Connect with us


Highlights From the Year in Space and Astronomy Developments





Jan. 7: It seemed like an ominous start to the year when a SpaceX rocket made it off the launchpad, but its mysterious government payload appeared to have gone missing. Nearly 12 months and a lot of finger-pointing later, Zuma’s fate is not known.

Jan. 23: First announced in 2007, the Google-sponsored prize aimed at encouraging landings on the moon by privately-built robotic spacecraft with a $20 million jackpot for the winner. With a March 31 deadline looming, the prize announced none of its finalists would launch in time.

Jan. 31: A triple lunar coincidence before your morning coffee was brewed. The pictures were nice, too.

Feb. 6: Three columns of flame carried the ambitions of SpaceX into the blue. The Heavy also sent a cherry-red Tesla sports car into a long orbit around the sun in an astounding marketing stunt. The Falcon Heavy may fly again in 2019 with a real commercial customer.

April 1: China lost control of its first space station a couple of years ago, and the question of when and where it would land was a source of uncertainty for months. In the end, it touched down in an area of the Pacific Ocean with no one but the fish to witness the splash.

April 25: Using data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission launched in 2013, the three-dimensional map of the Milky Way is the most detailed survey ever produced of our home galaxy.

May 14: The ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter with a global ocean flowing underneath its surface has long been an enticing target in the search for extraterrestrial life. Scientists made their discovery by looking back at data collected by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft during a 1997 flyby. Take Europa for a spin and see where the plume was detected below:

May 30: Dust storms are seasonal on Mars, but this one was giant and long-lasting. One result was that NASA’s Opportunity rover ran out of battery power and has been quiet ever since. The agency is still hoping to re-establish contact.

June 7: Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover let scientists confidently identify organic molecules on the red planet used and produced by living organisms (although it is possible for such substances to be produced in chemical reactions that are not biological).

June 18: President Trump said he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space. While the proposal initially gained some political support, its future is uncertain as Democrats take a majority in the House of Representatives next year.

July 12: Astronomers announced that a neutrino first detected in Antarctica had been linked to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy, some 4 billion light-years from Earth. The finding was expected to help future detections of high-energy particles form space.

An artist’s rendering of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express discovering a subterranean reservoir near the planet’s southern ice cap.CreditESA/INAF, via Associated Press

July 25: A European orbiter detected a 12-mile-wide underground liquid pool, similar to lakes found beneath Greenland and Antarctica’s ice. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars,” said the Italian scientist who led the research.

July 27: A red blur lit up night skies on our blue marble for part of the summer as Earth played a game of monkey in the middle with Mars and the sun. Later in the month, the Martian orbit brought it within about 35.8 million miles of Earth, its closest approach since 2003.

Aug. 3: The new American rides to the International Space Station have been built by two private companies: SpaceX and Boeing. After they finish testing the capsules next year, these nine women and men could be the first astronauts to fly aboard the Crew Dragon and Starliner.

Aug 12: On a mission to “touch the sun,” this spacecraft will study our star’s outer atmosphere as well as the solar wind. As it orbited the sun in October, it recorded the fastest ever heliocentric speed by something humans launched.

Aug. 16: After studying Pluto in 2015, New Horizons continued farther into the solar system’s Kuiper belt, bound for a new destination. Ahead of schedule, it recorded its first image of 2014 MU69, the remote world it will fly by on Jan. 1.

Aug. 29: Astronauts slept through a dip in air pressure on their orbital home, and patched the puncture when they awoke. When Russian space authorities later concluded the hole had been deliberately drilled, the country’s news media stoked rumors of deliberate sabotage by American astronauts. The reports roiled space relations between the United States and Russia.

Sept. 21: Launched in 2014, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at the near-earth asteroid Ryugu during the summer and began surveying the rock. It landed a number of robotic probes on Ryugu’s surface, including two small hopping rovers that sent fascinating pictures back to Earth.

Oct. 19: The mission’s twin orbiters are on a complex seven-year journey to orbit the solar system’s innermost planet. They will study how its oddball makeup came to be.

Oct. 30: After nine-and-a-half years in orbit, 530,506 stars observed and 2,662 exoplanets discovered, the little spacecraft will be left to drift forever around the sun. Its mission has been handed to the TESS spacecraft, which launched in April.

Oct. 31: An international collaboration of scientists based in Germany and Chile released the strongest evidence yet that the dark entity at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is a supermassive black hole.

Nov. 1: Launched in 2007, the spacecraft studied Vesta and Ceres, the largest objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Though out of power, Dawn will continue to orbit Ceres for at least 20 years, possibly decades longer.

Nov. 11: From a launchpad in New Zealand, the start-up carried small satellites to space. It was a harbinger of a change to the space launch business, which might become dominated by an assortment of small rocket providers such as Rocket Lab.

Dec. 3: The spacecraft launched in 2016 with the mission of studying a near-earth asteroid that has a slim chance of colliding with Earth in the 22nd century. It will survey the object and try to collect samples to send back home in 2023.

Dec. 7: The next lunar visitor from Earth — in early 2019 — will be this Chinese spacecraft and its rover. If it succeeds, it will be the first soft landing on the moon’s far side. Spin the moon below and see the approximate landing site:

Dec. 13: Whether you consider 51.4 miles up to be space or not — the Federal Aviation Administration does but most scientists do not — the views recorded by Richard Branson’s tourist space plane were something to see.

Dec. 16: For those lucky enough to see it, the so-called Christmas comet glowed green in night skies, at a distance of only 7.1 million miles from our planet. You might still be able to see it.


Source link

قالب وردپرس


Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal





A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

Continue Reading


Steps to becoming a Data Scientist





Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

Continue Reading


Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’





Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

Continue Reading