SpaceX is targeting Sunday, November 22 at 9:56 p.m. EST for launch of its sixteenth Starlink mission, which will liftoff with 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This will be a record-setting 7th launch of a Falcon 9 booster. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be located in the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected SpaceX will recover the fairings.
Best description of robotic emotions from “Celus-5 (The Silver Ships Book 8)” by S. H. Jucha.
Renée had burst into tears, hugging Julien and burying her face in his chest. Cordelia sent to Julien, as she watched Renée cling to her partner. Julien couldn’t agree more. Inside, he was fighting to maintain control of his emotional algorithms. He felt as if he was suffering some sort of cascade failure in his code. We’ve come so far along the path with Alex, he thought, that we’re becoming as vulnerable as humans to the loss of one another.
Physicists Circumvent 178-Year Old Theory to Cancel Magnetic Fields
The ability to cancel magnetic fields has benefits in quantum technology, biomedicine, and neurology.
A team of scientists including two physicists at the University of Sussex has found a way to circumvent a 178-year old theory which means they can effectively cancel magnetic fields at a distance. They are the first to be able to do so in a way that has practical benefits.
The work is hoped to have a wide variety of applications. For example, patients with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s might in the future receive a more accurate diagnosis. With the ability to cancel out ‘noisy’ external magnetic fields, doctors using magnetic field scanners will be able to see more accurately what is happening in the brain.
The study “Tailoring magnetic fields in inaccessible regions” is published in Physical Review Letters. It is an international collaboration between Dr. Mark Bason and Jordi Prat-Camps at the University of Sussex, and Rosa Mach-Batlle and Nuria Del-Valle from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and other institutions.
“Earnshaw’s Theorem” from 1842 limits the ability to shape magnetic fields. The team were able to calculate an innovative way to circumvent this theory in order to effectively cancel other magnetic fields which can confuse readings in experiments.
In practical terms, they achieved this through creating a device comprised of a careful arrangement of electrical wires. This creates additional fields and so counteracts the effects of the unwanted magnetic field. Scientists have been struggling with this challenge for years but now the team has found a new strategy to deal with these problematic fields. While a similar effect has been achieved at much higher frequencies, this is the first time it has been achieved at low frequencies and static fields — such as biological frequencies — which will unlock a host of useful applications.
Other possible future applications for this work include:
Quantum technology and quantum computing, in which ‘noise’ from exterior magnetic fields can affect experimental readings
Neuroimaging, in which a technique called ‘transcranial magnetic stimulation’ activates different areas of the brain through magnetic fields. Using the techniques in this paper, doctors might be able to more carefully address areas of the brain needing stimulation.
Biomedicine, to better control and manipulate nanorobots and magnetic nanoparticles that are moved inside a body by means of external magnetic fields. Potential applications for this development include improved drug delivery and magnetic hyperthermia therapies.
Dr. Rosa Mach-Batlle, the lead author on the paper from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, said: “Starting from the fundamental question of whether it was possible or not to create a magnetic source at a distance, we came up with a strategy for controlling magnetism remotely that we believe could have a significant impact in technologies relying on the magnetic field distribution in inaccessible regions, such as inside of a human body.”
Dr. Mark Bason from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said: “We’ve discovered a way to circumvent Earnshaw’s theorem which many people didn’t imagine was possible. As a physicist, that’s pretty exciting. But it’s not just a theoretical exercise as our research might lead to some really important applications: more accurate diagnosis for Motor Neurone Disease patients in the future, for example, better understanding of dementia in the brain, or speeding the development of quantum technology.”
Reference: “Tailoring Magnetic Fields in Inaccessible Regions” by Rosa Mach-Batlle, Mark G. Bason, Nuria Del-Valle and Jordi Prat-Camps, 23 October 2020, Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.177204
As Hurricane Zeta churned toward the northern Gulf Coast today (Oct. 28), the International Space Station captured some incredible views of the massive storm from orbit.
The space station passed over Zeta just before 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) as its external cameras recorded video of the strengthening hurricane. Now a Category 2 storm, Zeta is expected to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
SpaceX is expanding the beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, sending emails on Monday to people who expressed interest in signing up for the service.
Called the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test, according to multiple screenshots of the email seen by CNBC, initial Starlink service is priced at $99 a month – plus a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit.
That kit includes a user terminal to connect to the satellites, a mounting tripod and a Wi-Fi router.
SpaceX is expanding the beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, sending emails on Monday to people who expressed interest in signing up for the service.
Called the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test, according to multiple screenshots of the email seen by CNBC, initial Starlink service is priced at $99 a month — plus a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit. That kit includes a user terminal to connect to the satellites, a mounting tripod and a Wi-Fi router. There is also now a Starlink app listed by SpaceX on the Google Play and Apple iOS app stores.
“As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations,” the emails said, signed “Starlink Team.” “Expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all.”
SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
Those who received the emails would have filled out a form on the Starlink website, which asked for potential subscribers’ contact information and location. Elon Musk’s company posted that form in June and, less than two months later, SpaceX said that “nearly 700,000 individuals” across the United States had indicated interest in the service.
Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. The network is an ambitious endeavor, which SpaceX has said will cost about $10 billion or more to build. But the company’s leadership estimates that Starlink could bring in as much as $30 billion a year, or more than 10 times the annual revenue of its rocket business.https://53cd6e85feb269b70482a23c6a6123a1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0A Falcon rocket launches a Starlink mission in October 2020.SpaceX
“Under Starlink’s Better Than Nothing Beta program, initial service is targeted for the U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021,” SpaceX said in the description of its Starlink mobile app.
SpaceX earlier this month announced a partnership withMicrosoft to connect the tech giant’s Azure cloud computing network to the Starlink network. SpaceX and Microsoft in recent months have been testing the software needed to connect Starlink and Azure. The partnership is especially key to Microsoft’s new mobile data centers, which the company said are designed “for customers who need cloud computing capabilities in hybrid or challenging environments, including remote areas.”
First Habitable-Zone, Earth-Sized Exoplanet Discovered With Planet-Hunter TESS
TOI 700, a planetary system 100 light-years away in the constellation Dorado, is home to TOI 700 d, the first Earth-size habitable-zone planet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, was launched in 2018 with the goal of discovering small planets around the Sun’s nearest neighbors, stars bright enough to allow for follow-up characterizations of their planets’ masses and atmospheres. TESS has so far discovered seventeen small planets around eleven nearby stars that are M dwarfs — stars that are smaller than the Sun (less than about 60% of the Sun’s mass) and cooler (surface temperatures less than about 3900 kelvin). In a series of three papers that appeared together this month, astronomers report that one of these planets, TOI-700d, is Earth-sized and also located in its star’s habitable zone; they also discuss its possible climate.
CfA astronomers Joseph Rodriguez, Laura Kreidberg, Karen Collins, Samuel Quinn, Dave Latham, Ryan Cloutier, Jennifer Winters, Jason Eastman, and David Charbonneau were on the teams that studied TOI-700d, one of three small planets orbiting one M dwarf star (its mass is 0.415 solar masses) located one hundred and two light-years from Earth. The TESS data analysis found the tentative sizes of the planets as being approximately Earth-sized, 1.04, 2.65 and 1.14 Earth-radii, respectively, and their orbital periods as 9.98, 16.05, and 37.42 days, respectively.
This illustration of TOI 700 d is based on several simulated environments for an ocean-covered version of the planet. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
In our solar system, Mercury orbits the Sun in about 88 days; it is so close to the Sun that its temperature can reach over 400 Celsius. But because this M-dwarf star is comparatively cool the orbit of its third planet, even though much closer to the star than Mercury is to the Sun, places it in the habitable zone – the region within which the temperatures allow surface water (if any) to remain liquid when there is also an atmosphere. That makes this Earth-sized planet TOI-700d particularly interesting as a potential host for life.
The TESS detections were exciting but uncertain: the signals were faint and a small possibility remained that the TOI-700d detection was spurious. Because of the potential importance of finding a nearby Earth-sized planet in a habitable zone, the TESS scientists turned to the IRAC camera on the Spitzer Space Observatory for confirmation. Before being turned off by NASA in February 2020, the IRAC camera was by far the most sensitive near infrared camera in space.
A schematic of the planets around the nearby M dwarf star TOI-700, discovered by TESS. The third (the farthest planet from the star), TOI-700d, lies within the star’s habitable zone (shown in green). Using the IRAC camera on Spitzer, the team refined the planet’s mass as 2.1 Earth-masses and 1.14 Earth-radii. (The scale shows 0.2 astronomical units; AU being the average Earth-Sun distance.) Credit: Rodriguez et al 2020
The TESS team observed TOI-700 with IRAC in October of 2019 and January of 2020, acquiring clear detections of the planets with about twice the signal-to-noise of TESS, enough to give a 61% improvement in the planet’s orbit and to significantly refine our knowledge of its other characteristics, refining the radius as above and finding the mass to be 2.1 Earth-masses. The results, especially when compared with other planets’ properties, suggest that this planet may be rocky and likely to be “tidally locked” with one side of the planet always facing the star.
If there were liquid water on the surface of TOI-700d, the astronomers argue, there would also be water-bearing clouds in the atmosphere, and the team uses climate system models to estimate its possible properties and what more sensitive measurements might find. They conclude, however, that pending space missions, including JWST, will probably lack the sensitivity to detect atmospheric features by a factor of ten or more. Their detailed climate studies will nevertheless help astronomers constrain the kinds of telescopes and instruments that will be needed to investigate this exciting new neighbor.
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
“The First Habitable-zone Earth-sized Planet from TESS. I. Validation of the TOI-700 System” by Emily A. Gilbert, Thomas Barclay, Joshua E. Schlieder, Elisa V. Quintana, Benjamin J. Hord, Veselin B. Kostov, Eric D. Lopez, Jason F. Rowe, Kelsey Hoffman, Lucianne M. Walkowicz, Michele L. Silverstein, Joseph E. Rodriguez, Andrew Vanderburg, Gabrielle Suissa, Vladimir S. Airapetian, Matthew S. Clement, Sean N. Raymond, Andrew W. Mann, Ethan Kruse … Benjamin J. Shappee, Mackennae Le Wood and Jennifer G. Winters, 14 August 2020, The Astronomical Journal. DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aba4b2
“The First Habitable-zone Earth-sized Planet from TESS. II. Spitzer Confirms TOI-700 d” by Joseph E. Rodriguez, Andrew Vanderburg, Sebastian Zieba, Laura Kreidberg, Caroline V. Morley, Jason D. Eastman, Stephen R. Kane, Alton Spencer, Samuel N. Quinn, Ryan Cloutier, Chelsea X. Huang, Karen A. Collins, Andrew W. Mann, Emily Gilbert, Joshua E. Schlieder, Elisa V. Quintana, Thomas Barclay, Gabrielle Suissa, Ravi kumar Kopparapu … Philip S. Muirhead, Elisabeth Newton, Mark E. Rose, Joseph D. Twicken and Jesus Noel Villaseñor, 14 August 2020, The Astronomical Journal. DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aba4b3
“The First Habitable-zone Earth-sized Planet from TESS. III. Climate States and Characterization Prospects for TOI-700 d” by Gabrielle Suissa, Eric T. Wolf, Ravi kumar Kopparapu, Geronimo L. Villanueva, Thomas Fauchez, Avi M. Mandell, Giada Arney, Emily A. Gilbert, Joshua E. Schlieder, Thomas Barclay, Elisa V. Quintana, Eric Lopez, Joseph E. Rodriguez and Andrew Vanderburg, 14 August 2020, The Astronomical Journal. DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aba4b4
New nuclear engine concept could help realize 3-month trips to Mars
The concept engine is twice as efficient as chemical rockets
Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept for a new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine and delivered it to NASA. Claimed to be safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs and with far greater efficiency than a chemical rocket, the concept could help realize the goal of using nuclear propulsion to revolutionize deep space travel, reducing Earth-Mars travel time to just three months.
Because chemical rockets are already near their theoretical limits and electric space propulsion systems have such low thrust, rocket engineers continue to seek ways to build more efficient, more powerful engines using some variant of nuclear energy. If properly designed, such nuclear rockets could have several times the efficiency of the chemical variety. The problem is to produce a nuclear reactor that is light enough and safe enough for use outside the Earth’s atmosphere – especially if the spacecraft is carrying a crew.
Volcanic Impact on Jupiter’s Moon Io Shown Directly for the First Time By NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY
Composite image showing Jupiter’s moon Io in radio (ALMA), and optical light (Voyager 1 and Galileo). The ALMA images of Io show for the first time plumes of sulfur dioxide (in yellow) rise up from its volcanoes. Jupiter is visible in the background (Hubble). Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA/ESA
New radio images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show for the first time the direct effect of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io.
Io is the most volcanically active moon in our solar system. It hosts more than 400 active volcanoes, spewing out sulfur gases that give Io its yellow-white-orange-red colors when they freeze out on its surface.
Although it is extremely thin – about a billion times thinner than Earth’s atmosphere – Io has an atmosphere that can teach us about Io’s volcanic activity and provide us a window into the exotic moon’s interior and what is happening below its colorful crust.
Previous research has shown that Io’s atmosphere is dominated by sulfur dioxide gas, ultimately sourced from volcanic activity. “However, it is not known which process drives the dynamics in Io’s atmosphere,” said Imke de Pater of the University of California, Berkeley. “Is it volcanic activity, or gas that has sublimated (transitioned from solid to gaseous state) from the icy surface when Io is in sunlight?“
To distinguish between the different processes that give rise to Io’s atmosphere, a team of astronomers used ALMA to make snapshots of the moon when it passed in and out of Jupiter’s shadow (they call this an “eclipse”).
This video shows images of Jupiter’s moon Io in radio (made with ALMA), and optical light (made with Voyager 1 and Galileo missions). The ALMA images were taken when Io passed into Jupiter’s shadow in March 2018 (eclipse), and from Jupiter’s shadow into sunlight in September 2018. These radio images for the first time show plumes of sulfur dioxide (in yellow) rise up from the volcanoes on Io. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello; NASA
“When Io passes into Jupiter’s shadow, and is out of direct sunlight, it is too cold for sulfur dioxide gas, and it condenses onto Io’s surface. During that time we can only see volcanically-sourced sulfur dioxide. We can therefore see exactly how much of the atmosphere is impacted by volcanic activity,” explained Statia Luszcz-Cook from Columbia University, New York.
Thanks to ALMA’s exquisite resolution and sensitivity, the astronomers could, for the first time, clearly see the plumes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfur monoxide (SO) rise up from the volcanoes. Based on the snapshots, they calculated that active volcanoes directly produce 30-50 percent of Io’s atmosphere.
The ALMA images also showed a third gas coming out of volcanoes: potassium chloride (KCl). “We see KCl in volcanic regions where we do not see SO2 or SO,” said Luszcz-Cook. “This is strong evidence that the magma reservoirs are different under different volcanoes.”
Io is volcanically active due to a process called tidal heating. Io orbits Jupiter in an orbit that is not quite circular and, like our Moon always faces the same side of Earth, so does the same side of Io always face Jupiter. The gravitational pull of Jupiter’s other moons Europa and Ganymede causes tremendous amounts of internal friction and heat, giving rise to volcanoes such as Loki Patera, which spans more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) across. “By studying Io’s atmosphere and volcanic activity we learn more about not only the volcanoes themselves, but also the tidal heating process and Io’s interior,” added Luszcz-Cook.
A big unknown remains the temperature in Io’s lower atmosphere. In future research, the astronomers hope to measure this with ALMA. “To measure the temperature of Io’s atmosphere, we need to obtain a higher resolution in our observations, which requires that we observe the moon for a longer period of time. We can only do this when Io is in sunlight since it does not spend much time in eclipse,” said de Pater. “During such an observation, Io will rotate by tens of degrees. We will need to apply software that helps us make un-smeared images. We have done this previously with radio images of Jupiter made with ALMA and the Very Large Array (VLA).”
Reference: “ALMA Observations of Io Going into and Coming out of Eclipse” by Imke de Pater, Statia Luszcz-Cook, Patricio Rojo, Erin Redwing, Katherine de Kleer and Arielle Moullet, 21 October 2020, Planetary Science Journal. DOI: 10.3847/PSJ/abb93d