NASA will air a gazillion ISS spacewalks over the next few months – CNET

Anne McClain during a spacewalk on the ISS on March 22.

NASA has a smorgasbord of spacewalks on tap for the next three months. The space agency announced the upcoming International Space Station action on Monday.

NASA's live TV feed is expected to broadcast "what may become a record pace of 10 complex spacewalks" starting on Sunday, Oct. 6. This rate of spacewalks has not been seen since the ISS was completed in 2011, NASA said.

The spacewalks will focus on necessary station maintenance tasks. The first half of the slate will involve replacing solar array batteries as part of an ongoing upgrade process. We watched a previous battery-replacement spacewalk in March. This project has been underway since early 2017.

The next five spacewalks are expected to begin in November and will tackle the refurbishment of the station'sAlpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics detector attached to the exterior of the ISS. This instrument is on a mission to help scientists investigate some heavy-duty subjects, including dark matter and antimatter. NASA describes it as looking for "what the universe is made of and how it began."

If you plan to (slowly) binge-watch all of the spacewalks, you'll need to tune in starting on Sunday around 4:50 a.m. PT for the first battery-replacement stroll in space. NASA Television coverage will start at 3:30 a.m.

NASA will announce scheduling details for the other spacewalks as they get closer, but you can go ahead and get pumped for all the upcoming spacesuit action.

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NASA will air a gazillion ISS spacewalks over the next few months - CNET

A black hole is shredding a star, and NASA caught the incredible space event on camera – USA TODAY

Astronomers think the supermassive black hole weighs around six million times the sun's mass and is located about 375 million light-years away. USA TODAY

NASA has given us another historic glimpse into the wonders of spaceafter releasing a video that shows a star-shredding black hole in a galaxy millions of light-years away.

The amazing footage of the "cataclysmicphenomenon" was taken by NASAs planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS.

Astronomers think the supermassive black hole weighs around 6 million times the suns mass and is located about 375 million light-years away in a galaxy of similar size to the Milky Way, NASA said.

The incredible event, called a tidal disruption, is veryrare and occurs once every 10,000 to 100,000 years in galaxies like the Milky Way.

Hey, Ariana Grande!NASA interns had a blast remixing your song to promote moon mission

It came from outer space: Newly discovered comet is likely interstellar visitor

When a star gets too close, the intense tides of ablack holebreak apart the starinto a stream of gas, according to NASA. As shown in the video, the tail of that stream breaksaway from the black hole while other parts of it swing back around and create a halo of debris.

Scientists believe the star in the video may have been about the same size as our sun.

The event, named ASASSN-19bt, was first discovered on Jan. 29 by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae telescope network, a worldwide network of 24robotic telescopes headquartered at Ohio State University.

NASA says that scientists have only been able to observe about 40tidal disruptions in history and TESS was able to capture one after launching in April 2018.

For TESS to observe (the event) so early in its tenure, and in the continuous viewing zone where we could watch it for so long, is really quite extraordinary, said Padi Boyd, TESS project scientist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Future collaborations with observatories around the world and in orbit will help us learn even more about the different outbursts that light up the cosmos.

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

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A black hole is shredding a star, and NASA caught the incredible space event on camera - USA TODAY

Asteroid alert: NASA tracked rock about to skim Earth at 23,400mph tonight – Will it hit? – Express.co.uk

The asteroid, dubbed Asteroid 2018 FK5, will come flying by on an Earth Close Approach trajectory. The asteroid will arrive close to Earth later tonight (Tuesday, October 1). US space agency NASA expects Asteroid FK5 to make an appearance around 11.56pm BST (10.56pm UTC). When this happens, the rock will shoot by at speeds of around 10.48km per second or 23,443mph (37,728kph).

The speedy asteroid was first observed flying around the solar system on March 28, 2018.

NASA has since calculated the objects size, speed and trajectory based on a total of 33 observations.

The asteroid was determined to be a so-called Near-Earth Object or NEO.

All NEOs are comets and asteroids in the inner solar system that approach Earth from a close distance.

READ MORE: How often do asteroids hit Earth? What is the danger?

Frequently, NEOs of varying sizes cross Earths orbit and sometimes they strike the planet head-on.

NASA said: As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.

Note that a close passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.

Asteroid FK5 is estimated to measure somewhere in the range of 19ft to 42ft (5.8 m to 13m) across.

READ MORE: Watch major asteroid DESTROY Earth in fiery crash simulation

At the upper end of this scale, the asteroid is about as tall as Brachiosaurus dinosaur.

At the lower end of NASAs estimate, the space rock is comparable in size to an adult giraffe.

If an object this small entered the atmosphere, it would safely burn up before striking the ground.

NASA said any object up to 82ft (25m) in diameter is unlikely to survive the fiery descent through the atmosphere.

READ MORE:NASA unveils $600m planetary defence system

Despite its incredibly fast approach today, the asteroid will not come close enough to strike.

At its closest, NASA predicts the asteroid will miss our home planet from a distance of about 0.03405 astronomical units (au).

A single astronomical unit is the distance from Earth to the Sun about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).

In other words, the asteroid will safely fly by from a distance of about 3.16 million miles (5.09 million km).

1. A football field-sized space rock slams into the planet roughly once every 2,000 years, according to NASA.

2. Some of the bigger objects in the asteroid belt measure around 583 miles across.

3. NASA estimates a car-sized asteroid collides with Earth about once a year.

4. Comets are different from asteroids because they are covered in icy layers that sublimate in space.

5. If a meteor survives the descent through the atmosphere it is called a meteorite.

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Asteroid alert: NASA tracked rock about to skim Earth at 23,400mph tonight - Will it hit? - Express.co.uk

NASA news: An incredible black hole appeared on Jupiter – What is this ‘dramatic image’? – Express.co.uk

The dramatic image was snapped by NASAs probe and enhanced by citizen scientist Kevin Gill. The picture features Jupiters upper hemisphere where a pitch-black and round shadow has appeared. NASAs Juno took the picture on its 22nd close flyby of the Gas Giant on September 11, 2019. During the flyby, the spacecraft dipped to a distance of just 4,885 miles (7,862km) above the planets cloud tops.

So, what exactly is the dark shadow blemishing the surface of the solar systems biggest planet?

Could it be a black hole threatening to trap Jupiter in the unavoidable grip of its gravity?

Thankfully, the black hole is completely harmless and is the result of Jupiters moon Io passing directly in front of the Sun.

NASA said: Jupiters volcanically active moon Io casts its shadow on the planet in this dramatic image from NASAs Juno spacecraft.

READ MORE: Jupiters magnetic field is CHANGING and you wont believe why

As with solar eclipses on the Earth, within the dark circle racing across Jupiters cloud tops, one would witness a full solar eclipse as Io passes in front of the Sun.

Such events occur frequently on Jupiter because it is a large planet with many moons.

According to the USspaceagency, the Gas Giant boasts a total of 75 lunar satellites.

Similarly to Saturn, NASAs 1979 Voyager probe also discovered a faint ring of material running around the planet.

READ MORE:NASA spacecraft will hunt for life on Jupiter's moon Europa

However, unlike most of the other planets in the solar system, the Sun never moves far away from the planets equator.

Jupiters axis is not tilted highly when compared to its orbit, meaning the Sun often crosses paths with Jupiters moons.

As a result, NASA said dark shadows like the one above often fall on the planets cloudy surface.

The exact same effect takes place on Earth during a spectacular total solar eclipse.

READ MORE: NASAs Juno spacecraft captures stunning image of gas giant

NASA said: Junos close proximity to Jupiter provides an exceptional fish-eye view, showing a small fraction near the planets equator.

The shadow is about 2,200 miles (3,600km) wide, approximately the same width as Io, but appears much larger relative to Jupiter.

A little larger than Earths Moon, Io is perhaps most famous for its many active volcanoes, often caught lofting fountains of ejecta well above its thin atmosphere.

All of Junos raw images are shared online in the JunoCam archive and NASA encourages members of the public to play around with and process them as they see fit.

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NASA news: An incredible black hole appeared on Jupiter - What is this 'dramatic image'? - Express.co.uk

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tells crowd at UCCS to ‘do the hard things’ – Colorado Springs Gazette

As a former NASA astronaut who spent 520 days in space the second-longest stint and traveled more than 143 million miles through the cosmos, Capt. Scott Kelly knows a thing or two about taking the road less traveled.

The best part about being in space is that its a really, really hard thing to do, Kelly told more than 1,000 people Tuesday night, all huddled on the event center bleachers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Thats what I want to talk to you about today, Kelly said. Its about doing the hard things, not the easy things.

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Hard things for Kelly included taking risks, such as becoming a test pilot for the Navy. Kelly admits he struggled, in school and flying planes. But that didnt stop him.

In my experience, when I was able to put all these things together, what I learned was that the sky is not the limit ... he said. Theres a trait that a lot of successful people have: that risk-taking mentality ... In certain points of your life, taking risks and seeing what you can be able to achieve is really an incredible trait that people have.

Kelly lived aboard the International Space Station as a commander for 340 days through three expeditions. His time aboard the space station set the record for the accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut.

In this Oct. 22, 2015 photo, Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly tries on his spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest airlock of the International Space Station. (NASA via AP)

A unique aspect to his career was that his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, was also a NASA astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only twin astronauts in NASA history.

In 2015, NASA studied them to compare the effects on the human physiological, molecular and behavioral lenses. Scott spent a year at the ISS while Mark worked at ground control. When Scott returned, his body had undergone several genetic changes, most notably to his chromosomes. Researchers found the ends of Scotts chromosomes, called the telomeres, lengthened instead of shortening as they had expected.

It was a high-risk mission, Scott said, but it helped kick-start genetic testing on people during space travel, further propelling mankind into space studies. Scott said it was the most important thing hes done in his life.

Of course I learned a lot about empathy and being a good human on this planet, he said.

When you look out at planet Earth from space, you dont see political borders like you do on maps and globes of the Earth. You see a planet. You know that there people down there, and were all in this thing together called humanity.

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Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tells crowd at UCCS to 'do the hard things' - Colorado Springs Gazette

Asteroid alert: NASA tracks three space rocks heading past Earth at once Will they hit? – Express.co.uk

The asteroids are flying in Earths direction on trajectories dubbed by astronomers Earth Close Approaches. The asteroids will all come screaming by on Monday, September 30. NASA expects the first of the three tracked space rocks, Asteroid 2019 SH3, to appear around 2.37am BST (1.37am UTC) next week. On its closest approach, the rock will reach speeds of around 14.16km per second or 31,675mph (50,976kph).

According to NASAs Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), all three space rocks are classified as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs).

NEOs are comets and asteroids trapped in the inner solar system that come very close to our planet.

Occasionally, an asteroid will come close enough to Earths orbit for NASA to monitor its trajectory for the possibility of impact.

The space agency said: As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects occasionally approach close to Earth.

FIND OUT MORE: How often do asteroids hit Earth? What is the danger

CNEOS calculates the motion of all NEOs forwards to 2200 AD and backwards to 1900 AD, and determines the times and distances of the Earth close approaches.

The first of the three asteroids is thespacerock known as Asteroid 2019 SH3.

Asteroid SH3 is the second largest of the trio, estimated to measure somewhere between 62.3ft to 137.8ft (19m to 42m) in diameter.

The asteroid is flying through space at speeds of around 31,675mph (50,976kph).

The rocks closest approach to Earth will occur around 2.37am BST (1.37am UTC) on Monday.

READ MORE:Expert fears NASA can't stop an asteroid impact - 'Insanely irresponsible'

Shortly after, Asteroid 2019 SN3 will skim the planet around 12.46pm BST (11.46am UTC).

The asteroid is the smallest of the three space rocks.

NASA estimates SN3 measures somewhere in the range of 42.6ft to 95ft (13m to 29m) across.

The asteroid is travelling through space at speeds of around 7.68km per second or 17,179mph (27,648kph).

READ MORE: Billions of people will die in asteroid impact - shock warning

The final of the three asteroids is the space rock known as Asteroid 2019 SP.

Asteroid SP measures in the range of 111.5ft to 249ft (34m to 76m) making it the largest of the trio.

The asteroid will close-in on Earths location around 6.41pm BST (5.41am UTC).

During the approach, NASA said the space rock will travel at speeds of 15.06km per second or 33,688mph (54,216kph).

Thankfully, there is no need to sound the alarm bells just yet because all three space rocks will safely miss the planet.

The closest of the three rocks, Asteroid SN3, will approach Earth from a distance of 0.00565 astronomical units.

A single astronomical unit equals about 93 million miles (149.6 million km), which is the distance from the Sun to Earth.

Asteroid SN3 will drastically cut this down to just 525,200 miles (845,227km) on Monday only twice as far as the Moon is.

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Asteroid alert: NASA tracks three space rocks heading past Earth at once Will they hit? - Express.co.uk

Send your name to the Red Planet on NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover – WFTV Orlando

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Send your name to the Red Planet on NASA's Mars 2020 Rover

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASAs Mars 2020 Rover is heading to the Red Planet and Sept. 30 is the last day to submit your name to fly along.

To date, more than 10 million people have submitted their names.

The Rover will launch on its seven-month journey in July 2020.

People have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to submit their names.

SIGN UP: Send your name to Mars

In 2017, thousands signed up for the chance to add their names to a silicon microchip onboard NASAs InSIght Lander.

2019 Cox Media Group.

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Send your name to the Red Planet on NASA's Mars 2020 Rover - WFTV Orlando

Watch SpaceX Test Its Crew Dragon’s Escape System

SpaceX just posted dramatic footage of its commercial space shuttle Crew Dragon undergoing hundreds of rigorous tests of its emergency abort system.

Abort! Abort!

SpaceX just posted dramatic footage of its commercial space taxi Crew Dragon undergoing rigorous tests of its emergency abort system.

The idea is that if something goes wrong with the rocket carrying the Crew Dragon to orbit, the module can engage its own thrusters to quickly escape the danger — and then coast down safely on a parachute.

Ahead of our in-flight abort test for @Commercial_Crew—which will demonstrate Crew Dragon's ability to safely carry astronauts away from the rocket in the unlikely event of an emergency—our team has completed over 700 tests of the spacecraft's SuperDraco engines pic.twitter.com/nswMPCK3F9

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 12, 2019

Ejector Button

The spacecraft is outfitted with eight SuperDraco engines, allowing it to cover half a mile in just 7.5 seconds during an emergency, reaching a top speed of 436 mph, according to a follow-up tweet. Parachutes ensure that the craft safely lands back on Earth after the system deploys.

But testing hasn’t always gone according to plan. The same engines were responsible for blowing up the first Crew Dragon capsule during a system test in April.

Last week, SpaceX tested the first stage of its Falcon 9 boosters that will be responsible for launching two NASA astronauts into orbit as part of Crew Dragon’s first-ever crewed test flight. When exactly that test flight will take place is still uncertain.

READ MORE: SpaceX on Twitter

More on Crew Dragon: SpaceX Confirms That Accident Destroyed Crew Dragon Capsule

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Residents Are Trying to Flee Russian Town Where Snow Turned Black

People from the Russian town Kiselyovsk want to gain entry to Canada as environmental refugees. Coal mining operations in their town have made it unlivable.

Escape

Residents of the Russian town of Kiselyovsk have a simple request for Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: let us in.

That’s because the town, infamous for gray-black, coal-polluted snow has proven inhospitable for residents who now seek status as environmental refugees, according to CBC News. But because of complicated legal technicalities — fleeing pollution is seen differently from escaping climate change — experts say they don’t stand much of a chance.

Toxic

About 80 percent of Kiselyovsk’s population lives near an open-pit coal mine, according to Motherboard. As a result, the town’s water and food are highly contaminated. Cancer and tuberculosis are common, and the life expectancy has plummeted as toxic dust blankets the region.

All in all, it makes Canada look great.

“We chose Canada because the climate there is similar to our region,” an exodus organizer told a local newspaper, per CBC. “So that they [Russian authorities] wouldn’t say that we just wanted to move to warm countries.”

Unlikely

The residents have publicized their plea for asylum through a series of YouTube videos. But Canada typically doesn’t welcome environmental refugees, especially when other parts of Russia remain hospitable — a stance that Queens University law professor Sharry Aiken told Motherboard she finds outdated in the face of an increasingly-inhospitable planet.

“There is no question,” Aiken told Motherboard, “that our laws and policies will need to adapt to this new reality.”

READ MORE: Residents of a Siberian Town With Black Snow Are Pleading for Asylum in Canada [Motherboard]

More on refugees: New Research: Climate Change Causes Migration and Conflict

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This Startup Will Send DNA From Your Spit to the Moon for $99

LifeShip will send your DNA to the Moon for $99 — a whimsical undertaking that could also ensure humanity lives on even if Earth becomes uninhabitable. 

Sticker Shock

A private trip to the Moon’s orbit could cost you anywhere from $35 million to $150 million. But now, one startup is saying it’ll charge just $99 to put you on the Moon.

Part of you, anyway.

In a newly published IEEE Spectrum story, LifeShip founder Ben Haldeman shares his startup’s plan to send human DNA to the Moon — a whimsical undertaking that could also ensure humanity lives on even if Earth becomes uninhabitable.

Spit Collector

The project will launch this fall with a Kickstarter campaign through which LifeShip will sell $99 kits that backers can use to collect samples of their spit.

LifeShip will then extract DNA from the saliva and preserve it in an “artificial amber” that will reach the Moon as part of a future Arch Mission journey.

“You provide a saliva sample and then we take your DNA, your source code, and preserve it up in space for eternity,” Haldeman told IEEE Spectrum.

Survival Unknown

“Eternity” might be a stretch, though.

While your DNA might land on the Moon through the LifeShip project, even Haldeman later notes that he isn’t sure how long it’ll survive once it reaches its lunar destination.

“We can’t guarantee a million years on the Moon but it should be up there for a while,” he told IEEE Spectrum. “It’s about archiving life and saving for the future but also the wonder of traveling into space and what could happen with this DNA in the future.”

READ MORE: This Startup Wants to Stash Your DNA on the Moon [IEEE Spectrum]

More on the Arch Mission: Israeli Moon Lander Is Carrying a Vast Backup of Human Knowledge

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This Startup Will Send DNA From Your Spit to the Moon for $99

FBI Investigation Targets Trump Booster Peter Thiel’s VC Firm

The FBI has reportedly begun investigating Mithril Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel.

Heightened Scrutiny

The FBI has turned its all-seeing eye toward Mithril Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel — an industry kingmaker who’s one of the most prominent supporters of the Trump administration in tech.

It’s unclear specifically what prompted the FBI to scrutinize the firm’s business practices, but Recode reports a host of possibilities ranging from questionable tax strategies to mismanagement of investors’ money — a shakeup, in either case, at the explosive intersection of tech and politics.

And My Axe

The FBI isn’t alone in its heightened scrutiny of Mithril, which borrows its name from a fictional metal in “Lord of the Rings.”

Also probing the company’s finances is Cambridge Associates, a prominent investment adviser for the mega-rich that has put millions of dollars into Mithril’s coffers, according to Recode. Cambridge is looking into whether the firm has been overly-selective with investments, choosing to sit on investors’ cash and collect higher management fees as a result.

All-Seeing Eye

While Thiel isn’t involved in day-to-day operations at Mithril, his money and reputation are inexorably linked with its performance.

That’s relevant because the firm is also dealing with low morale, per Recode, related to the dual investigations into its practices. It reportedly once collected staffers’ computers and phones in a bid to determine who’d been talking to the press and investigators — though a spokesperson told Recode that it was merely a “device upgrade.”

Disclosure: The Thiel Foundation previously provided grant funding to Futurism’s parent company, Singularity University.

READ MORE: The FBI is investigating a venture capital fund started by Peter Thiel for financial misconduct [Recode]

More on Mithril Capital: The Next Head of the FDA May be a Man Who is Fighting a War Against Aging

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FBI Investigation Targets Trump Booster Peter Thiel’s VC Firm

YouTube Influencers Are Mentally Collapsing From Stress

YouTube influencers feel constant pressure to churn out content, prompting some — including Christine Sydelko — to give up the gig.

Dark Underbelly

It’s easy to see why so many peopleparticularly kids — long to be YouTube influencers. Make a living just by posting videos of yourself on the internet? Sounds great!

But popular YouTuber Christine Sydelko wants people to know the job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In fact, she’s decided to quit the influencer game altogether, calling it “trivial,” “unfulfilling,” and the “main cause of [her] anxiety and depression”a grim insider’s look at the toll a career in digital content can take on influencers’ mental health.

Abnormal Life

Sydelko started vlogging in 2015, and she now has 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube. But despite her popularity, she tweeted on September 6 that she has decided to “quit the internet stuff.”

That post was preceded by a June tweet in which Sydelko noted the toll being an influencer was taking on her mental health and lamented her decision to forgo a “normal life.”

Breaking Point

Sydelko isn’t the first influencer to struggle under the weight of internet fame. In January, Insider published a story highlighting several YouTube influencers who experienced so much mental anguish, they felt a need to quit the site, too — at least temporarily.

“[YouTube] kind of is a machine and it makes creators believe that we have to pump out content consistently,” Lilly Singh told her 14 million YouTube subscribers in a November video announcing her own break, “even at the cost of our health and our life and our mental happiness.”

READ MORE: Christine Sydelko, a YouTuber with 1.3 million subscribers, decided to quit the internet for good because being an influencer is ‘such a trivial job’ [Business Insider]

More on YouTube: Astronauts Are Out. American Kids Would Rather Be YouTubers.

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YouTube Influencers Are Mentally Collapsing From Stress

Watch a Robot Fish Fly by Shooting Water out of Its Rear

Researchers have created a robot fish that can

Fish out of Water

For environmental researchers, using robots to collect much-needed water samples can be tricky. The bot might have trouble navigating around trash while collecting samples from polluted waters, for example, or avoiding ice.

Now, researchers from Imperial College London have created a robot fish that can get around such obstacles — by propelling itself over them using a stream of water pushed out its rear end.

Full of Gas

The researchers detail their creation of the flying robot fish in a paper published in the journal Science Robotics on Wednesday.

According to the paper, the bot uses a combustion chamber that fills with surrounding water via a pump, the bot’s only moving part. The chamber also contains a small amount of calcium carbide powder, which, when combined with water, produces combustible acetylene gas.

An ignition system in the robot ignites this gas, forcing water out of the robot’s rear and sending it flying into the air, where it can glide for a remarkable distance of 85 feet.

Ocean Bound

The researchers have already tested their flying robot fish in a lab, a lake, and a wave tank.

They’re now looking to begin field trials of the bot to gauge its potential use for monitoring waters near offshore energy platforms and coral reefs — so if you’re in the ocean and see a strange looking “fish” flying through the air while water shoots out of its butt, don’t be alarmed.

READ MORE: Robot can launch out of the water and glide like a flying fish [New Scientist]

More on robot fish: Robot Fish Can Swim for 37 Hours With Blood-Powered Batteries

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A Driver Tricked Uber’s Algorithm, Sexually Assaulted a Passenger

After a horrifying case where an unauthorized Uber driver raped his passenger, the company says its inroducing human oversight to its driver-verifying tech.

Terrifying Flaws

In December 2018, a man driving an authorized Uber vehicle picked up an intoxicated woman leaving a Christmas party — and then brought her to his home and raped her. But the man, who The Age reports was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on Wednesday, was not an authorized Uber driver. Rather, he was able to easily fool Uber’s verification system by holding up a photo of a real driver.

In other words, the AI technology that Uber uses to verify that its drivers are who they claim to be — like Amazon delivery drivers, Uber contractors take a selfie when signing on — wasn’t sophisticated enough to spot a printed headshot. It’s a horrifying story that illustrates the perils of big tech offloading security to dodgy AI systems.

De-Automating

Uber told Business Insider that it deployed a fix in response to the December incident.

The company hired an undisclosed number of humans to review the driver-verifying selfies this year, it said — and also implemented better AI.

Higher Standards

Apparently, it works — The Age reports that drivers posting in online forums are talking less about operating scam rings and more about how difficult it is to get the system to approve a selfie.

But it all raises the question of why the improved security wasn’t in place from the start ­— the unauthorized driver may have been fooling Uber’s security protocols since 2016, according to The Age.

READ MORE: Uber introduces human reviewers to crack down on drivers evading security selfie system with printed photos after Australian rape case [Business Insider]

More on Uber drivers: Uber and Lyft Still Allow Racist Behavior, but Not as Much as Taxi Services

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Toyota Wants to Slather Solar Panels All Over Its Prius Hybrid

Japanese auto giant Toyota has partnered with a local energy company to test a Prius hybrid that's almost entirely covered in solar panels.

Going Solar

As electric cars become increasingly popular worldwide, there’s one renewable source of energy that could make them even more convenient and environmentally friendly: the Sun.

Japanese auto giant Toyota has partnered with a local energy company to test a Prius hybrid that’s almost entirely covered in solar panels, according to Bloomberg. The ambitious goal is to one day end the car’s dependence on charging stations entirely.

Trend Piece

Both Toyota and Hyundai have already released models, including the 2017 Prius, that feature solar panels on their roofs — but their ability to power the vehicle is extremely limited, since they only charge the batteries when the car is parked.

Since July, Toyota has been working on a brand-new design. It features special, much higher efficiency solar panels that are mounted on the hood, roof and even hatchback of the car, charging the car’s batteries even when it’s moving.

Panel Van

The new solar system could allow the Prius to cover 50 kilometers, four days a week, on solar alone, Bloomberg reports.

If the vehicle makes it to market, it wouldn’t be the only next-gen solar vehicle around. Dutch startup Lightyear revealed what it calls the world’s first long-range “solar car” back in June. The company is expecting to start deliveries in early 2021.

READ MORE: Toyota Is Trying to Figure Out How to Make a Car Run Forever [Bloomberg]

More on solar cars: Startup Unveils World’s First Long-Range “Solar Car”

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A Runaway Star Is Escaping a Black Hole at 1.2 Million MPH

Scientists just traced the path of a runaway star, first spotted in the 80s, back to its original home and learned it got cast away by a black hole.

It Follows

Back in the 1980s, astronomers spotted a runaway star speeding across the night sky at upwards of 1.2 million miles per hour.

Now, decades later, scientists say they’ve finally figured out which pocket of the galaxy the star once called home — and what it’s fleeing from: a giant black hole.

Home is Nowhere

The star, dubbed PG1610+062, has probably spent all this time escaping from a black hole, Live Science reports. Or, more technically, it likely passed near a mid-mass black hole and got whipped off course by its gravitational pull, like a galactic slingshot.

There’s something slightly off about that explanation, though. Namely, a black hole with the mid-range mass needed to launch the star at this particular speed has never been observed within the Milky Way, according to a press release about the research.

Cosmic Horror

The scientists calculated that the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy couldn’t be responsible for the star’s wild ride — the numbers simply don’t add up unless the black hole is considerably smaller.

In other words, there may be undetected monstrous black holes lurking in the Milky Way.

“Now, PG1610+062 may provide evidence that [mid-mass black holes] could indeed exist in our galaxy,” Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg astronomer Andreas Irrgang said in the press release. “The race is on to actually find them.”

READ MORE: This Ridiculously Speedy Star Might Be Running Away from a Rare, Unproven Type of Black Hole [Live Science]

More on black holes: Spotted: A Black Hole That Shouldn’t Be Physically Possible

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A Runaway Star Is Escaping a Black Hole at 1.2 Million MPH

Putin Critic Uses Drone to Save Hard Drives Before Police Raid

A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin used a drone to fly his electronics out of his high-rise apartment prior to a police raid on his home.

Police State

On Thursday, Russian police targeted the home of Sergey Boyko, a known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of a widespread raid.

But Boyko was determined to prevent the officers from confiscating his electronics — so he used a drone to fly them out of his high-rise apartment via an open window.

Extraction Point

A companion in Boyko’s home at the time of the Russian raid recorded the whole thing, with Boyko later uploading the footage to YouTube.

“Done,” Boyko said in Russian at one point in the clip, according to a BBC News translation. “The evacuation has been carried out. The drone reached its destination.”

That destination remains unknown, but the BBC reported that Boyko said the drone carried a combination of hard disks, solid-state drives, and flash sticks, all of which contained “very important” information he didn’t want the police to get their hands on.

Russian Raid

In addition to Boyko’s apartment, Russian police stormed approximately 200 homes and offices on Thursday as part of a crackdown on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation, a Russian nonprofit dedicated to exposing corruption in the nation’s government.

Boyko is a known ally of Navalny, but thanks to his quick drone escape, his electronics weren’t among the many computers and phones Russian police reportedly confiscated during Thursday’s raid.

READ MORE: A Putin opponent about to be hit by a police raid at his high-rise apartment flew his hard drives to safety with a drone [Business Insider]

More on drones: Russia’s Top Secret Heavy Strike Stealth Drone Takes Flight

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Putin Critic Uses Drone to Save Hard Drives Before Police Raid

Airbus Planes Will Track How Often Passengers Go to the Bathroom

In an effort to personalize the experience of flying, Airbus is testing out a new Internet of Things platform that collects data like bathroom visits.

Bathroom Break

In the future, airplane bathrooms will never run out of toilet paper again.

At least, that’s Airbus’s excuse for a cursed-sounding new Internet of Things platform that collects a large amount of data about passengers, according to Bloomberg — including how often they go to the bathroom and how long they have to wait to pee.

Pee Tape

Airbus says it’s testing its “Airspace Connected Experience” tech in its experimental A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft.

The data collected includes “pre- and remote ordering of preferred meals, booking of private bin space, setting of individual seat positions, as well as a tailor-made inflight [entertainment] offer,” according to a press release. Oh yeah, and the pee thing.

Digital Trolleys

The big-picture vision is a system that can track the amount of free space available in overhead bins, make it easier for crew members to identify who ordered a vegan meal, and track obscure data points like how much soap and toilet paper are left in the crapper.

The platform will also give crew members access to the data through a mobile smart device — meaning they could get ahead of maintaining bathrooms that were in use far more than others and know when somebody needs help while inside the bathroom, according to Bloomberg.

READ MORE: The Next Generation of Aircraft Will Track Your Bathroom Visits [Bloomberg]

More on airplane tech: These Futuristic Airplane Seats Could Make Flying Economy Better

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Airbus Planes Will Track How Often Passengers Go to the Bathroom

Instagram Keeps Accidentally Flagging Fish Photos as Offensive

British fishmonger Rex Goldsmith found that Instagram was censoring his photos for featuring

False Flag

British fishmonger Rex Goldsmith likes to post photos of his available seafood on Instagram.

“I can put a video or photo up of a particular fish,” he told BBC News, “and I’ll often get direct messages or phone calls saying ‘save one for me’ — it’s a good connector.”

But twice in two weeks, he found his photos mistakenly censored by Instagram as featuring “offensive content” — a bizarre example of social networks’ current inability to effectively police their content.

Something’s Fishy

A spokesperson for Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, apologized for the mistake in a statement, noting that Goldsmith’s “content was marked as sensitive in error and has now been reinstated.”

Still, with not one but two posts censored — and whispers of butchers facing similar censorship, according to the BBC — Goldsmith suspects he and his meat-slinging colleagues might be the victims of vegan trolls.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous really,” he told The Telegraph. “I don’t know whether the post has been reported by vegans or whether Instagram censored it as they thought it would be offensive to vegans. I have no idea why a vegan would follow a vegan would follow a fishmonger on social media in the first place.”

READ MORE: Instagram apologises after censoring London fishmonger [BBC News]

More on censorship: Facebook Needs Humans *and* Algorithms to Filter Hate Speech

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Instagram Keeps Accidentally Flagging Fish Photos as Offensive