By Soulskill from Slashdot's aliens-with-chipmunk-voices department
An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports on new research into exoplanets that came to an unexpected and non-obvious conclusion. Throughout the galaxy, astronomers have been finding exoplanets they call "warm Neptunes" — bodies about the size of Neptune, but which orbit their parent star more closely than Mercury orbits the Sun. When astronomers looked at spectra for these planets, they found something surprising: no methane signature (PDF). Methane is made of carbon and hydrogen, and it's generally assumed that most large, gaseous planets will have a lot of hydrogen. But this class of exoplanet, being significantly smaller than, say, Jupiter, may not have the mass (and thus the gravity) to hold on to its hydrogen when it's heated by the close proximity to the star. The result is that the atmosphere may be largely made up of helium instead. If so, the planet would look oddly colorless to our eyes, very unlike the planets in our solar system.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's I-suspect-it's-just-a-time-warner-problem department
According to Reuters, foreigners in North Korea who formerly had online access via the country's 3G network have now been blocked from using it
, in the wake of a fire at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel
, though it was not immediately clear whether the two events are related. Vox.com has an interesting look into what internet access is like for North Koreans
, but as the linked Reuters report explains, access is in general much freer for resident as well as visiting foreigners.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's emergent-order department
:Hundreds of CubeSats
have been launched to Earth orbit since 2003
. Now, though, two of the small-form-factor craft are set for a deeper space mission
. According to Spaceflight Now,The twin CubeSat mission, known as Mars Cube One, will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket in March 2016 with NASA’s InSight lander. The CubeSats will relay status signals from InSight as the landing probe descends through the atmosphere, eliminating potential delays in verifying the success of the mission. ... Each Mars Cube One, or MarCO, CubeSat spacecraft measures 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters) when closed up for launch, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which announced details of the mission Friday.
The standardized and small CubeSat has made satellite design and launching accessible to schools and others; going to Mars costs a lot more (in this case it's a "$13 million secondary mission"), but it could conceivably put interplanetary probes possible for deep-pocketed universities or corporations.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's handy-dandy-forms department
writes with news from The Consumerist that the FCC has updated its consumer help center with a revamped form for complaining about an unsatisfactory ISP. From the article: Among the issues concerned consumers can complain about, the form now contains "open internet/net neutrality," right there alphabetically between "interference" and "privacy." So what, specifically, qualifies as a net neutrality violation you can complain about? The FCC has guidance for that, too. In general, paraphrased, it's a problem if there's:
Blocking: ISPs may not block access to any lawful content, apps, services, or devices.
Throttling: ISPs may not slow down or degrade lawful internet traffic from any content, apps, sites, services, or devices.
Paid prioritization: ISPs may not enter into agreements to prioritize and benefit some lawful internet traffic over the rest of it on their networks.Read Replies (0)