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Submission + - SPAM: Dawn of a new space war

Taco Cowboy writes: China launched its Aolong-1 robotic satellite, on board of the inaugurated flight of its new Long March 7 rocket on June 25th

According to China, the Aolong-1 robotic satellite, which is equipped with a robotic arm to remove large debris such as old satellites, is tasked to clean up space debris / space junk, but some space experts think that such robotic satellite has a dual-use purpose, and has the potential to be used as an anti-satellite weapon

The Aolong-1 (The Roaming Dragon) is small, weighing only a few hundred kilos, so the prototype could be produced and launched in large numbers. During peacetime, the craft could patrol space and prevent defunct satellites from crashing into big cities such as Shanghai or New Yorkl During wartime, they could be used as deterrents or directly against enemy assets in space

Furthermore, the Aolong-1 robotic satellite can also be said to be a “clean” anti-satellite weapon

China is not alone in this endeavor

The United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) plans to launch a larger, more sophisticated craft for the US Air Force in 2020

Unlike Aolong, the Phoenix in-orbit servicing program would also be able to carry out jobs such as repairing, upgrading and refueling aging satellites

It would even be able to “turn foreign satellites into US spy satellites”, according to the US air force

Chinese researchers with the 502 Institute at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said last year that China would launch a multi-tasking space robot similar to the Phoenix, also by about 2020

The China National Space Administration says the nation’s blueprint for its space robots spans missions ranging from low earth orbit to Mars

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Submission + - SPAM: Jupiter Space Probe uses about same amount of energy as a blender

Taco Cowboy writes: Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, NASA's Juno probe has traveled nearly 1.8 billion miles (2.8 billion kilometers) through space to reach Jupiter and study the planet's history and is scheduled to slide into orbit around the solar system's largest planet on the upcoming Monday (July 4)

One amazing fact is that the Juno Space Probe operates on the amount of energy roughly equivalent to that of a blender

Jupiter is located about five times farther from the sun than Earth and receives about 25 times less sunlight, because of Juno's extremely low power consumption, the probe can stay alive by collecting sunlight using three large solar arrays that extend from the spacecraft's hexagonal body

In a web series, called "Crazy Engineering," produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Mike Meacham, a mechanical engineer at JPL, discussed Juno's low power needs and the science behind the probe's solar arrays

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Submission + - SPAM: China's long march to the Moon

Taco Cowboy writes: Until recently it was fairly easy to dismiss China’s space program

Although largely ignored by the Western world, the Chinese launch marks something of a defining moment for the giant of Asia, a moment when China firmly staked its position as one of the world’s great space-faring nations. More than that, it took a step toward equaling, or perhaps even surpassing, NASA one day

China’s goal appears to be the landing of taikonauts on the Moon in the early- to mid-2030s, and if early robotic missions to the lunar surface are any indication, the country wants to eventually develop a colony and harvest resources there

“The launch of Long March 7 shows them stepping into the modern era if you will,” Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, told Ars. “The message is the same that it’s been for some time. They’re in this game to stay. They’re making long-term plans to stay in space and expand their presence in space. For NASA and the United States I’m afraid that we’ve been resting on our laurels for so long that we’re going to lose our leadership in human spaceflight”

China has pressed ahead with plans to launch its own space station by the early 2020s and has sought to position it as a beacon of international cooperation. Earlier this month, the China Manned Space Agency signed an accord with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs to invite other nations to conduct experiments on China’s space station and to provide flight opportunities for astronauts from those countries. China has previously reached agreements with Russia and the European Space Agency to potentially fly aboard its station. Although there are no firm plans yet for those flights in the 2020s, some European astronauts have begun to learn the Chinese language, according to reports

For its part, the United States plans to fly the International Space Station through 2024 and may potentially extend its lifetime through 2029. After that time it’s plausible that China will have the major hub of international activity in low-Earth orbit. NASA has said it is moving beyond low-Earth orbit in the late 2020s to transition to a deep-space exploration program, first with missions to the vicinity (but not the surface) of the Moon, followed by human crews being sent to the Martian system in the 2030s. However there are significant questions about the viability of this long-term strategy given NASA’s present funding and approach

As part of the Long March 7 launch preparations, Chinese space officials spoke of the next evolution beyond the current booster technology toward a Long March 9 vehicle, a heavy lift rocket in the class of the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket. This powerful rocket likely remains about 15 years from its debut, but that timing is consistent with the Chinese desire to begin sending humans to the Moon in the early 2030s

“If everybody starts heading toward the Moon, what are we going to do, fly a few Orions around cislunar space?” Chiao asked. “If we don’t go back to the Moon and we try to go directly to Mars, my fear is that it will get canceled because it’s too expensive and too soon, with a price tag that’s too high and with too long of a time frame for the public and Congress”

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Submission + - SPAM: 3D printed Camera - possible use in surveillance

Taco Cowboy writes: German engineers have created a camera no bigger than a grain of salt that could change the future of health imaging — and clandestine surveillance

Using 3D printing, researchers from the University of Stuttgart built a three-lens camera, and fit it onto the end of an optical fibre the width of two hairs

Such technology could be used as minimally-intrusive endoscopes for exploring inside the human body, the engineers reported in the journal Nature Photonics

The compound lens of the camera is just 100 micrometres (0.1 millimetres) wide, and 120 micrometres with its casing

It could also be deployed in virtually invisible security monitors, or mini-robots with "autonomous vision"

The compound lens can also be printed onto image sensor other than optical fibres, such as those used in digital cameras

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Submission + - SPAM: Russian bot escaped again, may be scrapped

Taco Cowboy writes: As previously mentioned in [spam URL stripped]... regarding a Russian robot IR77 which escaped the research lab, it elude, again

The story goes that an engineer working at Promobot Laboratories, in the Russian city of Perm, had left a gate open. Out trundled Promobot, traveling some 150 feet into the city before running out of juice. There it sat, batteries mostly dead, in the middle of a Perm street for 40 minutes, slowing cars to a halt and puzzling traffic cops

A researcher at Promobot’s facility in Russia said that the runaway robot was designed to interact with human beings, learn from experiences, and remember places and the faces of everyone it meets. Other versions of the Promobot have been docile, but this one just can’t seem to fall in line, even after the researchers reprogrammed it twice

Despite several rewrites of Promobot’s artificial intelligence, the robot continued to move toward exits. “We have changed the AI system twice,” Kivokurtsev said. “So now I think we might have to dismantle it”

Although there are other versions in development, this malfunctioning Promobot’s days look numbered. Unless, however, its fans have any sway. Maxim reports that the Promobot YouTube comment sections are filling up with supporters asking the Russian roboticists to keep the wandering robot out of the junk heap (See [spam URL stripped]... )

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Submission + - SPAM: Pink snow may hasten artic melt

Taco Cowboy writes: Arctic explorers like the British Captain John Ross encountered Pink Snow back in the 19th century

Biologists know now that the red hue is the result of a chemical reaction within the algae Chlamydomonas Nivalis and other cold-loving species. These algae are normally green, but as they start to suck up ultraviolet rays they turn red

Despite the Willy Wonka tinge, the snow hides a sobering reality: According to a new study, the algae cause Arctic melts, which are already happening at an unprecedented pace thanks to climate change, to worsen

A new research from a team of geobiologists in Germany and the United Kingdom, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, after examined 40 red snow samples, representing 16 glaciers and snowfields from four Arctic countries: Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, it was determined that the red algae darkens the snow, causing it to melt faster than the pure white stuff

Specifically, the European scientists measured the red snow’s albedo: the proportion of incoming light reflected from a surface. It is a property of color: Dark objects, by definition, absorb a higher percentage of incoming light. When a British company, Surrey NanoSystems, created the blackest substance known to science — a paste of carbon nanotubes called Vantablack — its albedo was measured at 0.035. That is, it absorbed 99.965 percent of incoming light

The presence of red algae, on average, decreased albedo by 13 percent over the duration of the melting season. “Our results point out that the ‘bio-albedo’ effect is important and has to be considered in future climate models,” Lutz said in a statement. The researchers note that current climate change models account for details like black carbon from forest fires and Saharan dust. The scientists suggest algae, too, needs to be considered

As more algae bloom, more snow thaws — and, nourished by the unfrozen water, even more of the microorganisms are able to grow. And so on

This study underscores the far-reaching effects of climate change, down to the smallest of living things. A warm Arctic happens to be good news, if you are a fleck of red alga. For polar bears, people who own real estate in Florida and global civilization generally the outlook may not be so hot

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Submission + - SPAM: China wants to share its new space station with the world

Taco Cowboy writes: VIENNA, 16 June (UN Information Service PR)

China, United Nations Sign Cooperation Agreement on Space Station

China is launching a rival to the International Space Station (ISS) – and it wants to share its new toy

The China Manned Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced a partnership that will let UN member states conduct experiments on and even send astronauts to the Chinese space station, due to start operating in the 2020s

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have agreed to work together to develop the space capabilities of United Nations Member States via opportunities on-board China’s future space station

Under the agreements, UNOOSA and CMSA will work together to enable United Nations Member States, particularly developing countries, to conduct space experiments on-board China’s space station, as well as to provide flight opportunities for astronauts and payload engineers

China is excluded from the ISS because of a US government ban on its participation. It’s not clear if the other ISS partners – Russia, Japan, Canada and the member countries of the European Space Agency – will have access to China’s station

The Chinese space station will be comprised of three modules, the core command module and two experiment modules, orbiting at between 340 and 450 kilometers in altitude at an inclination of 42-43 degrees relative to the equator. The international space station, with the United States, Russia, Japan, the European Space Agency and Canada as partners, flies at approximately the same altitude but with an inclination of 51.6 degrees. The higher inclination allows it to pass over Russia’s mission control center in Korolev, Russia

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Submission + - SPAM: China homegrown electronic and world's fastest supercomputer 1

Taco Cowboy writes: Clocked in at 93 Petaflop (or 93,000 trillion calculations per second), the new ShenWei (roughly translates to The Wrath of God in Mandarin) TaihuLight tops the world's fastest supercomputer list

Twice as fast and three times as efficient as the previous leader Tianhe-2, the new ShenWei Installed at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi and comprised of 10.5 million locally-made processing cores grouped into 40,960 nodes (with each node having 260 processor cores) the computer runs on the Linux Operating System

The processor is divided into four core groups, each with 64 computing processing elements (CPE) and a management processing element (MPE). Each core group also includes a memory controller delivering an aggregate memory bandwidth of 136.5 GB/second on each socket. It runs at a relatively modest 1.45 GHz and supports just a single execution thread per core

The chip was manufactured at the National High Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, in Shanghai. The process technology node has not been revealed

Memory-wise, each node contains 32 GB, adding up to a little over 1.3 PB for the whole machine

Its main applications include advanced manufacturing, weather forecasting and big data analytics, wrote Jack Dongarra in a paper about the new machine ( [spam URL stripped]... )

Pierre Ferragu, tech analyst at Bernstein, said the ranking showed that China was “pulling together all the building blocks of an independent semiconductor value chain”

The system is also rather light on cache. In fact, it really doesn’t have any in the L1-L2-L3 sense. Each core is allocated 12 KB of instruction cache, along with 64 KB of local scratchpad

From a power standpoint though, TaihuLight is quite good. It draws 15.3 megawatts (MW) running Linpack, which, somewhat surprisingly, is less power than its 33-petaflop cousin, Tianhe-2, which uses 17.8 MW. TaihuLight’s energy-efficiency of 6 gigaflops/watt is excellent, which will certainly earn it a place in the upper reaches of the Green500 list

The interconnect, simply known as the Sunway Network, is also a homegrown affair. It’s noteworthy that the older Sunlight BlueLight machine employed QDR InfiniBand for the system network. The TaihuLight one, however, is based on PCIe 3.0 technology, and provides 16 GB/second of node-to-node peak bandwidth, with a latency of around 1 microsecond

Running MPI communications over it slows that down to about 12 GB/second. Such performance is pretty much on par with EDR InfiniBand or even 100G Ethernet, although the latency seems a tad high (it depends on exactly what’s being measured, of course). In any case, it looks like the design team opted for simplicity here, rather than breakneck speeds using exotic technology

“The latest list marks the first time since the inception of the TOP500 that the US is not home to the largest number of systems,” wrote the authors of the ranking. “With a surge in industrial and research installations registered over the last few years, China leads with 167 systems and the US is second with 165”

Info compiled from the following list of url:
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Submission + - SPAM: China leads in new fab builds

Taco Cowboy writes: For year 2016 — 2017 ten new fabs will be built in China, compare to 2 new fabs in America, 2 new fabs in Taiwan, 2 new fabs in South East Asia, 1 new fab, each for Europe, Japan, and Korea

Of the world wide 19 new fab construction for 2016-2017, SEMI segments the 19 projects by wafer size: 12 fabs and lines are for 300 mm, four for 200 mm, and three LED fabs (150 mm, 100 mm and 50 mm). Excluding LEDs, SEMI estimates the potential installed capacity for all these fabs and lines at nearly 210,000 wafer starts per month (in 300-mm equivalents) for fabs beginning construction in 2016 and 330,000 wafer starts per month (in 300-mm equivalents) for fabs beginning construction in 2017

The number of 300-mm wafer fabrication facilities in operation is expected to reach 100 in 2016, according to IC Insights. The market researcher reports 95 production-class IC fabs using 300-mm wafers (excluding R&D IC fabs and “non-IC” products such as CMOS image sensors) at the end of 2015 with eight scheduled to open in 2017. The number of 300-mm fabs in operation will reach 117 by the end of 2020, according to IC Insight

SEMI recently reported that billings for global semiconductor manufacturing equipment reached $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2016, which is three percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2015 and 13 percent lower than the same quarter in 2015. In comparison, bookings for global semiconductor equipment reached $9.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016, which is five percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2015, and two percent lower than the same quarter in 2015

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Submission + - SPAM: iPhone 6 accused of violating Chinese IP

Taco Cowboy writes: [spam URL stripped]...

Beijing Court Rules that Apple's iPhone 6 Models Violate Chinese Design Patent and may be Banned

Apple has been found to have violated the design patents of a Chinese device maker and may have to halt sales of its latest iPhones in Beijing, the city's intellectual property authority ruled, handing the U.S. company its latest setback in a pivotal market

The Beijing Intellectual Property Office wrote in its decision that "The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus infringe on Shenzhen Baili's patent rights because of similarities to its 100C phone

While the decision covers only Beijing, future lawsuits against Apple could take the case as a precedent, potentially influencing the outcomes of litigation elsewhere in China

The hilarious part here is that it’s usually Apple who’s the one chasing down Android smartphone makers for copying its products, not the other way around, with its lawsuit against Samsung being the most prominent courtroom soiree

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Submission + - SPAM: Hillary Clinton calls for a great 'intelligence surge'

Taco Cowboy writes: Hillary Clinton calls for expanding surveillance, demands private sector tech companies work with intelligence agencies

On Monday presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she would force tech companies to work with intelligence agencies

“We already know we need more resources for this fight. The professionals who keep us safe would be the first to say we need better intelligence to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out,” Clinton said during a speech in Cleveland

“That’s why I’ve proposed an ‘intelligence surge’ to bolster our capabilities across the board, with appropriate safeguards here at home”

In April, Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein drafted a bill that would force tech companies to provide the government with technical assistance when attempting to defeat smartphone encryption

“All persons receiving an authorized judicial order for information or data must provide, in a timely manner, responsive, intelligible information or data, or appropriate technical assistance,” the draft bill states

Clinton’s proposal would expand on this, essentially forcing private sector companies to cooperate in surveillance and tracking on the internet

In addition to interception without a warrant, the proposed legislation would permit intelligence agencies to carry out targeted equipment interference, in other words hacking into private computers to access data

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Submission + - SPAM: MI5 / GCHQ bent rules to spy on UK civilians

Taco Cowboy writes: Privacy International (PI) has released a fresh batch of letters it claims demonstrates how UK intelligence agencies GCHQ and MI5 have bent the rules around surveillance to favour mass collection of communications data with minimum levels of oversight

The previously undisclosed documents outline messages sent in 2004 from legal representatives from the two spy agencies in question to Sir Swinton Thomas, who was the interception of communications commissioner (ICC) at the time

The first letter, sent in May 2004 from the Home Office, which oversees the activities of MI5, urges Thomas to permit the agency to conduct collection for a so-called 'database project' under the Telecommunications Act 1984 rather than the more transparent Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa)

While the letters show that Thomas initially appeared hesitant to provide authorisation, he eventually gave in to the government's requests. "On reconsideration, and in light of your letter, I have revised my view," he wrote. "I am also impressed by the considerable and, if possible to be avoided, inconvenience in following the [Ripa] procedure in the database proposals"

After analysing the documents, Privacy International said it was a complete failure in how information commissioners should conduct oversight on sensitive databases used by UK spies

The release of the letters come following a separate release from Privacy International that revealed how UK agencies collect massive amounts of personal data on innocent civilians in the form of 'bulk personal datasets'. The information scooped up includes NHS records, driver license information, passport records and financial information

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Submission + - SPAM: Reddit is censoring discussions regarding Censorship 2

Taco Cowboy writes: If you think Reddit moves towards a brighter future post the Ellen Pao era, think again

Reddit's moderators have being told the following:

Do not post about censorship on /r/ politics on this subreddit. The admins have told us that we are not allowed. All posts here about censorship on /r/ politics will now be removed

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Submission + - China considers cooperate with other countries for moon exploration missions (

Taco Cowboy writes: China is considering cooperating with other countries on Moon exploration, the deputy chief of China's National Space Administration (CNSA) said Wednesday during three-day conference on manned space exploration in the Russian city of Korolyov near Moscow

A moon landing has been listed among China's short-term space exploration goals for a while now. According to the China Daily newspaper, Chinese astronauts could land as early as 2036

It will take China some 15 to 20 years to prepare a manned lunar mission and to develop the relevant technologies, Lt. Gen. Zhang Yulin told the China Daily newspaper. The news marked the country's first confirmation of the existence of a Chinese manned moon exploration program

Potential partners, like Russia, have also announced plans to explore moon programs, but budgetary constraints have limited their progress. A partnership with China, might therefore make sense to both countries

Similar story appeared at

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