Showing posts with label SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. Show all posts

03 August 2021

Space station situation with Russian module misfire more serious than stated.

Last week, a Russian module accidentally pushed the International Space Station out of place. Now, a NASA flight director has revealed that the event was more serious than NASA initially reported. 

On Thursday (July 29) morning, Russia's long-awaited research module Nauka docked with the space station. But a few hours later, the module accidentally fired its thrusters, briefly tilting the space station and causing it to lose what engineers call "attitude control."

However, while NASA said on Twitter and officials repeated during public comments about the incident that the orbiting lab tilted about 45 degrees, that appears not to have been the full story. According to reporting by The New York Times, Zebulon Scoville, the NASA flight director leading mission control in Houston during the event, says the station tilted far more severely than just 45 degrees. 

According to Scoville, the event has "been a little incorrectly reported." He said that after Nauka incorrectly fired up, the station "spun one-and-a-half revolutions — about 540 degrees — before coming to a stop upside down. The space station then did a 180-degree forward flip to get back to its original orientation," according to the report. 

Scoville also shared that this was the first time that he has ever declared a "spacecraft emergency."

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31 July 2021

Elon Musk reportedly demanded to become Apple CEO as Part of potential Tesla acquisition.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. 

The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.

According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of Apple purchasing Tesla, Musk told Cook that a purchase of Telsa by Apple could only go forward if he became CEO of the combined company.

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Bezos' $2bn offer to get back in race to the Moon.

Jeff Bezos has offered to cover $2bn (£1.4bn) of Nasa costs in order to be reconsidered for a key contract to build a Moon landing vehicle.

In April, the space agency awarded the $2.9bn contract to Elon Musk, rejecting a bid from Bezos' company Blue Origin.

The award is for building the landing system that will carry astronauts down to the lunar surface as early as 2024.

NASA could only award the contract to one company, not two as expected because of a funding shortfall.

The space agency had received only $850m of the $3.3bn it requested from Congress to build the Moon lander.

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30 July 2021

Delayed Russian Nauka module joins space station.

Russia's troubled Nauka laboratory has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) after an eight-day flight.

The 13m-long, 20-tonne module was driven into the rear of the orbiting platform, linking up with the other major Russian segments on the ISS.

Nauka should have launched in 2007, but the vessel suffered repeated slips in schedule, in part because of budget difficulties but also because engineers encountered a raft of technical problems during development.

Even after it launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan a week ago, it experienced propulsion issues that required workarounds from controllers in Moscow.

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World's first re programmable commercial satellite set to launch.

The European Space Agency (ESA) will on Friday (July 30) launch the world's first commercial fully re-programmable satellite, paving the way for a new era of more flexible communications.

Unlike conventional models that are designed and "hard-wired" on Earth and cannot be repurposed once in orbit, the Eutelsat Quantum is based on so-called software-defined technology that allows users to tailor the communications to their needs - almost in real time.

The Quantum will be part of the payload for an Ariane 5 rocket due to launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Latin America between 2100 and 2230 GMT on Friday (between 5am and 6.30am Singapore time).

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International Space Station briefly loses control after new Russian module misfires.

An unusual and potentially dangerous situation unfolded Thursday at the International Space Station, as the newly-docked Russian Nauka module inadvertently fired its thrusters causing a "tug of war" with the space station and briefly pushing it out of position, according to NASA flight controllers.

Nauka — a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos' launched to the International Space Station last week — inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station Thursday morning.

NASA officials declared it a "spacecraft emergency" as the space station experienced a loss of attitude (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to remain oriented) control for nearly one hour, and ground controllers lost communications with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS for 11 minutes during the ordeal. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now ongoing.

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Tesla releases big, new software update with Disney+, Car Wash Mode, hotspot, and more

Tesla has started to push a new software update to its fleet, and it’s one of the bigger ones with several new features, including Disney+, Car Wash Mode, hotspot capability, and more.

For years now, Tesla has been leading the auto industry when it comes to over-the-air software update capability.

Much like the smartphone industry, the automaker regularly releases software updates with new features and UI improvements to the in-car and ownership experience.

Often, those software updates are quite small and only add a few barely noticeable improvements, but now and again, Tesla does push some bigger updates with many new features, and today we have one of those.

Tesla started pushing a new 2021.24 software update, and it includes:

  • Disney+ - With this Disney+, Tesla has now integrated all of the main streaming services.
  • Car Wash Mode - A new Car Wash Mode to help with the experience at a car wash:
  • Mirror Auto Dim - Tesla is now enabling to activate and deactivate the auto dimming feature.
  • Dashcam improvements - Tesla has an integrated dashcam system that utilize the onboard Autopilot cameras around its vehicles to record events.
  • Range display - Small update to the ways you can display your battery capacity:
  • Remain connected to Wi-Fi in drive - Tesla is enabling the use of Wi-Fi hotspots when driving
  • Languages - Tesla has also added three new language options in this new update: Hungarian, Romanian, and Russian.


29 July 2021

Chankillo awarded Unesco world heritage status.

The oldest solar observatory in the Americas has been awarded Unesco world heritage status and dubbed “a masterpiece of human creative genius”.

The 2,300-year-old archaeological ruin Chankillo which lies in a desert valley in northern Peru was one of 13 new global sites added to the list of cultural monuments.

Thirteen towers that align on a ridge are the best-known feature of the ancient site which dates between 250 and 200 BCE. The towers functioned as a calendar using the rising and setting arcs of the sun to mark not only equinoxes and solstices but even to define the precise time of year to within one or two days. The site also includes an imposing triple-walled hilltop complex, known as the Fortified Temple set in the barren landscape of the Casma river valley.

Iván Ghezzi, the Chankillo programme director, told the Guardian that while he was “truly overwhelmed” by the recognition he was not surprised that the UN agency found Chankillo worthy of inclusion in the list.

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Hubble Finds First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede.

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapour in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This water vapour forms when ice from the moon's surface sublimates that turns from solid to gas. Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

In 1998, Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph took the first ultraviolet (UV) images of Ganymede, which revealed colourful ribbons of electrified gas called auroral bands, and provided further evidence that Ganymede has a weak magnetic field. The similarities in these UV observations were explained by the presence of molecular oxygen (O2). But some observed features did not match the expected emissions from a pure O2 atmosphere. At the same time, scientists concluded this discrepancy was likely related to higher concentrations of atomic oxygen (O).

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28 July 2021

China launches 6-month campaign to clean up apps

China’s industry ministry has announced a 6-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cyber security and “disturbing market order.” 

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in an online notice that companies must fix pop-ups on apps that deceive and mislead users or force them to use services they might not want. 

The order is part of a wider effort to crack down on tech industries and police use of personal information. Authorities have ordered fines and other penalties for some of China’s biggest tech companies.

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China is gearing up to activate the world's first 'clean' commercial nuclear reactor.

Chinese government scientists have unveiled plans for a first-of-its-kind, experimental nuclear reactor that does not need water for cooling.

The molten-salt nuclear reactor, which runs on liquid thorium rather than uranium, is expected to be safer than traditional reactors because the molten salt cools and solidifies quickly when exposed to the air, insulating the thorium, so that any potential leak would spill much less radiation into the surrounding environment compared with leaks from traditional reactors. 

The prototype reactor is expected to be completed next month, with the first tests beginning as early as September. This will pave the way for the building of the first commercial reactor, slated for construction by 2030.

As this type of reactor doesn't require water, it will be able to operate in desert regions. The location of the first commercial reactor will be in the desert city of Wuwei, and the Chinese government has plans to build more across the sparsely populated deserts and plains of western China, as well as up to 30 in countries involved in China's "Belt and Road" initiative — a global investment program that will see China invest in the infrastructure of 70 countries.

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First Floating Solar Power System will be established near Diyawanna Lake.

Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday that steps will be taken to establish the first Floating Solar Power System near Diyawanna Lake. The Minister said that solar panels would be installed on roofs of Government Offices to generate electricity. Minister Alahapperuma also said that a project worth USD 100 million is being implemented under the Indian Loan Scheme and 80 per cent of it will be allocated for the Project. The Minister said that solutions should be found to the problems through renewable energy and that the Government led by the President has paid special attention in this regard.

A floating solar power plant with a capacity of 1.5 MW is to be built in Diyawanna Oya to meet the daily electricity requirement of Parliament. This will be constructed with a loan from the Government of India.

This will be the first project under a programme to build floating solar systems, according to Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma.

Minister Dullas Alahapperuma emphasizes that the construction of the floating solar power plant in Diyawanna will be carried out at the earliest and that Parliament will set a precedent for the entire country regarding the concept of floating solar power plants.

The programme will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Power and Energy, the State Ministry of Solar, Wind and Hydro Generation Projects Development, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the Mahaweli Authority and the Sustainable Energy Authority. Already several reservoirs and tanks have been identified for the second phase of this innovative project concept.

The CEB is to conduct feasibility studies focusing on the relevant reservoirs and will select the maximum capacity reservoirs. It has been suggested that the minimum capacity should be 100 MW.

The Power Ministry has initiated a number of renewable energy projects covering the entire island to provide uninterrupted, quality and affordable sustainable electricity services to electricity consumers, for achieving the objective of increasing the renewable energy contribution to the power sector to 70% by 2030.



27 July 2021

Earth Networks Releases 2020 South Asia Lightning Report.

Over 14 million strikes detected in Sri Lanka in 2020 by Earth Networks Total Lightning Network

Highest number of lightning strikes in Uva, North Central, Eastern, Sabaragamuwa, and North Western Province

Earth Networks, operator of a nationwide lightning detection network in Sri Lanka, released its first ever 2020 South Asia Lightning Report today, covering India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. For all of 2020, there were 14,462,297 lightning strikes in Sri Lanka recorded by Earth 

Networks’ Total Lightning Network, 572,729 of which were dangerous cloud-to ground strikes. The top 5 provinces with the most lightning strikes in 2020 were Uva, North Central, Eastern, Sabaragamuwa, and North Western Province.

In 2020, Sri Lanka saw the highest concentration of lightning in April of 2020. There were 1,835 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts issued in Siri Lanka in 2020, correlating with the large volume of lightning strikes recorded.

Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean near the equator, causing it to experience extreme amounts of heat and moisture. As a result, the population of Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to severe weather and the effects of lightning strikes.

With Earth Networks’ presence in Sri Lanka comes real-time lightning detection, alerting, and storm-tracking technology needed to minimize lightning-related deaths, injuries, and property damage. These weather safety awareness and lightning warning tools help build resilience and reduce risk for those exposed to severe weather.

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26 July 2021

World’s largest Floating Solar Farm proposed for Indonesia.

Sunseap Group is a solar energy system developer, owner, and operator in Singapore, with over 2000 megawatts (peak) of solar energy projects contracted across Asia. 

This week, Frank Phuan, co-founder and chief executive of Sunseap told that, his company plans to build the world’s largest floating solar farm near the city of Batam in Indonesia, about 50 kilometers southeast of Singapore.

The floating photovoltaic system is expected to have a capacity of 2.2 gigawatts (peak). It will cover 1600 hectares (4000 acres) of the Duriangkang Reservoir on Batam Island and cost about $2 billion to construct. An agreement between Sundeap and the Batam Indonesia free zone authority (BP Batam) to move forward with the project was signed on July 19.

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Asteroid the size of Giza pyramid, Taj Mahal to pass 'close' to Earth.

A massive asteroid is set to pass "close" to Earth on Sunday (01 August 2021), NASA said. 

The 2008 GO20 asteroid is between 318 and 720 feet tall (220 meters) and has drawn comparisons to a number of famous world structures to convey just how big it is, including the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

The asteroid is hurtling through space at 18,000 miles an hour and may come as close as 2.8 million miles to Earth, which places it in the "Apollo," which is a near-Earth designation. NASA is closely monitoring the asteroid’s progress. 

For comparison, the Earth’s moon is 238,855 miles away from the planet, while Venus is 126.11 million miles away and Mars is 236.5 million miles away, according to NASA.   

The distance is not much to worry about, though: An asteroid passed some 1,830 miles over the Indian Ocean in Aug. 2020.

The distance could shrink, though, due to the gravitational pull of planets as the asteroid passes through the solar system. The concern would, however, lay with a future collision rather than any worry over Sunday’s passage. 

The 2008 GO20 asteroid has passed through the system before, passing within 1 million miles of Earth on Aug. 4, 1901 and just over 1 million miles on July 13, 1935.

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NASA has awarded launch services contract for "Europa Clipper Mission" to SpaceX.

NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter's moon Europa.

The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The total contract award amount for launch services is approximately $178 million.

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25 July 2021

World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opened in Amsterdam.

The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge was opened to the public in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was developed by MX3D, a Dutch robotics company, in collaboration with a consortium of experts, and represents a major milestone for 3D-printing technology. After four years of development, the bridge was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. It was installed over one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam’s city centre – the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.

About the bridge:

  • The 12-metre-long steel structure will be a ‘living laboratory’ that will capture and transmit data on its health in real-time to show how it changes over its lifespan.
  • The length of the bridge is nearly 40 feet. It is a 6-ton stainless steel structure. 
  • The smart sensor network was designed and installed by a team from The Alan Turing Institute.
  • The sensors attached to the structure will gather data on air quality, temperature, strain, displacement and vibration.
  • The data will be used by the bridge’s ‘digital twin’, a computer model that will emulate the actual bridge in real-time, to improve accuracy over time.
  • The computer model will help understand how a full-scale 3D-printed steel structure works in the real world.


With Steven Weinberg’s death, physics loses a titan

Steven Weinberg died July 23, at the age of 88. He was one of the key intellectual leaders in physics during the second half of the 20th century, and he remained a leading voice and active contributor and teacher through the first two decades of the 21st.

On lists of the greats of his era he was always mentioned along with Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, Feynman and Gell-Mann.

Among his peers, Weinberg was one of the most respected figures in all of physics or perhaps all of science. He exuded intelligence and dignity. As news of his death spread through Twitter, other physicists expressed their remorse at the loss: “One of the most accomplished scientists of our age,” one commented, “a particularly eloquent spokesman for the scientific worldview.” And another: “One of the best physicists we had, one of the best thinkers of any variety.”

Weinberg’s Nobel Prize, awarded in 1979, was for his role in developing a theory unifying electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force. That was an essential contribution to what became known as the standard model of physics, a masterpiece of explanation for phenomena rooted in the math describing subatomic particles and forces. It’s so successful at explaining experimental results that physicists have long pursued every opportunity to find the slightest deviation, in hopes of identifying “new” physics that further deepens human understanding of nature.

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24 July 2021

NASA Captures Spooky Photo of the Moon's Shadow on Earth During an Eclipse.

Earthlings were privy to an exciting astronomical event last month: an annular solar eclipse, which cast a lunar shadow across the Arctic Circle. NASA shared an image of that shadow, taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory nearly a million miles from Earth.

Since the Moon is much closer to Earth than EPIC, our lunar partner occasionally hops into pictures EPIC is trying to capture of Earth, and eclipse shadows also come with that territory. “Taking images of the sunlit half of Earth from a distance four times further than the Moon’s orbit never ceases to provide surprises, like occasionally the Moon getting in our field of view, or the Moon casting shadow on Earth,” said Adam Szabo, the project scientist on the DSCOVR team, in a NASA release. Launched in 2015, EPIC (aboard DSCOVR) has now imaged several eclipse shadows across Earth’s face: the annular eclipse last month joins total eclipse events in the 2016 and 2017 as being captured by EPIC.

Annular solar eclipses happen when the Moon moves between Earth and the Sun, causing the star to appear as a fiery halo around the Moon’s black silhouette. The recent eclipse on June 10 was partially visible to people in parts of the United States, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. Lucky folks in parts of Canada, Russia, and Greenland could bask in the shadow of the “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse. But no one on Earth had EPIC’s view, which captured the black-brown antumbra of the Moon camping on our planet’s North Pole. The Moon’s shadow looks like a bit of mold spreading on a fruit. Or, as one Gizmodo editor exclaimed upon viewing the image: “EARTH IS HAUNTED.”

EPIC normally images the Earth to study its climate—to give researchers on Earth a constant stream of information about the planet’s cloud cover, vegetation, and ozone. It recently captured images of the West Coast wildfires, visible even at EPIC’s distance. The satellite (DSCOVR) that hosts the camera sits at a point of gravitational balance between the Sun and Earth, called the L1 Lagrange Point. (It’s one of five such points; when it launches, the James Webb Space Telescope is headed for L2.)

While total solar eclipses blot out the Sun completely, annular solar eclipses leave that solar halo around the Moon, creating an arguably cooler picture for viewers on Earth. This happens because the Moon is more distant from Earth during an annular solar eclipse, making it too small in our field of view to fully cover the Sun.

If you missed this annular eclipse, not to worry. If you’re in the Western Hemisphere, you could see another one in 2023.



Teen on space flight told Bezos he had never ordered from Amazon.

The Dutch teenager who became the world’s youngest space traveler this week surprised billionaire Jeff Bezos on the flight by telling him he’d never ordered anything on Amazon.

Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student, accompanied Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk – the oldest person to go to space – on a 10-minute trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Bezos funded exploration company Blue Origin by selling billions of dollars’ worth of stock in his online delivery business Amazon.

Daemen, who was picked after another candidate bidding $28 million for the ride canceled at the last minute, found out he would be joining the flight while on a family holiday in Italy.

Daemen had dreamed of space travel since he was a kid, followed every development by space exploration companies like Blue Origin and got his pilot’s license at a young age.

The crew received two days of safety training, but nothing very hard, said Daemen, who can be seen in a video of the trip tossing ping-pong balls in weightlessness with Jeff Bezos.

Daemen, who is set to start at Utrecht University in September, said he was not sure what he wanted to do later in life, but would seriously consider a career in space travel.

Asked what it was like traveling in a rocket ship with a billionaire, he answered with a wide smile: “They were super fun and all down to earth, as funny as that may sound.”

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