In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Often depicted in art, Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus's father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, because the sea's dampness would clog his wings or the sun's heat would melt them. Icarus ignored his father's instructions not to fly too close to the sun, whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea. This tragic theme of failure at the hands of hubris contains similarities to that of Phaëthon. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- In looking at NASA images of Mars a few years ago, Brown University geologist Peter Schultz noticed sets of strange bright streaks emanating from a few large-impact craters on the planet's surface. The streaks are odd in that they extend much farther from the craters than normal ejecta patterns, and they are only visible in thermal infrared images taken during the Martian night. Using geological observation, laboratory impact experiments and computer modeling, Schultz and Brown graduate student Stephanie Quintana have offered a new explanation for how those streaks were formed. They show that tornado-like wind vortices -- generated by crater-forming impacts and swirling at 500 miles per hour or more -- scoured the surface and blasted away dust and small rocks to expose the blockier surfaces beneath. "This would be like an F8 tornado sweeping across the surface," Schultz said. "These are winds on Mars that will never be seen again unless another impact." The research is published online in the journal Icarus. Schultz says he first saw the streaks during one of his "tours of Mars." In his downtime between projects, he pulls up random images from NASA's orbital spacecraft just to see if he might spot something interesting. In this case, he was looking at infrared images taken during the Martian nighttime by the THEMIS instrument, which flies aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The infrared images capture contrasts in heat retention on the surface. Brighter regions at night indicate surfaces that retain more heat from the previous day than surrounding surfaces, just as grassy fields cool off at night while buildings in the city remain warmer. "You couldn't see these things at all in visible wavelength images, but in the nighttime infrared they're very bright," Schultz said. "Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which retain more heat than surfaces covered by powder and debris. That tells us that something came along and scoured those surfaces bare." And Schultz had an idea what that something might be. He has been studying impacts and impact processes for years using NASA's Vertical Gun Range, a high-powered cannon that can fire projectiles at speeds up to 15,000 miles per hour. "We had been seeing some things in experiments we thought might cause these streaks," he said. When an asteroid or other body strikes a planet at high speed, tons of material from both the impactor and the target surface are instantly vaporized. Schultz's experiments showed that vapor plumes travel outward from an impact point, just above the impact surface, at incredible speeds. Scaling laboratory impacts to the size of those on Mars, a vapor plume's speed would be supersonic. And it would interact with the Martian atmosphere to generate powerful winds. The plume and its associated winds on their own didn't cause the strange streaks, however. The plumes generally travel just above the surface, which prevents the kind of deep scouring seen in the streaked areas. But Schultz and Quintana showed that when the plume strikes a raised surface feature, it disturbs the flow and causes powerful tornadic vortices to form and drop to the surface. And those vortices, the researchers say, are responsible for scouring the narrow streaks. Schultz and Quintana showed that the streaks are nearly always seen in conjunction with raised surface features. Very often, for example, they are associated with the raised ridges of smaller impact craters that were already in place when the larger impact occurred. As the plume raced outward from the larger impact, it encountered the small crater rim, leaving bright twin streaks on the downwind side. "Where these vortices encounter the surface, they sweep away the small particles that sit loose on the surface, exposing the bigger blocky material underneath, and that's what gives us these streaks," Schultz said. Schultz says the streaks could prove useful in establishing rates of erosion and dust deposition in areas where the streaks are found. "We know these formed at the same time as these large craters, and we can date the age of the craters," Schultz said. "So now we have a template for looking at erosion." But with more research, the streaks could eventually reveal much more than that. From a preliminary survey of the planet, the researchers say the streaks appear to form around craters in the ballpark of 20 kilometers across. But they don't appear in all such craters. Why they form in some places and not others could provide information about the Martian surface at the time of the impact. The researchers' experiments reveal that the presence of volatile compounds -- a thick layer of water ice on the surface or subsurface, for example -- affect the amount the vapor that rushes out from an impact. So in that way, the streaks might serve as indicators of whether ice may have been present at the time of an impact, which could lend insight into reconstructions of past climate on Mars. Equally possible, the streaks could be related to the composition of the impactor, such as rare collisions by high-volatile objects, such as comets. "The next step is to really dig into the conditions that cause the streaks," Schultz said. "They may have a lot to tell us, so stay tuned."


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Looking at NASA images of Mars a few years ago, Brown University geologist Peter Schultz noticed sets of strange bright streaks emanating from a few large-impact craters on the planet’s surface. The streaks are odd in that they extend much farther from the craters than normal ejecta patterns, and they are only visible in thermal infrared images taken during the Martian night. Using geological observation, laboratory impact experiments and computer modeling of impact processes, Schultz and Brown graduate student Stephanie Quintana have offered a new explanation for how those streaks were formed. The researchers show that tornado-like wind vortices — generated by crater-forming impacts and swirling at 500 miles per hour or more — scoured the surface and blasted away dust and small rocks to expose the blockier surfaces beneath. “This would be like an F8 tornado sweeping across the surface,” Schultz said. “These are winds on Mars that will never be seen again unless another impact.” The research is published online in the journal Icarus. Schultz says he first saw the streaks during one of his “tours of Mars.” In his downtime between projects, he pulls up random images from NASA’s orbital spacecraft just to see if he might spot something interesting. In this case, he was looking at infrared images taken during the Martian nighttime by the THEMIS instrument, which flies aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The infrared images capture contrasts in heat retention on the surface. Brighter regions at night indicate surfaces that retain more heat from the previous day than surrounding surfaces, just as grassy fields cool off at night while buildings in the city remain warmer. “You couldn’t see these things at all in visible wavelength images, but in the nighttime infrared they’re very bright,” Schultz said. “Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which retain more heat than surfaces covered by powder and debris. That tells us that something came along and scoured those surfaces bare.” And Schultz had an idea what that something might be. He has been studying impacts and impact processes for years using NASA’s Vertical Gun Range, a high-powered cannon that can fire projectiles at speeds up to 15,000 miles per hour. “We had been seeing some things in experiments we thought might cause these streaks,” he said. When an asteroid or other body strikes a planet at high speed, tons of material from both the impactor and the target surface are instantly vaporized. Schultz’s experiments showed that vapor plumes travel outward from an impact point, just above the impact surface, at incredible speeds. Scaling laboratory impacts to the size of those on Mars, a vapor plume’s speed would be supersonic. And it would interact with the Martian atmosphere to generate powerful winds. The plume and its associated winds on their own didn’t cause the strange streaks, however. The plumes generally travel just above the surface, which prevents the kind of deep scouring seen in the streaked areas. But Schultz and Quintana showed that when the plume strikes a raised surface feature, it disturbs the flow and causes powerful tornadic vortices to form and drop to the surface. And those vortices, the researchers say, are responsible for scouring the narrow streaks. Schultz and Quintana showed that the streaks are nearly always seen in conjunction with raised surface features. Very often, for example, they are associated with the raised ridges of smaller impact craters that were already in place when the larger impact occurred. As the plume raced outward from the larger impact, it encountered the small crater rim, leaving bright twin streaks on the downwind side. “Where these vortices encounter the surface, they sweep away the small particles that sit loose on the surface, exposing the bigger blocky material underneath, and that’s what gives us these streaks,” Schultz said. Schultz says the streaks could prove useful in establishing rates of erosion and dust deposition in areas where the streaks are found. “We know these formed at the same time as these large craters, and we can date the age of the craters,” Schultz said. “So now we have a template for looking at erosion.” But with more research, the streaks could eventually reveal much more than that. From a preliminary survey of the planet, the researchers say the streaks appear to form around craters in the ballpark of 20 kilometers across. But they don’t appear in all such craters. Why they form in some places and not others could provide information about the Martian surface at the time of the impact. The researchers’ experiments reveal that the presence of volatile compounds — a thick layer of water ice on the surface or subsurface, for example — affect the amount the vapor that rushes out from an impact. So in that way, the streaks might serve as indicators of whether ice may have been present at the time of an impact, which could lend insight into reconstructions of past climate on Mars. Equally possible, the streaks could be related to the composition of the impactor, such as rare collisions by high-volatile objects, such as comets. “The next step is to really dig into the conditions that cause the streaks,” Schultz said. “They may have a lot to tell us, so stay tuned.”


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Looking at NASA images of Mars a few years ago, Brown University geologist Peter Schultz noticed sets of strange bright streaks emanating from a few large-impact craters on the planet’s surface. The streaks are odd in that they extend much farther from the craters than normal ejecta patterns, and they are only visible in thermal infrared images taken during the Martian night. Using geological observation, laboratory impact experiments and computer modeling of impact processes, Schultz and Brown graduate student Stephanie Quintana have offered a new explanation for how those streaks were formed. The researchers show that tornado-like wind vortices — generated by crater-forming impacts and swirling at 500 miles per hour or more — scoured the surface and blasted away dust and small rocks to expose the blockier surfaces beneath. “This would be like an F8 tornado sweeping across the surface,” Schultz said. “These are winds on Mars that will never be seen again unless another impact.” The research is published online in the journal Icarus. Schultz says he first saw the streaks during one of his “tours of Mars.” In his downtime between projects, he pulls up random images from NASA’s orbital spacecraft just to see if he might spot something interesting. In this case, he was looking at infrared images taken during the Martian nighttime by the THEMIS instrument, which flies aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The infrared images capture contrasts in heat retention on the surface. Brighter regions at night indicate surfaces that retain more heat from the previous day than surrounding surfaces, just as grassy fields cool off at night while buildings in the city remain warmer. “You couldn’t see these things at all in visible wavelength images, but in the nighttime infrared they’re very bright,” Schultz said. “Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which retain more heat than surfaces covered by powder and debris. That tells us that something came along and scoured those surfaces bare.” And Schultz had an idea what that something might be. He has been studying impacts and impact processes for years using NASA’s Vertical Gun Range, a high-powered cannon that can fire projectiles at speeds up to 15,000 miles per hour. “We had been seeing some things in experiments we thought might cause these streaks,” he said. When an asteroid or other body strikes a planet at high speed, tons of material from both the impactor and the target surface are instantly vaporized. Schultz’s experiments showed that vapor plumes travel outward from an impact point, just above the impact surface, at incredible speeds. Scaling laboratory impacts to the size of those on Mars, a vapor plume’s speed would be supersonic. And it would interact with the Martian atmosphere to generate powerful winds. The plume and its associated winds on their own didn’t cause the strange streaks, however. The plumes generally travel just above the surface, which prevents the kind of deep scouring seen in the streaked areas. But Schultz and Quintana showed that when the plume strikes a raised surface feature, it disturbs the flow and causes powerful tornadic vortices to form and drop to the surface. And those vortices, the researchers say, are responsible for scouring the narrow streaks. Schultz and Quintana showed that the streaks are nearly always seen in conjunction with raised surface features. Very often, for example, they are associated with the raised ridges of smaller impact craters that were already in place when the larger impact occurred. As the plume raced outward from the larger impact, it encountered the small crater rim, leaving bright twin streaks on the downwind side. “Where these vortices encounter the surface, they sweep away the small particles that sit loose on the surface, exposing the bigger blocky material underneath, and that’s what gives us these streaks,” Schultz said. Schultz says the streaks could prove useful in establishing rates of erosion and dust deposition in areas where the streaks are found. “We know these formed at the same time as these large craters, and we can date the age of the craters,” Schultz said. “So now we have a template for looking at erosion.” But with more research, the streaks could eventually reveal much more than that. From a preliminary survey of the planet, the researchers say the streaks appear to form around craters in the ballpark of 20 kilometers across. But they don’t appear in all such craters. Why they form in some places and not others could provide information about the Martian surface at the time of the impact. The researchers’ experiments reveal that the presence of volatile compounds — a thick layer of water ice on the surface or subsurface, for example — affect the amount the vapor that rushes out from an impact. So in that way, the streaks might serve as indicators of whether ice may have been present at the time of an impact, which could lend insight into reconstructions of past climate on Mars. Equally possible, the streaks could be related to the composition of the impactor, such as rare collisions by high-volatile objects, such as comets. “The next step is to really dig into the conditions that cause the streaks,” Schultz said. “They may have a lot to tell us, so stay tuned.”


Using geological observation, laboratory impact experiments and computer modeling, Schultz and Brown graduate student Stephanie Quintana have offered a new explanation for how those streaks were formed. They show that tornado-like wind vortices—generated by crater-forming impacts and swirling at 500 miles per hour or more—scoured the surface and blasted away dust and small rocks to expose the blockier surfaces beneath. "This would be like an F8 tornado sweeping across the surface," Schultz said. "These are winds on Mars that will never be seen again unless another impact." The research is published online in the journal Icarus. Schultz says he first saw the streaks during one of his "tours of Mars." In his downtime between projects, he pulls up random images from NASA's orbital spacecraft just to see if he might spot something interesting. In this case, he was looking at infrared images taken during the Martian nighttime by the THEMIS instrument, which flies aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The infrared images capture contrasts in heat retention on the surface. Brighter regions at night indicate surfaces that retain more heat from the previous day than surrounding surfaces, just as grassy fields cool off at night while buildings in the city remain warmer. "You couldn't see these things at all in visible wavelength images, but in the nighttime infrared they're very bright," Schultz said. "Brightness in the infrared indicates blocky surfaces, which retain more heat than surfaces covered by powder and debris. That tells us that something came along and scoured those surfaces bare." And Schultz had an idea what that something might be. He has been studying impacts and impact processes for years using NASA's Vertical Gun Range, a high-powered cannon that can fire projectiles at speeds up to 15,000 miles per hour. "We had been seeing some things in experiments we thought might cause these streaks," he said. When an asteroid or other body strikes a planet at high speed, tons of material from both the impactor and the target surface are instantly vaporized. Schultz's experiments showed that vapor plumes travel outward from an impact point, just above the impact surface, at incredible speeds. Scaling laboratory impacts to the size of those on Mars, a vapor plume's speed would be supersonic. And it would interact with the Martian atmosphere to generate powerful winds. The plume and its associated winds on their own didn't cause the strange streaks, however. The plumes generally travel just above the surface, which prevents the kind of deep scouring seen in the streaked areas. But Schultz and Quintana showed that when the plume strikes a raised surface feature, it disturbs the flow and causes powerful tornadic vortices to form and drop to the surface. And those vortices, the researchers say, are responsible for scouring the narrow streaks. Schultz and Quintana showed that the streaks are nearly always seen in conjunction with raised surface features. Very often, for example, they are associated with the raised ridges of smaller impact craters that were already in place when the larger impact occurred. As the plume raced outward from the larger impact, it encountered the small crater rim, leaving bright twin streaks on the downwind side. "Where these vortices encounter the surface, they sweep away the small particles that sit loose on the surface, exposing the bigger blocky material underneath, and that's what gives us these streaks," Schultz said. Schultz says the streaks could prove useful in establishing rates of erosion and dust deposition in areas where the streaks are found. "We know these formed at the same time as these large craters, and we can date the age of the craters," Schultz said. "So now we have a template for looking at erosion." But with more research, the streaks could eventually reveal much more than that. From a preliminary survey of the planet, the researchers say the streaks appear to form around craters in the ballpark of 20 kilometers across. But they don't appear in all such craters. Why they form in some places and not others could provide information about the Martian surface at the time of the impact. The researchers' experiments reveal that the presence of volatile compounds—a thick layer of water ice on the surface or subsurface, for example—affect the amount the vapor that rushes out from an impact. So in that way, the streaks might serve as indicators of whether ice may have been present at the time of an impact, which could lend insight into reconstructions of past climate on Mars. Equally possible, the streaks could be related to the composition of the impactor, such as rare collisions by high-volatile objects, such as comets. "The next step is to really dig into the conditions that cause the streaks," Schultz said. "They may have a lot to tell us, so stay tuned." Explore further: Sand flow theory could explain water-like streaks on Mars More information: Peter H. Schultz et al, Impact-generated winds on Mars, Icarus (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.03.029


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

Scientists have published the most detailed geological history to date for a region of Mars known as Northeast Syrtis Major. The spot is high on NASA’s list of potential landing sites for its next Mars rover, which will launch in 2020. The region is home to a striking mineral diversity, including deposits that indicate a variety of past environments that could have hosted life. Using the highest resolution images available from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the study maps the extent of those key mineral deposits across the surface and places them within the region’s larger geological context. “When we look at this in high resolution, we can see complicated geomorphic patterns and a diversity of minerals at the surface that I think is unlike anything we’ve ever seen on Mars,” says Mike Bramble, a PhD student at Brown University who led the study in the journal Icarus. “Within a few kilometers, there’s a huge spectrum of things you can see and they change very quickly.” If NASA ultimately decides to land at Northeast Syrtis, the new history would help provide a roadmap for the rover’s journey. “This is a foundational paper for considering this part of the planet as a potential landing site for the Mars2020 rover,” says Jack Mustard, a professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences and a coauthor of the paper. “This represents an exceptional amount of work on Mike’s part, really going into the key morphologic and spectroscopic datasets we need in order to understand what this region can tell us about the history of Mars if we explore it with a rover.” Northeast Syrtis sits between two giant Martian landforms—an impact crater 2,000 kilometers in diameter called the Isidis Basin, and a large volcano called Syrtis Major. The impact basin formed about 3.96 billion years ago, while lava flow from the volcano came later, about 3.7 billion years ago. Northeast Syrtis preserves the geological activity that occurred in the 250 million years between those two events. Billions of years of erosion, mostly from winds howling across the region into the Isidis lowlands, have exposed that history on the surface. Within Northeast Syrtis are the mineral signatures of four distinct types of watery and potentially habitable past environments. Those minerals had been detected by prior research, but the new map shows in detail how they are distributed within the region’s larger geological context. That helps constrain the mechanisms that may have formed them, and shows when they formed relative to each other. The lowest and the oldest layer exposed at Northeast Syrtis has the kind of clay minerals formed when rocks interact with water that has a fairly neutral pH. Next in the sequence are rocks containing kaolinite, a mineral formed by water percolating through soil. The next layer up contains spots where the mineral olivine has been altered to carbonate—an aqueous reaction that, on Earth, is known to provide chemical energy for bacterial colonies. The upper layers contain sulfate minerals, another sign of a watery, potentially life-sustaining environment. Understanding the relative timing of these environments is critical, Mustard says. They occurred around the transition between the Noachian and Hesperian epochs—a time of profound environmental change on Mars. “We know that these environments existed near this major pivot point in Mars history, and in mapping their context we know what came first, what came next and what came last,” Mustard says. “So now if we’re able to go there with a rover, we can sample rock on either side of that pivot point, which could help us understand the changes that occurred at that time, and test different hypotheses for the possibility of past life.” And finding signs of past life is the primary mission of the Mars2020 rover. NASA has held three workshops in which scientists debated the merits of various landing targets for the rover. Northeast Syrtis has come out near the top of the list at each workshop. Last February, NASA announced that the site is one of the final three under consideration. Mustard and Bramble hope this latest work might inform NASA’s decision, and ultimately help in planning the Mars2020 mission. “As we turn our eyes to the next target for in situ exploration on the Martian surface,” the researchers say, “no location offers better access of the gamut of geological processes active at Mars than Northeast Syrtis Major.”


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Brown University researchers have published the most detailed geological history to date for a region of Mars known as Northeast Syrtis Major, a spot high on NASA's list of potential landing sites for its next Mars rover to be launched in 2020. The region is home to a striking mineral diversity, including deposits that indicate a variety of past environments that could have hosted life. Using the highest resolution images available from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the study maps the extent of those key mineral deposits across the surface and places them within the region's larger geological context. "When we look at this in high resolution, we can see complicated geomorphic patterns and a diversity of minerals at the surface that I think is unlike anything we've ever seen on Mars," said Mike Bramble, a Ph.D. student at Brown who led the study, which is published in the journal Icarus. "Within a few kilometers, there's a huge spectrum of things you can see and they change very quickly." If NASA ultimately decides to land at Northeast Syrtis, the work would help in providing a roadmap for the rover's journey. "This is a foundational paper for considering this part of the planet as a potential landing site for the Mars2020 rover," said Jack Mustard, a professor in Brown's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and a coauthor on the paper. "This represents an exceptional amount of work on Mike's part, really going into the key morphologic and spectroscopic datasets we need in order to understand what this region can tell us about the history of Mars if we explore it with a rover." Northeast Syrtis sits between two giant Martian landforms -- an impact crater 2,000 kilometers in diameter called the Isidis Basin, and a large volcano called Syrtis Major. The impact basin formed about 3.96 billion years ago, while lava flow from the volcano came later, about 3.7 billion years ago. Northeast Syrtis preserves the geological activity that occurred in the 250 million years between those two events. Billions of years of erosion, mostly from winds howling across the region into the Isidis lowlands, have exposed that history on the surface. Within Northeast Syrtis are the mineral signatures of four distinct types of watery and potentially habitable past environments. Those minerals had been detected by prior research, but the new map shows in detail how they are distributed within the region's larger geological context. That helps constrain the mechanisms that may have formed them, and shows when they formed relative to each other. The lowest and the oldest layer exposed at Northeast Syrtis has the kind of clay minerals formed when rocks interact with water that has a fairly neutral pH. Next in the sequence are rocks containing kaolinite, a mineral formed by water percolating through soil. The next layer up contains spots where the mineral olivine has been altered to carbonate -- an aqueous reaction that, on Earth, is known to provide chemical energy for bacterial colonies. The upper layers contain sulfate minerals, another sign of a watery, potentially life-sustaining environment. Understanding the relative timing of these environments is critical, Mustard says. They occurred around the transition between the Noachian and Hesperian epochs -- a time of profound environmental change on Mars. "We know that these environments existed near this major pivot point in Mars history, and in mapping their context we know what came first, what came next and what came last," Mustard said. "So now if we're able to go there with a rover, we can sample rock on either side of that pivot point, which could help us understand the changes that occurred at that time, and test different hypotheses for the possibility of past life." And finding signs of past life is the primary mission of the Mars2020 rover. NASA has held three workshops in which scientists debated the merits of various landing targets for the rover. Mustard and Bramble have led the charge for Northeast Syrtis, which has come out near the top of the list at each workshop. Last February, NASA announced that the site is one of the final three under consideration. Mustard and Bramble hope this latest work might inform NASA's decision, and ultimately help in planning the Mars2020 mission. "As we turn our eyes to the next target for in situ exploration on the martian surface," the researchers conclude, "no location offers better access of the gamut of geological processes active at Mars than Northeast Syrtis Major."


News Article | May 6, 2017
Site: cleantechnica.com

Another week, another nail in the fossil fuel world of transportation, but this time from the air. We’ve covered a few electric airplanes that have taken to the sky with various energy systems. Battery operated and even hydrogen fuel cell aircraft are pushing the boundaries of air travel, but the SolarStratos is different in its approach. It fuels up on nothing but pure sunshine in order to reach the stratosphere. Challenge accepted! The SolarStratos Stratospheric Solar Airplane from Payerne, Switzerland, is an ambitious project taking to the stratosphere on nothing more than pure sunshine. This very light electric two-seater aircraft uses a wide array of photovoltaic (PV) panels on its wings and just made its initial low-altitude test flight on Friday, the 5th of May 2017. Designed by Calin Gologan from Elektra-Solar GmbH, who is also a technical partner, the SolarStratos’ challenge is to demonstrate that it is possible to fly a solar-powered electric autonomous airplane up to the stratosphere and do away with fossil fuels. After previously achieving the first round-the-world trip powered by solar energy when crossing the Atlantic on board the PlanetSolar, the challenge now was to get as close to the mythical flight of Icarus. Test pilot Damian Hischier got in the SolarStratos and taxied on the tarmac after the Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued the group its ‘permit to fly’. It then took off from Payerne at 8:00 am local time for an initial flight that will test its capacity to reach the stratosphere. With no wind, Hischier engaged the full power of the electric motors and took the SolarStratos on a seven-minute test flight. He reached an altitude of 300 meters (about 1,000 feet). After its successful initial flight, it will next test longer flights at higher altitudes, eventually achieving its goal of flying at 25,000 meters, or about 82,000 feet. The team aims to take the plane into the stratospheric by next year. At the head of the project is Raphael Domjan, who is quoted as having said: “We must continue to work hard to learn how to harness the potential of this solar-powered treasure.” The SolarStratos is only 8.5 meters, or about 28 feet long, and includes 22 square meters, roughly 238 square feet, of PVs on its wings. This gives the little electric airplane a 24-hour flight autonomy. The PV powers a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a cell efficiency of around 22-24%. Weighing in at just 450 kilos, about 992 lb, the SolarStratos uses a 2.2 m (7.21 ft) 4-blade propeller powered by a 32 kW electric motor spinning at 2200 rpm. They estimate the SolarStratos to be 90% efficient. Why is it a feat? Slated as the first commercial two-seater solar plane in history, in many ways, this project tests the limits of solar energy, lithium-ion batteries and electric motors in flight. In order to reach the stratosphere, the SolarStratos will not be pressurized. This means Domjan will have to wear a spacesuit to deal with the blistering cold -70 Celsius, -94 Fahrenheit temperatures. To complicate things further, there is no way to use a parachute in the case of an emergency. You can follow the SolarStratos mission on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube. Congratulations to the SolarStratos stratospheric solar airplane team and thank you for getting us closer to the stars in a healthy manner. Merci et a bientot! Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The full name of Nintendo’s latest handheld-only console is the New Nintendo 2DS XL, a title that almost requires breaking down into parts to fully understand. It’s a 2DS because it’s like a 3DS without the stereoscopic 3D. It’s XL because its screen is the same size as that of the 3DS XL, roughly 80% bigger than that of the original 2DS. And it’s New because it’s part of the same generation as the New 3DS XL: consoles with slightly more power than their predecessors, a small additional analog stick called the C-Stick, and a handful of exclusive titles (most notably Xenoblade Chronicles and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth). And yet, though the New Nintendo 2DS XL is an improvement on the Nintendo 2DS, it’s not meant to be a replacement. Of course, it’s rarely wise for a company to admit that a product they still have for sale is about to become obsolete. But Nintendo insists the New 2DS XL is just a new member of the family, not meant to push out any other, fitting somewhere between the 2DS (with slightly more power, a C-Stick, and a clamshell design) and the New 3DS XL (without 3D). Got that? OK, good. The New 2DS XL looks like it’s meant for young children. With its pair of initial two-colour styles – either black and JoyCon blue, or white and Fisher Price orange – it looks less techy and more toylike, especially with its lightly ridged lid and protruding hinge. But that’s no bad thing; sometimes you want your game console to feel like something you can play with. It’s lighter than the New 3DS XL, which is perhaps its closest relative, but still sturdy, helped perhaps by the addition of a flap over the slots for games and SD cards. Other changes include a slight rearrangement of the buttons and a shorter stylus – closer to 6cm. Again, it’s all very child-friendly. As a new member to the New 3DS family, the New 2DS XL will be able to play all existing DS and 3DS games, though obviously not in stereoscopic 3D. But at a hands-on with the console in London on Thursday, there were four games available to play that will be released around the same time. Here’s a quick rundown. In recognition of current fears about the negative effects of smartphones and social media, the latest entry in the Brain Training series is themed around concentration. Devilish Calculations, for example, presents you with a series of simple mental arithmetic questions and asks you to answer the one you saw one, two, or three (and so on?) steps back. Of course, we know that the skills learned in Brain Training games probably don’t actually transfer to real life, and Nintendo refrains from making any such promises, but the notion is still undeniably popular. Although Hey! Pikmin is a spin-off developed not by Nintendo but by Arzest (of Yoshi’s New Island), its first few levels suggest a fun and fairly faithful 2D interpretation of some of the ideas core to the main series. Captain Olimar has crashed his spaceship yet again on another planet populated by colourful creatures called Pikmin that will follow him around and perform tasks for him. The goal has been simplified somewhat – to gather 30,000 units of “sparklium” fuel, which apparently can be harvested from both fruit and “treasures” – but there’s still charm enough here, with funny names for the household objects that act as treasures (like the fountain pen called a “peace missile”) and cute little cut scenes for the Pikmin. And it still hurts to see them die. This RPG from Koichi Ishii, who created the Mana series, seems to tell a typical story of a chosen hero’s quest to overcome some all-consuming evil. But the world and your movements through it are slightly more interesting. Combat is not turn-based, but you do have a party whose members have different attacks and abilities, which are also used to solve puzzles in dungeons. You select your party members from the last surviving oasis, which you manage in between journeys into the desert, creating shops to sell loot and keeping the place clean. The happier your oasis, the more HP you have; apparently, wonderfully, this mechanic is called Rainbow Protection. Remember Tomodachi Life, the game where you put Miis of everyone you knew (plus some celebrities) in an apartment block and waited for them to fall in love and have babies? Miitopia is the same principle within the loose confines of a simple RPG. All the basic elements are here, from combat to levelling to items, but as with Tomodachi Life the real fun is in encouraging relationships to develop and watching the consequences play out. Whether that’ll be worth a full-price game remains to be seen. Given that most games are playable by all members of the 2DS/3DS family, there seems to be relatively little to differentiate all the consoles now available. Purists will probably want to go with the New 3DS XL so they get all the extra hardware features and the stereoscopic effects (which can be genuinely impressive – see Super Mario 3D Land, OutRun, Kid Icarus: Uprising and the Zelda titles). Meanwhile, younger kids may be better off with the cheaper and sturdier wedge-shaped 2DS. For everyone in the middle of those two groups, especially those who don’t care about stereoscopic 3D (or physically can’t see the effect), the New 2DS XL is a great alternative. Just don’t accidentally buy this is for your child if it’s actually the Nintendo Switch they’re after. With so many pieces of hardware available in the company’s current lineup, that would be an understandable and unfortunate error.


Evolution by natural selection depends on the relationship between individual traits and fitness. Variation in individual fitness can result from habitat (territory) quality and individual variation. Individual quality and specialization can have a deep impact on fitness, yet in most studies on territorial species the quality of territory and individuals are confused. We aimed to determine if variation in breeding success is better explained by territories, individual quality or a combination of both. We analysed the number of fledglings and the breeding quality index (the difference between the number of fledglings of an individual/breeding pair and the average number of fledglings of the monitored territories in the same year) as part of a long term (16 years) peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus ) monitoring program with identification of individuals. Using individual and territory identities as correlates of quality, we built Generalised Linear Models with Mixed effects, in which random factors depicted different hypotheses for sources of variation (territory/individual quality) in the reproductive success of unique breeding pairs, males and females, and assessed their performance. Most evidence supported the hypothesis that variation in breeding success is explained by individual identity, particularly male identity, rather than territory. There is also some evidence for inter year variations in the breeding success of females and a territory effect in the case of males. We argue that, in territorial species, individual quality is a major source of variation in breeding success, often masked by territory. Future ecological and conservation studies on habitat use should consider and include the effect of individuals, in order to avoid misleading results. © 2014 Zabala, Zuberogoitia.


A system and machine-implemented method is provided for managing broadcast of content to webpages. In one embodiment, a set of graphical elements is displayed, the display of graphical elements including selectable elements for channels, campaigns, and uniform resource locators (URLs). A set of selections is received based on the set of graphical elements. A set of webpages is identified based on the set of selections received. The set of webpages corresponds to URLs. Each of the webpages includes embed codes that enables the webpages to receive the broadcast of content. The broadcast of content to the identified set of webpages may be controlled. Content may include one or more of advertising content, audio data, video data, multimedia content, interactive media, gaming content, and application data.

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