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Watch a Satellite Net a Cubesat in Awesome Space Junk Cleanup Test

Watch a Satellite Net a Cubesat in Awesome Space Junk Cleanup Test 88

The space net demonstration, which occurred Sunday (Sept. 16), is part of the European RemoveDebris mission, designed to test active debris-removal techniques in space for the first time. The target wasn’t an actual piece of space junk but a small cubesat measuring (10 x10 x 20 centimeters, or 4 x 4 x 8 inches) that was released by the main RemoveDebris spacecraft shortly before the capture experiment.

“It went very well,” said RemoveDebris mission principal investigator Guglielmo Aglietti, director of the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. “The net deployed nicely, and so did the structure attached to the cubesat. We are now downloading the data, which will take a few weeks, since we only can do that when we have contact with the satellite. But so far, everything looks great.”

RemoveDebris is a refrigerator-size spacecraft built by satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), which is part of the RemoveDebris consortium together with the University of Surrey, the aerospace company Airbus and other European companies. It’s designed to test space-junk-cleanup methods in orbit. In addition to the debris-catching net, the satellite is equipped with a small harpoon, a visual-tracking system and a drag sail.

Watch a Satellite Net a Cubesat in Awesome Space Junk Cleanup Test 89
This video still shows the moment the RemoveDebris spacecraft’s net captured a space-junk target in a first-of-its-kind test of debris-cleanup technology. The test occurred in orbit on Sept. 16, 2018.Credit: Surrey Nanosats

The net demonstration is the first test so far for RemoveDebris, and it began when the satellite released its cubesat target on Sunday.

Once the cubesat drifted about 19 feet (6 meters) from the chaser RemoveDebris craft, the satellite deployed a 3-foot-wide (1 m) inflatable structure that increased the object’s size to match that of a real target. Then, the chaser satellite ejected the net using a spring-loaded mechanism. The entire sequence was preprogrammed and took about 2 to 3 minutes to complete, Aglietti said.

He told that the RemoveDebris team couldn’t use an actual piece of space junk, because international laws consider even defunct satellites to be property of the entity that launched them. Thus, it would be illegal to catch other people’s space debris, he said.

Ingo Retat, who led the team at European space manufacturer Airbus, which designed the net, said it took six years of testing in parabolic flights, special drop towers and vacuum chambers for the engineers to gain enough confidence to send the technology to space.

“Our small team of engineers and technicians have done an amazing job moving us one step closer to clearing up low Earth orbit,” Retat said in a statement.

Interest in active space-debris-removal technology has increased in recent years as the number of spacecraft and satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) has risen. Too much debris from defunct satellites or rockets could threaten newer satellites in orbit, because a hit from even a tiny piece of junk could destroy a satellite, experts have said.

Satomi Kawamoto, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), said in a conference last year that more than 100 objects need to be removed from LEO at the rate of five per year to prevent the so-called Kessler syndrome — an unstoppable cascade of collisions predicted in the 1970s by NASA scientist Donald Kessler. This collision cascade would generate a massive amount of fragments and make operating in the space around Earth unsafe.

The net consists of ultra-lightweight polyethylene Dyneema, which is commonly used to make mountaineering ropes. Six weights attached to the net ensured that it would spread to its full size of 5 m (16 feet) across, said Retat.

“The weights are actually small motors that are used to close the net around the debris,” Retat said. “They run on a timer that begins counting down once the net has been deployed, and [they] automatically tighten up to trap the object.”

In an operational setup, the net would be connected to the chaser spacecraft with a tether. After the capture, the chaser spacecraft would fire its engines and drag the space junk into Earth’s atmosphere, where the object would burn.

For this first-time attempt, the engineers left the tether out, as it could cause some unexpected complications, Aglietti said. For example, the satellite could rebound and hit the main RemoveDebris spacecraft, which still has three more experiments to run.

Aglietti said the cubesat wrapped in the net will fall out of orbit naturally over time. It should remain in orbit no more than a year.

RemoveDebris was delivered to the International Space Station in April and deployed by astronauts in June.

The 5.2-million-euro ($18.7 million) mission, funded by the European Union, will next validate a vision-based navigation system designed to track and analyze pieces of space debris. In early 2019, RemoveDebris will test another Airbus-led active-removal technology: a pen-size harpoon that will be fired into a fixed plate attached to a boom that will extend from the main spacecraft.

The campaign will conclude in March 2019, when RemoveDebris will deploy a large sail designed to increase the craft’s atmospheric drag and speed up its re-entry. Ultimately, the spacecraft will burn up as it re-enters the atmosphere.



Science & Technology

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 92

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 93

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 94
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

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Science & Technology

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 95
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

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Science & Technology

This video will forever change the way you think about time

This video will forever change the way you think about time 96

Business Insider, one of the world’s leading news portals, made a three-minute video that depicted the Earth’s timeline as a journey from Los Angeles to New York.

So, the beginning of the journey is 4.54 billion years ago, when the Earth was formed from the accumulation of gases and stardust. After some time, a significant event occurs – a giant space body crashes into the still not cooled Earth, as a result of which the breakaway part becomes its satellite – the Moon.

Further, the route runs through the mountains of Arizona, formed about 3.95 billion years ago. A few more kilometers to the east and we are at the 3.8 billion year mark. This is where the first evidence of life in the form of replicating molecules appears.

The next “stop” Kansas – 2.7 billion years ago. Cyanobacteria that produce oxygen appeared on Earth. It took the next 200 million years for the atmosphere of our planet to accumulate sufficient reserves of this most important gas.

Halfway through, we reach Pennsylvania. We are separated from it “only” by 660 million years. Life is developing rapidly: the Earth is covered with vegetation, amphibians are evolving. Unusual time travel is coming to an end – to the point “Now”. By the time the dinosaurs become extinct, we finally reach the outskirts of New York.

And where is the most important thing – people? To find out, you need to carve out three minutes and watch the entire video.

Source: Business Insider

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