The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (7/30)

Brown_dwarf_aurorae Brown Dwarf Found Orbiting a Young Sun-Like Star

Astronomers have imaged a very young brown dwarf, or failed star, in a tight orbit around a young nearby sun-like star. The discovery is expected to shed light on the early stages of solar system formation. Astronomers have imaged a very young brown dwarf, or failed star, in a tight orbit around a young nearby sun-like star. An international team led by University of Hawaii astronomers Beth Biller and Michael Liu with help from University of Arizona astronomer Laird Close and UA graduate students Eric Nielsen, Jared Males and Andy Skemer made the rare find using the Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, or NICI, on the international 8-meter Gemini-South Telescope in Chile. What makes this discovery special is the proximity between the 36 Jupiter-mass brown dwarf companion, dubbed PZ Tel B, and its primary star, named PZ Tel A. They are separated by only 18 Astronomical Units, or AUs, similar to the distance between Uranus and the sun.

Scarabdemo1008_620x412 Japan experts call for robot expedition to moon

An expert panel advising the Japanese government called in a report approved on Thursday for the nation to send a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and to build the first lunar base by 2020. "It is extremely important to probe the moon… as we now see the dawn of the age of great exploration in the solar system," the report formally adopted by the panel on Thursday said.

"China, India and other countries are aiming to probe the moon. If Japan's activity is delayed, it will become difficult to maintain our superiority in science regarding the moon," it said. Noting a Japanese observation satellite had succeeded in sending high-definition images of the entire moon, the report argued the nation needed to enhance its probe also for the sake of its "international presence." The panel, made up of experts from the state-funded Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency as well as business and academia, approved the report as it wrapped up a one-year debate on what form the nation's moon probe should take. Under the plan, the robot's tasks would include setting up an observation device and gathering geological samples for sending back to Earth. The robot would also set up solar panels to generate energy.

D16_24385725 X Prize Foundation Unveils $1.4 Million Oil Cleanup X Challenge

The X Prize Foundation first announced plans for a million dollar oil spill X Challenge last month. Today, the foundation revealed the details of the $1.4 million Oil Cleanup X Challenge, which asks entrants to clean up the Gulf oil disaster. It's a "flash prize", according to Peter Diamandis, Founder & Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation. That means entrants need to work quickly, for obvious reasons. The competition, which is funded entirely by Wendy Schmidt of the Schmidt Marine Science Research Institute, will offer $1 million to the first place winner, $300,000 to the second place idea, and $100,000 to the third place winner. Entrants will be judged on a number of factors, including cost, environmental impact, scalability, oil recovery rate, and efficiency. Scaled versions of the best ideas will be built and tested in a head-to-head competition at the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) in Leonardo, New Jersey.

1-droidx The Droid X is Here!

Tt's the size you'll notice first — feeling wider and longer than the average mobile phone — but it's not bulky in that old-school, cell-phone-from-the-'80s kind of way. The Droid X needs to be a bit bigger to accommodate a massive 4.3-inch wide screen. It's huge in a very good way, offering up generous amounts of touch-space real estate. The size of the screen is the star of this show, and it makes using the phone easier than other touch-screen handsets because buttons are bigger, text is larger, and there is more general screen space available. The Droid X is running Google's Android operating system — specifically version 2.1 — and that means apps from the Android Market. Google's suite of mobile services also is available, including Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps Navigation, which is a free online GPS-guided program that provides voiced directions.

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