TECH-NEWS

1 day ago

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NASA finds Neptune moons locked in 'dance of avoidance'

Even by the wild standards of the outer solar system, the strange orbits that carry Neptune's two innermost moons are unprecedented, according to newly published research.

Orbital dynamics experts are calling it a "dance of avoidance" performed by the tiny moons Naiad and Thalassa. The two are true partners, orbiting only about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) apart. But they never get that close to each other; Naiad's orbit is tilted and perfectly timed. Every time it passes the slower-moving Thalassa, the two are about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) apart.

In this perpetual choreography, Naiad swirls around the ice giant every seven hours, while Thalassa, on the outside track, takes seven and a half hours. An observer sitting on Thalassa would see Naiad in an orbit that varies wildly in a zigzag pattern, passing by twice from above and then twice from below. This up, up, down, down pattern repeats every time Naiad gains four laps on Thalassa.

Although the dance may appear odd, it keeps the orbits stable, researchers said.

"We refer to this repeating pattern as a resonance," said Marina Brozović, an expert in solar system dynamics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the lead author of the new paper, which was published Nov. 13 in Icarus. "There are many different types of 'dances' that planets, moons and asteroids can follow, but this one has never been seen before."

Far from the pull of the Sun, the giant planets of the outer solar system are the dominant sources of gravity, and collectively, they boast dozens upon dozens of moons. Some of those moons formed alongside their planets and never went anywhere; others were captured later, then locked into orbits dictated by their planets. Some orbit in the opposite direction their planets rotate; others swap orbits with each other as if to avoid collision.

Neptune has 14 confirmed moons. Neso, the farthest-flung of them, orbits in a wildly elliptical loop that carries it nearly 46 million miles (74 million kilometers) away from the planet and takes 27 years to complete.

Naiad and Thalassa are small and shaped like Tic Tacs, spanning only about 60 miles (100 kilometers) in length. They are two of Neptune's seven inner moons, part of a closely packed system that is interwoven with faint rings.

So how did they end up together—but apart? It's thought that the original satellite system was disrupted when Neptune captured its giant moon, Triton, and that these inner moons and rings formed from the leftover debris.

"We suspect that Naiad was kicked into its tilted orbit by an earlier interaction with one of Neptune's other inner moons," Brozović said. "Only later, after its orbital tilt was established, could Naiad settle into this unusual resonance with Thalassa."

Brozović and her colleagues discovered the unusual orbital pattern using analysis of observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The work also provides the first hint about the internal composition of Neptune's inner moons. Researchers used the observations to compute their mass and, thus, their densities—which were close to that of water ice.

"We are always excited to find these co-dependencies between moons," said Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and a co-author of the new paper. "Naiad and Thalassa have probably been locked together in this configuration for a very long time, because it makes their orbits more stable. They maintain the peace by never getting too close."

Souce | phys.org | Video credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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1 day ago

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Ford’s Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV revealed in leaked photos, prices and configurations

Ford is officially debuting its fully electric crossover SUV on Sunday, November 17 — but we got a look at the new Mach-E (which was just officially named yesterday) a couple of days early. The leak comes from Ford’s own website, as screenshotted for posterity by Jalopnick, and includes photos of most angles of the car, including the interior, as well as pricing and configuration details for the model variants available at launch.

The Mach-E will start at $43,895 U.S., before any state or tax incentives are applied (and that turns into $36,395 once you apply the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit). The “Select” trim Mach-E as configured at that price gets you 230 EPA-rated miles of range, either AWD or RWD (which presumably alters the price) and a 0-60MPH time in the mid five-second range.

Next up is the “Premium” trim starting at $50,600, again offering an AWD or RWD option, with 300 miles of estimated EPA-rated range, and that same mid five-second 0-60MPH time. The “California Route 1” model above that comes in only AWD, has that longer 300 miles of EPA range and promises a mid six-second 0-60MPH time. It’s a bit slower off the jump, but it’s “named for its cruise-worthy engineering,” so presumably it’s got a more luxe interior for long-distance highway scenic drives.

Next up is a $59,900 “First Edition,” which will be in limited availability and only at launch for the first batch of customers to reserve. It’s got AWD, a range of around 270 miles, a mid five-second 0-60MPH time and exclusive exterior color options, special scuff plates, brushed aluminum pedals and red brake callipers, as well as contrast-colored interior stitching. There’s a GT edition at the top end, with an MSRP starting at $60,500, that will manage to get a 0-60MPH time in the mid three-second range, so that’s clearly the peak performance options for thrill-seekers. Estimated EPA range on that one is around 230 miles.

In terms of looks, the Mustang Mach-E’s design won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s seen the camouflaged spy shots, or the teaser peeks officially released by Ford. It’s definitely got Mustang vibes, and looks a bit like a Mustang that has been lifted up with paneling extended down toward the road. It looks like a panorama roof is an option, and that hatchback will probably please a lot of small SUV fans. There’s also something funky going on with the door handles — the front ones appear very small and near the base of the door windows, while I’m not sure how exactly it works on the rear passenger doors based on these photos.

There’s also a panoramic sunroof at least as an option, and you can see the interior looks pretty blatantly Tesla -inspired, with a large vertical touchscreen taking up most of the center of the dash — albeit with something that looks like a large physical dial right at the base, instead of going for fully touch-only input. A second digital display appears to replace the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.

Ford has since taken this down, as it’s hosting a splashy event on Sunday with Idris Elba in LA for the full official reveal. TechCrunch will be on site to bring you more photos and details around availability, customization options and more on the day.

Source - TechCrunch
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2 days ago

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NEW GAME RELEASED | Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Jedi: Fallen Order shows that a good Star Wars game doesn’t have to be original

There’sThere’s little about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that actually feels new. The latest game from Titanfall and Apex Legends studio Respawn, Fallen Order is an action-adventure game that’s something of a mish-mash of its contemporaries, blending elements of Tomb Raider, Breath of the Wild, Uncharted, God of War, and more, before slathering the concoction with a fine layer of Star Wars mythology. The result isn’t groundbreaking, but it will be a relief for long-suffering Star Wars fans. Fallen Order doesn’t have to be great: it’s enough to know that this is a solid Star Wars game that really makes you feel like a Jedi. It even has a cute droid.
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2 days ago

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The 2019 Mercury transit has ended

people across most of the world had the chance to catch the planet Mercury passing across the sun. This rare event won't be seen from Earth again until 2032,

The smallest planet in the solar system is also the closest to our star, and occasionally it crosses in front of the sun's bright disk from our perspective here on Earth. The last time this happened was in 2016, but after this 2019 transit, we'll have to wait another 13 years to see the next one.
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2 days ago

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NASA's Mars 2020 Heads Into the Test Chamber

This time-lapse video, taken on Oct. 9, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, captures the move of the Mars 2020 rover into a large vacuum chamber for testing in Mars-like environmental conditions. Image caption: NASA/JPL-Caltech

"Whenever you move the rover, it is a big deal," said Mars 2020 engineer Chris Chatellier of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "There is a technician on every corner, and other engineers and safety inspectors are monitoring and assisting every step of the way. Every move is choreographed, briefed and rehearsed."

After chamber testing, the 2020 rover was moved back to JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility where it is undergoing radio-emissions testing.

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. We will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.

Source - NASA
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