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Apr 6, 2020

Small Satellites are Expanding

Posted by in categories: satellites, space

Satellites come in all sizes and shapes. A small satellite or SmallSat is commonly considered to be a satellite that weighs less than 500 kg.

As a basic application of various satellite sizes by mass, the common distinction:

Lower LimitUpper Limit(kg)ClassificationExamples
1000Large satellitesHubble Space Telescope / Inmarsat-4A F4
5001000Medium satellitesO3b
0500Small satellitesSpaceX StarLink
Short Summary of Satellite sizes

CubeSats are smaller yet.

CubeSats need to conform to specific criteria including shape, size, and mass. At this point, most people have become aware or are at least heard of CubeSats. (Cube Satellites). CubeSats (cube satellite, cube satellite) are a type of nanosatellites defined by the CubeSat Design Specification (CSD) or otherwise commonly known by the unofficial term “CubeSat standard”. Cubesats are small, and start off at the 1U size of 10xm x 10 cm x 11.35 cm ( yes not exactly a cube, but very close) Here are some standard CubeSat dimensions:

Continue reading “Small Satellites are Expanding” »

Apr 6, 2020

PIPES Researchers Demonstrate Optical Interconnects to Improve Performance of Digital Microelectronics

Posted by in categories: computing, internet

Under DARPA’s Photonics in the Package for Extreme Scalability (PIPES) program, researchers from Intel and Ayar Labs have demonstrated early progress towards improving chip connectivity with photons – or light. Signaling over optical fibers enables the internet today and optical transceivers are ubiquitous in data centers, yet digital systems still rely upon the movement of electrons over metal wires to push data between integrated circuits (ICs) on a board. Increasingly, the limitations of electrical signaling from the chip package restrict overall bandwidth and signaling efficiency, throttling the performance of advanced systems. The PIPES program is exploring ways to expand the use of optical components to address these constraints and enable digital microelectronics with new levels of performance.

Researchers from Intel and Ayar Labs working on PIPES have successfully replaced the traditional electrical input/output (I/O) of a state-of-the-art field programmable gate array (FPGA) with efficient optical signaling interfaces. The demonstration leverages an optical interface developed by Ayar Labs called TeraPHY, an optical I/O chiplet that replaces electrical serializer/deserializer (SERDES) chiplets. These SERDES chiplets traditionally compensate for limited I/O when there is a need for fast data movement, enabling high-speed communications and other capabilities. Using Intel’s advanced packaging and interconnect technology, the team integrated TeraPHY and the Intel FPGA core within a single package, creating a multi-chip module (MCM) with in-package optics. The integrated solution substantially improves interconnect reach, efficiency, and latency – enabling high-speed data links with single mode optical fibers coming directly from the FPGA.

Apr 6, 2020

Notes from an Apocalypse

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, space, transhumanism

O’Connell’s previous book, To Be a Machine, was an inspired journalistic exploration of “transhumanism”, the subculture that wants to fast-forward to a technological future in which man becomes part-machine. This one is haunted by the idea that, unless we change our ways, or even if we change our ways, our species does not have much of a future at all. For O’Connell, those fears had been sharpened by recent fatherhood.

A timely study of the world’s growing sense of doom ranges from tourists in Chernobyl to Elon Musk’s plan to colonise Mars.

Apr 6, 2020

A debate between AI experts shows a battle over the technology’s future

Posted by in categories: futurism, robotics/AI

The field is in disagreement about where it should go and why.

Apr 5, 2020

This Prototype System Could Theoretically Transmit Data at 10 Terabits Per Second

Posted by in category: internet

Scientists have developed a prototype system that could hypothetically see data transfer rates hit 10 terabits per second – or many thousands of times faster than your average broadband speed, in other words.

This radical jump could be made possible by switching to an extremely high frequency for the data transfer, allowing for more bandwidth (a greater volume of data) to be squeezed into the same space, and boosting the overall transfer rate.

There has previously been some doubt as to whether a higher frequency wave structure (or waveguide) such as the one explored here could be sufficiently protected against interference, but with this latest study, the scientists think they may have cracked the problem.

Apr 5, 2020

Amazon’s Project Tempo could crush Google Stadia — here’s why

Posted by in category: futurism

Amazon’s answer to Google Stadia is coming.

Apr 5, 2020

Photos: Astronauts train to ride a Dragon into space

Posted by in category: space travel

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, two veteran space shuttle fliers, are gearing up to fly a privately-developed SpaceX Dragon capsule into orbit this year.

The two astronauts participated in several major training events in March, including long-duration simulations to rehearse procedures they will execute during launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, their docking with the International Space Station, and then departure from the orbiting lab for return to Earth.

SpaceX and NASA engineers joined the astronauts in the simulations, rehearsing their roles at control centers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and NASA’s space station control center in Houston.

Apr 5, 2020

Europe Gets One Step Closer To AI-Piloted Drones & eVTOL Aircraft

Posted by in categories: drones, mobile phones, robotics/AI

The biggest change worldwide in the last decade was probably the smartphone revolution, but overall, cities themselves still look pretty much the same. In the decade ahead, cities will change a lot more. Most of our regular readers probably think I am referring to how autonomous vehicles networks will start taking over and how owning a car will start to become closer to owning a horse. However, the real answer isn’t just the autonomous vehicles on the roads — they will likely also compete with autonomous eVTOL aircraft carrying people between hubs.

Today, the European Union is moving one step closer to making this second part a reality. Together with Daedalean, an autonomous flight company we have covered in the past, EASA published a new joint report covering “The Learning Assurance for Neural Networks.”

Apr 5, 2020

Attacking Global Warming With Satellites

Posted by in categories: climatology, disruptive technology, energy, environmental, space
Artist impression of a Methane hunting satellite by Bluefield

Global warming is a complex problem that is not easy to solve. While world leaders seem to be dragging their feet over the issue, Yotam Ariel, founder of Bluefield, believes he might have at least one piece of the puzzle sorted. Methane monitoring from space. By leveraging a network of microsatellites with a proprietary sensor, Bluefield plans to deliver alerts and analytics to oil and gas clients to help combat the inadvertent release of methane gas

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is leaking into the atmosphere. One might ask, “Why bother with methane, isn’t carbon dioxide the problem?” Well, according to the IPCC (, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is clearly a bad thing for global warming. Methane is believed to be responsible for 25% of global warming and knowing who is emitting, when, and how much, would be a massive step towards reversing climate change. Since between 50 and 65% of total global methane emissions come from human activities, being able to identify and stop leaks is crucial to lowering greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

Bluefield plans to specialize in methane gas detection and not try and solve all problems all at once and thereby reducing complexity. Further reduction in complexity is achieved by leveraging outside suppliers where applicable that complement the Bluefield plans. By reducing the complexity, Bluefield can focus on its core mission and specialty. Areas outside of detection such as the satellite parts, ground stations, the launch, and other services will be outsourced. This will allow Bluefield to quickly move through its development stages. Whereas it might take up to 10 years for a space agency like NASA, JAXA or ESA, to fund, design, test and launch a custom satellite, Bluefield aims to accomplish this as early as next year.

In fact, the prototype for the first microsatellite design has already been completed. Bluefield shortlisted several suppliers and the final selection will be made soon. The company is well on its way to testing its technology in orbit after completing both field tests and high-altitude balloon tests this year. By mounting its newly developed sensor on several backpack-sized microsatellites, Bluefield will be able to collect enough raw data to provide methane emission monitoring at a previously unthinkable level in terms of global coverage, high resolution and at a price point well below what is currently available.

Apr 5, 2020

Huge asteroid 1998 OR2 will zip harmlessly

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

The huge “potentially hazardous” asteroid 1998 OR2 is just a few weeks away from its close encounter with Earth, and you can watch the giant space rock’s approach online or with a small telescope.

While asteroid 1998 OR2 is large enough to wreak havoc on Earth if it were to strike our planet, it won’t come anywhere near a collision when it flies by on April 29.