Are NIO and Tesla Defying the Downtrend in China’s NEV Market? – Market Realist

NIO and Tesla seem to be defying the overall downtrend in the Chinese NEV market with their rising sales in June.

The China Passenger Car Association released the overall auto and NEV (new energy vehicle) sales on July 8. While the total auto sales declined by 6.5% YoY (year-over-year), the NEV sales fell 35% YoY in June. The auto recovery in China, which started on a strong footing amid the pandemic, seems to be derailing again.

Some companies have been defying the downward trend in EV (electric vehicle) sales in China. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), the EV pioneer, recorded 35% month-over-month growth in EV sales in June. Teslas China-made Model 3 grew by 150% month-over-month in May. The company sold 14,954 Model 3s, which brought its market share in Chinas EV market to 23% in June.

After May, Tesla Model 3s impressive sales in June show that government incentives and the introduction of more variants helped the companys sales.

NIO (NYSE:NIO) also recorded increased EV sales in June. The company reported its June delivery numbers on July 2. The EV-maker reported its second consecutive sales record in June. With the sales of 3,740 vehicles, NIO recorded an increase of 179% YoY.

Technode noted that premium EVs, like NIO and Lixiang, sold well across the board. The growth rate for premium autos was 27% YoY. In contrast, lower-priced EVs, like BYD and Geely, recorded fewer sales.

NIO and Tesla are among the EV-makers that have been gaining ground in Chinas EV market. Right now, Chinas EV market is still on shaky ground. The companies are well-known and respected brands in China. Consumers have been drawn to the companies compared to their more affordable counterparts. NIO and Teslas strong position in the worlds largest EV market is also reflected in their stock prices.

While Tesla stock has returned 227% year-to-date, NIO stock has gained 220%. Along with the general rising interest in the EV sector, their strong fundamentals support the stock prices. Recently, momentum trading has pushed NIO and Teslas stock prices. The stocks might see some pullback. However, investors focused on the long term can keep on holding these stocks due to their strong fundamentals and robust growth outlook.

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Are NIO and Tesla Defying the Downtrend in China's NEV Market? - Market Realist

Planetary science – Wikipedia

Science of astronomical objects apparently in orbit around one or more stellar objects within a few light years

Planetary science or, more rarely, planetology, is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems (in particular those of the Solar System) and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation, interrelations and history. It is a strongly interdisciplinary field, originally growing from astronomy and earth science,[1] but which now incorporates many disciplines, including planetary geology (together with geochemistry and geophysics), cosmochemistry, atmospheric science, oceanography, hydrology, theoretical planetary science, glaciology, and exoplanetology.[1] Allied disciplines include space physics, when concerned with the effects of the Sun on the bodies of the Solar System, and astrobiology.

There are interrelated observational and theoretical branches of planetary science. Observational research can involve a combination of space exploration, predominantly with robotic spacecraft missions using remote sensing, and comparative, experimental work in Earth-based laboratories. The theoretical component involves considerable computer simulation and mathematical modelling.

Planetary scientists are generally located in the astronomy and physics or Earth sciences departments of universities or research centres, though there are several purely planetary science institutes worldwide. There are several major conferences each year, and a wide range of peer-reviewed journals. Some planetary scientists work at private research centres and often initiate partnership research tasks.

The history of planetary science may be said to have begun with the Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, who is reported by Hippolytus as saying

The ordered worlds are boundless and differ in size, and that in some there is neither sun nor moon, but that in others, both are greater than with us, and yet with others more in number. And that the intervals between the ordered worlds are unequal, here more and there less, and that some increase, others flourish and others decay, and here they come into being and there they are eclipsed. But that they are destroyed by colliding with one another. And that some ordered worlds are bare of animals and plants and all water.[2]

In more modern times, planetary science began in astronomy, from studies of the unresolved planets. In this sense, the original planetary astronomer would be Galileo, who discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter, the mountains on the Moon, and first observed the rings of Saturn, all objects of intense later study. Galileo's study of the lunar mountains in 1609 also began the study of extraterrestrial landscapes: his observation "that the Moon certainly does not possess a smooth and polished surface" suggested that it and other worlds might appear "just like the face of the Earth itself".[3]

Advances in telescope construction and instrumental resolution gradually allowed increased identification of the atmospheric and surface details of the planets. The Moon was initially the most heavily studied, as it always exhibited details on its surface, due to its proximity to the Earth, and the technological improvements gradually produced more detailed lunar geological knowledge. In this scientific process, the main instruments were astronomical optical telescopes (and later radio telescopes) and finally robotic exploratory spacecraft.

The Solar System has now been relatively well-studied, and a good overall understanding of the formation and evolution of this planetary system exists. However, there are large numbers of unsolved questions,[4] and the rate of new discoveries is very high, partly due to the large number of interplanetary spacecraft currently exploring the Solar System.

Planetary science studies observational and theoretical astronomy, geology (exogeology), atmospheric science, and an emerging subspecialty in planetary oceans.[5]

This is both an observational and a theoretical science. Observational researchers are predominantly concerned with the study of the small bodies of the Solar System: those that are observed by telescopes, both optical and radio, so that characteristics of these bodies such as shape, spin, surface materials and weathering are determined, and the history of their formation and evolution can be understood.

Theoretical planetary astronomy is concerned with dynamics: the application of the principles of celestial mechanics to the Solar System and extrasolar planetary systems. Every planet has its own subject.

Planet: Subject: Named after (NB: these terms are rarely used)

The best known research topics of planetary geology deal with the planetary bodies in the near vicinity of the Earth: the Moon, and the two neighbouring planets: Venus and Mars. Of these, the Moon was studied first, using methods developed earlier on the Earth.

Geomorphology studies the features on planetary surfaces and reconstructs the history of their formation, inferring the physical processes that acted on the surface. Planetary geomorphology includes the study of several classes of surface features:

The history of a planetary surface can be deciphered by mapping features from top to bottom according to their deposition sequence, as first determined on terrestrial strata by Nicolas Steno. For example, stratigraphic mapping prepared the Apollo astronauts for the field geology they would encounter on their lunar missions. Overlapping sequences were identified on images taken by the Lunar Orbiter program, and these were used to prepare a lunar stratigraphic column and geological map of the Moon.

One of the main problems when generating hypotheses on the formation and evolution of objects in the Solar System is the lack of samples that can be analysed in the laboratory, where a large suite of tools are available and the full body of knowledge derived from terrestrial geology can be brought to bear. Direct samples from the Moon, asteroids and Mars are present on Earth, removed from their parent bodies and delivered as meteorites. Some of these have suffered contamination from the oxidising effect of Earth's atmosphere and the infiltration of the biosphere, but those meteorites collected in the last few decades from Antarctica are almost entirely pristine.

The different types of meteorites that originate from the asteroid belt cover almost all parts of the structure of differentiated bodies: meteorites even exist that come from the core-mantle boundary (pallasites). The combination of geochemistry and observational astronomy has also made it possible to trace the HED meteorites back to a specific asteroid in the main belt, 4 Vesta.

The comparatively few known Martian meteorites have provided insight into the geochemical composition of the Martian crust, although the unavoidable lack of information about their points of origin on the diverse Martian surface has meant that they do not provide more detailed constraints on theories of the evolution of the Martian lithosphere.[11] As of July 24, 2013 65 samples of Martian meteorites have been discovered on Earth. Many were found in either Antarctica or the Sahara Desert.

During the Apollo era, in the Apollo program, 384 kilograms of lunar samples were collected and transported to the Earth, and 3 Soviet Luna robots also delivered regolith samples from the Moon. These samples provide the most comprehensive record of the composition of any Solar System body beside the Earth. The numbers of lunar meteorites are growing quickly in the last few years [12] as ofApril 2008 there are 54 meteorites that have been officially classified as lunar.Eleven of these are from the US Antarctic meteorite collection, 6 are from the JapaneseAntarctic meteorite collection, and the other 37 are from hot desert localities in Africa,Australia, and the Middle East. The total mass of recognized lunar meteorites is close to50kg.

Space probes made it possible to collect data in not only the visible light region, but in other areas of the electromagnetic spectrum. The planets can be characterized by their force fields: gravity and their magnetic fields, which are studied through geophysics and space physics.

Measuring the changes in acceleration experienced by spacecraft as they orbit has allowed fine details of the gravity fields of the planets to be mapped. For example, in the 1970s, the gravity field disturbances above lunar maria were measured through lunar orbiters, which led to the discovery of concentrations of mass, mascons, beneath the Imbrium, Serenitatis, Crisium, Nectaris and Humorum basins.

If a planet's magnetic field is sufficiently strong, its interaction with the solar wind forms a magnetosphere around a planet. Early space probes discovered the gross dimensions of the terrestrial magnetic field, which extends about 10 Earth radii towards the Sun. The solar wind, a stream of charged particles, streams out and around the terrestrial magnetic field, and continues behind the magnetic tail, hundreds of Earth radii downstream. Inside the magnetosphere, there are relatively dense regions of solar wind particles, the Van Allen radiation belts.

Geophysics includes seismology and tectonophysics, geophysical fluid dynamics, mineral physics, geodynamics, mathematical geophysics, and geophysical surveying.

Planetary geodesy, (also known as planetary geodetics) deals with the measurement and representation of the planets of the Solar System, their gravitational fields and geodynamic phenomena (polar motion in three-dimensional, time-varying space. The science of geodesy has elements of both astrophysics and planetary sciences. The shape of the Earth is to a large extent the result of its rotation, which causes its equatorial bulge, and the competition of geologic processes such as the collision of plates and of vulcanism, resisted by the Earth's gravity field. These principles can be applied to the solid surface of Earth (orogeny; Few mountains are higher than 10km (6mi), few deep sea trenches deeper than that because quite simply, a mountain as tall as, for example, 15km (9mi), would develop so much pressure at its base, due to gravity, that the rock there would become plastic, and the mountain would slump back to a height of roughly 10km (6mi) in a geologically insignificant time. Some or all of these geologic principles can be applied to other planets besides Earth. For instance on Mars, whose surface gravity is much less, the largest volcano, Olympus Mons, is 27km (17mi) high at its peak, a height that could not be maintained on Earth. The Earth geoid is essentially the figure of the Earth abstracted from its topographic features. Therefore, the Mars geoid is essentially the figure of Mars abstracted from its topographic features. Surveying and mapping are two important fields of application of geodesy.

The atmosphere is an important transitional zone between the solid planetary surface and the higher rarefied ionizing and radiation belts. Not all planets have atmospheres: their existence depends on the mass of the planet, and the planet's distance from the Sun too distant and frozen atmospheres occur. Besides the four gas giant planets, almost all of the terrestrial planets (Earth, Venus, and Mars) have significant atmospheres. Two moons have significant atmospheres: Saturn's moon Titan and Neptune's moon Triton. A tenuous atmosphere exists around Mercury.

The effects of the rotation rate of a planet about its axis can be seen in atmospheric streams and currents. Seen from space, these features show as bands and eddies in the cloud system, and are particularly visible on Jupiter and Saturn.

Planetary science frequently makes use of the method of comparison to give a greater understanding of the object of study. This can involve comparing the dense atmospheres of Earth and Saturn's moon Titan, the evolution of outer Solar System objects at different distances from the Sun, or the geomorphology of the surfaces of the terrestrial planets, to give only a few examples.

The main comparison that can be made is to features on the Earth, as it is much more accessible and allows a much greater range of measurements to be made. Earth analogue studies are particularly common in planetary geology, geomorphology, and also in atmospheric science.

The use of terrestrial analogues was first described by Gilbert (1886).[13]

Smaller workshops and conferences on particular fields occur worldwide throughout the year.

This non-exhaustive list includes those institutions and universities with major groups of people working in planetary science. Alphabetical order is used.

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Planetary science - Wikipedia

Planetology by Annie Botticelli: 9781786784124 …

This is the first mainstream book to look at the whole range of astrological rhythms, including the planetary retrogrades and eclipses as well as the monthly moon cycle, in order to achieve success and a more contented and naturally flowing life.

This is the first-ever mainstream guide to working with the astrological cycles of the Universe. It will allow you to plan ahead and achieve more success in your projects, by taking risks at certain times and avoiding them at others, and also enable you to live more fully and joyfully, flowing with the natural rhythms of life. Accessible to complete beginners as well as offering more complex insights to those who already practise astrology, Planetology is packed full of hands-on projects to help readers work with Mercury, Venus, Mars and the sun and moon, each project with three levels of increasingly complex tasks that are designed to draw readers up to mastery level.

At the books core is Annie Botticellis ASTRO system, which enables readers to align with each planets motion through: Awareness (projects to work with each planet); Strategy (how to plan ahead for each cycle); Techniques (exercises that range from tapping to mineral soaks and detoxes to mantras); Remedies (such as crystals and homeopathy, all tuned into the planet under discussion); and Openness to unexpected, perhaps unwanted outcomes brought to you by Divine plan. These techniques, such as prayer and meditation, allow you to be receptive to the great universal flow that supersedes any one planetary cycle.

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Planetology by Annie Botticelli: 9781786784124 ...

Russia will soon sit on the moon – The KXAN 36 News

The first Russian mission lands on the moon in October 2021, RIA Novosti reported, citing Roscosmos.

Time, which will take place from the start of the relevant automatic interplanetary station Luna-25 off the Ground before landing on the surface of the natural satellite will be about ten days. When you fly from one celestial body to another takes less than five days. Space station needs to prionitis in the South pole areas natural satellite.

In April, RIA Novosti, citing the comment of the General Director Scientifically-production Association named Lavochkin, Vladimir Kolmykov, said that Russia, along with the launch of a heavy landing station Luna-27 in August 2025 staked their place on the natural satellite of the Earth.

In the same month, the head of the Department of nuclear safety and planetology space research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences Igor Mitrofanov said that the launch of a Russian spacecraft to the moon scheduled for October 1, 2021.

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Russia will soon sit on the moon - The KXAN 36 News

Called the condition of salvation of people after the fall of the asteroid – The KXAN 36 News

In the case of an asteroid strike to the Earth the mankind can be saved only if some people already would live on Mars. About it in conversation with journalists has told the head of the laboratory of neutron and gamma-ray spectroscopy Department of nuclear planetology space research Institute of RAS Maxim Litvak.

Move to Mars, as scientists noted, may be a saving grace for the part of civilization from the point of view of a global catastrophe. However, the relocation of mankind on another planet, too, has its pitfalls.

In the case of gravitational perturbations, caused, for example, rearrangements of the orbits of planets like Jupiter as it is, I assume, was previously in the inner Solar system can be attracted by objects from the asteroid belt, which, as the shrapnel will cut everything in its path, and the probability of their entering not only the Earth but also Mars can be very large, quotes the words of Litvak RIA Novosti.

The scientist also underlined that humanity, on whatever planet it lived, will not save civilization with the demise of the Sun. In this case, lost almost the whole Solar system entered into a Litvak.

As previously reported NEWS.ru scientists have made the most realistic model of destruction of an asteroid approaching the Earth. This will help to develop ways of protecting the planet.

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Called the condition of salvation of people after the fall of the asteroid - The KXAN 36 News

The chance to colonize Mars was appreciated in Russia – The KXAN 36 News

Humanity will take the first attempt the colonization of Mars relatively soon, but the fit of the red planet by people very distant future, said in an interview with RIA Novosti head of the laboratory of neutron and gamma-ray spectroscopy Department of nuclear planetology space research Institute of RAS Maxim Litvak.

"Probably the first attempt of colonization of Mars people will do relatively soon. But to adjust the Mars for yourself its a very distant future. With the available technology it is impossible in principle, so we can only fantasize," he said.

However, the scientist believes that the time has come to leave humanity out of your "shell".

"it is important to understand how long we can live and grow outside of our "cradle" ability of humanity to adapt to all conditions, including the still unknown and how can we be mobile", he said.

According to Litvak, train to live on other planets on the moon.

"the Crown of the Russian lunar program will be a permanent base on the surface. But at intermediate stages we need to work very well with automatic stations and robots to create all conditions for this," he explained.

The scientist also said that already discusses the different technologies for oxygen and hydrogen, the sintering building materials from lunar soil and test them on the moons surface and onboard automatic landing missions.

He added that of particular interest are the polar regions of the moon because of the potentially large quantities of water and resources.

Excerpt from:

The chance to colonize Mars was appreciated in Russia - The KXAN 36 News

Learned survive mankind the hit of an asteroid to the Earth – The KXAN 36 News

MOSCOW, 13 APR RIA Novosti. The hit of an asteroid to the Earth will destroy mankind, if some people pre-move to Mars, but there they face danger in the form of gravitational perturbations from Jupiter, spoke in an interview with RIA Novosti head of the laboratory of neutron and gamma-ray spectroscopy Department of nuclear planetology space research Institute of RAS Maxim Litvak.

From the point of view of a global catastrophe, an asteroid strike to the Earth, a part of the civilization could be saved, if it is to live on Mars, he said.

But in the case of gravitational perturbations, caused, for example, rearrangements of the orbits of planets like Jupiter as it is, I assume, was previously in the inner Solar system can be attracted by objects from the asteroid belt, which, as the shrapnel will cut everything in its path, and the probability of their entering not only the Earth but also Mars can be very large, said the scientist.

Besides, according to him, in the fading Sun of humanity, if by that time still exist, too, will not survive on Mars, because it will be gone almost the entire Solar system.

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Learned survive mankind the hit of an asteroid to the Earth - The KXAN 36 News

Puzzle about nitrogen solved thanks to cometary analogues – Space Daily

Comets and asteroids are objects in our solar system that have not developed much since the planets were formed. As a result, they are in a sense the archives of the solar system, and determining their composition could also contribute to a better understanding of the formation of the planets.

One way to determine the composition of asteroids and comets is to study the sunlight reflected by them, since the materials on their surface absorb sunlight at certain wavelengths. We talk about a comet's spectrum, which has certain absorption features.

VIRTIS (Visible, InfraRed and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer) on board the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta space probe mapped the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as Chury for short, from August 2014 to May 2015.

The data gathered by VIRTIS showed that the cometary surface is uniform almost everywhere in terms of composition: The surface is very dark and slightly red in color, because of a mixture of complex, carbonaceous compounds and opaque minerals. However, the exact nature of the compounds responsible for the measured absorption features on Chury has been difficult to establish until now.

Cometary Analogue Provided the Solution to the PuzzleTo identify which compounds are responsible for the absorption features, researchers led by Olivier Poch from the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics at the Universite de Grenoble Alpes carried out laboratory experiments in which they created cometary analogues and simulated conditions similar to those in space.

Poch had developed the method together with researchers from Bern when he was still working at the University of Bern Physics Institute. The researchers tested various potential compounds on the cometary analogues and measured their spectra, just as the VIRTIS instrument on board Rosetta had done with Chury's surface. The experiments showed that ammonium salts explain specific features in the spectrum of Chury.

Antoine Pommerol from the University of Bern Physics Institute is one of the co-authors of the study, which is now published in the Science journal. He explains: "While Olivier Poch was working at the University of Bern, we jointly developed methods and procedures to create replicas of the surfaces of cometary nuclei." The surfaces were altered by sublimating the ice on them under simulated space conditions.

"These realistic laboratory simulations allow us to compare laboratory results and data recorded by the instruments on Rosetta or other comet missions. The new study builds on these methods to explain the strongest spectral feature observed by the VIRTIS spectrometer with Chury," Pommerol continues.

Nicolas Thomas, Director of the University of Bern Physics Institute and also co-author of the study, says: "Our laboratory in Bern offers the ideal opportunities to test ideas and theories with experiments that have been formulated on the basis of data gathered by instruments on space missions. This ensures that the interpretations of the data are really plausible."

Vital Building Block "Hides" in Ammonium SaltsThe results are identical to those from the Bern mass spectrometer ROSINA, which had also gathered data on Chury on board Rosetta. A study published in Nature Astronomy in February under the leadership of astrophysicist Kathrin Altwegg was the first to detect nitrogen, one of the basic building blocks of life, in the nebulous covering of comets. It had "hidden" itself in the nebulous covering of Chury in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not be measured until now.

Although the exact amount of salt is still difficult to estimate from the available data, it is likely that these ammonium salts contain most of the nitrogen present in the Chury comet. According to the researchers, the results also contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of nitrogen in interstellar space and its role in prebiotic chemistry.

Research Report: "Ammonium Salts Are a Reservoir of Nitrogen on a Cometary Nucleus and Possibly on Some Asteroids"

Related LinksRosetta at ESAAsteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

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Puzzle about nitrogen solved thanks to cometary analogues - Space Daily

The exploration of the Moon and Mars continues apace – The Economist

Two craft probe beneath these bodies surfaces

Feb 27th 2020

THIS WEEK has seen the publication of results collected by probes to two heavenly bodies: Change 4, a Chinese mission to the Moon, and InSight, an American mission to Mars. Change 4 landed in January 2019; InSight arrived the previous November. The Chinese team, bowing to the realities of scientific publishing, have presented their results in Science Advances, an American journal. The Americans, however, have chosen Nature Geoscience, a British journal owned by German publishers.

Change 4 is Chinas second successful lunar lander, and the first from any country to touch down intact on the Moons far sidethe part never visible from Earth. Its purpose, other than demonstrating Chinas technological prowess, is to investigate the geology of Von Krmn crater in the Moons southern hemisphere. To that end it is fitted with a ground-penetrating radar which can peer many metres down.

This radar shows three distinct layers of rock, the top two each 12 metres thick and the lowest 16 metres thick. Below that, the signal is too fuzzy to see what is going on. The upper layer is composed of regolithcrushed rock that is the product of zillions of small meteorite impacts over the course of several billion years, and which covers most of the Moons surface. The other two, distinguishable by the coarseness of the grains within them, are probably discrete ejecta from separate nearby impacts early in the Moons history that were subsequently covered by the regolith.

InSight (pictured above as an artists impression) is intended to probe deeper than this. It is fitted with instruments designed to measure heat flow from Marss interior, any wobble in the planets axis of rotation (which would probably be caused by an iron core) and Marsquakes. The heat-flow instrument has so far been a washout. The mole, a device intended to dig into Marss surface, pulling this instrument with it, has refused to co-operateto the point where the projects directors are about to take the time-honoured step of hitting it with a hammer (or, rather, with the scoop on the probes robot arm) to persuade it to stay in the hole that it is supposed to be excavating. And the wobble detector, though working correctly, has insufficient data to report. So the release this week is mainly about the quakes.

InSights seismograph recorded 174 quakes between the crafts landing and the end of September 2019. The strongest were between magnitudes three and fourjust powerful enough, had they happened on Earth, for a human being to notice them. Quakes are a valuable source of information about a planets interior. A network of seismographs, as exists on Earth, allows their points of origin to be triangulated, their speed measured and their reflections from subsurface rock layers observed. From all this can be deduced those layers composition and depth. With but a single instrument, such deductions are trickier. InSights masters do, though, think that two of the quakes originated in Cerberus Fossae, a set of faults 1,600km from the landing site that are suspected of still being seismically active.

This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition under the headline "Beneath the surface"

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The exploration of the Moon and Mars continues apace - The Economist

What I Learned About Politics From Reading Science Fiction – Splice Today

Science fiction is a great source of speculative ideas about technology, planetology, and advanced physics. Science fiction authors predicted the rise of space travel, computer networks, and wireless earbuds decades before these marvels insinuated themselves into our everyday lives. Science fiction predicted the rise of Elon Musk and Donald Trump, including all of their tweets. Science fiction predicted that youd have more to watch, on Netflix, than you can ever actually see. Science fiction predicted the conversations people on subways have, nearly all the time, about their dislike of e-books. Science fiction predicted that Google Maps would give the wrong address for that poetry reading you tried to attend. Science fiction knew (years before you did) that youd become obsolete, replaced by a team of inexpensive robots. It predicted youd learn of your own obsolescence.

But lets consider a different, unexplored dimension of these novels: their political ideologies. A few dry, preachy award-winners have already been brought up for questioningIm thinking, for instance, of those plodding allegories by Octavia Butler and Ursula LeGuin. But in a genre filled with uncomfortable fantasies of absolute power, and caustic observations about democracys weak points, its been hard to convince literary critics to draw up the roadmaps we need. For one thing, Americas critics-in-residence are mostly far left. Theyre embarrassed to learn that Orson Scott Card was a radical Mormon, that Robert Heinlein was an authoritarian, and that Frank Herbert hated Congress. Even Butler, who checks off somanyboxes for edgy academics, only becomes eligible for sainthood if you ignore her enthusiastic passages about privately-owned guns. It must feel, to an adjunct professor in the humanities, as ifThe Handmaids Taleand1984are the sole exemplars of political insight in a genre that otherwise thrives on libertarian hyperbole written by (and for) a lunatic fringe.

But this assessment isnt right; it misses something. Let us praise famous books likeDune,Enders Game,andFoundation. Let us patiently test out the political ideas Heinlein awkwardly smuggles into that groovy Martian lovefest,Stranger in a Strange Land.Its time we acknowledge genre fiction speaking truth to power. Here are just three of the many useful political lessons science fiction has taught me.

Rulers are less cynical than their advisors.Its the privilege of those who govern to translate ideals directly into action; because they spend all their time making abstract ideologies bear fruit, theyremain irreducibly idealistic. It helps, too, that the rulers are generally kept at a distance from the ruled. They hear only nice versions of what their subordinates do. Such cosseted people dont, as a rule, like going to bloody or treacherous extremes. That step requires somebody else: the trusted advisor whos willing to quietly doeverythingnecessary. The difference between respectable governments and reprehensible ones, often boils down to how much the leader doesnt need to know about the power his authorized representatives wield. Remember, inStranger in a Strange Land, when the Feds raid the Martians hideout? The President, busy taking calls in his private office, has no idea a raid is evenhappening. His bureaucrats actautonomously to further his interests. Thats far more dangerous than any public policy agendathe icy realism, the unlimited prerogative, of people who subscribe to all the kings goals and none of his illusions.

The most important constituencies get that way because theyre off the grid, and therefore likely to be underestimated.Drawing onSeven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrences account of sand power in colonial Arabia, Frank HerbertsDuneis about a seemingly impossible revolution. The novel is set in a future age when humans have colonized outer space, led by a Roman-like empire that measures its territory in light-years. Yet the Emperor is undone, in a very short time, by a loose alliance of nomadic tribes living on a single planet. Their numbers are great, and hard to account for, since the official census doesnt survey brutal, sparsely-inhabited deserts. Theyre impossible to buy off, or threaten, because theyve lived by their own lights for too long.

They remind me of Earths Bedouins, of course, but they remind me of other populations, too. The evangelicals in our Southern states. The unregistered voters living in epicenters of urban decay. The alt-right, with its underground media empire and weaponized dog whistles. Hackers in Albania. Droves of well-organized, well-informed protestersbringing about the Arab Spring, or, more recently, helping to protect civil liberties in Hong Kong. When a communitys ignored, and forges a common identity under cover of darkness, it thereby acquires more power than anyoneinpower admits. By the time more enfranchised people adjust, and react to the new pieces on the board, its too late.

Predictions are variables; they alter the very same historical arcs they intend to trace.This circular, bewildering, evenparalyzing idea is the focus ofFoundation, Isaac Asimovs heady novel about the life cycle of civilizations. Asimov was merely the first person in his generation to meddle with such paradoxes. Years earlier, George Orwell wrote that he who controls the past, controls the future. He understood how important predictive narratives could be to political parties. A pattern can, in fact, become propaganda if its used to winnow out unwelcome possibilities. Youll hear, in the coming months, about the results of countless polls that show how so-and-so has no chance of being elected president. This is done entirely for the benefit of the other candidatesthe ones who appear to be in the lead, or at least on an upswing, while the competition falters.

Dire predictions lead to fearful, reactionary behavior; people who are afraid for their jobs or their lives can become xenophobic and isolationist overnight. Similarly, predicting the return of some previously attained Golden Age alwayssoundslike a credible form of optimism, whether or not those glory days were idyllic in realitywhether or not they ever even happened. The political world is a battlefield where scientific descriptions, and objective inferences about whatwillcome to pass, collide with all sorts of motivated visions of whatshouldand (by extension)mustbe true. Even facts cease to be objective in this context, since any one interpretation of a fact tends to foreclose the other interpretive chains, other patterns, that mightve explained it. Furthermore,anything (factual or not) that disrupts established patterns of human behavior createsnewsocial realitiesi.e., newfacts.

Any prediction, even if its deliberately seeded, also tends tobecome true if people start believing in it, using it to make decisions, and defending it against threats. Its admirable, and nearly impossible, to cleave to uncertainty instead, like the heroes of these books do. Certainty and confidence go over better with other people. Theyre also much easier to bear. But the best science, applied to human behavior, always acknowledges a wide range of equally probable outcomes. The hypothetical futures we inhabit, when we make predictions, are moralexercises, not moral imperatives. What values are indispensable to us? What will it take to realize those values, if things go very well or very badly, and our circumstances change?

It makes sense that sci-fi novelists would understand the ambiguities of prediction. As intellectuals, theyre largely defined by their hypotheses about the future. An authors predictions become synecdoches that count as her achievements, and pretty much sum her up, for every non-reader (and even for many of her fans). A small number of readers, though, identify completely with the storys moral assumptions. They turn from the authors mere speculations to the way the storyfeelsabout the future it describes. To a real fan, it doesnt matter whether the work is prophetic in visible, measurable ways.

Instead of anticipating the future, the novel (or story, or movie) re-defines whats possible now. Then facts become symbols of possibility, symbols of transformation. Facts and patterns, taken in hand by the imagination, become signifiers of something greater than themselves. They give rise to an awareness that once, the world was not as it has since become, to quote fantasist John Crowley. Our world could be differentagain. Thus science fictions, those laborious predictions, transcend what they predict. They reveal, to each attentive reader, that it must somehow be possible to slip precedents noose.

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What I Learned About Politics From Reading Science Fiction - Splice Today

Exploring the Solar System Anew at the Hayden Planetarium – The New York Times

Worlds Beyond Earth is the first new space show at the American Museum of Natural History in more than six years, and if you havent been to a planetarium in a while, the experience is a bit like being thrown out of your own orbit.

Surrounded by brilliant colors, the viewer glides through space in all directions, unbound by conventional rules of orientation or vantage point. Dizzying spirals show the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. At one point, museumgoers are taken along a journey from the perspective of a comet.

In illustrating the far reaches of our solar system, the show draws on data from seven sets of space missions from NASA, Europe and Japan, including the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, which was the fourth to deliver astronauts to the moon, and still-active ones like Voyager. Museum members will get an early look at the show, which runs about 25 minutes and is narrated by the actress Lupita Nyongo, during previews this weekend. It opens to the public on Tuesday. (The museums current planetarium show, Dark Universe, ends its run on Jan. 16.)

Vivian Trakinski, a producer on the show, said that the idea for Worlds Beyond Earth came from the abundance of data collected on the solar system. If the raw information is not necessarily new, the show brings together separate sources in an engaging, accessible way that should appeal to adults and to children hearing about other planets for the first time (although very young children might be overwhelmed).

Advances in visualization have allowed photographic data from space to be mosaicked to create an immersive simulation of celestial bodies across the solar system and across time. The imagery is not pure photography but a form of visual effects. Trakinski likens the process to making a climate model.

Story-wise, the movie, drawing on the field of comparative planetology, is constructed as a voyage to the far reaches of the system to Titan, Saturns almost Earth-like moon, courtesy of the Cassini spacecraft; to the environs of Jupiter and back. And in those travels, past debris and moonlets, the movie illustrates the fragility of Earth, which is positioned on a razors edge of habitability.

We have all these processes that are similar, we have magnetic fields, we have volcanoes, we have atmospheres, we have gravity, said Denton Ebel, the geologist who curated the show. And these processes lead to this huge diversity of outcomes. Ebel, who runs the Hall of Meteorites at the museum and is the chairman of the museums division of physical sciences, is the first non-physicist to curate a space show there.

Planetary science, particularly for places like the moon and Mars, is no longer done with telescopes, Ebel said. We have rovers that are analyzing rocks the same way wed do it in a laboratory here. So its geology.

The presentation shows the frightening fortunes that might have befallen Earth. Mars is held up as a frozen desert a failed Earth. Venus, scorched by solar wind, with a surface that could melt lead, is seen as an object lesson in global warming taken to the extreme.

With a sense of movement and scale that only a visual presentation could convey, Worlds Beyond Earth makes an unforced point about the dangers of climate change. Another celestial body might have an alien sea that contains more liquid water than all the oceans on Earth, as Nyongo narrates. But Earth itself, she adds later, is the only place with the right size, the right location and the right ingredients an easy balance to upset.

The director, Carter Emmart, a specialist in astro-visualization who worked at NASA Ames Research Center before joining the museum in 1998, said that a planetarium show is a natural format to browse and really see these places in a relaxed environment. This is the fruit of the missions, during which astronauts are often occupied with mechanical and safety issues.

But when I saw Worlds Beyond Earth in a not-quite-complete version last week, I was also struck by how it harnessed cutting-edge moviemaking techniques. It uses a high frame rate that is, the number of images shown per second, which here is 60 instead of the cinematic 24 to create a smooth sense of motion, and it has an almost bewildering complexity of angles and viewpoints. Emmart said that much time was spent selecting what he called the flight paths that viewers will be sent on.

He also said that it is the first new space show to take advantage of the high dynamic range essentially the spectrum between the brightest whites and the deepest blacks of the planetariums latest projection system.

That means that the loneliness of Earth amid a vast sea of darkness will be on full display.

Worlds Beyond Earth

Opens Jan. 21 (member previews are Jan. 18-20) at the American Museum of Natural Historys Hayden Planetarium, Central Park West, Manhattan; 212-769-5100, amnh.org.


Exploring the Solar System Anew at the Hayden Planetarium - The New York Times

UH researcher earns international recognition for innovation in geophysics – UH System Current News

Niels Grobbe

A University of Hawaii at Mnoa researcher was honored as the first-place recipient of the Innovation Award, presented at the Fifth International Conference on Engineering Geophysics held in United Arab Emirates.

Niels Grobbe is an assistant researcher with the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) and Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). As the first-place winner, Grobbe was awarded $10,000.

This is a very prestigious award, and WRRC is very proud of Niels accomplishment, said WRRC Director Tom Giambelluca. To finish first in the Innovation Award for Geophysics competition is a great achievement and reinforces the high expectations we have for Niels as he continues to excel in this cutting-edge field. We look forward to all the innovative work that Niels will bring to bear on critical problems affecting Hawaii and the Pacific region.

Grobbes submission, Seismoelectric Surface Wave Analysis for Characterization of Formation Properties, using Dispersive Relative Spectral Amplitudes, was selected as the winning contribution after a highly competitive evaluation procedure. He submitted a four-page extended conference abstract, a white paper and letters of recommendation. The award-winning researcher also gave a 45-minute presentation and sustained an extended question and answer session.

We were delighted to be able to hire Niels onto our faculty, and this award illustrates why, said Interim HIGP Director Rob Wright. He and his co-authors have developed a new method for exploring the movement of fluids in Earths crust, a method which will allow people to use existing approaches to answer a fundamentally different set of science questions.

Grobbe thanked his colleague, Sjoerd de Ridder from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, for collaborating with him on what he describes as an exciting innovation.

I am truly honored and humbled by receiving this competitive and prestigious award, and by the international recognition for our innovation on Seismoelectric Surface Wave Analysis for Characterization of Formation Properties, using Dispersive Relative Spectral Amplitudes, said Grobbe. I believe the innovation has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about seismoelectric signals, its data acquisition, and its applications for studying porous media, groundwater, and other subsurface fluid processes at a variety of spatial scales.

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UH researcher earns international recognition for innovation in geophysics - UH System Current News

Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

Researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia announced a new hydraulic, quadrupedal robot dog, and showed the bot pulling a three-ton airplane.

Go Fetch

Man’s best friend may be great at pulling a sled, but a manmade best friend can pull an entire airplane.

A little over a month has passed since we witnessed a pack of Boston Dynamics robot dogs pulling a truck. Now, researchers at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have announced a new version of their hydraulic, quadrupedal robot, HyQReal — and what better way to show off the bot’s capabilities than by pulling a three-ton airplane.

Have a look! The new quadruped robot #HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane. Realized by Dynamic Legged Systems Lab @IITalk @Moog_Industrial @GenovAeroporto @PiaggioOfficial. #ICRA2019 #robot #robotics #technology #TechnologyNews #Engineering #futuretech #HighTech pic.twitter.com/QrF1JnlUWZ

— IIT (@IITalk) May 23, 2019

Big Boy

Though the same height as SpotMini, HyQReal is three times heavier than its nimble cousin. The former stands at 84cm and weighs 30kg (approx. 2.75ft and 66lbs) while HyQReal is 90 cm tall, and weighs 130kg (approx. 2.95ft and 286lbs.)

That’s because the beefy bot is being developed by IIT to aid in disaster scenarios like fires.

“We are not targeting the first response yet,” Claudio Semini, project leader at IIT’s Dynamic Legged Systems lab said in an email to CNET, “but support in the aftermath of a disaster. Bringing sensors into unsafe areas, manipulating and moving objects, opening doors, etc.”

Rolling Thunder

While pulling the immense weight of a three-ton plane is impressive, the capability depends more on the rolling resistance of the aircraft’s tires than its overall weight.

Still, it’s a testament to the capability of HyQReal to take on heavy-duty tasks. At the end of the day, if it takes a pack of robot dogs to pull a truck and one robot dog to pull an airplane, perhaps it’s time we started treating robots and AI more nicely before we end up regretting it.

READ MORE: The new quadruped robot HyQReal tested by pulling 3 tons airplane [EurekAlert]

More on Robot Dogs: Watch a Pack of Boston Dynamics’ Creepy Robot Dogs Pull a Truck

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Watch a Super-Strong Robot Dog Pull a Three-Ton Airplane

We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

We thought it would be fun to run some Elon Musk tweets through a neural network designed by OpenAI, the company he founded and quit.


We’ve written previously about Talk to Transformer, a site by OpenAI that uses a sophisticated artificial intelligence to complete passages of text with surprisingly deft context.

Close news watchers will recall that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, co-founded OpenAI, but decided to part ways with the company earlier this year, pointing to disagreements with its direction — which is why we thought it would be fun to run some of the eccentric billionaire’s most iconic tweets through Talk to Transformer.

Neural Musk

Musk announced some exciting news about the Boring Company today — but Neural Musk had different ideas for the tunnel-digging venture:

Remember when Musk suggested adding dragon wings to SpaceX’s Starship? The AI has another plan:

Musk’s riff on a dirty Tesla video was also no match for Neural Musk:

This was the tweet that led to the Boring Company — until Neural Musk put a Trumpian spin on it:

Musk recently joked about changing the Tesla horn sound. But his vision was no match for Neural Musk’s galaxy-brain concept:

Recall that beautiful render of Starship on the Moon? Neural Musk has bad news for its passengers:

More on Elon Musk: Elon Musk’s New Goal: “Reach the Moon as Fast as Possible”

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We Asked an AI to Finish Real Elon Musk Tweets

New Law Could End Robocalling Once and For All

The Senate just voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that could put an end to spam and unsolicited marketing calls once and for all.

Robocall Bill

In response to the almost 50 billion robocalls that were made last year in the U.S., the Senate just voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that could put an end to unsolicited marketing calls once and for all.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act overwhelmingly passed with just one vote against and 97 in favor — clearly an issue that both sides can agree on.


The bill will increase fines and criminalize illegal unsolicited robocalls — and, more importantly, require providers to come up with a way to authenticate calls going forward.

“This bipartisan, common-sense bill puts a bullseye on the scam artists and criminals who are making it difficult for many Americans to answer the phone with any bit of confidence about who’s on the other end of the line,” said John Thune (R-SD), who co-introduced the bill.

Shaken, Stirred

The technology to authenticate calls already exists and has been lauded by the Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai as a “a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls.” In short, the STIR/SHAKEN framework ensures that both sides of a call would have their caller ID “signed” and validated by carriers.

“I commend the US Senate for passing the TRACED Act… [It] would help strengthen the FCC’s ability to combat illegal robocalls,” said Pai in a statement today. “And we would welcome these additional tools to fight this scourge.”

READ MORE: Senate passes bill to curb robocalls [CNET]

More on robocalls: Rise of the Robocallers: Here’s How We’ll Avoid a Future of Scammers

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New Law Could End Robocalling Once and For All

Scientists Set New Temperature Record for Superconductivity

Scientists discover a superconductor that works at temperatures nearly 50 Celsius degrees (84.6 Fahrenheit degrees) hotter than the previous record high.

Hot Damn

An international team of scientists has built a superconductor that functions at 250 Kelvin, or -23 degrees Celsius — or just-9 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s a few degrees colder than the chilliest winter day in Florida history, but it’s nearly 50 Celsius degrees (84.6 Fahrenheit degrees) hotter than the previous record high for superconductivity — and it puts the “holy grail” of energy transmission almost within our reach.

Wasted Energy

First discovered in 1911, superconductors are devices that can conduct electricity with zero resistance.

Because none of the energy is lost during the transmission process, superconductors could allow us to generate electricity in one place — a solar farm in a sunny region of the U.S., for example — and send it all over the place without wasting any.

The problem is that scientists have yet to create a practical superconductor — the devices all require extreme conditions, such as freezing cold temperatures and incredibly high pressures, which limits their usefulness.

Super Discovery

That’s why scientists across the globe are on the hunt for a superconductor that works at room temperature — and this new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents a giant leap forward in that effort.

In it, the scientists describe how they created a type of material called a lanthanum superhydride. By placing enormous pressure on a bit of the material, they were able to coax it to act as a superconductor at the record-high temperature.

“Our next goal is to reduce the pressure needed to synthesize samples, to bring the critical temperature closer to ambient, and perhaps even create samples that could be synthesized at high pressures, but still superconduct at normal pressures,” researcher Vitali Prakapenka from the University of Chicago said in a news release.

READ MORE: Scientists break record for highest-temperature superconductor [University of Chicago]

More on superconductors: US Military Files Patent for Room-Temperature Superconductor

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Scientists Set New Temperature Record for Superconductivity

Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?

Imma, a CGI fashion model, just scored a make-up modeling gig for a Japanese cosmetics brand.

Imma Real

Spoiler: it’s only the one in the middle.

The model in question is Instagram influencer Imma, who has racked up over 50,000 followers.

Imma may be rendered entirely by a computer, but that hasn’t stopped her from picking up her first gig: modeling Japanese makeup brand Kate Cosmetics for the Vice owned site i-D. In the photos, she’s posing alongside real human models, adding to the effect.

Virtual Models

Surprisingly, Imma isn’t the only virtual Instagram model around. For instance, Lil Miquela has garnered a lot of attention for her posts on Instagram with 1.5 million followers, but is arguably less photorealistic and easier to spot.

Imma even took part in an advertorial interview with i-D. She had some insightful comments to offer up when asked about how beauty needs to change in the future:

“The idea that the pursuit of an ideal and something that is like one can coexist,” she said, as interpreted by Google Translate. “There is no need to choose one or the other.”

READ MORE: One of these models doesn’t exist [Engadget]

More on virtual people: Watch a Real Pastor Baptize an Anime Girl in Virtual Reality

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Can You Tell Which of These Models Is CGI?

Asteroid Flying by Earth Is so Big It Has Its Own Moon

Saturday night, a mile-wide asteroid called 1999 KW4 will fly by the Earth, and when it does, it'll bring with it its very own moon.

Buddy System

Earth will be getting not one but two visitors from space this weekend.

Astronomers expect an asteroid known as 1999 KW4 to swing by the Earth at around 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday — and when it does, it’ll bring along its very own moon.

“It’s one of the closest binary flybys probably in recent history,” planetary scientist Vishnu Reddy told NBC News. “That’s what makes it a very interesting target.”

Dynamic Duo

Asteroid 1999 KW4 is 1.5 kilometers (.93 miles) wide. That’s about three times the size of its moon, which clocks in at a width of about 0.5 kilometers (.3 miles).

Even at their closest, the space rocks will still be more than 3 million miles away, so don’t worry about them smashing into the Earth. In fact, they won’t even come close enough to see with the naked eye.

Still, the pair won’t be this close to Earth again until 2036, so if you want to catch a glimpse of the dynamic duo, be sure to have your telescope ready Saturday night.

READ MORE: Mile-wide asteroid and its tiny moon to zoom past Earth this weekend [NBC News]

More on asteroids: NASA Asks SpaceX to Help It Save Earth From Incoming Asteroids

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Asteroid Flying by Earth Is so Big It Has Its Own Moon

United Nations: Siri and Alexa Are Encouraging Misogyny

Programmers are creating sexist AI voice assistants, which are then encouraging users to be sexist, according to a new UN report.

Two-Way Street

We already knew humans could make biased AIs — but the United Nations says the reverse is true as well.

Millions of people talk to AI voice assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. When those assistants talk back, they do so in female-sounding voices, and a new UN report argues that those voices and the words they’re programmed to say amplify gender biases and encourage users to be sexist — but it’s not too late to change course.

Gender Abuse

The report is the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and its title — “I’d blush if I could” — is the response Siri was programmed in 2011 to give if a user called her a “bitch.”

According to UNESCO, that programming exemplifies the problems with today’s AI assistants.

“Siri’s submissiveness in the face of gender abuse — and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women — provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products,” the report’s authors wrote.

It was only after UNESCO shared a draft of its report with Apple in April 2019 that the company changed Siri’s response to “I don’t know how to respond to that.”

“Me Too” Moment

The fact that Apple was willing to make the change is encouraging, but that’s just one phrase uttered by one assistant. According to UNESCO’s report, to truly make a difference, the tech industry will need to enact much more comprehensive changes.

A good starting place, according to the authors, would be for tech companies to hire more female programmers and stop making their assistants female by default, instead opting for gender-neutral voices.

“It is a ‘Me Too’ moment,” Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of UNESCO’s Division for Gender Equality, told CBS News. “We have to make sure that the AI we produce and that we use does pay attention to gender equality.”

READ MORE: Is it time for Alexa and Siri to have a “MeToo moment”? [CBS News]

More on biased AI: A New Algorithm Trains AI to Erase Its Biases

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United Nations: Siri and Alexa Are Encouraging Misogyny

NASA’s Moon Mission Leader Just Quit After Only Six Weeks

A NASA executive who was appointed only six weeks ago to lead the strategy for future missions to the Moon has resigned.


A NASA executive who was appointed just six weeks ago to lead the strategy for future missions to the Moon has resigned, The Hill reports.

Mark Sirangelo was hired in April as special assistant to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. It’s a sudden departure that looks especially odd considering the White House’s focus on getting Americans back to the Moon — but Congress’s refusal to grant extra funds is forcing NASA to re-evaluate the ambitious plans.

Moon 2024?

The news comes after lawmakers rejected NASA’s proposal to establish a team dedicated to devising a sustainable lunar mission and future Mars missions — a rejection, according to Bridenstine, that was partly responsible for Sirangelo’s departure.

“We are exploring what organizational changes within HEO [Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate] are necessary to ensure we maximize efficiencies and achieve the end state of landing the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024,” Bridenstine said in a statement. “Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities.”

READ MORE: NASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment [The Hill]

More on NASA’s budget troublesCongress Denies NASA Request for More Moon Mission Money

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NASA’s Moon Mission Leader Just Quit After Only Six Weeks