US’ proposed China tariffs would target robotics and satellites

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The US Trade Representative has published the list of Chinese products that would be subject to its proposed tech tariffs, and there are a few clear themes. The move would hike the costs of about 1,300 products, including industrial robots, communic…
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Boeing is a fan of IoT satellites

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The venture capital arm of Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, has invested in Australian satellite firm Myriota.

Myriota is currently developing low cost, low power transmitters which aim to connect millions of IoT devices to satellites in orbit.

The company started its journey as a $ 12 million project out of the University of South Australia back in 2011. At the time, it was known as the Australian Space Research Program.

After the need for IoT connectivity was identified, the project was turned into a full company in 2015. Its team is 11-strong and retains key personnel from the original project. The startup plans on adding at least 20 further members of staff over the next couple of years.

Boeing’s investment marks its first outside the US market. The $ 15 million round was led by Australian venture capital firms Blue Sky and Main Sequence, and funds were also raised from Singtel Innov8 and Right Click Capital.

Myriota launched the first iteration of their technology aboard a nanosatellite from ExactEarth which tracks maritime activities.

From this initial deployment, the company's researchers conducted several experiments to stress test how their solution would scale. The firm claims it's able to support hundreds of millions of devices.

Building on this momentum, the firm is now looking to deploy 50 of its own nanosatellites in low orbit. Each will be around the size of a shoebox and weigh just 10kg.

These launches may face a difficult obstacle in the form of national regulators. One manufacturer in the U.S, Swarm Technologies, is currently facing scrutiny from the FCC after the unauthorised launch of four satellites in January.

Myriota is already working alongside the relevant agencies in Australia to ensure their launch does not result in the same problems as Swarm Technologies.

SpaceX was set to be Myriota’s launch partner with it first satellite due to be on-board a Falcon 9 rocket back in February. That launch was delayed until the middle of this year. Myriota is keeping its options open and may decide to go with a different launch provider.

With a study from Machina Research indicating the IoT market will surge to around $ 3 trillion in 2025, time is of the essence for startups like Myriota to secure their slice of the pie.

What are your thoughts on Myriota’s solution? Let us know in the comments. Latest from the homepage

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University deploys satellites, IoT to fight North Sea plastic pollution

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Researchers at the University of Oldenburg in Germany are using satellite communications to combat the growing problem of plastic pollution in the North Sea.

A report in Science magazine estimates that there are 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste on the planet, with waste increasingly polluting our oceans, damaging marine life, and entering the food chain. An estimated eight million tonnes enters the oceans every year, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.

Mobile satellite voice and data services provider Globalstar has provided its SPOT Trace and communications technologies to help the team study the movement of floating plastic in the North Sea. In particular, researchers from the University’s Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment are trying to get a clear picture of the waste’s drift patterns.


The team has embedded low-cost satellite trackers in floating buoys, which provide a wealth of information on the plastic’s movements on the surface.

Each of the buoys is fitted with a 7×5 cm SPOT Trace device, which includes an integrated GPS receiver, simplex transponder, and motion sensor. This Internet of Things (IoT) solution allows researchers to track drift movements using the Globalstar LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) satellite constellation.

Modelling tools

The University’s 3D computer simulations and modelling tools use the SPOT Trace data to help the team both understand and predict surface drift behaviour, as well as how debris travels in the water column and on the sea floor.

Researchers said that one of the most revealing discoveries has been the huge effect of wind, with some buoys beaching after as little as one month, having travelled up to 700 miles.

“It is clear that the influence of the power of the wind on the movement of floating particles in the North Sea is greater than we anticipated,” said PhD student Jens Meyerjürgens.

“Seventy-five percent of the debris that washes ashore on our islands is plastic, mostly from fishing activity,” added Mathias Heckroth, managing director of Mellumrat eV. The NGO is dedicated to conservation and scientific research on the uninhabited island of Mellum, one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea being studied by the University of Oldenburg team.

Mellum is situated in the intertidal Wadden Sea region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, where up to 12 million migrating birds spend time each year.

“The study is playing an important role in helping to identify the source of the plastic litter. It is also showing unexpected drift movement; we usually have a west-to-east drift, but sometimes tracking the buoys reveals a drift in the opposite direction, and we are studying why,” added Heckroth.

The research team is also helping authorities to establish new rules and regulations to both people and businesses to pollute less. “A key role of the University’s research is to help bring all stakeholders together, to give them compelling evidence, and to raise awareness of this huge problem,” said Heckroth.

Just as important, this new ability to predict the movement of pollutants as they drift and wash ashore can help clean-up operations to be more targeted and efficient.

“We very much hope this study inspires others and that our methodology can become a template for use by fellow research institutions elsewhere in the world,” said the University’s Meyerjürgens.

Internet of Business says

This inspiring project reveals how sensors, IoT technology, satellite communications, and analytics can gather and investigate large amounts of data about environmental problems, and not only provide useful information, but also help predict where solutions can best be applied.

Similar systems are being deployed in the air, as well as at sea, to help monitor extreme weather conditions, or clouds of pollution. For example, the MAVIS project, developed by the UK’s Southampton University, releases disposable paper drones at high altitude in order to track the movement of storms.

Read more: Oil spill detection enhanced by Norwegian IoT partnership


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NASA wants your pictures of clouds to verify its satellites’ data

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NASA announced this week that it's looking for some citizen scientists to help out with a project. Six orbiting instruments make up NASA's Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) project and they are used to study Earth's climate and the…
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NASA wants your help checking its satellites — so send in your cloud pics

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NASA is asking all cloud gazers to snap photos of the sky and share them with the space agency via an app. The citizen science project is needed to validate data from six Earth-observing instruments on different satellites. And it’s likely to make #CloudTwitter incredibly happy.

The instruments are part of a project called Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), which aims to better understand what roles clouds play in global climate change, among other things. Clouds, however, are sometimes hard to identify from up high. For example, thin, wispy cirrus clouds, the most common type of high cloud, are difficult to spot against a background of snow, according to NASA. That’s why satellite observations need to be compared with…

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FCC accuses startup of launching satellites without permission

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Life isn't easy if you're a space technology startup: in addition to the outlandish costs, you have to clear all kinds of regulatory challenges that might cut your plans short if there's a snag. One company might not have been willing to take "no" f…
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New thruster tech converts air molecules into fuel for orbiting satellites

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The European Space Agency created the world’s first thruster which allows satellites to remain in orbit for years longer than they currently do. The secret? The thruster runs on particles of air in the atmosphere. Others have tried to improve the staying power of satellites before, but most are still limited by the amount of fuel they can carry. The new ion thruster “breathes” the rare air particles in the top of the atmosphere, allowing the satellites to remain without immediate need for refueling. The thruster was developed by an ESA team and built by SITAEL, a private company in Italy.…

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SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 carrying internet satellites

SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket today carrying Spain's radar imaging Paz satellite as well as two of its own satellites, Microsat-2a and -2b. The two experimental satellites will be used to test SpaceX's plan to deliver internet…
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Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 Just Launched the First of 11,925 SpaceX Internet Satellites

SpaceX Internet Satellites

Today’s Falcon 9 reusable rocket launch may not be quite as headline-making as the Falcon Heavy’s epic sendoff a few weeks earlier, but it was nothing to sneeze at either. After all, Elon Musk does not simply launch a rocket. No, the SpaceX CEO prefers to break records. Or better yet, set them.

While the primary mission of Thursday’s launch was to carry Spain’s newest Earth-observation satellite, known as Paz, the rocket’s payload also included SpaceX’s first two internet satellites. It’s this pair of spacecraft that could kick off a new phase for the company — and for the global internet as we know it.

Musk has been working on somewhat secretive plans to launch internet satellites into orbit for a couple of years now. Back in 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the launches of 4,425 SpaceX internet satellites. The company then jacked that number up to almost 12,000 – six times the number of active satellites currently orbiting Earth.

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According to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists Satelite Database, there are 1,738 active satellites in orbit right now. Even if you add the 2,600-some inactive satellites, that would still make SpaceX’s presence three times that of all other spacecraft in orbit.

At first glance, it may not seem as impressive as launching a Tesla Roadster into space, but these satellites are pretty hefty: they’re roughly car-sized — about 390 kg (850 pounds) — and will eventually fill out SpaceX’s proposed constellation of satellites that would beam high-speed internet back down to Earth.

To that end, hitching a ride with Paz are two small telecommunication satellite prototypes: Microsat-2a and Microsat-2br. They’ll be the first of what SpaceX ultimately hopes will become two large groups of internet-beaming satellites, each operating on a different radio frequency.

Starting Starlink

Of the 12 grand, 4,425 SpaceX internet satellites will be positioned about 1,1oo km (700 miles) above Earth and the other 7,518 will orbit just 300 km (200 miles) above. The sheer number of the satellites, their varying positions in orbit, and their beaming-ability pose a formidable challenge for SpaceX.

The company will need to ensure the satellites can coordinate with receivers on Earth, for one. Then there’s the more fundamental question of how they’ll manage to keep track of so many objects in orbit and prevent them from colliding.

But if he can actually assemble this fleet of satellites, Musk says the network (informally known as Starlink, according to the Wall Street Journal) could provide internet to virtually any location on Earth. Such a network would lift the burden of developing internet infrastructure off of the developing world — in which less than half the population has ready access to the internet.

When Musk initially requested permission from the FCC to start this project in 2015, he said at SpaceX Seattle that the goal for the network would be to handle more than half of long-distance internet traffic. This would allow faster and more direct communication between different continents than is currently possible, Musk said.

That said, the impact on local internet communications would be less dramatic. Starlink would probably handle only 10 percent business-to-consumer direct — leaving the other 90 percent of local access to fiber. But that reality could only be for the short term.

“We’re really talking about something which is, in the long term, like rebuilding the internet in space,” Musk said at SpaceX Seattle. And after today’s successful launch, it seems like SpaceX is one step closer to doing just that.

The post Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 Just Launched the First of 11,925 SpaceX Internet Satellites appeared first on Futurism.