Sci-Tech

China’s Huawei says ‘survival first priority’ after 2019 sales fall short

BEIJING, China (AFP) –Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei said Tuesday that “survival” was its first priority after announcing 2019 sales were expected to fall short of projections as a result of US sanctions. Chairman Eric Xu said Huawei — banned from working with American firms over national security fears — estimates sales revenue will reach 850 billion yuan for 2019 (US$121 billion) — up roughly 18 percent from the previous year, but much lower than initially expected. […]

Facebook fined $1.65 mn by Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil on Monday fined  Facebook $1.65 million for improperly sharing users’ data in a case linked to the global Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook engaged in an “abusive practice” by allowing data from 443,000 users in Brazil to be unduly available to developers of the application “This is Your Digital Life,” according to the Ministry of Justice. That application — a psychological survey — collected personal data from millions of Facebook users worldwide, […]

UAE denies developing popular Mideast app as spy tool

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — The United Arab Emirates on Saturday denied reports that a popular mobile application developed in the country was used for government spying. Apple and Google removed the ToTok app from their marketplaces last week following a report claiming it allowed the UAE government to track users’ conversations, movements and other details. But the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement that UAE laws “prohibit any kind of data breach […]

NASA’s trip to Mars begins in California ‘clean room’

Pasadena, United States (AFP) — NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will head off for the Red Planet next year. But like Voyager, Galileo and Cassini before it, the mission’s epic journey began in a “clean room” in California. One of two ultra-sterile labs used for spacecraft assembly at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the eggshell-white room was briefly and exceptionally opened to journalists Friday. “We need to keep the […]

China launches powerful rocket in boost for 2020 Mars mission

by Jing Xuan TENG Agence France-Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — China Friday launched one of the world’s most powerful rockets in a major step forward for its planned mission to Mars in 2020. The heavy lift Long March 5 rocket carrying a Shijian 20 test satellite payload blasted off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan at 8:45 pm (1245 GMT), a live-stream from state broadcaster CCTV showed. “After more than 2,000 […]

Europe marks 40th anniversary of first Ariane rocket launch

  by Juliette Collen  PARIS, France (AFP) — The first Ariane space rocket lifted off over the forests of French Guiana 40 years ago, enabling Europe to at last take its place as an independent player in the international race for space. Following a number of delays and technical setbacks, Ariane 1 finally left the launch pad in Kourou at 2:13 pm local time on December 24, 1979. Its maiden flight was a so-called qualification […]

First commercial electric plane takes flight in Canada

by Alia DHARSSI Agence France-Presse VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP) — The world’s first fully electric commercial aircraft took its inaugural test flight on Tuesday, taking off from the Canadian city of Vancouver where tall mountain peaks edge the Pacific Ocean. “This proves that commercial aviation in all-electric form can work,” said Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of Seattle-based engineering firm magniX. The company designed the plane’s motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air, which ferries half […]

NASA finds Indian Moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of an amateur space enthusiast. NASA made the announcement on Monday, releasing an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact (September 7 in India and September 6 in the US). A version of the […]

Polish firm’s drones, from lifesaver to invisible model, take to the skies

by Michel VIATTEAU MIKOLOW, Poland (AFP) — Silently the eight propellers of the Hermes V8MT drone begin to spin and the large yellow aircraft rises up, locates its direction and moments later disappears into the sky in southern Poland. Today the drone is making a successful 8.5-kilometer (5.3-mile) test flight near the headquarters of the Polish firm Spartaqs in the town of Mikolow; soon it will be making journeys between a blood bank and the […]

Scientists spot black hole so huge it ‘shouldn’t even exist’ in our galaxy

BEIJING, China (AFP) — Astronomers have discovered a black hole in the Milky Way so huge that it challenges existing models of how stars evolve, researchers said Thursday. LB-1 is 15,000 light-years from Earth and has a mass 70 times greater than the Sun, according to the journal Nature. The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100 million stellar black holes but LB-1 is twice as massive as anything scientists thought possible, said Liu Jifeng, […]

China completes Mars lander test ahead of 2020 mission

HUAILAI, China (AFP) — China on Thursday completed a test of its Mars exploration lander ahead of Beijing’s first mission to the red planet slated for 2020. Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022. Thursday’s hovering and obstacle-avoidance test, which took place in northern Hebei province, was conducted in a facility that simulated conditions on Mars. A red platform with steel cables attached […]

Facebook nixes billions of fake accounts

by Glenn CHAPMAN SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Facebook on Wednesday said it has taken down some 5.4 billion fake accounts this year in a sign of the persistent battle on social media against manipulation and misinformation. Amid growing efforts to create fraudulent accounts, Facebook said it has stepped up its defenses and often removes the accounts within minutes of being created. “We have improved our ability to detect and block attempts to create […]