A total solar eclipse – the entire sun blocked by the passage of the moon – is one of the most awe-inspiring natural events you can experience. I travelled to Germany to view one in 1999, and I remember it vividly today. The light getting gradually dimmer and dimmer, a deep twilight and then the sudden and dramatic transition into total darkness.
Today will see America’s first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in almost a century. You need to be in quite a narrow band of the U.S. to experience the totality in person, but if you’re not able to do so, there are plenty of ways to livestream the event …
When you need a spacecraft to fire its rocket for 35 minutes some five years after it left Earth, there has to be an anxious moment or two wondering whether it will work – all the more so when it’s been subjected to a radiation dose equivalent to a million dental x-rays. But NASA’s Juno probe performed perfectly, and Google is celebrating the fact with an animated Doodle …
According to Steve Jurvetson, venture capitalist and board member at pioneer quantum computing company D-WAVE (as well as others, such as Tesla and SpaceX), Google has what may be a “watershed” quantum computing announcement scheduled for early next month. This comes as D-WAVE, which notably also holds the Mountain View company as a customer, has just sold a 1000+ Qubit 2X quantum computer to national security research institution Los Alamos… Expand Expanding Close
Google is testing its Project Wing unmanned aircrafts, otherwise known as drones, over United States soil with quiet approval by NASA, according to a new report by the Guardian. The technology giant would otherwise have to receive a 333 exemption by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a waiver issued to commercial companies testing the use of UASs (unmanned aircrafts), as the commercial operation of these aircrafts is banned in the United States.
Google has been using NASA’s Moffett Airfield as a home and launch pad for its private jets for several years now, but today, the company announced that it has singed a deal with NASA in which it will lease the airfield for the next 60 years. Google, via its real estate organization Planetary Ventures, will contribute $1.16 billion to the facilities over the lease, reducing NASA’s operation costs by $6.3 million annually.
Robots aboard the International Space Station will soon be equipped with depth sensing smartphones courtesy of Google. The space-ready handsets will be from the search giant’s Project Tango initiative that uses 3D image tracking technology to map their surroundings. The phones with hitch a ride on a cargo spacecraft scheduled to launch on July 11th and will be the eyes and ears of NASA’s Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES).
What happens when you take Google’s motion mapping phone, Project Tango and pair it with SPHERES robots in a zero gravity environment? You get something really cool. The folks from Mountain View recently teamed up with NASA to test how Project Tango’s 3D environment sensors would act in a near real life space scenario.
Wired reports that the landmark hangar has been a problem for NASA since 1997.
NASA took over Hangar One in 1994, but it’s been a thorn in the space agency’s side. In 1997, NASA discovered toxic PCBs in the hangar, and it has been mothballed and off-limits to humans ever since. As part of the lease agreement, Google will not only fix up Hangar One, but it will also rehabilitate two other Moffett Field hangars, build an on-site educational facility, and even upgrade NASA’s golf course.
Google is already building a 1.2 million square foot R&D facility on land leased from NASA, and is working with the agency on testing the world’s first quantum computer.
The hangar can be seen below in its original role.
Google is updating all of its mapping products today with brand new, cloud-free satellite imagery from space that it says “includes refreshed imagery for regions of the world where high-resolution imagery is not yet available, and offers a more comprehensive and accurate view of the texture of our planet’s landscape.”
With the Blue Marble as inspiration, we used Google Earth Engine technology to mine hundreds of terabytes of data from the USGS’s and NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite. The result is a seamless, globally-consistent image of the entire planet with a resolution of 15 meters per pixel, far finer than is possible with MODIS data alone.
The more you look at the complex, however, the more intriguing it is. The new campus, which the company is calling Bay View, consists of nine roughly similar structures, most of which will be four stories high, and all of which are shaped like rectangles that have been bent in the middle. The bent rectangles are arranged to form large and small courtyards, and several of the buildings have green roofs. All of the structures are connected by bridges, one of which will bring people directly to one of the green roofs that has been done up with an outdoor café and gathering space. And cars, the bane of almost every suburban office complex, including the Googleplex, are hidden away.
The project was actually announced in 2011 but the press release no longer lives on the company website. From the *ahem* Google cache:
We are thrilled to announce that NBBJ has been selected to design a new 1.1 million square foot facility for Google in Mountain View, California. The scope of work includes integrated new construction, interiors and workplace design. This will be Google’s first build-to-suit new construction project. Both Google and NBBJ have high expectations for sustainability and healthy, creative work environments. Together, we will explore innovative materials and processes for construction.
NBBJ is designing Google's new campus in Mountain View! Over 1M SF and an inspiring brief to explore creativity, materials, sustainability
Google’s map offerings build in the human intelligence on the front end, and that’s what allows its computers to tell you the best route from San Francisco to Boston.
In an exclusive story by the Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal, Google for the first time gives us a look at “Ground Truth”. It is a project described by Madrigal as a secretive, complex internal map that contains data, such as “no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions,” necessary to help users navigate through Google Maps:
I was slated to meet with Gupta and the engineering ringleader on his team, former NASA engineer Michael Weiss-Malik, who’d spent his 20 percent time working on Google Mars, and Nick Volmar, an “operator” who actually massages map data.
“So you want to make a map,” Weiss-Malik tells me as we sit down in front of a massive monitor. “There are a couple of steps. You acquire data through partners. You do a bunch of engineering on that data to get it into the right format and conflate it with other sources of data, and then you do a bunch of operations, which is what this tool is about, to hand massage the data. And out the other end pops something that is higher quality than the sum of its parts.”
Describing Ground Truth to be an elaborate internal Map Maker of sorts, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is just how much human input goes into making the Google Maps experience accurate. In the story, Madrigal noted the Ground Truth Geo team aims to address most of the fixable problems reported by users (thousands daily) within minutes: Expand Expanding Close
For fifty years, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been the launch point for a generation of space technology and exploration. Countless enthusiasts (including this one) grew up longing to see a space shuttle up close and walk in the paths of astronauts. Today, a collaboration between NASA and Street View is enabling people around the world to take a trip to the doorway to outer space, and see Kennedy as it transitions into a multipurpose launch complex for the next 50 years of space innovation… We’d like to thank NASA for making this project possible and giving all of us the chance to digitally walk in the shoes of all of the pioneering astronauts, scientists, engineers and technicians that made our space dreams possible.
The founders of Google — Larry Page, and Sergey Brin — are offering NASA $33 million to restore their Hangar One. Hangar One was once the building that housed NASA planes, and is currently in really bad shape and needs to be restored to protect the environment. How nice of Google, but there’s a catch. Mercury Newsreports:
Without a covering, the hangar’s frame and foundation will be exposed to the elements. That’s a problem because there are toxic materials in the soil underneath the hangar that could leach out because of rain exposure, Siegel said. Additionally, the Navy has set up some $12 million worth of scaffolding to remove the hangar’s skin. If supporters are able to put a new covering on the hangar right after that process ends, that scaffolding can be left in place. If not, it will have to be removed and then replaced later at a cost of some $1 million to $2 million more, Siegel said.
The Google founders want to use 2/3 of the NASA hangar to house their 11 jets, one of which is currently being sold. The deal hasn’t yet gone through, and still needs approval from necessary NASA/Navy boards. If approved, the restoration project will begin next summer. Expand Expanding Close
As you know, Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for lift-off from Kennedy Space Center today, July 8, at 11:26am Eastern (carrying two modified iPhone 4s with it). This will be a historic launch marking the 135th and final mission of the Space Shuttle fleet. Time to refresh your astronomy knowledge, don’t you think. Just in time, NASA’s official app which has been downloaded five million times on iPhone and iPad is now available on Android Market.
The 4MB download works with Android 2.1 onwards. It’s your window to an enormous collection of NASA content that spawns hires space imagery, on-demand videos, live streaming video from NASA Television, mission information, feature stories and breaking news. It also lets you locate sighting opportunities for the International Space Station and track the current positions of spacecraft currently orbiting Earth. More features and screenies after the break.