Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: CBS reports that Titan Aerospace has presented its design for “atmospheric satellites” that fly at 65,000 feet and provide drone-like services such as live-mapping and monitoring narcotics trafficking. The Solara series of drones will be able to fly continuously for nearly five years at a cruising speed of about 65 mph, charging its own battery high above commercial aircraft through the use of solar power. "We’re trying to do a single-million-dollar-per-aircraft platform," says Dustin Sanders, Titan’s chief electrical engineer. "And the operation cost is almost nothing — you’re paying some dude to watch the payload and make sure the aircraft doesn’t do anything stupid.” The Solara series are designed to be a fraction of the cost of a satellite, but operate many similar tasks, such as surveillance, crop-monitoring, weather and disaster oversight, or any other monitoring that low-altitude satellites track. The Solara 60 will carry up to 250 pounds of payload, anything from signals intelligence gear or electro-optical sensors to communications equipment. The plane, inspired in part by work done by Paul MacCready, builder of the various solar-powered Pathfinder aircraft, has been made possible by “a confluence of three” factors: lighter, more efficient solar technology; better composites; and improvements to battery weight and power. While these aircraft would clearly be vulnerable to enemy fire given their slow speed and lack of defense, the combination of high-altitude, long loiter time, and relatively low cost compared to satellites and warplanes offers the intelligence and military markets a good cost-capability tradeoff.
Lucas123 writes: A solar power array that covers three square miles with 3,200 mirrored parabolic collectors went live this week, creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes in Arizona. The Solana Solar Power Plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, was built at a cost of $2 billion, and financed in large part by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The array is the world's largest parabolic trough plant, meaning it uses parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on moving structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat. A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather.
chris_lukehart writes: ""In the past year, the GNOME 2 release series has become the zombie of the free desktop. Although replaced by GNOME 3, it refuses to die. Its mourners flock to Xfce, in which they see a resemblance of the deceased. It lives an undead existence in a crippled version in the current GNOME's fallback mode.""
chris_lukehart writes: It's been two months since the release of Lightspark 0.5, but now there's a new point release to this promising open-source Flash player. While the new release is Lightspark 0.5.1, and not v0.6, there are some very notable changes.