Defunct Soviet space probe will crash back to Earth after 47 years in orbit

The 1970s is making a comeback — and, no, we’re not talking about a return of platform shoes, disco, and movies about angry antihero males who don’t make it out alive, man. Instead, we’re referring to the reported return to Earth of failed Russian probe Kosmos 482. Launched by the Soviet Union almost half a century ago on March 31, 1972, Kosmos 482 was intended as a planetary probe that would travel to Venus. This feat had previously been successfully carried out by the USSR’s Venera 7 probe in 1970, which became the first spacecraft to land on another planet and transmit data back to Earth.

Sadly, Kosmos 482 wasn’t quite so lucky. Launched four days after sister probe Venera 8, it failed to leave Earth’s orbit due to a timer error and got stuck as a result. Kosmos 482 broke into multiple pieces, with some parts crash landing in New Zealand soon after launch. While laws dictate that space junk be returned to its national owner, ownership of the pieces was denied by the Soviet Union, although their origin was revealed by manufacturing marks and other distinguishing characteristics. Meanwhile, the surviving 1,000-pound, spherical descent-and-landing capsule has been orbiting the Earth at 112-minute intervals ever since.

Until now, that is. According to a recent report from Space.com, the remains of Kosmos 482 are likely to crash back to Earth within the next two or three years — or possibly even as early as 2019. While its landing back on Earth may not be the most triumphant re-entry in history, experts claim that the piece of Soviet space debris will most likely survive its descent. That’s despite the likelihood that the batteries to fire the pyrotechnics for releasing the parachute failed years ago. Hopefully, it won’t be long before it’s installed in a museum someplace.

Space flight has certainly come a long way in the years since Kosmos 482 was last on terra firma. The most recent Venus-related mission to launch was a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), launched in October 2018. BepiColombo is ultimately scheduled to carry out a comprehensive study of Mercury, where it will hopefully arrive in December 2025. On the way ,it will carry out two flybys of Venus.

Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA is breaking open samples of Moon rock for the first time. Samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 have been preserved and never before exposed to Earth's atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.