Friday, December 09, 2016

Signatures of Supernovas Found on Earth

Authors:

Feige et al

Abstract:

Traces of 2-3 Myr old 60Fe were recently discovered in a manganese crust and in lunar samples. We have found that this signal is extended in time and is present in globally distributed deep-sea archives. A second 6.5-8.7 Myr old signature was revealed in a manganese crust. The existence of the Local Bubble hints to a recent nearby supernova-activity starting 13 Myr ago. With analytical and numerical models generating the Local Bubble, we explain the younger 60Fe-signature and thus link the evolution of the solar neighborhood to terrestrial anomalies.

How to Explore Ocean Worlds

Author:

Lunine

Abstract:

Ocean worlds is the label given to objects in the solar system that host stable, globe-girdling bodies of liquid water—“oceans”. Of these, the Earth is the only one to support its oceans on the surface, making it a model for habitable planets around other stars but not for habitable worlds elsewhere in the solar system. Elsewhere in the solar system, three objects—Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan—have subsurface oceans whose existence has been detected or inferred by two independent spacecraft techniques. A host of other bodies in the outer solar system are inferred by a single type of observation or by theoretical modeling to have subsurface oceans. This paper focusses on the three best-documented water oceans beyond Earth: those within Europa, Titan and Enceladus. Of these, Europa's is closest to the surface (less than 10 km and possibly less than 1 km in places), and hence potentially best suited for eventual direct exploration. Enceladus’ ocean is deeper—5–40 km below its surface—but fractures beneath the south pole of this moon allow ice and gas from the ocean to escape to space where it has been sampled by mass spectrometers aboard the Cassini Saturn Orbiter. Titan's ocean is the deepest—perhaps 50–100 km—and no evidence for plumes or ice volcanism exist on the surface. In terms of the search for evidence of life within these oceans, the plume of ice and gas emanating from Enceladus makes this the moon of choice for a fast-track program to search for life. If plumes exist on Europa—yet to be confirmed—or places can be located where ocean water is extruded onto the surface, then the search for life on this lunar-sized body can also be accomplished quickly by the standards of outer solar system exploration.

The Hellas Basin on Mars has the Remnants of an Ocean Frozen Within

Authors:

Weiss et al

Abstract:

The “honeycomb” terrain is a Noachian-aged cluster of ∼7 km wide linear cell-like depressions located on the northwestern floor of Hellas basin, Mars. A variety of origins have been proposed for the honeycomb terrain, including deformation rings of subglacial sediment, frozen convection cells from a Hellas impact melt sheet, a swarm of igneous batholiths, salt diapirism, and ice diapirism. Recent work has shown that the salt or ice diapirism scenarios appear to be most consistent with the morphology and morphometry of the honeycomb terrain. The salt and ice diapirism scenarios have different implications for the ancient martian climate and hydrological cycle, and so distinguishing between the two scenarios is critical. In this study, we specifically test whether the honeycomb terrain is consistent with a salt or ice diapir origin. We use thermal modeling to assess the stability limits on the thickness of an ice or salt diapir-forming layer at depth within the Hellas basin. We also apply analytical models for diapir formation to evaluate the predicted diapir wavelengths in order to compare with observations. Ice diapirism is generally predicted to reproduce the observed honeycomb wavelengths for ∼100 m to ∼1 km thick ice deposits. Gypsum and kieserite diapirism is generally predicted to reproduce the observed honeycomb wavelengths for ≥ 600–1000 m thick salt deposits, but only with a basaltic overburden. Halite diapirism generally requires approx. ≥ 1 km thick halite deposits in order to reproduce the observed honeycomb wavelengths. Hellas basin is a distinctive environment for diapirism on Mars due to its thin crust (which reduces surface heat flux), low elevation (which allows Hellas to act as a water/ice/sediment sink and increases the surface temperature), and location within the southern highlands (which may provide proximity to inflowing saline water or glacial ice). The plausibility of an ice diapir mechanism generally requires temperatures ≤ 250 K within Hellas in order to reproduce the observed diapir wavelength. Conversely, the viability of the salt diapir mechanism requires sufficiently thick evaporite deposits to accumulate in Hellas (generally ≃1–3 km), which requires the emplacement and evaporation within Hellas of a 14–2045 m global equivalent layer (GEL) of saline water (∼2 × 106 km3 to ∼3 × 108 km3). On the basis of our analysis, we conclude that ice diapirism is more likely due to the thin deposits (∼0.1–1 km thick) and low water volumes required (only 0.3–24 m GEL water), and the potential for either glacial deposits or a frozen ocean to supply the necessary ice. Salt diapirism requires thick evaporite deposits and high water volumes by comparison, and thus appears less likely.

Russia's Next Generation of Cargo Spacecraft Delayed Until After 2020

The first launch of the Increased Capacity Cargo Transportation Spacecraft (ICCTS) for logistic support of the International Space Station (ISS) is possible after 2020.

Preliminary design work on the ICCTS is to be completed in December 2016, there are no plans to develop a cargo-return version of the spacecraft.

Launches of ICCTS will be carried out from Baikonur launch site using infrastructure originally developed for Soyuz MS and Progress MS spacecraft. Upon completion of flight tests the new spacecraft will completely replace the currently used logistics spacecraft Progress MS.

”With the new spacecraft developed, we will be able to send up more cargo per one launch. This will significantly improve the cost effectiveness of launches of logistic spacecraft to both the ISS and to the station, which is going to replace it. For us this is very important», – pointed out Director General of RSC Energia Vladimir Solntsev.

Robpocalypse Report #95

Drones:

Apple might be building a fleet of drones to improve its maps.

In Australia, commercial mining drones keep getting attacked by eagles.

Autel Robotics got a bit goofy in an ad for its drones by showing how to use one for cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Britain has issued new guidelines for drone users.

Drone jacking may become a threat.

Droneshield has an anti drone gun that can take out targets 1.3 miles away.

The French are joining the Dutch by training eagles to take down drones.

The crash of the solar powered Facebook drone is being investigated by the NTSB.

The government is enforcing a no fly zone for drones in the Standing Rock standoff.

MIT's CSAIL has a new drone design system allowing for assymetrical drones.

Mouser announced the first drone for autonomous search and rescue operations.

Parrot drones are being used to monitor the health of drought stricken Sequoia trees.

SlideX announced a new security drone.

Swarms of sensor packed drones could help wind turbine farms.

Self Driving Cars:

Apple has confirmed it is working on self driving cars.

An Audi concept car taught itself how to park.

Canada is getting its own self driving car tests, including by one called, yes, Autonomoose.

comma.ai has open sourced its self driving software for  Hondas.  Reportedly, their hardware will also be open sourced shortly.  This is probably in response to the Feds asking for data about the safety of their system.

Delphi's self driving cars learn from their mistakes.

European self driving car tests are focusing on protecting motorcyclists.

A study was conducted on the expectations of self driving cars vs reality.

GM's new Super cruise functionality has a red flag from the NTSB.

Honda is previewing its concepts for future sharing transportation.

The International Drone Expo is coming to Los Angeles.

A new test site for self driving cars is being built in Michigan.

Nissan's self driving Leaf is being used in one of its factories.

An opinion on the future of 'robocars.'

Self driving semis are hitting the road for testing in Ohio.

How self parking works in cars.

Taking back control from from a car in self drive mode may be problematic for drivers.

Tesla shows what is going on with its take on self driving capability and is rolling out its newest software version.

A Tesla was hacked and stolen.

Uber is creating an AI lab to improve its self driving cars.

3d Printing:

3digo is attempting to bring the sharing economy to 3d printers.

A look inside the Japanese 3d printing industry.

We now have a 3d printed motorcycle, the Dagger, from Divergent 3d.

And they also have a 3d printed car.

Why Makerbot failed to spark a 3d printing revolution.

Singaporean researchers have improved ultrasound machines through 3d printed parts.

Spider silk is getting 3d printed now.

Stratasys 3d printed a drone onto very heat resistant electronics.

Robotics:

Alexa can now control a vacuuming bot called NEATO.

Biomimicry strikes again but with the cat's tongue as the inspiration.

A British company has developed two micro robo subs.

In China, there as their first violation by a bot of Asimov's First Law of Robotics.  Has the robot uprising begun?

In Japan, a bot failed its university entrance exams.

Just Eat is beta testing using robots to do food deliveries in London.

A robotic hand has been developed by researchers for quadriplegics.

Robots are being used as proxies to understand the development of human children.

SALTO is a new jumping robot from UC Berkeley.

Software Bots:

Amazon's Alexa can now hang out on your wrist.

Apple is going to start publishing its AI research.

The British are feeding Google's DeepMind AI its patient data to find highly at risk patients.

Bots can now write classical music.

Bots might make better sales people than, well, people.

Facebook says to not flip out over AI.

Facebook is also developing an AI to look for offensive videos.

Google's DeepMind AI also binged on TV to learn lip reading...better than any human.

This is the sandbox Deep Mind goes to learn.

Google is opening DeepMind up to outside researchers.

Is Google's RAISR image resizing system actually 'dishonest?'

Google Translate is using machine learning to know how to go from one language to another without learning either (and seems to have invented its own language).

Google used its deep learning to diagnose diabetic retinopathy.

Intel's new chips are meant to significantly speed up AI.

Machine learning is being applied to facial recognition.

Microsoft's chatbot for China filters certain topics.

Microsoft has unveiled its Home Hub, an answer to Amazon's software bots, etc.

Microsoft also unveiled its latest  Chatbot: Zo.

MIT is using a software bot to produce videos.

Can a neural net pick out the perfect gift?

Reuters developed a bot to spot fake news.

META:

Amazon has created as cashless, personless grocery store.  You walk in, take something off the shelf and get charged as you walk out the door via your phone.

Will farming be fully automated in the future?

Many CEOs believe the robopocalypse will render the average person irrelevant.

McDonald's is moving to embrace the robopocalypse with the rise of the $15/hr minimum wage. Stephen Hawking is convinced the robopocalypse means the end of the middle class. Some are optimistic about the robopocalypse and jobs. Coming Cyber War #22 Cyber Warfare: The US Air Force's future war network just doubled in price. How the use of enlisted personnel in cyberwarfare is helping in the US Army. The US Army is building its electronic/cyber warfare teams. The first ever electronic warfare strategy is headed for the US SecDef's desk. A cyber attack on the British using the Mirai bot net left 100,000 homes without internet. A device designed to destroy computers by plugging into the USB port is available online for$50.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense was hit with a serious cyber attack.

You can now rent a Mirai botnet of 400,000.

The Philippines is investing in cyber defenses.

The Russians are claiming foreign spies are attacking its banks.

Saudi Arabia has been cyber attacked, supposedly by Iran.

Cyber Security:

AirDroid can be hacked.

More than 1 million Android devices have been compromised by Googligan malware.

The US DOD is asking white hat hackers to take a crack at all its websites.

President-elect Trump's nominee for SecDef is advocating using analog systems to avoid hacking.

Dronejacking might become a threat.

How a hacker took over Tel Aviv's public wifi system.

Insurance companies are grappling with cyber attacks that cause physical damage.

The IoT needs a lot more security.

A malicious video link can freeze IOS devices.

San Francisco's Muni was hacked and gave free rides.

Security flaws have been found in implantable medical devices.

Security researchers found a way to turn speakers into microphones.

The new Stegano exploit is worrisome.

The Wordpress autoupdate server had a flaw that allowed anyone to access any website in the world (using Wordpress) to do anything.

Cyber Espionage:

Tech firms in Britain are trying to frustrate compliance with the new onerous and 1984ish surveillance law there.

That British law apparently has an exemption for politicians in Parliament: you cannot snoop on them!

That same British law put in place a required encryotion backdoor for the police.

Many inexpensive Android phones have been found to have a secret Trojan built into their firmware updating software.  This provides data back to servers in China.  Originally, it was just Shanghai Adups Technology's system, but now also includes the Ragentek Group.

The FBI hacked over 8,000 computers in 120 countries with one warrant.

The Feds can hack you anywhere now, legally.

Geofeedia laid off half its staff after losing its feeds from Twitter and Facebook.

Google has been sending notices to journalists (and others) of state sponsored hacking attempts on their accounts.

A journalist tied to Anonymous has been released from jail.

Reuters developed a bot to spot fake news.

Russian propogandists helped make the fake news epidemic this last presidential cycle much worse.  Some dispute that.

The Sony hack may have encouraged Russian hackers according to one California Congressman.

Snowden can be asked to testify in the German probe of the NSA espionage, but cannot use Norway for safe passage.

Cyber Crime:

Australia found their biggest software pirates were also their best purchasers of software.

The Avalanche botnet has been taken down.

The Daily Motion was hacked, exposing millions of user accounts.

More than a dozen European countries have seen their ATMs hacked.

Hackers stole \$131 million from the Russian Central Bank.

The Locky ransomware uses decoy images to hack linkedin and facebook accounts.

A sysadmin was sentenced to two years in jail for sabotaging a internet service provider.

Android malware was used to hack and steal a Tesla.

META:

The world needs a set of cyber norms.

Is a multilateral approach needed to curb the cyber threat from North Korea?

The Indus Valley Civilization (Harappan) Started Growing Rice MUCH Earler Than Thought

Authors:

Bates et al

Abstract:

The nature and timing of rice domestication and the development of rice cultivation in South Asia is much debated. In northern South Asia there is presently a significant gap (c.4200 years) between earliest evidence for the exploitation of wild rice (Lahuradewa c.6000 BCE) and earliest dated evidence for the utilisation of fully domesticated rice (Mahagara c.1800 BCE). The Indus Civilisation (c.3000–1500 BCE) developed and declined during the intervening period, and there has been debate about whether rice was adopted and exploited by Indus populations during this ‘gap’. This paper presents new analysis of spikelet bases and weeds collected from three Indus Civilisation settlements in north-west India, which provide insight into the way that rice was exploited. This analysis suggests that starting in the period before the Indus urban phase (Early Harappan) and continuing through the urban (Mature Harappan/Harappan), post-urban (Late Harappan) and on into the post-Indus Painted Grey Ware (PGW) period, there was a progressive increase in the proportion of domesticated-type spikelet bases and a decrease in wild-types. This pattern fits with a model of the slow development of rice exploitation from wild foraging to agriculture involving full cultivation. Importantly, the accompanying weeds show no increased proportions of wetland species during this period. Instead a mix of wetland and dryland species was identified, and although these data are preliminary, they suggest that the development of an independent rice tradition may have been intertwined with the practices of the eastern most Indus peoples. These data also suggest that when fully domesticated Oryza sativa ssp. japonica was introduced around 2000 BCE, it arrived in an area that was already familiar with domesticated rice cultivation and a range of cultivation techniques.

Synapsids Developed the Diaphragm for Breathing Very Early

Authors:

Lambertz et al

Abstract:

The origin of the diaphragm remains a poorly understood yet crucial step in the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates, as this unique structure serves as the main respiratory motor for mammals. Here, we analyze the paleobiology and the respiratory apparatus of one of the oldest lineages of mammal-like reptiles: the Caseidae. Combining quantitative bone histology and functional morphological and physiological modeling approaches, we deduce a scenario in which an auxiliary ventilatory structure was present in these early synapsids. Crucial to this hypothesis are indications that at least the phylogenetically advanced caseids might not have been primarily terrestrial but rather were bound to a predominantly aquatic life. Such a lifestyle would have resulted in severe constraints on their ventilatory system, which consequently would have had to cope with diving-related problems. Our modeling of breathing parameters revealed that these caseids were capable of only limited costal breathing and, if aquatic, must have employed some auxiliary ventilatory mechanism to quickly meet their oxygen demand upon surfacing. Given caseids’ phylogenetic position at the base of Synapsida and under this aquatic scenario, it would be most parsimonious to assume that a homologue of the mammalian diaphragm had already evolved about 50 Ma earlier than previously assumed.

pop sci write up.

Early Dinosaurs (and Relatives) had Highly Variable Growth Rates

Look out your window, and you may see people of all ages and sizes roaming the street: a 6-foot-5-inch man walking beside a 4-foot-6-inch boy, for example, or a sprouting teen-ager who is much taller than a full-grown adult.

Virginia Tech geoscientists Christopher Griffin and Sterling Nesbitt discovered that this sort of variation in growth patterns in people despite their ages also occurred among early dinosaurs, and may have provided an advantage in surviving the harsh environment at the end of the Triassic Period approximately 201 million to 210 million years ago.

Romer's Gap Plugged: 5 new Tetrapods From Tournaisian Mississippian Carboniferous Scotland

Authors:

Clack et al

Abstract:

The end-Devonian to mid-Mississippian time interval has long been known for its depauperate palaeontological record, especially for tetrapods. This interval encapsulates the time of increasing terrestriality among tetrapods, but only two Tournaisian localities previously produced tetrapod fossils. Here we describe five new Tournaisian tetrapods (Perittodus apsconditus, Koilops herma, Ossirarus kierani, Diploradus austiumensis and Aytonerpeton microps) from two localities in their environmental context. A phylogenetic analysis retrieved three taxa as stem tetrapods, interspersed among Devonian and Carboniferous forms, and two as stem amphibians, suggesting a deep split among crown tetrapods. We also illustrate new tetrapod specimens from these and additional localities in the Scottish Borders region. The new taxa and specimens suggest that tetrapod diversification was well established by the Tournaisian. Sedimentary evidence indicates that the tetrapod fossils are usually associated with sandy siltstones overlying wetland palaeosols. Tetrapods were probably living on vegetated surfaces that were subsequently flooded. We show that atmospheric oxygen levels were stable across the Devonian/Carboniferous boundary, and did not inhibit the evolution of terrestriality. This wealth of tetrapods from Tournaisian localities highlights the potential for discoveries elsewhere.

pop sci write up.

Russian Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier Loses Su-33 due to Arrestor Hook Failure

The Russian Navy's Admiral Kuznetsov air wing suffered its second loss in less than a month when a Sukhoi Su-33 'Flanker' combat aircraft crashed into the sea following a landing mishap, the Kremlin confirmed on 5 December.

The multirole fleet defence fighter crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria after one of the ship's arrestor cables snapped, state media quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying. The accident happened just days after a MiG-29KR 'Fulcrum' was forced to ditch into the sea on 14 November after a problem with Admiral Kuznetsov's arrestor cable had prevented it from landing before the pilot ran out of fuel. On both occasions, the pilots were rescued.

With these losses the carrier's fixed-wing combat force of at least five Su-33s and four MiG-29Ks has been depleted by about 20%, just weeks into its much vaunted debut operational deployment.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Asimov's Nuclear Batteries?

New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current. The development could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life.

Scale Model of Titan Maritime Explorer (TiME) Tested in Chile

Author:

Lorenz

Abstract:

A scale model of the proposed Titan Mare Explorer capsule was deployed at the Planetary Lake Lander field site at Laguna Negra, Chile. The tests served to calibrate models of wind-driven drift of the capsule and to understand its attitude motion in the wave field, as well as to identify dynamic and acoustic signatures of shoreline approach. This information enables formulation of onboard trigger criteria for near-shore science data acquisition.

Hunting for Planet Nine With Wise & NEOWise

Searching for Planet Nine with Coadded WISE and NEOWISE-Reactivation Images

Authors:

Meisner et al

Abstract:
A distant, as yet unseen ninth planet has been invoked to explain various observations of the outer solar system. While such a 'Planet Nine', if it exists, is most likely to be discovered via reflected light in the optical, it may emit much more strongly at 35μm than simple blackbody predictions would suggest, depending on its atmospheric properties (Fortney et al. 2016). As a result, Planet Nine may be detectable at 3.4μm with WISE, but single exposures are too shallow except at relatively small distances (d9430 AU). We develop a method to search for Planet Nine far beyond the W1 single-exposure sensitivity, to distances as large as 800 AU, using inertial coadds of W1 exposures binned into 1 day intervals. We apply our methodology to 2000 square degrees of sky identified by Holman & Payne (2016) as a potentially likely Planet Nine location, based on the Fienga et al. (2016) Cassini ranging analysis. We do not detect a plausible Planet Nine candidate, but are able to derive a detailed completeness curve, ruling out its presence within the parameter space searched at W1<16.66 (90% completeness). Our method uses all publicly available W1 imaging, spanning 2010 January to 2015 December, and will become more sensitive with future NEOWISE-Reactivation releases of additional W1 exposures. We anticipate that our method will be applicable to the entire high Galactic latitude sky, and we will extend our search to that full footprint in the near future.

Martian Lakes Forming Climates Were Caused by Methane Outbursts and Short Term

Authors:

Kite et al

Abstract:

Build-up of relatively young (<∼3.6 Ga) deltas and alluvial fans on Mars required lakes to persist for >3 Kyr (assuming dilute flow), but the watersheds' little-weathered soils indicate a climate history that was >99% dry. The lake-forming climates' trigger mechanism remains unknown. Here we show that these intermittency constraints, while inconsistent with many previously-proposed triggers for lake-forming climates, are consistent with a novel CH4-burst mechanism. Chaotic transitions in mean obliquity drive latitudinal shifts in temperature and ice loading that destabilize CH4 clathrate. For past clathrate hydrate stability zone occupancy fractions >∼0.2, we show that CH4(±C2H6) builds up to levels whose radiative forcing (>15 W/m2, plus feedbacks) is sufficient to modulate lake-forming climates. Such occupancy fractions are consistent with CH4+C2H6 production by >3 Ga water-rock reactions. Sub-lake CH4 destabilization provides positive feedback. UV-limited CH4 photolysis curtails individual lake-forming climates to

NASA Seeking Long Term Stability and Sustainability of the SLS & Orion

The early missions of Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft will be the first of several missions that travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon to demonstrate capabilities in deep space farther than humans have ever traveled, but close enough to return home in days or weeks if needed. With the SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems programs now past their respective critical design reviews and flight hardware in production for the first integrated mission, NASA is transitioning from design and development to long-term affordability and sustainability in support of the Journey to Mars.

The agency issued a request for information (RFI) inviting industry and NASA centers to provide input that will maximize the long term efficiency and sustainability of production, operations, and maintenance for SLS, Orion, and the supporting ground systems, thereby freeing resources to invest in additional capabilities needed to extend a permanent human presence into deep space. Other required deep space exploration capabilities include habitation, spacewalk activity and docking systems, in-space propulsion, and Mars surface exploration systems, as well as continuous safety improvements.

Stealth Saga #57

Avenger:

ATD-X/X-2/F-3:

Japan's X-2 proof of concept stealth fighter is being readied for MoD tests.

Some are suggesting Japan step up defense cooperation with Taiwan, including in the X-2 aircraft.

FCAS:

Spain wants a family of systems to replace the F/A-18s it has.

J-20:

Some are claiming China will have a dozen J-20s declared having reached IOC by the end of the year.  Perhaps next year, I'd think, but I doubt in 2016.

KF-X:

South Korea is seeking to procure more technologies from the US for its KF-X 5th gen aircraft.

PAK-FA:

Russia claims to be developing a new anti radiation (radar killer) missile for the PAK-FA.

A new engine is being designed for the PAK-FA.

The Indian variant of the PAK-FA, the FGFA, is claimed to be superior to the Chinese J-20 and Russia thinks it will have the FGFA deal signed by January first.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The next gen US 'fighter' aircraft are the programs to watch in 2017.

F-22:

F-22s had a weapon systems problem that impacted its stealthiness that has been fixed.

F-35:

McCain has stated the unilateral contract for the F-35 is demonstrating how broken the defense procurement establishment is.

The F-35 program is probably too big for even Trump to kill if he wanted to.

Is the F-35 program's development being cut short?

The developmental F-35s built early in the program are going to need a service life extension due to heavy testing and use.

The F-35 MRO work overseas has been outlined.  RUAG Australia made the list.

Repairs to F-35 insulation have been completed and the affected aircraft returned to flight.

The USMC conducted trials of the F-35B on the USS America, one of its jeep carriers.   12 F-35Bs were aboard during the tests.

The USMC will deploy the USS Wasp as a Sea Control Ship with F-35Bs to relieve pressure on the USN's supercarriers in 2017.

Congress' final budget is leaving out the extra 11 F-35s asked for by the Pentagon.

Canada canceled its procurement of F-35s and ordered F/A-18Es.  However, it will remain in the F-35 program and remaining a part of the program is being questioned.  Is it really flipping off the Lightning?

Responses to Finland's RFI for the replacement of their F/A-18s including the F-35.

Israel has ordered 17 more F-35Is.  This brings the total on order for Israel to 50.

The first F-35Is will be arriving in Israel on December 12.

Japan has had its first F-35 delivered.

Poland is postponing it procurement of a 5th gen fighter (probably F-35) to replace its old MiGs and Sukhois.

Turkey is expecting its first two F-35s in 2018.

Terminator Times #23

Drones:

DARPA has ordered a second TERN prototype and Northrop passed two milestones in the program.

The USAF has begun training enlisted personnel to be Global Hawk pilots.

Hundreds of US air force enlisted signed p to become drone pilots.

The US has drone hunting aircraft in the Middle East.

Aeronautics outlines its plans that include marketing the Orbiter 4 to Europe.

Aeronautics also wants to sell its Dominator XP UAV.

Aurora is working on an unmanned Huey.

British purchase of up to 26 Certifiable Predator B (aka Protector) has been approved.

China unveiled a lot of UCAVs at the Zhuhai airshow.  First off, the Wing Loong II UCAV, the heavily armed CH-5 UCAV and the Cloud Shadow.

The Chinese also showed off its mini UAV that can be deployed from aircraft.

The Cormorant, formerly AirMule, has flown autonomously and is aimed at 2021 production.

Elbit is pursuing the Indian UAV market.

Elbit also unveiled its ReDrone counter drone system.

FLIR Systems just bought Prox Dynamics.

General Atomics' ER Avenger took flight recently.

General Atomics' Certifiable Predator B also took flight.

Germany has begun Heron 1 UAV operations in Mali.

India's Rustom-II UAV had its maiden flight.

Israel unveiled a new drone that uses laser spectroscopy to detect explosives.

The Israeli air force is going to replace its SeaScan fleet with Heron 1s.

The Israeli navy is considering a new type of UAV to deploy on its corvettes.

K-MAX & SARA have teamed up to demo an unmanned fire fighting capability.

Kratos is making a strategic investment into UAVs.

The Poles are working on UAVs.

Russia is working on a VR helmet for its UAV pilots.

Russia used its Tachyon drones during airborne exercises in Serbia.

The Russian National Guard is testing out a new UAV.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles:

The USMC tested out the MUTT robot during recent exercises.

The Canadians are working on a large, modular UGV.

Elbit's Segev UGV will become fully autonomous.

The future of bomb disposal looks rather robotic.

The MilRem TheMIS was tested in the Baltics during exercises in the combat support role.

Roboteam unveiled its Probot UGV v2.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles:

The US Navy's LCS program office will be taking over the DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles:

There are concerns about the US Navy's mine hunting Knifefish UUV

The US Navy will be deploying long range underwater gliders from its destroyers.

Exoskeletons:

Russia is claiming its 3rd gen combat gear will sport an exoskeleton.

META:

Banning killing by robots may be impossible.

The Unmanned Warrior gets a review

The US Navy is promoting the LCS classes of ship as being ready for the next generation of automated warfare.

Germany's new Laser Weapon Demonstrator Makes Progress

MBDA Germany has edged closer to fielding a new deployable laser weapon system (LWS) following a series of day/night all-weather trials.

Conducted at the Bundeswehr's military training ground at Putlos on the Baltic Sea from 4-14 October, the trials were specifically designed to test the beam guidance and tracking system of the new LWS demonstrator in a sequence of simulated engagements of airborne targets. Firing of the high-energy laser was not scheduled for these tests, nor was an acquisition sensor deployed.

Quadcopters fitted with GPS transmitters served as airborne targets for the trials, performing a variety of dynamic manoeuvres at different ranges to prove the functionality of the overall system and the performance capability of the LWS's improved tracking system. The targets were preset, scanned with the laser target illuminator, and an aim point was held on the target for an extended period to simulate destruction of the threat.

No Apparent Spike of Carbon dioxide Across Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary

Authors:

Steinthorsdottir et al

Abstract:

Reliable reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (pCO2) are required at higher resolution than currently available to help resolve the relationship between mass extinctions and changes in palaeo-pCO2 levels. Such reconstructions are needed: 1, at a high temporal resolution for constraining the pre- and post-extinction atmospheres; and 2, at a sufficient spatial resolution to constrain potential inter-hemispheric differences. Here we estimate pCO2 based on fossil Lauraceae leaf cuticle specimens derived from three localities with strata spanning the latest Cretaceous to the mid-Paleocene, including a new Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg) locality, in New Zealand. We use two independent methods of stomatal density-based pCO2 reconstructions; a transfer function calibrated using herbarium material and the stomatal ratio method, producing three calibration sets. Our results based on the mean values of each of the three calibration methods indicate pCO2 ranging between ca. 460 and 650 ppm during the latest Cretaceous, falling precipitously to average values between ca. 360 and 430 ppm across the K–Pg boundary, and further to ca. 305–320 ppm in the mid-Paleocene. A ‘spike’ of extremely high pCO2 at the K–Pg could not be confirmed, but our results are, nonetheless, consistent with previously published pCO2 records from the Northern Hemisphere, and show that stomatal density worldwide was responding to significant changes in pCO2 across the K–Pg.

Coprolites Give Evidence of Early Triassic Polar Predators

An Early Triassic polar predator ecosystem revealed by vertebrate coprolites from the Bulgo Sandstone (Sydney Basin) of southeastern Australia

Authors:

Niedźwiedzki et al

Abstract:

Vertebrate trace fossils often provide a measure of cryptic biodiversity, and are especially pertinent when skeletal remnants are exceptionally rare. The Lower Triassic (lower Olenekian) Bulgo Sandstone at Long Reef in the Sydney Basin of southeastern Australia constitutes just such a deposit, having yielded isolated bones of giant capitosaurian temnospondyls and proterosuchid archosauriforms, together with abundant coprolites that are geochemically rich in elemental phosphate and carbon denoting vertebrate predators. Microstructural analysis of these preserved droppings reveals occasional bone fragments, fish scales, insect cuticles, plant material and bacterial traces (pseudomorph voids), as well as silicate mineral particles. REE concentrations indicate that burial and early diagenesis occurred explicitly within fluvial sediments. Furthermore, external morphological characterization permits attribution of spiral coprolites to chondrichthyan or osteichthyan fishes, polygonal, ovoid–spherical and typically flattened feces to temnospondyls, and conspicuously large cylindrical droppings to archosauriforms or other amniote apex predators. Collectively, the Bulgo Sandstone coprolite assemblage thus offers new insights into ecosystem structure and palaeoenvironment in what was an earliest Triassic near polar setting. Such data compliments the documented skeletal record, but indicates a greater range of aquatic and possibly terrestrial carnivores — the latter being enigmatically sparse in the Australian Triassic and yet detected here via the hitherto underexplored trace fossil evidence of their ecological presence.

Ozimek volans: a Carnian Triassic Gliding Protorosaur

Authors:

Dzik et al

Abstract:

Several partially articulated specimens and numerous isolated bones of Ozimek volans gen. et sp. nov., from the late Carnian lacustrine deposits exposed at Krasiejów in southern Poland, enable a reconstruction of most of the skeleton. The unique character of the animal is its enlarged plate-like coracoids presumably fused with sterna. Other aspects of the skeleton seem to be comparable to those of the only known specimen of Sharovipteryx mirabilis from the latest Middle Triassic of Kyrgyzstan, which supports interpretation of both forms as protorosaurians. One may expect that the pectoral girdle of S. mirabilis, probably covered by the rock matrix in its only specimen, was similar to that of O. volans gen. et sp. nov. The Krasiejów material shows sharp teeth, low crescent scapula, three sacrals in a generalized pelvis (two of the sacrals being in contact with the ilium) and curved robust metatarsal of the fifth digit in the pes, which are unknown in Sharovipteryx. Other traits are plesiomorphic and, except for the pelvic girdle and extreme elongation of appendages, do not allow to identify any close connection of the sharovipterygids within the Triassic protorosaurians.

Evidence of Simple Multicellarity in Tonian NeoProterozoic Fossils From China

Authors:

Tang et al

Abstract:

Multicellularity arose multiple times in the evolutionary history of eukaryotes, and simple multicellularity may have a deep history tracing back to the Paleoproterozoic. However, complex multicellular organisms with cellular and tissue differentiation did not appear in the fossil record until the Mesoproterozoic, and it is not until the Ediacaran Period (635–541 Ma) when diverse assemblages of complex multicellular eukaryotes evolved. In the intervening Tonian Period (ca. 1000–720 Ma), the fossil record of multicellular organisms is poorly documented. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated Chuaria and associated carbonaceous compression fossils from the Tonian Liulaobei Formation in North China. These fossils have been variously interpreted as unicellular or multicellular organisms. Our analysis using backscattered-electron scanning electron microscopy (BSE-SEM) revealed direct evidence for simple multicellularity in some of these fossils and suggests that Chuaria may have had a multicellular vegetative stage in its life cycle. This study demonstrates that BSE-SEM has the potential to unveil the hidden diversity of multicellular organisms in the Tonian Period, thus enriching our knowledge about the multiple origins of multicellularity in this critical geological period before Cryogenian glaciations.