Two robotic spacecraft have been launched as part of a three-month mission to test the feasibility of refueling and repairing satellites in orbit. The NextSat is the smaller of two and is designed to dock with satellites so that their store of propellant can be topped up. It can also be used to transfer replacement hardware from the ASTRO to the satellite. The larger of the two is the ASTRO which has a robotic arm that allows it to either recapture the NextSat or transfer parts to NextSat to shuttle to a satellite.
The State of New Mexico has threatened to "...secede from the astronomical community..." if Pluto is not given official status as a planet. Their primary reason? The original discoverer of Pluto used to live there. The reaction from the International Astronomical Union has been, understandable, understated, given this is a threat with no teeth. They have also declared 13 March as "Pluto Planet Day".
Source: National Geographic
If Global Warming can be seen to have an upside, one of them may be access to a new source of fuel in the form of gas hydrates. First discovered in 1983, it is now believed that there may enough methane trapped in the form of gas hydrates to exceed the world's traditional supply of gas, oil and coal. Each 0.02 cubic metre of gas hydrate can yield as much as 4.5 cubic metres of methane. Research is currently being conducted in the Arctic to determine how to mine this resource from the sandy sediments in which they appear.
Source: ABC News
As we go into the weekend knowing that Daylight Savings time starts three weeks earlier than usual this year (causing innumerable computer headaches), it turns out that the plan may be more annoyance than solution. The original purpose was to reduce the US's energy consumption by a wopping 1%; Canada followed suit in it usual passive manner to avoid upsetting anyone. The idea was that with an hour more sunlight in the evening, electric lights would be on a shorter period of time. A new study points out that there will, in fact, be an "...increase in morning electricity consumption ... so big that it offsets any benefits we get from the extra light in the evening." The cost of this shift has been estimated at more than $2 billion(US).
IBM, in association with The Anomalies Network, has designed a new search engine for those of you have may have been captured by aliens. UFOCrawler is a repository of information pertaining to ghosts, conspiracy theories and extraterrestrials. Strangely enough, I might have a use for this sight, these being things I find entertaining.
A note expanding on yesterday's report of NetFile being down: apparently the problem is some data being scrambled, such as Social Insurance numbers being switched with birthdates [Toronto Star
]. Intuit Canada recommends that you can either wait for NetFile to come back online or submit paper copies. QuickTax will generate a barcode for printed returns so those who use their system can simply print out the data and submit it.