So what’s the latest and greatest as we all recover from our Halloween bacchanalia and face All Saints Day and significantly more wintry weather? Bundle up… it’s cold on Mars….
* Scientists at Michigan Technological University made the Accuweather site by solving a spooky mystery for Halloween: Turns out the famous “Paulding Lights” are just a mirage caused by vehicle headlight reflections.
* Mars One will launch its first unmanned mission to the Red Planet in 2016, its co-founder says. The firm plans to establish a human settlement on Martian soil in 2023, by offering passengers a one-way ticket. Mars One will send a small craft that will demonstrate the technologies needed for a human colony.
* Speaking of Mars, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is sizing up its next scientific target — the first rocks the car-size robot will reach out and touch in more than a month. On Monday, the 1-ton Curiosity rover took some scouting photos of a rocky outcrop called “Cooperstown” from about 262 feet (80 meters) away. Mission researchers plan to investigate Cooperstown with Curiosity’s arm-mounted instruments soon, putting this science gear to such use for the first time since Sept. 22.
* Even space got into the Halloween spirit. Researchers just released this photo of a distant nebula. Look at the clouds – do you see the profile of a wicked witch? The head is a massive cloud of gas that takes its color from reflective light of nearby stars. Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer Amy Mainser says the area is also a breeding ground for stars: while they may look like warts, those red dobs along her chin are young stars being born, she told ScienceNow.
* Airline passengers will soon be able to use their mobile devices during an entire flight from takeoff to landing. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the new ruling Thursday. Implementation will vary among airlines, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. But many carriers are expected to allow passengers to be able to use their devices — in airplane mode — from departure to arrival by the end of the year. (Attention Delta fliers: The airline said passengers may be permitted to use their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet as early as Friday, Nov. 1.)
* Google Glass wearers may want to think twice before wearing their high-tech specs behind the wheel, at least in California. Cecilia Abadie said she was ticketed by a police officer for wearing Google Glass while driving through the state. The exact line as written on the ticket said: “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).”
* Meanwhile, in Tennessee, highway patrol officers in Tennessee have had enough of you texting at the wheel. So they are lifting themselves up — riding in big rigs — to get a better view of you, so they can see if you’re texting.
* Well, this’ll be cool if it works: Google today announced Chrome is getting an automatic download blocking feature for malware. Google has already added the new functionality to the latest build of Chrome Canary.
* Consumers who have questions about Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 should find most of them answered in a hefty FAQ posted by the company. Dubbed “PS4: The Ultimate FAQ – North America,” the page breaks down its information into categories, such as System Details, Game Lineup, Used Games, Peripherals & Accessories, and Digital Entertainment.
* The Nexus franchise is finally getting a little respect. Google on Thursday pulled the wraps off its latest marquee smartphone, the Nexus 5, which comes loaded with high-end specifications and Android 4.4, or KitKat. But perhaps just as important is the confirmation that the phone will be broadly available in carrier stores across the nation. That’s right, the Nexus 5 will be sold through AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, with only Verizon Wireless opting out of carrying the device.