Nasa Camera Shows Moon Passing in Front of the Earth

From nearly 1.6 lakh km away, a Nasa camera has captured a stunning view of the far side of the moon as it moved in front of the sun-lit side of Earth last month.The images show the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.

The lunar far side lacks the large and dark basaltic plains (called maria) that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side.

A thin sliver of shadowed area of moon is visible on its right side.

“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon. Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface,” said Adam Szabo, project scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The images were captured by Nasa’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite orbiting 1 million miles (1.6 lakh km) from Earth.

EPIC maintains a constant view of the fully-illuminated Earth as it rotates, providing scientific observations of ozone, vegetation, cloud height and aerosols in the atmosphere.

The far side of the moon was not seen until 1959 when the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first images.

Since then, several Nasa missions have imaged the lunar far side in great detail.

The same side of the moon always faces an earthbound observer because the moon is tidally locked to Earth.

That means its orbital period is the same as its rotation around its axis.

Once EPIC begins regular observations next month, Nasa will post daily colour images of Earth to a dedicated public website.

About twice a year, the camera will capture the moon and Earth together as the orbit of DSCOVR crosses the orbital plane of the moon.

Nasa Signs $490 Million Contract With Russia for ISS Travel

Nasa has extended a contract with Russia’s space agency for $490 million (roughly Rs. 3,124 crores) to carry US astronauts to the International Space Station amid a lack of Congressional funding, the US agency said Wednesday.

The United States will continue to rely exclusively on Russia to take astronauts to the orbiting outpost under the new contract, which runs until 2019, even as relations between the two countries have reached their lowest point since the Cold War.

The United States has been dependent on Russia for ISS access since it ended its space shuttle program in July 2012.

Nasa said a lack of funding for development of private vessels by US companies Boeing and SpaceX over the last five years has left Nasa with no other option.

As a result, the United States will pay for use of space vessels belonging to the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), even as Washington imposes harsh economic sanctions on Russia over its suspected support of separatists fighting Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine.

Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden warned Congress in a letter Wednesday that Boeing and SpaceX may not be ready by the end of 2017 to carry out a plan to send up their first manned vessels if funding requested by President Barack Obama is not granted in the 2016 budget.

The program requires $1.24 billion (roughly Rs. 7,906 crores) to reach its goals, Bolden said.

“The fastest path to bringing these new systems online, launching from America, and ending our sole reliance on Russia is fully funding Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program in FY 2016,” Bolden wrote.

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives and Senate have proposed reducing that sum by $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,594 crores) and $300 million (roughly Rs. 1,912 crores) respectively.

If Congress goes forward with these cuts, it “would likely result in funds running out for both contractors during the spring/summer of FY 2016” Bolden said.

Jupiter Can Help Decode Earth’s Weather System Better: Nasa

Learning more about Jupiter and its Great Red Spot could help scientists understand the Earth’s weather system better, says a Nasa expert.Jupiter’s weather functions under the same physics as Earth just millions of miles farther from the sun.

Jupiter studies will also improve our understandings of worlds beyond our solar system.

“Looking at as many possible different cases in our own solar system could enable us to then apply that knowledge to extrasolar planets,” explained Amy Simon, expert in planetary atmospheres at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

With tumultuous winds peaking at about 400 miles per hour, the Great Red Spot has been swirling wildly over Jupiter’s skies for the past 150 years. Maybe even much longer than that.

Understanding the Great Red Spot is not easy and it is mostly Jupiter’s fault.

A planet a thousand times as big as Earth, Jupiter consists mostly of gas.

A liquid ocean of hydrogen surrounds its core, and the atmosphere consists mostly of hydrogen and helium.

That translates into no solid ground like we have on the Earth to weaken storms.

Studies predict Jupiter’s upper atmosphere has clouds consisting of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide and water.

Still, scientists do not know exactly how or even whether these chemicals react to give colours like those in the Great Red Spot.

Also, these compounds make up only a small part of the atmosphere.

“We are talking about something that only makes up a really tiny portion of the atmosphere. That is what makes it so hard to figure out exactly what makes the colours that we see,” Simon added in a statement.

Solving the Great Red Spot’s mystery will take more experiments combining chemicals under the right temperatures, light exposures and radiation doses.

“What we are trying to do is design lab experiments more realistic to Jupiter’s atmosphere,” Simon said

Isro to Launch 9 Nano/ Micro Satellites for US in 2015-2016

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Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will be launching nine nano/ micro satellites for United States during 2015-16 time-frame. This will be the first time that Isro will launch US satellites.”As on date, Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of Isro, has signed agreement to launch about nine nano/ micro (US) satellites during 2015-2016 time frame,” IsroDirector Public Relations Deviprasad Karnik told PTI.

These satellites will go as piggyback on PSLV’s (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), officials said. So far, 45 satellites belonging to international customers from 19 countries have been launched successfully by Isro’s satellite launch vehicles.

Meanwhile Dr. K Sivan, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, said that the first Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) would be held during the end of this year.

“The first RLV technology demonstration will be held in the end of 2015,” Sivan told reporters in Thrissur.

RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.

Sivan also said that the fully indigenous developed Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) D6 would be launched by end of this month, adding the cost of the 2.5-tonne vehicle would be around Rs. 250 crores.

The launch of GSAT 6 is expected to give a huge impetus in the field of communication sector in the country.

Netflix to Launch in Japan on September 2

Netflix will launch its streaming television service in Japan on September 2, the latest stop in its mission to be a global entertainment powerhouse, it said Tuesday.The company confirmed the launch date in an email to AFP, after a report in the news blog Venture Beat.

Netflix said in February it planned to launch this year in Japan, following rollouts in Australia and New Zealand in March.

Currently with some 65 million subscribers in over 50 countries, Netflix has set an ambitious goal to be in 200 markets by the end of 2016.

Netflix has promised a strong selection of Japanese television shows and films at launch, along with original content such as “Marco Polo,” Marvel’s “Daredevil” and acclaimed documentary “Virunga.”

Netflix planned to open a regional office in Tokyo to foster alliances with consumer electronics makers as well as creators of films and television shows.

Earlier this year, Netflix launched in Cuba, even though only a small percentage of the population there has high-speed Internet access.

Along with investing in supporting more languages and show libraries tailored to various markets, Netflix is making a priority of optimizing its service on mobile devices since those are the main tools for accessing the Internet in emerging markets, according to the company.

Scientists Develop New Super-Thin Lightweight Material

Indian-origin scientists Swastik Kar and Srinivas Sridhar have developed a new super-thin lightweight material with potential applications in a range of tools that we use everyday from cameras to computers, says a new study.The new material spun out of boron, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen shows evidence of magnetic, optical, and electrical properties as well as thermal sensitivity.

Its potential applications run the gamut: from 20-megapixel arrays for cellphonecameras to photo detectors to atomically thin transistors that when multiplied by the billions could fuel computers, the study said.

The researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois, US found the material while working for a four-year project funded by the US Army Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

They were charged with imbuing graphene with thermal sensitivity for use in infrared imaging devices such as night-vision goggles for the military.

Kar and Sridhar spent a lot of time trying to get rid of oxygen seeping into their brew, worried that it would contaminate the “pure” material they were seeking to develop.

“That’s where the Aha! moment happened for us,” said Kar, assistant professor of physics in the College of Science.

“We realised we could not ignore the role that oxygen plays in the way these elements mix together,” Kar, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, noted.

“So instead of trying to remove oxygen, we thought: Let’s control its introduction,” Sridhar, professor of physics and director of Northeastern’s Electronic Materials Research Institute, said.

Oxygen, it turned out, was behaving in the reaction chamber in a way the scientists had never anticipated: It was determining how the other elements – boron, carbon, and nitrogen – combined in a solid, crystal form, while also inserting itself into the lattice.

They named the new material 2D-BNCO, representing the four elements in the mix and the two-dimensionality of the super-thin lightweight material, and set about characterising and manufacturing it, to ensure it was both reproducible and scalable.

Chinese DNA Experiment Set for Historic Flight on ISS

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In a historic first, a Chinese DNA experiment is set to fly on the International Space Station (ISS) thanks to an agreement between a US private firm and a research group from the Beijing Institute of Technology.The agreement was reached between the Houston-based NanoRacks and Beijing Institute of Technology last week, Houston Chronicle reported.

The Chinese team, led by Professor Deng Yulin, will shell out nearly $200,000 to NanoRacks for the delivery of the experiment to the ISS on board a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

The experiment involves the effects that space radiation has on human DNA. NanoRacks will send the results back to the Chinese researchers from its orbiting laboratory facilities on the ISS.

According to the firm, the deal is purely commercial and avoids the prohibition against space cooperation between Beijing and Nasa since the space agency is not directly involved in this experiment.

The research will be conducted by a non-Nasa crew member to avoid any direct involvement with Nasa, the report added. “It is symbolic and it is meaningful. But let us not get ahead of ourselves,” Jeff Manber, CEO of NanoRacks, was quoted as saying.

The US Congress currently prohibits Nasa from working with China in any capacity. Nasa is forbidden by law to conduct any cooperation in space with the Chinese regime owing to an amendment crafted by now former Rep Frank Wolf (Republican-Virginia).

“It will not happen under my watch but some future Nasa administrator will be sitting down and having a conversation with his or her Chinese counterpart,” Nasa administrator Charles Bolden had said in an earlier interview.

However, when on the ISS, the Chinese research will look into the rate at which human DNA mutates in the space environment.

If the speed at which it changes is too great, it may imperil astronauts on deep space missions, including Mars.

Along with Russia and the US, China is currently the only other country in the world capable of launching astronauts into space.

The country also has plans to build its own space station.

It is also building the world’s largest radio telescope whose dish size will be equivalent to 30 football fields.

Assembly of the telescope, located deep in the mountains of Guizhou province, is underway.

When completed in 2016, the 500-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will be the world’s largest, overtaking Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, which is only 300 metres in diameter.

Thomson Re-Enters Indian Market Through Licensee

Technicolor group brand Thomson has re-entered the Indian consumer electronic market with the launch of Thomson LED TVs in Hyderabad on Tuesday.Its licensee in India, Resolute Electronics, will invest Rs. 300 crores over the next three years in a manufacturing facility at Medchal near Hyderabad to make LED TVs and large home appliances for the Indian market.

Thomson, a global brand has entered into an exclusive licensing arrangement with Resolute Electronics, which has already invested Rs. 20 crores in building the facility.

Telangana Minister for Information Technology K. Tarakarama Rao inaugurated the facility in the presence of Manuele Wahl, senior vice president, Technicolor; Biren Ghose, country head, Technicolor India; and A. Gopal Krishna, CEO, Resolute Electronics.

Gopal Krishna said the facility with two production lines has the capacity to manufacture 2,000 LED TVs a day. The capacity will be doubled by the end of the current financial year, depending on the market demand.

While the first LED TV will be rolled out by August-end, the company will also start manufacturing washing machines and air conditioners within six months and refrigerators in the second phase.

The firm initially plans to market its products through Flipkart and will subsequently develop an offline sales network.

It has set a target of capturing one percent market share in LED market in the first year. It plans to increase this share to three percent in second year and five percent in the third year.

Wahl said they were excited over taking this major step in India, which has a huge consumer market of $12.5 billion (roughly Rs. 79,705 crores) per annum and is growing at a CAGR of 10 percent. “We offer the best in class technology and will bring more innovation in the market,” she said.

It’s a sort of re-entry for Thomson in the Indian market as it had a presence here till 2004. The manufacturing was shifted to China after Thomson consumer electronics business acquired Technicolor.

She said they rebuilt the brand in a strong way and developed all technologies. “India is now at stage of maturity which justifies the investment by a global brand like us,” she said explaining the reason behind the re-entry.

With a legacy of over 100 years, Technicolor is a $3.68 billion (roughly Rs. 23,453 crores) company with 14,000 employees worldwide. It has presence in Europe, North Africa, Australia and parts of Russia.

The minister said he was happy to receive another international brand in Hyderabad. With an investment of Rs. 300 crores in manufacturing and Rs.50 crores in marketing, the facility will provide jobs to 500 people and indirect employment to 1,500 people.

He said the Telangana government was focusing on brining in manufacturers especially electronic hardware manufacturers of the state by extending incentives and initiatives like time-bound approvals.

He said mobile phone manufacturers Celkon has already set up its facility in Hyderabad while Micromax has laid foundation stone for its plant. “We are in talks with other manufacturers and working with Indian Cellular Association to make Hyderabad the mobile manufacturing hub,” he added.

Your Laptop, Mobile Batteries Leak Information That Can Reveal Your Identity

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If you think switching to Incognito mode in your Web-browser or using a proxy tool ensures complete anonymity, you’re seriously mistaken. A new study suggests that even a battery could reveal enough information about us.

A team of security researchers have published a paper titled “The Leaking Battery” in which they discuss the kind of information a battery is spilling about us. The researchers note that this apparent leakage isn’t because of malware, but a built-in specification of HTML5, a core technology markup language used for presenting the World Wide Web.

HTML5’s Battery API lets websites glean information such as the amount of battery left in a visitor’s device. The idea behind this feature is to let the Web publishers know that a visitor’s device, for instance, doesn’t have much battery left, so that they could offer them a toned down version (more energy efficient) version of their website.

But the way it happens, information such as the amount of remaining battery life, as well as the time it would take to fully discharge the device, and its current charge level are shared. As we browse between different websites and more websites get the data, it becomes possible to piece together all these information and pinpoint our identity.

“A third-party script that is present across multiple websites can link users’ visits in a short time interval by exploiting the battery information provided to Web scripts,” noted the researchers. “The readings will be consistent on each of the sites, because of the fact that the update intervals (and their times) are identical.”

“This could enable the third-party script to link these concurrent visits. Moreover, in case the user leaves these sites but then, shortly afterwards, visits another site with the same third-party script, the readings would likely be utilised to help in linking the current visit with the preceding ones.”

The researchers note that as of June 2015, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera were among the Web-browsers that supported Battery Status API. This affects both mobile devices and laptops. One could use Tor, a Firefox-based browser with advanced privacy and security features, to hide their identity, researchers noted.

HCL Technologies Looks to Ride on Digitisation Wave

HCL Technologies, India’s fourth largest IT services company in the country and reporting 14 percent growth year-on-year, aims to ride the digitisation wave to maintain sustainable growth in the coming period as well as its “co-innovation” labs.Currently, HCL has six co-innovation labs (the India unit based in Bengaluru) or designated laboratories where the IT services company researches future technologies with clients and then develops them into a product if feasible.

“HCL Tech is continuously focusing on the changing technological environment and is investing accordingly. The company is investing in co-innovation labs and in increased re-hiring, which will start benefiting by the second half of this year,” saidHCL Technologies CEO Anant Gupta.

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“We have already hired 100 senior leaders to boost the research at these labs,” he said. The company was on a hiring spree last financial year and had hired 5,000 new employees.

Explaining the company’s strategy, Gupta said:”Digitalisation in infrastructure, modern application and engineering services is going to aid HCL’s growth. Along with the (other) European market, Germany and France will also serve as an opportunity for the company.”

HCL also seems to be betting on other aspects of engineering and research and development (R&D) services which showed a 25.8 percent increase year-on-year.

“Communications equipment, medical devices and software product reengineering were the key areas of focus for us last year and will continue in the next year,” said engineering and R&D service vertical president G.H.Rao.

The company has also seen growth in its applications services which accounts for a sizeable portion of the company’s revenue and has shown a 7.7 percent year-on-year growth.

“Change in the style of doing business has driven up the demand. Digitisation of businesses, mordernising app journey and data analytics are the verticals that will drive the demand. Digitisation accounts for one-third of our applications services revenue,” said system integration and applications services delivery president Ajit Kumar.

Gupta added: “The nature of that engagements are shifting – digitalisation has been there in infrastructure, it is there in engineering, it is also there in modern applications that we do but the way we looked at the market going ahead is innovation along with our customers and building some of the transmission programmes for the future, they will take time.