Israel’s first lunar mission to launch this week

TEL AVIV, Israel (AFP) — Israel is to launch its first moon mission this week, sending an unmanned spacecraft to collect data to be shared with NASA, organizers said Monday. The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) Beresheet (Genesis) spacecraft is to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at around 0145 GMT on Friday. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and technology NGO SpaceIL announced the date at a press conference. Mission control will be in […]

New Universe map unearths 300,000 more galaxies

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — The known Universe just got a lot bigger. A new map of the night sky published Tuesday charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using a telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see. The international team behind the unprecedented space survey said their discovery literally shed new light on some of the Universe’s deepest secrets, including the physics of black […]

Russia’s RT fumes after Facebook blocks ‘popular’ page “In The Now”

  MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Facebook has blocked a popular page run by Russian state TV channel RT, the channel’s editor said Monday, criticizing the move as an attack on media rights. “We had a subsidiary project in English, In the Now. The project was wildly popular — 2.5 billion views and four million subscribers on Facebook alone!” RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Telegram social network account. She said a report aired by […]

Japan upgrades downpour forecasts before Tokyo 2020

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — With an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Japanese researchers are developing a new system to accurately forecast torrential downpours — known in Japan as ‘guerilla rainstorms’ — 30 minutes before they strike. Scientists have created a high-tech radar capable of producing a three-dimensional map of a rain cloud in 30 to 60 seconds. They say this is a significant improvement on existing systems that measure only parts of a cloud […]

Amazon invests in electric vehicle startup Rivian

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Electric vehicle startup Rivian on Friday announced a $700 million investment round led by Amazon, which recently pumped money into a young self-driving car technology firm. Details of Amazon’s stake in US-based Rivian were not disclosed, but the company said it will remain independent. The potential Tesla rival late last year unveiled an electric pickup truck and an electric sport utility vehicle at an auto show in Los Angeles. […]

Roblox, the game platform teaching young kids to code

by Julie JAMMOT Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — With its Lego-like avatars and easy-to-learn coding for budding programmers, the online gaming app Roblox has cornered the market in younger gamers, with 80 million monthly users, many of them under 16. Now the platform, which has already taken the United States by storm, is setting its sights on Europe and Asia to become a global giant. Kids log on to the mobile app after school to guide their […]

Facebook taps user data to defend workers from threat

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) – Facebook gathers intelligence from its platform to identify people who threaten the firm or its workers, the social network said Thursday in response to media reports of the security tactic. CNBC reported that it interviewed more than a dozen former Facebook security employees, some of whom questioned the ethics of what was portrayed as an unclearly defined practice at the leading social network. Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison told AFP […]

NASA heading back to Moon soon, and this time to stay

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — NASA is accelerating plans to return Americans to the Moon, and this time, the US space agency says it will be there to stay. Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, told reporters Thursday that the agency plans to speed up plans backed by President Donald Trump to return to the moon, using private companies. “It’s important that we get back to the moon as fast as possible,” said Bridenstine in a meeting […]

Airbus pulls plug on costly A380 superjumbo as sales plummet

by Joseph Schmid Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — European aerospace giant Airbus said Thursday that it would stop building its A380 superjumbo, the double-decker jet which earned plaudits from passengers but failed to win over enough airlines to justify its massive costs. The final two double-deckers will be delivered in 2021, just 14 years after the first A380 went into service, after the Dubai-based Emirates decided to reduce its total orders by 39 […]

Mission complete: NASA announces demise of Opportunity rover

by Ivan Couronne Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — During 14 years of intrepid exploration across Mars it advanced human knowledge by confirming that water once flowed on the red planet — but NASA’s Opportunity rover has analyzed its last soil sample. The robot has been missing since the US space agency lost contact during a dust storm in June last year and was declared officially dead Wednesday, ending one of the most […]

Robot probes radioactive fuel at Japan’s Fukushima plant

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A robot will attempt to examine radioactive fuel at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday in a complex operation seen as key to clean-up efforts after the 2011 meltdown. The operation is intended to better assess the status of the melted fuel, including whether it is stable enough to be picked up for removal, or may crumble upon contact. “The operation began at 7:00am local time and will last around five […]

NASA to make final attempt to contact Mars Opportunity Rover

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US space agency NASA will make one final attempt to contact its Opportunity Rover on Mars late Tuesday, eight months after it last made contact. The agency also said it would hold a briefing Wednesday, during which it will likely officially declare the end of the mission. Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004 and covered 28 miles (45 kilometers) on the planet, securing its place in history after lasting well […]