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Date/Time of Last Update: Mon Nov 29 09:00:35 2021 UTC




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No Antenna Could Survive Europa’s Brutal, Radioactive Environment—Until Now
Wed, 21 Jul 2021 20:30:00 +0000


Europa, one of Jupiter's Galilean moons, has twice as much liquid water as Earth's oceans, if not more. An ocean estimated to be anywhere from 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep spans the entire moon, locked beneath an icy surface over a dozen kilometers thick. The only direct evidence for this ocean is the plumes of water that occasionally erupt through cracks in the ice, jetting as high as 200 km above the surface.

The endless, sunless, roiling ocean of Europa might sound astoundingly bleak. Yet it's one of the most promising candidates for finding extraterrestrial life. Designing a robotic lander that can survive such harsh conditions will require rethinking all of its systems to some extent, including arguably its most important: communications. After all, even if the rest of the lander works flawlessly, if the radio or antenna breaks, the lander is lost forever.

Ultimately, when NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where I am a senior antenna engineer, began to seriously consider a Europa lander mission, we realized that the antenna was the limiting factor. The antenna needs to maintain a direct-to-Earth link across more than 550 million miles (900 million km) when Earth and Jupiter are at their point of greatest separation. The antenna must be radiation-hardened enough to survive an onslaught of ionizing particles from Jupiter, and it cannot be so heavy or so large that it would imperil the lander during takeoff and landing. One colleague, when we laid out the challenge in front of us, called it impossible. We built such an antenna anyway—and although it was designed for Europa, it is a revolutionary enough design that we're already successfully implementing it in future missions for other destinations in the solar system.

Currently, the only planned mission to Europa is the Clipper orbiter, a NASA mission that will study the moon's chemistry and geology and will likely launch in 2024. Clipper will also conduct reconnaissance for a potential later mission to put a lander on Europa. At this time, any such lander is conceptual. NASA has still funded a Europa lander concept, however, because there are crucial new technologies that we need to develop for any successful mission on the icy world. Europa is unlike anywhere else we've attempted to land before.

People standing in front of an antenna.  The antenna team, including the author (right), examine one of the antenna's subarrays. Each golden square is a unit cell in the antenna. JPL-Caltech/NASA

For context, so far the only lander to explore the outer solar system is the European Space Agency's Huygens lander. It successfully descended to Saturn's moon Titan in 2005 after being carried by the Cassini orbiter. Much of our frame of reference for designing landers—and their antennas—comes from Mars landers.

Traditionally, landers (and rovers) designed for Mars missions rely on relay orbiters with high data rates to get scientific data back to Earth in a timely manner. These orbiters, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey, have large, parabolic antennas that use large amounts of power, on the order of 100 watts, to communicate with Earth. While the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers also have direct-to-Earth antennas, they are small, use less power (about 25 W), and are not very efficient. These antennas are mostly used for transmitting the rover's status and other low-data updates. These existing direct-to-Earth antennas simply aren't up to the task of communicating all the way from Europa.

Additionally, Europa, unlike Mars, has virtually no atmosphere, so landers can't use parachutes or air resistance to slow down. Instead, the lander will depend entirely on rockets to brake and land safely. This necessity limits how big it can be—too heavy and it will require far too much fuel to both launch and land. A modestly sized 400-kilogram lander, for example, requires a rocket and fuel that combined weigh between 10 to 15 tonnes. The lander then needs to survive six or seven years of deep space travel before finally landing and operating within the intense radiation produced by Jupiter's powerful magnetic field.

We also can't assume a Europa lander would have an orbiter overhead to relay signals, because adding an orbiter could very easily make the mission too expensive. Even if Clipper is miraculously still functional by the time a lander arrives, we won't assume that will be the case, as the lander would arrive well after Clipper's official end-of-mission date.

JPL engineers pose with a mock-up of a Europa lander concept JPL engineers, including the author (bottom row on left), pose with a mock-up of a Europa lander concept. The model includes several necessary technological developments, including the antenna on top and legs that can handle uneven terrain. JPL-Caltech/NASA

I've mentioned previously that the antenna will need to transmit signals up to 900 million km. As a general rule, less efficient antennas need a larger surface area to transmit farther. But as the lander won't have an orbiter overhead with a large relay antenna, and it won't be big enough itself for a large antenna, it needs a small antenna with a transmission efficiency of 80 percent or higher—much more efficient than most space-bound antennas.

So, to reiterate the challenge: The antenna cannot be large, because then the lander will be too heavy. It cannot be inefficient for the same reason, because requiring more power would necessitate bulky power systems instead. And it needs to survive exposure to a brutal amount of radiation from Jupiter. This last point requires that the antenna must be mostly, if not entirely, made out of metal, because metals are more resistant to ionizing radiation.

The antenna we ultimately developed depends on a key innovation: The antenna is made up of circularly polarized, aluminum-only unit cells—more on this in a moment—that can each send and receive on X-band frequencies (specifically, 7.145 to 7.19 gigahertz for the uplink and 8.4 to 8.45 GHz for the downlink). The entire antenna is an array of these unit cells, 32 on a side or 1,024 in total. The antenna is 32.5 by 32.5 inches (82.5 by 82.5 centimeters), allowing it to fit on top of a modestly sized lander, and it can achieve a downlink rate to Earth of 33 kilobits per second at 80 percent efficiency.

Let's take a closer look at the unit cells I mentioned, to better understand how this antenna does what it does. Circular polarization is commonly used for space communications. You might be more familiar with linear polarization, which is often used for terrestrial wireless signals; you can imagine such a signal propagating across a distance as a 2D sine wave that's oriented, say, vertically or horizontally relative to the ground. Circular polarization instead propagates as a 3D helix. This helix pattern makes circular polarization useful for deep space communications because the helix's larger “cross section" doesn't require that the transmitter and receiver be as precisely aligned. As you can imagine, a superprecise alignment across almost 750 million km is all but impossible. Circular polarization has the added benefit of being less sensitive to Earth's weather when it arrives. Rain, for example, causes linearly polarized signals to attenuate more quickly than circularly polarized ones.

This exploded view of an 8-by-8 subarray of the antenna This exploded view of an 8-by-8 subarray of the antenna shows the unit cells (top layer) that work together to create steerable signal beams, and the three layers of the power divider sandwiched between the antenna's casing. JPL-Caltech/NASA

Each unit cell, as mentioned, is entirely made of aluminum. Earlier antenna arrays that similarly use smaller component cells include dielectric materials like ceramic or glass to act as insulators. Unfortunately, dielectric materials are also vulnerable to Jupiter's ionizing radiation. The radiation builds up a charge on the materials over time, and precisely because they're insulators there's nowhere for that charge to go—until it's ultimately released in a hardware-damaging electrostatic discharge. So we can't use them.

As mentioned before, metals are more resilient to ionizing radiation. The problem is they're not insulators, and so an antenna constructed entirely out of metal is ­­still at risk of an electrostatic discharge damaging its components. We worked around this problem by designing each unit cell to be fed at a single point. The “feed" is the connection between an antenna and the radio's transmitter and receiver. Typically, circularly polarized antennas require two perpendicular feeds to control the signal generation. But with a bit of careful engineering and the use of a type of automated optimization called a genetic algorithm, we developed a precisely shaped single feed that could get the job done. Meanwhile, a comparatively large metal post acts as a ground to protect each feed from electrostatic discharges.

The unit cells are placed in small 8-by-8 subarrays, 16 subarrays in total. Each of these subarrays is fed with something we call a suspended air stripline, in which the transmission line is suspended between two ground planes, turning the gap in between into a dielectric insulator. We can then safely transmit power through the stripline while still protecting the line from electric discharges that would build up on a dielectric like ceramic or glass. Additionally, suspended air striplines are low loss, which is perfect for the highly efficient antenna design we wanted.

Put together, the new antenna design accomplishes three things: It's highly efficient, it can handle a large amount of power, and it's not very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Removing traditional dielectric materials in favor of air striplines and an aluminum-only design gives us high efficiency. It's also a phased array, which means it uses a cluster of smaller antennas to create steerable, tightly focused signals. The nature of such an array is that each individual cell needs to handle only a fraction of the total transmission power. So while each individual cell can handle only a few watts, each subarray can handle more than 100 watts. And finally, because the antenna is made of metal, it expands and contracts uniformly as the temperature changes. In fact, one of the reasons we picked aluminum is because the metal does not expand or contract much as temperatures change.

The power divider for an 8-by-8 subarray The power divider for an 8-by-8 subarray splits the signal power into a fraction that each unit cell can tolerate without being damaged. JPL-Caltech/NASA

When I originally proposed this antenna concept to the Europa lander project, I was met with skepticism. Space exploration is typically a very risk-averse endeavor, for good reason—the missions are expensive, and a single mistake can end one prematurely. For this reason, new technologies may be dismissed in favor of tried-and-true methods. But this situation was different because without a new antenna design, there would never be a Europa mission. The rest of my team and I were given the green light to prove the antenna could work.

Designing, fabricating, and testing the antenna took only 6 months. To put that in context, the typical development cycle for a new space technology is measured in years. The results were outstanding. Our antenna achieved the 80 percent efficiency threshold on both the send and receive frequency bands, despite being smaller and lighter than other antennas.

In order to prove how successful our antenna could be, we subjected it to a battery of extreme environmental tests, including a handful of tests specific to Europa's atypical environment.

One test is what we call thermal cycling. For this test, we place the antenna in a room called a thermal chamber and adjust the temperature over a large range—as low as –170 ℃ and as high as 150 ℃. We put the antenna through multiple temperature cycles, measuring its transmitting capabilities before, during, and after each cycle. The antenna passed this test without any issues.

Photo of unit cells Each unit cell is pure aluminum. Collectively, they create a steerable signal by canceling out one another's signals in unwanted directions and reinforcing the signal in the desired direction. JPL-Caltech/NASA

The antenna also needed to demonstrate, like any piece of hardware that goes into space, resilience against vibrations. Rockets—and everything they're carrying into space—shake intensely during launch, which means we need to be sure that anything that goes up doesn't come apart on the trip. For the vibration test, we loaded the entire antenna onto a vibrating table. We used accelerometers at different locations on the antenna to determine if it was holding up or breaking apart under the vibrations. Over the course of the test, we ramped up the vibrations to the point where they approximate a launch.

Thermal cycling and vibration tests are standard tests for the hardware on any spacecraft, but as I mentioned, Europa's challenging environment required a few additional nonstandard tests. We typically do some tests in anechoic chambers for antennas. You may recognize anechoic chambers as those rooms with wedge-covered surfaces to absorb any signal reflections. An anechoic chamber makes it possible for us to determine the antenna's signal propagation over extremely long distances by eliminating interference from local reflections. One way to think about it is that the anechoic chamber simulates a wide open space, so we can measure the signal's propagation and extrapolate how it will look over a longer distance.

What made this particular anechoic chamber test interesting is that it was also conducted at ultralow temperatures. We couldn't make the entire chamber that cold, so we instead placed the antenna in a sealed foam box. The foam is transparent to the antenna's radio transmissions, so from the point of view of the actual test, it wasn't there. But by connecting the foam box to a heat exchange plate filled with liquid nitrogen, we could lower the temperature inside it to –170 ℃. To our delight, we found that the antenna had robust long-range signal propagation even at that frigid temperature.

The last unusual test for this antenna was to bombard it with electrons in order to simulate Jupiter's intense radiation. We used JPL's Dynamitron electron accelerator to subject the antenna to the entire ionizing radiation dose the antenna would see during its lifetime in a shortened time frame. In other words, in the span of two days in the accelerator, the antenna was exposed to the same amount of radiation as it would be during the six- or seven-year trip to Europa, plus up to 40 days on the surface. Like the anechoic chamber testing, we also conducted this test at cryogenic temperatures that were as close to those of Europa's surface conditions as possible.

Photo of antenna in an anechoic chamber with the antenna in a white foam box. The antenna had to pass signal tests at cryogenic temperatures (–170 °C) to confirm that it would work as expected on Europa's frigid surface. Because it wasn't possible to bring the temperature of the entire anechoic chamber to cryogenic levels, the antenna was sealed in a white foam box. JPL-Caltech/NASA

The reason for the electron bombardment test was our concern that Jupiter's ionizing radiation would cause a dangerous electrostatic discharge at the antenna's port, where it connects to the rest of the lander's communications hardware. Theoretically, the danger of such a discharge grows as the antenna spends more time exposed to ionizing radiation. If a discharge happens, it could damage not just the antenna but also hardware deeper in the communications system and possibly elsewhere in the lander. Thankfully, we didn't measure any discharges during our test, which confirms that the antenna can survive both the trip to and work on Europa.

We designed and tested this antenna for Europa, but we believe it can be used for missions elsewhere in the solar system. We're already tweaking the design for the joint JPL/ESA Mars Sample Return mission that—as the name implies—will bring Martian rocks, soil, and atmospheric samples back to Earth. The mission is currently slated to launch in 2026. We see no reason why our antenna design couldn't be used on every future Mars lander or rover as a more robust alternative—one that could also increase data rates 4 to 16 times those of current antenna designs. We also could use it on future moon missions to provide high data rates.

Although there isn't an approved Europa lander mission yet, we at JPL will be ready if and when it happens. Other engineers have pursued different projects that are also necessary for such a mission. For example, some have developed a new, multilegged landing system to touch down safely on uncertain or unstable surfaces. Others have created a “belly pan" that will protect vulnerable hardware from Europa's cold. Still others have worked on an intelligent landing system, radiation-tolerant batteries, and more. But the antenna remains perhaps the most vital system, because without it there will be no way for the lander to communicate how well any of these other systems are working. Without a working antenna, the lander will never be able to tell us whether we could have living neighbors on Europa.

This article appears in the August 2021 print issue as “An Antenna Made for an Icy, Radioactive Hell."

During the editorial process some errors were introduced to this article and have been corrected on 27 July 2021. We originally misstated the amount of power used by Mars orbiters and the Europa antenna design, as well as the number of unit cells in each subarray. We also incorrectly suggested that the Europa antenna design would not require a gimbal or need to reorient itself in order to stay in contact with Earth.


Match ID: 0 Score: 95.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 130 days
qualifiers: 71.43 space travel, 10.71 space travel, 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Can This DIY Rocket Program Send an Astronaut to Space?
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 16:00:00 +0000


It was one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen: our homemade rocket floating down from the sky, slowed by a white-and-orange parachute that I had worked on during many nights at the dining room table. The 6.7-meter-tall Nexø II rocket was powered by a bipropellant engine designed and constructed by the Copenhagen Suborbitals team. The engine mixed ethanol and liquid oxygen together to produce a thrust of 5 kilonewtons, and the rocket soared to a height of 6,500 meters. Even more important, it came back down in one piece.

That successful mission in August 2018 was a huge step toward our goal of sending an amateur astronaut to the edge of space aboard one of our DIY rockets. We're now building the Spica rocket to fulfill that mission, and we hope to launch a crewed rocket about 10 years from now.

Copenhagen Suborbitals is the world's only crowdsourced crewed spaceflight program, funded to the tune of almost US $100,000 per year by hundreds of generous donors around the world. Our project is staffed by a motley crew of volunteers who have a wide variety of day jobs. We have plenty of engineers, as well as people like me, a pricing manager with a skydiving hobby. I'm also one of three candidates for the astronaut position.


We're in a new era of spaceflight: The national space agencies are no longer the only game in town, and space is becoming more accessible. Rockets built by commercial players like Blue Origin are now bringing private citizens into orbit. That said, Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic are all backed by billionaires with enormous resources, and they have all expressed intentions to sell flights for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Copenhagen Suborbitals has a very different vision. We believe that spaceflight should be available to anyone who's willing to put in the time and effort.

Copenhagen Suborbitals was founded in 2008 by a self-taught engineer and a space architect who had previously worked for NASA. From the beginning, the mission was clear: crewed spaceflight. Both founders left the organization in 2014, but by then the project had about 50 volunteers and plenty of momentum.

The group took as its founding principle that the challenges involved in building a crewed spacecraft on the cheap are all engineering problems that can be solved, one at a time, by a diligent team of smart and dedicated people. When people ask me why we're doing this, I sometimes answer, "Because we can."


The left photo shows three men gathered around a large blue tank and a small tube.


The right photo shows several workers in welding masks welding a seam on a large metal cylinder.


Volunteers use a tank of argon gas [left] to fill a tube within which engine elements are fused together. The team recently manufactured a fuel tank for the Spica rocket [right] in their workshop.


Our goal is to reach the Kármán line, which defines the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space, 100 kilometers above sea level. The astronaut who reaches that altitude will have several minutes of silence and weightlessness after the engines cut off and will enjoy a breathtaking view. But it won't be an easy ride. During the descent, the capsule will experience external temperatures of 400 °C and g-forces of 3.5 as it hurtles through the air at speeds of up to 3,500 kilometers per hour.

I joined the group in 2011, after the organization had already moved from a maker space inside a decommissioned ferry to a hangar near the Copenhagen waterfront. Earlier that year, I had watched Copenhagen Suborbital's first launch, in which the HEAT-1X rocket took off from a mobile launch platform in the Baltic Sea—but unfortunately crash-landed in the ocean when most of its parachutes failed to deploy. I brought to the organization some basic knowledge of sports parachutes gained during my years of skydiving, which I hoped would translate into helpful skills.

The team's next milestone came in 2013, when we successfully launched the Sapphire rocket, our first rocket to include guidance and navigation systems. Its navigation computer used a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope to keep track of its location, and its thrust-control system kept the rocket on the correct trajectory by moving four servo-mounted copper jet vanes that were inserted into the exhaust assembly.

We believe that spaceflight should be available to anyone who's willing to put in the time and effort.

the HEAT-1X and the Sapphire rockets were fueled with a combination of solid polyurethane and liquid oxygen. We were keen to develop a bipropellant rocket engine that mixed liquid ethanol and liquid oxygen, because such liquid-propellant engines are both efficient and powerful. The HEAT-2X rocket, scheduled to launch in late 2014, was meant to demonstrate that technology. Unfortunately, its engine went up in flames, literally, in a static test firing some weeks before the scheduled launch. That test was supposed to be a controlled 90-second burn; instead, because of a welding error, much of the ethanol gushed into the combustion chamber in just a few seconds, resulting in a massive conflagration. I was standing a few hundred meters away, and even from that distance I felt the heat on my face.

The HEAT-2X rocket's engine was rendered inoperable, and the mission was canceled. While it was a major disappointment, we learned some valuable lessons. Until then, we'd been basing our designs on our existing capabilities—the tools in our workshop and the people on the project. The failure forced us to take a step back and consider what new technologies and skills we would need to master to reach our end goal. That rethinking led us to design the relatively small Nexø I and Nexø II rockets to demonstrate key technologies such as the parachute system, the bipropellant engine, and the pressure regulation assembly for the tanks.

For the Nexø II launch in August 2018, our launch site was 30 km east of Bornholm, Denmark's easternmost island, in a part of the Baltic Sea used by the Danish navy for military exercises. We left Bornholm's Nexø harbor at 1 a.m. to reach the designated patch of ocean in time for a 9 a.m. launch, the time approved by Swedish air traffic control. (While our boats were in international waters, Sweden has oversight of the airspace above that part of the Baltic Sea.) Many of our crew members had spent the entire previous day testing the rocket's various systems and got no sleep before the launch. We were running on coffee.

When the Nexø II blasted off, separating neatly from the launch tower, we all cheered. The rocket continued on its trajectory, jettisoning its nose cone when it reached its apogee of 6,500 meters, and sending telemetry data back to our mission control ship all the while. As it began to descend, it first deployed its ballute, a balloon-like parachute used to stabilize spacecraft at high altitudes, and then deployed its main parachute, which brought it gently down to the ocean waves.


The left photo shows a launch platform floating in the water, and a rocket ascending from the launch tower into the sky.


The right photo shows the rocket descending underneath a white-and-orange parachute.


In 2018, the Nexø II rocket launched successfully [left] and returned safely to the Baltic Sea [right].


The launch brought us one step closer to mastering the logistics of launching and landing at sea. For this launch, we were also testing our ability to predict the rocket's path. I created a model that estimated a splashdown 4.2 km east of the launch platform; it actually landed 4.0 km to the east. This controlled water landing—our first under a fully inflated parachute—was an important proof of concept for us, since a soft landing is an absolute imperative for any crewed mission.

A photo shows a metal engine nozzle with a jet of fire coming out of one end. This past April, the team tested its new fuel injectors in a static engine test. Carsten Olsen

The Nexø II's engine, which we called the BPM5, was one of the few components we hadn't machined entirely in our workshop; a Danish company made the most complicated engine parts. But when those parts arrived in our workshop shortly before the launch date, we realized that the exhaust nozzle was a little bit misshapen. We didn't have time to order a new part, so one of our volunteers, Jacob Larsen, used a sledgehammer to pound it into shape. The engine didn't look pretty—we nicknamed it the Franken-Engine—but it worked. Since the Nexø II's flight, we've test-fired that engine more than 30 times, sometimes pushing it beyond its design limits, but we haven't killed it yet.

The Spica astronaut's 15-minute ride to the stars will be the product of more than two decades of work.

That mission also demonstrated our new dynamic pressure regulation (DPR) system, which helped us control the flow of fuel into the combustion chamber. The Nexø I had used a simpler system called pressure blowdown, in which the fuel tanks were one-third filled with pressurized gas to drive the liquid fuel into the chamber. With DPR, the tanks are filled to capacity with fuel and linked by a set of control valves to a separate tank of helium gas under high pressure. That setup lets us regulate the amount of helium gas flowing into the tanks to push fuel into the combustion chamber, enabling us to program in different amounts of thrust at different points during the rocket's flight.

The 2018 Nexø II mission proved that our design and technology were fundamentally sound. It was time to start working on the human-rated Spica rocket.

A computer rendering shows a rocket with the words Spica and Copenhagen Suborbitals on it flying above the clouds.  Copenhagen Suborbitals hopes to send an astronaut aloft in its Spica rocket in about a decade. Caspar Stanley

With its crew capsule, the Spica rocket will measure 13 meters high and will have a gross liftoff weight of 4,000 kilograms, of which 2,600 kg will be fuel. It will be, by a significant margin, the largest rocket ever built by amateurs.

A computer rendering shows a metal rocket engine.    The Spica rocket will use the BPM100 engine, which the team is currently manufacturing. Thomas Pedersen

Its engine, the 100-kN BPM100, uses technologies we mastered for the BPM5, with a few improvements. Like the prior design, it uses regenerative cooling in which some of the propellant passes through channels around the combustion chamber to limit the engine's temperature. To push fuel into the chamber, it uses a combination of the simple pressure blowdown method in the first phase of flight and the DPR system, which gives us finer control over the rocket's thrust. The engine parts will be stainless steel, and we hope to make most of them ourselves out of rolled sheet metal. The trickiest part, the double-curved "throat" section that connects the combustion chamber to the exhaust nozzle, requires computer-controlled machining equipment that we don't have. Luckily, we have good industry contacts who can help out.

One major change was the switch from the Nexø II's showerhead-style fuel injector to a coaxial-swirl fuel injector. The showerhead injector had about 200 very small fuel channels. It was tough to manufacture, because if something went wrong when we were making one of those channels—say, the drill got stuck—we had to throw the whole thing away. In a coaxial-swirl injector, the liquid fuels come into the chamber as two rotating liquid sheets, and as the sheets collide, they're atomized to create a propellant that combusts. Our swirl injector uses about 150 swirler elements, which are assembled into one structure. This modular design should be easier to manufacture and test for quality assurance.

A photo shows two metallic circles. The one on the left is made of brass and has 19 large holes on its front. The one on the right is made of steel and has dozens of tiny holes on its front.  The BPM100 engine will replace an old showerhead-style fuel injector [right] with a coaxial-swirl injector [left], which will be easier to manufacture.Thomas Pedersen

In April of this year, we ran static tests of several types of injectors. We first did a trial with a well-understood showerhead injector to establish a baseline, then tested brass swirl injectors made by traditional machine milling as well as steel swirl injectors made by 3D printing. We were satisfied overall with the performance of both swirl injectors, and we're still analyzing the data to determine which functioned better. However, we did see some combustion instability—namely, some oscillation in the flames between the injector and the engine's throat, a potentially dangerous phenomenon. We have a good idea of the cause of these oscillations, and we're confident that a few design tweaks can solve the problem.

A man seated at a table holds a circular brass object toward the camera. The brass object has 19 large holes and has black char marks across its front. Volunteer Jacob Larsen holds a brass fuel injector that performed well in a 2021 engine test.Carsten Olsen

We'll soon commence building a full-scale BPM100 engine, which will ultimately incorporate a new guidance system for the rocket. Our prior rockets, within their engines' exhaust nozzles, had metal vanes that we would move to change the angle of thrust. But those vanes generated drag within the exhaust stream and reduced effective thrust by about 10 percent. The new design has gimbals that swivel the entire engine back and forth to control the thrust vector. As further support for our belief that tough engineering problems can be solved by smart and dedicated people, our gimbal system was designed and tested by a 21-year-old undergraduate student from the Netherlands named Jop Nijenhuis, who used the gimbal design as his thesis project (for which he got the highest possible grade).

We're using the same guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) computers that we used in the Nexø rockets. One new challenge is the crew capsule; once the capsule separates from the rocket, we'll have to control each part on its own to bring them both back down to Earth in the desired orientation. When separation occurs, the GNC computers for the two components will need to understand that the parameters for optimal flight have changed. But from a software point of view, that's a minor problem compared to those we've solved already.

A woman is seated in front of a computer and a table that has a large drone on it. Bianca Diana works on a drone she's using to test a new guidance system for the Spica rocket.Carsten Olsen

My specialty is parachute design. I've worked on the ballute, which will inflate at an altitude of 70 km to slow the crewed capsule during its high-speed initial descent, and the main parachutes, which will inflate when the capsule is 4 km above the ocean. We've tested both types by having skydivers jump out of planes with the parachutes, most recently in a 2019 test of the ballute. The pandemic forced us to pause our parachute testing, but we should resume soon.

A photo shows a camera descending; it\u2019s attached to a parachute made of many thin orange ribbons. For the parachute that will deploy from the Spica's booster rocket, the team tested a small prototype of a ribbon parachute.Mads Stenfatt

For the drogue parachute that will deploy from the booster rocket, my first prototype was based on a design called Supersonic X, which is a parachute that looks somewhat like a flying onion and is very easy to make. However, I reluctantly switched to ribbon parachutes, which have been more thoroughly tested in high-stress situations and found to be more stable and robust. I say "reluctantly" because I knew how much work it would be to assemble such a device. I first made a 1.24-meter-diameter parachute that had 27 ribbons going across 12 panels, each attached in three places. So on that small prototype, I had to sew 972 connections. A full-scale version will have 7,920 connection points. I'm trying to keep an open mind about this challenge, but I also wouldn't object if further testing shows the Supersonic X design to be sufficient for our purposes.

We've tested two crew capsules in past missions: the Tycho Brahe in 2011 and the Tycho Deep Space in 2012. The next-generation Spica crew capsule won't be spacious, but it will be big enough to hold a single astronaut, who will remain seated for the 15 minutes of flight (and for two hours of preflight checks). The first spacecraft we're building is a heavy steel "boilerplate" capsule, a basic prototype that we're using to arrive at a practical layout and design. We'll also use this model to test hatch design, overall resistance to pressure and vacuum, and the aerodynamics and hydrodynamics of the shape, as we want the capsule to splash down into the sea with minimal shock to the astronaut inside. Once we're happy with the boilerplate design, we'll make the lightweight flight version.

Two men stand on either side of a seated woman wearing an orange flight suit. The man on the left holds an orange flight helmet. Copenhagen Suborbitals currently has three astronaut candidates for its first flight: from left, Mads Stenfatt, Anna Olsen, and Carsten Olsen. Mads Stenfatt

Three members of the Copenhagen Suborbitals team are currently candidates to be the astronaut in our first crewed mission—me, Carsten Olsen, and his daughter, Anna Olsen. We all understand and accept the risks involved in flying into space on a homemade rocket. In our day-to-day operations, we astronaut candidates don't receive any special treatment or training. Our one extra responsibility thus far has been sitting in the crew capsule's seat to check its dimensions. Since our first crewed flight is still a decade away, the candidate list may well change. As for me, I think there's considerable glory in just being part of the mission and helping to build the rocket that will bring the first amateur astronaut into space. Whether or not I end up being that astronaut, I'll forever be proud of our achievements.

A computer rendering shows a cutaway of a small crew capsule for a spacecraft. Inside the capsule is a person seated in a chair. The astronaut will go to space inside a small crew capsule on the Spica rocket. The astronaut will remain seated for the 15-minute flight (and for the 2-hour flight check before). Carsten Brandt

People may wonder how we get by on a shoestring budget of about $100,000 a year—particularly when they learn that half of our income goes to paying rent on our workshop. We keep costs down by buying standard off-the-shelf parts as much as possible, and when we need custom designs, we're lucky to work with companies that give us generous discounts to support our project. We launch from international waters, so we don't have to pay a launch facility. When we travel to Bornholm for our launches, each volunteer pays his or her own way, and we stay in a sports club near the harbor, sleeping on mats on the floor and showering in the changing rooms. I sometimes joke that our budget is about one-tenth what NASA spends on coffee. Yet it may well be enough to do the job.

We had intended to launch Spica for the first time in the summer of 2021, but our schedule was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed our workshop for many months. Now we're hoping for a test launch in the summer of 2022, when conditions on the Baltic Sea will be relatively tame. For this preliminary test of Spica, we'll fill the fuel tanks only partway and will aim to send the rocket to a height of around 30 to 50 km.

If that flight is a success, in the next test, Spica will carry more fuel and soar higher. If the 2022 flight fails, we'll figure out what went wrong, fix the problems, and try again. It's remarkable to think that the Spica astronaut's eventual 15-minute ride to the stars will be the product of more than two decades of work. But we know our supporters are counting down until the historic day when an amateur astronaut will climb aboard a homemade rocket and wave goodbye to Earth, ready to take a giant leap for DIY-kind.

A Note on Safety

One reason that Copenhagen Suborbitals has advanced quite slowly toward its ultimate goal of crewed spaceflight is our focus on safety. We test our components extensively; for example, we tested the engine that powered the 2016 Nexø I rocket about 30 times before the launch.

When we plan and execute launches, our bible is a safety manual from the Wallops Flight Facility, part of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Before each launch, we run simulations of the flight profile to ensure there's no risk of harm to our crew, our boats, and any other people or property. We launch from the sea to further reduce the chance that our rockets will damage anyone or anything.

We recognize that our human-rated spacecraft, the Spica rocket and crew capsule, must meet a higher bar for safety than anything we've built before. But we must be honest about our situation: If we set the bar too high, we'll never finish the project. We can't afford to test our systems to the extent that commercial companies do (that's why we'll never sell rides on our rockets). Each astronaut candidate understands these risks. Speaking as one of those candidates, I'd feel confident enough to climb aboard if each of my friends who worked on the rocket can look me in the eyes and say, "Yes, we're ready."

—M.S.

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "The First Crowdfunded Astronaut."

A Skydiver Who Sews

Mads Stenfatt first contacted Copenhagen Suborbitals with some constructive criticism. In 2011, while looking at photos of the DIY rocketeers' latest rocket launch, he had noticed a camera mounted close to the parachute apparatus. Stenfatt sent an email detailing his concern—namely, that a parachute's lines could easily get tangled around the camera. "The answer I got was essentially, 'If you can do better, come join us and do it yourself,' " he remembers. That's how he became a volunteer with the world's only crowdfunded crewed spaceflight program.

As an amateur skydiver, Stenfatt knew the basic mechanics of parachute packing and deployment. He started helping Copenhagen Suborbitals design and pack parachutes, and a few years later he took over the job of sewing the chutes as well. He had never used a sewing machine before, but he learned quickly over nights and weekends at his dining room table.

One of his favorite projects was the design of a high-altitude parachute for the Nexø II rocket, launched in 2018. While working on a prototype and puzzling over the design of the air intakes, he found himself on a Danish sewing website looking at brassiere components. He decided to use bra underwires to stiffen the air intakes and keep them open, which worked quite well. Though he eventually went in a different design direction, the episode is a classic example of the Copenhagen Suborbitals ethos: Gather inspiration and resources from wherever you find them to get the job done.

Today, Stenfatt serves as lead parachute designer, frequent spokesperson, and astronaut candidate. He also continues to skydive in his spare time, with hundreds of jumps to his name. Having ample experience zooming down through the sky, he's intently curious about what it would feel like to go the other direction.


Match ID: 1 Score: 90.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 0 days
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa, 25.00 mit

Clinical Trial of Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease
2021-11-28T12:06:58+00:00
submitted by /u/Sorin61
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Match ID: 2 Score: 90.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa, 25.00 mit

NASA wants to use the sun to power future deep space missions
2021-11-28T10:14:59+00:00
NASA wants to use the sun to power future deep space missions submitted by /u/Hrmbee
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Match ID: 3 Score: 90.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa, 25.00 mit

What the Well-Dressed Spacecraft Will Be Wearing
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 16:00:00 +0000


This coming February, the Cygnus NG-17 spacecraft will launch from NASA Wallops, in Virginia, on a routine resupply mission to the International Space Station. Amid the many tonnes of standard crew supplies, spacewalk equipment, computer hardware, and research experiments will be one unusual package: a pair of electronic textile swatches embedded with impact and vibration sensors. Soon after the spacecraft's arrival at the ISS, a robotic arm will mount the samples onto the exterior of Alpha Space's Materials ISS Experiment (MISSE) facility, and control-room operators back on Earth will feed power to the samples.

For the next six months, our team will conduct the first operational test of sensor-laden electronic fabrics in space, collecting data in real time as the sensors endure the harsh weather of low Earth orbit. We also hope that microscopic dust or debris, traveling at least an order of magnitude faster than sound, will strike the fabric and trigger the sensors.

Our eventual aim is to use such smart electronic textiles to study cosmic dust, some of which has interplanetary or even interstellar origins. Imagine if the protective fabric covering a spacecraft could double as an astrophysics experiment, but without adding excessive mass, volume, or power requirements. What if this smart skin could also measure the cumulative damage caused by orbital space debris and micrometeoroids too small to be tracked by radar? Could sensored textiles in pressured spacesuits give astronauts a sense of touch, as if the fabric were their own skin? In each case, electronic fabrics sensitive to vibrations and charge could serve as a foundational technology.

Already, engineered fabrics serve crucial functions here on Earth. Geotextiles made of synthetic polymers are buried deep underground to strengthen land embankments. Surgical meshes reinforce tissue and bone during invasive medical procedures.

In space, the outer walls of the ISS are wrapped in a protective engineered textile that gives the station its white color. Called Beta cloth, the woven fabric covers the station's metal shell and shields the spacecraft from overheating and erosion. Beta cloth can also be found on the exterior of Apollo-era spacesuits and Bigelow Aerospace's next-generation inflatable habitats. Until it is possible to substantially alter the human body itself, resilient textiles like this will continue to serve as a crucial boundary—a second skin—protecting human explorers and spacecraft from the extremes of space.

Now it's time to bring some smarts to this skin.

Top, a woman in a clean room suit looks at an open piece of equipment. A small square of fabric can be seen at the top. Bottom, a square silver frame holds white woven cloth, sitting atop a blue metallic box, and connected by wires. Juliana Cherston prepares a smart-fabric system in the clean room at Alpha Space in Houston [top]. Electronics in the silver flight hardware box [bottom] stream data to the computer in the blue box. The system, set for launch in February, will be mounted on the Materials ISS Experiment facility.Allison Goode/Aegis Aerospace

Our lab, the Responsive Environments Group at MIT, has been working for well over a decade on embedding distributed sensor networks into flexible substrates. In 2018, we were knee-deep in developing a far-out concept to grapple an asteroid with an electronic web, which would allow a network of hundreds or thousands of tiny robots to crawl across the surface as they characterized the asteroid's materials. The technology was curious to contemplate but unlikely to be deployed anytime soon. During a visit to our lab, Hajime Yano, a planetary scientist at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, suggested a nearer-term possibility: to turn the Beta cloth blanket used on long-duration spacecraft into a science experiment. Thus began a collaboration that has so far resulted in multiple rounds of prototyping and ground testing and two experiments in space.

One of the tests is the upcoming launch aboard the Cygnus NG-17, funded by the ISS National Laboratory. As the ISS orbits Earth, and the local space environment changes, we'll be triggering our sensors with known excitations to measure how their sensitivity varies over time. Concurrently, we'll take impedance measurements, which will let us peek into the internal electrical properties of the fibers. Any changes to the protective capabilities of the Beta fabric will be picked up using temperature sensors. If the system functions as designed, we may even detect up to 20 micrometeoroid impacts across the fabric's 10-by-10-centimeter area. A triggering system will flag any interesting data to be streamed to Earth in real time.

A second in-space experiment is already underway. For more than a year, a wider range of our smart-fabric swatches has been quietly tucked away on a different section of the ISS's walls, on Space BD's Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM) facility. In this experiment, funded by the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, the samples aren't being powered. Instead, we're monitoring their exposure to the space environment, which can be tough on materials. They endure repeated cycles of extreme heat and cold, radiation, and material-eroding atomic oxygen. Through real-time videography sessions we've been conducting with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), we've already seen signs of some anticipated discoloration of our samples. Once the samples return to Earth in late January via the SpaceX CRS-24 rocket, we'll conduct a more thorough evaluation of the fabrics' sensor performance.

Video inspection displaying fabrics on a space station. A video inspection shows sensored fabrics mounted on the Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism (ExHAM) facility on the International Space Station. The experiment, which began in October 2020, is studying the resiliency of different types of fabric sensors when they're exposed to the harsh environment of low Earth orbit. JAXA/Space BD

By demonstrating how to sleekly incorporate sensors into mission-critical subsystems, we hope to encourage the widespread adoption of electronic textiles as scientific instrumentation.

Electronic textiles got an early and auspicious start in space. In the 1960s, the software for the Apollo guidance computer was stored in a woven substrate called core rope memory. Wires were fed through conductive loops to indicate 1s and around loops to indicate 0s, achieving a memory density of 72 kilobytes per cubic foot (or about 2,500 kilobytes per cubic meter).

Around the same time, a company called Woven Electronics (now part of Collins Aerospace) began developing fabric circuit board prototypes that were considered well ahead of their time. For a fleeting moment in computing, woven fabric circuits and core rope memory were competitive with silicon semiconductor technology.

Electronic fabrics then fell into a long hiatus, until interest in wearable technology in the 1990s revived the idea. Our group pioneered some early prototypes, working, for instance, with Levi's in the late '90s on a jean jacket with an embroidered MIDI keyboard. Since then, researchers and companies have created a plethora of sensing technologies in fabric, especially for health-related wearables, like flexible sensors worn on the skin that monitor your well-being through your sweat, heart rate, and body temperature.

More recently, sophisticated fiber sensors have been pushing the performance and capabilities of electronic textiles even further. Our collaborators in the Fibers@MIT group, for example, use a manufacturing technique called thermal drawing, in which a centimeter-thick sandwich of materials is heated and stretched to submillimeter thickness, like pulling a multicolored taffy. Incredibly, the internal structure of the resulting fiber remains highly precise, yielding functional devices such as sensors for vibration, light, and temperature that can be woven directly into fabrics.

Top, a hand holds a black object that has tiny, thin copper wires coming out of the top. Bottom, the same object on a gray background. The object narrows into a thin strip that curls around the object. To make a piezoelectric fiber sensor, researchers at the Fibers@MIT group sandwich materials together and then heat and stretch them like taffy. The faint copper wires are used to make electrical contact with the materials inside the fiber. The fibers can then be woven into Beta cloth.Bob O'Connor

But this exciting progress hasn't yet made its way to space textiles. Today's spacesuits aren't too different from the one that Alan Shepard wore inside Freedom 7 in 1961. Recent suit designs have instead focused on improving the astronaut's mobility and temperature regulation. They might have touch-screen-compatible fingertips, but that's about as sophisticated as the functionality gets.

Meanwhile, Beta cloth has been used on space habitats in more or less its present form for more than a half century. A smattering of fabric antennas and fiber-optic strain sensors have been developed for rigid composites. But little has been done to add electronic sensory function to the textiles we use in space.

To jump-start this research, our group has tackled three areas: We've built fabric sensors, we've worked with specialized facilities to obtain a baseline of the materials' sensitivity to impact, and we've designed instrumentation to test these fabrics in space.

We started by upgrading Beta cloth, which is a Teflon-impregnated fabric made of flexible fiberglass filaments that are so densely woven that the material feels almost like a thick sheet of paper. To this protective layer, we wanted to add the ability to detect the tiny submillimeter or micrometer-scale impacts from cosmic dust. These microparticles move fast, at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per second, with an average speed of around 10 km/s. A 10-micrometer iron-dominant particle traveling at that speed contains about 75 microjoules of kinetic energy. It isn't much energy, but it can still carry quite a punch when concentrated to a small impact area. Studying the kinematics and spatial distributions of such impacts can give scientists insight into the composition and origins of cosmic dust. What's more, these impacts can cause significant damage to spacecraft, so we'd like to measure how frequent and energetic they are.

Top, a blue square frame holds two swatches of white fabric with vertical strips of sensors. Bottom, the back of the square frame shows a red circuit board covered in electronics. A replica of the smart-fabric payload that's launching in February shows the electronics and internal layers.Bob O'Connor

What kind of fabric sensors would be sensitive enough to pick up the signals from these minuscule impacts? Early on, we settled on using piezoelectric fibers. Piezoelectric materials produce surface charge when subject to mechanical deformation. When a piezoelectric layer is sandwiched between two electrodes, it forms a sensor that can translate mechanical vibration into current. Piezoelectric impact sensors have been used on spacecraft before, but never as part of a fabric or as dispersed fibers.

One of the chief requirements for piezoelectrics is that the electric dipoles inside the material must all be lined up in order for the charge to accumulate. To permanently align the dipoles—a process called poling—we have to apply a substantial electric field of about 100 kilovolts for every millimeter of thickness.

Early on, we experimented with weaving bare polyvinylidene difluoride yarn into Beta cloth. This single-material yarn has the advantage of being as fine and flexible as the fibers in clothing and is also radiation- and abrasion-resistant. Plus, the fiber-drawing process creates a crystalline phase structure that encourages poling. Applying a hefty voltage to the fabric, though, caused any air trapped in the porous material to become electrically conductive, inducing miniature lightning bolts across the material and spoiling the poling process. We tried a slew of tricks to minimize the arcing, and we tested piezoelectric ink coatings applied to the fabric.

Imagine if the protective fabric covering a spacecraft could double as an astrophysics experiment, but without adding excessive mass, volume, or power requirements.

Ultimately, though, we determined that multimaterial fiber sensors were preferable to single-material yarns, because the dipole alignment needs to occur only across the very tiny and precise distances within each fiber sensor, rather than across a fabric's thickness or across a fabric coating's uneven surface. We chose two different fiber sensors. One of the fibers is a piezoceramic nanocomposite fiber designed by Fibers@MIT, and the other is a polymer we harvested from commercial piezoelectric cabling, then modified to be suitable for fabric integration. We coated these fiber sensors in an elastomeric conductive ink, as well as a white epoxy that keeps the fibers cool and resists oxidation.

To produce our fabric, we worked with space-textile manufacturer JPS Composite Materials, in Anderson, S.C. The company helped insert our two types of piezoelectric fibers at intervals across the fabric and ensured that our version of Beta cloth still adhered to NASA specifications. We have also worked with the Rhode Island School of Design on fabric manufacturing.

Laser equipment accelerating particles to supersonic speed in a facility. The green laser in the Laser-Induced Particle Impact Test facility at MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies accelerates particles to supersonic speeds.Bob O'Connor

To test the sensitivity of our fabric, we have been using the Laser-Induced Particle Impact Test (LIPIT) platform designed by Keith Nelson's group at MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. This benchtop apparatus is designed for investigating how materials respond to microparticle impacts, such as in needle-free drug delivery and cold-sprayed industrial coatings. In our tests, we used the platform's high-speed particles to simulate space dust.

In a typical experiment, we spread steel particles ranging from a few micrometers to tens of micrometers onto gold film atop a glass substrate, which we call a launchpad. For each shot, a laser pulse vaporizes the gold film, exerting an impulsive force on the particles and accelerating them to speeds of many hundreds of meters per second. A high-speed camera captures the impact of the gold particles on our target fabric swatch every few nanoseconds, equivalent to hundreds of millions of frames per second.

So far, we've been able to detect electrical signals not only when the particles struck a sensor's surface but also when particles struck 1 or 2 cm away from the sensor. In some camera footage, it's even possible to see the acoustic wave created by the indirect impact propagating along the fabric's surface and eventually reaching the piezoelectric fiber. This promising data suggests that we can space out our sensors across the fabric and still be able to detect the impacts.

A woman and two men smile in a room full of technological equipment. Juliana Cherston and Joe Paradiso of MIT's Responsive Environments Group and Wei Yan of the Fibers@MIT group are part of the team behind the smart-textile experiment launching in February.Bob O'Connor

Now we're working to nail down just how sensitive the fabric is—that is, what ranges of particle mass and velocity it can register. We're soon scheduled to test our fabric at a Van de Graaff accelerator, which can propel particles of a few micrometers in diameter to speeds of tens of kilometers per second, which is more in line with interstellar dust velocities.

Beyond piezoelectrics, we're also interested in detecting the plumes of electric charge that form when a particle strikes the fabric at high speed. Those plumes contain clues about the impactor's constituent elements. One of our samples on the ISS is an electrically conductive synthetic fur made of silvered Vectran fibers. More typically used to reinforce electrical cables, badminton string, and bicycle tires, Vectran is also a key component in inflatable spacecraft. In our case, we manufactured it like a carpet or a fur coat. We believe this design may be well suited to catching the plumes of charge ejected from impact, which could make for an even more sensitive detector.

Meanwhile, there's growing interest in porting sensored textiles to spacesuits. A few members in our group have worked on a preliminary concept that uses fabrics containing vibration, pressure, proximity, and touch sensors to discriminate between a glove, metallic equipment, and rocky terrain—just the sorts of surfaces that astronauts wearing pressurized suits would encounter. This sensor data is then mapped to haptic actuators on the astronauts' own skin, allowing wearers to vividly sense their surroundings right through their suits.

Close up of a red circuit board. Text etched on the board reads \u201cSpaceskin MISSE Flight Board v2 Juliana Cherston ResEnv July 2021 YAL With the spirit of adventurous inquiry!\u201d and \u201cI am onto you \u2013 Universe \u2013 armed with the will to remain conscious of your existence while you laugh at mine!\u201d A close-up of the circuit board that will be used to control the powered fabric sensors on the MISSE experiment.Bob O'Connor

How else might a sensor-enhanced fabric enhance human engagement with the space environment? For long-duration missions, explorers residing for months inside a spacecraft or habitat will crave experiential variety. Fabric and thin-film sensors might detect the space weather just outside a spacecraft or habitat and then use that data to alter the lighting and temperature inside. A similar system might even mimic certain external conditions. Imagine feeling a Martian breeze within a habitat's walls or the touch of a loved one conveyed through a spacesuit.

To engineer a fabric that can survive extreme conditions, we foresee experimenting with piezoelectric materials that have intrinsic thermal and radiation resilience, such as boron nitride nanotubes, as well as devices that have better intrinsic noise tolerance, such as sensors based on glass fibers. We also envision building a system that can intelligently adapt to local conditions and mission priorities, by self-regulating its sampling rates, signal gains, and so on.

Space-resilient electronic fabrics may still be nascent, but the work is deeply cross-cutting. Textile designers, materials scientists, astrophysicists, astronautical engineers, electrical engineers, artists, planetary scientists, and cosmologists will all have a role to play in reimagining the exterior skins of future spacecraft and spacesuits. This skin, the boundary of person and the demarcation of place, is real estate ripe for use.

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "The Smartly Dressed Spacecraft."


Match ID: 4 Score: 90.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 1 day
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa, 25.00 mit

NASA hopes to hit an asteroid now in case we really need to knock one away later
2021-11-27T14:05:58+00:00
NASA hopes to hit an asteroid now in case we really need to knock one away later submitted by /u/speckz
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Match ID: 5 Score: 90.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 65.00 nasa, 25.00 mit

Paying Tribute to Former IEEE President Richard Gowen
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:00:01 +0000

Richard Gowen, 1984 IEEE president, died on 12 November at the age of 86.

An active volunteer who held many high-level positions throughout the organization, Gowen was president of the IEEE Foundation from 2005 to 2011 and two years later was appointed as president emeritus of the IEEE Foundation. He was also past chair of the IEEE History Committee.


"I, along with the IEEE staff and Board of Directors are deeply saddened by this loss," says Susan K. (Kathy) Land, 2021 IEEE president and CEO. "Dick served not only as IEEE president but was a dedicated advocate of the IEEE Foundation and a strong champion of the IEEE History Center. I know I speak for both the members of IEEE and supporters of the IEEE Foundation in extending our sincere sympathies to his family and colleagues."

Photo of a man in a dark jacket and red tie. IEEE Foundation

At the time of death, he was president and CEO of Dakota Power, a company in Rapid City, S.D., that develops lightweight electric drive systems for military and civilian use.

EDUCATION

Gowen was born in New Brunswick, N.J., and received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1957 from Rutgers University there. While at Rutgers, he participated in the school's ROTC.

After graduating, he joined RCA Laboratories in Princeton, N.J., as a researcher but was called to active duty by the U.S. Air Force. He was a communications electronics officer at Yaak Air Force Station, in Montana. While there, he applied to join the electrical engineering faculty at the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was accepted, and the academy sponsored his postgraduate studies at Iowa State University, in Ames. He earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1959 and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 1962.

For his doctoral research, he developed an engineering model of the cardiovascular system. His project led to the development of a device worn on a person's finger that measures blood pressure during physical exercise. He was granted his first U.S. patent for the technology.

ASSISTING NASA

Gowen began his academic career in 1962 as an electrical engineering professor at the Air Force Academy. He was selected in 1966 to be an astronaut in NASA's Apollo 1 program but withdrew after suffering a back injury that left him unable to walk.

After undergoing an operation that restored his ability to walk, he returned to the academy. In addition to teaching, he led a research team to develop technology that could help NASA study the effects of weightlessness on astronauts' cardiovascular systems. The research was being conducted at a new lab NASA and the Air Force built at the academy.

Gowen and his team worked with the astronauts of the Apollo and Skylab missions to virtually test and evaluate physiological changes that might have occurred during their long space missions. His research led to the development of the lower body negative pressure device, which can vary the transfer of fluids from the upper body to the lower body. It gave the research team "the ability to evaluate the movement of fluids on the cardiovascular system," Gowen wrote in an article about the research on the Engineering Technology and History Wiki.

The device is now on display in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian National Space and Air Museum.

Gowen served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense while at the academy. He retired in 1977 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He joined the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City, in 1977 as vice president and dean of engineering. He left seven years later to serve as president of Dakota State College, now Dakota State University, in Madison, S.D.

In 1987 he returned to South Dakota Mines as its president. Under his leadership, new engineering programs were created and graduate research projects were expanded. He also increased the number of projects that were conducted in collaboration with NASA and the U.S. military.

After he retired from the school in 2003 he was appointed as a member of the South Dakota Department of Education. In that role, he was active in encouraging more Native Americans to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

After retiring, he led the conversion of the Homestake gold mine, in Lead, S.D., into a scientific laboratory in 2003 at the request of the U.S. National Science Foundation. The Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory opened in 2009.

Gowen was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2012 for his work in expanding academic research and STEM education.

He helped found Dakota Power in 2007.

ACTIVE VOLUNTEER

Gowen joined IEEE in 1956 to give back to the engineering profession, gain leadership skills, and serve on boards and committees, according to the Wiki article.

He was active in the IEEE Denver Section and was a founding member of the IEEE Pikes Peak Section, in Colorado Springs. He was the 1976 Region 5 director and a member of several boards including the IEEE Regional Activities board (now the IEEE Member and Geographic Activities board), the IEEE Standards Association Standards Board, and the IEEE Technical Activities board.

"Over several decades, Dick made enormous contributions to IEEE, the IEEE Foundation, and the engineering profession," says IEEE Life Fellow Lyle Feisel, director emeritus of the IEEE Foundation. "He was a risk-taker who saw solutions where others saw only problems. Above all, he had enthusiasm, often belied by his low-key approach."

Gowen was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 1981 in recognition of his contributions to space research and education. He played a major role in the merger of IEEE and Eta Kappa Nu to form the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu honor society. Gowen was elevated in 2002 to eminent member of IEEE-HKN.

He and his wife, Nancy, were avid supporters of the IEEE Foundation and IEEE History Center. Last year, thanks to their generous donation, the History Center was able to complete its GPS collection on its Engineering and Technology History Wiki. Now oral histories from all four GPS fathers—Brad Parkinson, James Spilker, Richard Schwartz, and Hugo Fruehauf—are available online.

The Gowens were also members of the IEEE Heritage Circle and the IEEE Goldsmith Legacy League. The Heritage Circle acknowledges members who have pledged more than US $10,000 to support IEEE programs. Legacy League members have pledged money to the IEEE Foundation through a bequest in their will, trust, life insurance policy, or retirement plan.

"Dick's contributions to IEEE and the IEEE Foundation were far-reaching, impactful, and impossible to measure," Karen Galuchie, IEEE Foundation executive director, says. "He was known as a servant leader and tirelessly dedicated his time, talent, and treasure to making IEEE stronger and more productive. His impression on IEEE will last forever."

Gifts can be made in Gowen's memory to a variety of IEEE's philanthropic programs that were important to him such as the IEEE Foundation Fund, the IEEE History Center, and IEEE-HKN. The Gowen family will be notified of your donation unless you make your gift anonymously, according to Galuchie.


Match ID: 6 Score: 64.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa, 17.86 mit

Upcoming Moon missions spur the search for new spacesuits
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 00:08:00 GMT
Nasa has asked the private sector to design new spacesuits that can be used on the Moon.
Match ID: 7 Score: 55.71 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 3 days
qualifiers: 55.71 nasa

Scientists use seismic noise to image first hundred meters of Mars
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:30:35 +0000
Mars' winds create enough noise to see what's underneath the InSight lander.
Match ID: 8 Score: 55.71 source: arstechnica.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 55.71 nasa

Revealed: Jupiter’s Secret Power Source
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:00:00 +0000


For all its other problems, Earth is lucky. Warmed mostly by the sun, 150 million km away, shielded by a thin but protective atmosphere, the temperature at the surface averages 14 to 15 degrees Celsius—a good number to support liquid oceans and a riot of carbon-based life.

Jupiter is a different story. Its upper atmosphere (Jupiter has no solid surface) has a temperature closer to what you'd find on Venus than on some of Jupiter's own moons. As will be seen below, planetary scientists have for decades puzzled over why this planet so far from the sun is so inexplicably warm. In 2021, however, the solution to the mystery may at last have been found.


The solar system’s biggest planet has a big problem


image of the planet jupiter

You are orbiting Jupiter, 779 million km from the sun, where physics and logic say it ought to be very, very cold. Sunlight, out here, is less than four percent as intense as it is on Earth. If solar heating were the only factor at play, the planet's upper atmosphere would average 70 degrees below zero Celsius.

Jupiter in the infrared


image of the planet Jupiter taken in infrared light \u2014 revealing circulation patterns of surprisingly warm gases in Jupiter\u2019s atmosphere

But it doesn’t. It exceeds 400 Celsius—and scientists have puzzled over it for half a century. They have sometimes spoken of Jupiter as having an “energy crisis.” Now, an international team led by James O'Donoghue of JAXA, the Japanese space agency, says they've found an answer.

Jupiter’s northern (and southern) lights


Image of the planet Jupiter with a photograph of an aurora at the planet's north pole in glowing blue light

Jupiter's polar auroras are the largest and most powerful known in the solar system—and O'Donoghue says the energy in them, caused as Jupiter's atmosphere is buffeted by solar wind, is strong enough to heat the outer atmosphere of the entire planet.


"The auroral power, delivered by the auroral mechanism, is actually 100 terawatts per hemisphere, and I always like that fact," says O'Donoghue. "I think that's something like 100,000 power stations."


Closeup of Jupiter\u2019s swirling cloud layers, indicating the planet\u2019s very active winds

The auroras had been suspected as Jupiter's secret heat source since the 1970s. But until now, scientists thought Jupiter's giant, swirling east-west cloud bands might shear the heat away before it could spread very far from the poles. Winds in the cloud bands reach 500 km/h.


Image of two giant telescope domes opened to reveal big telescopes inside, the Keck I and Keck II telescopes; outside is a cloudy night at sunset

To try to solve the mystery, the research team set out to create an infrared heat map of Jupiter's atmosphere. They used the 10-meter Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, one of the five largest in the world, to take spectrographic readings of the planet on two nights: 14 April 2016 and 25 January 2017.


Back to original image of the planet Jupiter

Their April 2016 heat map (to be shown next) revealed that indeed the regions around the polar auroras were hottest, and the heat did spread from there—though the effect tailed off toward Jupiter's equator...

The first night of Keck observations


Image captioned 14 April 2016 of Jupiter taken by the Keck telescope revealing an aurora at the planet\u2019s poles and wide swaths of heat radiating downward into the planet\u2019s temperate latitudes

The heat was strong enough to propagate despite those powerful winds.


Image captioned 14 April 2016 of Jupiter taken by the Keck telescope revealing an aurora at the planet\u2019s poles and wide swaths of heat radiating downward into the planet\u2019s temperate latitudes

It was a promising find, but they needed more. Fortunately their next observation turned up, in O'Donoghue's words, "something spectacular."

The second night of Keck observations




The auroras the team observed in January 2017 are about 100 degrees hotter than they were on the first night—and so are temperatures at every point from there to the equator.


The researchers soon learned that Jupiter had around the time of their January 2017 observation been hit by an outsized surge in solar wind, ionized particles which would compress Jupiter's magnetic field and make the aurora more powerful.

It was sheer luck—a “happy accident," says O'Donoghue—that the surge of particles happened on their second night. Such pulses of energy probably happen every few weeks on average, but it is hard to know exactly when.

Other researchers had already tried to explain Jupiter's warmth by other means—perhaps some sort of acoustic-wave heating or convection from the planet's core, for instance—but they couldn't create convincing models that worked as well as the auroras. O'Donoghue and his colleagues worked for years on the resulting paper. They say they went through more than a dozen drafts before it was accepted for publication in the journal Nature earlier this year.

Where does this lead? It's too early to say, but scientists will want to replicate the findings and then see if they also explain the heating they see on the other gas giants in the solar system—Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Understanding of the auroral effects may also affect our picture of Jupiter's moons, including Europa and Ganymede, which are believed to have briny oceans beneath their icy outer crusts and may be good places to look for life. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the research continues.

“It's funny," says O'Donoghue, “the reactions from some people in the field. Some people thought, 'Oh, yeah, we knew it was the aurora all along.' And then other people are saying, 'Are you sure it's the aurora?' It tells you there's an issue, and hopefully our observations have solved it definitively.

“We once thought that it could happen, that the aurora could be the source," he says, “but we showed that it does happen."

Photos, from top: A. Simon/Goddard Space Flight Center and M. H. Wong/University of California, Berkeley/OPAL/ESA/NASA; Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/UC Berkeley; J. Nichols/University of Leicester/ESA/NASA; JPL-Caltech/NASA; Kevin M. Gill/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/NASA; Ethan Tweedie/W. M. Keck Observatory; A. Simon/Goddard Space Flight Center and M. H. Wong/University of California, Berkeley/OPAL/ESA/NASA; J. O'Donoghue/JAXA (heat maps) and STSCI/NASA (planet).

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "Jupiter's Electric Blanket."


Match ID: 9 Score: 46.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa

NASA’s Aviation Tech to Roll Out to Airports, Save Time for Passengers
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 12:41 EST
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visited Orlando International Airport in Florida Wednesday and met with aviation leaders to discuss implementing aircraft flight scheduling technology developed by the agency that will soon improve dependability for passengers – which is especially important during peak travel times like the Thanksgiving holiday.
Match ID: 10 Score: 46.43 source: www.nasa.gov age: 4 days
qualifiers: 46.43 nasa

NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 02:29 EST
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Match ID: 11 Score: 37.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

Nasa Dart asteroid spacecraft: Mission to smash into Dimorphos space rock launches
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 06:38:48 GMT
A spacecraft has started its journey as it aims to deliberately nudge an asteroid off course.
Match ID: 12 Score: 37.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

NASA Awards Information Technology Support Services Contract
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 16:11 EST
NASA has selected Centuria Corporation of Reston, Virginia, for management systems engineering, software development, project management, information technology security, and enterprise architecture support services for the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Ames Research Center.
Match ID: 13 Score: 37.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/23/2021
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 16:00:45 +0000
Payloads: Astrobatics: The crew relocated items out of the experiment area, set up the appropriate hardware, and assisted the ground team with the Astrobatics experiment session tasks.  Astrobee Maneuvering by Robotic Manipulator Hopping (Astrobatics) demonstrates the Astrobee robotic vehicles using robotic manipulators to execute a hopping or self-toss maneuver as the primary mean of propulsion, …
Match ID: 14 Score: 37.14 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 5 days
qualifiers: 37.14 nasa

New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler's Total Count
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 20:36 EST
Scientists recently added a whopping 301 newly confirmed exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally.
Match ID: 15 Score: 36.43 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa, 8.57 planets

NASA Awards Contract for Bed Rest Studies
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 15:47 EST
NASA has selected Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR) of Cologne, Germany, to provide use of its facility to support long-duration bed rest research.
Match ID: 16 Score: 27.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

NASA, Partner to Highlight Passenger-Friendly Aviation Technology
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 15:03 EST
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will visit Orlando International Airport in Florida on Wednesday, Nov. 24 and meet with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) CEO Phil Brown.
Match ID: 17 Score: 27.86 source: www.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/22/2021
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 16:00:25 +0000
Cygnus NG-16 Departure: On Saturday, November 20th, NG-16 was unberthed from the Node 1 nadir CBM, maneuvered and then released by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) at 10:01 am CST. Cygnus will deorbit on Wednesday, Dec. 15, following a deorbit engine firing to set up a destructive re-entry. The spacecraft, filled with waste …
Match ID: 18 Score: 27.86 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 6 days
qualifiers: 27.86 nasa

UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'
2021-11-29T08:33:09+00:00
UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity' submitted by /u/meatballsinsugo
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Match ID: 19 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Labour calls for overhaul of system regulating ministers' conduct
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 08:03:51 GMT
It comes as the Commons standards committee prepares to publish its review of the code for MPs.
Match ID: 20 Score: 25.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Sleaze is just a symptom – democratic politics in the UK is dying | Alan Finlayson
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 08:00:50 GMT

As the gap between people and politics grows, government is less interested in the good of society than in rewarding loyalty

  • Alan Finlayson is professor of political and social theory at the University of East Anglia

Though fears of Covid-19 are spiking once again, this seems to be a comforting moment for the Labour party. After a disastrous few weeks for the ruling party, it seems as though politics is returning to “normal”: sleazy Tories are being sleazy, reneging on commitments to the “red wall”, and the opposition is sneaking ahead in the polls. But flashbacks to the mid-90s are, in reality, delusions. What most hurt the Tories then was that sleaze came to symbolise a decaying, patrician regime that, Labour argued, must give way to a new political generation. Johnson is a big, tempting and sometimes easy target. But our problems are not reducible to the moral failings of one individual. The current state of British politics – with an “incompetent” and “corrupt” administration at its centre – is symptomatic of a British state in which democratic politics is failing.

To understand the depths of the problem, we can start by recognising that democracy isn’t just about voting. It names a much wider political and social system. People will be interested in politics – and more likely to see it as legitimate – if they think it cares about their interests. Large and active political parties circulate ideas, arguments and experiences between the centre and the periphery of power. So too do membership organisations: trade unions, business associations, consumer groups, campaign organisations, charities, churches. Through these, citizens identify the causes and interests they have in common and see them represented in their politics.

Alan Finlayson is professor of political and social theory at the University of East Anglia

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Match ID: 21 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Preloved and perfect! The seven essential rules for secondhand presents
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 08:00:50 GMT

For a thoughtful, less consumerist Christmas, make sure to tell the truth about your purchases, spritz musty clothes with vodka and invest in vintage wrapping paper

It’s not a pair of box-fresh Bottega Veneta boots, or cashmere spun from the wool of a rare-breed yak, that will ensure you strike gifting gold with fashion fans this Christmas: it’s the revelation that you bought their present secondhand.

Once a dirty word, secondhand is an increasingly valued quality (the global “preloved” fashion market alone is worth $130bn). A survey conducted by the online secondhand marketplace Vinted found that one in six of us are committed to giving preloved only this Christmas, and buying secondhand can also help to combat the £42m worth of unwanted Christmas gifts sent to landfill each year.

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Match ID: 22 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Retailers are hungry for your email address this holiday season. Here’s why.
2021-11-29T07:57:26+00:00
Retailers are hungry for your email address this holiday season. Here’s why. submitted by /u/Sorin61
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Match ID: 23 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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GlaxoSmithKline ready for human trials of HIV cure
2021-11-29T07:49:43+00:00
GlaxoSmithKline ready for human trials of HIV cure submitted by /u/WannoHacker
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Match ID: 24 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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Ties that bind: Missouri Senate candidate hopes Trump notices neckwear
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 07:00:48 GMT

Congressman Billy Long seeks Trump’s endorsement for ‘the guy that was with you from day one. I mean, look at this tie’

Senate candidates endorsed by Donald Trump have struggled of late, from Sean Parnell’s withdrawal in Pennsylvania while denying allegations of domestic abuse to the former NFL star Herschel Walker angering party leaders with his run in Georgia.

But to one candidate for the Republican nomination in Missouri, Congressman Billy Long, the former president’s endorsement still carries the ultimate weight.

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Match ID: 25 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Rhik Samadder tries … pottery: ‘I’m making a bowl – if it’s hideous, we’ll call it an ashtray’
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 07:00:49 GMT

Working clay is as much meditation as craft, but there is so much to learn, from ram’s head wedging to coiling and glazing. And the results sometimes leave a lot to be desired

It’s an awkward start to my pottery journey. I’ve arrived at the Kiln Rooms in Peckham, south-east London, dressed as Demi Moore, star of the movie Ghost, and the most famous pottery scene ever filmed. “Should I have worn a tank top?” asks my tutor David McGuire. Tank top? I realise with horror that he has never seen the film. “When you say you’re a potter, people always mention Ghost!” he winces, almost in physical pain. I have no idea why he thinks Patrick Swayze wears a tank top in it. Then again, when I check the film, I realise I am dressed nothing like Demi Moore either. Is McGuire choosing not to watch Ghost purely on a point of principle? Perhaps, he admits. You should watch it, I insist, it’s classic Whoopi Goldberg. “Shall we make a start?” he says.

The lesson begins with physical heft, pushing and turning the clay in an arduous technique known as ram’s head wedging. Wedging removes air pockets from the clay, lest they cause the finished product to bloat or explode in the oven. It’s like kneading dough, I remark, always thinking about pizza. It’s the opposite, says McGuire, apologetically, as kneading introduces air to dough. He has a lovely Donegal accent, which makes corrections easy to hear. Also, I’m thinking about putting a quattro formaggi in my oven tonight, which will certainly lead to bloating, possibly an explosion.

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Match ID: 26 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Fundos de aposentadoria nos EUA especulam com a destruição da Amazônia
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 06:41:24 +0000

A mercantilização da agricultura e as falsas ‘obrigações climáticas’ favorecem investimentos estrangeiros em negócios que desmatam.

The post Fundos de aposentadoria nos EUA especulam com a destruição da Amazônia appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 27 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Lithium-Ion Batteries Have Plunged in Cost by 97% – Here’s the Reasons Behind the Rapid Cost Decline
2021-11-29T06:14:07+00:00
Lithium-Ion Batteries Have Plunged in Cost by 97% – Here’s the Reasons Behind the Rapid Cost Decline submitted by /u/Azurebluenomad
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Match ID: 28 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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UK regulator set to block Meta's Giphy deal - FT
2021-11-29T05:55:54+00:00
UK regulator set to block Meta's Giphy deal - FT submitted by /u/Hrmbee
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Match ID: 29 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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Cartoon Caption Contest
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 05:05:00 +0000
Submit your caption.
Match ID: 30 Score: 25.00 source: www.newyorker.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Bosnian Serb leader: Putin and China will help if west imposes sanctions
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 05:00:46 GMT

Exclusive: Milorad Dodik dismisses fears Serb separatists are planning breakup of Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Bosnian Serb leader accused of risking war by pursuing the breakup of Bosnia-Herzegovina has dismissed the threat of western sanctions and hinted at an imminent summit with Vladimir Putin, saying: “I was not elected to be a coward”.

In an interview with the Guardian, Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the tripartite leadership of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said he would not be deterred by the outcry from London, Washington, Berlin and Brussels.

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Match ID: 31 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Astronomers Discover Ancient “Failed Star” With Lithium Deposits Intact
2021-11-29T01:46:11+00:00
Astronomers Discover Ancient “Failed Star” With Lithium Deposits Intact submitted by /u/ourlifeintoronto
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Match ID: 32 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The underwater kites generating electricity as they move
2021-11-29T01:41:28+00:00
The underwater kites generating electricity as they move submitted by /u/Sweep145
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Match ID: 33 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Microsoft expands cloud services with two new datacenters in Wyoming
2021-11-29T01:40:59+00:00
Microsoft expands cloud services with two new datacenters in Wyoming submitted by /u/ourlifeintoronto
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Match ID: 34 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Telegraph: "Nvidia at risk of $1.25bn loss if Arm takeover falls through"
2021-11-29T00:40:00+00:00
The Telegraph: "Nvidia at risk of $1.25bn loss if Arm takeover falls through" submitted by /u/Dakhil
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Match ID: 35 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Emma Day murder: Sister of mother killed by ex calls for changes
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 00:02:23 GMT
The Met and Child Maintenance Service have admitted faults were made in the handling of Emma Day's case.
Match ID: 36 Score: 25.00 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 0 days
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Britain and Israel to sign trade and defence deal
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 23:56:11 GMT

Pact covers Iran as well as cybersecurity, despite controversy over use of Israeli firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware in UK

Britain and Israel will sign a 10-year trade and defence pact in London on Monday, promising cooperation on issues such as cybersecurity and a joint commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The agreement was announced by Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and her Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, despite evidence that spyware made by Israeli company NSO Group had probably been used to spy on two British lawyers advising the ex-wife of the ruler of Dubai, Princess Haya.

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Match ID: 37 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Can AI Truly Give Us a Glimpse of Lost Masterpieces? | Recent projects used machine learning to resurrect paintings by Klimt and Rembrandt. They raise questions about what computers can understand about art.
2021-11-28T22:35:16+00:00
Can AI Truly Give Us a Glimpse of Lost Masterpieces? | Recent projects used machine learning to resurrect paintings by Klimt and Rembrandt. They raise questions about what computers can understand about art. submitted by /u/nxthompson_tny
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Match ID: 38 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Spotify Pulls Plug on Car View Feature, Offers Users No Alternative
2021-11-28T21:40:55+00:00
Spotify Pulls Plug on Car View Feature, Offers Users No Alternative submitted by /u/FrodoSam4Ever
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Match ID: 39 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Parker Solar Probe sets new distance and speed records on solar slingshot
2021-11-28T19:44:39+00:00
Parker Solar Probe sets new distance and speed records on solar slingshot submitted by /u/Devils_doohickey
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Match ID: 40 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation
2021-11-28T19:16:35+00:00
How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation submitted by /u/Hrmbee
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Match ID: 41 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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Covid boosters may be expanded as soon as Monday to tackle Omincron spread
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 18:50:25 GMT

Change to criteria could happen as soon as Monday as No 10 tries to combat variant’s spread

The Covid booster vaccination scheme could be significantly expanded as early as Monday as ministers try to combat the seemingly inevitable spread of the Omicron variant, with secondary school pupils being told to wear masks in communal areas.

The government’s vaccines watchdog, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which held an emergency meeting over the weekend, is expected to advise the use of boosters for younger people, and could also recommend a cut in the current six-month wait between second and booster doses, it is understood.

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Match ID: 42 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Guardian view of US foreign policy: the case for democratic dominance | Editorial
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 18:30:33 GMT

China will be the ghost at the gathering of America’s allies next month

Joe Biden’s foreign policy doctrine views the future relationship between democracies and authoritarian regimes as a competitive one, accompanied by a battle of narratives. Nondemocratic regimes have become brazen in their repression and many democratic governments have regressed by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law. The US, under Donald Trump, was not immune to such trends. One European thinktank warned last week that there remains a risk that the US could slip into authoritarianism.

The Biden administration has announced the first of two virtual “summits for democracy” next month to bring together government, civil society and business leaders from more than 100 nations. This might seem a bit rich, given America’s history of befriending dictators and overthrowing elected leaders it did not like. Invitations have gone out to a group so broad it includes liberal democracies, weak democracies and states with authoritarian characteristics. Mr Biden deserves a cheer for seeking a renewal of democracy, asking attendees to reflect on their record of upholding human rights and fighting corruption.

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Match ID: 43 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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‘Buy now, pay later’ is booming. But companies are facing pressure to change.
2021-11-28T18:13:16+00:00
‘Buy now, pay later’ is booming. But companies are facing pressure to change. submitted by /u/Sorin61
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Match ID: 44 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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Deepcut deaths: army ‘treating victims’ families with contempt’
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 17:33:39 GMT

Exclusive: Pte Sean Benton’s sister says MoD failed to honour pledge to tackle bullying at barracks

The sister of Pte Sean Benton, who committed suicide at Deepcut barracks, has accused the British army of treating victims’ families with contempt after it emerged that the military had failed to honour a pledge made at his inquest in 2018.

Tracy Lewis said the coroner had been told that recruits would be informed they could report serious physical or sexual assaults to the police, a commitment intended to help tackle bullying and harassment in the ranks.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

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Match ID: 45 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The search for extraterrestrial life is going to look at our nearest galactic neighbor
2021-11-28T16:18:28+00:00
The search for extraterrestrial life is going to look at our nearest galactic neighbor submitted by /u/Elsa-Fidelis
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Match ID: 46 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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An Animal Rights Activist Saved a Sick Baby Goat From a Farm — and Faces Years in Prison
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 15:41:30 +0000

Wayne Hsiung faces felony charges — an escalation in the government's war against those who would put the value of life ahead of property.

The post An Animal Rights Activist Saved a Sick Baby Goat From a Farm — and Faces Years in Prison appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 47 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
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How bad will the Omicron Covid variant be in Britain? Three things will tell us | Devi Sridhar
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 15:40:29 GMT

A new variant identified in southern Africa is causing global panic – but its real impact will be shown by the data scientists are racing to establish

Omicron, the name of the new Covid-19 variant that is sending worrying signals from southern Africa, sounds like something from Transformers. It has caused panic across the world, among governments, the public and the stock markets. After adding a number of southern African countries to the red list, the UK government has reimposed mandatory masks in England from Tuesday, and will require anyone travelling to the country from abroad to take a PCR test. Omicron is probably the first variant to have scientists worried since Delta became the predominant strain in every country last summer. But how bad it is? What does it mean for future lockdowns – and future deaths?

Scientists are waiting on three pieces of data before they will be able to tell what effect this new variant will have over the next six to 12 months. The first is how infectious Omicron is. Can it outcompete Delta? Earlier this year we saw another worrying variant, Beta, that luckily faded away as a result of a selective advantage in Delta that allowed it to transmit faster between people. Limited data from South Africa shows that Omicron is very infectious, but whether it will become the predominant strain remains to be seen.

Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh

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Match ID: 48 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Robots outnumber human workers in this autonomous truck yard north of Denver
2021-11-28T13:46:01+00:00
Robots outnumber human workers in this autonomous truck yard north of Denver submitted by /u/Sorin61
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Match ID: 49 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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How will post-Covid Britain look? For many, like it did in the brutal 19th century | John Harris
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 13:00:26 GMT

While Boris Johnson talks of ‘building back better’, the reality is growing poverty and hunger – and a government that is fuelling them

In December 2019, Boris Johnson was electioneering in Salisbury, where he visited a butcher’s shop and local military veterans’ centre. The same city is also the home of the Trussell Trust, which runs the UK’s largest network of food banks – and Johnson was asked whether anything in the Conservative party’s manifesto might reduce the need for the kind of help it provides. He answered in the affirmative, claiming that helping people with living costs was a personal “crusade”, paying tribute to “everybody who gets involved with running food banks”, but also insisting that “it is wrong that people should be dependent on them”. He then mentioned “cutting national insurance for everyone”, before his punchline: “It is imperative in my view that the next government, if I’m lucky enough to be leading it, tackles the cost of living for everybody in this country. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Then as now, words just tumbled out of his mouth. We all know what happened to the national insurance promise, and if Johnson and his ministers had any credible intention of reducing living costs, any such hope has now been quashed. Instead we’ve had soaring energy bills, higher inflation and the cruel end of the £20-a-week universal credit “uplift” – partially mitigated via changes in the budget aimed at people in employment, but still a grim reality for the 3.4 million people on that benefit who are not in work.

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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Match ID: 50 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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How Foundation preserved Asimov’s big ideas while bringing the story to vivid life
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 13:00:21 +0000
Ars chats with showrunner David S. Goyer and science advisor Kevin Hand
Match ID: 51 Score: 25.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
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"The Pirate Bay Can't Be Stopped ," Co-Founder Says • TorrentFreak
2021-11-28T12:42:33+00:00
"The Pirate Bay Can't Be Stopped ," Co-Founder Says • TorrentFreak submitted by /u/BurstYourBubbles
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Match ID: 52 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
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‘Shocking’ that UK is moving child refugees into hotels
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 12:28:38 GMT

Children’s Society criticises practice of placing unaccompanied minors in hotels with limited care

Record numbers of unaccompanied child asylum seekers who arrived in the UK on small boats are being accommodated in four hotels along England’s south coast, a situation that the Children’s Society has described as “shocking”.

About 250 unaccompanied children who arrived in small boats are thought to be accommodated in hotels, which Ofsted said was an unacceptable practice.

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Match ID: 53 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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This decorated mammoth ivory pendant is 41,500 years old
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 12:15:01 +0000
The pendant is the oldest example of a style that swept Paleolithic Europe.
Match ID: 54 Score: 25.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
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Lawyers For Accused 9/11 Plotters Say Government Withheld Public Information
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 12:00:44 +0000

The sanitized summaries of CIA cables provided by the prosecution leave out vital details that journalists and others have obtained using FOIA.

The post Lawyers For Accused 9/11 Plotters Say Government Withheld Public Information appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 55 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
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Another U-turn likely from UK government on care costs bill
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 09:15:22 GMT

Senior Tories told ‘dog’s dinner’ legislation will change to prevent defeat over proposals that would penalise the poor

The government is preparing to drop controversial plans that would force poorer pensioners to pay more for their social care, in order to avert a possible Commons defeat that would further damage Boris Johnson’s authority, the Observer has been told.

Senior figures and officials in the House of Lords are understood to have been reassured by the health minister Lord Kamall that the legislation will not return to the Lords in its current form after its committee stage early next year.

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Match ID: 56 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
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Australia to introduce new laws to force media platforms to unmask online trolls
2021-11-28T09:13:44+00:00
Australia to introduce new laws to force media platforms to unmask online trolls submitted by /u/avadhutsawant
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Match ID: 57 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The James Webb space telescope: in search of the secrets of the Milky Way | James Webb space telescope
2021-11-28T09:00:50+00:00
The James Webb space telescope: in search of the secrets of the Milky Way | James Webb space telescope submitted by /u/Tao_Dragon
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Match ID: 58 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Scientists sharing Omicron data were heroic. Let’s ensure they don’t regret it | Jeffrey Barrett
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 09:00:21 GMT
The teams in Africa who detected the new Covid genome moved quickly. Their actions should not result in economic loss
Coronavirus – latest updates
See all our coronavirus coverage

One of the positive experiences during two years of pandemic gloom has been the speed of scientific progress in understanding and treating Covid. Many effective vaccines were launched in less than a year and rapid large-scale trials found a cheap and effective drug, dexamethasone, that saved thousands of lives.

The global scientific community has also carried out “genomic surveillance” – sequencing the genome of the virus to track how it evolves and spreads at an unprecedented level: the public genome database has more than 5.5m genomes. The great value of that genomic surveillance, underpinned by a commitment to rapid and open sharing of the data by all countries in near-real time, has been seen in the last few days as we’ve learned of the Covid variant called Omicron.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 59 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Who knew that a woman playing Dr Who could drive boys to crime? | Maria Le Conte
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 07:30:20 GMT

Male role models are disappearing – to be replaced by women. So says MP Nick Fletcher. He should look again

I’ll always remember my last bank robbery; it took place in June 2017 and was the last time I picked up a gun. A month later, the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker would become the first woman to play the eponymous Doctor in Doctor Who and suddenly I saw the error of my ways. I have been a law-abiding journalist ever since.

If this chain of events sounds somewhat far-fetched to you, Nick Fletcher is here to set you straight. In a debate on International Men’s Day in Westminster Hall last week, the Conservative MP said: “In recent years, we have seen Doctor Who, the Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker and The Equalizer all replaced by women, and men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby. Is it any wonder that so many young men are committing crimes?”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 60 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Germany plans to phase out the sale of combustion-engine vehicles to help meet its ambitious goal of getting 15 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030
2021-11-27T23:05:43+00:00
Germany plans to phase out the sale of combustion-engine vehicles to help meet its ambitious goal of getting 15 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 submitted by /u/chrisdh79
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Match ID: 61 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Royal Air Force Lifts Off With Guinness World Record for First Flight Using 100% Synthetic Fuel
2021-11-27T19:41:50+00:00
Royal Air Force Lifts Off With Guinness World Record for First Flight Using 100% Synthetic Fuel submitted by /u/HentaiUwu_6969
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Match ID: 62 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Why Omicron quickly became a variant of concern
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 17:54:45 +0000
The WHO lets Omicron skip over variant of interest, go straight to concern.
Match ID: 63 Score: 25.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Nuclear fusion: why the race to harness the power of the sun just sped up
2021-11-27T14:20:30+00:00
Nuclear fusion: why the race to harness the power of the sun just sped up submitted by /u/Devils_doohickey
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Match ID: 64 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

‘It’s critical’: can Microsoft make good on its climate ambitions?
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:00:04 GMT

The company has set an example in the fight against carbon – but it retains ties to obstructionist groups

When the UN’s landmark climate report was released in 2018, calling for urgent and unprecedented changes, Microsoft executives were told to “commit it to memory”, said Elizabeth Willmott, who leads the company’s carbon program. “And so we did.”

The report warned the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in order to avert catastrophic climate change. To achieve this, not only must the emissions released by countries and companies be dramatically curtailed, but billions of tons of carbon dioxide must be sucked out of the atmosphere.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 65 Score: 25.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

O político Moro pode desfrutar dos aliados que o juiz Moro não quis melindrar nos tribunais
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 10:00:10 +0000

Com a confusão das prévias do PSDB, há chances de os tucanos se aliarem a Sergio Moro em sua chapa para 2022. O ex-juiz, que poupou os adversários dos petistas, vai enfim colher o que plantou.

The post O político Moro pode desfrutar dos aliados que o juiz Moro não quis melindrar nos tribunais appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 66 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Got a tech question or want to discuss tech? Bi-Weekly /r/Technology Tech Support / General Discussion Thread
2021-11-27T09:40:44+00:00

Greetings Good People of /r/Technology,

Welcome to the /r/Technology Tech Support / General Discussion Thread.

All questions must be submitted as top comments (direct replies to this post).

As always, we ask that you keep it civil, abide by the rules of reddit and mind your reddiquette. Please hit the report button on any activity that you feel may be in violation of any of the guidelines listed above.

Click here to review past iterations of these support discussions.

cheers, /r/technology moderators.

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Match ID: 67 Score: 25.00 source: www.reddit.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

WHO names coronavirus variant from South Africa 'omicron' and designates it a 'variant of concern'
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 18:08:41 GMT

The World Health Organization's technical advisory group said Friday it has assigned the B.1.1.529 variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 the Greek letter omicron and said it has been designated a "variant of concern." Earlier reports suggested the variant would be assigned the letter nu. The variant, which was first reported from South Africa, led the U.K. and European Union to implement travel bans on South Africa and neighboring countries on Friday, amid concerns it may be more transmissible than the original virus and more lethal. "This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning," the group said in a statement. "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa." For now, there are a number of studies underway, and the group will continue to monitor and track the variant. It called on countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts, to submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database and to report cases and clusters to the WHO. "Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated," said the statement.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 68 Score: 25.00 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

The Hyperloop Is Hyper Old
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 16:00:01 +0000


"Lord how this world improves as we grow older," reads the caption for a panel in the " March of Intellect," part of a series of colored etchings published between 1825 and 1829. The artist, William Heath (1794–1840), shows many futuristic contraptions, including a four-wheeled steam-powered horse called Velocity, a suspension bridge from Cape Town to Bengal, a gun-carrying platform lifted by four balloons, and a giant winged flying fish conveying convicts from England to New South Wales, in Australia. But the main object is a massive, seamless metallic tube taking travelers from East London's Greenwich Hill to Bengal, courtesy of the Grand Vacuum Tube Company.


A group of people in front of a framework of a vehicle.

Photo of a small vehicle on a track. A public demonstration of the railway takes place in London in 1914. [top]; A 1910 photograph shows a working model of Émile Bachelet's magnetically levitated railway, in Mount Vernon, N.Y. [bottom] Émile Bachelet Collection/Archives Center/National Museum of American History

Heath was no science-fiction pioneer. Hiis fanciful etching was just a spoof of an engineering project proposed in 1825 and called the London and Edinburgh Vacuum Tunnel Company, which was to be established with the capital of 20 million pounds sterling. The concept was based on a 1799 proposal made by George Medhurst: A rectangular tunnel was to move goods in wagons, the vacuum was to be created by the condensation of steam, and the impetus was to be "the pressure of the atmosphere, which...is so astonishing as almost to exceed belief."

Yes, this is the first known attempt at what during the second decade of the 21st century became known as the hyperloop. That word, coined by Elon Musk, constitutes his main original contribution to the technology.

By the time Heath was drawing his intercontinental conveyor, enough was known about vacuum to realize that it would be the best option for achieving unprecedented travel speeds. But no materials were available to build such a tube—above all, there was no way to produce affordable high-tensile steel—nor were there ready means to enclose people in vacuum-moving containers.

Less than a century later, Émile Bachelet, a French electrician who emigrated to the United States, solved the propulsion part of the challenge with his 19 March 1912 patent of a "Levitation transmitting apparatus." In 1914, he presented a small-scale working model of a magnetically levitated train with a tubular prow, powerful magnets at the track's bottom, and tubular steel cars on an aluminum base.

A long white tube in the middle of the desert.

View of the passenger pod from inside the tube.

Two people in safety equipment next to a long pod.  Virgin Hyperloop, which aims to commercialize the concept, has built a test track in Las Vegas [top]. The passenger pod [middle] is magnetically levitated; it can be introduced into the vacuum tube through an air lock [bottom] at the end.Virgin Hyperloop

Japanese researchers have been experimenting with a modern version of Bachelet's maglev concept since 1969, testing open-air train models at a track in Miyazaki. Short trials were done in Germany and the Soviet Union. In 2002, China got the only operating maglev line—built by Siemens—running from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Shanghai; now China claims to be preparing to test it at speeds up to 1,000 kilometers per hour. But outside East Asia, maglev remained nothing but a curiosity until 2012, when Elon Musk put his spin on it.

People unaware of this long history greeted the hyperloop as stunningly original and fabulously transformative. A decade later we have many route proposals, and many companies engaged in testing and design, but not a single commercial application that can demonstrate that this is an affordable, profitable, reliable, and widely replicable travel option. Vacuum physicists and railway engineers, who best appreciate the challenges involved in such projects, have pointed out a long list of fundamental difficulties that must be overcome before public-carrying vacuum tubes could be as common as steel-wheel high-speed rail.

Other, nontrivial, problems run from the common and intractable—obtaining rights-of-way for hundreds, even thousands, kilometers of tracks elevated on pylons in NIMBY-prone societies—to the uncommon and unprecedented: maintaining the thousandfold pressure difference between the inside and outside steel walls of an evacuated tube along hundreds of kilometers of track while coping with the metal's thermal expansion.

Before rushing to buy shares in a hyperloop venture in 2022, remember the 1825 London and Edinburgh Vacuum Tunnel Company.


Match ID: 69 Score: 25.00 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Andrew and Lee continue watching The Wheel of Time—and it’s getting real
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 14:00:35 +0000
The show's latest episode gives its characters a minute to breathe, then goes big.
Match ID: 70 Score: 25.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Dark-Money Group Linked to Anti-Iran, Pro-Israel Network Targets Turkey but Has No Turks
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 12:00:47 +0000

The Turkish Democracy Project shares leadership and personnel with the most well-funded foreign policy pressure network in Washington.

The post Dark-Money Group Linked to Anti-Iran, Pro-Israel Network Targets Turkey but Has No Turks appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 71 Score: 25.00 source: theintercept.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 25.00 mit

Kevin Strickland Comes Home After 43 Years Behind Bars for a Crime He Didn’t Commit
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 17:42:18 +0000

A new Missouri law empowers prosecutors to right wrongful convictions. But the state attorney general is intent on standing in the way.

The post Kevin Strickland Comes Home After 43 Years Behind Bars for a Crime He Didn’t Commit appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 72 Score: 21.43 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

A bancada do like: Google e iFood se inspiram em ruralistas e montam tropa de choque no Congresso
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 17:27:43 +0000

Instituto ligado à empresas de tecnologia está por trás da Frente Digital, que faz lobby por projetos de lei que afrouxam as regras para o setor.

The post A bancada do like: Google e iFood se inspiram em ruralistas e montam tropa de choque no Congresso appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 73 Score: 21.43 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

EU proposes nine-month time limit on validity of COVID vaccinations for travel
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 16:59:17 GMT

The European Union has announced proposals that would put a nine-month time limit on COVID vaccinations for travelers in and out of the bloc. After that point, boosters would be required, the European Commission recommended, in a statement on its website on Thursday. "The 9-month period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the administration of booster doses as of 6 months, and provides for an additional period of 3 months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens can have access to boosters," the statement said. Also on Thursday, the Commission updated its framework for travel from outside the EU, saying travel should reopen by Jan. 10 to those who have World Health Organization approved shots, but that an additional proof of negative PCR test will also be required.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 74 Score: 21.43 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:50:21 +0000

Here are some aspects of life today in America for which we can genuinely give thanks.

The post 10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 75 Score: 21.43 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

The World’s Most Popular EVs Aren’t Cars, Trucks, or Motorcycles
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:00:01 +0000


When the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act last week, a lesser-recognized provision earmarked some $4.1 billion in tax credits to further stimulate an already booming EV market that Elon Musk hasn't even dabbled in.

Electric bicycles, better known as e-bikes, have moved from novelty to mainstream with breathtaking speed. They've been a boon to hard-working delivery persons during the pandemic (and their impatient customers), and commuters who don't care to be a sweaty mess when they arrive. And while the scoffing tends to center around the "purity" of cycling—the idea that e-bike riders are somehow lazy cheaters—that electric assist is actually luring people off the couch for healthy exercise. That's especially welcome for older or out-of-practice riders (which describes a whole lot of folks) who might otherwise avoid cycling entirely, put off by daunting hills or longer distances.

While powerful "Class 3" models especially are trying the patience of pedestrians in crowded cities like New York, with blazing assisted speeds approaching 30 mph, e-bikes are now front-and-center in discussions of future urban mobility. They're a way to potentially free up precious street space, provide alternatives to automobiles and reduce energy consumption and harmful emissions. California, through its powerful Air Resources Board, recently allocated $10 million in rebates for e-bike buyers, a smaller-scale version of state or federal tax breaks for EV car buyers. The possibilities are fueling cool tech ideas, from covered, rain-proof cargo bikes; to pavement-embedded wireless chargers and automated stabilization systems to help senior riders. CityQ is taking pre-orders for a four-wheeled cargo "bike" that it touts as cycling "with a Tesla feeling."

In 2020, according to one estimate, 500,000 e-bikes were sold in the U.S. alone—compared to 210,000 plug-in cars.

According to market research company NPD Group, the pandemic helped increase e-bike sales by 145 percent from 2019 to 2020, more than double the growth of traditional bikes. Exact figures on industry sales are hard to pin down; yet The New York Times quoted experts saying Americans bought roughly 500,000 e-bikes in 2020, compared to about 210,000 plug-in automobiles.

Industry analysts expect that uptick in adoption to continue. A report by the Business Research Company shows the global e-bike market growing from $32.5 billion last year to $53 billion by 2025, for annual compound growth of 9.9 percent. Even in bike-saturated Europe, e-bike sales jumped by 23 percent in 2019. And Deloitte expects 300 million e-bikes on the world's streets by 2023. That's a lot of bikes, batteries and saved muscle power from thankful riders. If you're not up to speed on e-bikes, or you're curious about taking one for a spin, here's a look at some of the techs, terms and players:

Pedal to the Metal

The tech behind e-bikes falls into two simpler categories, even if the choice between them isn't as simple. Hub motors integrate a motor directly in the wheel center (either front or rear wheel), in an enclosed system that's independent from the bike chain and pedal drive. There are two main types: Geared hub motors incorporate internal planetary gears for reduction, allowing the motor to operate efficiently at high rpm while the bike wheel spins at a lower speed. Gearless hub motors directly link the motor's stator to the bike axle. That reduces a key point of weakness—the toothed gears. Aside from bearings, there are no moving parts, nothing to wear out. Hub motors are relatively affordable, low-maintenance, mass produced by the millions. A do-it-yourselfer can find entire, 800- to 1,000-watt hub motor kits for around $200, where mid-drive power can cost three to five times as much. Hub motors add no extra stress or wear to a chain or shifters, and offer another advantage versus a mid-drive set-up: If a hub motor conks out, you can still pedal home, and vice-versa; if a chain or pedal breaks, a rider can keep moving under electric power. The downsides? Nearly every hub motor has a single gear ratio; fine for the flats, not so good for hill climbs, where the motor can't match a mid-drive unit for a robust shove against gravity, and may even overheat on long ascents. Hub motors can also make a bike feel unbalanced and awkward to steer—like it's being pushed or pulled rather than pedaled. Tire changes are more difficult because of the wheel-mounted motor.

Some electric bike companies claim up to 80 or even 100 miles of unassisted range, but expert riders say that would only be possible if most those miles were downhill.

"Mid-drive" bikes, in contrast, locate the motor inside the frame and between pedals at the bottom bracket. Motor power is transferred through the chain drive to the rear wheel. As with EVs, those motors are growing lighter, stronger, quieter and more affordable. The biggest edge—with a parallel downside—is sending power through a traditional chain and gear seat: The motor can deliver major torque up a steep hill or from a standstill, in a lower gear and higher rpm, just as your pedals do.

That energizer-style power keeps going and going, even on long climbs. The major con is the constant surge of power through the poor chain: A pro cyclist can generate roughly 400 watts of per over an hour. Most humans with normal-size thighs can't manage even half that. But e-bikes can generate up to 750 watts of continuous power. It's why most mid-drive e-bikes come with uprated chains. And if that chain snaps, you're not going anywhere, just as on an old-school bike.

On the upside, newer mid-drive motors are notably smaller and lighter than hub units. Hidden inside frames, they're making some e-bikes look so stealthy that onlookers have no idea it's electric.

For both types, a speed sensor or torque sensor detects pedal force or wheel rotation, and activates the motor for a helpful forward shove. Riders can typically adjust the level of electric assist, or just pedal harder for a corresponding boost in motor grunt. But mid-drive brings another advantage, with genuine torque sensors to detect the human power applied at the pedal crank, and smoothly dial in electric assist. Hub motors often use a simple cadence sensor at the wheel, and can produce jerky or unpredictable motor boost, especially going uphill.

Battery Range vs. Reality

A big issue with e-bike range claims is that there are so many variables: Rider weight, wind and tire resistance, varying terrain and topography. Some electric bike companies claim up to 80 or even 100 miles of unassisted range, but expert riders say that would only be possible if most those miles were downhill. As a general rule of thumb, throttle e-bikes that combine a 500-to-750 watt motor and a 480 watt-hour (Wh) battery can cover only about 20 miles at best on battery power alone; or less than 25 watt-hours per mile. Pedal-assisted bikes go farther: Figure about 15 watt-hours per mile, or 32 miles from that same 480 Wh battery, with a roughly "medium" level of preset electric assist. The price of that electric boost is weight. A lithium-ion battery usually adds a significant 6 to 8 pounds to the bike; weight that your legs must drive once its energy is depleted.

As the speedsters of the e-bike world, Class 3 models are typically allowed only on "curb-to-curb" roadways or bike lanes, and restricted on bike trails or multi-use paths shared with pedestrians.

Batteries can be mounted on rear racks for easy access and removal, at the price of less-than-ideal location: Too high and too rearward, which can affect handling. Batteries externally mounted on the downtube — the bar directly below the saddle — eliminate that issue, keeping weight low and along the bike's main axis. Batteries integrated inside the downtube create the sleekest profile, making these e-bikes look less bulky and more like a traditional cycle.

3, 2, 1, Go

Spurred by PeopleForBikes, a national advocacy group and industry trade association, more than 30 states have adopted a "3-Class" system that standardizes e-bikes based on their type of assist and how fast they can propel you. All three classes limit a motor's go-power to 750 watts, or 1 horsepower.

  • Class 1 e-bikes generate an electric boost only when you pedal, and reach a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
  • Class 2 models also limit assisted speed to 20 mph. But they add a hand throttle, either a grip-twist as found on motorcycles, or a button that can drive the electric motor even when you're not pedaling.
  • Class 3 bikes are the muscular alternative to Class 1. They're also exclusively pedal-assisted, but with a maximum boosted speed of 28 mph. Look out, LeMond: That's roughly as fast as a professional bicyclist can maintain speed for long distances over flat ground.

The roadway infrastructure that each class can use, however, remains a crazy quilt of local, state or national regulations. As the speedsters of the e-bike world, Class 3 models are typically allowed only on "curb-to-curb" roadways or bike lanes, and restricted on bike trails or multi-use paths shared with pedestrians. In Europe, electric mountain bikes, or eMTB's, are largely welcome on non-motorized trails. For American riders, be aware that the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service consider eMTBs as no different from a dirt bike, ATV or other motorized vehicle. So even Class 1 bikes are barred from non-motorized trails. Some states, including Pennsylvania, Utah and Colorado, have made exceptions for trails in state parks.

The Players, And What You'll Pay

E-bike prices range from as little as $1,200, for a Aventon 350 Pace 350 Step-Through, to $7,500 (or more) for "connected" bikes like the Stromer ST3 Sport. Stromer's luxurious "e-commuter" brings a powerful rear hub motor (with 600 watts and 44 Nm of torque), fat Pirelli tires, and connectivity features like GPS, remote locking and unlocking, stat readouts and over-the-air updates. Most of the biggest names in cycling have embraced e-bikes: Giant, Trek, Specialized, Schwinn. Even automakers like BMW, focused on expanding their mobility portfolios, are jumping into the game. Last week, Porsche took a majority stake in GreyP, the high-end Croatian bike company started by Mate Rimac, the electric hypercar entrepreneur and creator of the $2.4 million Rimac Nevera. Rimac himself controls Bugatti Rimac, with Porsche holding a minority stake in this newly combined purveyor of fantasy automobiles. That's all lofty company for a bicycle manufacturer: Imagine a technology trickle-down from seven-figure electric Rimacs and Bugattis to the bicycles you ride for work or play.


Match ID: 76 Score: 21.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

Isolate in Antarctica, for science
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:09:00 +0100
Image:

Applications are now open for the role of ESA-sponsored research medical doctor at Concordia research station in Antarctica for the 2023 winter over season. Do you have a medical degree, an interest in space exploration and the fortitude to spend almost a year in isolation in the world’s largest desert? Apply today for this unique post.

The blank backdrop

Located at the mountain plateau called Dome C in Antarctica, the French-Italian base is one of only three that is inhabited all year long.

Between the extreme altitude – 3233 m above sea level means the crew experience chronic hypobaric hypoxia or lack of oxygen in the brain – four months of total darkness during the winter, and temperatures as low as –80°C, the base is fertile ground to research the effects of isolated, confined, and extreme environments on the human body and mind.

For this reason, each year ESA sponsors a medical doctor to oversee biomedical experiments at the base.

The 2021 winter over doctor, Nick Smith from the UK, is on his way back home after a successful year in Antarctica. Taking his place is Hannes Hagson from Sweden. He arrived with his crew of 12 in early November and will oversee research such as how isolation changes people’s brains, sleep and their immune system.

Summer in December

Concordia is currently hosting the summer season of researchers. About 60 researchers flock to the station to check equipment, set up sensors and run experiments for a few weeks. The last of the summer crew is expected to leave in February, and then the isolation begins. The 13-member crew will spend the next nine months with only each other for company as the sun begins to set, returning after four months.

If you think you have what it takes, apply for the position of ESA research doctor by 21 January 2022.

Good luck to Hannes and the DC 18 crew! Follow Hannes’ year on the Chronicles from Concordia blog.


Match ID: 77 Score: 21.43 source: www.esa.int age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

Family Members at Thanksgiving, Ranked
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 11:00:00 +0000
This year, I’m going to work on my boundaries.
Match ID: 78 Score: 21.43 source: www.newyorker.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 21.43 mit

The disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 03:00:48 GMT

The Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai vanished after making an allegation of sexual assault against a senior political figure. Her subsequent reappearance has raised more questions than answers

At the beginning of November, the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused a former vice-premier of sexual assault, pitching the Communist party into a #MeToo scandal. Chinese authorities expunged her social media post within minutes and censors even appeared to block the word ‘tennis’ from online search results. Then Peng vanished from public view.

The Guardian’s Tania Branigan tells Hannah Moore how the affair has caused outrage across the world, with tennis authorities demanding answers from Beijing about the star’s wellbeing. A letter that emerged purportedly from Peng saying ‘everything is fine’ only served to heighten worries. She then appeared in a video interview with the International Olympic Committee, which again did not allay international fears about her ability to speak freely.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 79 Score: 17.86 source: www.theguardian.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Os profissionais: quem são os articuladores do Centrão nos bastidores do orçamento secreto
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 22:45:13 +0000

Ex-escudeiros de Eduardo Cunha, Romero Jucá e Geddel Vieira Lima operam mecanismo que coloca o orçamento federal nas mãos de Arthur Lira e Rodrigo Pacheco.

The post Os profissionais: quem são os articuladores do Centrão nos bastidores do orçamento secreto appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 80 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Nashville DA’s Office Seeks to Vacate Claude Garrett’s 29-Year-Old Murder Conviction
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 18:55:18 +0000

A reinvestigation of the case “dismantles every single piece of evidence previously believed to inculpate Garrett,” the director of the DA’s Conviction Review Unit wrote.

The post Nashville DA’s Office Seeks to Vacate Claude Garrett’s 29-Year-Old Murder Conviction appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 81 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

U.S. Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Paramilitary Violence in Colombia
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 15:02:00 +0000

In a civil lawsuit, the court found that the paramilitaries operated in a “symbiotic relationship” with U.S.-funded Colombian forces.

The post U.S. Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Paramilitary Violence in Colombia appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 82 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Economic Report: Coming up: U.S. durable-goods orders
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:19:00 GMT

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesOrders for U.S. durable goods are forecast to rise 0.4% in October, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The report will be issued at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Manufacturers have plenty of orders and are investing heavily, but ongoing shortages have limited production.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.


Match ID: 83 Score: 17.86 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Peru Opens Criminal Probe Into Journalist Who Exposed Illegal Collusion With Witness
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:00:45 +0000

Ernesto Cabral of OjoPúblico, along with The Intercept Brasil, exposed Peruvian prosecutors’ misconduct in the sprawling Car Wash probe.

The post Peru Opens Criminal Probe Into Journalist Who Exposed Illegal Collusion With Witness appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 84 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

TechScape: why Apple will now let you fix your own iPhone
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:45:44 GMT

Up for discussion in this week’s newsletter: the tech giant’s new at-home repair programme is good for customers – but there’s reason to be cynical


It’s risky for me to boldly state that technology news has quietened down in recent weeks. For one thing, confidently saying that nothing much is going on is the best way to summon up a news event breaking 15 seconds after I hit “send” on this email.

Also, though, I’m currently sitting at home up to my eyeballs in parental leave. While I’m still compulsively keeping up with every tiny news story that breaks in my sector (if I could simply switch off that instinct, I wouldn’t be doing this job), I’m aware that my connection to many of them is less vivid than it used to be when I was desperately trying to find a new angle to move the story on for that day’s paper.

Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.

The unnamed woman sent her iPhone for repair on 14 January 2016 to an Apple-approved repair contractor called Pegatron Technology Service in California. Technicians there then uploaded “extremely personal and private material” to the woman’s Facebook account and other internet locations, the documents said.

The videos were uploaded to appear as though the woman herself had shared them on purpose, according to the documents, causing the woman “severe emotional distress”. The woman was made aware of the incident when friends saw the videos and images on Facebook.

The document, one of 13 original copies dating from 1787, sold for almost three times its lower estimate of $15m, and more than 260 times the amount it achieved when it last sold for $165,000 in 1988. The bidding at Sotheby’s in New York took eight minutes.

“ConstitutionDAO” had amassed more than £47m, or 11,600 of the cryptocurrency ether, in a few days on its online crowdfunding page. The group, which had committed to putting the document on public display “in the hands of the people”, promised to refund its 17,437 contributors after deducting transaction fees.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 85 Score: 17.86 source: www.theguardian.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery, and the Future of Right-Wing Vigilantism
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:00:11 +0000

Rittenhouse being acquitted of all charges clears the way for more guns and right-wing violence at protests nationwide.

The post Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery, and the Future of Right-Wing Vigilantism appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 86 Score: 17.86 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 17.86 mit

Rocky roads through Lanzarote
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 15:36:00 +0100
Image:

Take away the clouds, bulk up the humans with suits and add an orange-red filter and this could be an image from a future mission to Mars.

The actual site, the Corona lava tube in Lanzarote, Spain, is closer than one might think to the Red Planet.

That’s why participants of ESA’s Pangaea course came here this week for the third session of their planetary geology training.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, ESA engineer Robin Eccleston and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins are this year’s students learning from geologists how to best explore the Moon and Mars right here on Earth.

Before ending up in one of Europe’s volcanic hotspots, Andreas, Kathleen and Robin learned how to describe geological sites, and how to classify rocks and identify traces of life during field trips to the Italian Dolomites and the Ries crater in Germany in September.

Lanzarote’s volcanic landscapes are exceptionally well-preserved, and the long history of geological activity make it a unique open-air museum. Here, basaltic lava flows resemble vast plains on the lunar maria and volcanoes are similar to those in some regions of Mars.

For an astronaut whose day job is the daily operations of the International Space Station at Mission Control in Houston, USA, Andreas admits that looking at rocks sounded kind of boring at first.

But in Lanzarote, Andreas and his crewmates were set loose on the Mars-like terrain to follow pre-planned geological investigation routes and analyse the mineralogy of the soil all while remaining in constant communication with the science and training teams with dedicated tools.

Now, Andreas has learned to see the rocks in a new light. “It’s intriguing to interpret the layers of the Earth where the rocks come from, and from there begin to understand the evolution of our planet,” he says.

Looking at rocks has led to an interesting three weeks for the astronaut, who would choose Mars as a destination for future spaceflight. Mars exploration might be in the distant horizon, but “still a fascinating place to visit,” he adds.

Pangaea – named after the ancient supercontinent – prepares the astronauts for geological expeditions to other planets. Trainees acquire skills and knowledge both in the field and in the classroom, tailored towards the needs of future planetary explorers.


Match ID: 87 Score: 15.71 source: www.esa.int age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

Solar Power from Space? Caltech’s $100 Million Gambit
Wed, 11 Aug 2021 15:01:13 +0000


In 1941 Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer, published a short story called "Reason." It was a cautionary tale about robotics and artificial intelligence, but it's also remembered now for its fanciful setting: A space station that gathered solar energy to send to the planets via microwave. Ever since, space-based solar power has been an out-there idea—something with potential to change the world, if we can ever master the technology, and muster the funds, to do it.

Donald Bren has done his share of reading about solar power, and since he is one of America's wealthiest real estate developers, he's in a position to help muster the funds. The California Institute of Technology has just announced that, since 2013, Bren and his wife Brigitte have given the school more than US $100 million to help make photovoltaic power from orbit a reality.

That's a lot of money, and, importantly, the work has been spread out over a decade. A team at Caltech is aiming for the first launch of a test array in late 2022 or 2023.

"This is something that's pretty daring," says Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering and a co-director of Caltech's Space Solar Power Project. The long timeline, he says, "allows you take chances, and take risks. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don't, but when you do that, in an educated, controlled fashion, you end up with things that you never expected."

Bren, 89, made most of his fortune—estimated between $15.3 billion and $16.1 billion—building offices and homes in Orange County, California. He is majority owner of New York City's iconic MetLife Building. He's also donated land and money for environmental conservation. He gives few interviews (he declined to speak for this story), and while Caltech's Space Solar Power Project has been public, Bren's support of it was a secret until now.

High Earth orbit is a great place for a solar farm—the sun never sets and clouds never form. But to generate a meaningful amount of electricity, most past designs were unrealistically, and unaffordably, massive. Engineers depicted giant truss structures, usually measured in kilometers or miles, to which photovoltaic panels or mirrors were attached, absorbing or concentrating sunlight to convert to direct current, then transmit it to the ground via laser or microwave beams. Hundreds of rocket launches might be needed to build a single installation. It was technology too big to succeed.

"What was really required to make this compelling was to have a paradigm shift in the technology," says Harry Atwater, the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech and a leader of the project. "Instead of weighing a kilogram per square meter, we're talking about systems we can make today in the range of 100 to 200 grams per square meter, and we have a roadmap for getting down to the range of 10 to 20 grams per square meter."

How? Through no single step, but perhaps the biggest change in thinking has been to make solar arrays that are modular. Lightweight gallium-arsenide photovoltaic cells would be attached to "tiles"—the fundamental unit of the Caltech design, each of which might be as small as 100 square centimeters, the size of a dessert plate.

Each tile—and this is key—would be its own miniature solar station, complete with photovoltaics, tiny electronic components, and a microwave transmitter. Tiles would be linked together to form larger "modules" of, say, 60 square meters, and thousands of modules would form a hexagonal power station, perhaps 3 km long on a side. But the modules would not even be physically connected. No heavy support beams, no bundled cables, much less mass.

"You can think of this as like a school of fish," says Atwater. "It's a bunch of identical independent elements flying in formation."

Transmission to receivers on the ground would be by phased array—microwave signals from the tiles synchronized so that they can be aimed with no moving parts. Atwater says it would be inherently safe: microwave energy is not ionizing radiation, and the energy density would be "equal to the power density in sunlight."

Space solar power is probably still years away. Analysts at the Aerospace Corporation's Center for Space Policy and Strategy caution that it "will not be a quick, easy, or comprehensive solution." But there is ferment around the world. JAXA, Japan's space agency, is hard at work, as is China's. Launch costs are coming down and new spacecraft are going up, from internet satellites to NASA's moon-to-Mars effort. The Aerospace Corp. analysts say terrestrial power grids may not be the first users of solar power satellites. Instead, they say, think of…other space vehicles, for which a microwave beam from an orbiting solar farm may be more practical than having their own solar panels.

"Is there a need for a lot of additional work? Yes," says Hajimiri. But "some of the ingredients that were major showstoppers before, we are moving in the direction of addressing them."

All of this has the Caltech engineers excited. "It's important for us to be willing to take chances," Hajimiri continues, "and move forward with challenging problems that, if successful, would work toward the betterment of our lives."


Match ID: 88 Score: 15.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 109 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit, 2.86 planets

Looking for Alien Life? Seek Out Alien Tech
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Shifting the search for extraterrestrial life from biological to technological signs could break us out of anthropocentrism and help guide humanity's future.
Match ID: 89 Score: 15.00 source: www.wired.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 aliens

Valor de empresas e de papéis do agronegócio explode com desmonte de leis ambientais
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 07:17:09 +0000

Setores que sustentam Bolsonaro, agronegócio e mercado financeiro se uniram para liberar operações de risco e especulação de terras.

The post Valor de empresas e de papéis do agronegócio explode com desmonte de leis ambientais appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 90 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Republican National Committee dismisses call for Ronna McDaniel to resign as chairwoman over outreach to LGBTQ voters
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 19:35:22 EST
The episode underscores the tension between the national Republican Party and some influential parts of the GOP base — particularly Christian conservatives — on the issue of LGBTQ rights.
Match ID: 91 Score: 14.29 source: www.washingtonpost.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Peng Shuai and the High Stakes of Business in China
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 21:30:03 +0000
The Women’s Tennis Association has taken an unusually bold—and costly—stance on behalf of the tennis star against the state that censored her.
Match ID: 92 Score: 14.29 source: www.newyorker.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Fathers Can Be Gender Equity Advocates
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 19:00:01 +0000


In my article "A Father's Perspective About Daughters and Engineering," published in 2016, I shared my frustration about the lack of role models and the cultural messages that had left my two brilliant daughters—and many of their female friends—with little interest in pursuing an engineering career.

After the article was published, I received an email from Michelle Travis, who was writing a book about dads and daughters. She wanted to know my thoughts about creating a stronger pipeline for girls to pursue a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) career and what could be done to change the narrative about engineering to highlight its public-service role.


Travis is a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she co-directs its Work Law and Justice Program. She researches and writes about employment discrimination law, gender stereotypes, and work/family integration. She is also a founding member of the Work and Family Researchers Network and serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit Fathering Together.

Her latest book, Dads for Daughters, is a guide for engaging male allies in support of gender equity. (I was one of the fathers featured in the book.) She has written the award-winning My Mom Has Two Jobs, a children's picture book that celebrates working mothers.

Over the years, we have stayed in touch, followed each other's work, and looked for other ways to collaborate.

In the past few months, I became frustrated by the news of girls from certain countries either not being allowed to go to school or risking their safety even when they were officially allowed to attend. That is one reason I felt I needed to talk to Travis and learn from her about what else could be done to change the way fathers and men in general think about women's abilities and the successes women have had in almost every field including engineering.

Last month I asked her a few questions about her book and about what fathers can do to better support women. In the following interview, she gives a sneak peek of her book and lists several resources for engineering dads who want to encourage their daughters to pursue a STEM career.

QA: Why did you, a lawyer, decide to research and write about fathers and their daughters? Is it personal?

MT: My interest in engaging dads of daughters as gender equity advocates is both professional and personal. I've spent years as a lawyer and law professor using legal tools to advance women's equality in the workplace—seeking stronger employment-discrimination laws, equal-pay practices, and family-leave policies. Over time, I realized that the law has limits to what it can accomplish. I also realized that we've asked women to do too much of the heavy lifting to break down barriers and crack glass ceilings. Most importantly, I realized that progress requires commitment from male leaders who hold positions of power.

I started asking myself how women might engage more men in gender-equity efforts. At the same time, I noticed the powerful effect that my two daughters were having on my husband. He had always viewed women's equality as an important goal, but it wasn't until he started thinking about the world his daughters were entering that he fully internalized his personal responsibility and his own power to have an impact. Having daughters fueled his urgency to act. He wanted to become an outspoken advocate for girls and women, rather than just a bystander.

"Fathers who are engineers are uniquely positioned to become allies for expanding opportunities for girls and women."

Watching this transformation is what prompted my study of the father-daughter relationship. I discovered that my husband's experience was not unique. Researchers have found that having a daughter tends to increase a man's support for antidiscrimination laws, equal-pay policies, and reproductive rights, and it tends to decrease men's support of traditional gender roles. This has significant effects in the workplace. For example, dads of daughters are more likely than other male leaders to champion gender diversity. And CEOs who are dads of daughters tend to have smaller gender wage gaps in their company than in those run by men who aren't fathers.

Of course, many men without a daughter are women's allies, and not all dads with daughters are gender-equity advocates. We've even heard some men—including prominent politicians—invoke their "father of a daughter" status in disingenuous ways.

But most dads of daughters are genuinely interested in advancing equal opportunities for girls and women. This makes the father-daughter relationship an excellent entry place for inviting men into partnerships to build a more equitable world.

QA: Why should people read your book?

MT: Today's dads are raising confident, empowered daughters who believe they can achieve anything. But the world is still unequal, with workplaces run by men, a gender pay gap, and deeply ingrained gender stereotypes. My book celebrates the role that fathers can play in creating a better world for the next generation of girls.

Inspired by their daughters, fathers are well positioned to become powerful allies for girls and women. But in a post-#MeToo world, it can be difficult for men to step in and speak up. That's where Dads for Daughters can help. It arms fathers with the data they need to advocate for gender equity. It also offers concrete strategies for how they can make a difference in a variety of areas, from sports fields to science labs, and boardrooms to ballot boxes.

In addition to being a guidebook, it also shares stories of fathers who have already joined the fight. All the men highlighted credited their daughters for motivating them to focus more on gender equity. They include a CEO who invested in female entrepreneurs to run part of his company's supply chain and a lawyer who created part-time positions at his firm—which keeps women on a partnership track. There is also a head coach who hired the NBA's first female assistant coach. Another is a governor who broke from his party line to sign a bill expanding rights for sexual assault victims. There is an engineer who provided computer skills training to support girls who were victims of India's sex trafficking trade. In addition, there's a teacher, a U.S. Army colonel, a pipe fitter, a firefighter, and a construction contractor, who joined forces to battle for parity in girls' high school sports programs.

All those dads, and many others, were inspired to support gender equity because of their daughters. Their stories can motivate other dads to get involved. Dads who are committed to seeing their daughters achieve their dreams have an opportunity to improve the world that their daughters will enter, and Dads for Daughters will support them on this journey.

QA: What do you think fathers who are engineers can do differently from other dads, and why?

MT: Fathers who are engineers are uniquely positioned to become allies for expanding opportunities for girls and women. We all know that there's a huge gender imbalance in STEM fields. It results in an enormous loss of talent. Dads of daughters can take small but impactful steps in their homes, communities, and workplaces to welcome more girls and women into engineering careers.

At home, fathers can fill their home with books, toys, and activities that empower girls to imagine themselves as future engineers. There are some wonderful resources created by engineering dads for this very purpose. For example, finding a lack of engineering role models for his daughter, Greg Helmstetter created the STEAMTeam 5 book series, which shares the adventures of five girls who tackle challenges with their STEM skills. Anthony Onesto was inspired by his daughters to create the Ella the Engineer comic-book series, which features a superhero girl who uses her engineering know-how to solve problems and save the world.

Other great children's books include Andrea Beaty's Rosie Revere, Engineer, Tanya Lee Stone's Who Says Women Can't Be Computer Programmers? and Mike Adamick's Dad's Book of Awesome Science Experiments. Dads of daughters can also follow Ken Denmead's GeekDad blog, check out the Go Science Girls website, and buy one of Debbie Sterling's GoldieBlox engineering kits for their daughter's next birthday.

Dads who are engineers can have an even broader impact in their community by volunteering with a girl tech organization such as EngineerGirl, TechGirlz, Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, or CoolTechGirls. These organizations are always looking for engineers to share their expertise and passion for STEM careers with talented young girls.

Engineer dads can also become gender-equity leaders at their workplace. Hiring, mentoring, and sponsoring women is a critical step in expanding women's representation in the engineering field. Dads can further support women by joining programs such as Million Women Mentors or partnering with IEEE Women in Engineering or the Society of Women Engineers. The empathy that dads gain from their daughters can also enable them to create a safer workplace culture by combating hostile work environments and speaking out against gender bias.

QA: From a grown daughter's perspective, what makes fathers different from husbands or friends?

MT: In a recent survey, dads rated strength and independence among the top qualities they hoped to instill in their daughters—which is different from the characteristics that men value most in their wives. From a daughter's perspective, this can make fathers particularly effective allies on their behalf.

When dads are engaged in their daughters' lives, the relationship has a singularly profound impact. Involved dads raise women who are more confident, have higher self-esteem, and have better mental health. Girls with supportive dads have stronger cognitive abilities and are more likely to stay in school and achieve greater financial success. Involved dads also help daughters enter healthier adult relationships with other men.

For fathers, the daughter relationship is a powerful way to build men's empathy skills and increase men's awareness of sex discrimination and gender inequality. For example, men often gain a better understanding of work/family integration challenges while watching their adult daughters juggle career and motherhood demands.

Researchers have found that dads of daughters often have more credibility with other men when supporting gender equity. When people advocate for a position that appears to be at odds with their own self-interest, others often react with surprise, anger, and resentment. These reactions go away if the speaker identifies a vested interest in the outcome. This means that invoking one's status as the father of a daughter can grant men "standing" to advocate for gender equity in ways that get others to listen. Because men tend to pay attention to dads of daughters who talk about the importance of women's rights, that makes fathers particularly strong recruiters of other male allies as well.
Match ID: 93 Score: 14.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

Facebook Grants Government of Afghanistan Limited Posting Rights
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:51:30 +0000

The Taliban is banned from Facebook, but its Ministry of Interior was quietly allowed to post.

The post Facebook Grants Government of Afghanistan Limited Posting Rights appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 94 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

How Your 401(k) Is Helping Destroy the Amazon Rainforest
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:00:07 +0000

The growing financialization of Brazilian agribusiness is enabling foreign investment in the industry most responsible for deforestation.

The post How Your 401(k) Is Helping Destroy the Amazon Rainforest appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 95 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

A grana da sua gasolina de R$ 7 abastece o Auxílio Mercado de Bolsonaro
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 10:00:33 +0000

Trata-se de um dos maiores programas de transferência de renda pró-ricos do mundo, iniciado por Temer e turbinado por Bolsonaro. Política de preços da Petrobras engorda remuneração de acionistas.

The post A grana da sua gasolina de R$ 7 abastece o Auxílio Mercado de Bolsonaro appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 96 Score: 14.29 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 14.29 mit

At Least 2,034 Ways Earth Has Blown Its Cover
Fri, 02 Jul 2021 13:00:00 +0000


We search the stars for signs of intelligent life. What if the stars were looking back, wondering the same thing about us?

Austrian astrophysicist Lisa Kaltenegger has an idea of what that might mean, or at least where that perspective might be coming from: 2,034 stars, seven with known and confirmed exoplanents, either are, have been, or will one day be positioned so they could spot Earth using techniques currently known to us.

This would cover a period starting roughly about the beginning of recorded history (a time when people still spoke Proto-Indo-European, and the first Pharaonic dynasty sprouted in the Nile Valley) and going 5,000 years into the future. And at some point during this timeline, beings orbiting one of those 2,034 stars might have a chance to look Earthward and see our pale blue dot transiting the sun. 

The observation comes out of a nifty bit of trajectory mining on a giant catalog of nearby stars.

Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, and Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist and star catalog expert at the American Museum of Natural History, teamed up to explore it. They used analytical software to comb through a cosmic chart of observed star positions; this data comes via the European Space Agency craft Gaia. Gaia is a space observatory now eight years in orbit and delivering increasingly robust snapshots in its quest to plot a three-dimensional map of perhaps two billion stars in the Milky Way and further out when it’s all said and done.

Kaltenegger and Faherty use motion calculations to plot linear star trajectories backwards and forwards in time, filtering the observed stars to focus on the region of the sky through which from our perspective the sun appears to pass through during a year. Projected out into space on a narrow band, it is a place from which an observer would be able to detect the transit of our planet across the sun. 

In our long-running search for extraterrestrial life, we use transits to examine exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. (We’ve even used transits of Venus to study the solar system.) Starlight passes through the atmosphere of a planet, or is reflected off of it. We can use spectrometry to analyze and gain an understanding of the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres, and so whether they might be friendly to life (as we know it). 

Kaltenegger and Faherty show the perspective from the other end of the telescope—where we’d be the aliens—and show the potential, at least, for advanced life forms. Spectrometric sensing from far away might have picked up our Great Oxidation Event and marked us as a living world. 

As published in the journal Nature, Faherty and Kaltenegger sifted through a Gaia catalog of nearby stars, starting with 330,000 star positions within 100 parsecs of us (that’s 326 light years and a common celestial distance benchmark). They converted these positions into three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates and back using scripts and a classification algorithm; in going through these steps in increments of time, backwards and forwards, they could see which stars were entering or exiting a position where they’d have a view on Earth. (For a closer look at Faherty’s code subroutines, check her GitHub repository.) 

They found 313 stars had been in the zone at some point in the last 5,000 years, 1,402 stars that have been there for some time, and 319 that will do so at some point in the next 5,000 years (Teegarden’s Star will come into the zone in 29 years). Faherty then wrote code in order to ingest the list into OpenSpace visualization software.

The star data Kaltenegger and Faherty worked with is a recent download, as researchers get ready for Gaia’s next full data delivery sometime in 2022. Kaltenegger’s been pondering how we look from space for some time, though. She published the first “Alien ID Chart” in 2007, showing how Earth might appear as seen through geological time. “That’s interesting,” says Leiden Observatory’s Anthony Brown, who heads Gaia’s data processing and analysis consortium. “Thinking about these stars that in principle could see Earth transit across the Sun.”

Brown’s also worked with Gaia astrometry data to build a map, his being an image of star trails projected across the sky for the next 400,000 years. As Gaia takes more and more census observations over time, the projections will get more precise. Gaia’s set to deliver other surprises, too: spectral data from Gaia’s blue and red photometers mean astronomers are in process of characterizing the astrophysics of hundreds of millions of stars. 

Sorting through all this and getting to findings will take data processing power and creative thinking, says Minia Manteiga, a member of Gaia’s data processing consortium and astronomer at the University of A Coruña. “Gaia is a paradigmatic example of big data astronomy,” she says. It will require inferential statistics as well as unsupervised algorithms and machine learning techniques, she adds.

Kaltenegger’s role-reversing perspective—where we become the observed instead of the observer—prompt questions for her students, who generally say they’d visit advanced planets, given the means. “But while I love Earth—it is my favorite planet— in terms of technology and evolution we are not that far along yet,” Kaltenegger says, pointing out we have only been using radio waves for 100 years. “Assume the cosmos is teeming with life, would we really be the place everyone would want to contact and visit? Or maybe...not yet?” 


Match ID: 97 Score: 14.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 149 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets, 2.14 aliens

Video Friday: Dronut
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 17:06:11 +0000


Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022 – May 23-27, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA, USA

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.


We first met Cleo Robotics at CES 2017, when they were showing off a consumer prototype of their unique ducted-fan drone. They've just announced a new version which has been beefed up to do surveillance, and it is actually called the Dronut.

For such a little thing, the 12 minute flight time is not the worst, and hopefully it'll find a unique niche that'll help Cleo move back towards the consumer market, because I want one.

[ Cleo ]

Happy tenth birthday, Thymio!

[ EPFL ]

Here we describe a protective strategy for winged drones that mitigates the added weight and drag by means of increased lift generation and stall delay at high angles of attack. The proposed structure is inspired by the wing system found in beetles and consists of adding an additional set of retractable wings, named elytra, which can rapidly encapsulate the main folding wings when protection is needed.

[ EPFL ]

This is some very, very impressive robust behavior on ANYmal, part of Joonho Lee's master's thesis at ETH Zurich.

[ ETH Zurich ]

NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has developed a blade-free, blimp-type drone equipped with a high-resolution video camera that captures high-quality video and full-color LED lights glow in radiant colors.

[ NTT Docomo ] via [ Gizmodo ]

Senior Software Engineer Daniel Piedrahita explains the theory behind robust dynamic stability and how Agility engineers used it to develop an unique and cohesive hardware and software solution that allows Digit to navigate unpredictable terrain with ease.

[ Agility ]

The title of thie video from DeepRobotics is "DOOMSDAY COMING." Best not to think about it, probably.

[ DeepRobotics ]

More Baymax!

[ Disney ]

At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, they're trying to figure out how to make a COVID-19 officer robot authoritative enough that people will actually pay attention to it and do what it says.

[ Paper ]

Thanks, Andy!

You'd think that high voltage powerlines would be the last thing you'd want a drone to futz with, but here we are.

[ GRVC ]

Cassie Blue navigates around furniture treated as obstacles in the atrium of the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan.

[ Michigan Robotics ]

Northrop Grumman and its partners AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Michelin are designing a new vehicle that will greatly expand and enhance human and robotic exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.

[ Northrop Grumman ]

This letter proposes a novel design for a coaxial hexarotor (Y6) with a tilting mechanism that can morph midair while in a hover, changing the flight stage from a horizontal to a vertical orientation, and vice versa, thus allowing wall-perching and wall-climbing maneuvers.

[ KAIST ]

Honda and Black & Veatch have successfully tested the prototype Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at a construction site in New Mexico. During the month-long field test, the second-generation, fully-electric Honda AWV performed a range of functions at a large-scale solar energy construction project, including towing activities and transporting construction materials, water, and other supplies to pre-set destinations within the work site.

[ Honda ]

This could very well be the highest speed multiplier I've ever seen in a robotics video.

[ GITAI ]

Here's an interesting design for a manipulator that can do in-hand manipulation with a minimum of fuss, from the Yale Grablab.

[ Paper ]

That ugo robot that's just a ball with eyes on a stick is one of my favorite robots ever, because it's so unapologetically just a ball on a stick.

[ ugo ]

Robot, make me a sandwich. And then make me a bunch more sandwiches.

[ Soft Robotics ]

Refilling water bottles isn't a very complex task, but having a robot do it means that humans don't have to.

[ Fraunhofer ]

To help manufacturers find cost effective and sustainable alternatives to single -use plastic, ABB Robotics is collaborating with Zume, a global provider of innovative compostable packaging solutions. We will integrate and install up to 2000 robots at Zume customer's sites worldwide over the next five years to automate the innovative manufacturing production of 100 percent compostable packaging molded from sustainably harvested plant-based material for products from food and groceries to cosmetics and consumer goods.

[ ABB ]


Match ID: 98 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Here we GO, Matthias
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 16:25:00 +0100
Image:

After a series of delays due to weather and a minor crew medical issue, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer was finally launched to the International Space Station on 11 November. But not before reading some final words of support, shared by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, as Matthias waited to drive to the launchpad.  

Alongside NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, Matthias lifted off on board Space X Crew Dragon “Endurance” at 03:03 CET Thursday 11 November and arrived ahead of schedule to the Station in the early hours of 12 November.

It is the first space mission for Matthias, who is the 600th human to fly to space, a number made possible by the wider team working to safely ferry astronauts to space.

Matthias was surrounded by the team in the lead-up to the start of his Cosmic Kiss mission, and will be well-supported throughout.

Standing next to Luca, now Head of Astronaut Operations, is ESA flight surgeon Maybritt Kuypers. Flight surgeons accompany astronauts to launch and welcome them back after landing, monitoring and ensuring their health and well-being pre-, during and post-flight.

Luca was not the only astronaut in attendance. German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst was also present this past week to offer his support, both to Matthias and his family and to a wider audience via media appearances.

Now on board the Station, Matthias and his fellow Crew-3 mates are adjusting to their ‘space legs’. Matthias will sleep in the new CASA crew quarters prepared by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet before he returned to Earth earlier this week.

Over the next six months, Matthias will continue to support a wide range of European and international science experiments and technological research on the Station before handing off to the next ESA astronaut to fly, Samantha Cristoforetti.

Welcome to space Matthias and go #CosmicKiss!


Match ID: 99 Score: 12.86 source: www.esa.int age: 16 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/10/2021
Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:00:31 +0000
ISS Reboost: US tracking sources identified a debris conjunction of concern yesterday with a Time of Closest Approach (TCA) approximately forty-six minutes after Crew-3 docking. As a mitigation step, ground teams opted to implement a Predetermined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) prior to Crew-3 launch. Earlier today, the conjunction was cleared but teams progressed with the …
Match ID: 100 Score: 12.86 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 18 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

FAA Fumbled Its Response To a Surge in GPS Jamming
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 14:42:45 +0000


FAA air traffic controllers supervising flights over Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were confused and frustrated by an increase in military tests that interfered with GPS signals for civilian aircraft, public records show.

In March and April this year, flight controllers at the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center filed reports on NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), a forum where aviation professionals can anonymously share near misses and safety tips.

The complaints accused the FAA of denying controllers permission to ask the military to cut short GPS tests adversely affecting commercial and private aircraft. These so-called "stop buzzer" (or "cease buzzer") requests are supposed to be made by pilots only when a safety-of-flight issue is encountered.

"Aircraft are greatly affected by the GPS jamming and it's not taken seriously by management," reads one report. "We've been told we can't ask to stop jamming, and to just put everyone on headings."

In a second report, a private jet made a wrong turn into restricted airspace over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico after being jammed. On that occasion, the air traffic controller called a stop buzzer. "[The] facility manager on duty later informed me we can't ask them to 'stop buzzer' and to just keep putting aircraft on headings," their ASRS report reads.

Putting an aircraft on headings requires giving pilots precise bearings to follow, rather than letting them perform their own navigation using GPS or other technologies. This adds work for controllers, who are already very busy at certain times of day.

"Busy traffic, bad rides, frequency congestion, then GPS jamming," reads one report. "Limit the length and what time of the day that facilities can GPS jam and have it taken seriously when we call and ask them to stop."

"Give controllers the ability to have White Sands stop GPS jamming during high traffic periods," agrees the other.

The Pentagon uses its more remote military bases, many in the American West, to test how its forces operate under GPS denial. A Spectrum investigation earlier this year discovered that such jamming tests are far more prevalent than had previously been thought, possibly affecting thousands of civilian flights each year.

The FAA does not share how many stop buzzer requests are made, but Spectrum's investigation obtained FAA data detailing four stop buzzers over the skies of California during a nine-week period in 2017. These included passenger jet flights operated by Frontier and Southwest.

The White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), whose tests appear to have caused the GPS jamming in both recent complaints, estimates it receives "in the low single digits" of stop buzzer requests a year.

A spokesperson for WSMR told Spectrum: "The US Army takes the safety of its operations extremely seriously. Calls for a cease buzzer are taken seriously and range control has not denied or ignored any cease buzzers. WSMR has also never requested or required any internal organization or outside agency to not make use of the cease buzzer in the event of an emergency, or unsafe event."

The FAA provided the following statement:

"The FAA cooperates with Department of Defense to mitigate the effects of the military's planned interference activities… to levels of acceptable risk. The primary mitigation when GPS is lost is for a pilot to use another means of navigation. Air Traffic Control (ATC) will assist the pilot with navigation on rare occasions, upon request. Should multiple pilots encounter problems, then ATC has the option to stop the underlying cause through [a] stop buzzer."

When a stop buzzer call is made by a controller, the FAA then has a review process to analyze the appropriateness of the action and the associated operational risk.

However, an FAA source also admitted that one ATC facility "expressed some confusion as to the scope of their authority to suspend operations using stop-buzzer protocols when GPS testing had ramped up significantly." The FAA now believes it has cleared up and abated those field concerns.

Although flight controllers may no longer be instructed not to issue stop buzzer calls when planes are in trouble, pilots continue to experience difficulties in the airspace around White Sands.

In May, the pilot of a light aircraft taking off at night in the Albuquerque area suddenly lost their GPS navigation and terrain warnings. Air traffic control told the pilot that WSMR was jamming, and instructed them to use other instruments. That pilot was ultimately able to land safely, but later submitted their own ASRS report: "Being unfamiliar with this area and possibly a different avionics configuration I feel my flight could have possibly ended as controlled flight into terrain."

Such an outcome–a likely deadly crash–would surely not meet anyone's definition of "acceptable risk."


Match ID: 101 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 52 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

China Aims for a Permanent Moon Base in the 2030s
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 19:00:00 +0000


On 3 January 2019, the Chinese spacecraft Chang'e-4 descended toward the moon. Countless craters came into view as the lander approached the surface, the fractal nature of the footage providing no sense of altitude. Su Yan, responsible for data reception for the landing at Miyun ground station, in Beijing, was waiting—nervously and in silence with her team—for vital signals indicating that optical, laser, and microwave sensors had combined effectively with rocket engines for a soft landing. "When the [spectral signals were] clearly visible, everyone cheered enthusiastically. Years of hard work had paid off in the most sweet way," Su recalls.

Chang'e-4 had, with the help of a relay satellite out beyond the moon, made an unprecedented landing on the always-hidden lunar far side. China's space program, long trailing in the footsteps of the U.S. and Soviet (now Russian) programs, had registered an international first. The landing also prefigured grander Chinese lunar ambitions.

In 2020 Chang'e-5, a complex sample-return mission, returned to Earth with young lunar rocks, completing China's three-step "orbit, land, and return" lunar program conceived in the early 2000s. These successes, together with renewed international scientific and commercial interest in the moon, have emboldened China to embark on a new lunar project that builds on the Chang'e program's newly acquired capabilities.

The International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) is a complex, multiphase megaproject that the China National Space Administration (CNSA) unveiled jointly with Russia in June in St. Petersburg. Starting with robotic landing and orbiting missions in the 2020s, its designers envision a permanently inhabited lunar base by the mid-2030s. Objectives include science, exploration, technology verification, resource and commercial exploitation, astronomical observation, and more.

ILRS will begin with a robotic reconnaissance phase running up to 2030, using orbiting and surface spacecraft to survey potential landing areas and resources, conduct technology-verification tests, and assess the prospects for an eventual permanent crewed base on the moon. The phase will consist of Chinese missions Chang'e-4, Chang'e-6 sample return, and the more ambitious Chang'e-7, as well as Russian Luna spacecraft, plus potential missions from international partners interested in joining the endeavor. Chang'e-7 will target a lunar south pole landing and consist of an orbiter, relay satellite, lander, and rover. It will also include a small spacecraft capable of "hopping" to explore shadowed craters for evidence of potential water ice, a resource that, if present, could be used in the future for both propulsion and supplies for astronauts.

CNSA will help select the site for a two-stage construction phase that will involve in situ resource utilization (ISRU) tests with Chang'e-8, massive cargo delivery with precision landings, and the start of joint operations between partners. ISRU, in this case using the lunar regolith (the fine dust, soil, and rock that makes up most of the moon's surface) for construction and extraction of resources such as oxygen and water, would represent a big breakthrough. Being able to use resources already on the moon means fewer things need to be delivered, at great expense, from Earth.

Illustration of the CNSA plans for a lunar base and landings. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) recently unveiled its plans for a lunar base in the 2030s, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). The first phase involves prototyping, exploration, and reconnaissance of possible ILRS locations.James Provost

The utilization phase will begin in the early 2030s. It tentatively consists of missions numbered ILRS-1 through 5 and relies on heavy-lift launch vehicles to establish command, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure; experiment, scientific, and IRSU facilities; and Earth- and astronomical-observation capabilities. CNSA artist renderings indicate spacecraft will use the lunar regolith to make structures that would provide shielding from radiation while also exploring lava tubes as potential alternative areas for habitats.

The completed ILRS would then host and support crewed missions to the moon in around 2036. This phase, CNSA says, will feature lunar research and exploration, technology verification, and expanding and maintaining modules as needed.

These initial plans are vague, but senior figures in China's space industry have noted huge, if challenging, possibilities that could greatly contribute to development on Earth. Ouyang Ziyuan, a cosmochemist and early driving force for Chinese lunar exploration, notes in a July talk the potential extraction of helium-3, delivered to the lunar surface by unfiltered solar wind, for nuclear fusion (which would require major breakthroughs on Earth and in space).

Another possibility is 3D printing of solar panels at the moon's equator, which would capture solar energy to be transmitted to Earth by lasers or microwaves. China is already conducting early research toward this end. As with NASA's Artemis plan, Ouyang notes that the moon is a stepping-stone to other destinations in the solar system, both through learning and as a launchpad.

The more distant proposals currently appear beyond reach, but in its space endeavors China has demonstrated a willingness to develop capabilities and apply these for new possibilities. Sample-return tech from Chang'e-5 will next be used to collect material from a near-Earth asteroid around 2024. Near the end of the decade, this tech will contribute to the Tianwen-1 Mars mission's capabilities for an unprecedented Mars sample-return attempt. How the ILRS develops will then depend on success and science and resource findings of the early missions.

China is already well placed to implement the early phases of the ILRS blueprint. The Long March 5, a heavy-lift rocket, had its first flight in 2016 and has since enabled the country to begin constructing a space station and to launch spacecraft such as a first independent interplanetary mission and Chang'e-5. To develop the rocket, China had to make breakthroughs in using cryogenic propellant and machining a new, wider-diameter rocket body.

This won't be enough for larger missions, however. Huang Jun, a professor at Beihang University, in Beijing, says a super heavy-lift rocket, the high-thrust Long March 9, is a necessity for the future of Chinese aerospace. "Research and breakthroughs in key technologies are progressing smoothly, and the project may at any time enter the engineering-development stage."

Image of different landings missions by CNSA. CNSA's plans for its international moon base involve a set of missions, dubbed ILRS-1 through ILRS-5, now projected between 2031 and 2035. IRLS-1, as planned, will in 2031 establish a command center and basic infrastructure. Subsequent missions over the ensuing four years would set up research facilities, sample­ collection systems, and Earth­ and space­observation capabilities.James Provost

The roughly 100-meter-long, Saturn V–like Long March 9 will be capable of launching around 50 tonnes of payload to translunar injection. The project requires precision manufacturing of thin yet strong, 10-meter-diameter rocket stages and huge new engines. In Beijing, propulsion institutes under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., recently produced an engineering prototype of a 220-tonne thrust staged-combustion liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. In a ravine near Xi'an, in north China, firing tests of a dual-chamber 500-tonne-thrust kerosene/liquid oxygen engine for the first stage have been carried out. Long March 9 is expected to have its first flight around 2030, which would come just in time to launch the robotic ILRS construction missions.

A human-rated rocket is also under development, building on technologies from the Long March 5. It will feature similar but uprated versions of the YF-100 kerosene/liquid oxygen engine and use three rocket cores, in a similar fashion to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy. Its task will be sending a deep-space-capable crew spacecraft into lunar orbit, where it could dock with a lunar-landing stack launched by a Long March 9.

The spacecraft itself is a new-generation advance on the Shenzhou, which currently ferries astronauts to and from low Earth orbit. A test launch in May 2020 verified that the new vessel can handle the greater heat of a higher-speed atmospheric reentry from higher, more energetic orbits. Work on a crew lander is also assumed to be underway. The Chang'e-5 mission was also seen as a scaled test run for human landings, as it followed a profile similar to NASA's Apollo missions. After lifting off from the moon, the ascent vehicle reunited and docked with a service module, much in the way that an Apollo ascent vehicle rejoined a command module in lunar orbit before the journey home.

China and Russia are inviting all interested countries and partners to cooperate in the project. The initiative will be separate from the United States' Artemis moon program, however. The United States has long opposed cooperating with China in space, and recent geopolitical developments involving both Beijing and Moscow have made things worse still. As a result, China and Russia, its International Space Station partner, have looked to each other as off-world partners. "Ideally, we would have an international coalition of countries working on a lunar base, such as the Moon Village concept proposed by former ESA director-general Jan Wörner. But so far geopolitics have gotten in the way of doing that," says Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation.

The final details and partners may change, but China, for its part, seems set on continuing the accumulation of expertise and technologies necessary to get to the moon and back, and stay there in the long term.

This article appears in the October 2021 print issue as "China's Lunar Station Megaproject."


Match ID: 102 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 67 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Nauka's Troubled Flight—Before It Tumbled the ISS
Thu, 26 Aug 2021 15:30:00 +0000


This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Any hopes that the space agencies in Houston and Moscow had for tamping down public concerns over the International Space Station's recent tumble in orbit were lost last week as new revelations from Moscow confirmed worst-case rumors.

The ISS's tumble was caused by the inadvertent firing of maneuvering thrusters on the newly arrived Nauka Russian research module (referred to as the MLM module by NASA). But it's become clear that the module had been lurching from crisis to crisis during its weeks-long flight before it rendezvoused and docked at the space station. This is raising concerns about exactly how much NASA knew and when, given the stringent safety requirements normally in place that any visiting vehicle must meet before being allowed to approach the station.

This and other questions have been raised as the last two weeks have seen a remarkable and surprising degree of Russian openness, especially as compared to NASA's. Some of that transparency has also surfaced an interesting coincidence (at minimum) involving a spaceflight-themed movie potentially being filmed aboard Nauka that at least complicates but also perhaps begins to explain some of the curious components of this near-disaster's chronology.

Here's the outline:

First, Alexander Khokhlov, a Russian space expert and member of the private Russian Federation of Cosmonautics, had told the RIA Novosti news agency that several emergency situations had occurred on the Nauka during the flight to the ISS, but that Russian specialists managed to cope with "most" of them.

According to him, systems that had significant problems included the infrared sensors which determine the local horizon, the radar antenna that feeds into the automated Kurs rendezvous system, and the Kurs system itself. He also had described a "severe emergency" with the propulsion system. A number of these failures were subsequently confirmed by the European Space Agency while NASA remained silent.

Then on August 7, Dmitry Rogozin, General Director of Roscosmos, spoke with RIA Novosti about the problems of building the Nauka space module. And on the YouTube channel "Soloviev LIVE" (typically noted for its hosts hewing to the official government line), Rogozin singled out the shutting down of a Ukrainian aerospace factory as creating "predictable difficulties in the flight" of Nauka. In Soviet days, this factory used to make an accordion-like bellows used in the propellant tanks to separate the pressurizing gas from the liquid fuel as it was pushed into the engines. In Rogozin's words, "We understood that we would have to spend, in fact, all eight days in manual control of both the flight of this module and the docking. And indeed we had problems there" While the exact details are unclear, it looks like the Russians were worried that accidental leaks across the propellant/pressurant barrier would frustrate automatic real-time management of propellant flow into the module's rocket engines, and instead required direct valve commanding from ground stations.

When asked about such reports last week, a NASA spokesman in Houston had simply said that "Roscosmos regularly updated NASA and the rest of the international partners on MLM's progress during the approach to station" but gave no details and referred all inquiries about Russian hardware issues to Moscow. "We would point you to Roscosmos for any specifics on MLM systems/performance/procedures."

Large screens show a blue and green world map and close ups of space vehicles in front of rows of people in front of computer screens. Moscow Mission Control CenterRoscosmos

On August 13, RIA Novosti reported that 61-year-old Deputy General Designer of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation Alexander Kuznetsov, the senior Russian space official in direct charge of the Nauka module, had been hospitalized with a stroke immediately after the docking. He was, however, soon released—although a few days later was hospitalized again. The agency attributed the stroke to "the colossal tension" and that "Kuznetsov, along with other specialists and members of the state commission, spent all eight days of the module's flight at the Mission Control Center, practically without leaving the premises."

On August 14, RIA Novosti confirmed that "mass failures of the systems of the Nauka module… arose after it was put into low-earth orbit and threatened a serious emergency." But the story was upbeat: According to a "source in the rocket and space industry," these problems "were eliminated thanks to the continuous work of ground specialists for eight days, the revision of the module's flight task and the creation of an emergency working group of the best experts in the industry."

The story's chronology of challenges was daunting: "The main problems of the first two days of the flight of the Nauka module were: the failure of the flight program and the operation of one of the fuel valves, the problem of transmitting the command package on board from the ground measuring complexes, the absence of a signal from two sensors of the infrared vertical [sensor] and from one of the two star sensors." The story described how Mission Control Center director Vladimir Solovyov immediately reported on the critical situation to the general director of the Roskosmos state corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, who took direct control of the module's flight.

Communication between the Moscow Mission Control Center—"TsUP" in Russian—was too uncertain, so "engineers of the Russian Space Systems holding were promptly dispatched to all ground measuring points, who coped with the task of stable transmission of commands to the module and receiving telemetric information from it."

On July 23, a working group was created by Rogozin to save the troubled module. The group was headed by Sergey Kuznetsov, General Designer of the Salyut Design Bureau and included representatives of the Keldysh Center, the developers of Nauka.

Starting from July 25, the main and backup sets of the Kurs rendezvous and docking system were successfully tested, the fuel reserves required for the rendezvous were recalculated, a new docking scheme was calculated taking into account the strength of the station and the module (the maximum docking speed was limited to 8 centimeters per second), and the stable operation of both star sensors, responsible for the exact orientation of the Nauka, was restored.

These ad-hoc fixes raise the issue of how much did those rushed and admittedly often poorly coordinated ground station commanding and flight software reprogramming initiatives themselves contribute to the potential for onboard "software glitches" such as the still-undefined one now blamed for the renegade thruster firing that tumbled the station? And what is the actual current status and residual content level of the propellant tanks aboard Nauka, given the official descriptions of major monitoring function loss during the rendezvous maneuvers?

Large square solar panels stick out from cylindrical white and brown modules in space. An inset black and white screen shows numerical information. Roscosmos

In any case, the parade of details of the problems overcome during the pre-docking phase of the mission stands in stark contrast to the Russian press treatment of the post-docking thruster firing incident. On August 4 there had been one interview with former cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, executive director for manned programs of Roscosmos. on Russia 24 TV channel:

"The module, apparently, itself could not believe that it had already docked, so when the control system of the module was [reinitialized], the control system decided that it was still in free flight—and, not understanding what was happening, for safety, an algorithm was triggered, turning on the motors … This, of course, should not have happened. The commission is now examining the reasons for this…. The station is a rather delicate device ... Everything was done as lightly as possible. And the additional load causes a load on the [motor] drives of solar batteries, on the [frames] on which everything is installed…. This is an emergency situation that will need to be analyzed in detail… There are probably no damages ... Nothing broke off from the station, I can reassure you, but the extent to which we have loaded the station, what are the consequences, it will now be assessed by experts."

But, aside from these candid comments from Krikalev, the thruster firing became a non-event, except in brief press references to a short interlude in which the "station temporarily lost its orientation." That wording, more suggestive of an addled old man who felt dizzy than of an enormous structure doing a full tumble and a half with counter-thrusting rocket engines shoving at it in totally unexpected directions, recalled the laconic NASA press release after the near-catastrophic Mir fire in 1997: "Small Fire Put Out on Mir."

NASA's narrative-control lid in 1997 was so tight that Jerry Linenger—who'd been aboard Mir in 1997 and considered the incident a very narrow brush with death—later recalled how he was forced to send accurate accounts of that emergency to his wife via a data stick carried by a returning German visiting cosmonaut, since he knew all official messages (including family emails) were being monitored.

Perhaps an echo of that NASA policy is detectable today: Since the Nauka docking, nobody on the US side—three US crew members, a French astronaut, and the Japanese station commander—has been seen to tweet any mention of the dramatic tumble and recovery on docking day. Their public message traffic looks as if the incident never happened.

As the month of August passes, parallel review boards in the United States and Russia are at work behind closed doors. On August 9, NASA ISS program manager Joel Montalbano told journalist Jeff Foust on a Facebook discussion thread that it's a "little too early" to set a timeline for the investigation. NASA is in "regular communications" with Russian colleagues on this, he said. Montalbano also told US specialist on the Russian space program Marcia Smith that they "may have more to say in 2-3 weeks."

If the dramatic launch and trouble-plagued rendezvous of Nauka looks slapdash premature—a bizarre notion for a feat that was originally planned for fifteen years ago—there is one intriguingly suggestive schedule-driver that is only weeks in the future.

A routine launch of the next long-term Russian crew had long been slated for early October. Called "Soyuz MS-19," it was to carry three professional Russian cosmonauts who had been training for at least a year. But several months ago there was a redirection of the mission and the crew.

Two of the three cosmonauts were bumped from the mission and replaced by a movie actor and a director/cameraman, as part of a commercial project to make a spaceflight-themed movie in space.

The project reportedly has high level backing by powerful figures in Moscow, including in the Kremlin, as well as overseas investors.

Even more significant than political favoritism, however, is the simple question of cash. Since the mid-1990s, the influx of foreign funding for the Russian space industry has been a cash cow for space program officials and their political protectors.

Aside from rented official approvals, this first-of-its-kind movie project has been developed and the scene lists tailored specifically to the Nauka module. Nauka contains the living quarters for the extra visitors, the laboratory unit to simulate an in-space operating room (the movie's main theme), and high-quality viewports for spectacular imagery of Earth below.

The potential relevance for any putative urgency to launch Nauka, ready or not, is that it had to occur at least several weeks before this MS-19 mission, or the wrong people would have been aboard the Soyuz, and long-term crew activity planning was not subject to revision. The choice might have been go now, or wait another year for the cash commissions the movie project would have generated. Or the timing could just be a coincidence, just one more unanswered question in an orbital drama of mystery and misdirection.


Match ID: 103 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 94 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

The New Supersonic Boom
Mon, 16 Aug 2021 15:00:00 +0000


On 9 April 1945, less than a month before the end of hostilities in Europe, a young Luftwaffe pilot named Hans Guido Mutke put his jet-propelled Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter-bomber into a steep dive, intending to come to the aid of a fellow airman below. As the Messerschmitt accelerated downward, the plane began to shake violently, and the controls became unresponsive. Mutke managed to regain control and lived to describe the incident, in which he later laid claim to having exceeded the speed of sound, a controversial but plausible assertion.

This and similar episodes during and after World War II led some to believe that aircraft would have great difficulty ever "breaking the sound barrier"—a phrase that led to a popular misconception that there is some kind of brick wall in the sky that a plane must pierce to fly at supersonic speeds.


Image of Chuck Yeager piloting the Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947. Piloting the bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first person to exceed the speed of sound while in horizontal flight.Everett Collection/Alamy

The aircraft that unquestionably tore down that metaphorical wall was the Bell X-1, a bullet-shaped experimental rocket-plane. In October of 1947, test pilot Chuck Yeager coaxed his bright orange X-1 to a speed that slightly exceeded that of sound while the plane was in horizontal flight, although the U.S. Air Force didn't officially announce the feat until the following year.

Since then, jets have been regularly exceeding Mach 1—shorthand for the speed of sound in the surrounding air. Even the Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainer, introduced in 1959, could do so. And some military jets can fly much faster. The SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, which first flew in the 1960s, can travel at better than Mach 3.

Although military aircraft were breaking the sound barrier daily during the 1950s and '60s, commercial passenger flights during this time remained limited to subsonic speeds. That situation didn't change until early in 1976, with the first scheduled flights of the French-British Concorde supersonic airliner, which could reach Mach 2. The Soviet Union's Tupolev TU-144, which could fly just as fast and had been used to transport mail and freight the previous year, began carrying passengers in 1977.

It would have been reasonable to project that we'd all be zooming around the globe at supersonic speeds by now. But, of course, we're not.

At the time, it would have been reasonable to project that we'd all be zooming around the globe at supersonic speeds by now. But, of course, we're not. The Concorde last flew nearly two decades ago. Today's airliners travel no faster than their counterparts of 60 years ago—indeed, they tend to fly somewhat slower to reduce fuel costs.

Now, several aircraft manufacturers and NASA are intent on ushering in a new era of supersonic commercial aviation. They're preparing prototypes for flight and they've got designs for full-blown airliners capable of carrying scores of passengers. And this time, their biggest challenge probably won't be the sonic booms, which backers insist they can adequately address. The main obstacles will be regulatory and, especially, environmental: Supersonic airliners could be hugely more polluting than their subsonic counterparts.

Are we nevertheless on the cusp of a new, golden age of high-speed commercial aviation? Will people soon be jetting across the Pacific in three hours? To answer those questions requires a deeper understanding of what went on, and what went wrong, during that first push to develop supersonic airliners more than a half century ago.

Image of the Concorder airliner, taking flight during a test flight in 1970. The Concorde, shown here at the start of a test flight in 1970, was particularly noisy, both during takeoff and when exceeding the speed of sound, which subjected people below to the loud double bang of its sonic boom.AP

In 1956, nine years after Yeager's history-making flight, the U.K. government established a Supersonic Transport Advisory Committee, which began discussions with international partners about building a supersonic airliner. And in 1962 the French and British governments forged an agreement to cooperate in the development of what soon became known as the Concorde. The sleek delta-winged airliner made its first supersonic test flight in 1969.

Although the United States chose not to participate in the development of the Concorde, in 1963 President John F. Kennedy announced plans to develop a U.S. supersonic airliner. Shortly afterward, the federal government issued a contract to Boeing, which had prevailed over Lockheed and others in a design competition, to develop such a plane.

Meanwhile, environmentalists were voicing concern—about how noisy such aircraft are taking off, about the possibility that their high-altitude emissions would erode the ozone layer, and about how disruptive the sonic booms would be. The last of these issues was perhaps the most vexing, prompting the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to mount various exercises to gauge how the public would react to sonic booms.

The most extensive such experiment took place over Oklahoma City in 1964. For months, supersonic aircraft flew over the city, eight times a day, seven days a week, at unpredictable times but always during daylight hours. Dominic Maglieri, an expert on sonic booms whose career began in the early 1950s, recalls the results of those months-long tests.

"It looked as though people were kind of acclimating to it," says Maglieri. "But as it went on that changed—considerably: Pretty soon they were getting thousands of calls and complaints." Some of that negative feedback included demands for compensation, says Maglieri, including one from the owner of a palatial home who claimed that a sonic boom had cracked his marble floors.

A table of data showing the boom dates for sonic room damage. The 1964 Oklahoma City tests involved more than 1,000 flights, which sparked more than 15,000 complaints, as documented in a 1971 report prepared by the National Bureau of Standards.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Clearly, nobody would accept stone-fracturing sonic booms. Those objections added to the concerns environmentalists were raising about the ozone layer—a scenario seemingly justified a few years later by MIT researchers, who concluded that a future fleet of 500 supersonic airliners would deplete the ozone layer by 16 percent.

Despite strong support from the FAA, the airline industry, and aerospace companies, the U.S. Senate ceased funding the development of a supersonic airliner in 1971. Two years later, the FAA banned supersonic flight over land, a prohibition that remains to this day.

The Concorde went on to serve various destinations, including some in the United States, flying at supersonic speeds only over water. That continued until 2003, when British Airways and Air France retired their fleets, together amounting to just 12 aircraft. (Fourteen production aircraft were manufactured, but one was scrapped in 1994 and another crashed in 2000.)

While the Concorde successfully overcame the technical hurdles standing in the way of supersonic passenger service, it succumbed to economics: The cost of fuel and maintenance was especially high for these planes. A new generation of aeronautical engineers and entrepreneurs are, however, keen to once again take on the technical, environmental, and economic challenges.

It's perhaps unsurprising that the 21st-century push for supersonic travel is being led by newcomers rather than established manufacturers. The best-funded of this group is Denver-based Boom Technology (which also goes by the trade name Boom Supersonic).

Rendering of Boom Technology's Overture airliner in the sky. This artist's rendering shows Boom Technology's future Overture airliner, which will be able to carry as many as 88 people.Boom Supersonic

In 2016, while it was still in Y Combinator's startup incubation program, Boom got a big shot in the arm from the Virgin Group, which offered engineering support and optioned the first 10 of Boom's airliners. (More recently, Virgin Galactic has been designing a supersonic airliner of its own.) Virgin's interest in this sphere shouldn't be surprising: 13 years earlier, the group's founder Sir Richard Branson attempted, unsuccessfully, to purchase the seven Concorde airliners British Airways was retiring, for use by Virgin Atlantic.

Boom went on to garner more than US $150 million from various venture funds and Japan Airlines. It has used that money to build a one-third scale prototype, called the XB-1, of an airliner that will be able to carry as many as 88 passengers. The company expects commercial flights of the larger plane, which it calls Overture, to begin in 2029.

What these aircraft manufacturers are contending is that their eventual customers are going to be willing to pay to prevent net carbon emissions.

Boom is emphasizing its plans to mitigate the environmental impacts that inevitably arise with supersonic flight. Testifying to a House subcommittee on aviation this past April, Boom's CEO, Blake Scholl, noted that, "sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, are key to Overture sustainability, and we are designing Overture from the ground up to run on 100 percent SAF, enabling net-zero-carbon flight." In preparation, Boom has investigated the use of biofuels in the engines of its XB-1 demonstrator, and it has partnered with Prometheus Fuels, which will provide the XB-1 with jet fuel synthesized using carbon extracted from the atmosphere using renewable energy.

Boom has stated that its plane will go supersonic only over water. Even so, the company is " shaping the aircraft optimally for sonic-boom reduction," according to its website. In a similar vein, another startup, Boston-based Spike Aerospace, is stressing that its planned S-512 supersonic business jet is "aerodynamically designed to offer proprietary Quiet Supersonic Flight Technology. This will enable it to operate at its full cruising speed of Mach 1.6 (1,100 miles per hour) without producing a loud, disturbing sonic boom on the ground." Ditto for California-based Exosonic, which claims that the supersonic airliner it has on the drawing board "will create a softer thump on the ground that will be quieter than typical traffic."

Rendering of NASA's X-59 aircraft flying in the sky. This artist's rendering depicts NASA's X-59 low-noise demonstrator aircraft, now being constructed by Lockheed Martin.Lockheed Martin

This is exactly the strategy that NASA is exploring with an experimental aircraft called the X-59 QueSST, that name being a contraction of sorts of "quiet supersonic technology." Lockheed-Martin Corp. is right now constructing the X-59 at its famed Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, Calif.

"I used to joke that the airplane looked like an F-16 on steroids," says David Richwine, NASA's deputy project manager for technology on the X-59. "It's a long airplane—I think it's around 97 feet long." Richwine explains that adding length is one of the ways to "manage the sonic-boom signature," which is an engineer's way of saying to make the sound less jarring.

How successful NASA is in doing so will be tested as soon as 2024, when the X-59 is flown over a small set of U.S. cities to gauge the public's reactions to what Richwine expects to be a "sonic thump." Assuming this campaign takes place on schedule, it'll be 60 years after the FAA's Oklahoma City tests. Get your marble floors ready.

Interestingly, the company that was working the hardest to reduce the sonic-boom effects from a supersonic jet it was developing, Aerion Corp., now appears to be going out of business. The company, based in Reno, Nev., was founded by billionaire Robert Bass in 2003.

Aerion's initial foray into commercial supersonic aircraft was to be a 12-passenger business jet, the AS2, designed to have a top speed of Mach 1.4. The company was exploring the possibility of flying the AS2 in a fashion that would allow it to travel at supersonic speeds over land without subjecting the people below to a sonic boom. "Boomless Cruise" was Aerion's name for the technology.

Although we won't get to see it in action with Aerion's AS2, another supersonic hopeful might yet pursue this intriguing strategy, which merits a brief description.

Illustration of hot and cold air for slow and fast supersonic flight during Mach Cutoff. The phenomenon of Mach cutoff requires that the air near the ground be warmer and that the plane fly not too much faster than the speed of sound. Its sonic boom would then travel downward at a shallow angle and be refracted sufficiently to stay away from the ground [left]. A plane moving faster would create a sonic boom that travels downward at an angle that is too steep to be refracted away from the ground [right].David Schneider

The key concept is a phenomenon known as Mach cutoff, the physics of which is straightforward. When a plane flies at supersonic speeds, it outpaces the sound waves it creates. Those sounds pile up, causing a shock wave to form. That boom-inducing shock wave travels away at an angle that depends on how fast the plane is moving relative to the speed of sound. For a jet traveling at many times the speed of sound, the boom propagates at a steep angle from the flight path. For one traveling just barely faster than the speed of sound, the boom propagates at a shallow angle.

That second situation is important here because of another bit of relevant physics: The speed of sound in air depends on temperature. At altitude, where the air is colder, sound travels more slowly than it does in the warmer air near the ground. This phenomenon causes sound waves to refract (bend) as they travel downward, just as light waves refract when moving between water and air or glass and air.

Because of such refraction, sounds traveling downward at a sufficiently shallow angle can be bent upward enough never to impinge on the ground. Similar physics accounts for the mirages you might see when shallowly inclined rays of light are bent upward by the air just above hot asphalt, which gives them the appearance of having reflected off a puddle.

So if an aircraft is flown not too much faster than the speed of sound, in air that is sufficiently warmer near the surface, the sonic boom it creates, loud as it might be, will never reach the ground. You can have supersonic flight without the boom.

Society will have to weigh the environmental consequences of supersonic transport against the time savings it would offer a relatively select few travelers.

The compromise is that the plane can't travel much faster than the speed of sound—Mach 1.1 or 1.2, tops. That isn't a big improvement over something like the Cessna's Citation X business jet, which can travel at Mach 0.94. Exploiting the Mach cutoff phenomenon commercially would also require the FAA to relax its prohibition on supersonic flight over land, which it may never do.

The companies working hard now to bring commercial supersonic flight back understand that they have to address sonic-boom noise, one way or another. And the farthest along, Boom Technology, is also taking pains to explain how its planes can be flown with fuels that won't add to the enormous amounts of carbon that commercial aviation is already spewing into the air.

"There are a couple of problems with that logic," says Dan Rutherford, who is aviation and shipping program director for the International Council on Clean Transportation. "First of all, once the plane is out the door, there's very little control that a manufacturer has over what fuel is used." What these aircraft manufacturers are contending is that their eventual customers are going to be willing to pay to prevent net carbon emissions. "The planes themselves are not going to be fuel efficient," says Rutherford. He and two colleagues estimated in 2018 that a commercial supersonic airliner like the one Boom is designing would likely use five to seven times as much fuel per passenger-kilometer as a comparable subsonic aircraft.

Rutherford further notes that biomass-derived jet fuels are at least three or four times as expensive as conventional jet fuel and that synthetic jet fuel made from carbon extracted from the atmosphere will be more expensive still. Combine those higher fuel costs with the higher fuel consumption and "you start to have such high operating costs for those planes that it is very difficult to see them succeed in the market," he says.

Rendering of NASA's X-59 aircraft flying in the sky. This past June, United Airlines announced its intention to purchase 15 Overture airliners from Boom Technology. They will presumably resemble this artist's rendering after they go into service.Boom Supersonic

But Michael Leskinen, vice president of corporate development for United Airlines, which in early June announced plans to purchase 15 of Boom's Overture airliners, explained to IEEE Spectrum, "We'll be working to introduce and supply the market with more and more sustainable aviation fuel, and our hope is that with more supply, we'll be able to drive that cost of fuel down as well." Still, it's easy to imagine that the economic pressures would be such that, even if United sticks to using sustainable fuels, other operators would end up flying the aircraft with conventional jet fuel, boosting carbon emissions from air travel by five or more times per passenger-kilometer flown.

But it gets worse, according to Rutherford. "If you look at the other emissions from supersonics that also warm the planet—these are the nitrogen oxides, the particulate matter, and the water vapor for supersonics operating in the stratosphere—those could be even worse for the climate, on the order of 20 times or more just because the pollution stays up in the atmosphere so much longer."

Rutherford admits that the science of these noncarbon effects is less certain than it is for CO 2. But as was true for concerns about the ozone layer back in the 1960s, proponents of supersonic commercial aviation need to consider the deleterious effects of all the pollutants these planes create and their extended residence times at the altitudes these planes fly. Will they actually do that?

"We're committed to being 100 percent green," Leskinen says. "That's across the spectrum of impacts that our aircraft have. And that will be no different for Overture than it is for any other aircraft we choose to operate." It's a grand promise, but even if United can keep to it, it's a promise that the company is making for 2050, not for 2029 when the Overture will be introduced.

Larger society will have to weigh the likely environmental consequences of supersonic transport against the time savings this futuristic mode of transportation would offer a select few travelers. There are, of course, many ways this could play out over the coming decades, perhaps with different nations adopting different policies. What seems certain, however, is that Adam Smith's invisible hand will exert considerable influence, just as it did for earlier supersonic wonders: the Concorde and the space shuttle. In the end, both proved technological dead ends simply because they cost more to operate than their services were worth.

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "Mach 2, Take 2."


Match ID: 104 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 104 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

China Plans Near-Earth Asteroid Smash-and-Grab
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 13:00:00 +0000


China is looking to build on its recent moon sample return success by attempting to retrieve material from an ancient near Earth asteroid.

The country will launch a spacecraft in 2024, reaching Kamoʻoalewa, a quasi-satellite of Earth, in 2025. When it returns home a year later it hopes to deliver invaluable samples from a body of rock thought to be made of remnants from the early solar system.

In keeping with China's long-term approach to space of developing and building specific and more advanced technologies, the mission will aim to be a milestone in Chinese exploration by apply newly-developed capabilities and science prowess in a novel scenario.

The mission will follow in the footsteps of the Japanese Hayabusa 1 and 2 missions, and NASA's OSIRIS-Rex, while presenting new and greater challenges for China. The country has so far launched just one interplanetary mission, Tianwen-1, which saw an orbiter and rover arrive at Mars earlier this year. And while it has collected samples from the moon with Chang'e-5, conducting operations in deep space means a greater signal delay, requiring greater spacecraft autonomy. The spacecraft will also need to maintain orbit around and approach a small body with very weak gravity. Long-life propulsion engines, high-precision navigation, guidance and control, and a small capsule capable of surviving ultra-high-speed reentry into Earth's atmosphere are also hurdles that need clearing.

And the sampling aspect itself will be a significant feat. According to a correspondence in Nature Astronomy, there are two typical approaches to sampling asteroids like Kamoʻoalewa, namely anchor-and-attach and touch-and-go.

The former requires delicate and dangerous interactions with the planetary body but allows more controllable sampling and more chances for surface analysis. The latter, used by Hayabusa 2 and OSIRIS-Rex, is a quick interaction facilitated by advanced navigation, guidance and control and fine control of thrusters.

China's mission will use both architectures in order to "guarantee that at least one works." The paper states that there is "still no successful precedent for the anchor-and-attach architecture," meaning a possible deep space first. A 2019 presentation reveals that China's spacecraft will attempt to land on the asteroid using four robotic arms, with a drill on the end of each for anchoring.

Two illustrations of space landers on an asteroid. The left is labelled Anchor-and-attach architecture. The right is labelled Touch-and-go architecture. Tao Zhang, Kun Xu, and Xilun Ding/Nature Astronomy

Chang'e-5 similarly opted to both drill for and scoop up its samples, providing redundancy and greater science value.

The mission is just one of China's ambitious sample return plans in the next few years. Chang'e-6 will follow up the complex Chang'e-5 moon mission, but even more ambitiously attempt to collect samples from the ancient and scientifically enticing South Pole-Aitken basin on the lunar far side. The mission will require assistance from a relay satellite as the moon's far side never faces Earth.

Around 2028 China plans to launch an audacious Mars sample return mission, a so-far not attempted quest (though NASA and ESA are also preparing a mission) that is one of the most sought-after goals of Mars science. Beyond this, a new Chinese company, Origin Space, has launched pathfinding missions and has its sights on utilizing resources from near Earth asteroids for commercial purposes.

But the sample return is just one aspect of the mission. After delivering samples to Earth in a return capsule, the spacecraft will continue its journey, heading out to Mars and using the Red Planet for a gravity-assist to send it on its way to the main-belt comet 311P/PANSTARRS.

Examining 311P/PANSTARRS with the spacecraft's suite of imaging, multispectral and spectrometer cameras and other instruments could provide vital information about the origin of the water on Earth and the theory that much of it was delivered by comet impacts. It would also provide insight into the differences between what are considered active asteroids and classic comets.

Notably both Kamoʻoalewa and 311P were discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) at Haleakala in Hawaii within the last decade.

The spacecraft will also carry an experiment designed by students. Teams of students from primary schools up to universities have submitted proposals, with public voting now underway as part of the selection process.

The probe is likely to be named ZhengHe, after the famous Ming dynasty admiral and explorer. The name would be apt, both drawing on the country's exploration history and marking a new age of Chinese exploration, this time in the deep sea of space.


Match ID: 105 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 110 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

Space Station Incident Demands Independent Investigation
Fri, 06 Aug 2021 19:20:30 +0000


This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

In an International Space Station major milestone more than fifteen years in the making, a long-delayed Russian science laboratory named Nauka automatically docked to the station on 29 July, prompting sighs of relief in the Mission Control Centers in Houston and Moscow. But within a few hours, it became shockingly obvious the celebrations were premature, and the ISS was coming closer to disaster than at anytime in its nearly 25 years in orbit.

While the proximate cause of the incident is still being unravelled, there are worrisome signs that NASA may be repeating some of the lapses that lead to the loss of the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles and their crews. And because political pressures seem to be driving much of the problem, only an independent investigation with serious political heft can reverse any erosion in safety culture.

Let's step back and look at what we know happened: In a cyber-logical process still not entirely clear, while passing northwest to southeast over Indonesia, the Nauka module's autopilot apparently decided it was supposed to fly away from the station. Although actually attached, and with the latches on the station side closed, the module began trying to line itself up in preparation to fire its main engines using an attitude adjustment thruster. As the thruster fired, the entire station was slowly dragged askew as well.

Since the ISS was well beyond the coverage of Russian ground stations, and since the world-wide Soviet-era fleet of tracking ships and world-circling network of "Luch" relay comsats had long since been scrapped, and replacements were slow in coming, nobody even knew Nauka was firing its thruster, until a slight but growing shift in the ISS's orientation was finally detected by NASA.

Russia's Nauka approaches the space station, preparing to dock on 29 July 2021. NASA

Within minutes, the Flight Director in Houston declared a "spacecraft emergency"—the first in the station's lifetime—and his team tried to figure out what could be done to avoid the ISS spinning up so fast that structural damage could result. The football-field-sized array of pressurized modules, support girders, solar arrays, radiator panels, robotic arms, and other mechanisms was designed to operate in a weightless environment. But it was also built to handle stresses both from directional thrusting (used to boost the altitude periodically) and rotational torques (usually to maintain a horizon-level orientation, or to turn to a specific different orientation to facilitate arrival or departure of visiting vehicles). The juncture latches that held the ISS's module together had been sized to accommodate these forces with a comfortable safety margin, but a maneuver of this scale had never been expected.

Meanwhile, the station's automated attitude control system had also noted the deviation and began firing other thrusters to countermand it. These too were on the Russian half of the station. The only US orientation-control system is a set of spinning flywheels that gently turn the structure without the need for thruster propellant, but which would have been unable to cope with the unrelenting push of Nauka's thruster. Later mass-media scenarios depicted teams of specialists manually directing on-board systems into action, but the exact actions taken in response still remain unclear—and probably were mostly if not entirely automatic. The drama continued as the station crossed the Pacific, then South America and the mid-Atlantic, finally entering Russian radio contact over central Europe an hour after the crisis had begun. By then the thrusting had stopped, probably when the guilty thruster exhausted its fuel supply. The sane half of the Russian segment then restored the desired station orientation.

Initial private attempts to use telemetry data to visually represent the station's tumble that were posted online looked bizarre, with enormous rapid gyrations in different directions. Mercifully, the truth of the situation is that the ISS went through a simple long-axis spin of one and a half full turns, and then a half turn back to the starting alignment. The jumps and zig-zags were computational artifacts of the representational schemes used by NASA, which relate to the concept of "gimbal lock" in gyroscopes.

How close the station had come to disaster is an open question, and the flight director humorously alluded to it in a later tweet that he'd never been so happy as when he saw on external TV cameras that the solar arrays and radiators were still standing straight in place. And any excessive bending stress along docking interfaces between the Russian and American segments would have demanded quick leak checks. But even if the rotation was "simple," the undeniably dramatic event has both short term and long-term significance for the future of the space station. And it has antecedents dating back to the very birth of the ISS in 1997.

How close the ISS had come to disaster is still an open question.

At this point, unfortunately, is when the human misjudgments began to surface. To calm things down, official NASA spokesmen provided very preliminary underestimates in how big and how fast the station's spin had been. These were presented without any caveat that the numbers were unverified—and the real figures turned out to be much worse. The Russian side, for its part, dismissed the attitude deviation as a routine bump in a normal process of automatic docking and proclaimed there would be no formal incident investigation, especially any that would involve their American partners. Indeed, both sides seemed to agree that the sooner the incident was forgotten, the better. As of now, the US side is deep into analysis of induced stresses on critical ISS structures, with the most important ones, such as the solar arrays, first. Another standard procedure after this kind of event is to assess potential indicators of stress-induced damage, especially in terms of air leaks, and where best to monitor cabin pressure and other parameters to detect any such leaks.

The bureaucratic instinct to minimize the described potential severity of the event needs cold-blooded assessment. Sadly, from past experience, this mindset of complacency and hoping for the best is the result of natural human mental drift that comes when there are long periods of apparent normalcy. Even if there is a slowly emerging problem, as long as everything looks okay in the day to day, the tendency is ignore warning signals as minor perturbations. The safety of the system is assumed rather than verified—and consequently managers are led into missing clues, or making careless choices, that lead to disaster. So these recent indications of this mental attitude about the station's attitude are worrisome. The NASA team has experienced that same slow cultural rot of assuming safety several times over the past decades, with hideous consequences. Team members in the year leading up to the 1986 Challenger disaster (and I was deep within the Mission Control operations then) had noticed and begun voicing concerns over growing carelessness and even humorous reactions to occasional "stupid mistakes," without effect. Then, after imprudent management decisions, seven people died.

The same drift was noticed in the late 1990s, especially in the joint US/Russian operations on Mir and on early ISS flights. It led to the forced departure of a number of top NASA officials, who had objected to the trend that was being imposed by the White House's post-Cold War diplomatic goals, implemented by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin. Safety took a decidedly secondary priority to international diplomatic value. Legendary Mission Control leader Gene Kranz described the decisions that were made in the mid-1990s over his own objections, objections that led to his sudden departure from NASA. "Russia was subsequently assigned partnership responsibilities for critical in-line tasks with minimal concern for the political and technical difficulties as well as the cost and schedule risks," he wrote in 1999. "This was the first time in the history of US manned space flight that NASA assigned critical path, in-line tasks with little or no backup." By 2001-'02, the results were as Kranz and his colleagues had warned. "Today's problems with the space station are the product of a program driven by an overriding political objective and developed by an ad hoc committee, which bypassed NASA's proven management and engineering teams," he concluded.

To reverse the apparent new cultural drift, NASA headquarters or some even higher office is going to have to intervene.

By then the warped NASA management culture that soon enabled the Columbia disaster in 2003 was fully in place. Some of the wording in current management proclamations regarding the Nauka docking have an eerie ring of familiarity. "Space cooperation continues to be a hallmark of U.S.-Russian relations and I have no doubt that our joint work reinforces the ties that have bound our collaborative efforts over the many years" wrote NASA Director Bill Nelson to Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency, on July 31. There was no mention of the ISS's first declared spacecraft emergency, nor any dissatisfaction with Russian contribution to it.

To reverse the apparent new cultural drift, and thus potentially forestall the same kind of dismal results as before, NASA headquarters or some even higher office is going to have to intervene. The causes of the Nauka-induced "space sumo match" of massive cross-pushing bodies need to be determined and verified. And somebody needs to expose the decision process that allowed NASA to approve the ISS docking of a powerful thruster-equipped module without the on-site real-time capability to quickly disarm that system in an emergency. Because the apparent sloppiness of NASA's safety oversight on visiting vehicles looks to be directly associated with maintaining good relations with Moscow, the driving factor seems to be White House diplomatic goals—and that's the level where a corrective impetus must originate. With a long-time U.S. Senate colleague, Nelson, recently named head of NASA, President Biden is well connected to issue such guidance for a thorough investigation by an independent commission, followed by implementation of needed reforms. The buck stops with him.

As far as Nauka's role in this process of safety-culture repair, it turns out that quite by bizarre coincidence, a similar pattern was played out by the very first Russian launch that inaugurated the ISS program, the 'Zarya' module [called the 'FGB'] in late 1997. Nauka turns out to be the repeatedly rebuilt and upgraded backup module for that very launch, and the parallels are remarkable. The day the FGB was launched, on 20 November 1998, the mission faced disaster when it refused to accept ground commands to raise its original atmosphere-skimming parking orbit. As it crossed over Russian ground sites, controllers in Moscow sent commands, and the spacecraft didn't answer. Meanwhile, NASA guests at a nearby facility were celebrating with Russian colleagues as nobody told them of the crisis. Finally, on the last available in-range pass, controllers tried a new command format that the onboard computer did recognize and acknowledge. The mission—and the entire ISS project—was saved, and the American side never knew. Only years later did the story appear in Russian newspapers.

Still, for all its messy difficulties and frustrating disappointments, the U.S./Russian partnership turned out to be a remarkably robust "mutual co-dependence" arrangement, when managed with "tough love." Neither side really had practical alternatives if it wanted a permanent human presence in space, and they still don't—so both teams were devoted to making it work. And it could still work—if NASA keeps faith with its traditional safety culture and with the lives of those astronauts who died in the past because NASA had failed them.

Postscript: As this story was going to press, a NASA spokesperson responded to queries about the incident saying:

As shared by NASA's Kathy Lueders and Joel Montalbano in the media telecon following the event, Roscosmos regularly updated NASA and the rest of the international partners on MLM's progress during the approach to station. We continue to have confidence in our partnership with Roscosmos to operate the International Space Station. When the unexpected thruster firings occurred, flight control teams were able to enact contingency procedures and return the station to normal operations within an hour. We would point you to Roscosmos for any specifics on Russian systems/performance/procedures.

Match ID: 106 Score: 12.86 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 114 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 3.57 mit

About Half of Sun-Like Stars Could Host Rocky, Potentially Habitable Planets
Thu, 29 Oct 2020 07:00 EDT
According to new research using data from NASA’s retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
Match ID: 107 Score: 12.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 395 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

Gravity Assist: Puffy Planets, Powerful Telescopes, with Knicole Colon
Fri, 12 Jun 2020 09:01 EDT
NASA astrophysicist Knicole Colon describes her work on the Kepler, Hubble, TESS and Webb missions, and takes us on a tour of some of her favorite planets.
Match ID: 108 Score: 12.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 534 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa, 2.86 planets

Why Biden picked Powell
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 17:58:53 EST
In the end, President Joe Biden did what many close to him expected: He took a longer-than-anticipated amount of time to arrive at a reasonable, moderate decision that thrilled few but carried limited risk.
Match ID: 109 Score: 10.71 source: www.politico.com age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

Can Earth's Digital Twins Help Us Navigate the Climate Crisis?
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 16:03:20 +0000


Powerful climate models have helped dispel any uncertainty about the scale of the climate crisis the world faces. But these models are large global simulations that can't tell us much about how climate change will impact our daily lives or how to respond at a local level. That's where a digital twin of the Earth could help.

A digital twin is a virtual model of a real-world object, machine, or system that can be used to assess how the real-world counterpart is performing, diagnose or predict faults, or simulate how future changes could alter its behavior. Typically, a digital twin involves both a digital simulation and live sensor data from the real world system to keep the model up to date.

So far, digital twins have primarily been used in industrial contexts. For example, a digital twin could monitor an electric grid or manufacturing equipment. But there's been growing interest in applying similar ideas to the field of climate simulation to provide a more interactive, and detailed, way to track and predict changes in the systems, such as the atmosphere and oceans, that drive the Earth's climate.

Now chipmaker Nvidia has committed to building the world's most powerful supercomputer dedicated to modeling climate change. Speaking at the company's GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jensen Huang said Earth-2 would be used to create a digital twin of Earth in the Omniverse—a virtual collaboration platform that is Nvidia's attempt at a metaverse.

"We may finally have a way to simulate the earth's climate 10, 20, or 30 years from now, predict the regional impact of climate change, and take action to mitigate and adapt before it's too late," said Huang.

The announcement was light on details, and a spokesman for Nvidia said the company was currently unable to confirm what the architecture of the computer would look like or who would have access to it. But in his talk Huang emphasized the significant role the company sees for machine learning to boost the resolution and speed of climate models and create a digital twin of the Earth.

Today, most climate simulation is driven by complex equations that describe the physics behind key processes. Many of these equations are very computationally expensive to solve and so, even on the most powerful supercomputers, models normally only achieve resolutions of 10 to 100 kilometers.

Some important processes, such as the behavior of clouds that reflect the Sun's radiation back to space, operate at scales of just a few meters though, said Huang. He thinks machine learning could help here. Alongside announcing Earth-2, the company also unveiled a new machine learning framework called Modulus designed to help researchers train neural networks to simulate complex physical systems by learning from observed data or the output of physical models.

"The resulting model can emulate physics 1,000 to 100,000 times faster than simulation," said Huang. "With Modulus, scientists will be able to create digital twins to better understand large systems like never before."

Improving the resolution of climate models is a key ingredient for an effective digital twin of Earth, says Bjorn Stevens, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Today's climate models currently rely on statistical workarounds that work well for assessing the climate at a global scale, but make it hard to understand local effects. That will be crucial for predicting the regional impacts of climate change so that we can better inform adaptation efforts, he says.

But Steven is skeptical that machine learning is some kind of magic bullet to solve this problem. "There is this fantasy somehow that the machine learning will replace the things that we know how to solve physically, but I think it will always have a disadvantage there."

The key to creating a digital twin is making a system that is highly interactive, he says, and the beauty of a physical model is that it replicates every facet of the process in an explainable way. That's something that a machine learning model trained to mimic the process may not be able to do.

That's not to say there is no place for machine learning, he adds. It is likely to prove useful in helping speeding up workflows, compressing data and potentially developing new models in areas where we have lots of data but little understanding of the physics—for instance how water moves through earth and land. But he thinks the rapid advances in supercomputing power means that running physical models at much higher resolution is more a case of will and resources than capabilities.

The European Union hopes to fill that gap with a new initiative called Destination Earth, which was formally launched in January. The project is a joint effort by the European Space Agency, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

The goal is to create a platform that can bring together a wide variety of models, simulating both key aspects of the climate like the atmosphere and the oceans, but also human systems, says Peter Bauer, deputy director of research at ECMWF. "So you're not only monitoring and simulating precipitation and temperature, but also what that means for agriculture, or water availability, or infrastructure," he says.

The result won't be a single homogeneous simulation of every aspect of Earth, says Bauer, but an interactive platform that allows users to pull in whatever models and data are necessary to answer the questions they're interested in.

The project will be implemented gradually over the coming decade, but the first two digital twins they hope to deliver will include one aimed at anticipating extreme weather events like floods and forest fires, and another aimed at providing longer-term predictions to support climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

While Nvidia's announcement of a new supercomputer dedicated to climate modeling is welcome, Bauer says the challenge today is more about software engineering than developing new hardware. Most of the critical models have been developed in isolation using very different approaches, so getting them to talk to each other and finding ways to interface highly disparate data streams is an outstanding problem.

"Part of the challenge to actually hide the diversity and complexity of these components away from the user and make them work together," Bauer says.

Correction 24 Nov. 2021: An update was made to the description of machine learning’s utility for digital earths—it could be useful, the story now reads, in understanding how water moves through earth on land (not the mechanics of dirt as the original version of the story stated).


Match ID: 110 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

The Chip Shortage Hurts Auto Sales a Lot, Consumer Electronics Only a Little
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 16:00:01 +0000


Hot consumer tech is hard to snag this holiday season. Get used to it.

New-car shoppers in the United States, China, and everywhere else face slim inventory and dealers unwilling to budge on price. It's all because of the global chip shortage, which has prompted the Biden administration to support legislation that includes US $52 billion in federal subsidies for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.


But the problem extends far beyond new cars. A report by The Information found that 70 percent of wireless retail stores in the United States faced smartphone shortages. Graphics card pricing remains well above the manufacturer's suggested retail level and shows no sign of retreat. Game consoles are drawing hundreds-long lines a full year after launch. Televisions are both more expensive and more difficult to find than last year.

You might think this a temporary, COVID-related supply-chain shortfall, but no. The problem is not the number of PlayStation 5 consoles in stock. The problem is the people in line ahead of you.

Sony's PlayStation 5 sales data illustrates the nature of the challenge. Global sales of the PlayStation 5 outpace those of the PlayStation 4 at this point in the product's life cycle: The PS5 has sold more quickly than any other console in Sony's history. The same pattern holds for PCs, smartphones, video games, and tablets, which all saw an uptick in year-over-year sales during the first quarter of 2021. That's quite an achievement, given the unprecedented, lockdown-driven highs of 2020.

The serious chip shortage really is hobbling the production of automobiles, the largest and most expensive of all our consumer gadgets. But it's a mistake to assume that this shortage limits supplies of lesser gadgets, most of which are in fact pouring into stores and then flying off the shelves.

The automotive industry's problems really are the result of a serious chip shortage. But that's the exception: Most consumer tech is pouring into stores, then flying off the shelves.

You should expect unrelenting prices and very long lead times that only lengthen. If you want truly in-demand gear to unwrap for the holidays, whether it's a game console or the new iPad Mini, it may already be too late to get it (from a retailer, at least—there's always eBay). And you should plan to plan ahead for the next year, as there's no sign that supply will catch up in 2022.

This may annoy shoppers, but the disruption among consumer tech companies is even more dire. Record demand is typically a good thing, but the sudden surge has forced a competition for chip production that only the largest companies can win. Rumors hint that Apple has locked in most, if not all, leading-edge chip production from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest independent semiconductor foundry. Apple's order is said to include up to 100 million chips for new iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. Even large companies like Qualcomm are struggling to compete with Apple's size and volume.

Big moves from big companies have the trickle-down effect of delaying innovative ideas from smaller players: a crank-powered game console, a customizable LED face mask, and a tiny, 200-watt USB charger are just three out of hundreds of examples. The result could be a subtle, unfortunate squeeze on tiny tech startups that can spoil the most conservative production timeline. Backers are likely to face ever-increasing waits. Some will give up and demand a refund.

So, should you learn to live with stock notifications and long lines indefinitely? Maybe not. Investment in production might well catch up with demand by 2023. Industry analysts worry this could lead to a price crash if semiconductor manufacturers overshoot. Perhaps the summer of 2023 will be the year you can once again buy the latest consumer tech not just minutes but hours after it's released. Until then, well, you'll just have to be patient.

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "When the Chips Are Down."


Match ID: 111 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 10.71 mit

La NASA traduce al español ‘La primera mujer’
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 12:33 EST
La NASA publicó la traducción al español de una novela gráfica digital el viernes.
Match ID: 112 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/19/2021
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 16:00:18 +0000
Payloads: Airborne Particulate Monitor (APM): The crew removed the memory card from the APM, transferred the data, and then reinstalled the card.  Air quality in crewed spacecraft is important for keeping astronauts healthy and comfortable. Although requirements exist for maximum allowable concentrations of particulate matter, currently no measurement capability verifies whether these requirements are met.  …
Match ID: 113 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 9 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to SpaceX’s 24th Cargo Launch to Space Station
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 15:23 EST
Media accreditation is now open for SpaceX’s 24th cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station.
Match ID: 114 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 10 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/18/2021
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 16:00:55 +0000
Payloads: Grip Seated Science 2 Experiment Session: From an upright seated posture, the crew performed experiment tasks looking at friction, discrete movement (with eyes open/closed), and collisions.  The Grip experiment studies the long-duration spaceflight effects on the abilities of human subjects to regulate grip force and upper limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different kind …
Match ID: 115 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 10 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Television to Air Russian Port Module Launch, Docking to Station
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 09:57 EST
NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming launch and docking of a new Russian docking module to the International Space Station.
Match ID: 116 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 10 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Humans Are On Track to Export Our Environmental Woes to Space
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 13:00:00 +0000
The cosmos is turning into the playground for entrepreneurs, so the outdated legal spacescape needs to directly address space pollution.
Match ID: 117 Score: 9.29 source: www.wired.com age: 10 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Selects Intuitive Machines for New Lunar Science Delivery
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 15:31 EST
NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston a contract to deliver research, including science investigations and a technology demonstration, to the Moon in 2024.
Match ID: 118 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 11 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/17/2021
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 16:00:42 +0000
Radial Hatch Opening: This morning, FE-12 opened all radial hatches in the USOS. This allowed the crew to opportunity to perform several activities, notably EVA preparation activities in the US Airlock. The ISS team continues to monitor the effects of a Russian satellite breakup that created sufficient debris and posed a conjunction threat to the …
Match ID: 119 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 11 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Air Northrop Grumman Cygnus Departure from Space Station
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 16:30 EST
Northrop Grumman’s uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to depart the International Space Station on Saturday, Nov. 20, more than three months after delivering nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies, scientific investigations, commercial products, hardware, and other cargo to the orbiting laboratory.
Match ID: 120 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Webb Telescope Science Briefings
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 14:26 EST
NASA will hold two virtual media briefings Thursday, Nov. 18, on the science goals and capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Match ID: 121 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 12:03 EST
NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
Match ID: 122 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/16/2021
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 16:00:22 +0000
Orbital Debris Continued Influence: The ISS team continues to monitor the effects of a Russian satellite breakup that created sufficient debris and posed a conjunction threat to the ISS. As part of the nominal procedure for ISS conjunctions, yesterday the crew closed all hatches and both Dragon and Soyuz crews sheltered in their respective vehicles. …
Match ID: 123 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 12 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/15/2021
Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:00:19 +0000
Orbital Debris Shelter-In-Place: The ISS team has been notified of a satellite breakup that may create sufficient debris to pose a conjunction threat to the ISS. As part of the nominal procedure for ISS conjunctions, this morning the crew closed all hatches and both Dragon and Soyuz crews sheltered in their respective vehicles. Out of …
Match ID: 124 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 13 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

6 Things to Know About Supercomputing at NASA
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 14:47 EST
From exploring the solar system and outer space to improving life here on Earth, supercomputing is vital to NASA missions.
Match ID: 125 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 16 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Throwing a Cosmic Kiss – Matthias Maurer's journey to the International Space Station
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 17:30:00 +0100
Video: 00:02:42

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA  astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron liftoff to the International Space Station in the SpaceX  Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endurance”.

Collectively known as “Crew-3”, the astronauts were launched from launchpad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center  in Florida, USA at 02:03 GMT/03:03 CET Thursday 11 November.

The spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 00:32 CET Friday, 12 November/23:32 GMT Thursday, 11 November, marking the official start of Matthias's first mission.

Crew-3 will spend around six months living and working aboard the orbital outpost before returning to Earth. It is the first space mission for Matthias, who’s become the 600th human to fly to space. He chose the name “Cosmic Kiss” for his mission as a declaration of love for space.

Matthias has a background in materials science and looks forward to supporting a wide range of science and research in orbit. The work he carries out throughout his mission will contribute to the success of future space missions and help enhance life on Earth.

Visit the Cosmic Kiss mission page to learn more about Matthias’s mission.


Match ID: 126 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 16 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/12/2021
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 16:00:23 +0000
Crew-3 Launch/Dock: On Wednesday, November 10th at 8:03 PM CST, the Crew-3 Dragon Endurance lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Endurance then completed a 21-hour rendezvous and successfully docked to the ISS on Thursday, November 11th at 5:33 PM CST. The hatch to Dragon Endurance was opened at 7:25 PM and …
Match ID: 127 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 16 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

News conference with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 12:00:00 +0100
Video: 00:55:31

Replay of the news conference with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet held at the European Astronaut Centre on 12 November.

Thomas splashed down on Earth after 199 days in space on 8 November. After being helped out of the Crew Dragon Endeavour, just four days later and after a boat, helicopter and multiple aircraft rides, Thomas arrived at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

A one-hour news conference was held at ESA’s astronaut centre on 12 November.

Programme:

•             Welcome by ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration Dave Parker.

•             Statement from ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher

•             Presentation on ESA’s vision on the future of human and robotic space exploration

•             Thomas Pesquet statement

•             Questions and answers from press (in French)

Thomas flew to the International Space Station as part of Crew-2 alongside NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

During Thomas’ second mission to space, called Alpha, he broke many ESA spaceflight records including most time spent spacewalking and most time in space for any European. He also became the first French commander of the International Space Station, taking over the role from Aki.

In addition to supporting 200 investigations in space, including 40 European ones and 12 new experiments led by the French space agency CNES, Thomas saw seven spacecraft come and go, the 20-year old Pirs module leaving for good and the arrival of the Russian Nauka laboratory module with a very special passenger, the European Robotic Arm.

Back on Earth, Thomas will continue working with European researchers on experiments including Acoustic Diagnostics that looks into the impact of the Space Station environment on astronaut hearing, the TIME experiment that looks at whether astronauts judge time differently in space, and two experiments known as Grip and Grasp that look into the physiology behind eye-hand coordination and the role of gravity in regulating grip force, among others.


Match ID: 128 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 16 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Crew-3 docking replay
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 09:30:00 +0100
Video: 00:06:35

Relive the moment the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, Endurance, docked to the International Space Station with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and his NASA colleagues Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron on board.

Docking took place at 23:32 GMT Thursday, 11 November/00:32 CET Friday, 12 November, around 22 hours after Crew-3 was launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA.

Crew Dragon docking is autonomous. Once docked, astronauts on Endurance and aboard the Space Station conducted standard leak checks and pressurisation before the hatch between the two spacecraft was opened at 01:25 GMT/02:25 CET. On Station, the astronauts were greeted by their Expedition 66 crew mates, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov (current International Space Station commander) and Pyotr Dubrov.

This was followed by a welcoming ceremony in which ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher and NASA Associate Administrator Space Operations Kathy Lueders wished the four astronauts all the best for science, research, and operations aboard their new home for the next six months.

Crew-3’s arrival on board the International Space Station marks the official start of Matthias’s first space mission “Cosmic Kiss”. During this mission Matthias will support over 35 European and many more international experiments in human research, biology, materials science, fluid physics, environmental science and radiation, and technology.

For more information on science and operations Matthias will carry out in space, view the Cosmic Kiss mission brochure in English or German. Regular updates will also be provided on the ESA Cosmic Kiss mission page, ESA Exploration blog and Matthias’s TwitterFacebook and Instagram channels.


Match ID: 129 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 17 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Watch live: Crew-3 arrive at International Space Station
Thu, 11 Nov 2021 12:01:00 +0100
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronaut NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron walk out from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, ready for launch.

Coverage of ESA astronaut Matthias’s Maurer’s journey to the International Space Station continues, with docking now expected around 00:33 CET Friday, 12 November (23:33 GMT Thursday, 11 November) and streaming live on ESA Web TV 2.

Matthias and his NASA astronaut crew mates Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron were launched in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft called Endurance from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, at 02:03 GMT/03:03 CET Thursday 11 November.


Match ID: 130 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 17 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Crew-3 launch to the Space Station
Thu, 11 Nov 2021 07:00:00 +0100
Video: 00:06:58

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronaut NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron liftoff to the International Space Station in the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endurance”.

Collectively known as “Crew-3”, the astronauts were launched from launchpad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. They will spend around six months living and working aboard the orbital outpost before returning to Earth.

It is the first space mission for Matthias, who will be the 600th human to fly to space. He chose the name “Cosmic Kiss” for his mission as a declaration of love for space.

Matthias has a background in materials science and looks forward to supporting a wide range of science and research in orbit. The work he carries out throughout his mission will contribute to the success of future space missions and help enhance life on Earth.

Visit the Cosmic Kiss mission page to learn more about Matthias’s mission.


Match ID: 131 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 18 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Alpha: a return to Earth in one minute
Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:00:00 +0100
Video: 00:01:28

After 199 days in space, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet left the International Space Station together with alongside NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, marking the end of his second six-month mission known as Alpha.

The return to Earth took ten hours, including a two-hour fly-around of the International Space Station, but this highlight reel shows the key moments of the journey in just a minute. From the Space Station to undocking, fly-around, reentry and splashdown off the coast of Florida, USA.

Thomas and crew splashed down on 9 November 2021 at 03:33 GMT (04:33 CET). From there Thomas flew to Cologne, Germany, where he is being monitored by ESA’s space medicine team as he readapts to Earth’s gravity at ESA’s astronaut centre and German Aerospace Centre’s  ‘Envihab’ facility.


Match ID: 132 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 18 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Nasa's Moon return pushed back to 2025
Wed, 10 Nov 2021 08:55:06 GMT
The first Nasa mission to return to the surface of the Moon has been delayed by one year to 2025.
Match ID: 133 Score: 9.29 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 19 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

ISS Daily Summary Report – 11/09/2021
Tue, 09 Nov 2021 16:00:43 +0000
Payloads:           ISS HAM:  A crewmember initiated an ISS HAM contact with South Yarra Primary School, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.  ISS Ham Radio provides opportunities to engage and educate students, teachers, parents and other members of the community in science, technology, engineering and math by providing a means to communicate between astronauts and the ground HAM …
Match ID: 134 Score: 9.29 source: blogs.nasa.gov age: 19 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Participates in UN Climate Change Conference
Sat, 06 Nov 2021 09:53 EDT
NASA is participating in the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, which began Oct. 31, and runs through Friday, Nov. 12.
Match ID: 135 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 22 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Vice President Harris Visits NASA to See Vital Climate Science Work
Fri, 05 Nov 2021 19:17 EDT
The urgency of Earth science and climate studies took the spotlight Friday as Vice President Kamala Harris visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Match ID: 136 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, USGS Release First Landsat 9 Images
Fri, 05 Nov 2021 17:02 EDT
Landsat 9, a joint mission between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that launched Sept. 27, 2021, has collected its first light images of Earth.
Match ID: 137 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Selects New Mission to Study Storms, Impacts on Climate Models
Fri, 05 Nov 2021 13:25 EDT
NASA has selected a new Earth science mission that will study the behavior of tropical storms and thunderstorms, including their impacts on weather and climate models.
Match ID: 138 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Vice President Harris to Visit NASA Goddard Today, Deliver Live Remarks
Fri, 05 Nov 2021 09:49 EDT
Vice President Kamala Harris will visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland today, Nov. 5, to get a firsthand look at the agency’s work to combat the climate crisis and protect vulnerable communities.
Match ID: 139 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 23 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Hold Double Asteroid Redirection Test Launch Preview Briefing
Tue, 02 Nov 2021 09:36 EDT
NASA will hold a virtual media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, Nov. 4, to preview the launch of the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).
Match ID: 140 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 26 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

New dates for Crew-2 return and Crew-3 launch
Fri, 29 Oct 2021 11:20:00 +0200
Crew-3 astronauts with their Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft in Hangar 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

Update: Undocking of Crew-2 with Thomas Pesquet now planned for Monday, 8 November, 19:05 GMT/20:05 CET for a splashdown on Tuesday, around 03:33 GMT/04:33 CET. Next launch opportunity for Crew-3 with Matthias Maurer is planned for Thursday, 11 November, 02:03 GMT/03:03 CET.


Match ID: 141 Score: 9.29 source: www.esa.int age: 30 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s Juno: Science Results Offer First 3D View of Jupiter Atmosphere
Thu, 28 Oct 2021 14:52 EDT
New findings from NASA’s Juno probe orbiting Jupiter provide a fuller picture of how the planet’s distinctive and colorful atmospheric features offer clues about the unseen processes below its clouds.
Match ID: 142 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 31 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA to Host Briefing on Webb Telescope Engineering, Deployments
Thu, 28 Oct 2021 09:14 EDT
NASA will hold a virtual media briefing 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Nov. 2, to discuss the engineering of the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful space science telescope.
Match ID: 143 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 31 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

What Computing Tech Will Drive Future Space Exploration?
Wed, 27 Oct 2021 13:00:01 +0000


This article is part of our exclusive IEEE Journal Watch series in partnership with IEEE Xplore.

At the heart of every successful space mission is a sophisticated and capable computer system.

In the 1960s, relatively basic computing systems took humankind to the moon. More recently, the Parker probe has reached the scorching outskirts of our Sun, and the Voyager probes have left our solar system completely. With each successive generation of space probe, of course, computers have followed the long march of Moore’s law toward smaller, faster and cheaper systems.

But, the question remains: which kind of computing system will best serve humankind's future, more ambitious space explorations?

Even for earthly applications, it can be challenging to develop computers that are the right size, weight, power, and cost. Often one of these desirable features are achieved at the expense of another. For example, more powerful computing systems tend be less energy efficient.

"In space processing applications, these tradeoffs are even more critical, where large volumes of data need to be processed within strict execution time and power consumption constraints," explains Michael Cannizzaro, a pre-doctoral fellow at the NSF Center for Space, High-Performance, and Resilient Computing (NSF-SHREC).

Cannizzaro has been studying and comparing different computing architectures for space applications, and has narrowed in on a choice. As part of his Masters thesis completed this past summer, he is recommending that RISC-V—which has been gaining much traction recently—could be an attractive option for future space missions. Although his work is not yet published, it won a Best Paper award at the 2021 IEEE Space Computing Conference.

According to Cannizzaro, the judges were impressed with his unique approach to analysis, which involved evaluating the RISC-V architecture in a commercially-available processor realized on silicon. "Since commercially-available RISC-V silicon is so new, to my knowledge, this was the first analysis to take a commercial RISC-V chip and use it for space processing-focused evaluations," explains Cannizzaro

He compared RISC-V to four other architecture designs, three of which are already prevalent in space processing applications: ARM Cortex-A9, ARM Cortex-A53, and POWER e5500. After analyzing the different options, Cannizzaro is recommending RISC-V because of its high-power efficiency (which is particularly important for space missions) and the fact that it's open source.

Interestingly, Cannizzaro's analysis suggests that RISC-V does not in fact offer the best performance characteristics. ARM Cortex-A53 achieved this distinction thanks to its vector capabilities, which RISC-V currently lacks. But Cannizzaro notes that RISC-V may be getting vector extensions in the near future. "This will of course open the door for future studies to evaluate the extension's impact on performance and power consumption," he says.

Cannizzaro says he is "extremely honored to win the award" and plans to build upon this work by incorporating additional architectures, processing platforms, and benchmark tests into his analysis. He also has his eye on evaluating the reliability of RISC-V.

"Leveraging a high-performance system is difficult to justify for space if that device is not going to withstand the harsh environments outside of earth's atmosphere, so reliability is another key factor to consider," he says. "Evaluating the reliability of RISC-V silicon is something I am hoping to incorporate into future work."


Match ID: 144 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 32 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Learn About S-MODE Mission
Tue, 26 Oct 2021 13:35 EDT
NASA will hold a media teleconference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 29 to share information about the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE), a campaign to study small ocean whirlpools, eddies, and currents.
Match ID: 145 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 33 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Launch of IXPE Mission to Study X-rays in Space
Fri, 22 Oct 2021 13:59 EDT
Media accreditation is open for the upcoming launch of NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which will measure polarized X-rays from exotic cosmic objects, such as black holes and neutron stars, to better understand these types of phenomena and extreme environments.
Match ID: 146 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 37 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Orion: Nasa's Moon-ship is attached to SLS megarocket
Thu, 21 Oct 2021 12:19:15 GMT
Nasa's next-generation spaceship is attached to the rocket that will launch it to the Moon.
Match ID: 147 Score: 9.29 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 38 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Shares Webb Telescope Media Briefing Schedule, Resources
Wed, 20 Oct 2021 13:00 EDT
NASA will hold a series of virtual media briefings and events leading up to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the premier space science observatory of the next decade.
Match ID: 148 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 39 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Becoming a Leader at NASA
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 19:02:41 +0000


"Growing up in the Bowie, Md., area, whenever we drove by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, I told my parents that I would work there someday," recounts Proctor, who is now an associate chief at Goddard for NASA's Electrical Engineering Division (EED).

Originally, Proctor was focused on astronomy, but during high school at an engineering exploration summer program he solved "a resistor equivalence problem that nobody else in the class had gotten [and] the instructor recommended I look at electrical engineering as a career instead." He got a master's in EE from Johns Hopkins University. "I started working at Tracor Systems (now part of BAE Systems) in their Standard Missile Program," recalls Proctor. "In 2001, after three years there, an opening at Goddard became available. I applied...and I've been there ever since."

Today, as an associate chief in the EED—one of six senior leaders in the division—Proctor manages the EED's operational budget, and also oversees a major support contract, the Electrical Systems Engineering Services contract. The EED's portfolio includes the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission, International Space Station Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (ISS-CREAM), and Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) .

"We have about 300 civil servants and 300 contractors," says Proctor. "We design, prototype, test, and build flight-production units of electronic boards and power systems. This includes reliability testing like making sure that boards are radiation-hardened—or, for the Webb Telescope, vibration-testing the mirror. We usually do the electronic systems overview of a spacecraft and integration and testing for the craft and subsystems. And we do communications for the spacecraft and ground networks."

If you'd like to follow Proctor into space engineering, "you need to take some types of internships," recommends Proctor. "Among other things, this will tell you what you do and don't like. And don't be afraid to reach out to people, especially in the aerospace industry. Introduce yourself and say, I have questions. Do you have someone who will talk with me or mentor me in the field? You'd be surprised how many will share time."

Also: "It's essential to link with industry to get the latest technologies and work with our scientists to incorporate these developments and methods in our designs. For example, 3D printing to build our circuit boards in-house and less expensively; chip design and manufacturing to make smaller parts and boards that fit into CubeSats...and finding ways for smaller, more compact chips that can do multiple functions while meeting size and power constraints."

As a Native American, says Proctor—a member of the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe—"I'd like to see more Native Americans at NASA. I think we bring a unique perspective to space."

"We get recruits through the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE). We have internship opportunities and try to recruit through AISES, and we do career fairs to get high school and college students into STEM/STEAM fields."

Working at NASA can have its perks, Proctor notes. "I got to attend a launch of the MMS spacecraft at Cape Canaveral—at night, with no clouds. It was amazing."

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "Marcellus Proctor."


Match ID: 149 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 40 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Selects Gamma-ray Telescope to Chart Milky Way Evolution
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:08 EDT
NASA has selected a new space telescope proposal that will study the recent history of star birth, star death, and the formation of chemical elements in the Milky Way.
Match ID: 150 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 41 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, ULA Launch Lucy Mission to ‘Fossils’ of Planet Formation
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 06:23 EDT
NASA’s Lucy mission, the agency’s first to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Match ID: 151 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 43 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Invites Media to Briefing on New Water Data Platform
Thu, 14 Oct 2021 11:37 EDT
NASA will hold a virtual media briefing at 1:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 21, to share a powerful, new, web-based platform to help those who rely on water resources across the drought-stricken western U.S.
Match ID: 152 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 45 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Releases Climate Action Plan
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:41 EDT
NASA released a climate action plan Thursday, Oct. 7, aimed at averting mission impacts due to climate change, ensuring the resiliency of facilities and assets, and providing the nation and world unique climate observations, analysis, and modeling through scientific research.
Match ID: 153 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 52 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

La NASA y FEMA presentarán la serie Alianza para la Acción Climática en octubre
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 10:02 EDT
La NASA y la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA, por sus siglas en inglés) serán coanfitriones de la Alianza para la Acción Climática, una serie virtual para abordar la creciente demanda de información precisa, pronta y práctica en una era de rápido cambio climático global.
Match ID: 154 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 54 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, FEMA to Host Alliance for Climate Action Series in October
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 09:01 EDT
NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will co-host the Alliances for Climate Action, a virtual series to address rising demand for accurate, timely, and actionable information at a time of rapid global climate change.
Match ID: 155 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 54 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

EP21TDCS-LO: A Conductive Bonding Agent for Space-Environment Assemblies
Fri, 01 Oct 2021 21:55:39 +0000


Conductive bonding agents play a fundamental role in ensuring reliable electrical connectivity in many electromechanical assemblies designed to operate at the extremes of temperature and pressure of space. Failure of a single bond between conductive components in an assembly can ripple rapidly through mechanical and electrical systems, ultimately threatening spacecraft integrity and crew safety. In two applications, Master Bond EP21TDCS-LO conductive epoxy met critical requirements for maintaining robust bonds in electromechanical systems intended to operate in space conditions.

Master Bond Polymer System EP21TDCS-LO is a two component, silver-filled epoxy designed to ensure high-strength conductive bonds between dissimilar materials at temperatures down to 4K. Unlike most two-part silver-filled adhesives, Master Bond EP21TDCS-LO uses a simple one-to-one mix ratio that remains workable for 30-40 minutes and cures at room temperature in 24-48 hours or in 1-2 hours at 200°F. With volume resistivity less than 10 -3 ohm-cm, this adhesive cures to an electrically conductive bond that combines high strength (shear strength over 850 psi) and flexibility (T-peel strength over 5 pounds per linear inch) – properties unusual in a silver epoxy. Along with its workability and performance characteristics, Master Bond EP21TDCS-LO meets critical requirements for space operations including passing NASA low-outgassing test criteria.

The applications listed in the table below highlight use of Master Bond EP21TDCS-LO in ensuring high-strength, conductive bonds in assemblies designed to survive the harsh conditions of space.

Download this free case study

Applications of Master Bond EP21TDCS-LO

Industry Application EP21TDCS-LO Role Critical Properties
Aerospace Creating a space-like test environment for studying electrostatic discharge (ESD) effects on spacecraft1 Bonding samples for extended ESD testing at low temperature and pressure Ease of use
Bond conductivity and durability in high electric fields
Non-reactive, no volatiles, NASA-outgassing compliant
Aerospace Studying properties of an electrohydrodynamic (EHD) pump2 Bonding electrodes needed to generate electric fields for EHD Ease of use for bonding dissimilar materials
Bond conductivity and durability through extended mechanical, thermal, and electrical stress

Non-reactive, no volatiles, NASA-outgassing compliant

Sources

1Dekany, Justin; Johnson, Robert H.; Wilson, Gregory; Evans, Amberly; and Dennison, JR, "Ultrahigh Vacuum Cryostat System for Extended Low Temperature Space Environment Testing," All Physics Faculty Publications, Paper 1455, 2012.

2Sinnamon, Samuel, "Coolant Distribution Control in Satellite Structural Panels Using Electrohydrodynamic Conduction Pumping," MS thesis, Mechanical Engineering, University of New Mexico, May 2012.


Match ID: 156 Score: 9.29 source: www.masterbond.com age: 58 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Issues Contracts to Mature Electrified Aircraft Propulsion Technologies
Thu, 30 Sep 2021 16:03 EDT
NASA has selected two U.S. companies to support its Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) that will rapidly mature Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) technologies through ground and flight demonstrations.
Match ID: 157 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 59 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Transfers Air Traffic Management Tool Updates to FAA
Tue, 28 Sep 2021 12:07 EDT
As part of an effort aimed at making aviation more sustainable, NASA has transferred findings from an air traffic management project to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for nationwide implementation, the two agencies announced at a media briefing Tuesday.
Match ID: 158 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 61 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA, FAA Invite Media to Briefing on Air Traffic Control Updates
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 09:58 EDT
NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hold a virtual briefing for media Tuesday, Sept., 28 at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss efforts to improve the sustainability of aviation through the demonstration of more efficient airport operations, contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to tackle climate change.
Match ID: 159 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 67 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Statement on National Aerospace Week
Wed, 15 Sep 2021 10:51 EDT
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on National Aerospace Week, hosted by Aerospace Industries Sept. 13-17. This week recognizes innovations from aerospace manufacturers, suppliers, and workforce.
Match ID: 160 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 74 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Innovations Will Help US Meet Sustainable Aviation Goals
Thu, 09 Sep 2021 15:06 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined federal government and industry leaders Thursday at a White House event highlighting sustainable aviation and the administration’s focus on medium- and long-term goals to combat climate change.
Match ID: 161 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 80 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Begins Air Taxi Flight Testing with Joby
Wed, 01 Sep 2021 08:06 EDT
NASA began flight testing Monday with Joby Aviation’s all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of the agency’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign.
Match ID: 162 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 88 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

JPL's Plan for the Next Mars Helicopter
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 17:00:00 +0000


The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is currently preparing for its 12th flight in Jezero Crater on Mars, which is 11 flights more than was strictly necessary for NASA to have declared the technology demonstrator a success. Over the last four months, Ingenuity has proven that flight on Mars is not only possible, but practical, and can contribute tangible scientific value—even for a vehicle that was not designed to do much in the way of science at all.

The question now is how Ingenuity's spectacular performance will influence NASA's future Mars exploration strategy.

It turns out NASA has been thinking about this since long before Ingenuity landed on Mars. About three years ago, as Ingenuity's design and testing phase was mostly over and the Perseverance rover was getting closer to launch, roboticists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA Ames Research Center, and AeroVironment (a company that helped to develop Ingenuity) got together and began to sketch out what a next generation Mars helicopter might look like. How would a Martian helicopter effectively scale up? What kinds of science instruments could it carry? What missions could only be done with such a helicopter?

The result was the Mars Science Helicopter (MSH), a 30-kilogram hexacopter able to do unique science on the Martian surface without requiring rover support.


The first element in JPL's design approach was to provide as many options as possible to the scientific community, explains J. (Bob) Balaram, Ingenuity Chief Engineer at JPL and one of the authors of a white paper on the Mars Science Helicopter. That meant thinking about all kinds of different vehicle sizes and mission architectures. "Ingenuity could be scaled both up and down," Balaram tells us. "We could make it even smaller, into a scout. Or, we could scale it up into a full-size standalone helicopter. And there are things in between, maybe something in the 5kg class, where it's taking samples from distant sites and bringing them back to a lander for analysis." JPL presented this menu of Mars helicopter options to planetary scientists, asking them to imagine what kinds of new research might be possible with each platform. And there's a lot to imagine.

Airborne Science on Mars

"This is a brand new way of looking at Mars," Balaram says. "Aerial mobility gives you reach, range, and resolution. You can reach places that no wheeled vehicle can get to. You can travel kilometers every day. And depending on what height you fly at, you can get whatever resolution you want with your instruments. We were just telling the scientists, think big!"

Here are examples of some of the ways in which scientists have been thinking big, in the form of two potential missions for a future Mars Science Helicopter.

Mawrth Vallis: Searching for Life at Inaccessible Sites

Two satellite images of Mawrth Vallis on Mars, a rendering of MSH taking images of the inside of a crater, and a diagram of MSH sampling an inaccessible crater wall. A version of MSH could image and sample crater walls, inaccessible to ground robots.

Mawrth Vallis is a huge 640-kilometer long outflow channel that may have hosted rivers, lakes, and wetlands about 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, minerals found at sites like these preserve organic material. This mission concept would combine a stationary lander with smaller helicopter using a two rotor coaxial design, similar to Ingenuity. The helicopter would scout for promising locations over a wide area, and then use an arm and microdrill to bring samples back to the lander, which would carry science instruments including a micro-imaging suite and a life-detection instrument. And on the off chance that life is discovered on Mars, airborne sampling from a helicopter would help to guard against contamination.

Milankovič Crater: Mapping Subsurface Water Ice

Four satellite images showing an area of Mars' northern highlands, and diagram of MSH investigating water ice. A hexacopter version of MSH could map subsurface water ice over a large area, while also collecting atmospheric data from the lower atmosphere that's hard to measure from the surface or from orbit.

High northern latitudes on Mars are thought to host a significant amount of water ice just under the surface. This is important for understanding the water cycle and climate history of Mars, and also because water ice can potentially provide oxygen to breathe as well as rocket fuel for future human exploration. Creating accurate maps of subsurface ice from orbit is challenging, but a large hexacopter version of MSH equipped with a neutron spectrometer, infrared imager, and meteorology package would be able to provide high resolution data over a very large area.

"You'd shoot a little projectile from the drone that embeds itself in the cliff wall, and then you'd reel it back in with a sample."

Within these mission scenarios, perhaps the most astonishing potential application suggested in the white paper is contact interrogations of otherwise inaccessible surfaces—that is, taking in-flight samples of rocks or soil from areas that a rover (and perhaps even a human) could never reach, like midway up a cliff wall. "The ability to do station keeping against a cliff wall is fairly standard machine vision," Balaram says. "So then the question becomes, what is the actual end effector? You can imagine something like a penetrator with a reel-in device. You'd shoot a little projectile from the drone that embeds itself in the cliff wall, and then you'd reel it back in with a sample. Or maybe you find some green slime that you want to collect, so you shoot something at it that's sticky, like fly paper. This is the kind of science that we can potentially do."

A Serious Engineering Effort

Size comparison of MSH and Ingenuity Each of the Mars Science Helicopter's rotors is the size of Ingenuity's rotors. Balaram describes MSH as "basically six Ingenuitys."

Although MSH's science payload is still very conceptual, Balaram says that the concept for the vehicle itself "isn't just a cartoon—it's a serious engineering effort." The hexacopter shown in the rendering above is the most mature design; JPL considered simply scaling up Ingenuity and making MSH a larger coaxial helicopter, but Balaram explains that there were some control issues that, while not unsolvable, make a hexarotor design more appealing. The hexacopter airframe will be somewhat heavier than the coaxial design, but a hexacopter also has the advantage of being able to operate with one (or even possibly two) nonfunctional rotors.

The current MSH concept has a mass of about 31 kg and a total diameter of just over four meters, with six rotors each sporting a quartet of 0.64 meter blades. The payload of 5 kg gives MSH what Balaram calls a very attractive sweet spot for science instruments. MSH would have a top speed of about 30 m/s, a five minute hover time, or a range of up to 10km per flight, and a solar cell on top of the vehicle would be able to recharge MSH's batteries over the course of one Martian day. This kind of range and speed means that MSH could cover as much ground in a few days as a rover like Curiosity has covered in years. JPL and its partners have also been working on things like blade design, manufacturability, and how MSH would fold up inside of an aeroshell for entry, descent, and landing. There's even the exciting possibility of a mid-air deployment as part of the landing process, which would avoid the additional cost and complexity of a dedicated lander.

Three renderings showing how the hexacopter's arms collapse inward and fold up to fit inside of an aeroshell. MSH could fold up to fit inside of the same aeroshell used for the Mars Pathfinder mission.

Since much of the work done on the Mars Science Helicopter took place before Perseverance and Ingenuity landed on Mars, the MSH team has been learning a lot about Martian rotorcraft operations from how Ingenuity has been performing over the last several months, which in turn is informing design decisions about MSH. "One of the main unknowns that we had was how much we could rely upon orbital images to pick landing sites," Balaram says. Ingenuity has shown that orbital images are actually pretty good for this, and even with relatively low resolution images, finding safe landing fields is fairly reliable. This means MSH might not need quite as sophisticated of a hazard detection system for making autonomous landings, simplifying the design and saving mass. Ingenuity's experience has also given the MSH team more confidence about flying in windy conditions. "In terms of the control performance, Ingenuity has turned out to be exceeding our expectations," says Balaram, which translates into potentially tuning the performance of MSH to be a little less conservative. "It's kind of like, let's just relax our design margins, because some of the tough problems that we thought were tough are probably not as challenging as we thought they could be. So those lessons learned feed forward into the science helicopter."

Ingenuity has also shown how modern computing hardware and software can be used in spacecraft. Its technology demo status meant that JPL could get a little more creative than normal, using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 running Linux which gave the little helicopter 150 times more computing power than the Perseverance rover. Balaram wants to leverage Ingenuity's success into a similar approach with MSH: "One of the things that we demonstrated with Ingenuity is even though it was a technology demo, we could still build in the right amount of redundancy through clever computing architecture. You can imagine using processors that may be slightly fragile from a radiation perspective, but that use a voting system to make decisions, running three of them in parallel. It's a way of thinking about how we want to do computing that isn't insisting on bulletproof hardware from the 90s—it's still conservative, just not necessarily the old way of doing things. And there's no fundamental reason why these kinds of things cannot be done in the next generation helicopter."

Making It Happen

Currently, NASA's Mars program is focused on sample return, and while a Mars Helicopter could play a unique and compelling role in a sample return mission, it's by no means the obvious choice. Unless NASA decides that helicopters on Mars are absolutely the way to go and funds MSH directly, the next Mars helicopter will have to survive a competitive proposal process that weighs potential science against cost, complexity, and risk. As of right now, Balaram says that the MSH concept is mature enough for a broad range of potential science missions, and that the next step is to optimize it for a specific mission scenario, taking into account a landing location, time of year, and overall goals and constraints.

If the idea of a flagship helicopter mission to Mars seems far-fetched, it's important to remember that NASA's first rover on Mars was also a small technology demonstrator: Sojourner. With an initial mission length of seven Martian days, Sojourner stayed active for 83 days, and helped to give NASA the experience and confidence required to send first the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, and then the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers, to Mars.

Like Sojourner, Ingenuity is really just a brief preview of what a science helicopter mission could do, and Bob Balaram believes that the concept has proved itself. Given that Ingenuity has been "very effective, I'm hopeful that NASA will give us the chance to engage with Mars in a completely new way with MSH," Balaram tells us. "We've opened up aerial mobility on Mars. We've landed in a few places, and flown a little bit here and there. But let's put our imaginations to the test and see what we could do if we had access to the whole planet—what could we achieve? That's what the challenge is for all of us. To imagine that, and then make it happen."


Match ID: 163 Score: 9.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 110 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Renews Support of Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence
Tue, 10 Aug 2021 10:57 EDT
NASA is continuing its support of university research into technologies for future helicopters and other vertical lift aircraft in partnership with the U.S. Army and Navy.
Match ID: 164 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 110 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s TESS Tunes into an All-sky ‘Symphony’ of Red Giant Stars
Wed, 04 Aug 2021 17:00 EDT
Using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, astronomers have identified a vast collection of pulsating red giant stars that will help us explore our galactic neighborhood.
Match ID: 165 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 116 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Planetary Sleuthing Finds Triple-Star World
Mon, 11 Jan 2021 13:40 EST
Years after its detection, astronomers have confirmed a planet called KOI-5Ab orbiting in a triple-star system with a skewed configuration.
Match ID: 166 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 321 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA Awards SETI Institute Contract for Planetary Protection Support
Fri, 10 Jul 2020 12:04 EDT
NASA has awarded the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, a contract to support all phases of current and future planetary protection missions to ensure compliance with planetary protection standards.
Match ID: 167 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 506 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Imagining Another Earth
Thu, 28 May 2020 10:27 EDT
This artist's concept shows exoplanet Kepler-1649c orbiting around its host red dwarf star.
Match ID: 168 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 549 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

NASA’s TESS Enables Breakthrough Study of Perplexing Stellar Pulsations
Wed, 13 May 2020 11:00 EDT
Astronomers have detected elusive pulsation patterns in dozens of young, rapidly rotating stars thanks to data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
Match ID: 169 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 564 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

AAS Names 29 NASA-Affiliated Legacy Fellows
Thu, 30 Apr 2020 09:00 EDT
Twenty-nine scientists working at or affiliated with NASA have been named Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America.
Match ID: 170 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 577 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

Kepler-1649c: Earth-Size, Habitable Zone Planet Hides in Plain Sight
Thu, 16 Apr 2020 02:13 EDT
This artist's illustration shows what Kepler-1649c could look like from its surface.
Match ID: 171 Score: 9.29 source: www.nasa.gov age: 592 days
qualifiers: 9.29 nasa

From Bush to Obama, and Trump to Biden, U.S. Militarism Is the Great Unifier
Sun, 21 Nov 2021 11:30:08 +0000

Joe Biden's presidency demonstrates, once again, that U.S. commitments to militarism and permanent global war are enduring and bipartisan.

The post From Bush to Obama, and Trump to Biden, U.S. Militarism Is the Great Unifier appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 172 Score: 7.14 source: theintercept.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 mit

Interpol’s Upcoming Election Raises Fears About Authoritarian Influence
Sun, 21 Nov 2021 11:00:53 +0000

A UAE official accused of overseeing torture is running for president of Interpol, while a Chinese official seeks a spot on the executive committee.

The post Interpol’s Upcoming Election Raises Fears About Authoritarian Influence appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 173 Score: 7.14 source: theintercept.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 7.14 mit

The Femtojoule Promise of Analog AI
Sat, 20 Nov 2021 16:00:04 +0000


Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have already penetrated so deeply into our life and work that you might have forgotten what interactions with machines used to be like. We used to ask only for precise quantitative answers to questions conveyed with numeric keypads, spreadsheets, or programming languages: "What is the square root of 10?" "At this rate of interest, what will be my gain over the next five years?"

But in the past 10 years, we've become accustomed to machines that can answer the kind of qualitative, fuzzy questions we'd only ever asked of other people: "Will I like this movie?" "How does traffic look today?" "Was that transaction fraudulent?"


Deep neural networks (DNNs), systems that learn how to respond to new queries when they're trained with the right answers to very similar queries, have enabled these new capabilities. DNNs are the primary driver behind the rapidly growing global market for AI hardware, software, and services, valued at US $327.5 billion this year and expected to pass $500 billion in 2024, according to the International Data Corporation.

Convolutional neural networks first fueled this revolution by providing superhuman image-recognition capabilities. In the last decade, new DNN models for natural-language processing, speech recognition, reinforcement learning, and recommendation systems have enabled many other commercial applications.

But it's not just the number of applications that's growing. The size of the networks and the data they need are growing, too. DNNs are inherently scalable—they provide more reliable answers as they get bigger and as you train them with more data. But doing so comes at a cost. The number of computing operations needed to train the best DNN models grew 1 billionfold between 2010 and 2018, meaning a huge increase in energy consumption And while each use of an already-trained DNN model on new data—termed inference—requires much less computing, and therefore less energy, than the training itself, the sheer volume of such inference calculations is enormous and increasing. If it's to continue to change people's lives, AI is going to have to get more efficient.

We think changing from digital to analog computation might be what's needed. Using nonvolatile memory devices and two fundamental physical laws of electrical engineering, simple circuits can implement a version of deep learning's most basic calculations that requires mere thousandths of a trillionth of a joule (a femtojoule). There's a great deal of engineering to do before this tech can take on complex AIs, but we've already made great strides and mapped out a path forward.

AI’s Fundamental Function


Column of three yellow dots connected to a blue dot with an arrow pointing to an output.

The most basic computation in an artificial neural network is called multiply and accumulate. The output of artificial neurons [left, yellow] are multiplied by the weight values connecting them to the next neuron [center, light blue]. That neuron sums its inputs and applies an output function. In analog AI, the multiply function is performed by Ohm's Law, where the neuron's output voltage is multiplied by the conductance representing the weight value. The summation at the neuron is done by Kirchhoff's Current Law, which simply adds all the currents entering a single node


The biggest time and energy costs in most computers occur when lots of data has to move between external memory and computational resources such as CPUs and GPUs. This is the "von Neumann bottleneck," named after the classic computer architecture that separates memory and logic. One way to greatly reduce the power needed for deep learning is to avoid moving the data—to do the computation out where the data is stored.

DNNs are composed of layers of artificial neurons. Each layer of neurons drives the output of those in the next layer according to a pair of values—the neuron's "activation" and the synaptic "weight" of the connection to the next neuron.

Most DNN computation is made up of what are called vector-matrix-multiply (VMM) operations—in which a vector (a one-dimensional array of numbers) is multiplied by a two-dimensional array. At the circuit level these are composed of many multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations. For each downstream neuron, all the upstream activations must be multiplied by the corresponding weights, and these contributions are then summed.

Most useful neural networks are too large to be stored within a processor's internal memory, so weights must be brought in from external memory as each layer of the network is computed, each time subjecting the calculations to the dreaded von Neumann bottleneck. This leads digital compute hardware to favor DNNs that move fewer weights in from memory and then aggressively reuse these weights.

A radical new approach to energy-efficient DNN hardware occurred to us at IBM Research back in 2014. Together with other investigators, we had been working on crossbar arrays of nonvolatile memory (NVM) devices. Crossbar arrays are constructs where devices, memory cells for example, are built in the vertical space between two perpendicular sets of horizontal conductors, the so-called bitlines and the wordlines. We realized that, with a few slight adaptations, our memory systems would be ideal for DNN computations, particularly those for which existing weight-reuse tricks work poorly. We refer to this opportunity as "analog AI," although other researchers doing similar work also use terms like "processing-in-memory" or "compute-in-memory."

There are several varieties of NVM, and each stores data differently. But data is retrieved from all of them by measuring the device's resistance (or, equivalently, its inverse—conductance). Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM) uses electron spins, and flash memory uses trapped charge. Resistive RAM (RRAM) devices store data by creating and later disrupting conductive filamentary defects within a tiny metal-insulator-metal device. Phase-change memory (PCM) uses heat to induce rapid and reversible transitions between a high-conductivity crystalline phase and a low-conductivity amorphous phase.

Flash, RRAM, and PCM offer the low- and high-resistance states needed for conventional digital data storage, plus the intermediate resistances needed for analog AI. But only RRAM and PCM can be readily placed in a crossbar array built in the wiring above silicon transistors in high-performance logic, to minimize the distance between memory and logic.

We organize these NVM memory cells in a two-dimensional array, or "tile." Included on the tile are transistors or other devices that control the reading and writing of the NVM devices. For memory applications, a read voltage addressed to one row (the wordline) creates currents proportional to the NVM's resistance that can be detected on the columns (the bitlines) at the edge of the array, retrieving the stored data.

To make such a tile part of a DNN, each row is driven with a voltage for a duration that encodes the activation value of one upstream neuron. Each NVM device along the row encodes one synaptic weight with its conductance. The resulting read current is effectively performing, through Ohm's Law (in this case expressed as "current equals voltage times conductance"), the multiplication of excitation and weight. The individual currents on each bitline then add together according to Kirchhoff's Current Law. The charge generated by those currents is integrated over time on a capacitor, producing the result of the MAC operation.

These same analog in-memory summation techniques can also be performed using flash and even SRAM cells, which can be made to store multiple bits but not analog conductances. But we can't use Ohm's Law for the multiplication step. Instead, we use a technique that can accommodate the one- or two-bit dynamic range of these memory devices. However, this technique is highly sensitive to noise, so we at IBM have stuck to analog AI based on PCM and RRAM.

Unlike conductances, DNN weights and activations can be either positive or negative. To implement signed weights, we use a pair of current paths—one adding charge to the capacitor, the other subtracting. To implement signed excitations, we allow each row of devices to swap which of these paths it connects with, as needed.

Nonvolatile Memories for Analog AI


Layers of colored lines with red dots in the 2nd row which is blue.


​Phase-change memory's conductance is set by the transition between a crystalline and an amorphous state in a chalcogenide glass. In resistive RAM, conductance depends on the creation and destruction of conductive filaments in an insulator.



Three rows of color with the middle tan layer having white dots labeled \u201cVacancy.\u201d


In resistive RAM, conductance depends on the creation and destruction of conductive filaments in an insulator.



Rows of colors with red dots.


Flash memory stores data as charge trapped in a "floating gate." The presence or absence of that charge modifies conductances across the device.



Rows of colors with plus and minus icons and a label that says \u201cElectrochemical RAM\u201d


Electrochemical RAM acts like a miniature battery. Pulses of voltage on a gate electrode modulate the conductance between the other two terminals by the exchange of ions through a solid electrolyte.


With each column performing one MAC operation, the tile does an entire vector-matrix multiplication in parallel. For a tile with 1,024 × 1,024 weights, this is 1 million MACs at once.

In systems we've designed, we expect that all these calculations can take as little as 32 nanoseconds. Because each MAC performs a computation equivalent to that of two digital operations (one multiply followed by one add), performing these 1 million analog MACs every 32 nanoseconds represents 65 trillion operations per second.

We've built tiles that manage this feat using just 36 femtojoules of energy per operation, the equivalent of 28 trillion operations per joule. Our latest tile designs reduce this figure to less than 10 fJ, making them 100 times as efficient as commercially available hardware and 10 times better than the system-level energy efficiency of the latest custom digital accelerators, even those that aggressively sacrifice precision for energy efficiency.

It's been important for us to make this per-tile energy efficiency high, because a full system consumes energy on other tasks as well, such as moving activation values and supporting digital circuitry.

There are significant challenges to overcome for this analog-AI approach to really take off. First, deep neural networks, by definition, have multiple layers. To cascade multiple layers, we must process the VMM tile's output through an artificial neuron's activation—a nonlinear function—and convey it to the next tile. The nonlinearity could potentially be performed with analog circuits and the results communicated in the duration form needed for the next layer, but most networks require other operations beyond a simple cascade of VMMs. That means we need efficient analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) and modest amounts of parallel digital compute between the tiles. Novel, high-efficiency ADCs can help keep these circuits from affecting the overall efficiency too much. Recently, we unveiled a high-performance PCM-based tile using a new kind of ADC that helped the tile achieve better than 10 trillion operations per watt.

A second challenge, which has to do with the behavior of NVM devices, is more troublesome. Digital DNNs have proven accurate even when their weights are described with fairly low-precision numbers. The 32-bit floating-point numbers that CPUs often calculate with are overkill for DNNs, which usually work just fine and with less energy when using 8-bit floating-point values or even 4-bit integers. This provides hope for analog computation, so long as we can maintain a similar precision.

Given the importance of conductance precision, writing conductance values to NVM devices to represent weights in an analog neural network needs to be done slowly and carefully. Compared with traditional memories, such as SRAM and DRAM, PCM and RRAM are already slower to program and wear out after fewer programming cycles. Fortunately, for inference, weights don't need to be frequently reprogrammed. So analog AI can use time-consuming write-verification techniques to boost the precision of programming RRAM and PCM devices without any concern about wearing the devices out.

That boost is much needed because nonvolatile memories have an inherent level of programming noise. RRAM's conductivity depends on the movement of just a few atoms to form filaments. PCM's conductivity depends on the random formation of grains in the polycrystalline material. In both, this randomness poses challenges for writing, verifying, and reading values. Further, in most NVMs, conductances change with temperature and with time, as the amorphous phase structure in a PCM device drifts, or the filament in an RRAM relaxes, or the trapped charge in a flash memory cell leaks away.

There are some ways to finesse this problem. Significant improvements in weight programming can be obtained by using two conductance pairs. Here, one pair holds most of the signal, while the other pair is used to correct for programming errors on the main pair. Noise is reduced because it gets averaged out across more devices.

We tested this approach recently in a multitile PCM-based chip, using both one and two conductance pairs per weight. With it, we demonstrated excellent accuracy on several DNNs, even on a recurrent neural network, a type that's typically sensitive to weight programming errors.

Vector-Matrix Multiplication with Analog AI


Column of colored dots connected by blue lines.

Vector-matrix multiplication (VMM) is the core of a neural network's computing [top]; it is a collection of multiply-and-accumulate processes. Here the activations of artificial neurons [yellow] are multiplied by the weights of their connections [light blue] to the next layer of neurons [green].


Rows of white square with yellow, blue and green dots around the outside.

For analog AI, VMM is performed on a crossbar array tile [center]. At each cross point, a nonvolatile memory cell encodes the weight as conductance. The neurons' activations are encoded as the duration of a voltage pulse. Ohm's Law dictates that the current along each crossbar column is equal to this voltage times the conductance. Capacitors [not shown] at the bottom of the tile sum up these currents. A neural network's multiple layers are represented by converting the output of one tile into the voltage duration pulses needed as the input to the next tile [right].

Different techniques can help ameliorate noise in reading and drift effects. But because drift is predictable, perhaps the simplest is to amplify the signal during a read with a time-dependent gain that can offset much of the error. Another approach is to use the same techniques that have been developed to train DNNs for low-precision digital inference. These adjust the neural-network model to match the noise limitations of the underlying hardware.

As we mentioned, networks are becoming larger. In a digital system, if the network doesn't fit on your accelerator, you bring in the weights for each layer of the DNN from external memory chips. But NVM's writing limitations make that a poor decision. Instead, multiple analog AI chips should be ganged together, with each passing the intermediate results of a partial network from one chip to the next. This scheme incurs some additional communication latency and energy, but it's far less of a penalty than moving the weights themselves.

Until now, we've only been talking about inference—where an already-trained neural network acts on novel data. But there are also opportunities for analog AI to help train DNNs.

DNNs are trained using the backpropagation algorithm. This combines the usual forward inference operation with two other important steps—error backpropagation and weight update. Error backpropagation is like running inference in reverse, moving from the last layer of the network back to the first layer; weight update then combines information from the original forward inference run with these backpropagated errors to adjust the network weights in a way that makes the model more accurate.

The Tiki-Taka Solution

Analog AI can reduce the power consumption of training neural networks, but because of some inherent characteristics of the nonvolatile memories involved, there are some complications. Nonvolatile memories, such as phase-change memory and resistive RAM, are inherently noisy. What's more, their behavior is asymmetric. That is, at most points on their conductance curve, the same value of voltage will produce a different change in conductance depending on the voltage's polarity.

One solution we came up with, the Tiki-Taka algorithm, is a modification to backpropagation training. Crucially, it is significantly more robust to noise and asymmetric behavior in the NVM conductance. This algorithm depends on RRAM devices constructed to conduct in both directions. Each of these is initialized to their symmetry point—the spot on their conductance curve where the conductance increase and decrease for a given voltage are exactly balanced. In Tiki-Taka, the symmetry-point-balanced NVM devices are involved in weight updates to train the network. Periodically, their conductance values are programmed onto a second set of devices, and the training devices are returned to their natural symmetry point. This allows the neural network to train to high accuracy, even in the presence of noise and asymmetry that would completely disrupt the conventional backpropagation algorithm.

The backpropagation step can be done in place on the tiles but in the opposite manner of inferencing—applying voltages to the columns and integrating current along rows. Weight update is then performed by driving the rows with the original activation data from the forward inference, while driving the columns with the error signals produced during backpropagation.

Training involves numerous small weight increases and decreases that must cancel out properly. That's difficult for two reasons. First, recall that NVM devices wear out with too much programming. Second, the same voltage pulse applied with opposite polarity to an NVM may not change the cell's conductance by the same amount; its response is asymmetric. But symmetric behavior is critical for backpropagation to produce accurate networks. This is only made more challenging because the magnitude of the conductance changes needed for training approaches the level of inherent randomness of the materials in the NVMs.

There are several approaches that can help here. For example, there are various ways to aggregate weight updates across multiple training examples, and then transfer these updates onto NVM devices periodically during training. A novel algorithm we developed at IBM, called Tiki-Taka, uses such techniques to train DNNs successfully even with highly asymmetric RRAM devices. Finally, we are developing a device called electrochemical random-access memory (ECRAM) that can offer not just symmetric but highly linear and gradual conductance updates.

The success of analog AI will depend on achieving high density, high throughput, low latency, and high energy efficiency—simultaneously. Density depends on how tightly the NVMs can be integrated into the wiring above a chip's transistors. Energy efficiency at the level of the tiles will be limited by the circuitry used for analog-to-digital conversion.

But even as these factors improve and as more and more tiles are linked together, Amdahl's Law—an argument about the limits of parallel computing—will pose new challenges to optimizing system energy efficiency. Previously unimportant aspects such as data communication and the residual digital computing needed between tiles will incur more and more of the energy budget, leading to a gap between the peak energy efficiency of the tile itself and the sustained energy efficiency of the overall analog-AI system. Of course, that's a problem that eventually arises for every AI accelerator, analog or digital.

The path forward is necessarily different from digital AI accelerators. Digital approaches can bring precision down until accuracy falters. But analog AI must first increase the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the internal analog modules until it is high enough to demonstrate accuracy equivalent to that of digital systems. Any subsequent SNR improvements can then be applied toward increasing density and energy efficiency.

These are exciting problems to solve, and it will take the coordinated efforts of materials scientists, device experts, circuit designers, system architects, and DNN experts working together to solve them. There is a strong and continued need for higher energy-efficiency AI acceleration, and a shortage of other attractive alternatives for delivering on this need. Given the wide variety of potential memory devices and implementation paths, it is quite likely that some degree of analog computation will find its way into future AI accelerators.

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "Ohm's Law + Kirchhoff's Current Law = Better AI."


Match ID: 174 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Supercomputers Flex Their AI Muscles
Sat, 20 Nov 2021 15:00:01 +0000


Scientific supercomputing is not immune to the wave of machine learning that's swept the tech world. Those using supercomputers to uncover the structure of the universe, discover new molecules, and predict the global climate are increasingly using neural networks to do so. And as is long-standing tradition in the field of high-performance computing, it's all going to be measured down to the last floating-point operation.

Twice a year, Top500.org publishes a ranking of raw computing power using a value called Rmax, derived from benchmark software called Linpack. By that measure, it's been a bit of a dull year. The ranking of the top nine systems are unchanged from June, with Japan's Supercomputer Fugaku on top at 442,010 trillion floating point operations per second. That leaves the Fujitsu-built system a bit shy of the long-sought goal of exascale computing—one-thousand trillion 64-bit floating-point operations per second, or exaflops.

But by another measure—one more related to AI—Fugagku and its competitor the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have already passed the exascale mark. That benchmark, called HPL-AI, measures a system's performance using the lower-precision numbers—16-bits or less—common to neural network computing. Using that yardstick, Fugaku hits 2 exaflops (no change from June 2021) and Summit reaches 1.4 (a 23 percent increase).

By one benchmark, related to AI, Japan's Fugaku and the U.S.'s Summit supercomputers are already doing exascale computing.

But HPL-AI isn't really how AI is done in supercomputers today. Enter MLCommons, the industry organization that's been setting realistic tests for AI systems of all sizes. It released results from version 1.0 of its high-performance computing benchmarks, called MLPerf HPC, this week.

The suite of benchmarks measures the time it takes to train real scientific machine learning models to agreed-on quality targets. Compared to MLPerf HPC version 0.7, basically a warmup round from last year, the best results in version 1.0 showed a 4- to 7-fold improvement. Eight supercomputing centers took part, producing 30 benchmark results.

As in MLPerf's other benchmarking efforts, there were two divisions: "Closed" submissions all used the same neural network model to ensure a more apples-to-apples comparison; "open" submissions were allowed to modify their models.

The three neural networks trialed were:

  • CosmoFlow uses the distribution of matter in telescope images to predict things about dark energy and other mysteries of the universe.
  • DeepCAM tests the detection of cyclones and other extreme weather in climate data.
  • OpenCatalyst, the newest benchmark, predicts the quantum mechanical properties of catalyst systems to discover and evaluate new catalyst materials for energy storage.

In the closed division, there were two ways of testing these networks: Strong scaling allowed participants to use as much of the supercomputer's resources to achieve the fastest neural network training time. Because it's not really practical to use an entire supercomputer-worth of CPUs, accelerator chips, and bandwidth resources on a single neural network, strong scaling shows what researchers think the optimal distribution of resources can do. Weak scaling, in contrast, breaks up the entire supercomputer into hundreds of identical versions of the same neural network to figure out what the system's AI abilities are in total.

Here's a selection of results:

Argonne National Laboratories used its Theta supercomputer to measure strong scaling for DeepCAM and OpenCatalyst. Using 32 CPUs and 129 Nvidia GPUs, Argonne researchers trained DeepCAM in 32.19 minutes and OpenCatalyst in 256.7 minutes. Argonne says it plans to use the results to develop better AI algorithms for two upcoming systems, Polaris and Aurora.

The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre used Piz Daint to train OpenCatalyst and DeepCAM. In the strong scaling category, Piz Daint trained OpenCatalyst in 753.11 minutes using 256 CPUs and 256 GPUs. It finished DeepCAM in 21.88 minutes using 1024 of each. The center will use the results to inform algorithms for its upcoming Alps supercomputer.

Fujitsu and RIKEN used 512 of Fugaku's custom-made processors to perform CosmoFlow in 114 minutes. It then used half of the complete system—82,944 processors—to perform the weak scaling benchmark on the same neural network. That meant training 637 instances of CosmoFlow, which it managed to do at an average of 1.29 models per minutes for a total of 495.66 minutes (not quite 8 hours).

Helmholtz AI, a joint effort of Germany's largest research centers, tested both the JUWELS and HoreKa supercomputers. HoreKa's best effort was to chug through DeepCAM in 4.36 minutes using 256 CPUs and 512 GPUs. JUWELS did it in as little as 2.56 minutes using 1024 CPUs and 2048 GPUs. For CosmoFlow, its best effort was 16.73 minutes using 512 CPUs and 1024 GPUs. In the weak scaling benchmark JUWELS used 1536 CPUs and 3072 GPUs to plow through DeepCAM at rate of 0.76 models per minute.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used the Perlmutter supercomputer to conquer CosmoFlow in 8.5 minutes (256 CPUs and 1024 GPUs), DeepCAM in 2.51 minutes (512 CPUs and 2048 GPUs), and OpenCatalyst in 111.86 minutes (128 CPUs and 512 GPUs). It used 1280 CPUs and 5120 GPUs for the weak scaling effort, yielding 0.68 models per minute for CosmoFlow and 2.06 models per minute for DeepCAM.

The (U.S.) National Center for Supercomputing Applications did its benchmarks on the Hardware Accelerated Learning (HAL) system. Using 32 CPUs and 64 GPUs they trained OpenCatalyst in 1021.18 minutes and DeepCAM in 133.91 minutes.

Nvidia, which made the GPUs used in every entry except Riken's, tested its DGX A100 systems on CosmoFlow (8.04 minutes using 256 CPUs and 1024 GPUs) and DeepCAM (1.67 minutes with 512 CPUs and 2048 GPUs). In weak scaling the system was made up of 1024 CPUs and 4096 GPUs and it plowed through 0.73 CosmoFlow models per minute and 5.27 DeepCAM models per minute.

Texas Advanced Computing Center's Frontera-Longhorn system tackled CosmoFlow in 140.45 minutes and DeepCAM in 76.9 minutes using 64 CPUs and 128 GPUs.
Match ID: 175 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 8 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

New Rowhammer Technique
2021-11-19T14:31:14Z

Rowhammer is an attack technique involving accessing — that’s “hammering” — rows of bits in memory, millions of times per second, with the intent of causing bits in neighboring rows to flip. This is a side-channel attack, and the result can be all sorts of mayhem.

Well, there is a new enhancement:

All previous Rowhammer attacks have hammered rows with uniform patterns, such as single-sided, double-sided, or n-sided. In all three cases, these “aggressor” rows — meaning those that cause bitflips in nearby “victim” rows — are accessed the same number of times. ...


Match ID: 176 Score: 3.57 source: www.schneier.com age: 9 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Brazil: Amazon sees worst deforestation levels in 15 years
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 09:47:31 GMT
The figures come after Brazil promised to end the practice by 2030 during the COP climate summit.
Match ID: 177 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 9 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Toshiba Splits in Three
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 21:00:01 +0000


Last Friday, Toshiba announced "a bold and ambitious plan to separate into three standalone companies," an unprecedented move by a large Japanese corporation, let alone one with such a storied history as Toshiba, established in 1875. The decision comes after a lack of governance resulted in more than a decade of self-induced troubles, including illicit accounting practices covering huge losses over seven years, the untimely purchase of Westinghouse Electric that turned sour after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster occurred, and more recently strife with activist foreign shareholders that saw top executives resign.

The same week Toshiba made its announcement, an iconic counterpart in the United States, General Electric, said it would divide into three new companies. And in the recent past, two other tech titans, Hewlett Packard and Philips, decided to split up after becoming too unwieldy to manage well. Such mismanagement becomes apparent through the conglomerate's poor overall economic performance, which drags down its value for shareholders, a phenomenon known as conglomerate discount in the business world.

"Toshiba followed a diversification strategy similar to GE," says Yoshihito Takahashi, a professor of business strategy at Senshu University in Tokyo. "But the synergistic results at both companies have been poor or not met expectations, resulting in conglomerate discount." In addition, he says, "Toshiba has suffered from governance issues, as well as a poor acquisitions strategy, especially in its nuclear power generation business, which was influenced by a relationship too close to the government."

Under the new plan, Toshiba will spin off its energy systems, infrastructure systems, building, digital, and battery businesses to create one entity called Infrastructure Service Co. A second entity will comprise electronic devices and the memory storage business under the name Device Co. The aim, says Toshiba, is to "reduce its conglomerate discount by eliminating much of the company's structural complexities, while enabling both entities to "pursue growth strategies and reforms," and management to "be much more focused."

Meanwhile, the third entity, Toshiba, will become a holding company, retaining its shares in Kioxia Holdings (previously Toshiba Memory) and Toshiba Tec, a manufacturer of office equipment such as digital copiers and printers, and business machines like POS terminals and electronic cash registers. But in the case of Kioxia, which manufacturers flash memory (invented by Toshiba), solid state drives, SD memory cards, and USB flash drives, Toshiba intends to sell the share and return "the entire net proceeds to shareholders as soon as practicable."

The radical decision to divide up the conglomerate is the result of an investigations by a strategic review committee set up by the Toshiba board in June. The committee consists of five board members who are independent outside directors, together with independent financial and legal advisors. Its mission was and is (for the plan is open to review after shareholder feedback) "to part ways with the past and explore afresh the various strategic alternatives available to Toshiba, in order to enhance its corporate value."

"The new entities can succeed because they will have a narrower focus, which should eliminate conglomerate discount," says Takahashi. "However, they will also have to eliminate the bureaucratic conditions that held back Toshiba, and also solve the governance issues."

Toshiba expects the separation to be completed by the second half of 2023 and estimates the cost to be around ¥10 billion or $87 million.


Match ID: 178 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 10 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Download Keysight's New "5G & Beyond for Dummies" eBook
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 12:00:00 +0000


The promise of 5G is faster and more reliable communications. 5G enables the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, wireless broadband, interruption-free video, and the fourth industrial revolution.

In this book, you find out about 5G technologies and their associated challenges. You'll also discover solutions available to address these challenges and ways you can create new opportunities for your organization.

Submit your information to download the 5G & Beyond for Dummies eBook today.


Match ID: 179 Score: 3.57 source: connectlp.keysight.com age: 10 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Hacking Ham Radio for Texting
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 16:00:00 +0000


My first exposure to radio communication happened when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My dad was working as an airport electrician. He would bring walkie-talkies home, and my brothers and I would play with them around the yard. That's as far as my radio experience went, until a friend and I decided to get our amateur radio licenses together. This was only months before the COVID-19 lockdown, so it turned out to be the perfect time to learn to communicate using amateur radio!

However, I found that just talking over ham radio was boring for me. I started thinking about an old police scanner my dad owned and how we would sometimes hear odd sounds that sort of sounded like a dial-up modem. And that is when the lightbulb for HamMessenger turned on. What if I could find an easy way to communicate digitally with my handheld radio?


I started learning about the many different types of digital communication modes that people use with ham radio and I came across APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System). APRS is a store-and-forward radio network protocol developed over 25 years ago by U.S. Navy researcher Robert Bruninga and was originally designed to track tactical information in real time. APRS operates on a frequency within the VHF 2-meter band and is popular for applications like location transponders or weather stations. You can view APRS activity in your area at www.aprs.fi right now.

APRS supports sending text messages, and if you're in range of an Internet-connected gateway node you can even exchange SMS texts with cellphones and send one-line emails. Sending texts traditionally meant using a PC hooked up to a so-called terminal node controller (TNC) packet radio modem, which is in turn connected to a radio (signals are transmitted as audio tones, just like old dial-up modems). More recently, TNC modems that interface with smartphones have been created. And these are awesome projects! But at its core, HamMessenger was created in the shadow of my simple childhood experiences. I wanted a portable device I could connect to my handheld radio that was completely self-contained, with a keyboard, screen, and GPS receiver all built in.

First, I would need to nail down the hardware and software I was going to use. I found MicroAPRS, which is an open-source and Arduino-compatible firmware package for DIY packet radio modems. With MicroAPRS you can quicky implement a full-featured APRS modem with the ability to automatically switch the radio between receiving and transmitting.

I wanted a portable device that was completely self-contained, with a keyboard, screen, and GPS receiver all built in.

This was perfect. I could now focus on the rest of the HamMessenger. I thought about building it around a Raspberry Pi. It would have been cool, but a Pi is overkill. It would need a lot of power, and there's a risk of corrupting the filesystem if you don't do a controlled shutdown, a problem if the battery dies.

I decided on a dual Arduino approach. An Arduino Pro Mini (US $10) would act as the modem, running MicroAPRS and communicating with the rest of the system via a serial connection. An Arduino Mega 2560 ($40) would be the central controller, tying together the modem, keyboard, display, and GPS. Rechargeable batteries with a battery-management board would provide the power.

An illustration showing the primary components of the HamMessenger. The HamMessenger is compatible with most handheld VHF radios [left] by using an adapter cable [top, middle] that connects to a printed circuit board with a display, GPS receiver, and Arduino Pro acting as a modem [top right]. The PCB plugs into an Arduino Mega [middle right], a GPS antenna [top left], a mini keyboard [bottom middle], and batteries [bottom right].James Provost

The GPS provides the location data that is integrated into most APRS transmissions. I chose a $10 NEO 6M-based GPS receiver that is popular with hobbyists for things such as DIY drones. Like my modem, the NEO has a serial interface.

In my initial design, the human input setup was very simple, with just three buttons. One button let me step through displayed menus and modify parameters, one button selected a submenu or set a parameter, and the last button let me cancel a parameter entry or navigate to a previous menu.

Ultimately, because of the difficulty of using the buttons to enter text messages, I replaced them with a mini CardKB QWERTY keyboard ($8.50). However, the limits of the three-button system forced me to simplify the HamMessenger's user interface as much as possible, something I am very thankful for now, as it means the HamMessenger is easy to operate with just a basic knowledge of APRS.

For the display, I chose an OLED screen for its power efficiency. The only drawback for hobbyist OLEDs is their small size. The 0.96-inch displays are the most common, but I was able to find a $9 1.3-inch display that communicates via an I2Cserial bus.

The final modular component I needed for the HamMessenger was some nonvolatile storage for received messages. I decided on a micro-SD card reader because they natively speak the SPI Interface protocol.

An illustration showing the transmission range of radio in a network as shaded circles with handheld radios having a shorter range than digipeaters. A link connects two digipeaters that are out of range of each other. The Automatic Packet Reporting System relies on a backbone of digital repeaters, or digipeaters, that repeatedly retransmit messages sent by handheld and other radios. Other digipeaters that pick up the signal in turn will retransmit the message up to a specified number of hops. Some digipeaters are connected to the Internet, which allows the user to send messages to distant digipeaters or relay them as cellphone SMS messages or emails. James Provost

All of these feed into the Arduino Mega. The Mega was chosen for the central controller as it doesn't need a lot of power, yet has enough resources to handle all the different module connections—two serial, two SPI, and one I2C connection. (And then I added a third serial port so you can control the HamMessenger with a PC or other device using an ASCII-based API.)

I designed a shield (a printed circuit board that accommodates the modules and some supporting circuitry that simply plugs into the top of the Mega), using Autodesk's Eagle, and then used the shield design files to help create a 3D-printed enclosure in Fusion 360 (full details are available on the HamMessenger GitHub page).

Currently, the HamMessenger is still in a prototype stage, but it works well. I have a HamMessenger installed in my truck that doubles as a location beacon. It will never replace a cellphone for most people, of course, but those in places without coverage might find it useful. Still, it was primarily created as a way to promote electronics and alternative uses of amateur radio, and if you want an easy way to learn and blend these hobbies, then I think the HamMessenger is a great way to do that.

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "Phone-Free Texting."


Match ID: 180 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 11 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Housing starts slip nearly 1%, falling short of expectations
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 08:34:47 -0500
U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.52 million in October, representing a 0.7% decrease from the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday. Compared with October 2020, housing starts were up 0.4%. The pace of permitting for new housing units increased in October, however. Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.65 million, up 4% from September and 3.4% from a year ago. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a median pace of 1.63 million and building permits to come in at a median pace of 1.58 million.

Match ID: 181 Score: 3.57 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 11 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Climate Expert: Stop Talking About "Geoengineering"
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 18:13:19 +0000


The leaders of the world have just returned from the UN's latest climate change summit, COP26, in which the countries that have signed on to the Paris Agreement upped their commitments to fight climate change. Everyone solemnly agreed, again, to follow the science, which has shown in exhaustive detail that humanity will suffer from heat, fire, floods, and droughts if the world warms beyond 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

Yet if countries continue on their present course, the world will likely have warmed by 2.7° C by the year 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker. If they meet all the pledges they've made for emission reductions by 2030, global temperature rise will be at 2.4° C by then. Hardly the breakthroughs we need to stave off disaster.

In light of this situation, there's increasing talk of actions that governments can take beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions—actions that could either remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or reduce the amount of sunlight coming into the atmosphere. Nobody's proposing relying solely on such tactics, but they could potentially help the planet in the short-term.

Such approaches are usually called geoengineering, and they're controversial: Many people worry about the unintended consequences of interfering with nature on a global scale. But Kelly Wanser, the executive director of the non-profit Silver Lining, argues that humanity is already interfering with nature on a global scale; that's what climate change is all about. She spoke with IEEE Spectrum about her work in encouraging basic scientific research on climate interventions.

IEEE Spectrum: What role does Silver Lining play in climate research or advocacy?

Kelly Wanser: Silver Lining's focus is on near-term climate risk: the exposure that we have to climate change between now and the middle of the century. The IPCC report released this past August said that in all of the realistic scenarios that they look at for climate change, warming continues to increase between now and 2050. And right now, we don't have enough ways to significantly reduce that warming.

Portrait of a blonde woman in a black shirt Kelly Wanser

Spectrum: Where does the name of the organization come from?

Wanser: It's partly a play on words. One approach to reducing warming has to do with brightening clouds with salt from seawater. But it's also a way of indicating that there is hope and possibility in navigating the dangerous part of the climate change situation.

Spectrum: I've been reporting on this topic recently, and I think I irritated a few researchers by using the term "geoengineering." Do you object to that term, and if so, what term do you prefer?

Wanser: We do object to it, because we don't think it's a good reflection of what is being proposed in these rapid responses to climate change. In 2015, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report on these types of technological approaches to reducing warming or reducing greenhouse gases, and the term that they arrived at was "climate intervention." It's a useful term because it speaks to the problem it's aimed at, climate, and expresses the uncertainty involved—we're trying to influence a system, but we don't have a high degree of control, like we would in an engineering context.

We actually conducted a public poll on the terms "geoengineering" and "climate intervention" and found that people were better able to comprehend what was meant by climate intervention, and also were less fearful.

Spectrum: When you talk about climate interventions, are you including carbon removal and sequestration in that category?

Wanser: We do include that in the broad category. But we focus on it less, because we've opted to focus on approaches that are likely to be most rapid and most likely to help address near-term risks. We've also focused on the parts of the portfolio where there are fewer people and fewer investments that are moving things forward. So, we focus significant energy on solar climate intervention, or sunlight reflection. We do some work on carbon removal, but that's pretty big space with a lot of investment. Which is good.

Spectrum: When you talk about the rationale for research on climate interventions, do you start with moral arguments or economic arguments?

Wanser: We start from the point of view of public safety, which is a concept in international environmental law and environmental law in the United States. We're really focused on the fact that we have quite a serious safety problem—potentially a catastrophic safety problem—in terms of human life, displacement and suffering, and the natural systems that we rely on.

The projections are that up to a billion people could be displaced between now and 2050, meaning that many parts of the world will become uninhabitable by then. What do we have to offer these billion people? We see it as similar to the ozone hole problem, where we really needed a tight, science-based focus on the limits to human inputs to the system--and howthose inputs affected the ozone layer's ability to keep people safe.

Spectrum: You've spoken before about tipping points: the idea that we may exceed thresholds in natural systems and thus cause drastic and irreversible changes. Which ones do you worry about?

Wanser: I'll focus on the one for which there is the most robust information. The Amazon rainforest is called the lungs of the planet because it gives oxygen back to the system and takes in a lot of CO2. But a combination of deforestation and warming pressure have caused the Amazon to now release more greenhouse gas than it absorbs, which is considered to be a big accelerant of climate change.

We are working with climate modelers to try to figure out how that changes the projections. But the IPCC report that came out in August does not include this newly discovered state of the rain forest. And, therefore, the curves in that report's [warming] pathways may not reflect the real amplification this might create. In almost all previous projections for climate, tipping events like these were far in the future. For the Amazon rain forest, the climate modelers that we talked to said there were almost no climate simulations where the rain forest tips in this century.

Spectrum: You're saying the situation is even more dire than we thought. And yet there's a lot of resistance to research on climate interventions that you say could help with near-term risks. I typically hear two critiques. The first is the moral hazard argument: If we embark on this research, it will undermine attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. People will think it's a get-out-of-jail-free card. How do you guys respond to that?

Wanser: Well, I usually respond with some sympathy for it. If we had started ratcheting back greenhouse gas emissions in the 1980s, that would have been the wisest and the safest thing to do. I like to use the analogy of medicine. It's not very smart to not take simple precautions and to let the patient get sick. But when the patient is very sick, then preventative measures like healthy diet and exercise don't help effectively enough or quickly enough. The treatment options aren't the same when a patient is sicker, and it appears we have quite a sick patient now.

Spectrum: The second critique I usually hear is that we will never understand enough about our complex climate systems to be able to intervene safely, and that we're guaranteed to mess things up and create massive side effects. How do respond to people who say the precautionary principle applies here?

Wanser: This is one of the reasons that we don't like term geoengineering. If you think of it as something wholly new and different, then there's this understandable thought: Why would we do something totally new and different than we don't understand? But a dirty, unmanaged variation of this is happening already.

Two graphs labelled Contributions to warming based on two complementary approaches showing red and blue bars based on contributions to warming Humanity is already reducing global warming... by spewing pollution into the air. IPCC Report: Climate Change 2021

The 2021 IPCC report includes a chart where they show the human influences on the climate system, with pink bars for warming effects and blue bars for cooling. The largest blue bar is the effect of pollution particles on clouds. [[The particles attract water to increase the number of droplets in clouds, and those clouds reflect more sunlight away from the Earth.]] It's a cooling effect and it's happening all over the world as a result of pollution from factories, ships, and cars. We're planning to remove that pollution, so it would be wise for us to understand that effect. And it would be interesting for us to think about whether there's a clean variation that we might want to replace it with. For example, some scientists are proposing to use a salt particles from seawater to brighten clouds over the ocean and send more sunlight back to space.

If you think about it that way, then this isn't a question of should we do something totally new or not, but how do we manage this situation that we already have, which includes these existing dynamics, these variations of things that are happening now.

Spectrum: In September, Spectrum published an article by the researchers working on that marine cloud brightening project. But do you want to sum up what they're doing?

Wanser: It's one of the few research efforts in the world that is looking at the process-level science around these climate intervention techniques for reflecting sunlight from the atmosphere: How would it actually work? How would you disperse the particles? How would they move in the atmosphere and affect the reflection of sunlight? For years, they have been developing technology for local dispersal and figuring out how to make the size and quantity of particles they think will work best. Now they have a large scientific collaboration to do [atmospheric and climate] modeling from very local to regional to global scales and to maybe step out and spray at very small scales to study those dynamics and inform the models.

It's exciting because they have the potential to do really important science about how pollution is impacting clouds and climate and also because they can likely determine, in a fairly reasonable amount of time, whether or not marine cloud brightening might be an option to significantly reduce warming.

Spectrum: Imagine that the researchers find that marine cloud brightening is effective at reflecting sunlight and doesn't have negative impacts. How would it be implemented?

Wanser: There are three parts of the world that have large banks of marine stratocumulus clouds that are very susceptible to this effect. Scientists propose having ships or autonomous vessels that would cruise around and spray particles in these regions, maybe be in the low-digit thousands of ships. Their goal would be to brighten these clouds by something like five to seven percent, so probably not in a way that's visible from the ground, and maybe not even visible from space.

Spectrum: Where are these three parts of the world?

Wanser: One of them is in the Pacific off the west coast of North America, another is off the west coast of South America, the third is off the coast of southern Africa.

Spectrum: The marine cloud project deals with adding particles to low-level clouds, but I also wanted to get your perspective on the SCoPEx project from Harvard, which wants to test the effect of stratospheric particles. They'd hoped this past year to simply test the technology platform, not to actually do any kind of experiments with spraying reflective particles. And yet the research group's advisory board stopped them and said they had to postpone it and think it through more. What's your perspective on both that project and that decision?

Wanser: We think that this early science is really important to inform decision-making. This was meant to be a test of a research apparatus, it wasn't even a test of something that would release any material. This was a balloon for research—like the balloons that go up every day to do atmospheric science.

The problem is, this valuable early science was positioned as a moment for a societal decision about research in this category. The testing they proposed wouldn't have had any environmental impact or impact on people. So the basis for the decision was not scientific; it was really about a small set of people's opinions about whether or not this kind of research should go forward. While the intentions were good, they inadvertently set up an undemocratic situation where a very tiny group of people are deciding whether scientific information would be available for everybody else.

We think that scientific independence and integrity is really important, especially in this research. We need scientists doing independent science, and when they have generated a lot of information for people around the world to review, we then need the societal moment where everybody can weigh in.


Match ID: 182 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 12 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Book Sale: Click Here to Kill Everybody and Data and Goliath
2021-11-15T20:34:44Z

For a limited time, I am selling signed copies of Click Here to Kill Everybody and Data and Goliath, both in paperback, for just $6 each plus shipping.

I have 500 copies of each book available. When they’re gone, the sale is over and the price will revert to normal.

Order here and here.

Please be patient on delivery. It’s a lot of work to sign and mail hundreds of books. And the pandemic is causing mail slowdowns all over the world. I’ll send them out as quickly as I can, but I can’t guarantee any particular delivery date. Also, signed but not personalized books will arrive faster...


Match ID: 183 Score: 3.57 source: www.schneier.com age: 13 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Researchers Take the Guesswork Out of PET Imaging
Mon, 15 Nov 2021 18:53:16 +0000


Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging uses radioactive tracers to detect metabolic activity in the body and brain, in order to detect cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and more. PET uses a process called tomographic reconstruction, in which algorithms used statistical methods to compensate for limited data, to form images. This causes PET scans to have relatively poor spatial resolution. While new advances have improved this resolution, they haven't eliminated the need for iterative reconstruction. Now, in a new study published in Nature Photonics, a group of scientists in the US and Japan have created a technique that eliminates the need for the guessing game of tomographic reconstruction.

"This has been a huge holy grail in our field for decades," said Simon Cherry, a professor of biomedical engineering and radiology at the University of California, Davis and senior author of the new study.

As the name implies, PET scans rely on positron emission. Before the scan, a patient is injected with a glucose radiotracer, and the radioactive elements in the sugar will release positrons. As soon as a positron encounters an electron in the body, the two particles annihilate each other, producing two high-energy photons, called a gamma ray, traveling in opposite directions and forming a line. PET scanners work by detecting these photons and identifying roughly where they originated from by finding this line. That allows them to identify areas that took up more tracer, such as cancer cells.

The problem is, a straight line by itself doesn't do much to narrow down where the photons originated from, said Michael King, a professor of radiology at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School who was not involved with the study. So an algorithm uses all the data it has on other photon lines combined with statistical models to guess where each positron originated from.

"The end result is that you get something which is pretty good," said King. "But it's still a guess."

In recent years, detectors have gotten fast enough at detecting photons that they can estimate where they originated based on the time difference of when they arrive at the PET's scanner's sensors. This is called time-of-flight PET, and it makes scans more accurate—but not accurate enough to avoid tomographic reconstruction. The new study took time-of-flight PET to its logical conclusion—they created a system in which a sensor identified photons so fast that reconstruction became unnecessary.

Top, three red and purple images labelled as dPEI images of phantom objects seen at bottom, which range in size from 30mm, 102mm and 184mm, which looks like a clear brain in a petri dish. Images acquired using the dPEI set-up on various test objects.Nature Photonics

The researchers used three different methods to accomplish this. They used a very fast method of converting gamma rays into visible light by utilizing vacuum tubes, and placed this mechanism inside the machine's photodetector, eliminating the time it would take for light to travel between them. They also used a convolutional neural network to predict timing.

Previous time-of-fight PET used sensors that took around 200 picoseconds to register photons. In that time, light can travel around 3 centimeters. On the other hand, the sensor in the new study has a lag time of just 32 picoseconds, in which time light travels just 4.8 millimeters.

King described the research as "not unique to [the researchers] in terms of striving towards this goal." Ever since time-of-flight PET was invented, radiologists have known that this method, which the researchers here call direct positron emission imaging, would be much more accurate if it were possible.

The method could also have other benefits, said Lacey McIntosh, the division chief of oncologic and molecular imaging at UMass Memorial Medical Center and an assistant professor of radiology at UMass Chan Medical School. These might include a lower dose of radiotracer for the same quality of image. Although the radiation that a single dose of radiotracer exposes the body to is tiny, any radiation exposure has the potential to be harmful. Scanners would also not have to have sensors in a ring, which would help claustrophobic patients. Also, scans could be done faster, which might enable doctors to do several scans in a session and would help children who struggle to stay still.

However, it would likely not be able to create a system with all of these benefits at once, said Cherry. For example, the increase in the signal could be used to decrease the radiation dose, make the scan faster, or increase the image quality. Which option you choose would depend on the patient, their preferences, and their situation.

"You're going to be able to tailor what you do to the specific clinical situation," he said.

It's also possible that such a system would be less expensive, said Cherry, because it may need less detectors. But he also says it may be the case that just as many detectors would be necessary to produce a higher-quality image than today's scanners can create.

This technology has a long way to go before it can be used in a medical setting. Cherry describes this study as a proof-of-concept, with the researchers' prototype design being impractical in a number of ways. For instance, the images took 10 to 24 hours to produce, and objects the researchers imaged were exposed to large amounts of radiation. Nevertheless, Cherry said the study shows the technique is possible, and there aren't any theoretical barriers—only technological ones.

"Some people thought there might be some other effects that might come into play at this very fast timing precisions that might make this not work the way that we thought it would," Cherry said. "I think we've put that to rest."


Match ID: 184 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 13 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

COP26: What was agreed at the Glasgow climate conference?
Mon, 15 Nov 2021 13:28:34 GMT
A crucial climate change summit has been held in the UK which could change our lives.
Match ID: 185 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 13 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

COP26: How might decisions at the climate summit change our lives?
Mon, 15 Nov 2021 11:47:04 GMT
The changes made at COP26 in Glasgow could have implications for the way we live.
Match ID: 186 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 13 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Metadata From Encrypted Messages Can Keep People Safe
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Sharing “metadata of the metadata” is crucial for informing product design that will fight misinformation without allowing security backdoors.
Match ID: 187 Score: 3.57 source: www.wired.com age: 16 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

How green was the COP26 climate summit?
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 06:15:22 GMT
A report has suggested the carbon footprint of the Glasgow summit is more than double that of COP25.
Match ID: 188 Score: 3.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 17 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

​​Why the World’s Militaries Are Embracing 5G
Thu, 11 Nov 2021 17:00:00 +0000


It's 2035, and the sun beats down on a vast desert coastline. A fighter jet takes off accompanied by four unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a mission of reconnaissance and air support. A dozen special forces soldiers have moved into a town in hostile territory, to identify targets for an air strike on a weapons cache. Commanders need live visual evidence to correctly identify the targets for the strike and to minimize damage to surrounding buildings. The problem is that enemy jamming has blacked out the team's typical radio-frequency bands around the cache. Conventional, civilian bands are a no-go because they'd give away the team's position.

As the fighter jet and its automated wingmen cross into hostile territory, they are already sweeping the ground below with radio-frequency, infrared, and optical sensors to identify potential threats. On a helmet-mounted visor display, the pilot views icons on a map showing the movements of antiaircraft batteries and RF jammers, as well as the special forces and the locations of allied and enemy troops.


While all this is going on, the fighter jet's autonomous wingmen establish an ad hoc, high-bandwidth mesh communication network that cuts through the jamming by using unjammed frequencies, aggregating signals across different radio channels, and rapidly switching among different channels. Through a self-organizing network of communication nodes, the piloted fighter in the air connects to the special forces on the ground.

As soon as the network is established, the soldiers begin transmitting real-time video of artillery rockets being transported into buildings. The fighter jet acts as a base station, connecting the flying mesh network of the UAVs with a network of military and commercial satellites accessible to commanders all over the world. Processors distributed among the piloted and unpiloted aircraft churn through the data, and artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms locate the targets and identify the weapons in the live video feed being viewed by the commanders.

Suddenly, the pilot sees a dot flashing on the far horizon through his helmet-mounted display. Instantly, two of the four teammates divert toward the location indicated by the flash. The helmet lights up a flight path toward the spot, and the pilot receives new orders scrolling across the display:

New Priority: SEARCH AND RESCUE

Downed Pilot, 121 miles NNW

Execute Reconnaissance and Grid Search, Provide Air Cover

The two UAVs that have flown ahead start coordinating to identify the location of hostile forces in the vicinity of the downed aircraft. A Navy rescue helicopter and medical support vessel are already en route. Meanwhile, with the fighter jet speeding away on a new mission, the two other UAVs supporting the special forces squad shift their network configuration to directly link to the satellite networks now serving the base-station role formerly played by the fighter jet. The live video feed goes on uninterrupted. The reconfigurations happen swiftly and without human intervention.

Warfare has always been carried out at the boundary between chaos and order. Strategists have long tried to suppress the chaos and impose order by means of intelligence, communication, and command and control. The most powerful weapon is useless without knowing where to aim it. The most carefully constructed plan leads nowhere if it is based on bad intelligence. And the best intelligence is worthless if it arrives too late. No wonder that over the past two centuries, as technologies such as photography, electronic communications, and computing became available, they were quickly absorbed into military operations and often enhanced by targeted defense R&D.

The next key enabler is fifth-generation ( 5G) wireless communications. The United States, Europe, China, and Russia are now integrating 5G technologies into their military networks. These are sizable and complicated projects, and several different strategies are already becoming apparent.

At Lockheed Martin, we're enhancing standard 5G technologies to connect the many platforms and networks that are fielded by the various branches of the armed services. We call this our 5G.MIL initiative. Earlier this year, in two projects, called Hydra and HiveStar, we demonstrated the feasibility of key aspects of this initiative. Hydra yielded encouraging results on the interoperability challenge, and HiveStar showed that it was possible to quickly construct, in an area with no existing infrastructure, a highly mobile and yet capable 5G network, as would be required on a battlefield.

The new work takes an unusual approach. It is a collaboration with commercial industry in which technology is transferred from the civilian to the military sector, not the other way around. Radar, rocketry, and nuclear energy got their starts in military labs, and it took years, even generations, for these technologies to trickle into consumer products. But today, for fundamental technologies such as computing and communications, the sheer scale of private-sector development is increasingly beyond the resources of even the largest national defense agencies. To deploy networks that are sufficiently fast, adaptive, agile, and interoperable, warfighters now have little alternative but to exploit commercial developments.

No wonder, then, that the U.S. Department of Defense, through an initiative called 5G to NextG, and various complementary investments from individual armed services, has committed upwards of US $2 billion to advance commercial 5G research and to perform tests and experiments to adapt the results for military purposes.

To understand the significance of such a shift, consider how the United States got to this juncture. In 18th-century conflicts, such as the Revolutionary War, the only battlefield sensors were human eyes and ears. Long-distance communication could take days and could be interrupted if the messengers it relied on were captured or killed. Tactical battlefield decisions were signaled by flags or runners to commence maneuvers or attacks.

By World War II, combatants had radar, aircraft, and radios to sense enemy planes and bombers up to 80 miles ahead. They could communicate from hundreds of miles away and prepare air defenses and direct fighter-interceptor squadrons within minutes. Photoreconnaissance could supply invaluable intelligence—but in hours or days, not seconds.

Today, the field of battle is intensively monitored. There are countless sensors on land, sea, air, space, and even in cyberspace. Jet fighters, such as the F-35, can act as information-processing hubs in the sky to fuse all that data into a single integrated picture of the battlefield, then share that picture with war fighters and decision makers, who can thus execute command and control in near real time.

A grey fighter jet with a shiny dome flies over rocky mountains.

A gray military plane with wide wings flies over a mountainous landscape.

Two gray military planes fly side by side. Three Lockheed Martin military aircraft, built in different eras, have different communications systems designed to make it hard for an adversary to detect a transmission. In a project called Hydra, engineers used electronic systems called open-system gateways to enable the three to communicate freely. From the top, the aircraft are the F-22, the U-2S, and the F-35. Lockheed Martin

At least, that's the goal. The reality often falls short. The networks that knit together all these sensors are a patchwork. Some of them run over civilian commercial infrastructure and others are military, and among the military ones, different requirements among the different branches and other factors have contributed to an assortment of high-performance but largely incompatible communication protocols. Messages may not propagate across these networks quickly or at all.

Here's why that's a problem. Say that an F-35 detects an incoming ballistic missile. The aircraft can track the missile in real time. But today it may not be able to convey that tracking data all the way to antimissile batteries in time for them to shoot down the projectile. That's the kind of capability the 5G.MIL initiative is aiming for.

There are broader goals, too, because future battlefields will up the ante on complexity. Besides weapons, platforms, and gear, individual people will be outfitted with network-connected sensors monitoring their location, exposures to biochemical or radioactive hazards, and physical condition. To connect all these elements will require global mesh networks of thousands of nodes, including satellites in space. The networks will have to accommodate hypersonic systems moving faster than five times the speed of sound, while also being capable of controlling or launching cyberattacks, electronic warfare and countermeasures, and directed-energy weapons.

Such technologies will fundamentally change the character and speed of war and will require an omnipresent communications backbone to manage capabilities across the entire battlefield. The sheer range of coordinated activities, the volume of assets, the complexity of their interactions, and their worldwide distribution would quickly overwhelm the computing and network capabilities we have today. The time from observation to decision to action will be measured in milliseconds: When a maneuvering hypersonic platform moves more than 3.5 kilometers per second, knowing its location even a second ago may be of little use for a system designed to track it.

Our 5G.MIL vision has two complementary elements. One is exemplified by the opening scenario of this article: the quick, ad hoc establishment of secure, local networks based on 5G technology. The goal here is to let forces take sensor data from any platform in the theater and make it accessible to any shooter, no matter how the platform and the shooter each connect to the network.

Lockheed Martin

Aircraft, ships, satellites, tanks, or even individual soldiers could connect their sensors to the secure 5G network via specially modified 5G base stations. Like commercial 5G base stations, these hybrid base stations could handle commercial 5G and 4G LTE cellular traffic. They could also share data via military tactical links and communications systems. In either case, these battlefield connections would take the form of secure mesh networks. In this type of network, nodes have intelligence that enables them to connect to one another directly to self-organize and self-configure into a network, and then jointly manage the flow of data.

Inside the hybrid base station would be a series of systems called tactical gateways, which enable the base station to work with different military communication protocols. Such gateways already exist: They consist of hardware and software based on military-prescribed open-architecture standards that enable a platform, such as a fighter jet made by one contractor, to communicate with, say, a missile battery made by another supplier.

The second element of the 5G.MIL vision involves connecting these local mesh networks to the global Internet. Such a connection between a local network and the wider Internet is known as a backhaul. In our case, the connection might be on the ground or in space, between civilian and military satellites. The resulting globe-spanning backhaul networks, composed of civilian infrastructure, military assets, or a mixture of both, would in effect create a software-defined virtual global defense network.

The software-defined aspect is important because it would allow the networks to be reconfigured—automatically—on the fly. That's a huge challenge right now, but it's critical because it would provide the flexibility needed to deal with the exigencies of war. At one moment, you might need an enormous video bandwidth in a certain area; in the next, you might need to convey a huge amount of targeting data. Alternatively, different streams of data might need different levels of encryption. Automatically reconfigurable software-defined networks would make all of this possible.

The military advantage would be that software running on the network could use data sourced from anywhere in the world to pinpoint location, identify friends or foes, and to target hostile forces. Any authorized user in the field with a smartphone could see on a Web browser, with data from this network, the entire battlefield, no matter where it was on the planet.

We partnered recently with the U.S. Armed Services to demonstrate key aspects of this 5G.MIL vision. In March 2021, Lockheed Martin's Project Hydra demonstrated bidirectional communication between the Lockheed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane in flight, and then down to ground artillery systems.

This latest experiment, part of a series that began in 2013, is an example of connecting systems with communications protocols that are unique to their mission requirements. All three planes are made by Lockheed Martin, but their different chronologies and battlefield roles resulted in different custom communications links that aren't readily compatible. Project Hydra enabled the platforms to communicate directly via an open-system gateway that translates data between native communications links and other weapons systems.

Emerging technologies will fundamentally change the character and speed of war and will require an omnipresent communications backbone to manage capabilities across the entire battlefield.

It was a promising outcome, but reconnaissance and fighter aircraft represent only a tiny fraction of the nodes in a future battle space. Lockheed Martin has continued to build off Project Hydra, introducing additional platforms in the network architecture. Extending the distributed-gateway approach to all platforms can make the resulting network resilient to the loss of individual nodes by ensuring that critical data gets through without having to spend money to replace existing platform radios with a new, common radio.

Another series of projects with a software platform called HiveStar showed that a fully functional 5G network could be assembled using base stations about the size of a cereal box. What's more, those base stations could be installed on modestly sized multicopters and flown around a theater of operations—this network was literally "on the fly."

The HiveStar team carried out a series of trials this year culminating in a joint demonstration with the U.S. Army's Ground Vehicle Systems Center. The objective was to support a real-world Army need: using autonomous vehicles to deliver supplies in war zones.

The team started simply, setting up a 5G base station and establishing a connection to a smartphone. The base-station hardware, a gNodeB in industry parlance, was an OctNode2, from Octasic in Montreal. The base station weighs about 800 grams and measures about 24 × 15 × 5 centimeters.

A white 3D printed box with electronics inside sits on a black and red base. On top, multiple black pieces extend from the white box. A white 3-D printed box housed processors for distributed-computing and communications software, called HiveStar. The housings were mounted on unpiloted aerial vehicles for a demonstration of a fully airborne 5G network.Lockheed Martin

The team then tested the compact system in an area without existing infrastructure, as might very well be true of a war zone or disaster area. The team mounted the gNodeB and a tactical radio operating in the S band on a DJI Matrice 600 Pro hexacopter and flew the package over a test range at Lockheed Martin's Waterton, Colo., facility. The system passed the test: It established 5G connectivity between this roving cell tower in the sky with a tablet on the ground.

Next, the team set about wirelessly connecting a group of base stations together into a flying, roving heterogeneous 5G military network that could perform useful missions. For this they relied on Lockheed-Martin developed software called HiveStar, which manages network coverage and distributes tasks among network nodes—in this case, the multicopters cooperating to find and photograph the target. This management is dynamic: if one node is lost to interference or damage, the remaining nodes adjust to cover the loss.

For the team's first trial, they chose a pretty standard military chore: locate and photograph a target using multiple sensor systems, a function called tip and cue. In a war zone such a mission might be carried out by a relatively large UAV outfitted with serious processing power. Here the team used the gNodeB and S-band radio setup as before, but with a slight difference. All 5G networks need a software suite called 5G core services, which is responsible for such basic functions as authenticating a user and managing the handoffs from tower to tower. In this trial, those core functions were running on a standard Dell PowerEdge R630 1U rack-mounted server on the ground. So the network consisted of the gNodeB on the lead copter, which communicated with the ground using 5G and depended on the core services on the ground computers.

The lead copter communicated using S-band radio links, with several camera copters and one search copter with a software-defined radio programmed to detect an RF pulse in the target frequency. The team worked with the HiveStar software, which managed the network's communications and computing, via the 5G tablet. All that was needed was a target for the copters to search for. So the team outfitted a remotely controlled toy jeep, about 1 meter long, with a software-defined radio emitter as a surrogate target.

The team initiated the tip-and-cue mission by entering commands on the 5G tablet. The lead copter acted as a router to the rest of the heterogeneous 5G and S-band network. Messages initiating the mission were then distributed to the other cooperating copters via the S-band radio connection. Once these camera platforms received the messages, their onboard HiveStar mission software cooperated to autonomously distribute tasks among the team to execute search maneuvers. The multicopters lifted off in search of the target RF emitter.

Once the detecting copter located the target jeep's radio signal, the camera copters quickly sped to the area and captured images of the jeep. Then, via the 5G gNodeB, they sent these images, along with precise latitude and longitude information, to the tablet. Mission accomplished.

Next the team thought of ways to fly the entire 5G system, freeing it from any dependence on specific locations on the ground. To do this, they had to put the 5G core services on the lead copter, the one outfitted with the gNodeB. Working with a partner company, they loaded the core services software onto a single board computer, an Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX, along with the gNodeB. For the lead copter, which would carry this gear, they chose a robust, industrial-grade quadcopter, the Freefly Alta X. They equipped it with the Nvidia board, antennas, filters, and the S-band radios.

Lockheed Martin

At the Army's behest, the team came up with a plan to use the flying network to demonstrate leader-follower autonomous-vehicle mobility. It's a convoy: A human drives a lead vehicle, and up to eight autonomous vehicles follow behind, using routing information transmitted to them from the lead vehicle. Just as in the tip-and-cue demonstration, the team established a heterogeneous 5G and S-band network with the upgraded 5G payload and a series of supporting copters that formed a connected S-band mesh network. This mesh connected the convoy to a second, identical convoy several kilometers away, which was also served by a copter-based 5G and S-band base station.

After the commander initiated the mission, the Freefly Alta X flew itself above the lead vehicle at a height of about 100 meters and connected to it via the 5G link. The HiveStar mission-controller software directed the supporting multicopters to launch, form, and maintain the mesh network. The vehicle convoy started its circuit around a test range about 10 km in circumference. During this time, the copter connected via 5G to the lead convoy vehicle would relay position and other telemetric information to the other vehicles in the convoy, while following overhead as the convoy traveled at around 50 km per hour. Data from the lead vehicle was shared by this relay to following vehicles as well as the second convoy via the distributed multicopter-based S-band mesh network.

Illustration of satellites and other elements and how they are all connected. Current 5G standards do not include connections via satellites or aircraft. But planned revisions, designated Release 17 by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project consortium, are expected next year and will support nonterrestrial networking capabilities for 5G.Chris Philpot

The team also challenged the system by simulating the loss of one of the data links (either 5G or S-band) due to jamming or malfunction. If a 5G link was severed, the system immediately switched to the S band, and vice versa, to maintain connectivity. Such a capability would be important in a war zone, where jamming is a constant threat.

Though encouraging, the Hydra and HiveStar trials were but first steps, and many high hurdles will have to be cleared before the scenario that opens this article can become reality. Chief among these is expanding the coverage and range of the 5G-enabled networks to continental or intercontinental range, increasing their security, and managing their myriad connections. We are looking to the commercial sector to bring big ideas to these challenges.

Satellite constellations, for instance, can provide a degree of global coverage, along with cloud-computing services via the internet and the opportunity for mesh networking and distributed computing. And though today's 5G standards do not include space-based 5G access, the Release 17 standards coming in 2022 from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project consortium will natively support nonterrestrial networking capabilities for the 5G ecosystem. So we're working with our commercial partners to integrate their 3GPP-compliant capabilities to enable direct-to-device 5G connectivity from space. In the meantime, we're using the HiveStar/multicopter platform as a surrogate to test and demonstrate our space-based 5G concepts.

Security will entail many challenges. Cyberattackers can be counted on to attempt to exploit any vulnerabilities in the software-defined networking and network-virtualization capabilities of the 5G architecture. The huge number of vendors and their suppliers will make it hard to perform due diligence on all of them. And yet we must protect against such attacks in a way that works with any vendor's products rather than rely, as in the past, on a limited pool of preapproved solutions with proprietary (and incompatible) security modifications.

The advent of ultrafast 5G technology is an inflection point in military technology.

Another interesting little challenge is presented by the 5G waveform itself. It's made to be easily discovered to establish the strongest connection. But that won't work in military operations where lives depend on stealth. Modifications to the standard 5G waveform, and how it's processed within the gNodeB, can achieve transmission that's hard for adversaries to pick up.

Perhaps the greatest challenge, though, is how to orchestrate a global network built on mixed commercial and military infrastructure. To succeed here will require collaboration with commercial mobile-network operators to develop better ways to authenticate user connections, control network capacity, and share RF spectrum. For software applications to make use of 5G's low latency, we'll also have to find new, innovative ways of managing distributed cloud-computing resources.

It's not a leap to see the advent of ultrafast 5G technology as an inflection point in military technology. As artificial intelligence, unpiloted systems, directed-energy weapons, and other technologies become cheaper and more widely available, threats will proliferate in both number and diversity. Communications and command and control will only become more important relative to more traditional factors such as the physical capabilities of platforms and kinetic weapons. This sentiment was highlighted in the summary of the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy, the strategic guidance document issued every four years by the U.S. DOD: "Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting."

Here, it is worth noting that Chinese companies are among the most active in developing 5G and emerging 6G technologies. Chinese firms, notably Huawei and ZTE Corp., have more than 30 percent of the worldwide market for 5G technology, similar to the combined market shares of Ericsson and Nokia. Chinese market share could very well increase: According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the Chinese government backs companies that build 5G infrastructures in countries China invests in as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, in Europe, NATO unveiled its first 5G military test site in Latvia in 2020. Norway, notably, is exploring dedicating software-defined networks in commercial 5G infrastructure to support military missions.

Perhaps this convergence of commercial and defense-sector development around 5G, 6G, and future communications technologies will lead to powerful and unexpected commercial applications. The defense sector gave the world the Internet. The world now gives militaries 5G communications and beyond. Let's find out what the defense sector can give back.

Authors' note: 5G.MIL, HiveStar, and Lockheed Martin are all trademarks of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. The authors wish to acknowledge the help of Brandon Martin in the writing of this article.


Match ID: 189 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 17 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

The Turing Test Is Bad for Business
Mon, 08 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Technology should focus on the complementarity game, not the imitation game.
Match ID: 190 Score: 3.57 source: www.wired.com age: 20 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Indigenous activists on tackling the climate crisis: 'We have done more than any government' – video
Thu, 04 Nov 2021 10:30:27 GMT

Despite only making up about 6% of the global population, Indigenous people protect 80% of biodiversity left in the world. We speak to six young Indigenous climate activists from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chad, Alaska, Sweden, Indonesia and Australia about their people and culture – and what we can learn from them about protecting our planet. 

Nina Gualinga, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Charitie Ropati, Sara-Elvira Kuhmunen, Emmanuela Shinta and Amelia Telford also tell us about what they want to see from world leaders at the Cop26 summit and what makes them hopeful about the future

Continue reading...
Match ID: 191 Score: 3.57 source: www.theguardian.com age: 24 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Electric Airplanes Won’t Make Much of a Dent in Air Travel for Decades to Come
Mon, 01 Nov 2021 15:15:31 +0000


Exaggeration has become the default method for news reporting, and the possibility of commercial electric flight has been no exception, with repeated claims that these new planes will utterly change how we live.

In 2017, Boeing and JetBlue funded Zunum Aero, a U.S. company that promised nothing less than transforming air travel with short-haul electric planes capable of carrying 12 people–and doing it by 2022. Two years later Boeing declined to continue funding the project.


At the Paris Air Show in June 2019, the CEO of Eviation introduced Alice, a nine-seat commuter plane that had two pusher motors on the wing tips—a highly questionable design—and said, "This is not some future maybe…. It's operational." It was not. The first flight did not take place as advertised, and in 2021 the motors were relocated aft on the model fuselage.

Meanwhile, there is the Pipistrel Velis Electro, the first electric airplane to receive European Union flight certification. It is able to carry just two people, for only about an hour.

Illustration comparing the sizes of a Pipistral Velis Electro and a Boeing 787-10 in meters. More people, flying further have nearly doubled the passenger-kilometers traveled by air over the past decade. Short-haul flights on battery power, while undoubtedly convenient, would amount to a mere rounding error, not only for this metric but for the related one of carbon emissions. The Pipistrel Velis Electro, the first e-plane approved in the European Union, can carry two people for about 100 kilometers; the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner can carry 336 people 11,750 km—about a 20,000-fold difference. James Provost

But overly ambitious goals and setbacks are not the question here; such early failures are to be expected in any new technical endeavor. The problem is much more fundamental. Having all-electric aircraft for short-haul flights would indeed be great, and it would provide critical services to millions of travelers living in small towns. Still, it would make only a minor contribution to what is truly a gigantic business.

Air traffic surged from 28 billion passenger-kilometers (pkm) in 1950 to 2.8 trillion pkm by the year 2000, a 100-fold rise. It then rose to nearly 9 trillion pkm before the pandemic intervened. Trillions of passenger-kilometers could be added so rapidly thanks to the advent of wide-body airplanes carrying 300 to 500 passengers per plane between the continents. Consider such flights, spanning about 6,000 kilometers between Europe and North America, 8,000 km between Europe and East Asia, and 11,000 km between North America and Asia—and compare them to short-haul affairs, say between smaller towns and the largest city in a state.

Large turbofan engines powering these planes are fueled by aviation kerosene that provides nearly 12,000 watt-hours per kilogram. In contrast, today's best commercial Li-ion batteries deliver less than 300 Wh/kg, or 1/40th the energy density of kerosene. Even when taking into account the higher efficiency of electric motors, the effective energy densities go down to about 1/20th. That's more than better batteries can bridge within the next decade or two.

During the past 30 years the maximum energy density of batteries has roughly tripled. Even if electrochemists should replicate that feat, providing us with 1,000 Wh/kg batteries in 2050, it would still fall far short of what's needed to fly a wide-body plane nonstop from New York to Tokyo, something that All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and United Airlines have been doing for years with the Boeing 777. And while kerosene-fueled planes get lighter as they travel to their destination, electric aircraft will have to carry a constant mass of batteries.

Moreover, the airline industry requires massive investments. Pre-COVID estimates indicated that between 2018 and 2038 the combined market for new planes, together with the cost of their maintenance, repair, and associated training services, would be on the order of US $16 trillion. Such enormous outlays require long planning horizons, embedded in commitments to specific designs and aircraft orders.

This means that the industry's next few decades have already been decided. Because the average lifespan of both single-aisle and wide-body planes is just over 20 years, forthcoming purchases of new planes will expand the existing fleet at least by half—and all of the large commercial planes will rely on kerosene-fueled turbofans.

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "Electric Flight."


Match ID: 192 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 27 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Sure, China’s Hypersonic Weapons May Have Incited a “Sputnik Moment”
Thu, 28 Oct 2021 22:42:15 +0000


Hypersonic flight may sound futuristic, but it's been around for at least 70-odd years—since the nose cones of ballistic missiles first began to regularly re-enter the atmosphere at better than Mach Five. (Five times the speed of sound is the commonly accepted definition of such speeds.)

In the 1960s the United States and the Soviet Union both experimented with the technology. In recent years Russia and China have doubled down on it, and they haven't been keeping quiet about it either. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech in 2018 that was accompanied by an animated impression of how a hypersonic missile would look like on its way to North America. The Chinese have pushed the technology just as hard, and with far more funding.

So why is the Pentagon shocked, shocked to learn that in August, China tested two nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles? The Financial Times reported it earlier this month, apparently basing it on Pentagon sources. Though it just might have been an officially sanctioned leak.

Could this be a "Sputnik moment"? After the original such “moment," following the Soviet's 1958 launch of a satellite of that name, the United States more or less panicked: The government upped funding for the space program, and schools put new emphasis on science and mathematics. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, distanced himself from the concept only to embrace it. "I don't know if it's quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it's very close to that," he said in an interview yesterday on Bloomberg Television.

The U.S. has armed itself according to an outspend-our-rivals mindset at least since Grant prevailed over Lee in 1865. But is this really a wise move against China in 2021?

Expect yet more funding for U.S. research on hypersonic technology. I say "yet more" because Congress has been worried for some time about a possible hypersonic missile gap. For fiscal 2022 the Pentagon's request for hypersonic research funding is US $3.8 billion—up from $3.2 billion in 2021 and $2.6 billion in the previous year.

The U.S. military wants not only hypersonic missiles of its own but also a world-embracing network of low-orbiting satellites that can catch a hypersonic missile in time to alert potential targets. Not that the targets could defend themselves: There is today no antimissile that can hit such fast-moving, maneuverable vehicles. But at least a timely tip could enable the doomed site to retaliate before dying, a capability that would reinforce the sardonically named system of deterrence known as MAD, for mutual assured destruction.

Existing missile defense is based on high-orbiting, geostationary satellites, which are great at noticing booster missile launches but not the faint emanations from the trail of a hypersonic missile. "Because of these challenges our current terrestrial- and space-based sensor architecture may not be sufficient to detect and track these hypersonic missiles," Admiral Charles A. Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said at a symposium in August.

"We are witnessing a strategic breakout by China," Adm. Richard added. "The explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I describe as breathtaking. And, frankly, that word 'Breathtaking' may not be enough."

What does all this mean for the balance of power? Perhaps the nuclear aspect is not the real problem. The Russians and the Chinese now have tactical missiles, ready for use, that can do quite a lot while packing nothing more powerful than high explosives.

Take as an example the recent talk of whether the United States might defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack of some kind. In any naval conflict in the South China Sea, Chinese missiles based on land could hold the U.S. Navy's supercarriers at arm's length, because both sides know that the carriers have no defense. The only thing a carrier could do is steam right into the death zone and say, “If you sink me, my country will be very, very cross with you."

But even this tactical point may not get to the true heart of the problem. Any arms race has an powerful economic component: It's a game of one-upmanship, and if it has any strictly strategic point at all, it is to force the other side to spend more money than it can afford.

Generally speaking, the side with the most resources will win.

The United States has fought according to this logic at least since Grant prevailed over Lee in 1865, and it has used it successfully in every subsequent conflict with a peer power—with Germany and Japan in World War II and with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. But the United States may no longer be able to count on sheer economic might.

By some measures, China now has an economy as big as that of the United States, though of course China is far behind on a per capita basis. Still, its interests are, for now, concentrated in just one part of the world, whereas the United States has responsibilities everywhere. For China, then, a costly arms race may be just the thing.


Match ID: 193 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 31 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Air Taxis Are Safe—According to the Manufacturers
Thu, 21 Oct 2021 19:00:00 +0000


Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for urban commuting are currently under development by more than a dozen different companies. These concepts and prototypes, representing well over a billion dollars of venture capital investment in 2020 alone, promise that sometime in the near future, point-to-point travel between suburbs and urban centers will happen by air using innovative new flying vehicles that are fast, quiet, clean, and far more affordable than a helicopter. United Airlines has ordered 200 eVTOLs. American Airlines has ordered 250, with an option for 100 more. But none of these eVTOL platforms are yet certified to carry passengers, and as a fundamentally different approach to flight, there are still open questions about safety.

A significant difference in safety that separates many eVTOL designs from traditional aircraft (namely, airplanes and helicopters) is that eVTOLs often don't have a good way of passively generating lift in the event of a power system failure. An airplane can rely on its wings to provide lift even if it has no operational engines, and in several cases large passenger airliners with multiple engine failures have been able to make controlled long-distance glides to land safely. Similarly, helicopters can autorotate, using the unpowered rotor to generate enough lift to make a controlled descent and landing.

EVTOLs typically rely either entirely or in large part on distributed propulsion systems—many small electric motors driving propellers or fans that together generate lift. Some eVTOLs have wings, but those wings are not necessarily designed to facilitate landings. And some eVTOLs rely exclusively on powered lift systems, meaning that if a software or hardware failure disables the entire power system, the vehicle can no longer generate any lift at all. It's a scary thought, and the companies developing eVTOLs are well aware that in order to be successful, they'll have to achieve a level of safety that inspires confidence from both regulators and future passengers.

"This is indeed one of the unique elements of eVTOL aircraft," says Oliver Reinhardt, head of airworthiness certification and quality at Volocopter, based in Bruchsal, Germany. "We had to find a way to translate the level of safety of our novel aircraft for aviation authorities, and we did that by achieving a level of safety that's higher than what you would expect from a fixed-wing aircraft or a classical light rotorcraft." Volocopter's eVTOL uses an 18-rotor propulsion system without any passive lifting surfaces, and can carry two people for a distance of 35 kilometers at 110 kilometers per hour. Reinhardt explains that conventional light aircraft are engineered based on the potential for hazardous or catastrophic failures at a rate of approximately once per 1,000,000 hours of operation. Larger aircraft are engineered to more rigorous standards, with expected failure rates of once per 10 million hours of operation. Commercial passenger aircraft meet the highest standards of all, with expected catastrophic failures in the range of once per billion flight hours.

Image of the Volocopter flying in the sky. Designed and manufactured in Germany, the Volocopter 2X is a two-seat eVTOL that's been in testing since 2013.Volocopter

But even a failure that improbable must not be catastrophic, says Reinhardt. "Our safety will actually be at a threshold that is beyond the certification limits for a large passenger aircraft. We must show that we are able to continue to fly and to even get to a planned landing site, rather than an emergency landing at the nearest place. So even a failure at one in a billion flight hours doesn't mean that an aircraft with a distributed propulsion system is dropping out of the sky."

Volocopter's approach to safety involves multiple layers of both redundancy and dissimilarity. Every critical system has a backup system, and each backup system uses a different kind of hardware running different software written in a different programming language, all produced and validated by different companies. This insulates the overall system against any individual point of failure. But what about dual or even triple failures? That's typically where we must ensure that these events don't happen more often than one in a billion flight hours, Reinhardt says. Volocopter has to make sure that flight performance isn't affected by (for example) the failure of one motor, or of two motors. If three motors fail, the aircraft will likely have to descend, but according to Reinhardt, a simultaneous three-motor failure "is beyond one in a billion flight hours. That's the kind of logic that is behind our design—it's the very same logic that's behind large passenger aircraft, and it's what we need to demonstrate."

"EVTOLS potentially being safer than things that come before them is the goal," agrees Jim Tighe, chief technology officer of Wisk Aero, a company based in Mountain View, Calif., and backed by Boeing and Kitty Hawk Corp. Wisk's eVTOL uses 12 lift fans distributed around two wings, plus a pusher prop at the rear. These wings do allow the aircraft to glide, but their primary function is to increase the efficiency of the aircraft in flight, Tighe says. "The wing is helpful in that it serves as the primary source of lift during cruise; having a passive landing capability wasn't our primary motivation." Tighe points out that for eVTOLs, being able to glide to a landing could potentially be useful under some failure modes, but not others—it doesn't do you much good unless the aircraft is in a flight mode where the wings are generating a significant amount of lift, which would not be the case during vertical take-offs or landings. "As part of our aircraft design work and systems safety analysis, we think about all of the functions that the vehicle has to do and the flight phases that it has to do them in," says Tighe. "And then we think about, if those functions fail in a particular flight phase, what is the outcome, and how do we ensure that catastrophic outcomes are highly improbable?"

Like Volocopter, Wisk's safety is based around designing its aircraft with simple and highly redundant systems with no single points of failure. This is one of the advantages that eVTOLs have over traditional aircraft—compared to piston or turbine engines, electric motors are very simple, which according to Tighe allows the aircraft to handle failures in a way that's not possible with mechanical systems, as far fewer moving parts and easy electric power distribution allow individual motors to compensate for one another when necessary.

How confident are the companies in their statistics, considering how new these aircraft are?

Greg Bowles, head of government and regulatory affairs for Joby Aviation, agrees: "Electric is what's super cool here because it lets us do the kinds of things that mechanical systems just can't do." Joby's aircraft has six propellers, which can tilt to provide vertical or horizontal thrust, and wings that support gliding to an emergency landing. The propellers are powered by dual-wound motors, essentially two separate electric motors combined into one for redundancy, so that even if a failure of two motors happens during hover, the aircraft loses at most one propeller, which it can handle safely.

If the confidence that these companies have in their systems is based on failures being statistically unlikely, the question then becomes: How confident are they in those statistics, considering how new these aircraft are? In other words, if something is extremely improbable, how can you accurately measure that improbability?

"To understand what's extremely improbable," explains Bowles, "we do a system safety analysis across the board, looking at all kinds of known failures. What if the software does something unexpected here, what if that electronic component fails in this way, what if this wire fails in this other way, millions of combinations." This is an extensive process that involves looking at every single element of the system, down to the reliability of individual resistors and capacitors, since everything is a potential source of failure that needs to be understood and accounted for.

Beyond these estimates, real-world testing plays a significant role. "We do a lot of ground testing," says Wisk's Tighe. "You make multiple copies of things and you run them 24 hours a day. Another way to do it is accelerated life testing, meaning that you could test circuit boards at elevated temperatures and environmental conditions like vibration worse than that they'll see in flight to accelerate the degradation."

Image of the Wisk Aero aircraft flying in the sky. Wisk Aero's aircraft is designed to be flown autonomously, with a 40-kilometer range at up to 100 kilometers per hour.Wisk Aero

While eVTOL companies are understandably focused on safety internally, it's up to regulatory agencies like the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to establish the safety rules that will allow eVTOLs to be certified to carry passengers. This process is currently ongoing, and the two agencies are taking very different approaches. The FAA is adapting existing regulatory frameworks to eVTOLs by finding ways of applying airworthiness standards intended for more conventional aircraft designs. EASA, in contrast, is working on a complete set of dedicated technical specifications specifically for eVTOLs, which may ultimately have more stringent safety requirements than the FAA's approach does.

No matter what regulators require, it's obviously in the best interest of every eVTOL company to make its aircraft as safe as possible, and the goal, says Wisk's Tighe, is to "provide a service that people feel good about and that is much safer than driving to the airport." As with any statistical argument, though, the real challenge may be getting potential customers to actually feel that level of safety—to believe that these eVTOLs are designed with the thoughtfulness and care necessary to keep their passengers safe, even if something, or two or three things, go wrong.

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "How Safe Are eVTOLs?."


Match ID: 194 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 38 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

New-home construction subsides as supply-chain and labor problems persist
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 08:41:30 -0500
U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.56 million in September, representing a 1.6% decrease from the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Compared with September 2020, housing starts were up 7.4%. The pace of permitting for new housing units also dropped in September. Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.59 million, down 7.7% from August, in line with the rate of permitting from a year ago. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a pace of 1.61 million and building permits to come in at a pace of 1.67 million. The drop in permits was driven mainly by a decrease in multifamily housing units, though fewer single-family homes were permitted as well. New construction on multifamily buildings also decreased in September, though single-family starts remained flat.

Match ID: 195 Score: 3.57 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 40 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

China Could Be Exploiting Internet Security Process to Steal Data, Cyber Experts Warn
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 10:08:00 +0000

Gaming keyboard-chinese hacking group

To access the data of unsuspecting users, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could take advantage of a universal authentication process that is believed to be secure but may not actually be, cybersecurity experts warned, although encryption is still the preferred method of protecting digital data and Protection of computers - in some cases, the same digital certificates used for internet authentication allow the Chinese regime to infiltrate and wreak havoc on various computer networks, they said. 

Digital certificates that verify the identity of a digital entity on the Internet. A digital certificate can be compared to a passport or driver's license, according to Andrew Jenkinson, CEO of cybersecurity company Cybersec Innovation Partners (CIP) and author of the book Stuxnet to Sunburst: 20 Years of Digital Exploitation and Cyber ​​Warfare. 

"Without it, the person or device you are using may not meet industry standards, and the encryption of critical data could be bypassed so that what should be encrypted remains in plain text," Jenkinson told The Epoch Times Used to Encrypt internal and external communications that prevent a hacker, for example, from intercepting and stealing data. But "fake certificates" or invalid certificates can tamper with any data. 

Sense of security, "said Jenkinson. Cybersecurity firm Global Cyber ​​Risk LLC said digital certificates are generally issued by trusted CAs and then the same level of trust is passed on to intermediaries However, there are opportunities for a communist entity, malicious actor, or other untrustworthy entity to issue certificates to other "hideous people" who appear trustworthy but are not, he said.

"If you issue a certificate from a trusted authority, you will trust it," said Duren. "But what the issuer could actually do is pass that trust on to someone who shouldn't be trusted. Duren said he would never trust." a Chinese certification authority for this reason, stating that it is aware of a number of companies that have banned Chinese certificates because they were issued to untrustworthy agencies. 

Jenkinson said that Chinese certification bodies make up a small portion of the overall industry and the certificates they issue are generally limited to Chinese companies and products.

prince a member of chinese hacking group
Prince, a member of the hacking group Red Hacker Alliance who declined to give his real name, uses his computer at their office in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China, on Aug. 4, 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images).

 In 2015, certificates from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the state agency overseeing domain name registration in China, were challenged. Mozilla revoked CNNIC certificates because it knew of unauthorized digital certificates associated with multiple domains. Both Internet companies opposed CNNIC delegating its authority to issue certificates to an Egyptian company that issued the unauthorized certificates. According to Jenkinson, CNNIC certificates were banned because they had "back doors". 

A back door means that [the Chinese certification body] could literally take administrative access and send data back to the mothership, ”he said. Since 2016, Mozilla, Google, Apple and Microsoft have also blocked the Chinese certification authorities WoSign and their subsidiary StartCom due to unacceptable security practices.Vulnerability Despite these bans on Chinese digital certificates in recent years, the CCP has not been deterred and has long-term gambling, Jenkinson said, referring to an alarming discovery by his cybersecurity firm two years ago that it was a multinational consulting firm. 

Digital certificates are typically valid for a few years depending on the certification authority, and a renewal is required to keep them valid and keep the data they are supposed to protect secure, he said. "But in 2019, CIP Chinese discovered certificates that had been valid for 999 years," Jenkinson said. His company made this discovery by researching the laptops of a leading global consulting firm. 

Jenkinson made the company aware of the vulnerability and offered, "They are either incredibly accommodating or complicit," he said, noting that the company's customers include government agencies.This multi-billion dollar company's failure to fix this problem means hundreds of thousands of people could be exposed to Chinese infiltration through the company's lax safeguards, Jenkinson said. The company engages its customers every time someone uses one of its laptops, he said. 

Companies or customers who use the company's services could be held for ransom, they have their intellectual advantages


Match ID: 196 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 41 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

The Supergirl "Stunt" That Made Mon-El Actor Dislocate His Jaw
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 19:16:00 +0000

Mon-El actor Chris Wood recalls the silly "stunt" that resulted in him breaking his jaw while filming Supergirl. The Arrowverse series has enjoyed a long run, but it will be coming to an end very soon. Supergirl, which stars Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers, started out on CBS before moving to The CW for season 2. During the show's 6-season run, Supergirl has faced countless enemies and teamed up with fellow Arrowverse heroes like The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Batwoman (Ruby Rose). The sixth and final season is currently airing and will conclude in November.

Supergirl has featured a wide and eclectic group of characters over the years, but some are more memorable than others. One of the most controversial is perhaps Mon-El, a Daxamite prince who joined the series in its second season. Mon-El initially hid his royal heritage from Kara, but after they formed a romantic relationship, he came clean. Wood remained a series regular on Supergirl for 2 seasons before departing, though he's come back several times as a guest star. He'll even be among those returning for the series finale, along with Jeremy Jordan (Winn Schott) and Mehcad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen).


During this weekend's DC FanDome event, Supergirl received a special farewell panel featuring the entire cast. When looking back on some of the wildest stunts from the show, Wood mentioned a scene from season 2 when he had to bite into 10 pancakes at once. His castmates were quick to laugh, but Wood pointed out that it wasn't all that funny because "my jaw sort of dislocated a little bit." The Supergirl cast also teased him for deeming it a stunt, but he defended the qualification. "It was a big stack of pancakes and I was like, 'Oh, this is gonna be so funny,' and then my jaw went like," Wood said before demonstrating the painful moment.

Injuries on the set of a superhero production aren't uncommon, and the Arrowverse itself is no stranger to these kinds of incidents. Before departing Batwoman, Rose had to get emergency surgery after sustaining a neck injury on set. When considering that example, Wood's Supergirl experience isn't as drastic. However, a dislocated jaw is far from fun, and to have it happen during an innocuous kitchen scene probably came as quite a shock.

While Supergirl's end is bittersweet for the fans and those who worked on the show, there are some reasons as to why this is the perfect time to conclude it. Kara has been on quite the journey over these past 6 seasons, and hopefully she'll go out on a high note. For her part, Benoist admitted during the DC FanDome panel that she will miss playing a superhero, though she'd said before that she will not be sorry to leave Supergirl's flying scenes behind. This cast has endured plenty of bumps and bruises, but now they can rest and content themselves with a job well done.


Source: DC





Match ID: 197 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Star Wars: How The Knights of Ren Are Different From The Sith
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 19:16:00 +0000

The Sith are the primary antagonists of the Star Wars saga, but they’re largely absent from the sequel trilogy, having been seemingly replaced by a different dark side religion: The Knights of Ren. All conflicts in the Skywalker Saga lead back to the Sith sooner or later, specifically their deadliest and most brilliant Dark Lord, Darth Sidious, aka Palpatine. The Sith seemingly died with Palpatine in Return of the Jedi, but The Emperor survived, and, thus, the Sith Order did, too. With Sith influence remaining behind the scenes yet again, the Knights of Ren became the new face of the galaxy’s dark side menaces, with their leader, Kylo Ren, being second in command of the Galactic Empire’s successor state, the First Order.

Although the Jedi are the galaxy’s most effective and famous Force users and the Sith the most powerful dark side users, the two are hardly the only Force religions in the franchise. The Sith created a splinter group, the Inquisitors, as a means to use corrupted Jedi as Imperial agents. Star Wars: The Clone Wars included a significantly reimagined version of the Legends-era Nightsisters, who use the dark side in the form of spells. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduced the Guardians of the Whills, a Force-using religion separate from the Jedi who guarded the Kyber crystals on Jedha. Considering how many Force-using religions exist in the Star Wars franchise, the sequels' introduction of a dark side group other than the Sith was fitting.


The Sith orchestrated the Separatist Crisis and the Clone Wars in the Star Wars prequels, paving the way for Palpatine to replace the Republic with the Galactic Empire with Darth Vader at his side. With the Sith seemingly gone at the end of the original trilogy, the sequels introduced Kylo Ren, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, as the successor to Vader and the leader of the Knights of Ren. The Knights had only a brief appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a small role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but their origins and philosophies were expanded on in the four-issue comic miniseries Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren.

Thousands of years before the events of Star Wars' Skywalker Saga, a group of fallen Jedi formed the Sith Order on Moraband. Although they began as a Jedi splinter group, the Sith Order has a fundamentally different outlook on the Force and the galaxy than the Jedi. Using the corrupted power of the dark side rather than the Force, the Sith believed in dominating the galaxy from the shadows and imposing their absolute rule over all other beings. The Sith also developed the Rule of Two as a means to keep the order alive and reduce in-fighting. The Rule of Two, created by Darth Bane, kept the Sith two only a master and apprentice, each trying to replace the other.

The exact origins of the Knights of Ren are unknown, but at some point a gang of dark side-using marauders established themselves in the galaxy’s Unknown Regions, terrorizing the people of the galaxy. Unlike the Sith, the Knights of Ren had a far more passive philosophy and use of the dark side. While the Sith sought to control the dark side and use it to control the galaxy, the Knights of Ren followed the dark side, following its pull wherever it took them and stealing, pillaging, and murdering wherever their travels brought them. Unlike the Sith, the Knights of Ren didn’t limit their members, but given their dark side use, only the strongest and most ruthless could join their ranks.

While the Sith and the Knights of Ren have fundamentally different philosophies, the two do share some commonalities. Aside from using the dark side of the Force, both organizations also used similar weapons, in some cases. The signature weapon of the Sith is the red-bladed lightsabers, which they created by corrupting Kyber crystals with the dark side and making them “bleed.” While the Knights of Ren use various scavenged weapons, their leader also uses a red-bladed lightsaber, though theirs tend to be different from Sith weapons. Ren, the earliest known leader, built a self-destruct mechanism into his weapon, and Kylo Ren modified his weapon with a cross-guard to vent the unstable blade’s excess energy.


Two of the Star Wars sequel trilogy’s main villains, Snoke and Kylo Ren, are not Sith. Kylo Ren, despite worshipping his Sith Lord grandfather, never became a Sith himself. After leaving Luke’s revived Jedi Order, Ben Solo joined the Knights of Ren, eventually killing their leader and taking his place as their new master, Kylo Ren. As a Knight of Ren, Kylo wore body armor and a fearsome mask, which served multiple functions. In addition to protecting his head and indicating his knighthood, the mask also allowed Kylo to feel more like his grandfather and idol, Darth Vader.

Snoke wasn’t officially part of any dark side religion, Sith, Knights of Ren, or otherwise. Snoke was an unaffiliated dark side user and the Supreme Leader of the First Order, though he did mentor Kylo Ren, serving as his dark side master, which gave him a degree of authority over the Knights of Ren. Snoke was, ultimately created as a proxy for Darth Sidious, so despite his free will and incredible strength in the dark side, Snoke was yet another tool of the Sith Order, and his betrayal by Kylo Ren followed the Sith Rule of Two perfectly.

Despite never having joined the Sith, Kylo Ren became an ally of the order in The Rise of Skywalker. Working with Palpatine, Kylo combined the First Order with the Sith Eternal, forming the Final Order. The Knights of Ren followed Kylo Ren into this alliance as well, continuing to serve Palpatine after Kylo became Ben Solo once more. This was a fitting move for the Knights of Ren since they follow the dark side, rather than rule over it. With Palpatine, the galaxy’s most powerful dark side user, growing in strength, it makes sense that the Knights would follow his incredible dark side power and serve him. The key difference between the Sith and the Knights of Ren in Star Wars is revealed in their names. The Sith Lords rule over the dark side of the Force in the Star Wars saga while the Knights of Ren serve the dark side.


Match ID: 198 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Pokémon Unite: Best Pikachu Build (Tips, Items, & Moves)
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 19:16:00 +0000

Using a combination of moves and items, players can maximize Pikachu's build in Pokémon Unite. Players will need to fight both wild Pokémon and those on the opposing team to score points and win. As an Attacker Pokémon, a well-built Pikachu can work great for an offensive, ranged strategy.

With 5-on-5 matches between trainers, and wild Pokémon in each stage, a well-rounded, carefully built team will be vital for success. Players just getting started in Pokémon Unite may need to test different skills in order to find the best build. Having a strong offensive Pokémon will help players knock out their opponents and collect their Aeos energy to score points. As Pikachu gains experience, more moves will become available, and it can become a powerful fighter.


Each Pokémon in the game, such as Pikachu or Gengar, has an ideal build. Pikachu is a Ranged Attacker class in Pokémon Unite, so it can deal high damage but has low endurance. Focusing on moves and items that maximize damage and utilize Pikachu's stun abilities will create the best build for this character. Players can also equip items that compliment or increase Pikachu's strengths and damage output.

There are two ways for players to obtain Pikachu in Pokémon Unite: they can either choose it as their first Pokémon upon completing the tutorial or purchase it from the Unite Battle Committee. Pikachu costs 6000 Aeos coins or 345 Aeos gems. Once obtained and leveled up, players can focus on using the right moves and items to capitalize on Pikachu's offensive potential. Pokémon can have two moves active and three items equipped at a time. The best options for Pikachu appear below.

Pikachu's Best Moveset

  • Thunderbolt: Charge and shoot a bolt of lightning that stuns and damages opponents in the area. Upgrade Thunderbolt to increase the damage dealt.
  • Electro Ball: Throw an electric orb that damages and stuns enemies in the area of effect. Missing HP will increase damage to opponents. Electro Ball can be upgraded to increase damage.

Best Held Items for Pikachu

  • Wise Glasses: Increase Special Attack
  • Choice Specs: Increase the damage of moves
  • Buddy Barrier: When using the Unite move, Pikachu and the nearby ally with the lowest HP will gain a shield
  • AlternativeFloat Stone: Increase movement speed when Pikachu isn't in combat

Best Battle Items for Pikachu

  • X-Attack: Boost the damage of attacks and special attacks
  • AlternativePotion: Restore a Pokémon's health.

Using a strong combination of moves and items will help players gather Aeos energy and score points. While using Pikachu, players should focus on dealing as much damage as possible while being aware of their health loss. Since Pikachu is also a Ranged Pokémon, it's recommended that players keep their distance when possible to avoid being knocked out. Pikachu can stay near a Defender Pokémon for extra protection and stun enemies that come within range.


Match ID: 199 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Why The Seinfeld & Elaine Romance Subplot Went Nowhere After Season 2
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 19:02:00 +0000

Seinfeld did have the makings of a long-term Jerry-Elaine romance, but it ultimately went nowhere - here's why. Seinfeld explored multiple romantic relationships Elaine and Jerry had with other people, but rarely addressed the prospect of bringing the two back together. Instead, Elaine remained one of the core members of Jerry’s circle of friends up until the end of the show in season 9.

When Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) was brought into the fold in the show’s second episode, it was explained she and Jerry had a brief relationship. Apparently, they had just broken up but decided to maintain their friendship. This served as the beginning of Elaine’s presence on the show, which involved frequent visits to Jerry’s apartment, lunches at Monk’s Café, and all sorts of misadventures with Jerry, George (Jason Alexander), and Kramer (Michael Richards). One thing Seinfeld avoided was Jerry and Elaine becoming an item for longer than an episode.


Seinfeld actually delivered a story where they started dating again, but this was abruptly dropped. In Seinfeld season 2 episode “The Deal” their failure to work out a “friends with benefits” relationship resulted in them getting back together at the end. However, they returned to the status quo in the following episode. It took almost a whole season before this was finally explained. In Seinfeld's season 3's "The Pen", the show dropped a throwaway line from Jerry which revealed he and Elaine had broken up offscreen. Apparently, the reason it took so long for this to be addressed can be attributed to “The Deal” airing out of order. It was originally intended as the season 2 finale. At the time, the writers weren’t even sure if the show would be renewed, so this was also seen as a possible happy ending for the pair if it really was the finale.

As for why Seinfeld decided to limit the Jerry-Elaine romance to just a one-episode story, “The Deal” was ultimately a product of discussions Seinfeld creator Larry David had with NBC executives. The home video release of Seinfeld season 2 revealed NBC was highly interested in Seinfeld pursuing a “will-they-won’t-they” subplot with the two, but David and Jerry Seinfeld were opposed, as both felt Jerry and Elaine should not be romantically involved. NBC was insistent, so to please them, David wrote “The Deal” as a form of compromise, understanding that once he gave the network what they wanted, he could return to the original formula without issues.

That’s essentially what Seinfeld did, and though the series did hint at feelings they may have had for each other occasionally, it kept the two apart. When considering how a romance would have greatly disrupted the friendship dynamic between Seinfield's main cast of characters that made the show so popular, it’s likely for the best the story was abandoned so quickly.


Match ID: 200 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

9 Best Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg Movies, Ranked By IMDb
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 19:02:00 +0000

Ever since the instant classic high school comedy Superbad put them on the map and the subsequent release of action-packed buddy picture Pineapple Express proved they weren’t one-trick ponies, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been two of the most prolific and sought-after screenwriters in Hollywood. They’ve moved into producing streaming shows like The Boys and Invincible, but Rogen and Goldberg haven’t lost sight of their big-screen roots.


Not all of their movies have been as great as Superbad and Pineapple Express, but a bunch of their scripts – including the ones they directed themselves – have impressive scores on IMDb.

9 Drillbit Taylor (5.7)

The screenplay for Drillbit Taylor was written by Rogen, in his only screenwriting effort without Goldberg’s contributions, and Kristofor Brown, based on a story by John Hughes, the legendary director of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Owen Wilson stars as a bodyguard who’s hired by three kids to protect them from bullies.

As the movie’s mediocre IMDb rating would suggest, the execution doesn’t match the greatness of its premise. But a typically charming performance by Wilson as the title character makes it at least watchable.

8 The Watch (5.7)

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade star in The Watch as a band of bored suburban men who form a neighborhood watch to escape the mundanity of their lives and unwittingly stumble upon an alien invasion stemming from the local Costco.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Watch was initially conceived as a PG-13 vehicle in the vein of Ghostbusters. When it was retooled as a raunchy R-rated affair, Rogen and Goldberg were brought aboard the project to inject it with a healthy dose of curse words and sex references.

7 Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (5.7)

After Mac and Kelly successfully ousted a fraternity that moved next door to them in the first Neighbors movie, the second one sees a sorority moving into the very same house. It could’ve come off as a rehash of the original, but Sorority Rising adds a unique twist as the couple reluctantly teams up with Zac Efron’s frat boy Teddy, the villain from the first one.

After they resisted the urge to pen sequels to Superbad and Pineapple Express, Neighbors 2 marked the first time Rogen and Goldberg had written a follow-up to one of their movies.

6 The Green Hornet (5.8)

Despite its critical panning, Rogen and Goldberg’s movie version of The Green Hornet is a fun superhero adventure carried by Rogen’s palpable on-screen chemistry with Jay Chou, who takes on Bruce Lee’s iconic role as Kato.

A lot of diehard Green Hornet fans were upset that Rogen and Goldberg adapted the property as a straightforward comedy, but their script has a nice balance of action and humor and director Michel Gondry brings some dazzling visuals to the proceedings.

5 Sausage Party (6.1)

Rogen and Goldberg brought their particular brand of raunchy hard-R humor to the typically kid-friendly realm of computer animation in 2016. Sausage Party is a hysterical riff on Pixar’s premises about anthropomorphized objects in which food products at a grocery store learn that their ultimate fate is to be eaten alive by giants.


On top of all the gags about sausages resembling penises, Sausage Party’s story of foods learning they worship a false god, and that their faith in “The Great Beyond,” is unfounded is a brilliant satire of religion.

4 The Interview (6.5)

Rogen and Goldberg’s second directorial effort after This is the End, The Interview, stars Rogen as a tabloid TV producer and James Franco as a late-night celebrity interviewer who’s invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un. When the CIA catches wind, they task him with assassinating the infamous dictator.

This movie has the distinction of being the only movie in Rogen and Goldberg’s filmography to cause a geopolitical crisis that almost led to World War III. Despite the controversy it caused, The Interview actually has a lot more scatological gags and crass wordplay than biting political satire.

3 This Is The End (6.6)

After observing the work of directors like Michel Gondry and David Gordon Green bringing their scripts to life over the years, Rogen and Goldberg finally tried their hand at directing in 2013 with the apocalyptic comedy This is the End.

With all the actors in Rogen and Goldberg’s regular company – Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, etc. – playing satirical riffs on themselves, This is the End is a must-see for fans of self-aware comedy.

2 Pineapple Express (6.9)

Almost every Seth Rogen movie is about weed in some capacity, but his most overtly marijuana-oriented effort is Pineapple Express, in which he plays a process server who goes on the run with his pot dealer after witnessing a drug lord commit a murder.


After the runaway success of Superbad, Pineapple Express proved it wasn’t a one-off and that Rogen and Goldberg were a screenwriting team to be reckoned with.

1 Superbad (7.6)

The modern comedy classic that put Rogen and Goldberg on the map, Superbad is a coming-of-age gem about two high schoolers – aptly named Seth and Evan – trying to secure booze for a big party. It’s set up as a typical American Pie riff about sex-obsessed teens trying to lose their virginity, but Superbad is really about Seth and Evan’s separation anxiety as they prepare to go to different colleges.

According to The Guardian, Rogen and Goldberg began writing Superbad when they were 13, which explains why the teen angst rings so true. Superbad was the script that launched Rogen and Goldberg’s screenwriting career and, having been finetuned over more than a decade, it remains their strongest script to date.



Match ID: 201 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Apple activist reportedly fired after deleting files on work device
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 09:12:00 +0000

jannake parish
Janneke Parrish, an Austin-based employee who worked on Apple Maps, is a leader of #AppleToo.

An Apple program manager who posted anonymous stories of discrimination against employees at the tech giant has reportedly been canned. 

Janneke Parrish, an Austin-based employee who worked at Apple Maps, runs #AppleToo, an online story-sharing group. of alleged "racism, sexism, inequality, discrimination, intimidation, repression, coercion, abuse, unjust punishment, and unlimited privilege" faced by Apple employees.

 According to The Verge, she was fired last week for deleting files - including the Google Drive, Robinhood, and Pokemon Go apps - from her work device during a company investigation. 

In a tweet, Parrish, 30, hinted that she was fired in retaliation for her work with #AppleToo. the right thing, "he said. But we're doing the right thing because it's the right thing. # AppleToo is about asking Apple to do better to end systemic discrimination, abuse, and pay inequality. 


Match ID: 202 Score: 3.57 source: techncruncher.blogspot.com age: 42 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Giving Geostationary Satellites Longer Lives
Tue, 28 Sep 2021 17:08:16 +0000


Orbiting at a speed that matches the rotation of the Earth, satellites in geostationary orbit occupy unique positions and provide invaluable services. Effectively fixed in place over points on the equator 35,786 kilometers below, they provide communication and broadcasting services, constant weather observation, and calibration for navigation constellations.

These satellites are huge and vastly expensive—typically hundreds of millions of US dollars—and operate for up to fifteen years. They have a store of propellant required to keep them in position and pointed the right way, and once this propellant is almost used up, a final push is used to send the satellites into a graveyard orbit. This prevents them from becoming a threat to active satellites and makes way for a replacement. There the satellites remain dormant, their otherwise still functional systems and transponders rendered useless. But engineers around the world are coming up with ways to keep these spacecraft on the job.

The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), an arm of China's main space contractor, has unveiled a concept for servicing satellites in geostationary orbit at the Zhuhai Airshow, running from September 28-October 3. The Supplemental service Vehicle would approach a satellite near the end of its mission lifetime and, using artificial intelligence, maneuver in to attach itself to the target. It could then carry out the station keeping and attitude control functions needed to keep the target satellite in its orbit and correctly directed to provide its services.

Yet SAST is merely a newcomer to a growing field of space actors looking to extend the lives of satellites, including the European Space Agency, with its Geostationary Servicing Vehicle, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Astroscale of Japan and SpaceLogistics, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman has already carried out the first such servicing and has two Mission Extension Vehicles (MEV) in orbit doing the station keeping for a pair of Intelsat satellites, prolonging their missions by five years. The company last week released footage from an infrared camera of MEV-2, launched in 2020, making a 12-hour rendezvous and docking with Intelsat IS-10-02 satellite.

"The technical prowess required to accomplish these missions took years to develop because of the complexity of doing something that had never been done in the unyielding environment of space," said Joe Anderson, vice president of operations and business development at Space Logistics.

While docking a spacecraft to the International Space Station or China's Tianhe space station module are relatively routine, the space stations are designed to received visitors. The satellites in geostationary orbit are, for now, not designed to allow rendezvous and docking. The MEV servicing spacecraft thus use a suite of instruments including narrow and wide field optical and infrared imagers as well as active scanning LIDAR to provide the navigation data needed to rendezvous and operate in proximity of the target satellites. MEVs then dock by locking on to structures—engine nozzles and launch adaptor rings—found on nearly 80 percent of all geostationary satellites in orbit today.

Space Logistics is also developing the second-generation Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) which includes a partnership with DARPA that provides a robotic arm and will be capable of installing a Mission Extension Pod (MEP) on target satellites. Together these will be able to carry a range of mission-extending services, including inspection and repair, relocations, propulsion augmentation, and replacement of parts and systems. Eventual in-orbit robotic assembly of space structures is a long-term goal. The MRV and MEP face critical design reviews next year ahead of launch of the first MRV and the first three MEPs in 2024.

Having new capabilities and more actors looking to extend the life of satellites could be more than a cost benefit for satellite operators. It could help mitigate the growing issue of orbital debris which threatens the use of low Earth and geostationary orbits in particular. Currently there are more than 500 active satellites operating in finite positions in geostationary orbit, with more in graveyard orbits. Anderson also states that Space Logistics proposes that all new spacecraft should include requirements that make satellites serviceable.

The other, darker side of the coin is that servicing spacecraft will be inherently "dual-use", that is, capable of not just servicing but also closing in and disabling a satellite. Satellite servicing will provide opportunities to boost space sustainability, but will require international discussion and a measure of openness to define a common and beneficial way forward.


Match ID: 203 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 61 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Will This Jetpack Fly Itself?
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 13:23:30 +0000


Jetpacks might sound fun, but learning how to control a pair of jet engines strapped to your back is no easy feat. Now a British startup wants to simplify things by developing a jetpack with an autopilot system that makes operating it more like controlling a high-end drone than learning how to fly.

Jetpacks made the leap from sci-fi to the real world as far back as the 1960s, but since then the they haven't found much use outside of gimmicky appearances in movies and halftime shows. In recent years though, the idea has received renewed interest. And its proponents are keen to show that the technology is no longer just for stuntmen and may even have practical applications.

American firm Jetpack Aviation will teach anyone to fly its JB-10 jetpack for a cool $4,950 and recently sold its latest JB-12 model to an "undisclosed military." And an Iron Man-like, jet-powered flying suit developed by British start-up Gravity Industries has been tested as a way for marines to board ships and as a way to get medics to the top of mountains quickly.

Flying jetpacks can take a lot of training to master though. That's what prompted Hollywood animatronics expert Matt Denton and Royal Navy Commander Antony Quinn to found Maverick Aviation, and develop one that takes the complexities of flight control out the pilot's hands.

The Maverick Jetpack features four miniature jet turbines attached to an aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber frame, and will travel at up to 30 miles per hour. But the secret ingredient is software that automatically controls the engines to maintain a stable hover, and seamlessly convert the pilot's instructions into precise movements.

"It's going to be very much like flying a drone," says Denton. "We wanted to come up with something that anyone could fly. It's all computer-controlled and you'll just be using the joystick."

One of the key challenges, says Denton, was making the engines responsive enough to allow the rapid tweaks required for flight stabilization. This is relatively simple to achieve on a drone, whose electric motors can be adjusted in a blink of an eye, but jet turbines can take several seconds to ramp up and down between zero and full power.

To get around this, the company added servos to each turbine that let them move independently to quickly alter the direction of thrust—a process known as thrust vectoring. By shifting the alignment of the four engines the flight control software can keep the jetpack perfectly positioned using feedback from inertial measurement units, GPS, altimeters and ground distance sensors. Simple directional instructions from the pilot can also be automatically translated into the required low-level tweaks to the turbines.

It's a clever way to improve the mobility of the system, says Ben Akih-Kumgeh, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at Syracuse University. "It's not only a smart way of overcoming any lag that you may have, but it also helps with the lifespan of the engine," he adds. “[In] any mechanical system, the durability depends on how often you change the operating conditions."

The software is fairly similar to a conventional drone flight controller, says Denton, but they have had to accommodate some additional complexities. Thrust magnitude and thrust direction have to be managed by separate control loops due to their very different reaction times, but they still need to sync up seamlessly to coordinate adjustments. The entire control process is also complicated by the fact that the jetpack has a human strapped to it.

"Once you've got a shifting payload, like a person who's wobbling their arms around and moving their legs, then it does become a much more complex problem," says Denton.

In the long run, says Denton, the company hopes to add higher-level functions that could allow the jetpack to move automatically between points marked on a map. The hope is that by automating as much of the flight control as possible, users will be able to focus on the task at hand, whether that's fixing a wind turbine or inspecting a construction site.

Surrendering so much control to a computer might give some pause for thought, but Denton says there will be plenty of redundancy built in. "The idea will be that we'll have plenty of fallback modes where, if part of the system fails, it'll fall back to a more manual flight mode," he said. "The user would have training to basically tackle any of those conditions."

It might be sometime before you can start basic training, though, as the company has yet to fly their turbine-powered jetpack. Currently, flight testing is being conducted on an scaled down model powered by electric ducted fans, says Denton, though their responsiveness has been deliberately dulled so they behave like turbines. The company is hoping to conduct the first human test flights next summer.

Don't get your hopes up about commuting to work by jetpack any time soon though, says Akih-Kumgeh. The huge amount of noise these devices produce make it unlikely that they would be allowed to operate within city limits. The near term applications are more likely to be search and rescue missions where time and speed trump efficiency, he says.


Match ID: 204 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 67 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Flame Retardant Epoxies and Silicones Play Key Role in Aircraft Construction
Thu, 02 Sep 2021 19:03:39 +0000


Designed to mitigate the worst effects of fires, fire retardant materials play a particularly important role in aircraft construction. Used in aircraft, epoxies and silicones must maintain their primary role as adhesives or coatings while exhibiting resistance to heat and flame in accordance with government and industry specifications.

Master Bond's series of flame retardant epoxies and silicones comply with specifications for flame resistance and reduction of smoke density and toxic emissions.


Download this free whitepaper


Match ID: 205 Score: 3.57 source: event.on24.com age: 87 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Stratospheric Balloons Take Monitoring and Surveillance to New Heights
Wed, 21 Jul 2021 20:00:00 +0000


Alphabet's enthusiasm for ­balloons deflated earlier this year, when it announced that its high-altitude Internet company, Loon, could not become commercially viable.

But while the stratosphere might not be a great place to put a cellphone tower, it could be the sweet spot for cameras, argue a host of high-tech startups.

The market for Earth-observation services from satellites is expected to top US $4 billion by 2025, as orbiting cameras, radars, and other devices monitor crops, assess infrastructure, and detect greenhouse gas emissions. Low­-altitude observations from drones could be worth.

Neither platform is perfect. Satellites can cover huge swaths of the planet but remain expensive to develop, launch, and operate. Their cameras are also hundreds of kilometers from the things they are trying to see, and often moving at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour.

Drones, on the other hand, can take supersharp images, but only over a relatively small area. They also need careful human piloting to coexist with planes and helicopters.

Image of the United States Map displaying different altitudes. Click here to see larger. StoryTK

Balloons in the stratosphere, 20 kilometers above Earth (and 10 km above most jets), split the difference. They are high enough not to bother other aircraft and yet low enough to observe broad areas in plenty of detail. For a fraction of the price of a satellite, an operator can launch a balloon that lasts for weeks (even months), carrying large, capable sensors.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the U.S. military has funded development in stratospheric balloon tests across six Midwest states to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats."

But the Pentagon is far from the only organization flying high. An IEEE Spectrum analysis of applications filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission reveals at least six companies conducting observation experiments in the stratosphere. Some are testing the communications, navigation, and flight infrastructure required for such balloons. Others are running trials for commercial, government, and military customers.

The illustration above depicts experimental test permits granted by the FCC from January 2020 to June 2021, together covering much of the continental United States. Some tests were for only a matter of hours; others spanned days or more.


Match ID: 206 Score: 3.57 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 130 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Stocks to Watch: Stocks to watch: Oracle, Smith & Wesson, Family Dollar
Fri, 20 Jun 2014 11:42:33 GMT
Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Friday’s session are Oracle, Smith & Wesson, and Family Dollar.

Match ID: 207 Score: 3.57 source: www.marketwatch.com age: 2718 days
qualifiers: 3.57 mit

Filter efficiency 73.770 (208 matches/793 results)


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We transformed a London borough into a game to get fewer people traveling by car
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 14:30:19 +0000
Here's what happened.
Match ID: 0 Score: 55.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 40.00 air pollution, 15.00 climate change

Can the Gambia turn the tide to save its shrinking beaches?
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 13:00:27 GMT

In a developing country reliant on its tourist industry, the rapidly eroding ‘smiling coast’ shows the urgent need for action on climate change

When Saikou Demba was a young man starting out in the hospitality business, he opened a little hotel on the Gambian coast called the Leybato and ran a beach bar on the wide expanse of golden sand. The hotel is still there, a relaxed spot where guests can lie in hammocks beneath swaying palm trees and stroll along shell-studded pathways. But the beach bar is not. At high tide, Demba reckons it would be about five or six metres into the sea.

“The first year the tide came in high but it was OK,” he says. “The second year, the tide came in high but it was OK. The third year, I came down one day and it [the bar] wasn’t there: half of it went into the sea.”

Continue reading...
Match ID: 1 Score: 30.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change, 15.00 carbon

Curb Your Food Tech Enthusiasm
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Innovation might help us create a low-carbon food system, but that's not the same thing as a sustainable or ethical one.
Match ID: 2 Score: 30.00 source: www.wired.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change, 15.00 carbon

‘It’s critical’: can Microsoft make good on its climate ambitions?
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:00:04 GMT

The company has set an example in the fight against carbon – but it retains ties to obstructionist groups

When the UN’s landmark climate report was released in 2018, calling for urgent and unprecedented changes, Microsoft executives were told to “commit it to memory”, said Elizabeth Willmott, who leads the company’s carbon program. “And so we did.”

The report warned the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in order to avert catastrophic climate change. To achieve this, not only must the emissions released by countries and companies be dramatically curtailed, but billions of tons of carbon dioxide must be sucked out of the atmosphere.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 3 Score: 30.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change, 15.00 carbon

How Your 401(k) Is Helping Destroy the Amazon Rainforest
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:00:07 +0000

The growing financialization of Brazilian agribusiness is enabling foreign investment in the industry most responsible for deforestation.

The post How Your 401(k) Is Helping Destroy the Amazon Rainforest appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 4 Score: 17.14 source: theintercept.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 climate change, 8.57 carbon

Nurdles: the worst toxic waste you’ve probably never heard of
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 07:15:48 GMT

Billions of these tiny plastic pellets are floating in the ocean, causing as much damage as oil spills, yet they are still not classified as hazardous

When the X-Press Pearl container ship caught fire and sank in the Indian Ocean in May, Sri Lanka was terrified that the vessel’s 350 tonnes of heavy fuel oil would spill into the ocean, causing an environmental disaster for the country’s pristine coral reefs and fishing industry.

Classified by the UN as Sri Lanka’s “worst maritime disaster”, the biggest impact was not caused by the heavy fuel oil. Nor was it the hazardous chemicals on board, which included nitric acid, caustic soda and methanol. The most “significant” harm, according to the UN, came from the spillage of 87 containers full of lentil-sized plastic pellets: nurdles.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 5 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 toxic

Fundos de aposentadoria nos EUA especulam com a destruição da Amazônia
Mon, 29 Nov 2021 06:41:24 +0000

A mercantilização da agricultura e as falsas ‘obrigações climáticas’ favorecem investimentos estrangeiros em negócios que desmatam.

The post Fundos de aposentadoria nos EUA especulam com a destruição da Amazônia appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 6 Score: 15.00 source: theintercept.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

Developers challenged over carbon footprint of new buildings in UK
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 14:41:24 GMT

Critics say retrofitting rather than demolishing and constructing buildings has less climate impact

There is a new front in Britain’s planning wars. Rows over obstructed views and architectural style are being elbowed aside by concerns about the carbon footprint of new buildings.

This week, Marks & Spencer became the latest company challenged over its climate impact, when opponents warned that the planned demolition of its 90-year-old flagship store on Oxford Street and replacement with a new structure will create so much carbon dioxide that 2.4m trees would need to be planted to offset it.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 7 Score: 15.00 source: www.theguardian.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

This decorated mammoth ivory pendant is 41,500 years old
Sun, 28 Nov 2021 12:15:01 +0000
The pendant is the oldest example of a style that swept Paleolithic Europe.
Match ID: 8 Score: 15.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 0 days
qualifiers: 15.00 carbon

Hints of New Life in the Shadows of Venezuela's Last Glacier
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:00:00 +0000
When ice goes, lichens and mosses move in and an entirely new ecosystem starts to take shape.
Match ID: 9 Score: 15.00 source: www.wired.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

It’s time to fear the fungi
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 11:55:47 +0000
Humans have long been protected from fungal infections. Climate change could ruin that.
Match ID: 10 Score: 15.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 1 day
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

Humans have broken a fundamental law of the ocean
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 13:33:37 +0000
Industrial fishing messes with strange but stable pattern of undersea creatures.
Match ID: 11 Score: 15.00 source: arstechnica.com age: 2 days
qualifiers: 15.00 climate change

10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving
Thu, 25 Nov 2021 14:50:21 +0000

Here are some aspects of life today in America for which we can genuinely give thanks.

The post 10 Things for Americans to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 12 Score: 12.86 source: theintercept.com age: 3 days
qualifiers: 12.86 carbon

Revealed: Jupiter’s Secret Power Source
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 20:00:00 +0000


For all its other problems, Earth is lucky. Warmed mostly by the sun, 150 million km away, shielded by a thin but protective atmosphere, the temperature at the surface averages 14 to 15 degrees Celsius—a good number to support liquid oceans and a riot of carbon-based life.

Jupiter is a different story. Its upper atmosphere (Jupiter has no solid surface) has a temperature closer to what you'd find on Venus than on some of Jupiter's own moons. As will be seen below, planetary scientists have for decades puzzled over why this planet so far from the sun is so inexplicably warm. In 2021, however, the solution to the mystery may at last have been found.


The solar system’s biggest planet has a big problem


image of the planet jupiter

You are orbiting Jupiter, 779 million km from the sun, where physics and logic say it ought to be very, very cold. Sunlight, out here, is less than four percent as intense as it is on Earth. If solar heating were the only factor at play, the planet's upper atmosphere would average 70 degrees below zero Celsius.

Jupiter in the infrared


image of the planet Jupiter taken in infrared light \u2014 revealing circulation patterns of surprisingly warm gases in Jupiter\u2019s atmosphere

But it doesn’t. It exceeds 400 Celsius—and scientists have puzzled over it for half a century. They have sometimes spoken of Jupiter as having an “energy crisis.” Now, an international team led by James O'Donoghue of JAXA, the Japanese space agency, says they've found an answer.

Jupiter’s northern (and southern) lights


Image of the planet Jupiter with a photograph of an aurora at the planet's north pole in glowing blue light

Jupiter's polar auroras are the largest and most powerful known in the solar system—and O'Donoghue says the energy in them, caused as Jupiter's atmosphere is buffeted by solar wind, is strong enough to heat the outer atmosphere of the entire planet.


"The auroral power, delivered by the auroral mechanism, is actually 100 terawatts per hemisphere, and I always like that fact," says O'Donoghue. "I think that's something like 100,000 power stations."


Closeup of Jupiter\u2019s swirling cloud layers, indicating the planet\u2019s very active winds

The auroras had been suspected as Jupiter's secret heat source since the 1970s. But until now, scientists thought Jupiter's giant, swirling east-west cloud bands might shear the heat away before it could spread very far from the poles. Winds in the cloud bands reach 500 km/h.


Image of two giant telescope domes opened to reveal big telescopes inside, the Keck I and Keck II telescopes; outside is a cloudy night at sunset

To try to solve the mystery, the research team set out to create an infrared heat map of Jupiter's atmosphere. They used the 10-meter Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, one of the five largest in the world, to take spectrographic readings of the planet on two nights: 14 April 2016 and 25 January 2017.


Back to original image of the planet Jupiter

Their April 2016 heat map (to be shown next) revealed that indeed the regions around the polar auroras were hottest, and the heat did spread from there—though the effect tailed off toward Jupiter's equator...

The first night of Keck observations


Image captioned 14 April 2016 of Jupiter taken by the Keck telescope revealing an aurora at the planet\u2019s poles and wide swaths of heat radiating downward into the planet\u2019s temperate latitudes

The heat was strong enough to propagate despite those powerful winds.


Image captioned 14 April 2016 of Jupiter taken by the Keck telescope revealing an aurora at the planet\u2019s poles and wide swaths of heat radiating downward into the planet\u2019s temperate latitudes

It was a promising find, but they needed more. Fortunately their next observation turned up, in O'Donoghue's words, "something spectacular."

The second night of Keck observations




The auroras the team observed in January 2017 are about 100 degrees hotter than they were on the first night—and so are temperatures at every point from there to the equator.


The researchers soon learned that Jupiter had around the time of their January 2017 observation been hit by an outsized surge in solar wind, ionized particles which would compress Jupiter's magnetic field and make the aurora more powerful.

It was sheer luck—a “happy accident," says O'Donoghue—that the surge of particles happened on their second night. Such pulses of energy probably happen every few weeks on average, but it is hard to know exactly when.

Other researchers had already tried to explain Jupiter's warmth by other means—perhaps some sort of acoustic-wave heating or convection from the planet's core, for instance—but they couldn't create convincing models that worked as well as the auroras. O'Donoghue and his colleagues worked for years on the resulting paper. They say they went through more than a dozen drafts before it was accepted for publication in the journal Nature earlier this year.

Where does this lead? It's too early to say, but scientists will want to replicate the findings and then see if they also explain the heating they see on the other gas giants in the solar system—Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Understanding of the auroral effects may also affect our picture of Jupiter's moons, including Europa and Ganymede, which are believed to have briny oceans beneath their icy outer crusts and may be good places to look for life. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the research continues.

“It's funny," says O'Donoghue, “the reactions from some people in the field. Some people thought, 'Oh, yeah, we knew it was the aurora all along.' And then other people are saying, 'Are you sure it's the aurora?' It tells you there's an issue, and hopefully our observations have solved it definitively.

“We once thought that it could happen, that the aurora could be the source," he says, “but we showed that it does happen."

Photos, from top: A. Simon/Goddard Space Flight Center and M. H. Wong/University of California, Berkeley/OPAL/ESA/NASA; Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/UC Berkeley; J. Nichols/University of Leicester/ESA/NASA; JPL-Caltech/NASA; Kevin M. Gill/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/NASA; Ethan Tweedie/W. M. Keck Observatory; A. Simon/Goddard Space Flight Center and M. H. Wong/University of California, Berkeley/OPAL/ESA/NASA; J. O'Donoghue/JAXA (heat maps) and STSCI/NASA (planet).

This article appears in the December 2021 print issue as "Jupiter's Electric Blanket."


Match ID: 13 Score: 10.71 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 4 days
qualifiers: 10.71 carbon

Nashville DA’s Office Seeks to Vacate Claude Garrett’s 29-Year-Old Murder Conviction
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 18:55:18 +0000

A reinvestigation of the case “dismantles every single piece of evidence previously believed to inculpate Garrett,” the director of the DA’s Conviction Review Unit wrote.

The post Nashville DA’s Office Seeks to Vacate Claude Garrett’s 29-Year-Old Murder Conviction appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 14 Score: 10.71 source: theintercept.com age: 4 days
qualifiers: 10.71 carbon

The Uncertain Fate of an Alpine Mountain Lodge
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 15:15:12 +0000
Because of melting glaciers, the Rifugio Guide del Cervino, a rustic hangout for skiers and mountaineers, may be located in Italy, Switzerland, or both.
Match ID: 15 Score: 8.57 source: www.newyorker.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 climate change

It's Time To Fear the Fungi
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 14:00:00 +0000
Climate change could threaten humans' protection from fungal infections. It's time to fear the fungi.
Match ID: 16 Score: 8.57 source: www.wired.com age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 climate change

Polluting greenhouse gases being sold online and smuggled to UK
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 12:01:57 GMT
Experts say hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in fridges and aerosols, make global warming worse.
Match ID: 17 Score: 8.57 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 5 days
qualifiers: 8.57 carbon

Can Earth's Digital Twins Help Us Navigate the Climate Crisis?
Mon, 22 Nov 2021 16:03:20 +0000


Powerful climate models have helped dispel any uncertainty about the scale of the climate crisis the world faces. But these models are large global simulations that can't tell us much about how climate change will impact our daily lives or how to respond at a local level. That's where a digital twin of the Earth could help.

A digital twin is a virtual model of a real-world object, machine, or system that can be used to assess how the real-world counterpart is performing, diagnose or predict faults, or simulate how future changes could alter its behavior. Typically, a digital twin involves both a digital simulation and live sensor data from the real world system to keep the model up to date.

So far, digital twins have primarily been used in industrial contexts. For example, a digital twin could monitor an electric grid or manufacturing equipment. But there's been growing interest in applying similar ideas to the field of climate simulation to provide a more interactive, and detailed, way to track and predict changes in the systems, such as the atmosphere and oceans, that drive the Earth's climate.

Now chipmaker Nvidia has committed to building the world's most powerful supercomputer dedicated to modeling climate change. Speaking at the company's GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jensen Huang said Earth-2 would be used to create a digital twin of Earth in the Omniverse—a virtual collaboration platform that is Nvidia's attempt at a metaverse.

"We may finally have a way to simulate the earth's climate 10, 20, or 30 years from now, predict the regional impact of climate change, and take action to mitigate and adapt before it's too late," said Huang.

The announcement was light on details, and a spokesman for Nvidia said the company was currently unable to confirm what the architecture of the computer would look like or who would have access to it. But in his talk Huang emphasized the significant role the company sees for machine learning to boost the resolution and speed of climate models and create a digital twin of the Earth.

Today, most climate simulation is driven by complex equations that describe the physics behind key processes. Many of these equations are very computationally expensive to solve and so, even on the most powerful supercomputers, models normally only achieve resolutions of 10 to 100 kilometers.

Some important processes, such as the behavior of clouds that reflect the Sun's radiation back to space, operate at scales of just a few meters though, said Huang. He thinks machine learning could help here. Alongside announcing Earth-2, the company also unveiled a new machine learning framework called Modulus designed to help researchers train neural networks to simulate complex physical systems by learning from observed data or the output of physical models.

"The resulting model can emulate physics 1,000 to 100,000 times faster than simulation," said Huang. "With Modulus, scientists will be able to create digital twins to better understand large systems like never before."

Improving the resolution of climate models is a key ingredient for an effective digital twin of Earth, says Bjorn Stevens, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Today's climate models currently rely on statistical workarounds that work well for assessing the climate at a global scale, but make it hard to understand local effects. That will be crucial for predicting the regional impacts of climate change so that we can better inform adaptation efforts, he says.

But Steven is skeptical that machine learning is some kind of magic bullet to solve this problem. "There is this fantasy somehow that the machine learning will replace the things that we know how to solve physically, but I think it will always have a disadvantage there."

The key to creating a digital twin is making a system that is highly interactive, he says, and the beauty of a physical model is that it replicates every facet of the process in an explainable way. That's something that a machine learning model trained to mimic the process may not be able to do.

That's not to say there is no place for machine learning, he adds. It is likely to prove useful in helping speeding up workflows, compressing data and potentially developing new models in areas where we have lots of data but little understanding of the physics—for instance how water moves through earth and land. But he thinks the rapid advances in supercomputing power means that running physical models at much higher resolution is more a case of will and resources than capabilities.

The European Union hopes to fill that gap with a new initiative called Destination Earth, which was formally launched in January. The project is a joint effort by the European Space Agency, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).

The goal is to create a platform that can bring together a wide variety of models, simulating both key aspects of the climate like the atmosphere and the oceans, but also human systems, says Peter Bauer, deputy director of research at ECMWF. "So you're not only monitoring and simulating precipitation and temperature, but also what that means for agriculture, or water availability, or infrastructure," he says.

The result won't be a single homogeneous simulation of every aspect of Earth, says Bauer, but an interactive platform that allows users to pull in whatever models and data are necessary to answer the questions they're interested in.

The project will be implemented gradually over the coming decade, but the first two digital twins they hope to deliver will include one aimed at anticipating extreme weather events like floods and forest fires, and another aimed at providing longer-term predictions to support climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.

While Nvidia's announcement of a new supercomputer dedicated to climate modeling is welcome, Bauer says the challenge today is more about software engineering than developing new hardware. Most of the critical models have been developed in isolation using very different approaches, so getting them to talk to each other and finding ways to interface highly disparate data streams is an outstanding problem.

"Part of the challenge to actually hide the diversity and complexity of these components away from the user and make them work together," Bauer says.

Correction 24 Nov. 2021: An update was made to the description of machine learning’s utility for digital earths—it could be useful, the story now reads, in understanding how water moves through earth on land (not the mechanics of dirt as the original version of the story stated).


Match ID: 18 Score: 6.43 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 6 days
qualifiers: 6.43 climate change

From Bush to Obama, and Trump to Biden, U.S. Militarism Is the Great Unifier
Sun, 21 Nov 2021 11:30:08 +0000

Joe Biden's presidency demonstrates, once again, that U.S. commitments to militarism and permanent global war are enduring and bipartisan.

The post From Bush to Obama, and Trump to Biden, U.S. Militarism Is the Great Unifier appeared first on The Intercept.


Match ID: 19 Score: 4.29 source: theintercept.com age: 7 days
qualifiers: 4.29 climate change

Climate Expert: Stop Talking About "Geoengineering"
Tue, 16 Nov 2021 18:13:19 +0000


The leaders of the world have just returned from the UN's latest climate change summit, COP26, in which the countries that have signed on to the Paris Agreement upped their commitments to fight climate change. Everyone solemnly agreed, again, to follow the science, which has shown in exhaustive detail that humanity will suffer from heat, fire, floods, and droughts if the world warms beyond 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

Yet if countries continue on their present course, the world will likely have warmed by 2.7° C by the year 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker. If they meet all the pledges they've made for emission reductions by 2030, global temperature rise will be at 2.4° C by then. Hardly the breakthroughs we need to stave off disaster.

In light of this situation, there's increasing talk of actions that governments can take beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions—actions that could either remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or reduce the amount of sunlight coming into the atmosphere. Nobody's proposing relying solely on such tactics, but they could potentially help the planet in the short-term.

Such approaches are usually called geoengineering, and they're controversial: Many people worry about the unintended consequences of interfering with nature on a global scale. But Kelly Wanser, the executive director of the non-profit Silver Lining, argues that humanity is already interfering with nature on a global scale; that's what climate change is all about. She spoke with IEEE Spectrum about her work in encouraging basic scientific research on climate interventions.

IEEE Spectrum: What role does Silver Lining play in climate research or advocacy?

Kelly Wanser: Silver Lining's focus is on near-term climate risk: the exposure that we have to climate change between now and the middle of the century. The IPCC report released this past August said that in all of the realistic scenarios that they look at for climate change, warming continues to increase between now and 2050. And right now, we don't have enough ways to significantly reduce that warming.

Portrait of a blonde woman in a black shirt Kelly Wanser

Spectrum: Where does the name of the organization come from?

Wanser: It's partly a play on words. One approach to reducing warming has to do with brightening clouds with salt from seawater. But it's also a way of indicating that there is hope and possibility in navigating the dangerous part of the climate change situation.

Spectrum: I've been reporting on this topic recently, and I think I irritated a few researchers by using the term "geoengineering." Do you object to that term, and if so, what term do you prefer?

Wanser: We do object to it, because we don't think it's a good reflection of what is being proposed in these rapid responses to climate change. In 2015, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report on these types of technological approaches to reducing warming or reducing greenhouse gases, and the term that they arrived at was "climate intervention." It's a useful term because it speaks to the problem it's aimed at, climate, and expresses the uncertainty involved—we're trying to influence a system, but we don't have a high degree of control, like we would in an engineering context.

We actually conducted a public poll on the terms "geoengineering" and "climate intervention" and found that people were better able to comprehend what was meant by climate intervention, and also were less fearful.

Spectrum: When you talk about climate interventions, are you including carbon removal and sequestration in that category?

Wanser: We do include that in the broad category. But we focus on it less, because we've opted to focus on approaches that are likely to be most rapid and most likely to help address near-term risks. We've also focused on the parts of the portfolio where there are fewer people and fewer investments that are moving things forward. So, we focus significant energy on solar climate intervention, or sunlight reflection. We do some work on carbon removal, but that's pretty big space with a lot of investment. Which is good.

Spectrum: When you talk about the rationale for research on climate interventions, do you start with moral arguments or economic arguments?

Wanser: We start from the point of view of public safety, which is a concept in international environmental law and environmental law in the United States. We're really focused on the fact that we have quite a serious safety problem—potentially a catastrophic safety problem—in terms of human life, displacement and suffering, and the natural systems that we rely on.

The projections are that up to a billion people could be displaced between now and 2050, meaning that many parts of the world will become uninhabitable by then. What do we have to offer these billion people? We see it as similar to the ozone hole problem, where we really needed a tight, science-based focus on the limits to human inputs to the system--and howthose inputs affected the ozone layer's ability to keep people safe.

Spectrum: You've spoken before about tipping points: the idea that we may exceed thresholds in natural systems and thus cause drastic and irreversible changes. Which ones do you worry about?

Wanser: I'll focus on the one for which there is the most robust information. The Amazon rainforest is called the lungs of the planet because it gives oxygen back to the system and takes in a lot of CO2. But a combination of deforestation and warming pressure have caused the Amazon to now release more greenhouse gas than it absorbs, which is considered to be a big accelerant of climate change.

We are working with climate modelers to try to figure out how that changes the projections. But the IPCC report that came out in August does not include this newly discovered state of the rain forest. And, therefore, the curves in that report's [warming] pathways may not reflect the real amplification this might create. In almost all previous projections for climate, tipping events like these were far in the future. For the Amazon rain forest, the climate modelers that we talked to said there were almost no climate simulations where the rain forest tips in this century.

Spectrum: You're saying the situation is even more dire than we thought. And yet there's a lot of resistance to research on climate interventions that you say could help with near-term risks. I typically hear two critiques. The first is the moral hazard argument: If we embark on this research, it will undermine attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. People will think it's a get-out-of-jail-free card. How do you guys respond to that?

Wanser: Well, I usually respond with some sympathy for it. If we had started ratcheting back greenhouse gas emissions in the 1980s, that would have been the wisest and the safest thing to do. I like to use the analogy of medicine. It's not very smart to not take simple precautions and to let the patient get sick. But when the patient is very sick, then preventative measures like healthy diet and exercise don't help effectively enough or quickly enough. The treatment options aren't the same when a patient is sicker, and it appears we have quite a sick patient now.

Spectrum: The second critique I usually hear is that we will never understand enough about our complex climate systems to be able to intervene safely, and that we're guaranteed to mess things up and create massive side effects. How do respond to people who say the precautionary principle applies here?

Wanser: This is one of the reasons that we don't like term geoengineering. If you think of it as something wholly new and different, then there's this understandable thought: Why would we do something totally new and different than we don't understand? But a dirty, unmanaged variation of this is happening already.

Two graphs labelled Contributions to warming based on two complementary approaches showing red and blue bars based on contributions to warming Humanity is already reducing global warming... by spewing pollution into the air. IPCC Report: Climate Change 2021

The 2021 IPCC report includes a chart where they show the human influences on the climate system, with pink bars for warming effects and blue bars for cooling. The largest blue bar is the effect of pollution particles on clouds. [[The particles attract water to increase the number of droplets in clouds, and those clouds reflect more sunlight away from the Earth.]] It's a cooling effect and it's happening all over the world as a result of pollution from factories, ships, and cars. We're planning to remove that pollution, so it would be wise for us to understand that effect. And it would be interesting for us to think about whether there's a clean variation that we might want to replace it with. For example, some scientists are proposing to use a salt particles from seawater to brighten clouds over the ocean and send more sunlight back to space.

If you think about it that way, then this isn't a question of should we do something totally new or not, but how do we manage this situation that we already have, which includes these existing dynamics, these variations of things that are happening now.

Spectrum: In September, Spectrum published an article by the researchers working on that marine cloud brightening project. But do you want to sum up what they're doing?

Wanser: It's one of the few research efforts in the world that is looking at the process-level science around these climate intervention techniques for reflecting sunlight from the atmosphere: How would it actually work? How would you disperse the particles? How would they move in the atmosphere and affect the reflection of sunlight? For years, they have been developing technology for local dispersal and figuring out how to make the size and quantity of particles they think will work best. Now they have a large scientific collaboration to do [atmospheric and climate] modeling from very local to regional to global scales and to maybe step out and spray at very small scales to study those dynamics and inform the models.

It's exciting because they have the potential to do really important science about how pollution is impacting clouds and climate and also because they can likely determine, in a fairly reasonable amount of time, whether or not marine cloud brightening might be an option to significantly reduce warming.

Spectrum: Imagine that the researchers find that marine cloud brightening is effective at reflecting sunlight and doesn't have negative impacts. How would it be implemented?

Wanser: There are three parts of the world that have large banks of marine stratocumulus clouds that are very susceptible to this effect. Scientists propose having ships or autonomous vessels that would cruise around and spray particles in these regions, maybe be in the low-digit thousands of ships. Their goal would be to brighten these clouds by something like five to seven percent, so probably not in a way that's visible from the ground, and maybe not even visible from space.

Spectrum: Where are these three parts of the world?

Wanser: One of them is in the Pacific off the west coast of North America, another is off the west coast of South America, the third is off the coast of southern Africa.

Spectrum: The marine cloud project deals with adding particles to low-level clouds, but I also wanted to get your perspective on the SCoPEx project from Harvard, which wants to test the effect of stratospheric particles. They'd hoped this past year to simply test the technology platform, not to actually do any kind of experiments with spraying reflective particles. And yet the research group's advisory board stopped them and said they had to postpone it and think it through more. What's your perspective on both that project and that decision?

Wanser: We think that this early science is really important to inform decision-making. This was meant to be a test of a research apparatus, it wasn't even a test of something that would release any material. This was a balloon for research—like the balloons that go up every day to do atmospheric science.

The problem is, this valuable early science was positioned as a moment for a societal decision about research in this category. The testing they proposed wouldn't have had any environmental impact or impact on people. So the basis for the decision was not scientific; it was really about a small set of people's opinions about whether or not this kind of research should go forward. While the intentions were good, they inadvertently set up an undemocratic situation where a very tiny group of people are deciding whether scientific information would be available for everybody else.

We think that scientific independence and integrity is really important, especially in this research. We need scientists doing independent science, and when they have generated a lot of information for people around the world to review, we then need the societal moment where everybody can weigh in.


Match ID: 20 Score: 4.29 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 12 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change, 2.14 carbon

Bionic Hand Gives Amputees Sense of Touch
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 19:00:01 +0000


On a visit to Pakistan with his parents, 7-year-old Aadeel Akhtar met a girl his age who was missing her right leg. That was the first time he had met a person with a limb difference. The girl's family could not afford the cost of getting her a prosthetic leg, so she used a tree branch as a crutch to help her walk. From that encounter, Akhtar decided that one day he would develop affordable artificial limbs.

Twenty-one years later, in 2015, the IEEE member founded Psyonic, which designs and builds advanced, affordable artificial limbs. Akhtar is the CEO. The startup, headquartered in Champaign, Ill., released its first product—the Ability Hand—in September. It is the fastest bionic hand on the market and the only one with touch feedback.


The prosthesis uses pressure sensors to mimic the sensation of touch through vibrations. It functions almost like a regular hand. All five fingers on the lightweight prosthesis flex and extend. It offers 32 different grips.

"The most important thing for us is to give people a functioning, robust prosthesis that allows them to do things they never thought they would be able to do again," Akhtar says.

The Ability Hand is available in the United States for patients age 13 or older.

MAKING PROSTHETIC LIMBS ACCESSIBLE

Akhtar originally wanted to work with people with amputations as a physician. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 2007 from Loyola University in Chicago. But while pursuing his degree, he took a computer science course and fell in love with the subject.

"I loved everything about engineering, programming, and building things," he says. "I wanted to figure out a way to combine my interests in both engineering and medicine."

He went on to earn a master's degree in computer science in 2008, also from Loyola. Two years later he was accepted into the Medical Scholars Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The program allows students to earn both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in tandem. Akhtar earned an additional master's degree in electrical and computer engineering and a doctorate in neuroscience in 2016 but has not completed his medical degree.

His research for his doctorate focused on developing what eventually became the Ability Hand.

In 2014 he and another graduate student, Mary Nguyen, partnered with the Range of Motion Project, a nonprofit that provides prosthetic devices to people around the world who can't afford them. Akhtar and Nguyen flew to Quito, Ecuador, to test their product on Juan Suquillo, who lost his left hand during a 1979 border war between Ecuador and Peru.

"Everything that we do has the patient in mind."

Using the prototype, Suquillo was able to pinch together his thumb and index finger for the first time in 35 years. He reported that he felt as though a part of him had come back thanks to the prosthesis. After that feedback, Akhtar said, he wanted "everyone to feel the same way that Juan did when using our prosthetic hand."

Shortly after returning from that trip, Akhtar founded Psyonic. To get some advice about how to run the company and possibly win some money, he entered the bionic hand into the Cozad New Venture Challenge at the University of Illinois. The competition provides mentoring to teams, as well as workshops on topics such as pitching skills and customer development. Psyonic placed first and received a US $10,000 prize. The startup also won a $15,000 Samsung Research innovation prize in 2015. Since then, Psyonic has received funding from the University of Illinois Technology Entrepreneur Center, the iVenture Accelerator, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The startup currently has 23 employees including engineers, public health experts, social workers, and doctors.

DEVELOPING THE ABILITY HAND

Psyonic's artificial hand weighs 500 grams, around the weight of an average adult hand. Most prosthetic hands weigh about 20 percent more, Akhtar says. The Ability Hand contains six motors housed in a carbon fiber casing. It has silicone fingers, a battery pack, and muscle sensors that are placed over the patient's residual limb. If the patient has an amputation below her elbow, for example, two muscle sensors would be placed over her intact forearm muscle. She would be able to use those sensors to control the hand's movement and grip.

The Ability Hand is connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone app, which provides users another way to configure and control the hand's movements. The hand's software is automatically updated through the app. Its battery recharges in an hour, the company says.

A person in a red shirt and jacket smiling and looking at a prosthetic hand. Akhtar working on the prosthetic handPSYONIC

While talking to patients who used prosthetic hands, Akhtar says, they cited issues such as a lack of sensation and frequent breakage.

To give patients a sense of touch, the Ability Hand contains pressure sensors on the index finger, pinky, and thumb. When a patient touches an item, he will feel vibrations on his skin that mimic the sensation of touch. The prosthesis uses those vibrations to alert the user when he touches an object as well as indicate how hard he has grabbed it and when he has let go.

The reason most prosthetic limbs break, Akhtar says, is because they are made of rigid materials such as plastic, wood, or metal, which can't bend when they hit a hard surface. Psyonic uses rubber and silicone to make the fingers, which are flexible and can withstand a great deal of force, he says.

ARM WRESTLING WITH A BIONIC HAND!?!?!?! www.youtube.com

To test the durability of the hand, Akhtar arm-wrestled Dan St. Pierre, 2018–2019 U.S. paratriathlon national champion.

The Ability Hand is also water-resistant, Akhtar says.

"Everything we do has the patient in mind," Akhtar says. "We want to improve the quality of life for people with limb differences as much as possible. Seeing the effect the Ability Hand has already had on people in such a short time span motivates us to keep going."

Psyonic and its partners are researching how to improve the artificial hand. Akhtar says some of the partners, including the Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh, are developing brain and spinal cord implants that could help patients control the prosthesis. The implants could stimulate the areas of the brain that control sensory intake. When a patient touches the prosthesis's fingers, the implants would send a signal to the brain that would make the patient feel the pressure.

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Akhtar joined IEEE in 2010 when he was a doctoral student.

He has presented papers on Psyonic's work at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems and the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

IEEE provides a great "ecosystem," he says, on prosthetic limbs and robotics, and "it's amazing to be part of that community." He adds that having access to IEEE's community of scholars and professionals, some of whom are pioneers in the field, has helped the company gain important feedback on how it can improve the hand, as well as help in the development of legs in the future.


Match ID: 21 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 9 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

'I've seen irreversible change but hope too for planet'
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 00:05:49 GMT
Over decades, correspondent David Shukman has seen climate change become our most important issue.
Match ID: 22 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 11 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Climate change: What did the scientists make of COP26?
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 00:09:32 GMT
Scientists applaud some COP26 policies but fear measures don't go far enough and won’t be delivered.
Match ID: 23 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 12 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

COP26: The truth behind the new climate change denial
Wed, 17 Nov 2021 00:07:06 GMT
The climate claims that went viral – and what you need to know about them.
Match ID: 24 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 12 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

COP26: What was agreed at the Glasgow climate conference?
Mon, 15 Nov 2021 13:28:34 GMT
A crucial climate change summit has been held in the UK which could change our lives.
Match ID: 25 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 13 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

How green was the COP26 climate summit?
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 06:15:22 GMT
A report has suggested the carbon footprint of the Glasgow summit is more than double that of COP25.
Match ID: 26 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 17 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Seven ways to curb climate change
Fri, 12 Nov 2021 00:04:51 GMT
What are the practical things countries need to do in order to tackle climate change?
Match ID: 27 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 17 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Climate change: How could a 2050 weather forecast look?
Thu, 11 Nov 2021 22:38:05 GMT
The future climate could be determined by the level of emissions in the coming years.
Match ID: 28 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 17 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

COP26: Climate activists on what change means for them
Thu, 11 Nov 2021 00:34:37 GMT
Climate activists from the Philippines, the UK and Argentina take questions on climate change.
Match ID: 29 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 18 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Bamboo bikes and no-waste peanut butter: my week going the extra eco-mile
Wed, 10 Nov 2021 16:26:01 GMT

How can a solar-powered, slow travelling, second-hand shopper (who lives on a canal boat) live even more sustainably? A decade after an intensive eco-overhaul, writer Paul Miles looks to upgrade his green routine again

Over a decade ago, after a cliche-ridden epiphany – think sunrise, yoga and dolphins – I relinquished life as a jetsetting travel writer in an attempt to make amends for a Yeti-sized carbon footprint. I decided there and then to turn down any press trips that involved flights. Given that my niche was the south Pacific, I sometimes wonder if I wasn’t being overly idealistic.

Now, instead of flying high, I travel at a snail’s pace. My home for the last 11 years has been a narrowboat on which I cruise the canals, slowly and occasionally, so as not to use too much diesel. I live as simply as I can, with most of my domestic power coming from solar panels. I cycle, I recycle, and when I shop I always visit the charity shops. And I’ve never been more content: time to stand and stare is indeed what life is about.

Continue reading...
Match ID: 30 Score: 2.14 source: www.theguardian.com age: 18 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

Climate change: Seven ways to spot businesses greenwashing
Mon, 08 Nov 2021 23:58:05 GMT
Firms often claim they are eco-friendly but how can you check they are as green as they make out?
Match ID: 31 Score: 2.14 source: www.bbc.co.uk age: 20 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

NASA Participates in UN Climate Change Conference
Sat, 06 Nov 2021 09:53 EDT
NASA is participating in the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, which began Oct. 31, and runs through Friday, Nov. 12.
Match ID: 32 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 22 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Electric Airplanes Won’t Make Much of a Dent in Air Travel for Decades to Come
Mon, 01 Nov 2021 15:15:31 +0000


Exaggeration has become the default method for news reporting, and the possibility of commercial electric flight has been no exception, with repeated claims that these new planes will utterly change how we live.

In 2017, Boeing and JetBlue funded Zunum Aero, a U.S. company that promised nothing less than transforming air travel with short-haul electric planes capable of carrying 12 people–and doing it by 2022. Two years later Boeing declined to continue funding the project.


At the Paris Air Show in June 2019, the CEO of Eviation introduced Alice, a nine-seat commuter plane that had two pusher motors on the wing tips—a highly questionable design—and said, "This is not some future maybe…. It's operational." It was not. The first flight did not take place as advertised, and in 2021 the motors were relocated aft on the model fuselage.

Meanwhile, there is the Pipistrel Velis Electro, the first electric airplane to receive European Union flight certification. It is able to carry just two people, for only about an hour.

Illustration comparing the sizes of a Pipistral Velis Electro and a Boeing 787-10 in meters. More people, flying further have nearly doubled the passenger-kilometers traveled by air over the past decade. Short-haul flights on battery power, while undoubtedly convenient, would amount to a mere rounding error, not only for this metric but for the related one of carbon emissions. The Pipistrel Velis Electro, the first e-plane approved in the European Union, can carry two people for about 100 kilometers; the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner can carry 336 people 11,750 km—about a 20,000-fold difference. James Provost

But overly ambitious goals and setbacks are not the question here; such early failures are to be expected in any new technical endeavor. The problem is much more fundamental. Having all-electric aircraft for short-haul flights would indeed be great, and it would provide critical services to millions of travelers living in small towns. Still, it would make only a minor contribution to what is truly a gigantic business.

Air traffic surged from 28 billion passenger-kilometers (pkm) in 1950 to 2.8 trillion pkm by the year 2000, a 100-fold rise. It then rose to nearly 9 trillion pkm before the pandemic intervened. Trillions of passenger-kilometers could be added so rapidly thanks to the advent of wide-body airplanes carrying 300 to 500 passengers per plane between the continents. Consider such flights, spanning about 6,000 kilometers between Europe and North America, 8,000 km between Europe and East Asia, and 11,000 km between North America and Asia—and compare them to short-haul affairs, say between smaller towns and the largest city in a state.

Large turbofan engines powering these planes are fueled by aviation kerosene that provides nearly 12,000 watt-hours per kilogram. In contrast, today's best commercial Li-ion batteries deliver less than 300 Wh/kg, or 1/40th the energy density of kerosene. Even when taking into account the higher efficiency of electric motors, the effective energy densities go down to about 1/20th. That's more than better batteries can bridge within the next decade or two.

During the past 30 years the maximum energy density of batteries has roughly tripled. Even if electrochemists should replicate that feat, providing us with 1,000 Wh/kg batteries in 2050, it would still fall far short of what's needed to fly a wide-body plane nonstop from New York to Tokyo, something that All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and United Airlines have been doing for years with the Boeing 777. And while kerosene-fueled planes get lighter as they travel to their destination, electric aircraft will have to carry a constant mass of batteries.

Moreover, the airline industry requires massive investments. Pre-COVID estimates indicated that between 2018 and 2038 the combined market for new planes, together with the cost of their maintenance, repair, and associated training services, would be on the order of US $16 trillion. Such enormous outlays require long planning horizons, embedded in commitments to specific designs and aircraft orders.

This means that the industry's next few decades have already been decided. Because the average lifespan of both single-aisle and wide-body planes is just over 20 years, forthcoming purchases of new planes will expand the existing fleet at least by half—and all of the large commercial planes will rely on kerosene-fueled turbofans.

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "Electric Flight."


Match ID: 33 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 27 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

NASA Releases Climate Action Plan
Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:41 EDT
NASA released a climate action plan Thursday, Oct. 7, aimed at averting mission impacts due to climate change, ensuring the resiliency of facilities and assets, and providing the nation and world unique climate observations, analysis, and modeling through scientific research.
Match ID: 34 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 52 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

NASA, FEMA to Host Alliance for Climate Action Series in October
Tue, 05 Oct 2021 09:01 EDT
NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will co-host the Alliances for Climate Action, a virtual series to address rising demand for accurate, timely, and actionable information at a time of rapid global climate change.
Match ID: 35 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 54 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

NASA, FAA Invite Media to Briefing on Air Traffic Control Updates
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 09:58 EDT
NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hold a virtual briefing for media Tuesday, Sept., 28 at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss efforts to improve the sustainability of aviation through the demonstration of more efficient airport operations, contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to tackle climate change.
Match ID: 36 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 67 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Will This Jetpack Fly Itself?
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 13:23:30 +0000


Jetpacks might sound fun, but learning how to control a pair of jet engines strapped to your back is no easy feat. Now a British startup wants to simplify things by developing a jetpack with an autopilot system that makes operating it more like controlling a high-end drone than learning how to fly.

Jetpacks made the leap from sci-fi to the real world as far back as the 1960s, but since then the they haven't found much use outside of gimmicky appearances in movies and halftime shows. In recent years though, the idea has received renewed interest. And its proponents are keen to show that the technology is no longer just for stuntmen and may even have practical applications.

American firm Jetpack Aviation will teach anyone to fly its JB-10 jetpack for a cool $4,950 and recently sold its latest JB-12 model to an "undisclosed military." And an Iron Man-like, jet-powered flying suit developed by British start-up Gravity Industries has been tested as a way for marines to board ships and as a way to get medics to the top of mountains quickly.

Flying jetpacks can take a lot of training to master though. That's what prompted Hollywood animatronics expert Matt Denton and Royal Navy Commander Antony Quinn to found Maverick Aviation, and develop one that takes the complexities of flight control out the pilot's hands.

The Maverick Jetpack features four miniature jet turbines attached to an aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber frame, and will travel at up to 30 miles per hour. But the secret ingredient is software that automatically controls the engines to maintain a stable hover, and seamlessly convert the pilot's instructions into precise movements.

"It's going to be very much like flying a drone," says Denton. "We wanted to come up with something that anyone could fly. It's all computer-controlled and you'll just be using the joystick."

One of the key challenges, says Denton, was making the engines responsive enough to allow the rapid tweaks required for flight stabilization. This is relatively simple to achieve on a drone, whose electric motors can be adjusted in a blink of an eye, but jet turbines can take several seconds to ramp up and down between zero and full power.

To get around this, the company added servos to each turbine that let them move independently to quickly alter the direction of thrust—a process known as thrust vectoring. By shifting the alignment of the four engines the flight control software can keep the jetpack perfectly positioned using feedback from inertial measurement units, GPS, altimeters and ground distance sensors. Simple directional instructions from the pilot can also be automatically translated into the required low-level tweaks to the turbines.

It's a clever way to improve the mobility of the system, says Ben Akih-Kumgeh, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at Syracuse University. "It's not only a smart way of overcoming any lag that you may have, but it also helps with the lifespan of the engine," he adds. “[In] any mechanical system, the durability depends on how often you change the operating conditions."

The software is fairly similar to a conventional drone flight controller, says Denton, but they have had to accommodate some additional complexities. Thrust magnitude and thrust direction have to be managed by separate control loops due to their very different reaction times, but they still need to sync up seamlessly to coordinate adjustments. The entire control process is also complicated by the fact that the jetpack has a human strapped to it.

"Once you've got a shifting payload, like a person who's wobbling their arms around and moving their legs, then it does become a much more complex problem," says Denton.

In the long run, says Denton, the company hopes to add higher-level functions that could allow the jetpack to move automatically between points marked on a map. The hope is that by automating as much of the flight control as possible, users will be able to focus on the task at hand, whether that's fixing a wind turbine or inspecting a construction site.

Surrendering so much control to a computer might give some pause for thought, but Denton says there will be plenty of redundancy built in. "The idea will be that we'll have plenty of fallback modes where, if part of the system fails, it'll fall back to a more manual flight mode," he said. "The user would have training to basically tackle any of those conditions."

It might be sometime before you can start basic training, though, as the company has yet to fly their turbine-powered jetpack. Currently, flight testing is being conducted on an scaled down model powered by electric ducted fans, says Denton, though their responsiveness has been deliberately dulled so they behave like turbines. The company is hoping to conduct the first human test flights next summer.

Don't get your hopes up about commuting to work by jetpack any time soon though, says Akih-Kumgeh. The huge amount of noise these devices produce make it unlikely that they would be allowed to operate within city limits. The near term applications are more likely to be search and rescue missions where time and speed trump efficiency, he says.


Match ID: 37 Score: 2.14 source: spectrum.ieee.org age: 67 days
qualifiers: 2.14 carbon

NASA Innovations Will Help US Meet Sustainable Aviation Goals
Thu, 09 Sep 2021 15:06 EDT
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined federal government and industry leaders Thursday at a White House event highlighting sustainable aviation and the administration’s focus on medium- and long-term goals to combat climate change.
Match ID: 38 Score: 2.14 source: www.nasa.gov age: 80 days
qualifiers: 2.14 climate change

Flame Retardant Epoxies and Silicones Play Key Role in Aircraft Construction
Thu, 02 Sep 2021 19:03:39 +0000


Designed to mitigate the worst effects of fires, fire retardant materials play a particularly important role in aircraft construction. Used in aircraft, epoxies and silicones must maintain their primary role as adhesives or coatings while exhibiting resistance to heat and flame in accordance with government and industry specifications.

Master Bond's series of flame retardant epoxies and silicones comply with specifications for flame resistance and reduction of smoke density and toxic emissions.


Download this free whitepaper


Match ID: 39 Score: 2.14 source: event.on24.com age: 87 days
qualifiers: 2.14 toxic

The New Supersonic Boom
Mon, 16 Aug 2021 15:00:00 +0000


On 9 April 1945, less than a month before the end of hostilities in Europe, a young Luftwaffe pilot named Hans Guido Mutke put his jet-propelled Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter-bomber into a steep dive, intending to come to the aid of a fellow airman below. As the Messerschmitt accelerated downward, the plane began to shake violently, and the controls became unresponsive. Mutke managed to regain control and lived to describe the incident, in which he later laid claim to having exceeded the speed of sound, a controversial but plausible assertion.

This and similar episodes during and after World War II led some to believe that aircraft would have great difficulty ever "breaking the sound barrier"—a phrase that led to a popular misconception that there is some kind of brick wall in the sky that a plane must pierce to fly at supersonic speeds.


Image of Chuck Yeager piloting the Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947. Piloting the bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane in 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first person to exceed the speed of sound while in horizontal flight.Everett Collection/Alamy

The aircraft that unquestionably tore down that metaphorical wall was the Bell X-1, a bullet-shaped experimental rocket-plane. In October of 1947, test pilot Chuck Yeager coaxed his bright orange X-1 to a speed that slightly exceeded that of sound while the plane was in horizontal flight, although the U.S. Air Force didn't officially announce the feat until the following year.

Since then, jets have been regularly exceeding Mach 1—shorthand for the speed of sound in the surrounding air. Even the Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainer, introduced in 1959, could do so. And some military jets can fly much faster. The SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, which first flew in the 1960s, can travel at better than Mach 3.

Although military aircraft were breaking the sound barrier daily during the 1950s and '60s, commercial passenger flights during this time remained limited to subsonic speeds. That situation didn't change until early in 1976, with the first scheduled flights of the French-British Concorde supersonic airliner, which could reach Mach 2. The Soviet Union's Tupolev TU-144, which could fly just as fast and had been used to transport mail and freight the previous year, began carrying passengers in 1977.

It would have been reasonable to project that we'd all be zooming around the globe at supersonic speeds by now. But, of course, we're not.

At the time, it would have been reasonable to project that we'd all be zooming around the globe at supersonic speeds by now. But, of course, we're not. The Concorde last flew nearly two decades ago. Today's airliners travel no faster than their counterparts of 60 years ago—indeed, they tend to fly somewhat slower to reduce fuel costs.

Now, several aircraft manufacturers and NASA are intent on ushering in a new era of supersonic commercial aviation. They're preparing prototypes for flight and they've got designs for full-blown airliners capable of carrying scores of passengers. And this time, their biggest challenge probably won't be the sonic booms, which backers insist they can adequately address. The main obstacles will be regulatory and, especially, environmental: Supersonic airliners could be hugely more polluting than their subsonic counterparts.

Are we nevertheless on the cusp of a new, golden age of high-speed commercial aviation? Will people soon be jetting across the Pacific in three hours? To answer those questions requires a deeper understanding of what went on, and what went wrong, during that first push to develop supersonic airliners more than a half century ago.

Image of the Concorder airliner, taking flight during a test flight in 1970. The Concorde, shown here at the start of a test flight in 1970, was particularly noisy, both during takeoff and when exceeding the speed of sound, which subjected people below to the loud double bang of its sonic boom.AP

In 1956, nine years after Yeager's history-making flight, the U.K. government established a Supersonic Transport Advisory Committee, which began discussions with international partners about building a supersonic airliner. And in 1962 the French and British governments forged an agreement to cooperate in the development of what soon became known as the Concorde. The sleek delta-winged airliner made its first supersonic test flight in 1969.

Although the United States chose not to participate in the development of the Concorde, in 1963 President John F. Kennedy announced plans to develop a U.S. supersonic airliner. Shortly afterward, the federal government issued a contract to Boeing, which had prevailed over Lockheed and others in a design competition, to develop such a plane.

Meanwhile, environmentalists were voicing concern—about how noisy such aircraft are taking off, about the possibility that their high-altitude emissions would erode the ozone layer, and about how disruptive the sonic booms would be. The last of these issues was perhaps the most vexing, prompting the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to mount various exercises to gauge how the public would react to sonic booms.

The most extensive such experiment took place over Oklahoma City in 1964. For months, supersonic aircraft flew over the city, eight times a day, seven days a week, at unpredictable times but always during daylight hours. Dominic Maglieri, an expert on sonic booms whose career began in the early 1950s, recalls the results of those months-long tests.

"It looked as though people were kind of acclimating to it," says Maglieri. "But as it went on that changed—considerably: Pretty soon they were getting thousands of calls and complaints." Some of that negative feedback included demands for compensation, says Maglieri, including one from the owner of a palatial home who claimed that a sonic boom had cracked his marble floors.

A table of data showing the boom dates for sonic room damage. The 1964 Oklahoma City tests involved more than 1,000 flights, which sparked more than 15,000 complaints, as documented in a 1971 report prepared by the National Bureau of Standards.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Clearly, nobody would accept stone-fracturing sonic booms. Those objections added to the concerns environmentalists were raising about the ozone layer—a scenario seemingly justified a few years later by MIT researchers, who concluded that a future fleet of 500 supersonic airliners would deplete the ozone layer by 16 percent.

Despite strong support from the FAA, the airline industry, and aerospace companies, the U.S. Senate ceased funding the development of a supersonic airliner in 1971. Two years later, the FAA banned supersonic flight over land, a prohibition that remains to this day.

The Concorde went on to serve various destinations, including some in the United States, flying at supersonic speeds only over water. That continued until 2003, when British Airways and Air France retired their fleets, together amounting to just 12 aircraft. (Fourteen production aircraft were manufactured, but one was scrapped in 1994 and another crashed in 2000.)

While the Concorde successfully overcame the technical hurdles standing in the way of supersonic passenger service, it succumbed to economics: The cost of fuel and maintenance was especially high for these planes. A new generation of aeronautical engineers and entrepreneurs are, however, keen to once again take on the technical, environmental, and economic challenges.

It's perhaps unsurprising that the 21st-century push for supersonic travel is being led by newcomers rather than established manufacturers. The best-funded of this group is Denver-based Boom Technology (which also goes by the trade name Boom Supersonic).

Rendering of Boom Technology's Overture airliner in the sky. This artist's rendering shows Boom Technology's future Overture airliner, which will be able to carry as many as 88 people.Boom Supersonic

In 2016, while it was still in Y Combinator's startup incubation program, Boom got a big shot in the arm from the Virgin Group, which offered engineering support and optioned the first 10 of Boom's airliners. (More recently, Virgin Galactic has been designing a supersonic airliner of its own.) Virgin's interest in this sphere shouldn't be surprising: 13 years earlier, the group's founder Sir Richard Branson attempted, unsuccessfully, to purchase the seven Concorde airliners British Airways was retiring, for use by Virgin Atlantic.

Boom went on to garner more than US $150 million from various venture funds and Japan Airlines. It has used that money to build a one-third scale prototype, called the XB-1, of an airliner that will be able to carry as many as 88 passengers. The company expects commercial flights of the larger plane, which it calls Overture, to begin in 2029.

What these aircraft manufacturers are contending is that their eventual customers are going to be willing to pay to prevent net carbon emissions.

Boom is emphasizing its plans to mitigate the environmental impacts that inevitably arise with supersonic flight. Testifying to a House subcommittee on aviation this past April, Boom's CEO, Blake Scholl, noted that, "sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, are key to Overture sustainability, and we are designing Overture from the ground up to run on 100 percent SAF, enabling net-zero-carbon flight." In preparation, Boom has investigated the use of biofuels in the engines of its XB-1 demonstrator, and it has partnered with Prometheus Fuels, which will provide the XB-1 with jet fuel synthesized using carbon extracted from the atmosphere using renewable energy.

Boom has stated that its plane will go supersonic only over water. Even so, the company is " shaping the aircraft optimally for sonic-boom reduction," according to its website. In a similar vein, another startup, Boston-based Spike Aerospace, is stressing that its planned S-512 supersonic business jet is "aerodynamically designed to offer proprietary Quiet Supersonic Flight Technology. This will enable it to operate at its full cruising speed of Mach 1.6 (1,100 miles per hour) without producing a loud, disturbing sonic boom on the ground." Ditto for California-based Exosonic, which claims that the supersonic airliner it has on the drawing board "will create a softer thump on the ground that will be quieter than typical traffic."

Rendering of NASA's X-59 aircraft flying in the sky. This artist's rendering depicts NASA's X-59 low-noise demonstrator aircraft, now being constructed by Lockheed Martin.Lockheed Martin

This is exactly the strategy that NASA is exploring with an experimental aircraft called the X-59 QueSST, that name being a contraction of sorts of "quiet supersonic technology." Lockheed-Martin Corp. is right now constructing the X-59 at its famed Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, Calif.

"I used to joke that the airplane looked like an F-16 on steroids," says David Richwine, NASA's deputy project manager for technology on the X-59. "It's a long airplane—I think it's around 97 feet long." Richwine explains that adding length is one of the ways to "manage the sonic-boom signature," which is an engineer's way of saying to make the sound less jarring.

How successful NASA is in doing so will be tested as soon as 2024, when the X-59 is flown over a small set of U.S. cities to gauge the public's reactions to what Richwine expects to be a "sonic thump." Assuming this campaign takes place on schedule, it'll be 60 years after the FAA's Oklahoma City tests. Get your marble floors ready.

Interestingly, the company that was working the hardest to reduce the sonic-boom effects from a supersonic jet it was developing, Aerion Corp., now appears to be going out of business. The company, based in Reno, Nev., was founded by billionaire Robert Bass in 2003.

Aerion's initial foray into commercial supersonic aircraft was to be a 12-passenger business jet, the AS2, designed to have a top speed of Mach 1.4. The company was exploring the possibility of flying the AS2 in a fashion that would allow it to travel at supersonic speeds over land without subjecting the people below to a sonic boom. "Boomless Cruise" was Aerion's name for the technology.

Although we won't get to see it in action with Aerion's AS2, another supersonic hopeful might yet pursue this intriguing strategy, which merits a brief description.

Illustration of hot and cold air for slow and fast supersonic flight during Mach Cutoff. The phenomenon of Mach cutoff requires that the air near the ground be warmer and that the plane fly not too much faster than the speed of sound. Its sonic boom would then travel downward at a shallow angle and be refracted sufficiently to stay away from the ground [left]. A plane moving faster would create a sonic boom that travels downward at an angle that is too steep to be refracted away from the ground [right].David Schneider

The key concept is a phenomenon known as Mach cutoff, the physics of which is straightforward. When a plane flies at supersonic speeds, it outpaces the sound waves it creates. Those sounds pile up, causing a shock wave to form. That boom-inducing shock wave travels away at an angle that depends on how fast the plane is moving relative to the speed of sound. For a jet traveling at many times the speed of sound, the boom propagates at a steep angle from the flight path. For one traveling just barely faster than the speed of sound, the boom propagates at a shallow angle.

That second situation is important here because of another bit of relevant physics: The speed of sound in air depends on temperature. At altitude, where the air is colder, sound travels more slowly than it does in the warmer air near the ground. This phenomenon causes sound waves to refract (bend) as they travel downward, just as light waves refract when moving between water and air or glass and air.

Because of such refraction, sounds traveling downward at a sufficiently shallow angle can be bent upward enough never to impinge on the ground. Similar physics accounts for the mirages you might see when shallowly inclined rays of light are bent upward by the air just above hot asphalt, which gives them the appearance of having reflected off a puddle.

So if an aircraft is flown not too much faster than the speed of sound, in air that is sufficiently warmer near the surface, the sonic boom it creates, loud as it might be, will never reach the ground. You can have supersonic flight without the boom.

Society will have to weigh the environmental consequences of supersonic transport against the time savings it would offer a relatively select few travelers.

The compromise is that the plane can't travel much faster than the speed of sound—Mach 1.1 or 1.2, tops. That isn't a big improvement over something like the Cessna's Citation X business jet, which can travel at Mach 0.94. Exploiting the Mach cutoff phenomenon commercially would also require the FAA to relax its prohibition on supersonic flight over land, which it may never do.

The companies working hard now to bring commercial supersonic flight back understand that they have to address sonic-boom noise, one way or another. And the farthest along, Boom Technology, is also taking pains to explain how its planes can be flown with fuels that won't add to the enormous amounts of carbon that commercial aviation is already spewing into the air.

"There are a couple of problems with that logic," says Dan Rutherford, who is aviation and shipping program director for the International Council on Clean Transportation. "First of all, once the plane is out the door, there's very little control that a manufacturer has over what fuel is used." What these aircraft manufacturers are contending is that their eventual customers are going to be willing to pay to prevent net carbon emissions. "The planes themselves are not going to be fuel efficient," says Rutherford. He and two colleagues estimated in 2018 that a commercial supersonic airliner like the one Boom is designing would likely use five to seven times as much fuel per passenger-kilometer as a comparable subsonic aircraft.

Rutherford further notes that biomass-derived jet fuels are at least three or four times as expensive as conventional jet fuel and that synthetic jet fuel made from carbon extracted from the atmosphere will be more expensive still. Combine those higher fuel costs with the higher fuel consumption and "you start to have such high operating costs for those planes that it is very difficult to see them succeed in the market," he says.

Rendering of NASA's X-59 aircraft flying in the sky. This past June, United Airlines announced its intention to purchase 15 Overture airliners from Boom Technology. They will presumably resemble this artist's rendering after they go into service.Boom Supersonic

But Michael Leskinen, vice president of corporate development for United Airlines, which in early June announced plans to purchase 15 of Boom's Overture airliners, explained to IEEE Spectrum, "We'll be working to introduce and supply the market with more and more sustainable aviation fuel, and our hope is that with more supply, we'll be able to drive that cost of fuel down as well." Still, it's easy to imagine that the economic pressures would be such that, even if United sticks to using sustainable fuels, other operators would end up flying the aircraft with conventional jet fuel, boosting carbon emissions from air travel by five or more times per passenger-kilometer flown.

But it gets worse, according to Rutherford. "If you look at the other emissions from supersonics that also warm the planet—these are the nitrogen oxides, the particulate matter, and the water vapor for supersonics operating in the stratosphere—those could be even worse for the climate, on the order of 20 times or more just because the pollution stays up in the atmosphere so much longer."

Rutherford admits that the science of these noncarbon effects is less certain than it is for CO 2. But as was true for concerns about the ozone layer back in the 1960s, proponents of supersonic commercial aviation need to consider the deleterious effects of all the pollutants these planes create and their extended residence times at the altitudes these planes fly. Will they actually do that?

"We're committed to being 100 percent green," Leskinen says. "That's across the spectrum of impacts that our aircraft have. And that will be no different for Overture than it is for any other aircraft we choose to operate." It's a grand promise, but even if United can keep to it, it's a promise that the company is making for 2050, not for 2029 when the Overture will be introduced.

Larger society will have to weigh the likely environmental consequences of supersonic transport against the time savings this futuristic mode of transportation would offer a select few travelers. There are, of course, many ways this could play out over the coming decades, perhaps with different nations adopting different policies. What seems certain, however, is that Adam Smith's invisible hand will exert considerable influence, just as it did for earlier supersonic wonders: the Concorde and the space shuttle. In the end, both proved technological dead ends simply because they cost more to operate than their services were worth.

This article appears in the November 2021 print issue as "Mach 2, Take 2."


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