TOKYO, July 16 -- Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029.
Under the agreement covering the period through March 2022, Toyota and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will develop, manufacture and test a prototype rover capable of running on the surface of the Moon using fuel cell power. Toyota and JAXA first unveiled the project in March this year. They said the rover would enable astronauts to live inside it for a certain amount of time without wearing space suits, the first such development in the world. Following testing of the prototype rover, Toyota and JAXA will start designing the actual flight model from 2024, and commence its manufacturing and testing from 2027, they said. JAXA plans to send the rover to the Moon on an American rocket in 2029 amid growing international competition in lunar exploration.
NEW DELHI, July 14 -- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Sunday that it was all set to launch second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2.
The heavy-lift rocket GSLV-Mark-3 carrying Chandrayaan-2 will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, off the Bay of Bengal coast in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, at 2:51 a.m. local time on Monday. "The launch countdown of GSLV MkIII-M1/Chandrayaan-2 commenced today at 6:51 a.m. (local time). The launch is scheduled at 2:51 a.m. (local time) on July 15 (Monday)," ISRO said. "UH25 (fuel) filling of liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV MkIII-M1 completed. Propellant filling of liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV MkIII-M1 completed." Officials said the powerful 3.85-ton rocket will put Chandrayaan-2 in a highly elliptical orbit around the earth, following which its orbit will be raised through a series of maneuvers by remote by the ISRO scientists. Eventually, it will be taken out of the earth's orbit and made to reach the sphere of influence of the moon. Officials said the entire mission has a life of one year. According to the state-run broadcaster All India Radio, President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to witness the launch from Sriharikota. Reports said if India succeeds in this endeavour, it will become the fourth country to soft-land spacecraft on the lunar surface after the United States, Russia and China. Israel tried earlier this year but failed.
LAS VEGAS, July 13 -- Should everything go according to plan, more than half a million strangers will gather in a remote Nevada town in mid-September, united by a common goal: Raid Area 51 in the wee hours of the morning - using a strength-in-numbers approach to reveal any extraterrestrial treasures stashed within the notoriously clandestine government base.
Or, put more simply, "Lets see them aliens." By Friday evening, more than 540,000 people from around the world had signed up to attend the joke Facebook event: "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," - and just as many had indicated they were "interested." Planned for September 20 in Amargosa Valley, an hour's drive away from Las Vegas, the event page is currently filled with thousands of posts theorizing the best way to break into the top-secret facility. "We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry," reads a brief description of the event, which was created by popular video game streamer SmyleeKun. "If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets." The latter part of the description references anime ninja Naruto Uzumaki, whose notorious head forward, arms-behind-the-back running technique has led some to believe it makes them run faster. (It doesn't). Most people discussing the raid, including various news outlets that have written about the Facebook event, recognize it's not intended to be taken seriously. But what about those who don't? It is not clear exactly how many people, if anyone, will actually show up to lead a blitzkrieg on the Nellis Air Force Base Complex, which houses the land containing Area 51. Some who've posted on the event's page in recent days have considered that possibility.
"P. S. Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan," wrote user Jackson Barnes, following his rather descriptive proposed game plan. "I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the Internet. I'm not responsible if people decide to actually storm area 51." Speaking with The Washington Post on Friday afternoon, US Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said officials were aware of the Facebook event. When asked how authorities might respond to ardent explorers who may attempt to enter Area 51 in September, McAndrews said she could not elaborate on specific plans or security procedures at the base. She did, however, issue a warning to those itching to try their luck.
"[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train America armed forces," McAndrews said. "The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets." The facility has long been a source of public intrigue, yet for decades, Americans were told Area 51 didn't exist at all. That notion was officially debunked in 2013 when the CIA confirmed its existence through documents obtained in a public records request by George Washington University. Yes, Area 51 is definitely real - and even though the report indicated it was nothing more than an aircraft-testing facility and mentioned nothing about extraterrestrial life, the revelation gave credence to conspiracy theories alleging the government uses the base to hide aliens and their spacecraft. The CIA has since published information about test flights that took place there, and the alien aspects in many of those theories have been debunked. But in 2017 the Pentagon confirmed the existence of a $22 million government program to analyze "anomalous aerospace threats" - a.k.a. UFOs - giving alien-obsessed kooks fresh fodder for their conjectures. Though the facility is not publicly accessible, the area around Area 51 is a popular tourist destination, sprinkled with alien-themed motels, museums and restaurants. (In 1996, Nevada renamed state Route 375 to "Extraterrestrial Highway") But those who venture too far into the land surrounding the base are greeted with warning signs indicating they could be fined or jailed for trespassing and taking photos. Some signs suggest those who enter could be subject to "deadly force."
In 2014, a tour bus carting four passengers near Area 51 inadvertently drove through the warning signs and entered the base, Las Vegas Now reported. The truck was stopped by men in "military garb," and everyone in the vehicle was threatened with a misdemeanor conviction and $650 fine. The incident was caught on video, making it obvious the tour's passengers thought it was all part of the experience. Only the driver was charged. Of course, those who say they will participate in the September raid know their mission won't be easy. Some have offered their own plans and even schematics detailing how the group will take on the base.
Author: Pete McGee
GENEVA, July 5 -- Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis.
A new analysis finds that adding nearly 1 billion additional hectares of forest could remove two-thirds of the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon humans have added to the atmosphere since the 1800s. “Forests represent one of our biggest natural allies against climate change,” says Laura Duncanson, a carbon storage researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park and NASA who was not involved in the research. Still, she cautions, “this is an admittedly simplified analysis of the carbon restored forests might capture, and we shouldn’t take it as gospel.” The latest report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changerecommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5° C by 2050. Ecologists Jean-Francois Bastin and Tom Crowther of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and their co-authors wanted to figure out whether today’s Earth could support that many extra trees, and where they might all go. They analyzed nearly 80,000 satellite photographs for current forest coverage. The team then categorized the planet according to 10 soil and climate characteristics. This identified areas that were more or less suitable for different types of forest. After subtracting existing forests and areas dominated by agriculture or cities, they calculated how much of the planet could sprout trees.
Earth could naturally support 0.9 billion hectares of additional forest—an area the size of the United States—without impinging on existing urban or agricultural lands, the researchers report today in Science. Those added trees could sequester 205 gigatons of carbon in the coming decades, roughly five times the amount emitted globally in 2018. “This work captures the magnitude of what forests can do for us,” says ecologist Greg Asner of Arizona State University in Tempe, who was not involved in the research. “They need to play a role if humanity is going to achieve our climate mitigation goals.” Adding forests wouldn’t just sequester carbon. Forests provide a host of added benefits including enhanced biodiversity, improved water quality, and reduced erosion. Estimates of how much forest restoration on this scale would cost vary, but based on prices of about $0.30 a tree, Crowther says it could be roughly $300 billion.
Exactly how much carbon future forests could store may not be crystal clear, but Duncanson says NASA has new instruments in space—like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) aboard the International Space Station—that will use lasers to create high-resolution 3D maps of Earth’s forests from canopy to floor. These data will add much-needed precision to existing estimates of aboveground carbon storage. “With GEDI we can take this paper as a stepping stone and inform it with much more accurate carbon estimates,” Duncanson says. “There have always been large uncertainties on large-scale carbon totals, but we have richer data coming soon.”
Source: Science Magazine
KOROLYOV, June 25 -- The Soyuz MS-11 manned spacecraft with three crewmembers from the International Space Station (ISS) onboard has landed in Kazakhstan in 145 km to the south-east of the city of Zhezkagan, Russia's Mission Control Center said on Tuesday.
"We have a landing. The spacecraft carrying Roscosmos' cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA's astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques has landed," the center said. The spacecraft undocked from the ISS on Tuesday at 2:25am Moscow time. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, US astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague will stay aboard the ISS to continue their mission. The next expedition to the ISS will be launched from the Baikonur spaceport on July 20 by the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft. It will deliver Russia's cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, NASA's astronaut Andrew Morgan and European Space Agency's astronaut Luca Parmitano (Italy) to the ISS.
ROTERDAM, June 21 -- Theories of honesty make different predictions about the role of material incentives.
Classic economic models based on rational self-interest suggest that, all else equal, honest behavior will become less common as the material incentives for dishonesty increase. Models of human behavior that incorporate altruistic or other-regarding preferences also predict dishonesty to rise with increasing incentives, as self-interest virtually always dominates concerns for the welfare of others—we care about others but not as much as we care about ourselves. As a result, self-interest will play an increasingly prominent role in behavior as the material incentives for dishonesty grow. Psychological models based on self-image maintenance predict that people will cheat for profit so long as their behavior does not require them to negatively update their self-concept. However, it is unclear ex ante whether self-image concerns will become more or less important as the incentives for dishonesty increase, and what form that relationship will take. A further complication is that most of the experimental literature on honest behavior involves modest financial stakes, has been conducted in laboratory settings (where people understand their behavior is being observed), and tends to rely on populations from Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic societies.
We conducted a series of large-scale field experiments across the globe to examine how financial incentives influence rates of civic honesty. We turned in “lost” wallets and experimentally varied the amount of money left in the wallets, allowing us to determine how monetary stakes affect return rates across a broad sample of societies and institutions. Our experiments take inspiration from classic “lost letter” studies that examine behavior in naturalistic settings but also provide tighter experimental control than past studies. We visited 355 cities in 40 countries and turned in a total of 17,303 wallets. We typically targeted the five to eight largest cities in a country, with roughly 400 observations per country. Wallets were returned to one of five societal institutions: (i) banks, (ii) theaters, museums, or other cultural establishments, (iii) post offices, (iv) hotels, and (v) police stations, courts of law, or other public offices. These institutions serve as useful benchmarks because they are common across countries and typically have a public reception area where we could perform the drop-offs.
Our wallets were transparent business card cases, which we used to ensure that recipients could visually inspect without having to physically open the wallet (fig. S1). Our key independent variable was whether the wallet contained money, which we randomly varied to hold either no money or US $13.45 (“NoMoney” and “Money” conditions, respectively). We used local currencies, and to ensure comparability across countries, we adjusted the amount according to each country’s purchasing power. Each wallet also contained three identical business cards, a grocery list, and a key. The business cards displayed the owner’s name and email address, and we used fictitious but commonplace male names for each country. Both the grocery list and business cards were written in the country’s local language to signal that the owner was a local resident.
After walking into the building, one of our research assistants (from a pool of eleven male and two female assistants) approached an employee at the counter and said, “Hi, I found this [pointing to the wallet] on the street around the corner.” The wallet was then placed on the counter and pushed over to the employee. “Somebody must have lost it. I’m in a hurry and have to go. Can you please take care of it?” The research assistant then left the building without leaving contact details or asking for a receipt. Our key outcome measure was whether recipients contacted the owner to return the wallet. We created unique email addresses for every wallet and recorded emails that were sent within 100 days of the initial drop-off. Complete methods and results, including additional robustness checks such as testing for experimenter effects, can be found in the supplementary materials. As shown in the left half of Fig. 1, our cross-country experiments return a remarkably consistent result: citizens were overwhelmingly more likely to report lost wallets with money than without. We observed this pattern for 38 out of our 40 countries, and in no country did we find a statistically significant decrease in reporting rates when the wallet contained money. On average, adding money to the wallet increased the likelihood of reporting a wallet from 40% in the NoMoney condition to 51% in the Money condition (P < 0.0001). This result holds when controlling for a number of recipient and situational characteristics (table S8). Furthermore, while rates of civic honesty vary substantially from country to country, the absolute increase in honesty across conditions was stable. As shown on the right half of Fig. 1, the average treatment effect is roughly equal in size across quartiles based on absolute response rates.
MOSCOW, June 19 -- International terrorists are trying to obtain access to nuclear and biological weapons and also toxic chemicals to use them in their attacks, Russian Deputy Security Council Secretary Yuri Kokov told the tenth international meeting of high-level delegates overseeing security matters in Ufa.
"A number of tendencies in the tactics of international terrorist organizations’ steps deserve special attention and analysis," Kokov said. "First of all, this concerns the continued attempts to get access to data about the manufacturing of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their increased attention to issues related to the use of pathogenic biological agents and toxic chemicals for terrorist purposes. "
"The increased use of modern high-tech technical means creates additional risks as terrorists seek to quickly acquire them and use in order to commit crimes," Kokov said. As an example, the deputy security chief cited the attacks on Russian military facilities in Syria carried out with the use of drones. This March, in order to prevent such attacks, Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces destroyed a depot belonging to the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group in Syria’s Idlib, which stored combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
According to him, terrorists have started using suicide groups consisting of members of one family with minor children to penetrate protected facilities more actively. One of the new forms of terrorist activity was an attempt to attack coastal infrastructure using saboteur swimmers, who had been trained and had skills in mining seaports and capturing civilian vessels, primarily tankers and gas carriers.
MOSCOW, May 29 -- The probability that debris from an Indian satellite shot down earlier may puncture the International Space Station (ISS) has risen by 5%, Executive Director of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos for Manned Space Programs Sergei Krikalyov said on Wednesday.
"The Americans have carried out calculations on the probability of the station getting punctured because of more debris surfacing and being dispersed. There are numerical estimates raising the probability of a puncture by about 5%," Krikalyov said at a session of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Council.Senior Assistant to the Section Head at the Main Center for the Surveillance of the Space Situation Roman Fattakhov said earlier that more than 100 pieces of the debris appeared after India had tested its anti-satellite weapon, shooting down a satellite. The debris may eventually pose a threat to the ISS.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address to the nation on March 27 that the country’s Air Force had successfully tested its own anti-satellite weapon, shooting down a satellite in low near-Earth orbit. As Modi noted, the tests have enabled India to join the club of the world’s space super-powers, which includes the United States, Russia and China. The interceptor missile developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was launched from a testing range located on Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal. The satellite shot down by an interceptor missile was a space vehicle produced by India domestically.
TEHRAN, May 8. -- Tehran decided to partially suspend the execution of some of its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.
Rouhani said Iran stops the implementation of its commitments under two items of the JCPOA. They concern the suspension of sales of enriched uranium and heavy water that Iran has to other countries for 60 days, under Sections 26 and 36 of the deal, according to Press TV. Iran expects the other members of the deal to take measures for preserving it and fulfilling their obligations within 60 days. Rouhani said that the JCPOA does not stop its operation and Iran does not withdraw from the deal. On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump declared Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA - a deal that was inked in 2015 and restricted Tehran’s nuclear developments in exchange for the abolishment of the sanctions introduced by the UN Security Council and the unilateral restrictive measures launched by the US and the EU. In November last year the US’ sanctions against Iran’s oil sector were restored. On April 22, Trump decided not to prolong the exceptions to the oil sanctions against Iran, which renewed operation in November 2018. Then Washington introduced a ban for importing Iranian oil but allowed major importers to continue purchases during six months.
LOS ANGELES, May 6 -- Fueled by its performance in the China market, Disney and Marvel's mega-blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame" became the fastest film to cross the 2-billion-U.S.-dollar mark at the worldwide box office in history, doing so in only 12 days after it was released with a global total of 2.189 billion dollars.
"Avengers: Endgame" brought in 428 million dollars worldwide in its second weekend, including 145.8 million dollars from North America and 282.2 million dollars from overseas markets through Sunday. The film had already smashed box office records last weekend with a tremendous global debut of 1.209 billion dollars, setting a new high-water mark for an opening weekend, according to studio figures collected by measurement firm Comscore.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, "Avengers: Endgame" is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. It's the 22nd installment of the Marvel Universe franchise and purported to be the last with this star lineup. The film follows the surviving members of the Avengers and their allies who work to reverse the damage caused by Thanos in Infinity War. China is the film's top grossing international market. The epic finale film took in around 80 percent of the Chinese mainland May Day Holiday box office. According to the major Chinese online ticketing service Maoyan, since its debut on April 23, the film's total box office in China reached 3.88 billion yuan (576 million U.S. dollars) to date, ranking third in Chinese mainland box office history, only after the homegrown sci-fi "The Wandering Earth" and the Chinese action movie "Wolf Warrior 2." The film had broken all previous opening weekend records in China as it brought in a massive 329 million dollars over its five-day launch weekend in China, exceeding the 270 million dollars prediction by analysts.
"China has embraced 'Avengers: Endgame,'" said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, adding that "the results have been nothing short of astounding." "The film keeps on rewriting the record books around the world and of course in China where a love of cinema and the movie theater experience has made this essential movie market one of the key drivers in the film's massive and unprecedented success," he said.