Chongqing, Jan 15 (Xinhua/UNB) - One of the cotton seeds carried to the moon by China's Chang'e-4 probe is the first ever to sprout on the moon, according to scientists of a mini biosphere experiment on Tuesday.
After making the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, China's Chang'e-4 mission pioneered the first mini biosphere experiment on the moon.
Professor Xie Gengxin, of Chongqing University and chief designer of the experiment, said a canister installed on the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe contained the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato, and arabidopsis, as well as eggs of the fruit fly and some yeast, to form a simple mini biosphere.
Images sent by the probe showed that a cotton sprout had started to grow, though no other plants were found growing.
The cylinder canister, made from special aluminum alloy materials, is 198 mm tall, with a diameter of 173 mm and a weight of 2.6 kg. It also holds water, soil, air, two small cameras, and a heat control system, said Xie.
More than 170 pictures have been taken by the cameras and sent back to Earth, according to the team.
Why were these species chosen?
Xie said potatoes could be a major source of food for future space travelers. The growth period of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, is short and easy to observe. Yeast could play a role in regulating carbon dioxide and oxygen in the mini biosphere, and the fruit fly would be the consumer of the photosynthesis process.
Researchers used biological technology to render the seeds and eggs dormant during the two months when the probe went through the final checks in the launch center and journey of more than 20 days through space.
After Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3, the ground control center instructed the probe to water the plants to start the growing process. A tube directs natural light on the surface of the moon into the canister to allow the plants to grow.
Moscow, Jan 15 (Xinhua/UNB) -- NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has accepted an invitation to make a working visit to Russia in the next several months, Russian space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday on its website.
According to a statement by Roscosmos, Bridenstine and Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin on Monday held a telephone conversation that focused on "further cooperation on space exploration and a possible meeting."
They agreed to continue working together on the International Space Station and lunar projects, as well as other missions to explore deep space, added the statement.
NASA earlier sent an official letter to Roscosmos and revoked an invitation for Rogozin to visit its headquarters, a decision Bridenstine said was made due to pressure from U.S. senators.
Rogozin on Jan. 10 said in response that NASA has fallen victim to the struggle between President Donald Trump's administration and U.S. Congress.
However, according to Rogozin, NASA defends its cooperation with Russia because it "understands perfectly well that the creation of a lunar orbital platform is the most complicated problem," which cannot be solved by it alone.
Los Angeles, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — A SpaceX rocket delivered 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit on Friday, completing a two-year campaign by Iridium Communications Inc. to replace its original fleet with a new generation of mobile communication technology and added global aircraft tracking capability.
The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:31 a.m. and arced over the Pacific west of Los Angeles. The previously used first stage was recovered again with a bullseye landing on a "droneship" in the ocean while the upper stage continued on to orbit.
The eighth and final launch of the $3 billion Iridium NEXT project completed delivery of 75 new satellites to orbit for the McLean, Virginia, company. Sixty-six will be operational and nine will serve as in-orbit spares. Six other satellites remain on the ground as spares.
All 10 newly launched satellites communicated with Iridium's network operations center and were being readied for testing, the company said.
Iridium has been moving its new satellites into positions that were held by the old ones, which are lowered until they burn up in the atmosphere. So far, 60 new satellites are in operation.
The first Iridium satellites were launched in the 1990s to offer voice, data, fax and paging services to customers with Iridium handheld telephones and pagers.
Among new capabilities enabled by the fleet upgrade is Iridium Certus, described as a broadband solution for purposes ranging from life-safety services to command-and-control of unmanned aircraft systems and tracking.
The Iridium NEXT satellites also carry a system by Aireon LLC for space-based air traffic surveillance over 100 percent of the globe.
The Aireon system collects what is known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast data automatically and in real time, even from remote areas over the world's oceans.
"Today we passed a major milestone on our journey to revolutionize air traffic surveillance and are just weeks away from a fully operational system," Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon, said in a statement. "Now that the launches are complete, final integration and testing of the recently launched payloads can commence, after which the world's first, real-time, truly global view of air traffic will be a reality."
Aireon said it is already processing more than 13 billion ADS-B messages per month.
Another difference with the new satellites is of note to skywatchers: no "Iridium flares." The new satellites do not reflect sunlight the way the old ones did.
Las Vegas, Jan 8 (AP/UNB) — The CES 2019 gadget show is revving up in Las Vegas. Here are the latest findings and observations from Associated Press reporters on the ground as technology's biggest trade event gets underway.
In this age of smartphone streaming, big television sets are no longer the centerpiece of many living rooms. Now South Korean electronics company LG is doing its part to make TVs disappear altogether.
LG has unveiled a "rollable" TV — a 65-inch screen that can roll down and disappear into its base with the press of a button. The set can still play music when the screen is rolled down completely, or display a clock when it's just partially rolled down. LG says the TV will be available later this year. It didn't say how much it will cost.
Meanwhile, LG, Samsung and others unveiled "8K" sets, with four times the resolution of today's high-definition sets and twice that of 4K sets such as LG's rollable one. 8K represents the next generation of television viewing, but one that most people won't see for themselves for some time.
So far, 8K has only been deployed for the occasional experimental broadcast, such as during the Olympics. Even 4K shows and movies are just starting to catch on.
"As always with TVs, innovations come with display hardware first and adoption of things like content and delivery always follow later," said Paul Gagnon, an analyst with IHS Markit.
But unlike past developments that never caught on, such as 3D TVs, analysts believe 8K will become more popular eventually — just not ubiquitous.
Samsung announced its first 8K TV last year, an 85-inch model costing nearly $15,000. The company unveiled four additional sizes Monday, sans prices. Also Monday, TCL announced plans for 8K sets with Roku's streaming technology built-in. LG has two 8K sets coming.
Enough about self-driving cars
Many people at CES would rather hear about better video games. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang got a big round of applause when he told a crowd that he'd spend more time talking gaming than autonomous driving.
The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker's computer graphics technology is used in both industries. But it was Huang's unveiling of a new gaming-oriented graphics processor that elicited the biggest cheers Sunday night. He also detailed how his company's advances in artificial intelligence and a graphics technology called "ray tracing" are helping to generate ever-more-realistic scenery in popular games.
This year's CES is less focused on autonomous cars compared with last year, though there's ongoing buzz about self-driving innovations. Ride-hailing service Lyft says that after launching a self-driving Las Vegas taxi service at last year's CES, it's now had almost 30,000 paid rides. Daimler on Monday unveiled a new self-driving truck and Bosch and May Mobility separately unveiled their concepts for a driverless shuttle bus.
Meanwhile, executives from Audi, Toyota, Cruise Automation, chipmaker Nvidia, Google spinoff Waymo and several startups are gearing up to convince the public that autonomous vehicles are safe.
They say the coalition is not a lobbying effort but a united front to invest in countering what they describe as public confusion, fears and unrealistic expectations about self-driving technology. The industry push follows a year of news about self-driving crashes, including an autonomous Uber that fatally struck a pedestrian in March. Neither Uber nor Tesla, which has also had crashes, is part of the group.
A century-old CES first-timer
You wouldn't expect to find the maker of Pampers and Bounty paper towels at the world's largest technology conference.
But here's consumer goods company Procter & Gamble at CES 2019, showing off heated razors and a toothbrush that uses artificial intelligence. (Sorry if you were expecting self-changing diapers.)
Procter & Gamble, which was founded more than 180 years ago, said it's the first time it has been an exhibitor at CES. The company said it needs to infuse technology into everyday products to keep up with what customers want.
Among the goods on display: a waterproof Gillette razor that heats up to 122 degrees; an Oral-B toothbrush that tells you if you're missing areas when brushing; and a wand-like device called Opte that scans the skin and releases serum that covers up age spots and other discoloration.
Although some of the products have been sold in test runs, pricing hasn't been set yet. But expect to pay a lot more than the ordinary stuff currently on drugstore shelves.
An elegant way to text
People feeling overwhelmed by their array of connected devices can invest up to $700 on another device meant to feel more artisanal.
Mui Lab, based in Kyoto, Japan, has designed an internet-connected wall panel made of sycamore wood that you can touch to send messages, check the weather or control other home devices such as lights and thermostats. Lighted letters and icons appear on the wood panel when it's being used — and disappear when it's inactive.
CEO Kazunori Oki says it's about bringing a more natural feel to a connected home.
While you're at it, you can make your home smell better. Feeling like more lavender and less jasmine? Or want your holiday party to smell like a blend of Christmas tree, fireplace and cookies? The Moodo "smart-home fragrance diffusers" made by Israeli fragrance company Agan Aroma enable users to adjust blends from their smartphones. Each $139 device holds up to four capsules with different scents.
Beijing, Jan 5 (AP/UNB) — All systems are go as a Chinese spacecraft and rover power up their observation equipment after making a first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, the Chinese National Space Administration said.
The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link with a relay satellite that sends data back to the Beijing control center, the space agency said in a posting late Friday on its website.
The rover's radar and panoramic camera have been activated and are working normally, it said. A photo released by the agency showed the rover stopped at a point not far from where the Chang'e 4 spacecraft touched down Thursday.
Chang'e 4, named after a Chinese moon goddess, is the first craft to make a soft landing on the moon's far side, which faces away from Earth. Previous landings, including one by China's Chang'e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.
After sending the rover off from a ramp, the spacecraft deployed three 5-meter (16-foot) low-frequency radio antennas, the Chinese space agency said. Chang'e 4 also has sent back images taken with a topographical camera.
Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side, where radio signals from Earth are blocked by the moon, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even the birth of the universe's first stars.
Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb noted, however, that the relay satellite needed to send back information from the far side also contaminates the sky.
"As long as we keep it clean of radio interference, the far side of the moon is very good for radio astronomy," he said.
The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.
"It's just the far side, it can be either dark or light," Loeb said, depending on the time of day.
The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in space. Both China's space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the United States.
China's space program lags America's, but has made great strides in the past 15 years, including manned flights and a space laboratory that is seen as a precursor to plans for a space station.