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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

March 20, 2013 at 7:08 PM   |   Comments

Expedition recovers Apollo engines

CAPE CANAVERAL, Calif., March 20 (UPI) -- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says pieces of engines believed to be from the rocket that launched Apollo 11 to the moon have been recovered from the ocean floor.

Bezos began the effort last year to locate and recover the F-1 engines of the Saturn rocket that created the 1.5 million pounds of thrust needed to lift the Apollo capsule free of the Earth and send it on its way to the moon.

Five F-1 engines powered the Saturn's first stage that plummeted into the Atlantic ocean after separation and settled to the seafloor, 3 miles beneath the ocean surface off the coast of Florida.

After three weeks at sea, Bezos is on his way back to Cape Canaveral with the priceless engines safely in tow, Mashable reported Wednesday.

The engines were located using state-of-the-art, deep-sea sonar.

"We've seen an underwater wonderland -- an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program," he wrote in a posting on the Bezos Expedition website.

The expedition team said it has recovered enough major components to rebuild two Saturn V F-1 engines for display.

A total of 65 F-1 engines were using during the Apollo program from 1967 through 1973.

Bezos has acknowledged he is not yet certain the recovered engines are, in fact, from the Apollo 11 mission since the corrosion of the serial numbers will make it difficult to verify.

"We might see more during restoration," Bezos posted.

NASA, which retains ownership of the engines, said one might be offered to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

"We look forward to the restoration of these engines by the Bezos team and applaud Jeff's desire to make these historic artifacts available for public display," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement Wednesday.


Amazon to provide CIA with cloud computing

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Amazon will help the CIA build a private cloud, agreeing to a cloud computing contract worth up to $600 million over 10 years, a tech-watching website says.

FCW.com, which described itself as a website covering "the business of federal technology," said sources told it Amazon Web Services would help the intelligence agency build a private cloud infrastructure to keep up with emerging technologies in a cost-effective manner not possible under the CIA's previous cloud efforts.

Last week CIA Chief Information Officer Jeanne Tisinger said the CIA is looking at leveraging the commercial sector's innovation cycle for cost efficiencies in IT.

However, neither Amazon officials nor a CIA spokesperson responded to a request for information on the apparent contract agreement, FCW.com said.

"As a general rule, the CIA does not publicly disclose details of our contracts, the identities of our contractors, the contract values, or the scope of work," a CIA spokesperson told the website.

Previous cloud computing activities of the CIA utilized a number of smaller, highly specific private clouds, whereas a single contract with Amazon would bring its cloud computing environment within the secure firewalls of the intelligence community, ensuring classified data being would not be hosted in any public environment, FCW said.


Voyager 1 at edge of our solar system

LAS CRUCES, N.M., March 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Voyager-1 spacecraft launched in 1977 may have left the solar system, some scientists say, and if so would be the first man-made artifact to exit.

After traveling for 35 years, the space probe appears to have traveled beyond the influence of the Sun and exited the heliosphere, the region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind of energetic particles, a study to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters indicates.

The edge of the heliosphere is considered the boundary between our solar system and the surrounding interstellar medium of gas and dust that pervades the Milky Way galaxy.

Researchers say Voyager has been detecting a decrease in a type of cosmic rays that remain trapped in the outer heliosphere, while a different type of "galactic" cosmic rays -- radiation from outside the solar system -- have dramatically increased.

"Within just a few days, the heliospheric intensity of trapped radiation decreased, and the cosmic ray intensity went up as you would expect if it exited the heliosphere," astronomer Bill Webber, at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, said, calling the transition boundary the "heliocliff."

Voyage, still traveling after its initial goal of studying the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, is now more than 11 billion miles from Earth.


Samsung working on its own smart watch

SEOUL, March 20 (UPI) -- As rumors of an Apple watch grow, competitor Samsung says it's been working on its own smart watch for some time.

In an interview in South Korea, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, confirmed the existence of a smart watch development program, CNN reported Wednesday.

"We've been preparing the watch product for so long," Lee said. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."

Apple and Samsung, which have been battling in the smartphone market for years, appear ready to go to battle in the wearable tech market as well.

Mobile shopping site BuyVia said it conducted a survey before the announcement of the Samsung watch that found 26 percent of respondents said they would be interested in buying a rumored Apple iWatch, 38 percent said they were not interested and 36 percent said they hadn't decided.

The top five features survey respondents said would interest them in a smart watch were email and texting, phone calls, GPS, WiFi and weather updates.

In confirming Samsung's effort, Hee declined to provide details on when the watch might be released, what features it would have or its pricing.

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