NASA Langley Research Center has ordered a full-scale Mars airplane prototype from Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. (www.aurora.aero) as part of the Mars Scout Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey project. Designed to demonstrate flight-weight components and actual aerodynamics, the prototype plane is scheduled to make its first flight later this year with a deployment test in the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere. In 2002 Aurora and NASA Langley successfully demonstrated a half-scale version of the airplane in a series of low- and high-altitude drop tests where it unfolded from a protective shell.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
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