Michael Boles

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The 10 Most Important Aerospace Innovations Of The Year

These are the Best Of What's New<p><i>Read about the other Best of What’s New winners from the November/December 2016 issue of</i> Popular Science.

Tech Inspired By Nikola Tesla Charges Drones In Mid-Air

Imagine flying robots that never had to land, ever<p>Everything that flies must eventually land. Unless, say, it’s an all-electric drone that can recharge while in flight. Researchers at Imperial College London have demonstrated a way to transfer electricity wireless to a flying drone. Even better: …

How An Attack On A Company You’ve Never Heard Of Shut Down The Internet

And how you can get your Netflix to stream again<p>If you were on the internet today, as you may have been if you’re reading this, then you probably noticed some sites are having trouble loading, and others are not working at all. There’s a good reason for that. Well, not a good reason, but a clear, …

What's Inside Proxima Centauri B, Our Nearest Exoplanet Neighbor

The closest potentially habitable planet has an intriguing interior<p>What might the closest exoplanet to Earth look like? Anything from a cannonball-like world to an ocean-covered planet made up half of water, researchers say.<p>In August, astronomers revealed that the nearest star system to the sun, …

Powerful New Camera Will Observe How First Stars Formed

The fastest, largest observations of the Universe, ever<p>With an upgraded beast of a telescope, astronomers plan to take a wide-angle view through the interstellar gas of the Universe.<p>Astronomers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arizona State University are developing the most sensitive …

World's Biggest Alien-Hunting Project Takes Aim At Mysterious Star

If there's a megastructure around Tabby's Star, this is our best shot at hearing the aliens that built it<p>Even as they acknowledge that it's not likely, legitimate scientists are speculating about the possibility of alien life around a star named KIC 8462852 (a.k.a. "Tabby's Star"). Today they're …

Everything We Know About Our Neighbor Proxima b

A potentially habitable world only 4.2 light years away<p>This summer, scientists announced that they had discovered an Earth-size exoplanet orbiting our sun's nearest neighbor: Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf star 4.2 light years away. The exoplanet, Proxima b, is located in its star's habitable zone, …

A Shattered Mars Lander, An Iridescent Leaf, And More

MacBook Pro

How NASA Found The Lost ExoMars Lander So Quickly

Europe's previous failed lander went missing for over a decade<p>Europe’s Schiaparelli Mars lander did not have had the smooth landing its team had hoped for on October 19, but at least it didn’t stay missing for long. A high-resolution camera onboard a NASA satellite discovered the errant …

The Quadsaw Is A Tool That Makes Square-shaped Holes

A drill for squares<p>The circle has been the shape of choice for drills and their resulting handiwork, but Quadsaw seeks to change that. The tool created by London startup Genius IP augments the drill you already own with an attachment that allows you to put a square or rectangle opening in your wall.<p>…

Could A Black Hole Be Blocking The Light From That 'Alien Megastructure' Star?

The top 7 explanations for the star’s weird behavior, ranked roughly in order of plausibility<p>About 1480 light-years away from Earth, a star is doing something astronomers have never seen before. Every now and then, at random intervals, its light dips by as much as 22 percent. That's way too much to …

The Cosmic Crash That Created Our Moon Was Crazier Than We Thought

A bigger smash solves everything.<p>Our moon has always inspired more questions than answers. How did this looming sphere first begin its night watch? Some ancient myths cast the Earth and moon as spouses or siblings. Others deemed it the home of the dead, or assigned deep meanings to eclipses or the …

Laser-Eyed Device Could Speed Up NASA's Search For Life On Mars

BILI is like radar for biomolecules<p>A device originally designed to scan for toxins, pathogens, and other bio-hazards may one day come in handy on a Mars rover. NASA technologist Branimir Blagojevic from the Goddard Space Flight Center is testing out a prototype of the Bio-Indicator Lidar …

What We Know About ISIS's Scratch-built Drones

Clues from an abandoned drone workshop in Iraq<p>ISIS is building drones and using them in war. In February, field investigators from Conflict Armament Research found an ISIS drone-making workshop in Ramadi, two weeks after the city was liberated from the violent, insurgent group. Last month, an …

Juno Is Still Stuck In The Wrong Orbit Around Jupiter

Problems with the spacecraft's engines are preventing it from entering a new orbit for observations<p>Things are really not going Juno's way.<p>The spacecraft made a triumphant arrival to Jupiter last July 4 and promptly settled into a stable orbit. But now it's having trouble getting <i>out</i> of that orbit.<p>On …

How to build a record player powered by wind

The breeze spins the turntable<p>Digital music relies on unseen technology to translate bits and bytes into tunes. An analog machine like a record player is much easier to understand. To make it even simpler, <i>Popular Science</i> built a motor-free device powered by the wind. This project is cheaper than a …

Pluto's frozen heart may hide an ocean inside

The heavy heart may have tipped the world over<p>Talk about a change of heart. Sputnik Planitia, the icy plain that forms part of Pluto's "heart," has dramatically changed places since it was created 4 billion years ago.<p>According to two new papers in <i>Nature</i>, Sputnik Planitia has traveled about 745 …

How scientists will use artificial intelligence to find aliens

To find habitable worlds in a sea of space data, we need computers that can think fast<p>Astronomers first discovered planets beyond our own solar system in the early 1990s. Since then, scientists have tagged 3,400 of these exoplanets. Now they want to determine which might be home to extraterrestrial …

Paper microscopes, perfect turkeys, and more of our favorite images of the week

How was your Thanksgiving? Was the turkey dry? We've got a few tips to make sure your bird is cooked to perfection every time.

Microscopy

Private moon rovers may visit the Apollo 17 landing site

German Xprize team sets its sights on a vintage moon buggy<p>The Apollo 17 landing site has been abandoned since the last lunar astronauts went home in 1972. Now the site could get its first visitor in 44 years, as private companies race to the moon in the Google Lunar Xprize competition. A German …

10 incredible space photos from astronaut Don Pettit's new book

Spaceborne just landed in book stores<p>"To travel in space is to be awestruck, over and over and over."--Don Pettit, <i>Spaceborne</i>.<p>Don Pettit and his crewmates flew into space three times, capturing about 600,000 photos from their shuttle missions and long-term stays on the International Space Station. …

No one really knows how to name exoplanets

Naming new worlds is a confusing mess<p>55 Cancri e is experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. The planet, which orbits a star about 40 light-years away, also answers to 55 Cancri Ae, Rho Cancri e, HD 75732 e, and "Janssen."<p>Janssen and the other planets in its star system — Galileo, Brahe, …

Universe

Mushroom furniture, space balloons, and more

ExoMars rover will attempt Mars landing in 2021, despite recent lander crash

If at first you don't succeeed...<p>Landing on Mars is no easy feat. Only the United States has so far managed to successfully set down robots that operated for more than a few seconds on the Martian surface. But Russia and the European Space Agency (ESA) are hoping to buck the trend.<p>During a meeting …

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo glides back into the space race

The spacecraft nailed its first unpowered glide since a fatal accident in 2014<p>Virgin Galactic is working its way back to space. The private spaceflight company, built by billionaire Richard Branson, is premised on an odd sort of lux populism: tourist trips to outer space are expensive, but with a …

Looking for silicon-based alien life? Don't hold your breath.

Bacteria have bonded carbon and silicon for the first time. What can they teach us?<p>Here on Earth, silicon is the stuff of rocks and glass and computer chips. It shows up in life, too – in plants and the shells of the algae diatoms, and as traces in our bodies. But life as we know it doesn’t make …

NASA's new satellite will circle the globe repairing broken space robots

Restore-L could fix broken satellites and clean up space junk<p>When a satellite runs out of fuel or fails to deploy its solar panels, who you gonna call? Right now, nobody. There's currently no reliable way to physically repair things in orbit, which means a multimillion-dollar satellite can be …

Despite a bumpy beginning, NASA's Juno is hard at work exploring Jupiter

Things haven't gone according to plan.<p>There was much excitement when the Juno spacecraft successfully arrived at Jupiter in July after a five-year journey through the solar system. A perfect engine firing placed the solar-powered spacecraft into just the right orbit around the gas giant, with the …

Astronomy

New Cassini photos show the hexagon on Saturn's north pole

The first images from the pentultimate phase of the mission<p>On November 30, the Cassini mission moved into its next, and second-to-last, phase. For the next five months, the space probe will perform 20 "ring-grazing" orbits, passing over Saturn's north pole and brushing the edge of the planet's main …

All the NASA space gifs you never knew you needed

The agency's new GIPHY page is a delight<p>In addition to all of that research it does and stuff, NASA serves as the Internet's primary provider of pretty space pictures. Now, the space agency is making its offerings a little more dynamic: On Thursday NASA launched its official page on GIPHY, a …