Dhaka, July 11 (UNB) - As NASA scrambles to meet US President Donald Trump’s mandate to return humans to the moon by 2024, two longtime heads of NASA’s human exploration wing were demoted Wednesday in a slew of administrative shakeups, officials said in an internal memo, reports The Indian Express.
The biggest change to rock the agency is the demotion of Bill Gerstenmaier, who was leading the efforts to return humans to the lunar surface.
He has been with the agency since 1977, led some of its most high profile programs and was the head of the human exploration office in a 14-year tenure.
The agency’s chief Jim Bridenstine announced the changes in an internal memo to employees, signalling the latest leadership changes.
“As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars,” Bridenstine said in the memo.
“In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate.”
Bridenstine placed Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut and vice president of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as acting associate administrator for the human exploration wing.
Gertenmaier was reassigned as a special assistant to Bridenstine’s deputy, Jim Morhard.
Bill Hill, a deputy associate administrator under Gerstenmaier, was also moved to a special assistant position under NASA’s associate administrator Steve Jurczyk.
The White House has shown frustration with the pace of NASA’s efforts, especially with its premier workhorse rocket known as the Space Launch System, which is years behind schedule and plagued with cost overruns.
Vice President Mike Pence commanded the agency in March to get the job done in five years and reorganize its structure in an effort to return humans to the moon.
He said, “if NASA’s not currently capable of landing American astronauts on the moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission.”
In another sign of internal shakeups in the space agency, Mark Sirangelo, a special assistant to Bridenstine, resigned in May, amid dwindling congressional support for the lunar initiative. He was hired after Pence’s remarks to lead the agency’s structure changes.
Wednesday’s shakeups are the latest as NASA aims to transform itself into “a leaner, more accountable and more agile organization,” as Pence said in the March speech to the National Space Council.
Dhaka, July 11 (UNB) - Tencent Holdings Ltd. is pressing China’s top smartphone vendors and app stores to boost the cut of revenue it gets from games sold through their platforms, people familiar with the matter said, stepping up efforts to claw back profits as its business slows, reports The Indian Express.
The social media giant is seeking as much as 70 per cent of the sales generated from its games, up from just 50 per cent now, said the people, who requested anonymity discussing private negotiations.
That would bring Tencent’s portion in line with the proportion shared with game publishers on other platforms, including Apple Inc.’s iOS store and Google Play, which each keep 30 per cent of revenue that comes from apps. Negotiations vary from platform to platform, and Tencent may not be asking as much from each app store operator, the people said.
Tencent is keen to shore up its bottom line as growth in China, the world’s No. 2 economy, decelerates, sapping consumer spending on entertainment and hurting advertising. The company’s gaming division — its largest — was battered in 2018 by a series of regulatory crackdowns and in May, Tencent reported the smallest increase in sales since going public in 2004.
At the same time, Tencent has gained leverage in negotiations because the pipeline of new games has shrunk, the result of Beijing’s clampdown on what it views as gaming addiction among youths. Fewer than 5,000 new games will be approved this year, versus more than 8,500 in 2017, Asia-focused gaming researcher Niko Partners estimates.
Tencent “is likely to gain stronger bargaining power against its distribution channels,” Citigroup analysts led by Alicia Yap wrote in a research note this week.
The social media titan initiated talks in recent weeks with most of the country’s largest app stores, run by leading smartphone makers such as Oppo, Lenovo Group Ltd. and Xiaomi Corp., as well as internet outfits such as Baidu Inc. and 360, the people said.
Tencent is focusing on only a subset of its games at present, they added. But if the 70-30 split becomes the standard, that could translate into billions of dollars of additional revenue annually.
Tencent dominates the market thanks to its all-purpose WeChat app, which serves more than a billion people, and a development machine that consistently cranks out hits such as Honour of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite.
Now, the company is taking advantage of its heft — its closest rival is the much smaller NetEase Inc. — to pressure app distributors to cough up more revenue, the people said.
P.H. Cheung, a spokesman for Tencent, didn’t immediately respond to an email and text query on the company’s plans, which were previously reported by gaming industry media outlet Game look, Baidu and Oppo declined to comment.
Those negotiations are by no means all one-sided. If anything, Tencent may have to work hard to change the status quo. The country’s four biggest smartphone names — Oppo, Vivo, Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi — run app stores for their users that together account for about 40 per cent of market share.
Among the new titles, Tencent wants a bigger revenue cut on is role-playing mainstay JX Online 3, developed by China’s Kingsoft Corp., and Crazyracing Kartrider, a mobile remake of a popular title from South Korea’s Nexon Co., one person said.
As of now, neither title is available on stores operated by Oppo and Vivo, suggesting those two device-makers have yet to agree to Tencent’s proposal.
App developers and publishers compete to get games listed on those stores, whose operators host in-game payments for things such as virtual goods, character skins and power-ups. In return, developers get a cut of that revenue.
Unlike in the US and Europe, where a 70-30 split is common, revenue-sharing varies hugely across different Chinese stores but is commonly pegged at 50 per cent. Furthermore, that cut is usually negotiated directly with each of the stores, sometimes on a game-by-game basis.
What’s in the app stores’ favour is the sheer volume of competition. While Google Play is blocked in China, there are approximately 400 Android app stores, though many have an extremely small number of mobile users.
The country’s app stores focus especially heavily on games because that’s where the money is — many don’t even levy a cut of revenue at all on non-gaming apps.
Dhaka, July 11 (UNB)- Electric vehicles (EVs) have started catching up in India, with various manufacturers like Ather, Revolt and Hyundai showing off their electric vehicles in the country. One of the major aspects of EVs is how they are powered. This depends upon power rating, connector type, cabling requirements and vehicle specification, reports The Indian Express.
One of the major parts of charging EVs is the power deliverance via AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). This varies with vehicle types, charging network, charger types and more. Today we will be explaining how charging an EV works.
As of now, there are three types of EV charging methods – rapid, fast and slow. Slow chargers have a power deliverance of up to 3kW, which makes them apt for being used for overnight charging. These chargers usually take between six to 12 hours for a pure-EV to fully charge. For adding support for slow charging, EV manufacturers have to add a 3-pin or Type 2 socket to the vehicles. Slow chargers are only available with DC charging.
Fast chargers come with a power deliverance of up to 22kW, which takes approximately four hours to fully charge EVs. To get these manufacturers need to add a Type 1 or Type 2 sockets to vehicles. Just like the slow chargers, fast chargers are also only available in DC charging.
Unlike slow and fast chargers, rapid chargers are of two types: AC and DC. Currently, most Rapid AC chargers are rated at 43kW, whereas, Rapid DC chargers are rated at a minimum power deliverance of 50kW. Both of these chargers can charge EVs up to 80 per cent within 30 to 60 minutes. Rapid AC supporting cars are required to have a Type 2 connector, whereas, Rapic DC supporting EVs are required to either have a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2 connector.
Rapid chargers, to protect the EV’s batteries and extend their life, power down, when the batteries reach 80 per cent of charging. The next generation of rapid DC chargers are expected to increase power delivery to 150kW and then to 350kW, which will reduce charging times. As of now, Tesla has the fastest rapid DC chargers with 120kW power delivery.
Though Tesla’s superchargers are the most powerful EV chargers in the market, they are not that widespread globally. So if you are planning to purchase a Tesla outside of the US, we recommend that you pick up an adapter along with it to enable the vehicle to use the 50 kW rapid units fitted with a CHAdeMO or CCS connectors.
Another big point to keep in mind is that except for the US, other countries don’t have such a vast network of charging stations built to support an electric ecosystem. Countries like India, which have an extremely large area to cover will see a lot of growing pains and will take a lot of time to get the infrastructure up and running. Also in various developing countries, there will also be an issue of power theft, which also would need to be taken care of.
CHAdeMO is one of the most popular connectors available in the market. It is also one of the most adopted connectors by EV manufacturers. Cars like the BMW i3, VW e-Golf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric, all of which are quite popular. The only EV able to use Rapid AC charging is Renault Zoe. However, there are a few EVs that come with an AC charger bundled with them, but they don’t take an AC charge, the charger, takes the AC current converts it to DC and then sends it to the vehicle. An example of this would be the recently showcased Hyundai Kona.
Dhaka, July 11 (UNB) - WhatsApp is working on adding a new quick edit media shortcut, which will be rolling out in its coming updates, according to a report by WABetaInfo. The feature is currently under development and isn’t yet available for everyone. However, it is being said that due to this being a very minor feature it will be enabled very soon, reports The Indian Express.
According to the report, the new feature will allow users to quickly edit media they have sent and received in their personal chats and groups.
The quick edit media shortcut will appear when a WhatsApp user opens media in a chat. When an image is opened a new ‘Edit’ shortcut will appear in the bottom toolbar, which when pressed will automatically redirect the user to an image editing screen. There the user can make all the necessary edits to the image.
Take note, the edited images when saved will not override the existing media file, instead, WhatsApp will create a newly edited file, which can be browsed in the gallery and sent to contacts.
The feature will be made available on both Android and iOS versions of the app according to the report. However, there is no confirmed rollout date for it.
In related news, According to a recent report, WhatsApp is said to be working on adding a QR Code scanner to its platform. After the feature is enabled WhatsApp users will be able to scan and share QR codes by tapping the dedicated shortcut.
Tokyo, July 11 (AP/UNB) — A Japanese spacecraft landed on a distant asteroid on Thursday and collected underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system billions of years ago, Japan's space agency said.
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft had created a landing crater on the rocky asteroid in April by dropping a copper impactor. It landed inside that crater on Thursday and collected samples that scientists believe contain valuable data unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.
Hayabusa2 is the first spacecraft to successfully collect underground samples from an asteroid. A similar mission is planned by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration on another asteroid, Bennu.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said data show Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples. The moment the success was announced in the command center, everyone stood up, cheered and applauded.
"It was a success, a big success," said Takashi Kubota, a Hayabusa2 project member. "We achieved success in all scheduled procedures."
JAXA said the samples have been safely placed in a container, which will be moved to a capsule for secure storage.
"We obtained pieces of the history of the solar system. We took a historic step," said Yuichi Tsuda, the Hayabusa2 project manager. "Nobody has collected and brought home underground materials from anywhere further than the moon."
Asteroids are rocky remnants left over from the formation of the solar system.
With one of its most critical missions now finished, the next task is to get Hayabusa2 to safely return to Earth with the samples, Tsuda said.
The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea dragon palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth. Hayabusa2 is expected to leave the asteroid later this year and return home at the end of next year.
The asteroid, about 900 meters (yards) in diameter, is extremely rocky on its surface and has signs organic compounds, scientists say.
Hayabusa2 made a similar landing at another location on the asteroid in February and collected topsoil samples.
The spacecraft started its gradual descent to the asteroid on Wednesday. In the final landing phase Thursday, it hovered at a height of 30 meters (100 feet) and quickly found its landing marker left from the earlier mission.
The actual landing lasted only a few seconds. It extended its sampling tube to the ground, shot a pinball-size bullet to break open the surface, and sucked up the debris that was blasted off.
The landing was a challenge for Hayabusa2 because of the risk of getting hit by dust and debris remaining at the crater, Kubota said. JAXA plans to send the spacecraft close to the asteroid again as early as next week to examine the landing site from above.
JAXA scientist Seiichiro Watanabe said Thursday's success is significant in learning about the asteroid because samples taken from two sites and at different depths can be compared. Initial images transmitted from Hayabusa2 show sample pieces with different colors and sizes, a sign of diversity even on a tiny asteroid, he said.
"It is extremely significant to be able to compare soil on the surface and from underground," Watanabe said. "I'm so excited about finding out about all these unknowns."