Science X Newsletter Monday, Oct 26

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 26, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Data reveals evidence of molecular absorption in the atmosphere of a hot Neptune

Tiny moon shadows may harbor hidden stores of ice

Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got way easier

Accessible healthcare could be key to solving climate crisis

Summer road trip finds small streams have big impacts on Great Lakes

Greenhouse effect of clouds instrumental in origin of tropical storms

New sub-Saturn-mass exoplanet discovered

Capacitivo: A contact-sensitive technique that can be used to make smart tablecloths

Scientists reveal new clues into how Earth got its oxygen

SOFIA discovers water on sunlit surface of moon

On-surface synthesis of graphene nanoribbons could advance quantum devices

Galapagos sees record rise in penguins, flightless cormorants

Asteroid samples escaping from jammed NASA spacecraft

AstraZeneca, J&J vaccine trials back on track in US

Facebook demands academics disable ad-targeting data tool

Physics news

Surprising communication between atoms could improve quantum computing

A group of University of Wisconsin–Madison physicists has identified conditions under which relatively distant atoms communicate with each other in ways that had previously only been seen in atoms closer together—a development that could have applications to quantum computing.

Estimating risk of airborne COVID-19 with mask usage, social distancing

The continued increase in COVID-19 infection around the world has led scientists from many different fields, including biomedicine, epidemiology, virology, fluid dynamics, aerosol physics, and public policy, to study the dynamics of airborne transmission.

Astronomy and Space news

Data reveals evidence of molecular absorption in the atmosphere of a hot Neptune

An international team of scientists recently measured the spectrum of the atmosphere of a rare hot Neptune exoplanet, whose discovery by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was announced just last month.

Tiny moon shadows may harbor hidden stores of ice

Hidden pockets of water could be much more common on the surface of the moon than scientists once suspected, according to new research led by the University of Colorado Boulder. In some cases, these tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny.

New sub-Saturn-mass exoplanet discovered

Using the microlensing technique, an international team of astronomers has detected a new distant alien world. The newly found exoplanet, designated OGLE-2018-BLG-0799Lb, is about five times less massive than Jupiter and orbits a very low-mass dwarf. The finding is reported in a paper published October 17 on the arXiv pre-print server.

SOFIA discovers water on sunlit surface of moon

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

Asteroid samples escaping from jammed NASA spacecraft

A NASA spacecraft is stuffed with so much asteroid rubble from this week's grab that it's jammed open and precious particles are drifting away in space, scientists said Friday.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects large sample of asteroid surface material, NASA confirms

Two days after touching down on asteroid Bennu, NASA's University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission team received images confirming that the spacecraft has collected more than enough material to meet one of its main mission requirements—acquiring at least 2 ounces, or 60 grams, of the asteroid's surface material.

The first habitable-zone, Earth-sized planet discovered with exoplanet survey spacecraft

TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, was launched in 2018 with the goal of discovering small planets around the Sun's nearest neighbors, stars bright enough to allow for follow-up characterizations of their planets' masses and atmospheres. TESS has so far discovered seventeen small planets around eleven nearby stars that are M dwarfs—stars that are smaller than the Sun (less than about 60% of the Sun's mass) and cooler (surface temperatures less than about 3900 kelvin). In a series of three papers that appeared together this month, astronomers report that one of these planets, TOI-700d, is Earth-sized and also located in its star's habitable zone; they also discuss its possible climate.

Astronomers enlist AI in the search for 'lethal' baby star eruptions

Young stars—just like young humans—are prone to temper flares. But star flares can incinerate everything around them, including the atmospheres of nearby planets starting to form.

Study offers more complete view of massive asteroid Psyche

A new study authored by Southwest Research Institute planetary scientist Dr. Tracy Becker discusses several new views of the asteroid 16 Psyche, including the first ultraviolet observations. The study, which was published today in The Planetary Science Journal and presented at the virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences, paints a clearer view of the asteroid than was previously available.

The magnetic fields of the jellyfish galaxy JO206

An international team of astronomers has gained new insights into the physical conditions prevailing in the gas tail of so-called jellyfish galaxies. They are particularly interested in the parameters that lead to the formation of new stars in the tail outside the galaxy disk. They analyzed, for example, the strength and orientation of the magnetic fields in the galaxy JO206.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft goes for early stow of asteroid sample

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is ready to perform an early stow on Tuesday, Oct. 27, of the large sample it collected last week from the surface of the asteroid Bennu to protect and return as much of the sample as possible.

About 3% of Starlink satellites have failed so far

SpaceX has drawn plenty of praise and criticism with the creation of Starlink, a constellation that will one day provide broadband internet access to the entire world. To date, the company has launched over 800 satellites and (as of this summer) is producing them at a rate of about 120 a month. There are even plans to have a constellation of 42,000 satellites in orbit before the decade is out.

SpaceX starship passes static fire test with three raptor engines, finally gets nose cone

It's beginning to look like SpaceX will attempt to make the 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) hop test before Christmas. After two successful 150-meter (~500 foot) hops with the SN5 and SN6 prototypes, engineers at SpaceX's Boca Chica launch facility in South Texas rolled out the SN8—the first Starship prototype to have three Raptor engines. But before the SN8 can conduct a high-altitude test flight, the engineers needed to run a static fire test.

Technology news

Capacitivo: A contact-sensitive technique that can be used to make smart tablecloths

A team of researchers at Dartmouth College, working with Microsoft Corp., has developed a contact-sensitive object-recognition technique called Capacitivo for creating interactive fabrics. In their paper published on the ACM digital library site for the upcoming User Interface Software and Technology Conference, the group describes their technique and how well the prototype they built worked when tested.

Facebook demands academics disable ad-targeting data tool

Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world's dominant social media platform.

Team examines operating limits in solid-state batteries to improve driving range of electric vehicles

There is huge momentum toward adoption of battery electric vehicles primarily because performances are meeting or exceeding the properties of traditional automobiles. Consumers want electric vehicles that have similar driving range (energy density) and charging styles and times (power density) to gasoline powered vehicles.

AI improves control of robot arms

More than one million American adults use wheelchairs fitted with robot arms to help them perform everyday tasks such as dressing, brushing their teeth, and eating. But the robotic devices now on the market can be hard to control. Removing a food container from a refrigerator or opening a cabinet door can take a long time. And using a robot to feed yourself is even harder because the task requires fine manipulation.

A blast of gas for better solar cells

Treating silicon with carbon dioxide gas in plasma processing brings simplicity and control to a key step for making solar cells.

Dog training methods help teach robots to learn new tricks

With a training technique commonly used to teach dogs to sit and stay, Johns Hopkins University computer scientists showed a robot how to teach itself several new tricks, including stacking blocks. With the method, the robot, named Spot, was able to learn in days what typically takes a month.

How to figure out what you don't know

Increasingly, biologists are turning to computational modeling to make sense of complex systems. In neuroscience, researchers are adapting the kinds of algorithms used to forecast the weather or filter spam from your email to seek insight into how the brain's neural networks process information.

Dubai introduces facial recognition on public transport

Dubai is introducing a facial recognition system on public transport to beef up security, officials said Sunday, as the emirate prepares to host the global Expo exhibition.

Motorists' smartphones may help keep highways safe

Motorists with smartphones could help highway chiefs maintain road quality by sending "crowdsourced" data from their mobiles that would allow engineers to assess when carriageway repairs are needed, according to a new study.

Powering the future: new insights into how alkali-metal doped flexible solar cells work

"When eco-friendly, inexpensive, versatile, and efficient solar cells are developed, all thermal and nuclear power plants will disappear, and solar cells installed over the ocean or in outer space will power our world," says Professor Dong-Seon Lee of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea. His highly optimistic view of the future mirrors the visions of many researchers involved in the effort to improve solar cells.

Working to extend battery life in smartphones, electric cars

A University of Central Florida researcher is working to make portable devices and electric vehicles stay charged longer by extending the life of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries powering them.

Bridges with limb-inspired architecture can withstand earthquakes, cut repair costs

Structural damage to any of the nation's ailing bridges can come with a hefty price of billions of dollars in repairs. New bridge designs promise more damage-resistant structures and, consequently, lower restoration costs. But if these designs haven't been implemented in the real world, predicting how they can be damaged and what repair strategies should be implemented remain unresolved.

From beekeepers to ocean mappers, Lobe aims to make it easy for anyone to train machine learning models

Sean Cusack has been a backyard beekeeper for 10 years and a tinkerer for longer. That's how he and an entomologist friend got talking about building an early warning system to alert hive owners to potentially catastrophic threats.

You can get a 3-D printed studio (yes, a printed apartment) for just over $100K

A tiny California start-up is looking to printers to solve the housing crisis—actually, a very large 3-D printer.

Facebook takes mobile games into the cloud

Facebook on Monday put its spin on cloud gaming by letting players instantly hop into an array of mobile games at the social network without downloading apps—but won't be offering the service for Apple iOS devices.

Big week for Big Tech as earnings, hearings loom

Big Tech is bracing for a tumultuous week marked by quarterly results likely to show resilience despite the pandemic, and fresh attacks from lawmakers ahead of the November 3 election.

Lee Kun-Hee, force behind Samsung's rise, dies at 78

Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics, has died. He was 78.

Airlines suffering from business class blues in age of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in the era of video meetings. But can Zoom really replace in-person meetings that require business executives to travel?

German software giant SAP trims outlook on virus woes

German software giant SAP on Sunday downgraded its outlook for 2020, saying a resurgence in coronavirus cases would weigh on demand from "hard hit" customers.

US insists on need to ban TikTok

US President Donald Trump's administration has insisted on the need to ban TikTok due to national security concerns in a new court filing ahead of a plan to make the video app unavailable on November 12.

Chinese fintech could shatter records with $35B share offer

The world's largest fintech company, China's Ant Group, will try to raise nearly $35 billion in a massive public offering of stock that would shatter records.

Lufthansa says 30,000 jobs at risk over pandemic

Germany's Lufthansa has warned that 30,000 jobs are under threat as it scaled down its winter schedule to levels not seen since the 1970s as demand for travel collapses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

New control architecture defends complex interconnected systems against cyberattacks

Researchers have developed a novel control architecture that defends complex, interconnected systems previously vulnerable to cyberattacks. Details were published in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

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