SpaceX Dragon spacecraft returns to Earth with ‘critical’ cargo

spacex dragon spacecraft crs5 orbit13
SpaceX
SpaceX gets a lot of press for its rocket ship launches and landings. We’ve seen the Falcon 9 explode in extraordinary spectacles. We’ve seen a rocket overcome intimidating odds. We don’t, however, hear about SpaceX’s spacecraft, the Dragon, nearly as often. While the Falcon 9 rocket ships perform quick missions to deliver payload into orbit, Dragon cargo spacecraft take long journeys into space and take some time to return to Earth.

Well, the Dragon did return to Earth on Wednesday and brought with it “critical NASA science,” according to the space agency. The 3,000 pound commercial resupply spacecraft made a splash in the Pacific Ocean just before 3 p.m. EDT packed with 3,700 pounds of valuable scientific data transported from the International Space Station.

Space provides scientists an environment where they can perform experiments not possible on Earth. The space station’s microgravity, for example, can offer unique insight into how particles, bodies, and organisms behave in space. NASA describes one nanotechnology study to test how microparticles interact when not burdened by the standard force of Earth’s gravity.

But sometimes these experiments study the effects of a microgravity environment on astronauts themselves. Identical-twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly engaged in a nearly yearlong study to test how the human body adapts to microgravity environments.

While Mark spent a year on Earth, Scott spent a year in space. When Scott returned to Earth in February 2016, he left behind human research samples at the International Space Station. When the Dragon returned home yesterday, part of its cargo included Kelly’s leftover data, which NASA hopes to analyze and apply to the agency’s Journey to Mars in the 2030s.

SpaceX, meanwhile, may not have the twin experiment scientific data, but has planned its own trip to Mars, with an ambitious deadline of 2018.

Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
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.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
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.
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. 
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
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.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.