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The glory days of the Internet

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  • was in the 2010s
  • is now because it is the best of times and the worst of times
  • is yet to come
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[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:141 | Votes:300

posted by hubie on Thursday September 22 2022, @11:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the for-what-they-crave-must-I-supply? dept.

There is no "software supply chain":

In actual supply chains, money is changing hands. A server manufacturer is paying for PCB fabrication, who is paying their suppliers for raw materials and equipment, and so on until the whole thing eventually loops back on itself when a mining company needs to buy a server.

When you take on an additional dependency in a software project, often money does not change hands. `npm install' and `cargo add' do not bill your credit card. There is no formal agreement between a maintainer and its downstream users.

There is a lot of attention on securing "software supply chains." The usual approach is that you want to try to avoid security issues in your underlying components from impacting customers of your product; and when they do, you want to be able to respond quickly to fix the issue. The people who care about this class of problem are often software companies. The class of components that are most concerning these companies are ones where unpaid hobbyist maintainers wrote something for themselves with no maintenance plan.

This is where the supply chain metaphor — and it is just that, a metaphor — breaks down. [...] Using the term "supply chain" here dehumanizes the labor involved in developing and maintaining software as a hobby.

[...] I just want to publish software that I think is neat so that other hobbyists can use and learn from it, and I otherwise want to be left the hell alone. I should be allowed to decide if something I wrote is "done". The focus on securing the "software supply chain" has made it even more likely that releasing software for others to use will just mean more work for me that I don't benefit from. I reject the idea that a concept so tenuous can be secured in the first place.

Is there such a thing as a software supply chain?

Related: Google Launches New Open Source Bug Bounty to Tackle Supply Chain Attacks

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday September 22 2022, @08:16PM   Printer-friendly

New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune's Rings in Decades

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope shows off its capabilities closer to home with its first image of Neptune. Not only has Webb captured the clearest view of this distant planet's rings in more than 30 years, but its cameras reveal the ice giant in a whole new light.

Most striking in Webb's new image is the crisp view of the planet's rings – some of which have not been detected since NASA's Voyager 2 became the first spacecraft to observe Neptune during its flyby in 1989. In addition to several bright, narrow rings, the Webb image clearly shows Neptune's fainter dust bands.

"It has been three decades since we last saw those faint, dusty bands, and this is the first time we've seen them in the infrared," notes Heidi Hammel, a Neptune system expert and interdisciplinary scientist for Webb. Webb's extremely stable and precise image quality permits these very faint rings to be detected so close to Neptune.

Labelled image.

Mars Is Mighty in First Webb Observations of Red Planet

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope captured its first images and spectra of Mars Sept. 5. [...] Astronomers adjusted for Mars' extreme brightness by using very short exposures, measuring only some of the light that hit the detectors, and applying special data analysis techniques.

NIRcam images of Mars.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday September 22 2022, @05:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the talk-to-me-again-of-Mendocino dept.

AMD Ryzen 5 7520U, Ryzen 3 7320U and Athlon Gold 7220U Mendocino processors unveiled for entry-level thin and light laptops

AMD unveiled its entry-level Mendocino series of laptop processors at Computex 2022. The company didn't provide much in the way of meaningful information and briefly talked about its power efficiency. Now, it has announced three new Mendocino processors, the Ryzen 5 7520U, Ryzen 3 7320U and Athlon Gold 7220U, manufactured on TSMC's 6 nm process node. They use a modified version of the Zen 2 cores and support LPDDR5 memory.

[...] The "U" Mendocino processors' names confirm that all three SKUs have a maximum TDP of 15 W, making them ideal for thin and light laptops. The Ryzen 5 7520U is a 4-core, 8-thread processor with base/boost clocks of 4.3/2.8 GHz. The Ryzen 3 7320U has the same configuration but reduces the base/boost clocks to 4.1/2.4 GHz. Lastly, the AMD Athlon Gold 7220U has 2 cores, 4 threads and a base/boost clock of 3.7/2.4 GHz.

Microsoft Pluton is confirmed to be in the 7020 series. All three of the APUs include Radeon 610M graphics with 2 RDNA2 compute units, one-third that of a Ryzen 5 6600U with 660M graphics. The 610M may be identical to the iGPU in Ryzen 7000 desktop CPUs, and it supports AV1 hardware decode and up to 4 display outputs (USB-C ports with DisplayPort capability could be used to get close to this number).

You can see AMD's new mobile naming scheme at work. The third digit of 7520U indicates that it uses Zen 2 cores. We could see Ryzen 3 7340U and Ryzen 5 7540U "Phoenix Point" APUs using Zen 4 cores surrounding that model.

Also at Tom's Hardware.

Previously: AMD Announces Mendocino APU at Computex, and More Details for Ryzen 7000 and Socket AM5

See Also: Nvidia Announces the RTX 4090, 4080 (16 GB and 12 GB), and More

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 22 2022, @02:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the Cool! dept.

Refreezing poles feasible and cheap, new study finds:

The poles are warming several times faster than the global average, causing record smashing heatwaves that were reported earlier this year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Melting ice and collapsing glaciers at high latitudes would accelerate sea level rise around the planet. Fortunately, refreezing the poles by reducing incoming sunlight would be both feasible and remarkably cheap, according to new research published today in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Communications.

Scientists laid out a possible future program whereby high-flying jets would spray microscopic aerosol particles into the atmosphere at latitudes of 60 degrees north and south – roughly Anchorage and the southern tip of Patagonia. If injected at a height of 43,000 feet (above airliner cruising altitudes), these aerosols would slowly drift poleward, slightly shading the surface beneath. "There is widespread and sensible trepidation about deploying aerosols to cool the planet," notes lead author Wake Smith, "but if the risk/benefit equation were to pay off anywhere, it would be at the poles".

[...] Pre-existing military air-to-air refuelling tankers such as the aged KC-135 and the A330 MMRT don't have enough payload at the required altitudes, whereas newly designed high-altitude tankers would prove much more efficient. A fleet of roughly 125 such tankers could loft a payload sufficient to cool the regions poleward of 60°N/S by 2°C per year, which would return them close to their pre-industrial average temperatures. Costs are estimated at $11 billion annually – less than one-third the cost of cooling the entire planet by the same 2°C magnitude and a tiny fraction of the cost of reaching net zero emissions.

"Game changing though this could be in a rapidly warming world, stratospheric aerosol injections merely treat a symptom of climate change but not the underlying disease. It's aspirin, not penicillin. It's not a substitute for decarbonization," says Smith.

Journal Reference:
Wake Smith, Umang Bhattarai, Douglas G MacMartin, et al. A subpolar-focused stratospheric aerosol injection deployment scenario [open] 2022 Environ. Res. Commun. 4 095009. DOI: 10.1088/2515-7620/ac8cd3

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 22 2022, @12:04PM   Printer-friendly

Hertz to purchase 175,000 General Motors EVs over the next five years:

Hertz is once again growing its EV fleet, announcing Tuesday that it has struck a deal with General Motors to purchase 175,000 electric vehicles from the automaker's Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and BrightDrop brands over the next five years. Customers will see the first offerings, namely the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, arrive on Hertz lots beginning in the first quarter next year.

The deal, which runs through 2027, will bring a wide variety of models to Hertz's growing EV herd. Between now and 2027, the rental company expects its customers to drive about 8 billion miles in said EVs, preventing an estimated 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released. Hertz plans to convert a quarter of its rental fleet to battery electric by 2024.

[...] For folks who are already in line, having ordered a GM EV and are waiting on delivery, don't fret. This deal with Hertz shouldn't impact your existing delivery date. "Our first priority is delivering vehicles to customers holding reservations," a GM rep told Engadget via email Tuesday. "GM is installing capacity to meet demand from all customers, with annual capacity in North America rising to more than one million units in 2025."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 22 2022, @09:17AM   Printer-friendly

The last man selling floppy disks says he still receives orders from airlines:

Do you remember floppy disks? The archaic storage device used to ruled computers of the 1980s and 1990s, but a good number of you reading this may have never seen or used one before. Surprisingly though, they still hold a place in one specific and unlikely setting: airlines.

Long before the days of SSDs, USB drives, or even CD and DVDs, floppy disks used to rule the computer world. There's a high chance that you haven't used a floppy in a decade or two, if ever. The legacy medium was eventually replaced by newer and better technology until it simply fell into a state of complete extinction -- or so we thought.

Tom Persky, founder of, doesn't agree with the idea that floppy disks are "useless" or "extinct." Tom regularly repairs, recycles, and sells floppy disks to anyone who may want their hands on the old technology. The site even has that old retro feel of old websites from the 1990s and early 2000s, as shown below.

[...] Workers in the medical field are also common visitors, as some devices used on patients still use floppy disks to this day, over 50 years after their invention. There's also people, whom he calls "hobbyists," who flock to the site to "buy 10, 20, or maybe 50 floppy disks." These groups of customers are certainly interesting, but Tom emphasizes one workplace that constantly purchases new floppy disks: airlines.

Airlines have a high demand for floppy disks, and they serve as a significant portion of Persky's sales through "Take the airline industry for example. Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in the avionics. That's a huge consumer." To put that in context, in 2020, the total number of planes in the US commercial aircraft fleet was 7,690, and that number has likely grown since Aeroweb posted those numbers.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 22 2022, @06:32AM   Printer-friendly

Telegram Has a Serious Doxing Problem:

Nyein Oo rose to prominence in 2020, posting memes and gossip about Burmese celebrities on Facebook to an audience that grew to several hundred thousand people in Myanmar by early 2021. Then, after the country's military seized power that February, he lurched rightwards, becoming a full-blooded supporter of the junta, which has killed more than 1,500 people and arrested thousands more in bloody crackdowns.

He was soon banned from Facebook for violating its terms of service, so he moved to Telegram, the encrypted messaging app and social sharing platform. There, he posted messages of support for the military, graphic pictures of murdered civilians, and doctored pornographic images purporting to be female opposition figures. Often, these were cross-posted in other channels run by a network of pro-junta influencers, reaching tens of thousands of users.

This year, Han Nyein Oo moved on to direct threats. Opponents of the junta planned to mark the anniversary of the coup on February 1 with a "silent strike," closing businesses and staying home to leave the streets abandoned. On his Telegram channel, Han Nyein Oo raged, asking his followers to send him photos of shops and businesses that were planning to shut. They obliged, and he began posting the images and addresses to his 100,000 followers. Dozens of premises were raided by police. Han Nyein Oo claimed credit. He did not respond to a request to comment.

"That was the start of the doxing campaign," says Wai Phyo Myint, a Burmese digital rights activist. "Since then there's been an escalation."

Over the past eight months, Han Nyein Oo's Telegram channels, and those of other pro-coup figures, including self-defined journalist Thazin Oo and influencers Kyaw Swar and Sergeant Phoe Si, have doxed hundreds of people that they accuse of siding with the resistance movement, from high-profile celebrities to small business owners and students. Dozens have since been arrested or been killed in vigilante violence.

Han Nyein Oo's channel was taken down in March after it was reported for breaching Telegram's rules on disseminating pornography, but within days he had started another. It now has more than 70,000 followers.

[...] Experts in social media moderation who have studied Telegram told WIRED that they doubt the company is willing to or capable of systematically addressing its doxing problem. They said that the company, which is thought to employ only a few dozen people worldwide, discloses very little about its corporate structure and publicly names only a handful of its employees. But it has dramatically outgrown its infrastructure. Unlike other platforms, which employ in-house and outsourced moderators (and still struggle to tackle issues of disinformation and harmful content), Telegram has a philosophical, as well as a practical resistance to moderation.

"It's not just a failure of the platform," says Aliaksandr Herasimenka, a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. "It's a deliberate stance."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday September 22 2022, @03:46AM   Printer-friendly

Nvidia Announces the RTX 4090, 4080 (16 GB and 12 GB), and More

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC), the company announced its first "Lovelace" GPUs for consumers: the RTX 4090 ($1600), RTX 4080 16 GB ($1120), and RTX 4080 12 GB ($900). The graphics cards are made with TSMC's N4 process, and support AV1 encoding and DLSS 3 upscaling.

The RTX 4090 comes with 24 GB of GDDR6X VRAM, and launches on October 12. Performance of the 4090 should be at least 60-70% higher than the RTX 3090 Ti, or higher in some cases (raytracing performance should be better than doubled). However, Nvidia is claiming up to quadruple the performance when using DLSS 3, which will not be made available on RTX 20/30-series GPUs due to an apparent requirement of fourth generation Tensor Cores and a newer version of "Optical Flow Accelerator". The new version of Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) can generate entire frames, similar to video interpolation.

The RTX 4080 variants differ in both core counts and VRAM capacity, leading to a significant performance gap between them, and will launch sometime in November. The 4080 16 GB has nearly 27% more CUDA cores and 46% higher memory bandwidth than the 4080 12 GB. The GPUs also use different dies (AD103 and AD104). This could lead you to believe that Nvidia has turned the xx70-class card into a "4080" in order to sell it at a higher price.

Nvidia also announced the Jetson Orin Nano, a system-on-module capable of 20-40 trillion operations per second, starting at $200. CNX Software has a table showing order-of-magnitude improvements in some cases over the Jetson Nano and Jetson TX2 NX.

Nvidia has cancelled its DRIVE Atlan SoC for ~2025 driverless cars, replacing it on the roadmap with a more powerful "DRIVE Thor" SoC with 2 petaflops of floating point inference performance (FP8).

AMD will announce its Radeon RX 7000 graphics cards on November 3.

NVIDIA Reveals its Next-gen Chipset for Autonomous Vehicles

NVIDIA reveals its next-gen chipset for autonomous vehicles:

[...] NVIDIA says that Drive Thor can unify all the various functions of vehicles — including infotainment, the digital dashboard, sensors, parking and autonomous operation — for greater efficiency. Vehicles with the chipset will be able to run Linux, QNX and Android simultaneously. Given the vast processing power that autonomous vehicle operations require, automakers can even use two of the Drive Thor chipsets in tandem by employing a NVLink-C2C chip interconnect technology to have them running a single operating system.

In addition, NVIDIA claims that the SoC marks a significant leap forward in "deep neural network accuracy." The chipset has a transformer engine, a new addition to the NVIDIA GPU Tensor Core. "Transformer networks process video data as a single perception frame, enabling the compute platform to process more data over time," NVIDIA says. It noted that the SoC can boost inference performance of transformer deep neural networks by up to nine times, "which is paramount for supporting the massive and complex AI workloads associated with self driving."

Original Submission #2Original Submission #1

posted by hubie on Thursday September 22 2022, @01:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-you-thought-Hogs-were-loud dept.

Hoverbike Makes Its US Debut at Detroit Auto Show - ExtremeTech:

XTURISMO is the latest development out of AERWINS, a Japanese air mobility startup. While the hoverbike's center indeed looks like a street bike, it's surrounded by large fans, lending the vehicle the overall appearance of a massive, rideable drone. The 300-kilogram (661-pound) hoverbike is powered by both an internal combustion engine and a battery, which together lend XTURISMO its 40-kilometer (24.8-mile) cruising range. XTURISMO can zip around at speeds up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour while carrying payloads (AKA drivers) up to 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds.

[...] Though XTURISMO's range and speed are undoubtedly lower than some aspirational hoverbike drivers would hope for, the technology has to start somewhere, and mild freeway speeds aren't a terrible place to start. Of course, none of that matters if you're turned off by XTURISMO's $777,000 price tag...and its lack of availability in the US. Because Japan doesn't consider XTURISMO to be a type of aircraft, special licenses aren't required to drive it there, and Japanese residents can begin buying and driving the hoverbike as soon as they wish.

Action video

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21 2022, @10:16PM   Printer-friendly
from the pushing-up-daisies dept.

Human Composting Now Legal in California:

Compared to cremation, turning your body into mulch keeps a surprising amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

In a few years, people in California will have a new choice for what to do with their loved ones' bodies after death: put them in their garden.

"AB 351 will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally-friendly and gives them another choice for burial," Assembly member Cristina Garcia, who sponsored the bill, said in a release. "With climate change and sea-level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposition that won't contribute emissions into our atmosphere."

Human beings cause more than enough trouble while we're alive, but the practices we've developed to handle our bodies after death are also pretty bad for the environment. Burying a dead body takes about three gallons of embalming liquid per corpse—stuff like formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol—and about 5.3 million gallons total gets buried with bodies each year. Meanwhile, cremation creates more than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of carbon dioxide from the burning process of just one body, and the burning itself uses up the energy equivalent of two tanks of gasoline. In the U.S., cremation creates roughly 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

It's a no-brainer, then, to think of greener alternatives. The most common process for human composting—and the one laid out in the new California law—is called natural organic reduction, which involves leaving the body in a container with some wood chips and other organic matter for about a month to let bacteria do its work. The resulting mulch (yep, it's human body mulch) is then allowed to cure for a few more weeks before being turned over to the family. Each body can produce about a cubic yard of soil, or around one pickup truckbeds' worth. According to Garcia's release, this process will save about a metric ton of CO2 per body.

Related: World's First Human Composting Site to Open

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21 2022, @07:32PM   Printer-friendly

Starlink will ask for exemption to Iran sanctions, says Musk:

Elon Musk has said his satellite internet business Starlink will ask for an exemption to US sanctions on Iran.

The statement was made on Twitter in response to science journalist Erfan Kasraie, who described Starlink's service in the Western Asian country as a "game changer for the future."

Animosity between the States and Iran runs deep with sanctions spanning more than four decades in response to the Iranian nuclear program and the regime's support for what the US deems terrorist organizations.

Iran is most recently in hot water with the US for supplying drones to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine, where Starlink has begun supplying antennas and modems to the Ukraine military to improve wartime communications. The US further sanctioned Iran earlier this month after an alleged July cyberattack against NATO ally Albania.

[...] But whether Starlink should get an exemption in Iran, which has been at odds with the United States since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 when the ostensibly modern state transitioned to a theocratic regime, is a complicated matter.

In the unlikely event that a deal with Iran would be greenlit by the White House, Starlink would have to go through the country's government. Considering that the regime controls media and internet access, would it really allow civilians unfettered access to an American satellite network?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21 2022, @04:50PM   Printer-friendly

JDK 19: the New Features in Java 19

JDK 19: The new features in Java 19:

Java Development Kit 19, a non-LTS (long-term support) release of standard Java, arrives today as a production release.

Seven features target the release including structured concurrency, record patterns, a preview of a foreign function and memory API, and support for the open source Linux/RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA). All features but the Linux/RISC-V capability are either in preview or incubator phases.

JDK 19 follows the March 22 arrival of JDK 18. Standard Java has been on a six-month release cadence for five years, with JDK 19 being the tenth six-month release.

JDK 19 is available at The production release follows two release candidates and two rampdown phases, dating back to June. The JDK 19 features include:

  • Structured concurrency, in an incubator phase, is intended to simplify multithreaded programming through a structured concurrency API. [...]
  • A preview of record patterns, to deconstruct record values. Record patterns and type patterns can be nested to enable a declarative, powerful, and composable form of data navigation and processing. [...]
  • A preview of a foreign function and memory API, which would introduce an API by which Java programs can interoperate with code and data outside the Java runtime. [...]
  • A preview of virtual threads, which are lightweight threads that dramatically reduce the effort of writing, maintaining, and observing high-throughput, concurrent applications. [...]
  • A third preview of pattern matching for switch expressions and statements, extending pattern matching to switch, to allow an expression to be tested against a number of patterns, each with a specific action, so complex data-oriented queries can be expressed concisely and safely. [...]
  • A fourth incubation of a vector API that would express vector computations that reliably compile at runtime to optimal vector instructions on supported CPU architectures, thus achieving performance superior to equivalent scalar computations. [...]
  • With the Linux/RISC-V port, Java would gain support for a hardware instruction set that is already supported by a wide range of language toolchains. [...]

The port would support the following HotSpot VM options: the template interpreter, C1 (client) JIT compiler, C2 (server) JIT compiler, and all current mainline garbage collectors including ZGC and Shenandoah.[...]

Like JDK 18, JDK 19 is due to be a short-term release, with only six months of top-level, Premier support.

Oracle Releases Java 19 With Seven Significant Enhancements

Oracle releases Java 19 with seven significant enhancements:

Oracle brews Java 19. Mmmm, kinda tastes like RISC-V

In its evangelizing slide deck accompanying this release, Oracle ranks Java as the "#1 language for today's technology trends" and the "#1 language in overall development organizational use." The company also cites consultancy VDC Research's findings that "Java is #1 choice for cloud."

When measured in more general terms, Java ranks #2 or #3 or #5, depending upon which programming language survey gets cited. But programming language popularity alone, however that gets measured, doesn't necessarily build an ecosystem.

Suffice it to say that Java continues to be extremely important to Oracle, to the estimated 10 million Java developers wandering the world, and to 60 billion active Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) that rely on a 27-year-old programming language.

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posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21 2022, @02:06PM   Printer-friendly

Nvidia's powerful H100 GPU will ship in October:

At today's GTC conference keynote, Nvidia announced that its H100 Tensor Core GPU is in full production and that tech partners such as Dell, Lenovo, Cisco, Atos, Fujitsu, GIGABYTE, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Supermicro will begin shipping products built around the H100 next month.

The H100, part of the "Hopper" architecture, is the most powerful AI-focused GPU Nvidia has ever made, surpassing its previous high-end chip, the A100. The H100 includes 80 billion transistors and a special "Transformer Engine" to accelerate machine learning tasks. It also supports Nvidia NVLink, which links GPUs together to multiply performance.

[...] Nvidia expects the H100 chip to be used in a variety of industrial, health care, supercomputer, and cloud applications ranging from large language models, drug discovery, recommender systems, conversational AI, and more. Going by the track record of the earlier A100 "Ampere" architecture GPU, analysts believe the H100 chip will likely have a big impact in the AI space. It will also very likely play a role in the next generation of image synthesis models.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21 2022, @11:22AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

NASA officials say they’re ready to try a new approach to fueling the Space Launch System to prevent the return of leaks that scrubbed an earlier launch attempt even though they are not certain what caused that leak.

Preparations are underway for the Sept. 21 tanking test of the SLS at Launch Complex 39B, with loading of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants into the core stage beginning at around 7 a.m. Eastern. After filling the tanks of the core stage and upper stage, controllers will conduct tests of a “kickstart bleed” of hydrogen into the core stage engines and a pre-pressurization test before wrapping up at about 3 p.m. Eastern.

The main objective of the test is to confirm that repairs to seals in liquid hydrogen lines into the core stage, as well as other changes in procedures, eliminate a significant leak seen in the second attempt to launch the rocket on the Artemis 1 mission Sept. 3. Controllers saw concentrations of hydrogen in the enclosure around the connection at least two times a limit of 4%.

Workers replaced the seals for two liquid hydrogen quick-disconnect fittings. The larger one, 20 centimeters in diameter, has a “witness mark” or indentation associated with foreign object debris, said Mike Sarafin, NASA Artemis mission manager. The size of the indentation was about 0.25 millimeters. “An indentation of that size does provide an opportunity for a pressurized gas to leak through that,” especially hydrogen, he said.

However, later in the call agency officials backed away from the hypothesis that the foreign object debris caused the indentation, noting that no debris was recovered. They even hesitated to conclude the indentation was the source of the leak.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 21 2022, @08:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the buh-bye-night-sky dept.

The imminent launch of a BlueWalker satellite, with a giant phased array antenna, portends a brightening night sky:

The prototype of a new constellation of extremely bright Earth-orbiting satellites is due to launch in early- to mid-September. The AST SpaceMobile company plans to orbit more than 100 of these spacecraft by the end of 2024. Astronomers at the Vera Rubin Observatory and the International Astronomical Union's Centre for the Protection of Dark and Quiet Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU CPS) are concerned because these new spacecraft will interfere with celestial observations, adding to the problems already caused by other constellations.

The first member of this new group, called BlueWalker 3, will feature a giant antenna array covering an area of 64 square meters (689 square feet). Observers on the ground will see bright sunlight reflected from this structure. After on-orbit tests of BlueWalker 3 are completed, the operational satellites, called BlueBirds, will be launched. BlueBirds may produce even more glaring light pollution since they are significantly larger. The commercial appeal of these satellites is that they will link directly to cell phones without the need of a cell tower. AST SpaceMobile has already secured a license from the Federal Communications Commission to test the prototype.

[...] Other bright satellites are waiting in the wings: 30,000 second-generation Starlink satellites are currently awaiting FCC approval. Like the BlueBirds, the new Starlinks may carry antennas for direct connection to cell phones; the antennas are slightly smaller at "only" 25 square meters, but the satellites would be far more numerous than the BlueBird constellation. That development would be very bad news for astronomy.

BlueWalker 3 is expected to be among the brightest objects in the night sky after the antenna unfolds. Amateur astronomers can help record this satellite's brightness, bringing awareness to bright satellites' effects on our night sky and on astronomy.

[...] Astrophotographers can also play an important role in the study of artificial satellites, by uploading celestial images impacted by satellite streaks to the TrailBlazer website. Meredith Rawls and Dino Bektešević (both at University of Washington) are developing this data archive as part of the IAU's response to the problems posed by spacecraft. Trailblazer stores the impacted images and records selected metadata, so users can search for satellite-streaked images by date, location, and other parameters such as sky position and telescope.

See also:
    AST SpaceMobile video describing the phased array satellite.
    NASA APOD showing satellite streaks over a two hour period.

    SpaceX Has Had 'Promising Conversations' With Apple About iPhone Satellite Service
    AST SpaceMobile Gets US Approval to Test Satellite-based Cellular Broadband

Original Submission