Your GPS is about to become way more accurate

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Apple Maps, Waze, etc. will know just where you are thanks to Europe’s Galileo satellite system.
Apple Maps, Waze, etc. will know just where you are thanks to Europe’s Galileo satellite system.
Photo: European GNSS Agency

Phones and other devices located in the U.S. are now permitted to access signals coming from the European equivalent of the GPS system, named for the astronomer Galileo. This should make them significantly more accurate.

Recent iPhones have the hardware necessary to receive these signals, so it’s just up to Apple to add this feature. There are already a lot of GPS navigation device brands out there preparing to add the feature to their latest lines. You can check on https://geosettr.com/ the devices that will be adding the Galileo navigation in the coming months.

Wingless spaceplane will paddle back to Earth

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An illustration shows the European Space Agency's Spaceplane on re-entry. A test launch is scheduled for Feb. 11. Illustration: J. Huart/ESA
An illustration shows the European Space Agency's spaceplane on re-entry. A test launch is scheduled for Feb. 11. Illustration: J. Huart/ESA

With “plane” in the name, you expect to see wings. But the European Space Agency’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle IXV, or spaceplane, will have to earn them.

A critical test takes place Feb. 11, when the spaceplane will get a push into space aboard a Vega rocket and splash down 100 minutes later in a vetting of the agency’s re-entry technologies.

About the size — and even look — of a small boat, the 2-ton spaceplane will keep an even keel as it re-enters at hypersonic speeds with the assist of thrusters and a pair of aerodynamic flippers on the back. Chutes will deploy to slow it down and give it a gentle landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Intriguing new Hubble photos hint at solar system origins

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Two views of the Eagle Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, one from 2014, left, and the first in 1995. Photo courtesy of NASA and the European Space Agency
Two views of the Eagle Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, one from 2014, left, and the first in 1995. Photo courtesy of NASA and the European Space Agency

The muse of the Hubble Space Telescope is even more alluring 20 years later.

Of all the breath-taking photos from the telescope’s camera, the blooming pillars of gas of the Eagle Nebula from 1995 became Hubble’s most iconic image, depicted on stamps, tee-shirts and in several cameos for film and television.

Hubble recently took another look at the star-lit towers of gas and cosmic dust – dubbed the Pillars of Creation — with a newer camera (installed in 2009) and captured greater detail that should give astronomers a chance to see how the clouds of oxygen, hydrogen and sulphur have changed since the first photograph.