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NASA climate satellite blasts off to survey oceans and atmosphere of warming Earth

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(Last Updated On: February 9, 2024)

NASA’s newest climate satellite rocketed into orbit Thursday to survey the world’s oceans and atmosphere in never-before-seen detail.

SpaceX launched the Pace satellite on its $948 million mission before dawn, with the Falcon rocket heading south over the Atlantic to achieve a rare polar orbit, AP reported.

The satellite will spend at least three years studying the oceans from 420 miles (676 kilometers) up, as well as the atmosphere. It will scan the globe daily with two of the science instruments. A third instrument will take monthly measurements.
“It’s going to be an unprecedented view of our home planet,” said project scientist Jeremy Werdell.

The observations will help scientists improve hurricane and other severe weather forecasts, detail Earth’s changes as temperatures rise and better predict when harmful algae blooms will happen.

NASA already has more than two dozen Earth-observing satellites and instruments in orbit. But Pace should give better insights into how atmospheric aerosols like pollutants and volcanic ash and sea life like algae and plankton interact with each other.

“Pace will give us another dimension” to what other satellites observe, said NASA’s director of Earth science, Karen St. Germain.
Pace — short for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem — is the most advanced mission ever launched to study ocean biology.

Current Earth-observing satellites can see in seven or eight colors, according to Werdell. Pace will see in 200 colors that will allow scientists to identify the types of algae in the sea and types of particles in the air.

Scientists expect to start getting data in a month or two.

NASA is collaborating with India on another advanced Earth-observing satellite due to launch this year. Named Nisar, it will use radar to measure the effect of rising temperatures on glaciers and other melting icy surfaces.
NASA’s Pace project persevered despite efforts by the Trump administration to cancel it.

“It has been a long, strange trip as they say,” Werdell said before the launch.

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Ministry establishes secure gateway for all Internet users in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 20, 2024)

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has established an internal gateway or Internet Exchange Point Center (NIXA) for the purpose of security of Internet traffic and confidentiality of citizens’ information, whereby all Internet user information in Afghanistan is protected.

The ministry’s spokesman said in a post on X that in the past, this was done by the Internet supplier countries, but there were many disadvantages.

“Internet data and information were not safe because the traffic was carried out through them so that these countries could have easy access to information and information of Internet users,” said the ministry’s spokesman Anayatullah Alokozay.

“Internet traffic used to be very expensive in foreign countries, but now the said traffic is done cheaply and safely inside the country, and finally due to the length of the route from foreign countries, the quality of services is low and sometimes information and data are lost,” added Alokozay.

Alokozay said that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology values the security of information and information of Internet users within the country and considers it its responsibility and duty to create a safe, secure and valuable environment.

The Internet Exchange Point Center of Afghanistan (NIXA) is the physical infrastructure through which the Internet traffic of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is exchanged.

The Internet Exchange Point Center (NIXA) was established to build an internal gateway for Afghanistan’s internal Internet traffic, privacy of information, improving the quality of the Internet and reducing bandwidth consumption.

By the establishment of the center, customer’s information will be safe and secure, internal traffic speed will increase, and the leak of Information abroad will be prevented.

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Japan successfully launches next-generation H3 rocket after failure last year

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(Last Updated On: February 17, 2024)

Japan successfully launched its new H3 flagship rocket on Saturday, putting its space programme back on track after multiple setbacks including the failure of the rocket’s inaugural flight last year.

The launch also marks a second straight win for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) after its lunar lander, SLIM, achieved a “pinpoint” touchdown last month and made Japan only the fifth country to put a spacecraft on the moon, Reuters reported.

A relatively small player in space by number of launches, Japan is seeking to revitalise its programme as it partners with ally the United States to counter China.

The H3 lifted off at 9:22 a.m. local time (0022 GMT) and after it successfully released a small satellite, jubilant scientists at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan clapped, yelled and hugged each other.

The rocket also released a microsatellite and a dummy satellite during its flight of nearly two hours.

“The newborn H3 has just made its first cry”, JAXA project manager Masashi Okada, who has led the decade-long development of the new rocket, told a news conference.

“And we need to start preparing for the third H3 launch as soon as tomorrow.”

The H3 is due to replace the two-decade-old H-IIA, which is retiring after two more launches. Another failed flight would have seen Japan face the prospect of losing independent access to space.

The first launch in March ended up with ground control destroying the rocket 14 minutes after liftoff when the second-stage engine failed to ignite. JAXA listed three possible electrical faults in a review released in October but could not identify the direct cause.

Five months earlier, JAXA’s small rocket Epsilon had also failed to launch.

“So happy to see this incredible accomplishment in the space sector that follows on from the success of the SLIM moon landing,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a post on X.

The 63 m (297 ft) H3 is designed to carry a 6.5 metric ton payload and over the long-term, the agency wants to reduce per-launch cost to as low as five billion yen ($33 million) – half of what an H-IIA launch costs – by adopting simpler structures and automotive-grade electronics.

JAXA and primary contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T), opens new tab hope those features will help them win launch orders from global clients.

“It’s taken some time for the program to get to this point but with this launch, they will be fielding inquiries from around the world,” said Ko Ogasawara, a professor at the Tokyo University of Science.

The Japanese government plans to launch about 20 satellites and probes with H3 rockets by 2030 for domestic use. The H3 is scheduled to deliver a lunar explorer for the joint Japan-India LUPEX project in 2025 as well as cargo spacecraft for the U.S.-led Artemis moon exploration program in the future.

Satellite launch demands have skyrocketed thanks to the rise of affordable commercial vehicles such as SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 and a number of new rockets are being tested this year.

Last month marked the successful inaugural flight of the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, a joint venture between Boeing (BA.N), opens new tab and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), opens new tab. The European Space Agency also plans to launch its lower-cost Ariane 6 for the first time this year.

Masayuki Eguchi, the head of Mitsubishi Heavy’s defence and space business, said the company has a long-term target of launching eight to ten rockets a year, which would boost its 50 billion yen space business sales by 20-30%.

That would require additional production capacity, he added, noting the company’s factories can currently only produce five to six H3 rockets a year.

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OpenAI introduces AI model that turns text into video

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(Last Updated On: February 16, 2024)

Microsoft-backed OpenAI is working on a software that can generate minute-long videos based on text prompts, the company said on Thursday.

The software, called Sora, is currently available for red teaming, which helps identify flaws in the AI system, as well as for use by visual artists, designers and filmmakers to gain feedback on the model, the company said in a statement.

“Sora is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background,” the statement said, adding that it can create multiple shots within a single video.

Apart from generating videos from text prompts, Sora can animate a still image, the company said in a blogpost.

The video generation software follows OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, which was released in late 2022 and created a buzz around GenAI with its ability to compose emails and write codes and poems.

Social media giant Meta Platforms beefed up its image generation model Emu last year to add two AI-based features that can edit and generate videos from text prompts.

The Facebook-parent is also looking to compete with Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and Amazon in the rapidly transforming generative AI universe.

Sora is a work-in-progress, with the company adding that the model may confuse the spatial details of a prompt, and have difficulty in following a specific camera trajectory.

OpenAI said it was also developing tools which can discern if a video was generated by Sora.

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