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An international team of engineers and technicians has finished assembling a next-generation satellite that will make the first global survey of the Earth's surface water and study fine-scale ocean currents.
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is scheduled for launch in November 2022, and the final set of tests on the spacecraft have started, according to a statement by NASA.
SWOT is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.
The SUV-size satellite will collect data on the height of the Earth's salt and fresh water— including oceans, lakes and rivers -- enabling researchers to track the volume and location of water around the world.
SWOT will help to measure the effects of climate change on the planet's water, such as the processes by which small, swirling ocean currents absorb excess heat, moisture, and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The mission's measurements will also aid in following how much water flows into and out of the planet's lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, as well as regional shifts in sea level.
"SWOT will be our first global snapshot of all surface water that we have now, how the water moves around the planet, and what happens to it in a new climate.
In June, the satellite's scientific instruments were shipped to France, from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US. Ever since, the teams have been working to connect the part of the spacecraft holding the science instruments to the rest of the satellite and ensure that the electrical connections function properly.
The next six months will involve three phases of testing to make sure the satellite will be able to survive the rigours of launch and the harsh environment of space. Engineers and technicians will attach the satellite to a device called a shake table, which simulates the intense vibrations and rattling of launch. Then the spacecraft will move into an acoustic chamber to bombard it with high-decibel sounds similar to those of blastoff.
Next, the team will move SWOT into a chamber that mimics the temperature swings and vacuum of space. Finally the engineers will put the satellite through additional tests to make sure its systems can withstand any electromagnetic interference, including signals from various parts of the spacecraft and from other satellites. After that, the spacecraft will be shipped to the launch site. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: World, Water, Earth, Survey, Science, Technology, Engineers.
As millions of people worked remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, an interesting study has pointed out how some of them made a habit of using unorthodox spots at home for work: bedrooms, closets, couches and front yards/backyards spaces. While one in three (32 per cent) said they work from a proper office, nearly as many (31 per cent) said their bedroom is their office, 45 per cent work from a couch regularly, 38 per cent work from a bed, 20 per cent work outdoors and 19 per cent even work from a closet regularly. Seventy-one per cent of the people surveyed said they are "improvising" with respect to their workspace, according to the latest small-yet-significant study by US-based home services provider Craft Jack.
Seventy-four per cent of people surveyed said they've experienced pain and discomfort while working from home, 81 per cent experience it at least weekly and 51 per cent experience it most days or every day. Most pain is felt in the back (56 per cent), neck (54 per cent), and shoulders (43 per cent), but nearly one in three people (31 per cent) experience hand and wrist pain as well.
Seventy-four per cent of people surveyed said they've experienced pain and discomfort while working from home. | Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash
Sixty-four per cent made an effort to curate their background in some way, most commonly by people working in HR, recruiting, and accounting. Those working remotely in legal, insurance, nonprofits and social services made the least effort in this area. Two in three people (69 per cent) have had either a partner, child, or pet unexpectedly show up on-screen during a video call, with pets being the most common culprits (43 per cent), followed by children (37 per cent) and partners (34 per cent), the report said.
"Certainly, many people have limitations in terms of space, but much can be done with little, and you don't necessarily need to break the bank to look professional in the Zoom Age," the report said. By now, at bare minimum, remote workers should have a dedicated, functional space that supports their bodies, appropriate accessories to look and sound professional on video calls, and something other than a blank wall in their background, it added.
While 91 per cent of people have done something to improve their workspace over the past year, 90 per cent have spent money as part of that process. "More than half of those we surveyed have invested in a new chair, and one in four have gotten a webcam. Also of note, 58 per cent of respondents said their employer has chipped in either with money or supplies to support the development of their home workspace," the report noted. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: People, lifestyle, survey, work from home, closed, bed, health, pandemic
At least 61 per cent employees do not feel isolated while working remotely, while 37 per cent of remote workers manage to communicate even better with their colleagues this way, a report said on Wednesday. According to the global cybersecurity company Kaspersky, the extensive use of non-corporate communication services enables better connections but increases the level of risk from unmonitored IT resources.
"Shadow IT solutions do not let security or IT specialists gain the complete picture of the company's digital infrastructure," Andrey Evdokimov, Head of Information Security at Kaspersky, said in a statement. "That situation results in increased risk because defenders do not consider unsanctioned tools when developing threat models, data flow diagrams, and planning," Evdokimov added. During 2020, people and organisations have been through many changes. The epidemiological situation and subsequent lockdown restrictions around the globe seriously affected the communication aspect of people's private and working life. The new conditions created different challenges and social isolation along with a lack of communication with colleagues -- these were among the most discussed concerns for remote employees.
While the majority of employees have successfully transitioned to the digital communications era, a substantial number of respondents could not adopt the remote way of life and still feel isolated (39 per cent) while working at home, said the survey that included 4,303 IT workers from 31 countries. Given the fact that loneliness contributes to employee burnout, not less than other demotivating factors like exhaustion and anxiety, this statistic should be a matter of concern for business executives. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: 37 percent, employees, work from home, survey, report, remote working
By Nikhila Natarajan
In a continuing study on the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-leaning political content. "In six out of seven countries - all but Germany - tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group," Twitter blogged.
"Right-leaning news outlets, as defined by the independent organisations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets." Since 2016, Twitter users are able to choose between viewing algorithmically ordered tweets first in their home timeline or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.
"An algorithmic home timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on accounts we interact with frequently, tweets we engage with, and more. "As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter's algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed."
The new research is based on tweets of elected officials of House of Commons members in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, House of Representatives in Japan, Congress of Deputies of Spain, House of Commons in the UK, and official and personal accounts of House of Representatives and Senate members in the US, as well as news outlets, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. | Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O'Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter), and Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley).
The questions probed were:
How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter's algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party?
Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?
Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favour one side of the political spectrum more than the other?
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: algorithmically, timeline, algorithmic, tweets, political, survey, twitter, study, germany, skew