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tv   BBC News  BBC News  January 29, 2017 6:45pm-7:01pm GMT

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on for a third time. leo, would you be willing to come to belfast? of course, i am a man of my word. it would be inconvenient for me to go to belfast but i am a man of my word. i respect carl frampton and if it is up to mei will go but it is up to my promoter and my manager and they have to come to an agreement. if i say yes, they will make me go, if it was up to me i would. do you see that as your next fight, doing it straightaway? hopefully. we have had two fights already, they were both pretty close and everything so we will make it a third time and give the fans a good fight. this featherweight rivalry has captured the imagination of the boxing world. a trilogy makes sense for both parties as frampton aims to win back his world title. england winger anthony watson will miss the six nations games against france and wales,
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because of a hamstring strain. the bath player will be out for three to four weeks, with grand slam winners england beginning their title defence that's all from sportsday. there'll be more sport on the bbc news channel throughout the evening. we've long fantasised about the possibility of life on other planets. but it was only in 1995 that we found the first planet outside our solar system. these exoplanets are hard to find. of course they are, they're relatively tiny. and so far they've mainly been detected indirectly, either by the incredibly slight dimming of a star's light as a planet moves in front of it, or by the wobble of the star caused by something orbiting it. in the last 20 years we've detected about 2000 exoplanets, but we haven't actually seen many at all. this is why.
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well, the planets are very, very faint compared to a star and they're very close to a star. the kind of planets where we might find life, an earth—like planet orbiting a star would be 10 billion times fainter than a star. but if you can see the planets, you can start to look for evidence of life on their surfaces. what you need is something to block out the light of a star. what you need is a star shade. due to go into space in the middle of the next decade, it is a crazy—sounding thing that can be flown in between a space telescope and the star to precisely block out the star's light and reveal any planets. it'll be a few tens of metres in diameter, and in order to block outjust the light from that distant star, it'll need to be
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about 40,000 kilometres away from the telescope. and this is not even the maddest part of the scheme. see, there's a problem. the star shade won't fit in a rocket. and that's why a big part of the work being done here at nasa'sjet propulsion laboratory in pasadena, and the beautiful solution that they've come up with, is all about fitting the thing into a tight space and then unfurling it once in space. and the inspiration comes from origami. wow! it's really quite impressive. at the end you can see how large an area you can fill with such a small volume of material. but this is only the half of it because you have petals
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which come out here as well? yes, exactly. oh, my goodness. this cardboard model is the latest test to make sure the shade can unfurl perfectly when it is all alone up there in the black. the flower shape blocks out the light better than a circle, and those outer petals need to be made to an accuracy of 50 to 100 microns. if i may say, this sounds crazy! this sounds like we want to spot some planets, what are we going to do? we'll put a shade in space and we're going to fly it 40,000 kms from the telescope. that sounds insane. well, what's really cool about that is there is this insane concept of how you're going to fly this massive shade so far away, 40,000 kilometres away from the telescope, but once you start breaking it down into little problems, you start testing and build a petal, you build the truss, you build the shield, you realise piece by piece what engineering needs to go in to that problem to solve it.
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so we just break it down into little problems that we can solve in a piecewise fashion. and isn't that a great motto for life? take an impossible problem and break it down into more possible chunks. i love the fact that atjpl you can just wander into a random room and it is called something like the extreme terrain mobility lab. that's what they're doing here. they're making robots to cope with extreme terrain. this is axel which is a robot with a pair of wheels that can be lowered down cliffs. and this is fido and athena. these are the prototypes for the mars rovers spirit and opportunity. of course the point about robots is they can do things that humans might want to do but in places that humans can't go. all of these have fairly familiar designs, wheels here, some robots have legs. but kate russell has found one that looks like nothing i have ever seen before. in 2012 the world watched with bated breath as nasa deployed
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a rover on the surface of mars using a sky crane. this kind of science is incredibly expensive. the rover weighed 900 kilograms, as much as a full grown giraffe. with the equipment required to land it gently, it had to be able to take the weight of 32 giraffes. total cost, $2.5 billion. it would have been much cheaper if curiosity was lightweight, came flat—packed and was sturdy enough just to be dropped on the red planet's surface. meet super ball, a tensgrity robot in development in mesa ames. this lightweight sphere—like matrix can be packed down flat, taking up minimal space in a rocket and vastly reducing launch costs. because of the unique structure of this robot and the fact that it can deform and reform itself
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and take massive impacts, eventually nasa will be able to literally throw it at the surface of a planet and its scientific payload in the middle will be protected. it's bouncy. once deployed, super ball can handle much rougher terrains then a rover, rolling over obstacles and up and down hills. tendon wires connecting the struts spool in and out creating momentum, in much the same way as flexing your muscles moves your limbs. if it bumps into anything solid, it willjust bounce back. it should even be able to survive falling off a cliff. the next step for super ball is to redesign the robot such that it can actually survive at least a one—storey drop. you can expect to see a system like this on an actual nasa mission probably in 15 or 20 years‘ time. 0ver atjpl, they are working on limbed robots. its research spawned from the darpa
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robotics challenge where teams competed to create highly mobile and dextrous robots that can move, explore and build things without human intervention. the plan for king louis is to be sent into space to build stuff with visual codes a bit like qr codes to guide it. we have a structured environment. we know what we are putting together so we put signposts onto all the bits and pieces of the structure we are putting together that tell the robot a few things. most importantly, it tells the robot where those things it is manipulating are in space, literally and figuratively, so it can align itself better. the codes will also include construction information like which bits go together and how much torque to apply to a bolt. this will allow robots to work autonomously in teams, building space stations or planetary habitats faster and more economically than previously possible.
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but nasa hasn't completely given up on our four—wheeled space helpers. here we've tried to develop new kinds of robots for future space exploration. this robot, for example, is called k—rex. it's one of our main research robots that we develop and test here in the roverscape at nasa ames. this is a large play area for robots, a proving ground that we use to really try to develop things like navigation or do the mission simulations. so, the biggest question perhaps of the day for me, can i drive k—rex? definitely. let's have you do that. yes! now lots of you think we click reporters have the bestjobs in the world, but after spending a day at the roverscape testing ground, i think there is another contender for that title. inspired by nasa's training programme, it aims to bring a mission in space to the masses.
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after getting used to your new surroundings, you undertake an emergency mission. whilst enjoying views of earth from afar, a friendly hand from a fellow astronaut helps to get you on your way. ah, i can hold a hand. i feel a strange sense of safety there is another astronaut here. the bbc commissioned the experience last year, as its first steps into the world of virtual reality content. we've taken all the storytelling power of the bbc and applied that behind it, so there's a great script, a great narrative and then we've looked at all the cutting edge explorations people are doing around vr, in terms of bio—monitoring, haptic feedback etc etc and trying to bring that into it as a massive piece of learning really. my preview here on the htc vive saw it set up with a chair providing haptic feedback and a heart rate monitor which resulted in my being sent back to base if readings went too high. but apparently i'm very calm in space. in march it will be released for vive on steam as well as 0culus. wow, this is incredible.
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i feel most disorientated! wow, the depth of it i think was the thing that was most surprising. you really got a sense of being up high, seeing things really, really far away. it took a while to get grips with what i was meant to be doing, but just the fact that i was moving around within space was quite incredible. whilst it wasn't possible to create a sense of weightlessness, the pictures were amazing, but obviously, i can't vouch for how true to life they are. ina
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in a crosscourt, but it will be a rainy week ahead with some very windy weather towards the end of the week. in the short term the heavy rain pushes away to the east overnight. behind it a legacy of thick cloud and drizzle. big temperature contrasts, 10 degrees in plymouth, could be as low as —10 in the glens of scotland. tomorrow another band of rain comes in, lots of grey cloud across england and wales but the far north—east of england and most of scotland will have sunshine tomorrow. again a contrast in the temperatures. wednesday will be a better day, some sunshine around, eventually we will
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get at least a bit of brightness. this is bbc news. the headlines: theresa may orders the foreign secretary and the home secretary to speak to their american counterparts and raise concerns about the us travel ban imposed by donald trump. labour calls for the president's planned state visit to the uk to be cancelled unless the ban is lifted. more than 500,000 people are supported an online petition saying donald trump should not be invited. in yemen, us commandos have killed at least 30 suspected al-qaeda fighters and civilians in a raid authorised by president trump. french voters have been to the polls to choose the socialist party candidate for a pro—‘s presidential election. in the next hour: —— at april's presidential election.
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