SHORT SCIENCE

Communication line to comet lander Philae reopened

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 March, 2015, 8:55am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 March, 2015, 11:30am

Major earthquake likely in California

The risk of a major earthquake hitting California in the next 30 years has risen dramatically, US scientists said, using improved forecasting techniques. Earthquakes are notoriously hard to predict and while seismic activity in California has stayed mild in the last century, experts expect a big one to strike some time in the future - they just don't know when. "The likelihood that California will experience a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years has increased from about 4.7 per cent ... to about 7.0 per cent," said the US Geological Survey. AFP

 

Polish firm develops miniature drones

A Polish firm that has developed new technologies for the military has devised a system of miniature drones capable of operating from vehicles for surveillance and even directly supporting infantry units. WB Electronics, which already manufactures surveillance and target acquisition systems for the Polish army, teamed up with another firm, Optimum, to develop drones with camera systems capable of attacking small targets with explosive charges. The system, called "Bee", can be configured to fit a number of the small-sized drones on to a military vehicle, such as the Rosomak (Polish for "Wolverine") armoured personnel carriers. The range of the drones controlled from a tablet-sized interface is about 2km with a flight time of 30 minutes. One design, which WB Electronics says is unique to its system, is a camera head capable of thermal vision and laser target designation this weighs just 300 grams. The system is designed to offer support to infantry operating in an urban environment. Reuters

 

Communication line open to lab on comet

Ground controllers have opened a communications line with a robot lab perched on a comet zipping through space, hoping for signs it is alive, the European Space Agency said. The 100kg probe Philae landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12 after a 10-year trek piggybacking on its mother ship, the orbiter Rosetta. But the landing did not go smoothly. Philae bounced twice off the comet's hard surface before settling at an angle in the shadow of a cliff. Philae had enough stored power in a battery for 60 hours of experiments. It sent home reams of precious data. AFP