Keith Cowing on China's Tianwen-1 Mars landing

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CGTN America 15 May, 2021 - 03:26pm 24 views

Has tianwen 1 landed on Mars?

Last summer the China National Space Administration launched its Tianwen-1 mission to Mars, and today the country's news agencies like Xinhua and CGTN report the probe has landed. The mission consists of an orbiter, lander and a golf-cart sized rover. Yahoo TechChina's Tianwen-1 mission has successfully landed on Mars

Is China landing on Mars?

On 14 May 2021, the lander successfully landed on Mars. With the landing, China became the third nation to achieve a successful soft landing on Mars, after the Soviet Union and the United States. wikipedia.orgTianwen-1 - Wikipedia

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GLOBALink | China's probe lands on Mars

New China TV 15 May, 2021 - 07:20pm

China had never been near Mars, but in one mission it managed to orbit, land and deliver a rover

ABC News 15 May, 2021 - 02:38pm

While many overseas news outlets in recent days focused on an "out of control" Chinese rocket that re-entered Earth's atmosphere and harmlessly landed in the Indian Ocean, the space station module that it launched is now orbiting the planet.

It's a major step towards China independently running its own space station – partly the result of the US locking it out of the ageing International Space station, which is due to be decommissioned within a few years.

But that was only the undercard.

As millions of Australians were waking to weekend breakfasts, property inspections and children's sports on Saturday morning, dozens of Chinese engineers and scientists were nervously waiting from ground control as a Chinese spacecraft lost contact for around 17 minutes after landing on Mars.

The spacecraft, known as Tianwen1, had already gone through what state television described as "nine minutes of terror", a nerve-wracking period as the lander approached the Martian surface at a pace too fast for the signals to Earth to keep up with.

The compact car-sized lander then spent 17 minutes unfolding its antenna and solar panels before it could send signals from the Red Planet confirming its success.

Not only had China become the third country to successfully land a rover on Mars, but it was only the second to successfully maintain communications with it.

The six-wheeled robot called Zhurong is due to explore for the next 90 days, putting Chinese tyre marks on a planet that has proven too difficult for European attempts.

In a single mission, a country that had previously never been near Mars managed to orbit, land and deliver a rover.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping hailed the success of the ambitious mission in a message to all those involved.

"Your outstanding achievement will forever be etched in the memories of the motherland and the people" he said, according to government media.

Pictures beamed out across the country from ground control showed some engineers in tears.

China's state TV broke into special coverage titled "Hello Mars" to celebrate what has been rapid progress for the country's military-run space program.

"It's one of the most complicated things China has ever done in spaceflight. And it comes relatively shortly after China launched its first large space station module," said Dr Morris Jones, a Sydney-based space writer.

"So, in between the space station, the Mars landing and the fact that China has recently retrieved samples from the moon via another robot lander, this is a sign that China is now a first-rate space power."

While China's arrival as a space power may seem recent, it has been quietly ticking off goals and making capability improvements since the mid-1960s.

"For much of that time, China's space program has been conducted out of the limelight, partly due to secrecy but also because much of what they were doing wasn't headline-grabbing," Dr Jones said.

"Launching a weather satellite isn't as sexy as landing on Mars," he said.

There have also been plenty of setbacks, including two unmanned rocket launch failures last year, although they paled in comparison to the high number of successful launches.

"China today is doing what the US and the Soviet Union was doing in the 1970s – sinking a lot of money and people into space exploration," said Brad Tucker, a physicist at ANU.

"They're really trying to show their equal footing with the other big powers, the US and Russia."

China's Tiangong space station module that was launched at the end of April is part of a plan to house three astronauts in a space station by the end of next year.

There are a series of additional launches required before China completes it, but if all goes to plan, it will become the only functioning space station, once the joint US-Russian-European-Japanese-Canadian International Space Station ends its mission, as planned some time this decade.

China is also taking steps towards a manned moon landing and has already placed two rovers on the moon.

But Mars is the real forefront of space exploration.

"It's a huge milestone – it's really hard to land a little car on a planet hundreds of millions of kilometres away completely remotely," Dr Tucker said.

The US has landed five rovers on Mars, including Perseverance – a one-tonne car-sized rover that landed in February and carried the first mini helicopter to ever fly on Mars.

The Soviet Union was the only other state to land a rover in 1971, but it lost contact almost immediately.

"China is really catching up to Russia and is not that far behind the US," Dr Tucker said.

"There is still a long way to go before the first manned mission to Mars, but there's no reason why it can't be a Chinese mission.

"The US is no longer guaranteed to have it."

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

China becomes only second nation in history to land a rover on Mars

Yahoo! Voices 15 May, 2021 - 09:33am

The rover, named Zhurong after the Chinese god of fire, is part of China's Tianwen-1 mission, which launched in July 2020. The landing is a major milestone for China's space agency, which has advanced rapidly in just a few decades.

Few details about the Tianwen-1 mission have been made public, but the Mars probe and its accompanying rover are designed to map the Martian surface and search for signs of life on the planet.

The China National Space Administration said in a statement Friday that the Tianwen-1 spacecraft "has functioned normally" since it's launch last year and has collected a "huge amount of scientific data."

The Zhurong rover landed Friday shortly after 7 p.m. ET in a region of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. The vast, icy plain was also where NASA's now-defunct Viking 2 lander touched down in 1976.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, congratulated China's space agency shortly after the landing was confirmed. "Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity's understanding of the Red Planet," he wrote on Twitter.

China's Tianwen-1 mission is a key part of the country's lofty ambitions for space exploration. In December 2020, a Chinese probe landed on the moon and subsequently returned to Earth with a cache of lunar samples. As a result, China became only the third country, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, to accomplish such a feat.

In late April, China launched into orbit the first module for a planned space station. Rocket debris from that launch later fell back to Earth, crashing into the Indian Ocean and drawing criticism from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and others over China's handling of the incident.

This year has been one for Mars missions. In addition to China's Zhurong rover, the red planet is playing host to several other new spacecraft. NASA's Perseverance rover successfully touched down on the Martian surface on Feb. 18 and officially began collecting science data this week. Previously, the rover served as a communications base for a tiny experimental helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, which conducted the first powered, controlled flights on another planet.

In February, the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe also entered into orbit around Mars, making the UAE only the fifth nation or entity to do so. The spacecraft is designed to circle Mars and study the red planet's atmosphere.

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“They just want to gauge how you react and how you think through a response.”

China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space. It will join an American rover that arrived at the red planet in February. China’s first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.

This video from NASA shows a first-person glimpse of an asteroid approach, which offers a sense of what it's like to land on another world. The post Video of NASA Probe Landing on Asteroid Is Otherworldly appeared first on Nerdist.

The series will star Kate McKinnon and John Cameron Mitchell.

At Fort Bragg, soldiers who have gotten their coronavirus vaccines can go to a gym where no masks are required, with no limits on who can work out together. Treadmills are on and zipping, unlike those in 13 other gyms where unvaccinated troops can’t use the machines, everyone must mask up and restrictions remain on how many can bench-press at one time. Inside Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, where lines not long ago snaked for miles with people seeking coronavirus vaccines, a special seating area allows those who are fully inoculated to enjoy games side by side with other fans. When Bill Duggan reopens Madam’s Organ, his legendary blues bar in Washington, D.C., people will not be allowed in to work, drink or play music unless they can prove they have had their shots. “I have a saxophone player who is among the best in the world. He was in the other day, and I said, ‘Walter, take a good look around because you’re not walking in here again unless you get vaccinated.’” Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Evite and Paperless Post are seeing a big increase in hosts requesting that their guests be vaccinated. As the United States nudges against the soft ceiling of those who will willingly take the vaccine, governments, businesses and schools have been extending carrots — actually doughnuts, beers and cheesecake — to prod laggards along. Some have even offered cold hard cash: In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine this week went so far as to say that the state would give five vaccinated people $1 million each as part of a weekly lottery program. On Thursday, federal health officials offered the ultimate incentive for many when they advised that fully vaccinated Americans may stop wearing masks. Now, private employers, restaurants and entertainment venues are looking for ways to make those who are vaccinated feel like VIPs, both to protect workers and guests, and to possibly entice those not yet on board. Come summer, the nation may become increasingly bifurcated between those who are permitted to watch sports, take classes, get their hair cut and eat barbecue with others, and those who are left behind the spike protein curtain. Access and privilege among the vaccinated may rule for the near future, in public and private spaces. “The bottom line is this interesting question of the conception of our society,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the architect of a smoking ban and a tuberculosis control program in New York City, both of which included forms of mandates. “Are we in some important way connected or not?” A vaccine requirement to attend school or participate in the military is not a novel concept. But because the three COVID vaccines offered in the United States have yet to receive full approvals by the Food and Drug Administration, the military has declined to insist on inoculation. For their part, public school districts cannot consider mandates until the vaccines are available to most children. The FDA just granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer this week for children ages 12-15. But even without a mandate, a nudge can feel like a shove. The military has been strongly encouraging vaccines among the troops. Acceptance has been low in some branches, like the Marines, with only 40% having gotten one or more shots. At Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the country and among the first to offer the vaccine, just under 70% have been jabbed. A podcast designed to knock down misinformation — a common misbelief is that the vaccines affect fertility — plays around the base. In addition to their freedom gym, vaccinated soldiers may now eat in groups as they please, while the unvaccinated look on as they grab their grub and go. With soldiers, experts “talk up to decliners versus talk down,” said Col. Joseph Buccino, a spokesman at Fort Bragg. Still, holdouts pose obstacles. For a recent mission to Europe, a handful of unvaccinated troops had to be replaced with those who had gotten shots, because of quarantine rules in countries there. “What we need to do is restore readiness,” Buccino said. Segregating the unvaccinated and limiting access to gyms and dining areas were not measures aimed specifically at getting soldiers vaccinated, he said, “but there is an enticement.” The private sector, sometimes with the encouragement of government, is also trying to make life a bit nicer for the vaccinated, emphasizing the privileges — rather than perceived infringements on freedom — bestowed by the protection of the vaccines. It’s baseball season, and fans have clamored to get back to normal, to a place where the wave used to mean something other than the next surge of the coronavirus. Major League Baseball is heavily promoting inoculations, and stadiums have become a new line of demarcation, where vaccinated sections are highlighted as perks akin to VIP skyboxes. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced that sporting venues and churches would be able to increase their capacity by adding sections for the vaccinated. Some businesses — like gyms and restaurants — where the coronavirus was known to spread easily are also embracing a reward system. Even though many gyms have reopened around the country, some still haven’t allowed large classes to resume. Others are inclined to follow the lead of gyms like Solidcore in Washington, D.C., which seeks proof of inoculation to enroll in classes listed as “Vaccine Required: Full Body.” “Our teams are now actively evaluating where else we think there will be client demand and will be potentially introducing it to other markets in the weeks ahead,” said Bryan Myers, CEO of the national fitness studio chain, in an email. The Bayou, a restaurant in Salt Lake City, will open its doors only to those who have had their shots, according to Mark Alston, one of the owners. “It was entirely driven by the fact that I work at the Bayou seven days a week,” he said. “I do not work from a comfy office and send staff off to work in unsafe conditions, but work there alongside them.” The “vaxxed-only” policy has flooded his voicemail with rancorous messages. “One in particular accuses us of running some kind of pedophile beer cult,” he said. “It’s a bit unhinged.” Even private citizens are deploying the practice in their homes. A spokesperson for Evite said 548,420 guests had received online invitations to events mentioning “fully vaccinated” or using other vaccinated-related terms since March 1, 2021, and invitations with the exact term “fully vaccinated” had been sent to 103,507 people. A similar company, Paperless Post, has created specific invitation designs with the inoculated in mind, vaccinated only please RSVP. Not everyone endorses this type of exclusion as good public policy. “I worry about the operational feasibility,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. “In the U.S., we don’t yet have a standard way to prove vaccination status. I hope we’ll see by fall such low levels of infection in the U.S. that our level of concern about the virus will be very low.” But few dispute that it is legal. “Having dedicated spaces at events reserved for vaccinated people is both lawful and ethical,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, an expert in health law at Georgetown Law School. “Businesses have a major economic incentive to create safer environments for their customers, who would otherwise be reluctant to attend crowded events. Government recommendations about vaccinated-only sections will encourage businesses and can help us back to more normal.” Large employers with a few notable exceptions have been reluctant so far to impose vaccine mandates for workers, especially in a tight labor market. “Our association came out in favor of masks,” said Emily Williams Knight, president of the Texas Restaurant Association. “We probably will not be taking a position on mandates, which are incredibly divisive.” But some companies are moving that way. Norwegian Cruise Line is threatening to keep its ships out of Florida ports if the state stands by a law prohibiting businesses from requiring vaccines in exchange for services. Public health mandates — from smoking bans to seat belt laws to containing tuberculosis outbreaks by requiring TB patients to take their medicines while observed — have a long history in the United States. “They fall into a cluster of things in which someone is essentially making the argument that what I do is only my business,” said Frieden, who is now chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, a program designed to prevent epidemics and cardiovascular disease. “A lot of times that’s true, unless what you do might kill someone else.” Frieden was the main official who pushed for a smoking ban in bars and restaurants in 2003 when he was the New York City health commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Other senior aides at the time felt certain the ban would cost Bloomberg a second term. “When I was fighting for that, a City Council member who was against the ban said of bars, ‘That is my place of entertainment.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s someone’s place of employment.’ It did have impact.” Duggan, the bar owner in Washington, said protecting his workers and patrons are of a piece. “As we hit a plateau with vaccines, I don’t think we can sit and wait for all the nonbelievers,” he said. “If we are going to convince them, it’s going to be through them not being able to do the things that vaccinated people are able to do.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

Update for 6:30 a.m. PT May 15: Two BlackSky satellites were lost when the second stage of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket suffered an anomaly, minutes after liftoff from New Zealand. “We are deeply sorry to our customers Spaceflight Inc. and BlackSky for the loss of their payloads,” Rocket Lab said in a statement. The cause of the anomaly is under investigation. Check out this story for updates. Previously: Satellites for BlackSky’s constellation of Earth-watching spacecraft may be launched from as far away as New Zealand, but their path to orbit features prominent stops in the Seattle area. BlackSky’s Global satellites… Read More

China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are expected to land on the red planet sometime between Saturday and Wednesday Beijing time. The China National Space Administration said in a brief notice that the Tianwen-1 probe has collected a large amount of scientific data since entering Mars orbit on Feb. 10 and the window for setting down on an icy area of the planet known as Utopia Planitia was determined by “current flying conditions.” The mission is the first attempt at a soft landing on Mars by a Chinese spacecraft.

An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet. The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, "leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time," Xinhua said. Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a message of congratulations to all the people involved in the mission.

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For years, government officials and industry executives have run elaborate simulations of a targeted cyberattack on the power grid or gas pipelines in the United States, imagining how the country would respond. But when the real, this-is-not-a-drill moment arrived, it didn’t look anything like the war games. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The attacker was not a terror group or a hostile state like Russia, China or Iran, as had been assumed in the simulations. It was a criminal extortion ring. The goal was not to disrupt the economy by taking a pipeline offline but to hold corporate data for ransom. The most visible effects — long lines of nervous motorists at gas stations — stemmed not from a government response but from a decision by the victim, Colonial Pipeline, which controls nearly half the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel flowing along the East Coast, to turn off the spigot. It did so out of concern that the malware that had infected its back-office functions could make it difficult to bill for fuel delivered along the pipeline or even spread into the pipeline’s operating system. What happened next was a vivid example of the difference between tabletop simulations and the cascade of consequences that can follow even a relatively unsophisticated attack. The aftereffects of the episode are still playing out, but some of the lessons are already clear, and they demonstrate how far the government and private industry have to go in preventing and dealing with cyberattacks and in creating rapid backup systems for when critical infrastructure goes down. In this case, the long-held belief that the pipeline’s operations were totally isolated from the data systems that were locked up by DarkSide, a ransomware gang believed to be operating out of Russia, turned out to be false. And the company’s decision to turn off the pipeline touched off a series of dominoes including panic buying at the pumps and a quiet fear inside the government that the damage could spread quickly. A confidential assessment prepared by the Energy and Homeland Security Departments found that the country could only afford another three to five days with the Colonial pipeline shut down before buses and other mass transit would have to limit operations because of a lack of diesel fuel. Chemical factories and refinery operations would also shut down, because there would be no way to distribute what they produced, the report said. And while President Joe Biden’s aides announced efforts to find alternative ways to haul gasoline and jet fuel up the East Coast, none were immediately in place. There was a shortage of truck drivers and of tanker cars for trains. “Every fragility was exposed,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, who co-founded CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm, and chairs the think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator. “We learned a lot about what could go wrong. Unfortunately, so did our adversaries.” The list of lessons is long. Colonial, a private company, may have thought it had an impermeable wall of protections, but it was easily breached. Even after it paid the extortionists nearly $5 million in digital currency to recover its data, the company found that the process of decrypting its data and turning the pipeline back on was agonizingly slow, meaning it will still be days before the East Coast gets back to normal. “This is not like flicking on a light switch,” Biden said Thursday, noting that the 5,500-mile pipeline had never before been shut down. For the administration, the event proved a perilous week in crisis management. Biden told aides, one recalled, that nothing could wreak political damage faster than television images of gas lines and rising prices, with the inevitable comparison to Jimmy Carter’s worse moments as president. Biden feared that, unless the pipeline resumed operations, panic receded and price gouging was nipped in the bud, the situation would feed concerns that the economic recovery is still fragile and that inflation is rising. Beyond the flurry of actions to get oil moving on trucks, trains and ships, Biden published a long-gestating executive order that, for the first time, seeks to mandate changes in cybersecurity. And he suggested that he was willing to take steps that the Obama administration hesitated to take during the 2016 election hacks — direct action to strike back at the attackers. “We’re also going to pursue a measure to disrupt their ability to operate,” Biden said, a line that seemed to hint that U.S. Cyber Command, the military’s cyberwarfare force, was being authorized to kick DarkSide offline, much as it did to another ransomware group in the fall before the presidential election. Hours later, the group’s internet sites went dark. By early Friday, DarkSide and several other ransomware groups, including Babuk, which has hacked Washington D.C.’s police department, announced they were getting out of the game. DarkSide alluded to disruptive action by an unspecified law enforcement agency, though it was not clear if that was the result of U.S. action or pressure from Russia before Biden’s expected summit with President Vladimir Putin. And going quiet might simply have reflected a decision by the ransomware gang to frustrate retaliation efforts by shutting down its operations, perhaps temporarily. The Pentagon’s Cyber Command referred questions to the National Security Council, which declined to comment. The episode underscored the emergence of a new “blended threat,” one that may come from cybercriminals, but is often tolerated, and sometimes encouraged, by a nation that sees the attacks as serving its interests.That is why Biden singled out Russia — not as the culprit, but as the nation that harbors more ransomware groups than any other country. “We do not believe the Russian government was involved in this attack, but we do have strong reason to believe the criminals who did this attack are living in Russia,” Biden said. “We have been in direct communication with Moscow about the imperative for responsible countries to take action against these ransomware networks.” With DarkSide’s systems down, it is unclear how Biden’s administration would retaliate further, beyond possible indictments and sanctions, which have not deterred Russian cybercriminals before. Striking back with a cyberattack also carries its own risks of escalation. The administration also has to reckon with the fact that so much of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and remains ripe for attack. “This attack has exposed just how poor our resilience is,” said Kiersten E. Todt, managing director of the nonprofit Cyber Readiness Institute. “We are overthinking the threat, when we’re still not doing the bare basics to secure our critical infrastructure.” The good news, some officials said, was that Americans got a wake-up call. Congress came face-to-face with the reality that the federal government lacks the authority to require the companies that control more than 80% of the nation’s critical infrastructure to adopt minimal levels of cybersecurity. The bad news, they said, was that U.S. adversaries — not only superpowers but terrorists and cybercriminals — learned just how little it takes to incite chaos across a large part of the country, even if they do not break into the core of the electric grid, or the operational control systems that move gasoline, water and propane around the country. Something as basic as a well-designed ransomware attack may easily do the trick, while offering plausible deniability to states like Russia, China and Iran that often tap outsiders for sensitive cyberoperations. It remains a mystery how DarkSide first broke into Colonial’s business network. The privately held company has said virtually nothing about how the attack unfolded, at least in public. It waited four days before having any substantive discussions with the administration, an eternity during a cyberattack. Cybersecurity experts also note that Colonial Pipeline would never have had to shut down its pipeline if it had more confidence in the separation between its business network and pipeline operations. “There should absolutely be separation between data management and the actual operational technology,” Todt said. “Not doing the basics is frankly inexcusable for a company that carries 45% of gas to the East Coast.” Other pipeline operators in the United States deploy advanced firewalls between their data and their operations that only allow data to flow one direction, out of the pipeline, and would prevent a ransomware attack from spreading in. Colonial Pipeline has not said whether it deployed that level of security on its pipeline. Industry analysts say many critical infrastructure operators say installing such unidirectional gateways along a 5,500-mile pipeline can be complicated or prohibitively expensive. Others say the cost to deploy those safeguards are still cheaper than the losses from potential downtime. Deterring ransomware criminals, which have been growing in number and brazenness over the past few years, will certainly be more difficult than deterring nations. But this week made the urgency clear. “It’s all fun and games when we are stealing each other’s money,” said Sue Gordon, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence, and a longtime CIA analyst with a specialty in cyberissues, said at a conference held by The Cipher Brief, an online intelligence newsletter. “When we are messing with a society’s ability to operate, we can’t tolerate it.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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