Aerospace

When they fly, insects use their vision for piloting, just like human pilots. The electric signals from their facetted eyes travel through specialized neurons to stimulate the wing muscles, which let the insects correct their flight and avoid crashes. Could these same neurons be used in a sort of "automatic pilot"?

This is what Nicolas Franceschini, Franck Ruffier and Julien Serres have just shown. These biorobotics specialists from the Movement and Perception Laboratory (CNRS/Université de la Méditerranée) in Marseille, France have revealed an automatic mechanism called the "optic flow regulator" that controls the lift force.

Russia's Federal Space Agency said Wednesday it hopes the Sea Launch project will be resumed despite the explosion of a Zenit-3SL rocket carrying a commercial communications satellite.


"A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL vehicle, carrying the NSS-8 satellite, experienced an anomaly today during launch operations. Sea Launch will establish a Failure Review Oversight Board to determine the root cause of this anomaly," said a statement issued by Sea Launch.

Probes designed to find life on Mars do not drill deep enough to find the living cells that scientists believe may exist well below the surface of Mars, according to research led by UCL (University College London). Although current drills may find essential tell-tale signs that life once existed on Mars, cellular life could not survive the radiation levels for long enough any closer to the surface of Mars than a few metres deep -- beyond the reach of even state-of-the-art drills.


Elysium's frozen sea may be one of the best places to look for life on Mars. (Credits: ESA/DLR/Berlin/Neukum)

The International Space Station will likely remain operational until 2025, the head of the Russian spacecraft manufacturer Energia said Tuesday.

"No one is going to sink or drop the ISS, as all countries realize that the station is becoming a full-scale industrial facility in space.

The first MiG-29KUB carrier-based fighter developed for the Indian Navy took off at the Russian Zhukovsky aircraft test centre on January 22.

On Saturday, Hubble's main camera, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), stopped working. Until a solution, at least in part, can be found, Hubble will be returned to work with the remaining instruments.


Saturday 27 January 2007 at 13:34 CET, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope entered into a protective "safemode" condition most likely triggered by a short circuit in Hubble's main instrument the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). (Image credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp)

The "spine" of the James Webb Space Telescope, called the backplane, is in great health for space, according to scientists and engineers.

Recent tests show that the backplane, which supports the big mirrors of the telescope, can handle its trip into space and operate correctly when the observatory launches in 2013.


Scientists and Engineers at Northrop Grumman working with the Backplane or "Spine" of the JWST. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Thailand is doing the final preparations for the launch of its first earth observation satellite called THEOS into orbit in October, Thai Science and Technology Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong said Friday.

The THEOS project is expected to be completed in August or September and be launched into orbit in October as scheduled, the minister was quoted by Thai News Agency as saying.

The French company EADS Astrium, a leading European satellite producer, was contracted by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) under Thai Ministry of Science and Technology in 2004 to build and deliver THEOS. Thai engineers working for the project have been trained in France.