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India set for another lunar expedition in early 2018

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lunar expedition
lunar expedition (Image:wikipedia)

Bengaluru, Oct 31: India will undertake another lunar expedition in early 2018 by sending a lander and a rover to explore the Moon to unravel its origin and present conditions, a top space official said on Monday.

The second Moon mission — Chandrayaan-2 — comes nearly a decade after India’s maiden lunar odessey in November 8, 2008, through a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, which was launched on October 22 that year.

For launching Chandrayaan-1, the ISRO used PSLV rocket as the spacecraft carried only an impact probe vehicle to crash land on the Moon surface from its orbit.

“We are working towards putting an orbiter, lander, and the whole system in the lunar orbit in the first quarter of 2018,” state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told reporters here.

“The orbiter is getting ready and integrated,” he said.

“The lander and rover are undergoing tests. Some more tests are planned for December,” the ISRO chief said.

The lunar spacecraft will be launched onboard the space agency’s heavy rocket — Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II — from the second launch pad of the space port, located at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

As part of integration, the lander and rover would be configured for soft landing at a designated spot on the Moon and to conduct scientific experiments.

The rover will emerge from the lander to observe the lunar terrain and relay the data along with images through radio links.(IANS)

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Humanity’s days are numbered, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause mass extinction, warns Stephen Hawking

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Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

London, Nov 3: Earth is becoming too small and humanity is bound to self-destruct, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing us as the dominant being on the planet, according to scientist Stephen Hawking.

Professor Hawking says that our time on Earth is numbered after we passed the point of “no return”.

The theoretical physicist says that developments in AI have been so great that the machines will one day be more dominant than human beings, express.co.uk reported.

He told Wired Magazine: “I fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself.

“This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

Hawking, 75, said that humans need to leave Earth if we are to continue as a species.

He said a new space programme should be humanity’s top priority “with a view to eventually colonising suitable planets for human habitation”.

This will allow us to leave Earth and colonise another planet to ensure our survival, otherwise there will be “serious consequences”.

Professor Hawking added: “I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”

Last year, at the opening of Cambridge University’s artificial intelligence centre, Professor Hawking said that AI could either be the best or worst invention humanity has ever made.

“This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

“The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.

“And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed, In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.

“But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.” (IANS)

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NASA: Earth’s Ozone Hole Shrinks to Smallest Since 1988

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NASA
NASA: Earth's Ozone Hole Shrinks to Smallest Since 1988 (VOA)

Washington: The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA said Thursday. The huge hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer reached its maximum this year in September, and this year NASA said it was 7.6 million square miles (19.6 million square kilometers). The hole size shrinks after mid-September.

This year’s maximum hole is more than twice as big as the United States, but it’s 1.3 million square miles smaller than last year and 3.3 million square miles smaller than 2015.

FILE - A false-color view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole is seen in this NASA handout image released Oct. 24, 2012. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone. The average area covered by the Antarctic ozone hole in that year was the second smallest in two decades, at 8.2 million square miles; in September 2017, it was 7.6 million square miles.

[ FILE – A false-color view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole is seen in this NASA handout image released Oct. 24, 2012. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone. The average area covered by the Antarctic ozone hole in that year was the second smallest in two decades, at 8.2 million square miles; in September 2017, it was 7.6 million square miles ].

Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said stormy conditions in the upper atmosphere warmed the air and kept the chemicals chlorine and bromine from eating ozone. He said scientists haven’t quite figured out why some years are stormier — and have smaller ozone holes — than others.

“It’s really small this year. That’s a good thing,” Newman said.

Newman said this year’s drop is mostly natural but is on top of a trend of smaller steady improvements likely from the banning of ozone-eating chemicals in a 1987 international treaty. The ozone hole hit its highest in 2000 at 11.5 million square miles (29.86 million square kilometers).

Ozone is a colorless combination of three oxygen atoms. High in the atmosphere, about 7 to 25 miles (11 to 40 kilometers) above the Earth, ozone shields Earth from ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer, crop damage and other problems.

Scientists at the United Nations a few years ago determined that without the 1987 treaty, by 2030 there would have been an extra 2 million skin cancer cases. They said that overall, the ozone layer is beginning to recover because of the phase-out of chemicals used in refrigerants and aerosol cans. (VOA)

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E-commerce will be able to do deliveries using drones

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E-commerce will be able to do deliveries using drones (Image: Pixabay)

New Delhi, November 2, 2017: E-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart will be able to make airborne delivery of products to customers in India using drones enabled by technology being developed by the country’s aviation sector, a minister announced on Thursday.

“E-commerce deliveries using drones are certainly going to be possible in India. Companies like Amamzon and Flipkart can deliver products with the tecnological developments we are seeing in the aviation eco system,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said at the Aero Expo 2017 here organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday invited public comments on the draft rules on use of drones, including for commercial purposes, which the aviation regulator hopes to finalise by the year-end. Drones have been classified under five categories based on their weight.

“Aviation is at the cutting edge of technology be it in avionics, software..throwing open the drone industry to experimentation and innovation will really benefit India,” Sinha said.

Noting the various uses of drone technology in areas like oil and gas prospecting, agriculture and in taking pictures, Sinha said use of drones as “air rickshaws” for travelling around a 100-km radius could be a viable proposition.

A few years ago, a drone had been used to deliver a packet to a location at a multi-storeyed building Mumbai. The local police, however, described it as an unauthorised flight in violation of rules.

Noting that this government had brought in the National Civil Aviation Policy, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the sector had notched up 20 crore passenger trips this year, which exceeded the Railways’ 13 crore passengers in their upper class coaches.

“Our journey, however, has only begun because only 3 per cent of Indians actually fly. With our efforts to increase connectivity, we are aiming at 30-40 per cent,” the minister added.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was among the chief guests at the event and released a knowledge paper on the sector.(IANS)