It is very difficult to perform live testing in the domain of mission control systems. No-one wants to take any risk with an existing, valuable satellite, so it is very difficult to test new procedures, techniques or systems in orbit. The OPS-SAT solution is to design a low-cost satellite that is rock-solid safe and robust even if there are any malfunctions due to testing.
The robustness of the basic satellite itself will give ESA flight control teams the confidence they need to upload and try out new, innovative control software submitted by experimenters; the satellite can always be recovered if something goes wrong.
Achieving this level of performance and safety at a low cost is a challenge. To do this, OPS-SAT combines off-the-shelf subsystems as typically used with cubesats, the latest terrestrial microelectronics for the on-board computer and the experience ESA has gained in operating satellites for the last 40 years in keeping missions safe.
The result is an open, flying 'laboratory' that will be available for in-orbit demonstration of revolutionary new control systems and software that would be too risky to trial on a 'real' satellite. By the end of 2013, over 100 companies and institutions from 17 European countries have registered experimental proposals to fly on OPS-SAT. The design and definition phase of the mission is in progress and due to be completed in early 2014. The implementation phase is foreseen to start shortly afterwards, with a launch in 2016.
Fill the void in your life by joining celebrity chef, Kate McLennan, and her food intolerant friend, Kate McCartney, as they cook their way into the Food Culture Revolution with a series of edible recipes*!
Watch as The Kates create food intolerant-friendly meals and explore modern culinary trends like quitting sugar, food porn, food trucks and drinking shit out of jars! They road test everybody’s favourite culinary moneysuck, the Thermomix, and sample a range of libations like wine, whiskey and kombucha, the hot new drink that combines parasitical fungi with intestinal spasming!
a tip of the hat to sara
and to Mik for noting its Aussie rather than English
A volcano, lenticular cloud and aurora - in the same frame on February 5th by Kathleen Croft. The volcano has been active for several months and the aurora season has been intense. Iceland has the right conditions to form lenticular clouds, but seeing all three of these usually rare occurrences from a single vantage point and finding the right exposure is amazing. This is not something you'd do with the camera in a smartphone.
There are a few climate skeptics as well as out-right deniers within the scientific community. They are gold to the denial community as doubt, to most non-scientists, is equivalent to something being wrong. The overwhelming majority of scientists who have published on the subject supports human influenced global warming. Those who have looked at the science of the two or three percent who claim skepticism find indications of low quality science.
Adam Frank, an astrophysicist at the University of Rochester, writes about an encounter with one of the leading lights of the skeptics. Wei-Hock Soon turns out to be the guy who now seems to have been on the take. At the least this puts him in the denier community and it raises ethical issues. I'd be surprised if he isn't terminated. Of course he can always find work with his real benefactors.
Which brings us to Willie Soon.
I had the opportunity to see Dr. Soon in action when he visited the University of Rochester a few years ago to give a talk about his research. That was when I saw the real problem with the public debate about climate change.
But before we go back in time to that fateful day, let's review a little background about Soon. First, he is not an astrophysicist or a climate scientist. He holds a degree in aerospace engineering. What really matters, though, is that Soon is a climate skeptic with a Ph.D (from University of Southern California in 1991.) That makes him extremely valuable to the forces of climate denial. Soon is often a speaker at conferences focusing on climate doubt — and he's been invited to testify before Congress.
When it was announced that Soon was giving a talk at the University of Rochester, I knew it would be interesting. I was more than willing to hear what the man had to say. The whole point of being a scientist is, after all, to try to leave your preconceptions at the door and let the work speak for itself. I also wanted to understand Soon's own thinking about the role he was playing as a public skeptic.
On all counts I was disappointed.
Taken as nothing more than a scientific talk, Dr. Soon's presentation was, in my opinion, pretty bad. I watch a lot of these things. It's part of my job. If Soon had been giving a Ph.D defense, he would have been skewered. I was left without a clear line of argument or clear justifications for his claims. More importantly, for a topic this contentious there was insufficient discussion of the voluminous and highly detailed response critics have offered to his claims that solar activity accounts for most observed climate variability. Many of my colleagues listening to the talk said they felt the same way. I came away thinking, "Is that the best they have
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
Volleyballene - a possible configuration for a combination of carbon and scandium atoms.
Buckyballs are all the rage these days given their stability and unique chemical properties. The classic football-shaped molecule consists of 60 carbon atoms arranged in 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons, but chemists have observed various other configurations. C72, C76, and C84 are fairly common, and some buckyballs have up to 100 carbon atoms.
Recently, chemists have begun to replace some of the carbons with other atoms such as titanium and vanadium, creating buckyball variants. And today, Jing Wang at Hebei Normal University in China and a few pals predict an even more exotic version.
They’ve used molecular simulations to study the properties of a fullerene consisting of 60 carbons and 20 scandium atoms. What makes this molecule volleyball-like is that it is composed of six subunits that are essentially stitched together in a criss-cross pattern to form a ball (see image above). That’s just the same way that volleyballs are stitched together (in principle, at least). Each subunit is made up of eight scandium atoms and 10 carbons.