SciTech Briefs

Endeavour returns to Earth

The U.S. space shuttle Endeavour returned to Earth on Wednesday after its 16-day mission to the International Space Station, the longest excursion of its kind since construction of the station began.

The mission’s main objectives were to deliver a part of Japan’s large Kibo laboratory, an 18,500-pound storage compartment as well as a 12-foot, 3400-pound robot called Dextre from the Canadian Space Agency to the Kennedy Space Center.

Over the 12-day period they spent at the station, the eight Endeavour astronauts performed five spacewalks, three to assemble Dextre, and the remaining two to initiate experiments and examine a faulty rotary joint on a truss holding solar panels.

This is the greatest number of spacewalks completed since the servicing missions to the Hubble telescope.

Source: The New York Times

College tours go virtual

Last week, 50,000 students, college admissions officers, guidance counselors, and financial-aid experts came together via CollegeWeekLive, a two-day online college fair.

The event was designed to resemble an actual convention center, which contained plasma screens, indoor gardens, escalators, and small digital people wandering in the background. The program also featured a “lobby” in which students could click on banners to talk to current students and college-prep consultants.

The event gave kids and their parents the ability to ask questions of the participating experts.

Robert Rosenbloom, CEO of PlatformQ, the digital media group that developed the event, also said that the fact that students and parents do not have to incur travel expenses to visit these schools allows the program to serve as an economic equalizer for prospective applicants.

Source: Newsweek

Giant starfish found in Antarctica

Over the past few months, researchers collected 30,000 sea creatures, many of which had never been previously discovered, during a 35-day census in Antarctica. Among them were giant sea stars, or starfish, measuring 24 inches across.

The survey was part of the International Polar Year and Census of Antarctic Marine Life programs, which study the diversity of marine life in Antarctica.

Source: National Geographic

Hackers unite at CanSecWest

Attendees of the CanSecWest security conference will get the chance to attempt to hack into three laptops, each operating on Linux, Mac OS X, and Vista. The event will take place this week in Vancouver.

To win the competition, the attendees must use a “zero day” attack, a brand new technique no one has seen before.

If they win, they will receive $20,000 and the laptop they hacked.

Source: The Washington Post