New electric propulsion chamber explores the future of space travel – Space Daily

Deep inside a laboratory at The Aerospace Corporation's El Segundo campus, scientists are recreating the vacuum of space here on Earth.

Aerospace's electric propulsion lab specializes in testing electric thrusters in space-like conditions, and they recently installed a new vacuum chamber that will enable them to test the newer, high-powered thrusters needed for future space exploration.

"This chamber adds not just to Aerospace's testing capability, but adds to the world's testing capability," said Rostislav Spektor, Laboratory Manager in Electric Propulsion and Plasma Science. "When it becomes operational, it will be the best electric propulsion testing facility in the world."

Why Electric Propulsion?Everyone is familiar with the sight of fire and smoke pouring out of the bottom of a rocket using chemical propulsion.

Electric propulsion takes a different approach, harnessing electric energy to ionize gas into a plasma, which is accelerated out of the thruster through a combination of electric and magnetic forces.

Electric propulsion produces significantly less thrust than chemical propulsion but is much more efficient in terms of the amount of fuel used. It's too weak to launch rockets through the atmosphere, but once in space, the lack of gravity allows electric propulsion thrusters' true potential to shine.

"It's the Tortoise and the Hare. Electric propulsion is slow but steady and chemical propulsion starts very fast, but runs out of steam quickly," Spektor said.

Historically, electric propulsion has mostly been used for station-keeping of satellites. But its highly efficient nature opens up possibilities for long-distance space exploration missions with the small but constant thrust building up over time, accelerating the spacecraft to a very high velocity.

A Testing PowerhouseIn order to make those long journeys, however, scientists need to be able to trust that the thrusters will perform consistently and reliably over the duration of the mission.

That's where electric propulsion vacuum chambers come into play. These school bus-sized devices are outfitted with a series of cryopumps that make the chamber very cold. When the pumps run, the air in the chamber sticks to the chamber sides, similar to condensation on a cold glass of water on a hot day. With the air gone, the chamber simulates the vacuum of space, and the team can place electric thrusters inside for testing.

"Electric propulsion devices perform differently in space than they do on Earth. The relationship isn't linear, which can make predicting exactly how it will perform difficult," said Spektor. "The closer you are to test-as-you-fly conditions, the closer you are to measuring performance you would expect in orbit."

The new chamber, 14 ft in diameter and 30 ft long, is considerably larger than the lab's older 8-foot diameter chamber, which means it has more room for cryopumps. The Aerospace team considered buying commercial pumps, but in the end decided to design their own pumping system to ensure optimal performance.

The chamber body was delivered in four segments over the course of a week and then bolted together. The custom-designed cryopump system will be installed over the next six months, followed by the diagnostic system.

End-to-End Electric Propulsion TestingAs a federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC), Aerospace is not allowed to produce flight hardware that could compete with commercial companies.

Instead, Aerospace provides end-to-end testing of electric propulsion thrusters, from measuring thrust, exhaust velocity and specific impulse to more advanced work like plume characterization, which helps quantify the risk of damage to other parts of the spacecraft. The lab also offers non-invasive testing using laser and optical diagnostics.

"We've carved ourselves a niche in electric propulsion as the testing warehouse. All the commercial companies come to us for unbiased testing and measurement," Spektor said. "We have probably the most comprehensive set of electric propulsion diagnostics that you could find anywhere in the world."

The recently installed vacuum chamber, with its increased pumping speed, is just the latest addition to this laboratory's arsenal of testing equipment.

"As electric propulsion devices get larger and more powerful, higher pumping speeds are needed to maintain the proper pressure ratio and allow for accurate testing," said Spektor. "If there are any potential issues with the thruster, you might not see them at lower pumping speeds because you're not at the conditions you are in space."

Aerospace is equipped to test the latest large electric propulsion devices or smaller micro-thrusters that go on CubeSats, with tests spanning from just a few hours up to more than a year.

The Future of Electric PropulsionWhen operational, the expanded testing facility will allow the lab to double its workload, providing testing services to military and civil customers, as well as a growing field of commercial manufacturers.

One of the first customers will be NASA, testing its 12.5-kilowatt Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster, which is part of the Gateway mission to orbit the moon.

Other customers are also lining up to access the world-class chamber and benefit from Aerospace's expertise.

"There are new potential applications developing with our national security space customers for high power electric propulsion," said Tom Curtiss, director of the Propulsion Science Department. "Watching those come to fruition will be a great thing, and we'll be able to help reduce the costs of qualifying and developing technology for the next 10 or 20 years."

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New electric propulsion chamber explores the future of space travel - Space Daily

NASA Updates Planetary Protection Policies for Space Travel to the Moon and Mars – Interesting Engineering

As human spaceflight forges forwards, NASA is attempting to protect the Moon, Mars and Earth from any contamination by introducing two new directives.

On Thursday, the American space agency unveiled the new NASA Interim Directives (NIDs) that lay out the new requirements for human and robotic missions to and from the Moon, Mars, and Earth.


The point of the new directives is to protect these planetary bodies from potential biological contamination coming from Earth and ultimately that could lead to compromised scientific research.

One of the NIDs focuses on potential forward biological contamination, which is brought from Earth to another planetary object, and ultimately to the Moon.

The second NID deals with Mars and looks at both forward and backward contamination, which includes contamination brought back to Earth from another cosmic body too.

"We're trying to balance the interests of the science community, the interest of the human exploration community, and the interest of the commercial community," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

It's important to leave "a pristine environment so we have the ability to know that what we discover in the future was not something that was left there by us ," continued Bridenstine.

"We have to make sure that we are inventorying every kind of biological substance and even nonbiological substance organics for example that could leave something behind on the moon that could be problematic for future research."

In speaking of the missions to the Moon, Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, stated "These sites have immense scientific value in shaping our understanding of the history of our planet, the moon, and the solar system."

Currently, neither of the two NIDs is set in stone. These are interim directives and not policy ones, so there is still room for changes when the need arises down the road.

As Bridenstine said himself "It's probably going to be modified a lot of times now and into the future."

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NASA Updates Planetary Protection Policies for Space Travel to the Moon and Mars - Interesting Engineering

Ground-breaking new footage captures nuclear reaction that unlocks deep space travel – Essex Magazine

World first footage showing a never before seen glimpse into the future of space travel technology has been recorded by scientists in the UK.

Specialist cameras have filmed close-up footage of a rocket firing up using deep sea protective cases and shielding to protect the cameras from destruction.

Scientists at Pulsar Fusion based in Bletchley captured the 4k footage facing into the nozzle of a hyper-fast rocket engine, which is designed for use in deep space.

In the video, viewers can see a ring of plasma at the core burning at millions of degrees hotter than any gas on Earth and confined by an electromagnetic field which is firing out particles at speeds of over 20km a second.

The fuel heavy, fiery exhausts of todays space rockets will eventually be replaced by super-hot, plasma thrusters as seen in the video.

This type of thruster is not suitable for launching spacecraft but becomes effective once the craft has left the atmosphere.

Pulsar thrusters are able to operate at speeds far greater than conventional combustion rockets, so these could provide the key to reducing mission times and costs to far-off planets currently out of our reach.

Following this milestone, the privately owned UK business now plans to test the technology in space.

Dr James Lambert, head of operations at Pulsar Fusion said Pulsar has earned its place as one of the most advanced, privately owned space propulsion companies in the World. We are delighted with the result.

Pulsar Fusion CEO Richard Dinan said Pulsar will now commence testing of this technology in real world conditions with our partners in the USA, whilst simultaneously beginning construction of our larger, next generation device due for completion in 2022.

This project aims to operate a plasma firing at temperatures of several hundred million degrees and will involve advanced materials currently being developed alongside government fusion reactors.

Pulsar Fusion specialises in developing Nuclear Fusion technology for use as propulsion. Whilst governments plan to demonstrate the worlds first nuclear fusion reactor (ITER) in 2025, Pulsar Fusion, a nimble start up in the UK, aims to have demonstrated nuclear fusion rocket engines in space before fusion technology is harnessed for grid power supply on Earth.

Fusion rocket engines are useful technology using nuclear fusion technology today, whilst fusion for energy may still be several decades away due extensive additional technological requirements and the multi-national and typically highly bureaucratic power station timescales.

Fusion rockets do not require large steam turbines and much of the expensive equipment necessary for a power station build project that can take many years to finance and construct.

However, by 2100, world governments predict nuclear fusion will be the dominant power supply of our planet, replacing nuclear fission.

Nuclear Fusion rocket technology has the ability to half mission times to Mars and could open up the possibility of visiting planets outside of our solar system.

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Ground-breaking new footage captures nuclear reaction that unlocks deep space travel - Essex Magazine

From floating guts to ‘sticky’ blood here’s how to do surgery in space – The Next Web

Earlier this year, it was reported that an astronaut in space had developed a potentially life-threatening blood clot in the neck. This was successfully treated with medication by doctors on Earth, avoiding surgery. But given that space agencies and private spaceflight companies have committed to landing humans on Mars in the coming decades, we may not be so lucky next time.

Surgical emergencies are in fact one of the main challenges when it comes to human space travel. But over the last few years, space medicine researchers have come up with a number of ideas that could help, from surgical robots to 3D printers.

Mars is a whopping 54.6 million kilometers (33.9 million miles) away from Earth, when closest. In comparison, the International Space Agency (ISS) orbits just 400 kilometers above Earth. For surgical emergencies on the ISS, the procedure is to stabilize the patient and transport them back to Earth, aided by telecommunication in real time. This wont work on Mars missions, where evacuation would take months or years, and there may be a latency in communications of over twenty minutes.

As well as distance, the extreme environment faced during transit to and on Mars includes microgravity, high radiation levels and an enclosed pressurized cabin or suit. This is tough on astronauts bodies and takes time getting used to.

We already know that space travel changes astronauts cells, blood pressure regulation and heart performance. It also affects the bodys fluid distribution and weakens its bones and muscles. Space travelers may also more easily develop infections. So in terms of fitness for surgery, an injured or unwell astronaut will be already at a physiological disadvantage.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield using a cardio lab at the ISS. NASA

But how likely is it that an astronaut will actually need surgery? For a crew of seven people, researchers estimate that there will be an average of one surgical emergency every 2.4 years during a Mars mission. The main causes include injury, appendicitis, gallbladder inflammation or cancer. Astronauts are screened extensively when they are selected, but surgical emergencies can occur in healthy people and may be exacerbated in the extreme environment of space.

Surgery in microgravity is possible and has already been been carried out, albeit not on humans yet. For example, astronauts have managed to repair rat tails and perform laroscopy a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to examine and repair the organs inside the abdomen on animals, while in microgravity.

These surgeries have led to new innovations and improvements such as magnetizing surgical tools so they stick to the table, and restraining the surgeonaut too.

One problem was that, during open surgery, the intestines would float around, obscuring view of the surgical field. To deal with this, space travelers should opt for minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as keyhole surgery, ideally occurring within patients internal cavities through small incisions using a camera and instruments.

A laroscopy was recently carried out on fake abdomens during a parabolic zero gravity flight, with surgeons successfully stemming traumatic bleeding. But they warned that it would be psychologically hard to carry out such a procedure on a crew mate.

Bodily fluids will also behave differently in space and on Mars. The blood in our veins may stick to instruments because of surface tension. Floating droplets may also form streams that could restrict the surgeons view, which is not ideal. The circulating air of an enclosed cabin may also be an infection risk. Surgical bubbles and blood-repelling surgical tools could be the solution.

Researchers have already developed and tested various surgical enclosures in microgravity environments. For example, NASA evaluated a closed system comprising a surgical clear plastic overhead canopy with arm ports, aiming to prevent contamination.

When orbiting or settled on Mars, however, we would ideally need a hypothetical traumapod, with radiation shielding, surgical robots, advanced life support and restraints. This would be a dedicated module with filtered air supply and a computer to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

The surgeries carried out in space so far have revealed that a large amount of support equipment is essential. This is a luxury the crew may not have on a virgin voyage to Mars. You cannot take much equipment on a rocket. It has therefore been suggested that a 3D printer could use materials from Mars itself to develop surgical tools.

Tools that have been 3D printed have been successfully tested by crew with no prior surgical experience, performing a task similar to surgery simply by cutting and suturing materials (rather than a body). There was no substantial difference in time to completion with 3D printed instruments such as towel clamps, scalpel handles and toothed forceps.

A Mars settlement would need a traumapod. NASA

Robotic surgery is another option that has been used routinely on Earth, and tested for planetary excursions. During NEEMO 7, a series of missions in the underwater habitat Aquarius in Florida Keys by NASA, surgery by a robot controlled from another lab was successfully used to remove a fake gallbladder and kidney stone from a fake body. However, the lag in communications in space will make remote control a problem. Ideally, surgical robots would need to be autonomous.

There is a wealth of research and preparation for the possible event of a surgical emergency during a Mars mission, but there are many unknowns, especially when it comes to diagnostics and anesthesia. Ultimately, prevention is better than surgery. So selecting healthy crew and developing the engineering solutions needed to protect them will be crucial.

This article is republished from The ConversationbyNina Louise Purvis, Postgraduate Researcher in Space Medicine, Kings College Londonunder a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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From floating guts to 'sticky' blood here's how to do surgery in space - The Next Web

Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Human Skin More Protected from Space Radiation – Universe Today

Earth is a radiation cocoon. Inside that cocoon, the atmosphere and the magnetosphere keep us mostly safe from the Suns radiaition. Some ultraviolet light gets through, and can damage us. But reasonable precautions like simply minimizing exposure can keep the Suns radiation at bay.

But space is a different matter altogether. Among the many hazards it poses to astronauts, ever-present radiation is one that needs a solution.

Now a team of researchers have developed a new biomaterial to protect astronauts.

This new development is centered around melanins, pigments that are found in most living things on Earth, including animals like us. Melanins are responsible for red hair, for turning fruit brown, and for darkening skin after exposure to the Suns uv radiation. And its that last point thats crucial to this work.

The title of the new study is Selenomelanin: An Abiotic Selenium Analogue of Pheomelanin. Nathan Gianneschi, a Professor of Chemistryat Northwestern University, and associate director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, led the research. Wei Cao from the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern is the papers first author. The study is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

As ambitious space travel plans take astronauts further from Earth for longer periods of time, the astronauts face increased risks. Leaving Hollywood-style catastrophes aside, some of the hazards are chronic rather than acute. Just like here on Earth, protection from solar radiation over time is important.

Given the increased interest in space travel, and the general need for lightweight, multifunctional and radioprotective biomaterials, weve become excited about the potential of melanin.

But the risk in space is much greater. Once outside of Earths cocoon, astronauts are exposed to much more radiation. Not only from the Suns regular, steady output, but from solar flares, and even cosmic rays. Space is awash in dangerous ionizing radiation.

When astronauts spend time outside of Low Earth Orbit, they face greater risks from exposure to that radiation: cancer and other degenerative diseases, radiation sickness, and even central nervous effects, according to NASA. In fact, NASA says that astronauts can be exposed to doses of radiation ranging from 50 to 2,000 Milli-Sieverts (mSv). But even 1mSv is equivalent to approximately three chest x-rays, so its like astronauts are exposed to between 150 and 6000 chest x-rays. (Would you sign up for that?)

We could encase astronauts in leador put them behind lead shields like x-ray technicians in hospitalsand they would be protected. The problem is, how can astronauts perform all their duties, while still being protected from all the hazardous radiation?

Lead is also extremely heavy, and its impractical to launch lead into space for radiation shielding. Its unlikely that were going to be able to fly dedicated radiation-shielding mass, for missions like Artemis, said Kerry Lee of NASAs Johnsons Space Radiation Analysis Group, in a press release.

Thats what led to the interest in melanin.

Given the increased interest in space travel, and the general need for lightweight, multifunctional and radioprotective biomaterials, weve become excited about the potential of melanin, said lead researcher Nathan Gianneschi, in a press release. It occurred to our postdoctoral fellow Wei Cao that melanin containing selenium would offer better protection than other forms of melanin. That brought up the intriguing possibility that this as-yet undiscovered melanin may very well exist in nature, being used in this way. So we skipped the discovery part and decided to make it ourselves.

On Earth, when our skin is exposed to UV radiation, we produce more melanin. That darkens the skin, and the melanin pigmentation is effective at absorbing light. In fact, it can absorb up to 99.9% of UV radiation.

Researchers already know that melanin has potential to protect astronauts from radiation. A separate research team is experimenting with samples of it on the International Space Station, to see how it responds to the radiation there, which is not only UV radiation, but more energetic radiation like x-rays.

But there are different types of melanins. The one being tested on the ISS is actually a composite of fungal melanin and polymers. The lead researcher on that work is Radams J.B. Cordero from Johns Hopkins. The goal will be to take melanin and create biomaterials inspired by nature, Cordero explained. Were seeing if we can mimic biology and learn from biology to our benefit.

But this new research is going in a slightly different direction, by looking at melanin enriched with selenium. Selenium has an interesting relationship with light, and is used as a pigment, in glassmaking, in x-ray detectors, and in solar cells. Clearly, somethings up with selenium when it comes to radiation.

Previous research has shown that selenium compounds can protect animals from x-rays. So the team behind the new work wondered if combining melanin with selenium would yield a new way of protecting astronauts.

Rather than spend who knows how long trying to find the compound somewhere in nature, they decided to make their own compounds in a lab. They synthesized a new biomaterial that theyre calling selenomelanin. They treated cells with the new material, alongside cells treated with synthetic pheomelanin and eumelanin. They also used cells with no protective melanin as a control group.

Then came the radiation. They exposed all of the cells to a dose of radiation that would be lethal to a human. The result? Only the cell treated with their synthesized selenomelanin showed any normal cell cycles.

Our results demonstrated that selenomelanin offers superior protection from radiation, Gianneschi said. We also found that it was easier to synthesize selenomelanin than pheomelanin, and what we created was closer than synthetic pheomelanin to the melanin found in nature.

It gets better.

The team also found out that unlike the samples sent to the ISS by a separate research team, which are expensive to produce, this teams selenomelanin can be bio-synthesized. That means that live cells can produce it when fed the right nutrients. And the biosynthesized selenomelanin retains its protective properties.

With an abundant source of selenium in the environment, some organisms may have been able to adapt to extreme circumstances such radiation through the beneficial effects of selenomelanin, Gianneschi said.

Our work points to the possibility that melanin may act as a repository for selenium, helping ensure that organisms benefit from it, said Cao. Selenomelanin may play an important role in how selenium is metabolized and distributed biologically. Its an area for further investigation.

This discovery could lead to better protection for astronautsand radiation sensitive materialswhile in space. The team of researchers envisions a topical material like sun-screen, that can be applied to skin or materials for protection.

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Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Human Skin More Protected from Space Radiation - Universe Today

I worked for a decade at NASA and I can tell you the ‘Mars bros’ have it all wrong – The Independent

NASA is scheduled to launch another rover to Mars on July 20.


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During the decade I worked at NASA, my job involved touring the Space Shuttle trainer, exploring experimental extraterrestrial habitats, holding meteorites and donning a bunny suit for the clean room, where satellites were built. My friends nicknamed me The Astronaut.

Youd be perfect, they said, knowing I was athletic and daring in my role as senior science editor. Just fill out the astronaut application. I knew my oceanography background qualified me, but I couldnt get past the idea of spending six months trapped in a smelly enclosure while eating freeze-dried lasagna, bathing with a washcloth and breathing recirculated air. Besides, I cared about Earth, not space.

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, where I was based, those who worked on Mars science and those who worked on Earth science competed for attention and praise from management. During regular meetings, Mars People sat in the choice seats nearest the director, who saw Mars as exciting and prestigious and treated the Earth People like stepchildren. A Mars rover cost $2.5 billion, whereas an Earth orbiting satellite was around $400 million. Mars People snubbed Earth People.

I remember when the Deputy Director of Communication lectured me on space exploration as the only way for humanity to move forward. I glanced around his office at the stacks of paper piled across his desk, while he executed his duty to school me on all things NASA. He explained with great confidence how the success of humankind was the result of an innate drive to go and explore, and how the pioneering spirit was integral to human nature. His opinions echoed those of Neil deGrasse Tyson, with whom Id once argued. Tyson and I spent an hour going at it so intensely that I ended up apologizing for accidentally spitting on him. Go ahead and lean in, he told me. Im a New Yorker; I can handle it.

Both Tyson and the NASA director claimed that sending humans to Mars was the best way to excite people about science. They painted a romanticized ideal, with charismatic explorers sailing forth toward wonder and travel and discovery. But to me, exploration represented machismo and pillaging and conquest. In school, we were taught to regard imperialistic conquerors as heroes, even though each journey to discovery was mired in colonial exploitation driven by expansionism. Excerpts from diaries and letters written by Christopher Columbus included descriptions of genocide, slavery and rape. The British explorer, James Cook, committed massacres and kidnapped Native people. Such atrocities were not humanity.

These space enthusiasts also claimed that during NASAs Apollo Program (1963-1972), the American public was more scientifically literate, which was a talking point supporting space flight to Mars. But there was no empirical evidence for the assertion that human or robotic space-travel increased public interest in science. Science literacy among US adults hasnt changed for decades. So why would dredging it up again move society now? If space travel were so inspirational, then more people would be able to name astronauts other than Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong. They cant.

True, many Americans have an abysmal understanding of how the world works. According to the Pew Research Center, 33 percent of Americans reject the concept of evolution and believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. This lack of awareness about how science impacts politics, policy and our future is a problem with economic and civic consequences. We live on this planet together, so our collective actions impact each other as well as other species. Every apathetic citizen or hostile denier represents a gamble on everyone elses future.

The coronavirus started as an ecological pandemic. It spread quickly because of globalization and public misunderstanding of, and distrust in, science. Instead of trips to Mars, we could focus attention on Earth and clean up the mess here before exploring new horizons.

During the 13 years I taught college-level oceanography, my students told me they believed science was cold and difficult to understand. But these young people were keen to learn about Earths climate and get involved. I convinced them that literacy involved connections they made to the world, not facts to memorize.

After Trump took office, I was called into JPL Ethics and told that climate change was a sensitive topic, and that my work was being monitored. By September 2017, Id been censored, intimidated by Media Relations, stripped of my duties and barred from speaking to the press. My manager suggested I write something about Mars.

I knew NASA administrators cared about Mars. Neil deGrasse Tyson cared about Mars. But I didnt, and neither did many of my friends and neighbors. My responsibility to be honest about climate change outweighed my responsibility to protect NASA. I refused to stay quiet. By October, I was forced out.

Was it worth it? Yes. Our generations ambitious project, our moonshot, isnt space travel. Its the climate crisis, plastic pollution and public health.

Our scientific talents should be focused here. On Earth.

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I worked for a decade at NASA and I can tell you the 'Mars bros' have it all wrong - The Independent

Fast 9 star might have revealed that the movie goes to space – Digital Spy

Fast & Furious 9 star Ludacris has potentially given away that the franchise is about to head into space.

The idea that space was the final frontier for the Fast franchise has been a long-running joke, but given how outlandish the series has become, we wouldn't be too surprised.

Appearing on Sirius XM's The Jess Cagle Show, Ludacris explained how the delay on the release of Fast 9 has given the creative minds behind the franchise more time to make the film (and possible sequels) some of the best of all time.

Prince Williams / ContributorGetty Images

Co-host Julia Cunningham then said: "I don't even know creatively what they could come up with to wow us even though I know they do every time.

"I'm like, space has to be involved, submarines, I don't even know. In my mind I can't imagine what happens in the next movie."

Ludacris responded: "You just said something very important. I will say that you are very intuitive, cause you said something right, but I'm not going to give it away."

"It was space I said space," Julia then shouted, to which the rapper simply put his hand over his mouth, so as not to say anything more.

Related: Vin Diesel hints there's a "big surprise" coming for Fast & Furious 9

Obviously, this could all be a big wind up, but we're actually kind of excited about the possibility of seeing the gang potentially hop in a spaceship.

Last year, Fast & Furious screenwriter Chris Morgan admitted that "nothings out of the question" when asked whether we could see Dominic Toretto and the gang travel to space one day.

"It just has to be cool and it has to be good," he explained in an interview with Polygon. "You know, thats the thing. I would say nothing is off-limits as long as we can stay on the right side of keeping the audience engaged."

Fast & Furious 9 will be released in April 2021.

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Fast & Furious 1-6 (includes sneak peek of Fast & Furious 7) [Blu-ray] [2015]

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Fast & Furious 5 [DVD] [2011]

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Fast 9 star might have revealed that the movie goes to space - Digital Spy

Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: Virgin Galactic, Redfin, Carnival and more – CNBC

A Redfin Corp. 'For Sale' sign stands outside of a home in Seattle, Washington.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Check out the companies making headlines after the bell:

Marathon Oil The oil company's stock climbed 1% in extended trading after falling 7.05% earlier Thursday. Oil dropped 3%during the day amid concerns over rising coronavirus case counts.

Redfin Shares of the real estate brokerage fell 2% after the closing bell. The company's stock hit an all-time high earlier in the week as real estate recovers from pandemic-forced lockdowns across the country. The pandemic is causing an exodus from cities and home searches are now increasingly in the suburbs, Ryan Schneider, chief executive ofRealogy Holdings, told CNBC Thursday.

Virgin GalacticShares of the space travel company rose 1% in extended trading after the stock jumped nearly 16% earlier in the day. Last week, Virgin Galactic said it expects to attain its Federal Aviation Administration license within the next two spaceflights, which would bring the company closer to flying customers.

Bed Bath & Beyond Shares of thehome goods retailer climbed 1% in extended trading after falling 24.5% in regular hours. Bed Bath & Beyond released its first-quarter financial results Wednesday and said it will close about 200 stores over the next two years.

NIO The Chinese electric-car maker's stock rose 2% after the market closed. Shares jumped 13% during the day, continuing an upward trend for the stock. Last week Nio reported a monthly record of 3,740 vehicle deliveries for June and said it delivered 10,331 vehicles in the second quarter.

Carnival The cruise operator's stock climbed 1% in extended trading. Earlier Thursday, Carnival's subsidiary AIDA Cruises announced it would restart vacation trips in August.

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Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: Virgin Galactic, Redfin, Carnival and more - CNBC

An End to Empty Seats on Canadas Airlines – The New York Times

Photos of empty airports have come to symbolize the head-spinning drop in air travel during the pandemic. But the more surprising illustration for me involves a now-crowded space.

The parking lots of rental car agencies near the Ottawa airport are now overstuffed with unwanted cars. So many of them have piled up since air travel has fallen by 90 percent in Canada that the unwanted rentals have overflowed into the vast parking lot of a nearby convention center.

Recently, Canadas two major airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, have been pushing to get more people back on their planes, urging politicians to substantially ease virus-related restrictions, including expanding border travel with the United States, as they move to restart additional routes later this month.

This is hundreds of times worse than 9/11, SARS, or the global financial crisis quite frankly combined, Calin Rovinescu, the chief executive of Air Canada, told the Financial Post in an interview.

But at the same time that Mr. Rovinescu and his counterparts are working to get more people back in the air, theyve made one change that gives some health officials pause.

On Canada Day, both Air Canada and WestJet ended what the industry calls seat blocking, leaving a vacant seat between passengers. Though that gap was far short of the minimum recommended distance of 2 meters, it was still a gap.

So while health officials are urging Canadians to keep their distance as various measures are eased, airlines are putting them in close contact in an enclosed space for flights that can last hours.

During recent testimony before the House of Commons health committee, officials from all of Canadas major airlines played down the need to keep passengers apart and emphasized what they called a cascading or multilayered approach to making sure infections dont spread aboard flights. That approach, they repeatedly said, includes taking into account the quality of the air filtration systems on planes.

In an email, Air Canada explained the end of seat blocking to me this way: While we would all like a single measure that reduces risk, we are left to use a combination of approaches to mitigate risk as far as practical.

It added: It is very important that people understand how efficiently aircraft ventilation works to refresh air regularly onboard every 2 to 3 minutes, which is a key reason there has been no reports of disease outbreak clusters onboard flights.

But scientists, public health authorities and physicians seem less enthusiastic about a return to jampacked cabins and, for that matter, about moving large numbers of people around the country.

From a public health perspective the physical distancing is one of the key public health measures, Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer of Canada, said at a news conference when asked about the airlines new plan. Physical distancing is our recommendation.

Dr. David N. Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Torontos Dalla Lana School of Public Health, agreed that having multiple measures can lead to greater overall control of infections and he added that hes been surprised by the lack of outbreaks clustered around flights.

That said, at the end of the day, proximity and crowding are important factors in facilitating disease transmission, so maintaining as much space as possible between individuals and requiring masks when space cant be maintained seems quite common-sensical to me, he said. I cant imagine that airplanes have some magical property that makes droplet borne transmission difficult if people are packed closely together.

Dr. Cory Neudorf a professor at the University of Saskatchewans medical school and the medical director for health surveillance at Saskatchewan Health Authority, told me in an email that viruses can still pass between passengers even with the most vigorous filtration.

Airplanes try to mitigate this through frequent air circulation and use of HEPA filters, but yes, you can still be infected if you breathe in the particles on their way to the filters, he wrote in the email.

He added that limiting the number of people aboard planes cuts the risk of transmission in other ways.

Fewer people in a given shared space means fewer people touching shared surfaces, so risk is reduced, especially if you dont have someone using the same arm rest or other surfaces as they walk down aisles, use the washroom etc., he wrote.

Air Canada will allow economy class passengers on flights that are nearly full to rebook at no cost. That, of course, assumes travel flexibility and the availability of flights with lots of empty seats.

Moris Moreno recently produced a record for The Times of air travel from Seattle to Boston with his family, although the middle seats were empty when he took to the skies.

Balarama Holness is a Montreal educator, broadcaster, law student, former professional Canadian football player, and one of the leaders of Canadas current Black rights and anti-racism movement. He told Dan Bilefsky he aspires to be a Canadian Obama.

Justin Trudeau is at the center of another conflict-of-interest investigation his third since he became Prime Minister in 2015. This one is over his familys connections to the international WE Charity, which his government had awarded a no-bid contract to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to student volunteers. This week, it was revealed that Mr. Trudeaus mother and brother were paid more than 280,000 Canadian dollars over four years by the charity for speaking at its events.

For those feeling stir-crazy under coronavirus travel restrictions, you can travel virtually along the 360-mile Tshiuetin railroad in rural Quebec, from Sept-les to Schefferville. Partly owned and wholly operated by the three First Nations that it connects, the line is a symbol of reclamation and defiance for those it serves, writes Chlo Ellingson. Her photos are wonderful.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

Were eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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An End to Empty Seats on Canadas Airlines - The New York Times

SpaceX’s next batch of Starlink satellites back on the launch pad – Spaceflight Now

EDITORS NOTE:Launch has been delayed to Saturday, July 11, at 10:54 a.m. EDT (1454 GMT).

SpaceX raised a Falcon 9 rocket vertical Tuesday on pad 39A at NASAs Kennedy Space Center, positioning the launch vehicle for a flight Wednesday carrying 57 more Starlink Internet satellites and two commercial Earth-imaging microsatellites for BlackSky.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) launcher was supposed to take off last month, but SpaceX called off a launch attempt June 26. The company said theteam needed additional time for pre-launch checkouts.

In the end, SpaceX delayed the launch 12 days, and the company opted to shuffle order of its launches.

A Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched June 30 from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station a few miles to the south of pad 39A with a U.S. military GPS navigation satellite. The Falcon 9 rocket loaded with the Starlink and BlackSky satellites rolled back to its hangar near pad 39A to await the missions next launch opportunity.

With the Falcon 9 standing atop pad 39A again Tuesday, SpaceXs launch team planned perform final checkouts on the rocket and commence the countdown early Wednesday.

The Falcon 9 will be filled with super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants beginning around 35 minutes prior to liftoff, which is timed for precisely 11:59:11 a.m. EDT (1559:11 GMT) Wednesday.

Theres a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather for a midday launch Wednesday, according to the U.S. Space Forces 45th Weather Squadron. Central Florida is in a typical summertime pattern of strong afternoon and evening thunderstorms, but forecasters said Tuesday that the latest computer model runs suggested storms may develop a bit earlier in the day Wednesday.

While the launch windows timeframe is still more favorable than later in the afternoon, some showers and storms moving in from the northwest cannot be ruled out, forecasters wrote. Because of this, the primary concern for the launch window is the cumulus cloud rule and the surface electric field rule.

If the weather conditions cooperate, nine Merlin engines will build up to produce 1.7 million pounds of thrust, driving the Falcon 9 launcher toward the northeast from Floridas Space Coast on the way to an orbit inclined 53 degrees to the equator.

The first stage booster launching Wednesday will make its fifth trip to space. It first flew from the Kennedy Space Center in March 2019 on an unpiloted test flight of SpaceXs Crew Dragon spacecraft, then launched again from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in June 2019 with three Canadian radar observation satellites.

The reusable booster also launched two Starlink missions from Florida earlier this year, according to SpaceX.

The first stages nine engines will fire for around two-and-a-half minutes during launch, then the booster will fall away from the Falcon 9s upper stage. The booster will deploy four titanium grid fins for aerodynamic stability, and then fire three of its engines for a burn to target landing on SpaceXs drone ship Of Course I Still Love You holding position in the Atlantic Ocean around 400 miles (630 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral.

A final burn of the first stages center engine, followed by lowering of the boosters four landing legs, will set up the rocket for touchdown on the floating landing vessel nearly eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. If the rocket sticks the landing, SpaceX will bring the booster back to Port Canaveral for inspections and refurbishment ahead of another flight.

While the first stage descends back to Earth from the edge of space, the Falcon 9s single-use upper stage will ignite its vacuum-rated Merlin engine to propel the missions 59 satellite payloads into orbit.

The rockets payload fairing, which protects the satellites during the initial phases of launch, will jettison from the Falcon 9 at T+plus 3 minutes, 24 seconds. SpaceXs two fairing recovery boats, named Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief, are on station in the Atlantic Ocean to retrieve the two fairing halves after they fall to Earth under parachutes.

The upper stage will shut down its engine at T+plus 8 minutes, 51 seconds, after reaching a preliminary parking orbit. A second firing of the Merlin upper stage engine more than 47 minutes after liftoff will place the 59 satellites into a near-circular orbitranging as high as an altitude of 249 miles (401 kilometers).

The two BlackSky satellites fastened on top of the 57 Starlink satellites will be the first payloads to deploy from the Falcon 9 rocket at T+plus 61 minutes and T+plus 66 minutes.

The Falcon 9 will next release retention rods holding the Starlink satellites to the rocket, allowing the flat-panel broadband relay stations to fly away from the launch vehicle around 1 hour, 33 minutes, after liftoff,

SpaceXs Starlink network is designed to provide low-latency, high-speed Internet service around the world. SpaceX has launched 538 flat-panel Starlink spacecraft since beginning full-scale deployment of the orbital network in May 2019, making the company the owner of the worlds largest fleet of satellites.

With Wednesdays launch, SpaceX will have delivered 595 Starlink satellites to orbit in the last 14 months.

Each of the flat-panel satellites weighs about a quarter-ton, and are built by SpaceX in Redmond, Washington. Once in orbit, they will deploy solar panels to begin producing electricity, then activate their krypton ion thrusters to raise their altitude to around 341 miles, or 550 kilometers.

SpaceX says it needs 24 launches to provide Starlink Internet coverage over nearly all of the populated world, and 12 launches could enable coverage of higher latitude regions, such as Canada and the northern United States.

The Falcon 9 can loft up to 60 Starlink satellites each weighing about a quarter-ton on a single Falcon 9 launch. But launches with secondary payloads, such as BlackSkys new Earth-imaging satellites, can carry fewer Starlinks to allow the rideshare passengers room to fit on the rocket.

The initial phase of the Starlink network will number 1,584 satellites, according to SpaceXs regulatory filings with the Federal Communications Commission. But SpaceX plans launch thousands more satellites, depending on market demand, and the company has regulatory approval from the FCC to operate up to 12,000 Starlink relay nodes in low Earth orbit.

Elon Musk, SpaceXs founder and CEO, says the Starlink network could earn revenue to fund the companys ambition for interplanetary space travel, and eventually establish a human settlement on Mars.

But astronomers have raised concerns about the brightness of SpaceXs Starlink satellites, and other companies that plan to launch large numbers of broadband satellites into low Earth orbit.

The Starlink satellites are brighter than expected, and are visible in trains soon after each launch, before spreading out and dimming as they travel higher above Earth.

SpaceX introduced a darker coating on a Starlink satellite launched in January in a bid to reduce the amount of sunlight the spacecraft reflects down to Earth. That offered some improvement, but not enough for ultra-sensitive observatories like the U.S government-funded Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile, which will collect all-sky images to study distant galaxies, stars, and search for potentially dangerous asteroids close to Earth.

SpaceX launched a satellite June 3 with a new unfolding radio-transparent sunshade to block sunlight from reaching bright surfaces on the spacecraft, such as its antennas.

All Starlink satellites beginning with the launch scheduled for Wednesday will carry the sunshade modification to reduce each spacecrafts optical reflectivity.

BlackSky, based in Seattle, is deploying a fleet of Earth observation satellites designed to monitor changes across Earths surface, feeding near real-time geospatial intelligence data to governments and corporate clients. The companys next two satellites set for launch Wednesday are the first off a new assembly line designed to produce spacecraft at a rate of one to two per month.

The BlackSky satellites set for launch Wednesday are designated Global 7 and Global 8, but they are actually the fifth and sixth operational satellites in the BlackSky fleet.

Scott Herman, BlackSkys chief technology officer, said the company iscomfortable working with SpaceX. Spaceflight Industries, BlackSkys parent company, has arranged rideshare missions on Falcon 9 rockets for other customers, and BlackSkys Global 2 satellite launched on a Falcon 9 flight in 2018.

Weve been working with SpaceX for a long time, Herman said. We do work with others the Indian space agency and Rocket Lab but weve had a pretty deep relationship with SpaceX, and were one of their largest customers outside the U.S. government because of all the different rides weve been brokering.

The BlackSky satellites launching Friday are the first produced by LeoStella, a joint venture between Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space, a major European satellite manufacturer. LeoStellas production facility is located in Tukwila, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Read more about the BlackSky satellites in our earlier story.

The BlackSky spacecraft each weigh around 121 pounds, or 55 kilograms. They have electrothermal propulsion systems that use water as a propellant.

Each of the current generation of BlackSky Global spacecraft can captureup to 1,000 color images per day, with a resolution of about 3 feet (1 meter).

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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SpaceX's next batch of Starlink satellites back on the launch pad - Spaceflight Now

Economy shouldn’t have to rely on charity from billionaires, says Biden backer Pete Buttigieg – CNBC

The United States should not have to rely as much on charitable contributions from billionaires to help solve the nation's economic challenges,Biden campaign surrogate Pete Buttigieg told CNBC on Thursday.

"It's wonderful when there are these major commitments, generous commitments by individuals, but we've also got to ask how things got so unequal in the first place," the former Democratic presidential candidate said on "Squawk Box."

Buttigieg's remarks came in response to a question about whether to tax charitablecontributions such as the one that multibillionaire Warren Buffettjust announced. The "Oracle of Omaha" on Wednesday saidhe woulddonate nearly $3 billion worth ofBerkshire Hathawaystock.As of Wednesday's market close, Buffett ranked No. 4 on Forbes' list of the richest people in the world with an estimated net-worth of $67.6 billion.

Buffett has said he will give away nearly all of his fortune, with most of it going to a handful of philanthropic organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and charities run by his three children.Since 2006, he has donated more than $37 billion, including the latest contribution.

Instead of taxing philanthropy, Buttigieg said it would make more sense for the U.S. to have a more equitable tax structure on the "front end." That way, he said, the tax revenue wouldsupport programs and other efforts that reduce inequality that have more input from voters.

"If a little bit more of that was making its way into a democratically guided process, in other words the kind of research and development that invent trillion dollar ideas like the internet itself and space travel, we know our country is better off," said Buttigieg,the former two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "We've got to ask where the balance is."

For example, Buttigieg referenced a report last year that found a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is unable to pay for an affordable two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. However, some states and localities have higher minimum wages than the federal rate, which has remained the same forabouta decade.

"I would argue that if that weren't the case, if we had higher wages and more public investment, we wouldn't need to lean on philanthropy quite as much as we do," Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg, who won the most delegates in February's Iowa caucus and finished second in the New Hampshire primary, ended his unlikely presidential bid on March 1, one day after Joe Biden's crucial victory in South Carolina.

Buttigiegendorsed the former vice president shortly after leaving the race.

On Thursday, Biden released an economic plan that proposes investments in American manufacturing. It calls for a $400 billion, four-year increase in government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and services, along with another $300 billion on research and development in technology.The Biden plan also touts the candidate's long-standing promises to strengthen workers' collective bargaining rights and to roll back part of the tax cuts passed by President Donald Trump.

Buttigieg said the U.S. economy needs that kind of spending to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis, which has put millions of American residents out of work. While saying he's attentive to concerns about government deficits, Buttigieg said investment plans like Biden'shave shown to have a "much higher rate of return than tax cuts."

"If you look at the overall picture of where our economy is headed, we don't have a choice and we can handle these kinds of investments if we make them before it's too late," Buttigieg said.

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Economy shouldn't have to rely on charity from billionaires, says Biden backer Pete Buttigieg - CNBC

How many ETs are in our galaxy? Ask the Alien Civilization Calculator – EarthSky

A long-exposure photograph of the Milky Way overlaid by the Drake equation: an equation developed by Frank Drake in 1961 for estimating the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in the galaxy. Image via Medium.com.

Are we alone in our galaxy? If not, how many other civilizations might there be? And where are they? In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake created whats now known as the Drake Equation shown above a tool for discussing the question of alien life. Now two scientists have incorporated the Drake Equation into a new system called the Alien Civilization Calculator. In addition to the Drake Equation, the new calculator also employs a new method called the Astrobiological Copernican Limits, to find the number of advanced civilizations we might be able to communicate with in the future. Like the Drake Equation itself, the new calculator is a tool for thinking and discussing. Its an aid for contemplating how many advanced alien civilizations there might be theoretically speaking in our own galaxy. Using the calculator, you can compare outcomes using the Drake Equation and the Astrobiological Copernican Limits. And you can adjust the input values, to how different factors might affect the number of alien civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy, and how close the nearest ones might be.

The scientists who created the Alien Civilization Calculator are with Omni Calculator which has many different types of calculators under one roof (1,197 according to the website) and which, Omni Calculator says, makes it:

super simple for anyone to solve their day-to-day calculations and math problems with ease in no time.

So a super simple answer to the question of alien life? Lets see.

A young Frank Drake. Drake, an astronomer, has been a leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence since the 1960s when he implemented Project Ozma to search for radio signals from advanced extraterrestrial civilizations. He developed the Drake equation. And he created the Arecibo Message, a 1974 interstellar radio message from Earth to the globular star cluster M13, carrying encoded information about Earth and its humans. Image via Spaceflight Now.

The inspiration for the calculator came from recent news about the Astrobiological Copernican Limits method, a new method for looking at the possibilities for alien life, based on a study by Tom Westby and Christopher J. Conselice. That study reached the conclusion that there should be at least 36 worlds with advanced alien societies in our galaxy. The peer-reviewed paper was published on April 8, 2020, in The Astrophysical Journal. The study estimated that the nearest civilization would probably be about 17,000 light-years away, so not all that close.

This gave Steve Wooding and Dominik Czernia at Omni Calculator the idea to create a new calculator, combining the Astrobiological Copernican Limits method with the Drake Equation. The two approaches are rather different, so using and comparing both of them was a unique and novel way to try to find possible solutions to what scientists called the Fermi Paradox. That paradox is based on physicist Enrico Fermis famous pondering about an apparent contradiction. That is, the Drake equation suggests there should be many, many extraterrestrial civilizations. Yet, all rumors to the contrary aside, theres been no hard and fast evidence for these civilizations that we all can see and agree upon. Fermi famously asked:

Where are they?

Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) was an Italian-American physicist, who received a 1938 Nobel Prize in physics for his work in nuclear physics. He famously asked, Where are they? Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Using the calculator is quite simple. First, you select which method you want to use, and then fill in all the fields in the Milky Way assumptions section. The result gives you an estimate of the number of civilizations in the galaxy, depending on the variables that you input, such as star formation rate, number of stars with planets, etc. It will also tell you how far away the closest of those civilizations should be. You can create many different combinations of variables to test your ideas out with. Theres even a space travel calculator to find out how long it would take to travel to these other worlds by rocket!

So how do the two methods compare?

The first, the Drake Equation, is a rather simple formula, and was developed by astronomer Frank Drake, who is also the father of modern SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The formula looks like this:

N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fs x ft x L

N stands for the number of detectable civilizations. The other variables are as follows:

R* is the average rate of star formation in our galaxy. By observing our galaxy and all nearby galaxies, we know its about 2.3 per year;fp is the percentage of stars that have at least one planet. Scientists agree that almost every star has a planet, therefore fp ? 100%;ne is the average number of hospitable planets per star. Thanks to the Kepler space mission, we know that each star in the galaxy has, on average, four Earth-sized planets;fl is the percentage of those planets where life actually emerges;fs is the percentage of those planets where life evolves into intelligent beings;ft is the percentage of those planets with intelligent creatures capable of interstellar communication; andL is the lifetime a civilization remains detectable for.

Perhaps the worlds ongoing effort to search for extraterrestrial life operates under the auspices of Yuri Milners project called Breakthrough Listen. Here is the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, one of the telescopes used by Breakthrough Listen for SETI. This is an artists concept of a signal from a Fast Radio Burst or FRB detected by the telescope. FRBs are one of the sorts of objects on the new Breakthrough Listen Exotica list, which some hope will help guide the search for ET. Image via UC Berkeley.

The first three are now well-known or fairly well-known at this point, but the remaining three are not. This of course makes it difficult still to come to any solid conclusions. But the Drake Equation is what has been used by astronomers for decades now, to try to come to at least some kind of understanding of how common, or rare, intelligent life might be.

Thats where the second method, the Astrobiological Copernican Limits, comes into play. Westby and Conselice developed it in April 2020 as a more modern form of the Drake Equation. The parameters are different from the Drake Equation, and based on the assumption that any habitable, Earth-like planet, presumably near in size to the Earth, with a similar composition, atmosphere and water, would eventually host life. That may sound like a big assumption to make, and it is. This method is also based on the one example we have so far of a communicating, intelligent civilization, our own.The paper has generated a lot of discussion, including criticism from some fellow scientists. For example, Caleb Scharf, Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, wrote on Twitter:

From the paper:

We present a cosmic perspective on the search for life and examine the likely number of Communicating Extra-Terrestrial Intelligent civilizations (CETI) in our galaxy by utilizing the latest astrophysical information. Our calculation involves Galactic star-formation histories, metallicity distributions, and the likelihood of stars hosting Earth-like planets in habitable zones, under specific assumptions which we describe as the Astrobiological Copernican Weak and Strong conditions. These assumptions are based on the one situation in which intelligent, communicative life is known to exist, on our own planet.

For the purposes of the calculator, the premise is that an Earth-like planet could only support intelligent life when it is five billion years old or older. This is based on the knowledge that Earth is about five billion years old, and humanity has only appeared within the last three million years or so, as currently understood. The equation for this method looks like this:

N = N* x fL x fHZ x fM x (L/?)

Giant artificial constructions in space, such as this hypothetical type of Dyson sphere, are one kind of possible technosignature. Image via CapnHack.

Again, N stands for the number of intelligent, and communicable, civilizations. But now the variables are as such:

N* is the total number of stars within the galaxy;fL is the percentage of those stars which are at least 5 billion years old;fHZ is the percentage of those stars which host a suitable planet for supporting life;fM is the percentage of those stars for which there is a sufficient amount of metal resources allowing the formation of advanced biology and a communicable civilization;L is the average lifetime of an advanced, communicable civilization; and? is the average amount of time available for life to develop on a planet, or, in other words, ? is the time in which life could exist.

For this model, users can also choose between strong, moderate or weak values in regards to how strict conditions are for intelligent life to appear and evolve. Strong = only a few stars with planets able to host such life, while weak = many such stars.

The maximum distance results from both methods can be used to calculate how many civilizations might be nearby. As might be expected, the farther out you go, the greater the chances of a habitable planet having intelligent life. This is based on the volume of space involved and simple statistics. For example, according to the calculator, there is only a one in 3 billion chance of the nearest star, the Alpha Centauri system, having a planet with intelligent life. But the farther out you go, the greater the odds.

As discussed in EarthSky recently, we are also now getting a better idea of where to search for evidence of advanced alien civilizations. The new Exotica Catalog, aka The Breakthrough Listen Exotic Target Catalog, from Breakthrough Listen, currently lists over 700 objects and phenomena of interest in the universe that might be good places to look. The catalog lists one of everything in the known universe that might be a good target for study and observations.

Steven Wooding and Dominik Czernia of Omni Calculator, who created the Alien Civilization Calculator. Image via Omni Calculator.

The catalog will help guide the search efforts of those looking for evidence of intelligent life, in particular by searching for technosignatures artifacts or phenomena produced by a highly advanced intelligent species that could be detected by telescopes. Modern SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is now finally starting to move beyond just looking for alien radio signals. Technosignatures could include many different possibilities, like Dyson spheres built around stars or other huge artificial constructions, lasers or other more exotic communications like Fast Radio Bursts, evidence of industrial pollution on a planet, etc.

The Alien Civilization Calculator is useful in trying to determine how many civilizations might exist in our galaxy, albeit based on many variables, and how close by some of them might be. Projects like the Exotic Catalog and Breakthrough Listen/ SETI will help to narrow down more specific locations and actual detected candidates. This kind of multi-pronged approach is what is needed, even if it still takes a long time to actually find something or someone.

The famous Drake Equation in illustrative form, depicting the different variables involved. The new calculator combines this formula with the new Astrobiological Copernican Limits method. Image via SETI Institute/ Enter the Realm of Guy Erma.

Bottom line: The new Alien Civilization Calculator combines two different methods of calculating how many advanced alien civilizations may exist in our galaxy.

Via Alien Civilization Calculator

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How many ETs are in our galaxy? Ask the Alien Civilization Calculator - EarthSky

COVID-19 Pandemic Amplifies Growth Opportunities in the Ultrathin and Superlight Solar Cells Market till 2023, TMR Research Report – Jewish Life News

Global Ultrathin and Superlight Solar Cells Market

Solar power is already a major part of the global renewable energy mix. The low production cost of solar energy, the abundant availability of solar power across the world, and the ease of use of solar power generation systems have led to the widespread usage of solar energy for both residential and nonresidential uses. Several countries in developed as well as developing regions have encouraged the widespread utilization of solar power to ease the pressure on the countries main power grids. Tax incentives and government entry into the field of renewable power have become commonplace all over the world, as solar photovoltaic has become a major energy source in many regions.

The firm foothold already established by the solar power sector in the overall energy generation field will massively help the development of ultrathin and superlight solar cells in the coming years. Whereas solar power is already an established renewable energy source in many countries, the application spectrum of the same is widening in several regions, which is expected to be greatly helped by the innovation of ultrathin and superlight solar cells.

The report helps deliver precise facts about the global ultrathin and superlight solar cells market by using a granular approach. Major regional segments of the global ultrathin and superlight solar cells market are examined in the report in order to provide a clear view of the geographical breakdown of the market. The competitive landscape of the market is also examined to provide key insights to readers.

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Global Ultrathin and Superlight Solar Cells Market: Drivers and Restraints

Recently, scientists at MIT developed a solar cell literally thinner than human hair. Such ultrathin and superlight solar cells it only weighs around 3.6 g/square meter are the order of the day, and the proof of concept developed by MIT researchers will help drive the global ultrathin and superlight solar cells market massively. While the actual model developed by MIT scientists is too small and lightweight for practical use, since it would be blown away by the slightest of breezes, the field of ultrathin and superlight solar cells is just getting started. The application of ultrathin and superlight solar cells includes, but is not limited to, space travel and high-altitude balloons, where the weight-to-output ratio of energy systems can be a deciding factor. Such solar cells could even become part of apparel and wearable devices without the customer ever realizing it, potentially completely transforming the wearable electronics industry.

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The wide-ranging potential application spectrum of ultrathin and superlight solar cells will be a major driver for the global market, since R&D in the field has been allowed to go on unhindered in many regions. The high weight-to-output ratio of ultrathin and superlight solar cells MITs design delivers 400 times more energy per weight than conventional silicon-based solar cells means that widespread usage of the cells is beneficial for alleviating the rising dependence on fossil fuels, which has helped the market garner government support.

The major restraint on the global ultrathin and superlight solar cells market is the difficulty in expanding the scale of the operation of the industry. While initial R&D in ultrathin and superlight solar cells has been promising, scaling up to commercial production will require significant cost reductions for the technology to be feasible on a large scale. The sophisticated technology required to manufacture ultrathin and superlight solar cells is currently not available across the world, with developed regions such as North America dominating the R&D scenario. However, these constraints could be eased by steady demand in fields where price is no factor, such as space exploration and defense.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Amplifies Growth Opportunities in the Ultrathin and Superlight Solar Cells Market till 2023, TMR Research Report - Jewish Life News

The Euclid space telescope is coming together – Space Daily

ESA's Euclid mission has reached another milestone on its journey towards launch. Its two instruments are now built and fully tested. These have been delivered to Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, where they are now being integrated with the telescope to form the mission's payload module.

Euclid consists of a 1.2-metre mirror telescope that is designed to work at both visible and near-infrared wavelengths - the latter being just longer than the red light humans can see. The telescope will collect light from distant cosmic objects and feed it into two instruments.

The Visible instrument (VIS) and the Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) will run in parallel, recording data simultaneously from whatever portion of the sky the telescope is pointed at.

Euclid's mission is to measure the shapes of more than a billion galaxies, and the accurate redshifts of tens of millions of galaxies across more than one third of the sky. The redshift is an effect caused by the expansion of the Universe. It stretches the wavelength of light emitted by distant galaxies; the further away the galaxy, the more extreme its redshift. The galaxies in Euclid's survey will span 10 billion years of cosmic history, and allow scientists to investigate the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that are thought to dominate the Universe.

The VIS instrument will handle the precise measurement of galaxy shapes by taking the very best images of distant galaxies that it possibly can. To do this, the instrument uses a mosaic of 36 CCDs, each of which contains 4000 pixels by 4000 pixels. This gives the detector a total of about 600 megapixels.

"The design, development, manufacturing, testing and calibration of the VIS instrument over a dozen years to a stringent specification has been a challenge," says Mark Cropper, VIS instrument Lead and Professor at the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UK.

"We are immensely proud of what the VIS Team has achieved to bring this project to its culmination. That the final performance exceeds our expectations is a tribute to their expertise, dedication and professionalism."

Not only is the number of pixels impressive, the instrument will also deliver the best low-light sensitivity over a broad range of wavelengths at long integration times.

"These are very special CCDs, they've been developed specifically for Euclid over many years," says Alex Short, ESA's VIS payload engineer.

The other instrument, NISP, is dedicated to making spectroscopic measurements of galaxies, which involves splitting their light into individual wavelengths. This allows the redshifts to be deduced. This property allows cosmologists to estimate the distance to the galaxy in question, and will allow Euclid's data to be turned into the largest, most accurate 3D survey of the Universe ever conducted.

"The international NISP team and supporting industries made an incredible job to design, develop and test this challenging instrument," says Thierry Maciaszek, NISP instrument project manager, from CNES and Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, France.

"This is, however, not the end of the story for us as many major activities have to be completed with NISP at satellite level. We are waiting impatiently for the first light in flight demonstrating the excellent global performances."

The NISP detector will feature the largest field of view ever flown in space for an infrared instrument.

"The quality of the optics is just amazing," says Tobias Boenke, Mission System and NISP Instrument Engineer at ESA.

A key factor in achieving Euclid's exceptional optical accuracy was a decision made early in the project's history to construct the entire payload module out of silicon carbide. The use of this material at ESA was pioneered in the manufacture of the telescope for the Herschel space mission. On ESA's Gaia mission, the support structure for the spacecraft's subsystems were mounted on a silicon carbide frame. On Euclid, the material has been used for the instruments as well as the telescope.

Whereas metal expands and contracts as its temperature changes, thus degrading an optical system's ability to focus light, silicon carbide is extremely stable to such variations in temperature. But using the compound brings its own challenges. Silicon carbide is a ceramic and so much more brittle than metal.

"It was a big challenge to be able to manufacture the instruments from this material and make sure they can remain undamaged during the launch," adds Tobias.

Like VIS, NISP also uses specially designed state-of-the-art detectors to record the faint light coming from distant stars and galaxies. Unlike VIS, NISP can also operate in spectrographic mode. The detectors, which are operated at -180 C to provide ultra-low noise and high sensitivity, register these 'spectra' and convert them into tiny electronic signals. These signals can then be amplified and accurately measured to provide the photometric and spectroscopic redshifts.

The instruments will receive light from Euclid's telescope, which has already been assembled at Airbus, Toulouse. Like the instruments, it too is made from silicon carbide and is a state-of-the art construction in all senses.

"We are pushing all the manufacturing levels to the limit," says Luis Miguel Gaspar Venancio, ESA's Mission Performance and Optical Systems Engineer.

A special component behind the telescope, called the dichroic, separates the collected light and diverts the visible wavelengths to VIS and the infrared wavelengths to NISP.

When the information from VIS and NISP is combined, scientists will be able to deduce the way that the Universe's large-scale distribution of galactic structures has built up throughout cosmic history. This will help them determine the speed at which such structures grow, providing strong constraints on the nature and amount of dark matter and dark energy in the Universe.

The instruments were prepared for delivery to Airbus just before the COVID-19 pandemic imposed restrictions and lockdowns in many ESA member states. Fortunately, VIS was already at Airbus, and NISP had to wait for a few weeks for shipment from Marseille to Toulouse, but was not on the critical path.

"I am extremely grateful to all project parties: institutes, industry and colleagues at ESA for their dedication and commitment during these difficult times," says Giuseppe Racca, ESA's Euclid project manager.

"We were hit by the pandemic in a particularly critical moment when both VIS and NISP were to be transferred to industry. Despite the work and travel restrictions a concerted effort by all parties allowed to minimise the delays by implementing distributed and sequential integration activities of the instrument units and remote monitoring."

Now that the instruments have been delivered to Airbus, they will be integrated first with the telescope, and next with the rest of the payload module. It has been a long journey getting this far. Euclid was selected for implementation in 2011, having already undergone almost five years of studies. While there is still a lot of hard work and testing ahead, the delivery of the instruments and telescope means that the spacecraft can really begin to come together.

"Finally, we have something in front of our eyes," says Luis Miguel. "It's not just paper anymore. It's a fantastic piece of hardware; beautiful in a way."

Integrating the payload module will last several months as it is painstaking work to get everything bolted together, precisely aligned and electronically talking. The instrument's control units have already been mechanically and electrically integrated to the payload module. These tests have verified that the instruments can be properly powered by the spacecraft, can talk to the onboard computers, and can transmit the science data that will then be downloaded to ground through the spacecraft antennas.

Once the telescope has been integrated with the rest of the payload module, it will be shipped to Centre Spatial de Liege, Belgium, for 'end-to-end' testing in a thermal vacuum chamber that can simulate the conditions of space as well as possible on Earth. This test is scheduled to take place in February and March 2021.

Once that test shows that everything is working as expected, the payload module will be shipped to the prime contractor Thales Alenia Space (TAS), in Torino, Italy. TAS has been building the service module, which contains essential systems such as power, propulsion and communications.

The service module's main structure recently passed its structural and thermal tests and is now ready to have the various systems integrated inside. TAS will begin by laying down the pipelines for the propulsion systems, and the cabling for other distributed systems. Flight electronics, including computers, power units, and attitude control units, are already mounted on their own structural panels and these will now be installed inside the main structure. Integration is due to be complete in the third quarter of the year, at which time tests will be performed.

TAS will then integrate the payload module with the service module to form the final, finished spacecraft. Then, another round of tests will ensure that everything is working together properly. At that point, the spacecraft is essentially finished, and ready for launch.

Launch is currently scheduled for the second half of 2022 from Europe's spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana.

Related LinksEuclid at ESAStellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

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The Euclid space telescope is coming together - Space Daily

Do You Speak Earth English? Why Interplanetary Immigrants Of The Future Will Struggle To Chat – Forbes

In the era of generations-long, one-way interstellar space travel will humans be able to communicate ... [+] with each other?

Do you know what uptalk is?

Its when someone makes a statement that sounds like a question purely because of the intonation they use at the end.Its also called high rising terminal(HRT) or rising inflection.

People do it all the time now. The phenomenon began in Australia about 40 years ago, crossed to America, and now its common across all age groups in the entire English-speaking world.

Now imagine a scenario where there are interplanetary settlements on other planets. Where there are isolated communities of humans. Where immigrants from Earth arrive in colonies having been in space for many years.

In a future era of generations-long, one-way interstellar space travel will humans be able to communicate with each other?

Colonists both new and old may struggle to understand one another, while messages sent to and received from those back home on Earth could quickly dwindle into meaninglessness.

Theyre the questions explored in anew paperpublished in Acta Futura, the journal of the European Space Agencys Advanced Concepts Team.

Languages drift apart as communities grow more isolated from each other, say the authors, so not only will spoken language quickly change among colonists in an isolated interplanetary settlement, but also among passengers on arriving spacecraft.

Interplanetary colonists both new and old may struggle to understand one another.

If youre on this vessel for 10 generations, new concepts will emerge, new social issues will come up, and people will create ways of talking about them and these will become the vocabulary particular to the ship, said Andrew McKenzie, Associate Professor of linguistics at the University of Kansas, who co-wrote Language Development During Interstellar Travel with Jeffrey Punske, assistant professor of linguistics at Southern Illinois University.

About 200 years is long enough for significant changes to occur if the crew is physically and socially disconnected from Earth, say the authors. Possibly just one lifetime if the community is very small. They extrapolate from examples on Earth; Polynesian settlement across the southern Pacific from 1500-1800, the settling of English speakers in isolated colonies in New Zealand in the 1800s, and the development of a unique Texan-German dialect in Texas over three generations up until World War 1.

People on Earth might never know about these new words unless theres a reason to tell them, and the further away you get, the less youre going to talk to people back home, said McKenzie. Generations will pass and there wont be anyone in particular on Earth for these interstellar travellers to talk to. Theres not much you want to tell them, because theyll only find out years later, and then you'll hear back from them years after that.

An interstellar spaceship leaving Earth for futuristic deep space travel.

For years-long voyages, dialects will likely merge. For a generations-long mission, new dialects and even anew language could solidify.

Interstellar travelers and colonists individual connections to Earth could fairly quickly wane. If we have Earth English and vessel English, and they diverge over the years, you have to learn a little Earth English to send messages back, or to read the instruction manuals and information that came with the ship, said McKenzie, in what was an English-centric study merely to highlight some broad concepts.

Moreover, language back on Earth will also have changed, so the language of communication between Earth-bound humans and those in colonies will become an archaic form of language used only for that purpose. Will anyone want or need to have to learn how to communicate with people on Earth? Or vice versa?

The authors suggest older forms of English may be retained purely for ritualistic or religious use.

They also recommend that the crew of an arriving vessel in a colony may want to learn the local language before arrival to prevent discrimination.Every new vessel will essentially offload linguistic immigrants to a foreign land, they write. Will they be discriminated against until their children and grandchildren learn the local language?

So next time you look up at the stars bear in mind that one day there could one day be a spacecraft up there containing humans desperately trying to learn to make their every utterance sound like a question.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes

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Do You Speak Earth English? Why Interplanetary Immigrants Of The Future Will Struggle To Chat - Forbes

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance mated to rocket ahead of July 30 launch – Space.com

NASA's next Mars rover has been attached to its rocket ride.

The Mars rover Perseverance was stacked atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Tuesday (July 7) at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a huge milestone ahead of the mission's planned July 30 launch.

"I have seen my fair share of spacecraft being lifted onto rockets," John McNamee, project manager for Perseverance's mission, which is known as Mars 2020, said in a statement Thursday (July 9).

"But this one is special, because there are so many people who contributed to this moment," said McNamee, who's based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "To each one of them I want to say, We got here together, and we'll make it to Mars the same way."

Related: NASA's Mars 2020 rover Perseverance in pictures

A 60-ton hoist on the roof of the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF), at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41, lifted the protective payload fairing containing Perseverance and its associated hardware 129 feet (39 meters) high on Tuesday, placing it on top of the Atlas V, NASA officials said. Engineers then made the required physical and electrical connections between the spacecraft and the rocket.

The mating milestone ushers in the final phase of Mars 2020 prelaunch testing, which can assess the rover and rocket both separately and together. The duo will remain based at the VIF until July 28, when they'll travel by rail to the launch pad, making the 1,800-foot (550 m) journey in about 40 minutes, NASA officials said.

Perseverance doesn't have to get off the ground on July 30; the $2.7 billion mission's launch window runs through Aug. 15. (That window was once considerably wider. It originally opened on July 17, but several processing issues pushed the target date back 13 days.)

Whenever Perseverance launches this summer, it will land on Feb. 18, 2021, inside Mars' Jezero Crater. The 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero contained a lake and a river delta in the ancient past, and the car-sized robot will search the area for signs of long-dead life.

Perseverance will do a variety of other work as well, from characterizing Jezero's geology to hunting for subsurface water ice to testing out gear that generates oxygen from Mars' thin, carbon dioxide-dominated atmosphere. The six-wheeled rover will also collect and cache several dozen samples, which will be recovered and returned to Earth, perhaps as early as 2031, by a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign.

And Perseverance will have some company during the long flight to Mars: a 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) helicopter named Ingenuity, which is attached to the rover's belly. If all goes according to plan, Ingenuity will make a few short test flights in the Red Planet's skies, potentially paving the way for extensive aerial exploration by future Martian rotorcraft.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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NASA's Mars rover Perseverance mated to rocket ahead of July 30 launch - Space.com

What role will IoT/AI play in transforming the mobility space post-COVID-19 – YourStory

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift in the priorities and travel patterns of daily commuters has been observed. With safety now a top priority, commuters are expected to move away from public transportation to personal mobility options that do not require being near other commuters/drivers.

Therefore, self-driving two-wheeler rentals are uniquely positioned to address the key concerns of commuters, with a safe, reliable, and affordable service that is not shared with other commuters/drivers.

Self-drive scooter rental is a decade-old business in India. It was primarily used in tourist hotspots such as Goa, where hotels would rent out 20-30 scooters per day to customers. However, even at a smaller scale, operators faced problems such as inability to monitor the usage of vehicles, driver behaviour, frequent theft, etc.

Today, scooter rental companies have expanded their fleets to thousands of scooters, and consumer use cases range from daily work commute and chores to food delivery, leisure activities, tourism etc. The key enabler for this rapid expansion has been widespread IoT adoption by two-wheeler fleet operators.

A commuters journey on a self-drive two-wheeler rental can be broken down in 4 parts - 1) searching for available scooters 2) starting the ride 3) the ride experience, and 4) ending the ride. Each part has been optimised and streamlined using IoT.

Consumers locate available scooters on an app, and can also view features such as fuel level, presence of helmet, sanitisation status etc on the same app. Once they locate the scooter, they can start the ride within 10 seconds by scanning a QR code, which limits physical touchpoints in the overall commute. The ride experience is further optimised by real-time fuel status alerts, geo-fencing alerts, and over-speeding alerts on the app.

Finally, commuters can end the ride virtually using the app. The app also detects if the helmet has been returned to the boot, and if the boot has been locked. The consumer is then accurately charged based on this exact usage of the service.

As a function of changing priorities/commute patterns due to COVID-19, companies have utilised IoT to change their business models to enhance the safety of their services.

Many players have launched long-term rental packages for consumers, with an option of home delivery of scooters by the fleet executive (FEs). In this scenario, consumers can pick up their scooter at any point post-delivery, and then use it for months before returning.

The key enablers for the launch of this model are IoT-enabled features such as keyless transfer, virtual daily updates on vehicle health, usage during rentals, and timely servicing alerts based on predictive maintenance algorithms etc.

Customers have the flexibility to choose their scooter based on last sanitised status now available on scooter rental apps. The app would also send alerts whenever commuters venture near red zones.

The IoT device is currently installed separately by operators on the scooter. But going forward, many OEMs are considering integrating into the scooter. This will transfer the responsibility of manufacturing and designing these devices to the OEM, and cut costs for the operator significantly.

Many players are also considering a switch to e-scooters to optimise their fuel costs. IoT technology on e-scooters can analyse driving patterns and impose parental controls like limiting max speed and limit.

It can also detect, and report the use of unauthorised spare parts during EV servicing. Remote-controlled delivery of an e-scooter may even be possible, with IoT-enabled cameras and a seamless 4G connection.

Technology (IOT/AI and others) has the potential to solve problems and unlock opportunities that today can only be imagined.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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What role will IoT/AI play in transforming the mobility space post-COVID-19 - YourStory

Camden Council takes action to make travel safer and healthier – Camden Council

To assist in implementing these wide ranging schemes, the council have to date secured approximately 1.5m of funding from Transport for Londons (TfL) Streetspace for London programme as well as 100,000, the maximum available, from the Department for Transports (DfT) Emergency Active Travel funding, with further opportunities being pursued.

Councillor Harrison continued:

The steps we have taken to meet the safe travel challenge include ten full road closures that enable walking and cycling whilst restricting through-traffic; four cycle permeability schemes; widening pavements at over six locations across our town centres, high streets and residential roads that have only limited footway space; pop-up cycle lanes and improved existing cycle lanes, and facilities including installing new cycle hangars, with 84 now available across Camden.

During this period, Camden Council also continued work to complete a number of longer-standing transformational walking and cycling schemes including the West End Project, as well as at Camden Park Road, Brunswick Square and Prince of Wales Road (eastbound permanent cycle lane).

Councillor Harrison continued:

We will continue to carry out a wide range of measures to enable safe, healthy travel as clear alternatives to car use. For example, we are currently implementing two new pop-up cycle lanes, on York Way (southern section) and Prince of Wales Road (eastbound), as well as improving the cycling connection at Patshull Road-Kentish Town Road.

We are also developing plans for further pop-up cycle lanes, Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes across different parts of the borough, a range of through-traffic restrictions, and more new cycle hangars.

We will also roll out new dockless bike hire bays which will mean that riders will need to leave the dockless bikes in designated areas, rather than anywhere. This will help address the clutter these bikes can sometimes cause.

By the start of the new school year in September, eight further schools across Camden will have timed road closures at the start and end of the school day as part of our Healthy School Street programme, making it safer and easier for parents and children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

Building on Camdens success on healthy streets we have recently been rated top in London, in the published results of theLondon Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard.

For more information on road safety changes we are making in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)visit our dedicated webpages.

Since lockdown the council have:

Further plans include:

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Camden Council takes action to make travel safer and healthier - Camden Council

Will COVID-19 Kill Giant Trade Shows And Conventions? – Forbes

Attendees walk through the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2020 on the final day of the 2020 ... [+] Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Nobody goes there anymore. Its too crowded,said baseball great and master of the malaprop Yogi Berra. It happened to the computer show COMDEX, which went from 211,000 attendees in 2000 to out of business by 2004. Will this be the fate of giant trade shows in the coronavirus era?

Spokespeople for trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) describe each show as the biggest and best. While best is subjective, it is clear that tradeshows like 2021 CES, scheduled forJan. 6 through Jan 9, 2021 in Las Vegas will not be the biggest everif they happen at all. The culprit: COVID-19.

Just this past January, CES 2020, billed as the largest tech event in the world, had an estimated attendance of 170,000 with 2.97 million square feet of exhibition space. And while MAD Magazine cartoons comically depicted conventioneers with lampshades on their heads, the money is serious: CES had an estimated economic impact of $283.3 million.

COVID-19 changed everything, but the banner atop the CES website reads, Our next CES in Las Vegas is in January 2021, and we plan to proceed as scheduled.

Yet many questions remain, from the availability of domestic and international airlines to international quarantines and restrictions on travelers. Can the shows hotels, transportation, press conferences, keynotes, parties, and giant convention halls be kept acceptably safe? And will companies let key executives travel in an environment where the pandemic has not been controlled?

In Nevada, gatherings are currently limited to 50 people or less due to COVID-19. How will Las Vegas go from a Strip limited to gatherings of 50 people in July (a key reason shows like now-bankrupt Cirque Du Soleil have not re-opened) to hosting 175,000 in January?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 14: Building wraps for the The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil show ... [+] are shown on the exterior of The Mirage Hotel & Casino as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 14, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cirque du Soleil announced that it is temporarily suspending all six of its Las Vegas shows beginning tomorrow as well as around the world to help stop the spread of the virus. Several employees at MGM Resorts International, which owns The Mirage, have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. MGM Resorts International employees who can will start working from home next week. MGM has closed all nightclubs, dayclubs, buffets, spas, gyms and salons at its properties in Las Vegas and on Monday, it will close 150 food and beverage outlets and furloughs and layoffs will begin. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Such factors have already led to the cancellation (or postponement) of many major trade shows in favor of going digital. Virtual trade shows sprung up after the 9/11 attacks but petered out as people got back on planes. Todays video technology and bandwidth is much better, as shown by the ubiquity of Zoom, WebEx and Teams virtual meetings. But would an all-online tradeshow satisfy the need to meet, greet, discuss, display, and sell?

At this point we plan to move forward with a live show. We are a not for profit member-based organization, and we are moving ahead because our exhibitors are telling us they want to. says Jean Foster, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Consumer Technology Association, producer of CES. Most likely it will be a hybrid show based in Las Vegas and also streamed digitally.

The show will be smaller, says Foster, because not everyone will be able to travel to US. There may be fewer smaller companies at areas like Eureka Park, which normally has 1200 startup companies.

The organization is also working on r-econfiguring the show floor with wider aisles, more spacing between booths, and foot traffic reconfigured to move in single directions. In previous years hundreds would queue up to get into popular press conferences, many of which will now be streamed. The bottom line: to increase physical distance between attendees.

Foster says the CTA is working with the Las Vegas Convention Authority and the casino hotels to mitigate crowding and enhance social distancing in bars, taxi lines, elevators, etc. There will be more shuttle buses, with less people on each, and no open buffet receptions.

There will definitely health screenings according to best practices, and everyone will wear a mask, says Foster. Whether best practices mean a quick temperature check or an actual COVID test is not yet clear, but CTA appears to be hoping for the appearance of a rapid, accurate test.

A person has his temperature screened while checking in at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las ... [+] Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, June 4, 2020. All gaming venues in Nevada must follow strict protocols to account for Covid-19, including reduced capacity, more spacing on the casino floor and increased sanitation. Photographer: Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg

Foster says the show will be smaller, but doesnt have an exact number, Were six months out. Foster admits, There may be a scenario that says we cant do it. But at this point, Based on what were hearing, our key exhibitors are planning to send their people.

If CESshrinksor goes mostly virtual, does it risk losing its relevancy and immediacy? The CES brand is a golden brand, that goes beyond the industry. We expect a large digital audience to come in, says Ms. Foster. I think we will be able to bring more eyeballs than normal foot traffic. We will attract and bring in a broader audience, either physically or digitally.

The IFA show, a consumer electronics event to be held in Berlin from September 3 to September 5, may provide a model for such shows to succeed considering the pandemic.

IFA this year will be a hybrid show, combining physical and virtual attendance and exhibitions. While IFA Berlin 2019 boasted 1800 exhibitors and 250,000 visitors, the IFA2020 Special Edition is limited to 1000 participants per day per event by the health assessment of the State of Berlin.Social distancing, prudent visitor management and thorough hygiene measures are of the utmost importance to us, says Jens Heithecker,IFAExecutive Director.

One of many questions is whether attendees from countries affected by EU barriers due to high coronavirus rates, (like the US, Brazil, Russia, etc.) can get exemptions to attend. Who can guarantee anything in these times, says Heithecker. It is no secret that one of the greatest challenges are the travel restrictions that are still in effect.But we will support our guests wherever possible.

Considering such issues, We have optimized the conditions of participation for theIFASpecial Edition 2020. The participation costs are deliberately reduced to a minimum, Heithecker says. A key part of this years show will be the IFAExtended Space, a virtual space that will allow those who cannot be physically present to participate. How will it work? The concept will be presented shortly stay tuned and curious, says Heithecker.

Meanwhile, vendors are trying to bridge the gap between physical and virtual tradeshow events. ShowStoppers has long been one of the premier press parties at CES, where journalists meet and drink with companies displaying new products. ShowStoppers has also produced the official press event at IFA for a decade and is doing it again for the IFA Special Edition.

Exhibitor Mark Gonnella of Lenovo demonstrates the Lenovo Jedi Challenges at the ShowStoppers ... [+] exhibition on the sidelines of CES 2018 in Las Vegas on January 9, 2018. The smartphone powered augmented reality headset comes with lightsaber and location beacon. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel Ngan (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

ShowStoppers now also has a footprint in the digital world. Partner Steve Leon says ShowStoppers TV is a startup that builds on 25 years of DNA producing in-person events. We connect companies, execs and products/services with journalists looking to discover them. Both audiences are global thats part of our DNA.

Leon says every journalist attending each episode can questionevery exhibitor, both during the presentation and later in breakout rooms. You cant shake hands and meet in person during this pandemic. We can online.

For now, Leon says, ShowStoppers TV is a startup. Were building it, growing it, with the goal of profitability, just like any business. Equally important, we are building a tool that enables companies and journalists to discover each other that will benefit us when we can again produce in-person events.

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Will COVID-19 Kill Giant Trade Shows And Conventions? - Forbes

Amid pandemic, RVs offer many the control they want over vacations – Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY Utahns eager to find alternatives to vacations that heighten the risk of exposure to coronavirus are turning to recreational vehicle rentals in droves, spilling into RV parks for socially distant vacations.

Tempted by the level of control they offer, first time RVers people whove never rented or owned an RV before in particular are trying it out, according to Kampgrounds of America Vice President of Communications Mike Gast.

A phenomenal amount of people and most of those first timers are flocking to rent RVs from other people and give that lifestyle a try or have decided thats going to be their vacation this year, Gast said. We are seeing a huge bump in business right now.

Its a trend thats been reflected in a number of different RV parks, according to Ben Inlay, operations manager for the popular McArthurs Temple View RV Resort in St. George. He said his business has seen a very large increase of first time RVers at the park, in addition to a surge of same-day reservations.

There have also been a lot of people traveling from other states that have been locked down coming here because RV travel is one of the safest ways to travel because you have your own bed and living quarters, he said. There were also a lot of people who stayed here longer in Utah primarily because the areas they were heading home to were impacted by COVID much more and they didnt want to travel to that.

While travel restrictions, financial restraints and other travel-related fears brought down the number of stays overall this year, Gast said KOA sites are clawing their way back, and each week gets a little bit better. Recently, weekends have seen phenomenal numbers and theres been advance reservations at the end of the June that were higher than the number of bookings at that same time in 2019.

We know that demand is there. We know that people were quick to return to the camping lifestyle, and we certainly arent going to recover to the end of last year, its just too much of a gap there, Gast said. But it certainly did come back strong, and we also understand that theres likely going to be surges in certain areas.

Gast said one of the more encouraging things is that customer satisfaction is up. This coupled with the fact that more people are turning to camping and renting an RV for the first time, makes him feel positive about KOAs future.

We think the net result of COVID is we probably have been able to increase the audience for camping. Weve got more people interested in it, more people giving it a try, and we know that once they give it a try they are going to want to do it again, he said.

Chris Clark, of Orlando, Florida, is also staying at the Salt Lake City KOA site. Shes currently on a six-week trip with her husband and daughter.

She said she understands why traveling by RV is such a popular thing these days.

Camping is naturally socially distancing, Clark said. It was easy for us because it gives us the flexibility of you can go and do. There are so many advantages of traveling by RV.

Grid View

Peer-to-peer rentals like RVshare and Outdoorsy have seen a considerable surge in public interest. Similar to Airbnb, these companies allow people to rent out or find an RV all over the country.

RVShare CEO Jon Gray said stays in Utah specifically have doubled in June compared to the previous year. While the service exists all over the country, the Western metro area is a big market Salt Lake City being one of the top cities.

Gray said RVshares rentals have shifted quite a bit since mid-March when the coronavirus began heavily impacting life in the U.S. Initially, the company pivoted business to service health care workers so they could have access to an RV in their driveway in order to lessen the odds of potentially infecting family members, and to other critical workers who needed to isolate themselves.

As states have steadily loosened restrictions, RVshare has seen surges in rentals in those areas and a pretty high percentage of new bookings coming from first timers, Gray said, explaining the numbers are pretty astounding.

He credited this to the aspects of the RV business that are attractive to people where control is a premium when there are so many unknowns because of the pandemic.

RVs allow you to have your own bathroom and your own kitchen. They allow you to stay away from crowds. They allow you the flexibility to stay where you want to control the environment around you, Gray said. These things cast in the light of COVID have become even more important.

He pointed to a recent RVshare survey that found 93% of respondents are aiming to avoid crowds this summer on their vacation.

You have the RV and you can drive it to where you want. If you come upon a campground that you feel is too crowded, you dont have to go there. You can go to the next one, Gray said.

Sharon Ginger, of San Diego, echoed these sentiments. She and her family are staying in the Salt Lake City KOA campground while embarking on a 17 day trip.

Its our space. Nobody is coming into our space unless we invite them into it. Its our bed every night, its our sheets and our pillows. We can cook in our camper if we want to, Ginger said. You can be fully self-contained.

Ginger said she has a compromised immune system because of her history with a rare form of cervical cancer. She explained she feels totally safe camping, and said her diagnosis actually helped encourage her to get out and live including selling her home four years ago and embarking on a six-month trip with her familys first camper.

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Amid pandemic, RVs offer many the control they want over vacations - Deseret News