its new “PUFFER” robot, or Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot, which is about the size of a human hand.

The robot is expected to change the way robots explore Mars. These devices can drop into crevices and craters, climb steep slopes and travel 2,050 feet on one battery charge.

“Having something that’s as portable as a compass or a rock hammer means you can do science on the fly,” said Carolyn Parcheta, a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab scientist, in a statement. Parcheta has used robots to explore volcanoes and has helped NASA develop the robot’s science instruments.

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Coders and librarians team up to save scientific data

On a windy, snowy night in Dover, N.H., about 15 people gathered in an old converted mill, staring at computer screens and furiously tapping at their keyboards.

The group – some students, some programmers, and at least one part-time dishwasher and data entry clerk – were braving the snowstorm and volunteering their time to try to keep scientific data from being lost.

It was one of dozens of data rescue events spread out in cities from Toronto to Los Angeles, and Houston to Chicago. These events, many on university campuses, have been going on since December, bringing together software programmers, librarians and other volunteers who are trying to safely archive scientific data from government websites.

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Coders and librarians team up to save scientific data

On a windy, snowy night in Dover, N.H., about 15 people gathered in an old converted mill, staring at computer screens and furiously tapping at their keyboards.

The group – some students, some programmers, and at least one part-time dishwasher and data entry clerk – were braving the snowstorm and volunteering their time to try to keep scientific data from being lost.

It was one of dozens of data rescue events spread out in cities from Toronto to Los Angeles, and Houston to Chicago. These events, many on university campuses, have been going on since December, bringing together software programmers, librarians and other volunteers who are trying to safely archive scientific data from government websites.

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Robotics industry learns from successes and failures at Fukushima

Without robots, there would be no safe way to clean up the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The problem is that recently, some of the robots being used in the most dangerous and critical part of the cleanup of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster failed. The robots succumbed to massive amounts of radiation or got stuck in rubble.  

On March 11, 2011, hydrogen explosions ripped through the plant when a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. The power plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in three of its six nuclear reactors.

Six years later, the environment inside the facilities remains too dangerous for people, and even for some robots.

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Update: 11-hour AWS failure hits websites and apps

Amazon Web Services, a major cloud hosting service, had a system failure on Tuesday that affected numerous websites and apps. 

The issue was not fixed until just before 5 p.m. ET.

“As of [4:49 p.m. ET] we are fully recovered for operations for adding new objects in S3, which was our last operation showing a high error rate. The Amazon S3 service is operating normally,” the company reported. 
 
The problem had lasted for approximately 11 hours and caused problems for  websites and online services throughout the day.
 

AWS had reported on its Service Health Dashboard at 2:35 p.m. ET that its engineers were working on the problem, which affected websites including Netflix, Reddit and Adobe. 

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