Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made history on Saturday, February 3, by using the smallest rocket ever to launch a satellite into orbit. The agency modified an SS-520 sounding rocket with an extra third stage in the nose cone to give the micro-satellite, a 3-kg (6.6-lb) TRICOM-1R, its final boost into orbit.
The launch seems to have gone off without a hitch. JAXA lists the satellite’s status as being in the “nominal” or observation phase, according to the Verge.
JAXA has no plans at this juncture to complete regular flights with its smallest rocket, yet there is a trend in the spaceflight industry that is leading to an uptick in interest for such launches. New Zealand’s Rocket Lab has been working on developing a smaller rocket to fill the gap in the need for smaller-scale trips into space.
SpaceX is clearly the industry leader in terms of satellite launches and International Space Station resupply missions, yet institutions looking to launch smaller satellites are exploring cheaper alternatives to buying a spot on a massive SpaceX launch. Rocket Lab and JAXA are among the first to show much progress in this sector.
JAXA’s achievement will stand in stark contrast to SpaceX’s next milestone, the eagerly awaited launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket. This massive launch will stand at the opposite end of the spectrum as the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. SpaceX has been issued an official launch license for a February 6 takeoff.
The future of space travel has room enough for the entire spectrum of launch technology, from the mini-rocket all of the way up to the Falcon Heavy-scale goliaths. Space is a virtually untapped resource holding an abundance of knowledge and utility for those willing to reach out and grab it.
Japan has set a new spaceflight record — and unlike most of these feats, it's defined by what wasn't involved. The country's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully launched the smallest-ever rocket to carry a satellite into orbit, a m… Engadget RSS Feed
Whether for better or for worse phones are getting bigger and bigger. They have high definition, multitouch displays, high performance CPUs, fantastic cameras, and more. But bigger isn’t always better and there are people who want a more traditional cell phone – as well as others who may enjoy the novelty of a compact phone.
Enter the Zanco Tiny T1. It’s, well… tiny. At just 21mm by 46.7mm, 12mm thin, and weighing only 13 grams, and looks something like a flash drive. It doesn’t have an Internet browser, apps, or a touch screen. In fact, its tiny OLED display measures just 12mm across.
Blast from the Past
As it doesn’t have a data plan, the phone operates on a traditional 2G network. It has a battery that will last up to 3 days in standby and offers up to three hours of talk time. Charging the device takes less than one hour.
You can send and receive text messages, just be prepared for a nostalgic trip back to the 90s. The phone only has enough storage space for 50 text messages.
There is no word yet on whether or not the messages will be threaded. Also, keep in mind you’ll have to peck out messages on a numerical keypad.
Don’t expect to be able to store a lot of contacts either; the phone only has room for 300 contacts.
Zanco says there will be ringtones to choose from, but they don’t know how many at this time.
The device is perfect for a backup device or a hidden phone for safety and emergencies. Its small size lets you transport it easily and a lanyard can be attached.
If you’re worried about not having 3G or 4G network capabilities, don’t be. The phone doesn’t have internet browsing capabilities so 2G is all you need.
The phone is an unlocked, quad band device. It accepts a nano SIM card, so as long as your network supports its 2G capability you should be just fine.
While the Tiny T1 isn’t available yet, it’s currently on Kickstarter and its price is tiny, too. You can back the project for about $ 50. It’s currently surpassed its funding goal of about $ 33K and the campaign ends on January 18.
SanDisk is showcasing two new flash drives at CES this year. The more interesting one is the 1TB USB Type-C drive, which is said to be the smallest of its kind in the world. Unfortunately, there is not much else known about this drive for now apart from that it’s small and big at the same time. The other drive is an actual product that was launched, which is the SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive, which is claimed to be the smallest 256GB flash drive in the world. It has the same form-factor as other SanDisk Ultra Fit drives, which means it is just a tiny bit larger…
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting isn't actually that big (30 inches tall), but Caltech researchers have found a way to make that seem downright gargantuan. They've used DNA to construct the smallest known Mona Lisa. At several hundred nanomet… Engadget RSS Feed
In 1987, 197 countries signed the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to stop releasing chemicals that were eating away a hole in our planet’s ozone layer. In a rare scientific triumph, the hole in the ozone layer has just about returned to the size it was at the time of the protocol’s signing: at its peak size in September, NASA reported that the hole was about 7.6 million square miles wide, the smallest it has been at peak since 1988.
Unfortunately, we may have solved one global problem with another, arguably bigger one. Warmer temperatures in the low pressure system that rotates above Antarctica, known as the Antarctic vortex, prevented many stratospheric clouds from forming; it’s within these clouds that the first steps that lead to ozone-destroying reactions occur. In other words, we could have global warming to thank.
“Weather conditions over Antarctica were a bit weaker and led to warmer temperatures, which slowed down ozone loss,” said Paul A. Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, to the Washington Post. “It’s like hurricanes. Some years there are fewer hurricanes that come onshore…this is a year in which the weather conditions led to better ozone [formation].”
Video Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Kathryn Mersmann
The hole in the ozone layer was first clearly detected in 1984, by British Antarctic Survey scientists monitoring the atmosphere. After the team published their discovery in 1985, it spurred an international effort to reduce ozone-depleting compounds, specifically chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were then commonly used as refrigerants. When the sun’s rays hit the chemically active forms of chlorine and bromine that come from these compounds, they produce reactions that destroy ozone.
Given that the ozone layer is primarily responsible for filtering out dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun, closing this hole — and preventing new ones from forming — is certainly good news. What’s more, the story of how we got here could be informative in addressing climate change as well.
International Cooperation is Fixing the Ozone Layer
Though climate contributed specifically to the reduction in ozone hole size we saw this year, the global reduction in atmospheric levels of CFCs following the Montreal Protocol has been the main reason that the hole in the ozone layer has continued shrinking.
Because CFCs hang around in the atmosphere for decades, scientists estimate that it will take until 2070 for the hole to return to the size it was in 1980. However, if this reduction hadn’t happened, NASA modelers estimate that by 2020 we would have seen 17% of global ozone destroyed, with holes above both the Arctic and Antarctic; by 2065, global ozone would have been almost entirely depleted.
Ian Rae, honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, wrote in The Conversation that while no single factor led to the Montreal Protocol’s success, the strong leadership and open discussion during negotiation enabled “a genuine exchange of views and the opportunity to take some issues on trust.”
Including scientists in the negotiations lent credibility to the discussion; and because the science wasn’t concrete at the time, the negotiators developed a highly flexible agreement that could be retooled as the science became clearer.
Durwood Zaelke, founder and president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, told Motherboard that efforts to address climate change could learn from the Montreal Protocol by breaking it into “more manageable pieces, where you can focus on solving that one piece.”
Additionally, while climate agreements like the Montreal and Paris agreement are voluntary, trade sanctions that allowed signatories to trade only with other signatories — used as a last resort — were a big factor in getting other countries to sign up for the Montreal Protocol.
It’s true that CFCs were never as controversial as climate change, and that greenhouse gas emissions come from many more sources than the refrigerants we had to limit to save our planet’s ozone. Yet the levels of international cooperation that we saw are worth taking a lesson from — especially given the successes we see now.
Numark has just announced its newest piece of DJ hardware — the DJ2GO2 — and it’s the smallest full-featured DJ controller on the market. Designed to fit across a standard laptop, the DJ2GO2 is built to not take up any additional space during a performance or practice. To set it up, simply plug in your headphones and connect it with speakers through the master 1/8” output.
For how tiny the DJ2GO2 is, it packs a lot of crucial functionality in comparison to other smaller controllers, like the Hercules DJ Control Compact. The DJ2GO2 features a built-in sound card, two channels with pitch control, a master gain, headphone output, crossfader, 8 cue point buttons, and the ability to browse and load songs. It even has jog wheels, although it…
On June 23, Breakthrough Initiatives successfully sent six “Sprites” into orbit, marking an exciting milestone in the Breakthrough Starshot project — an initiative to send vast numbers of nanoships to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system.
The miniature craft weigh just 4 grams each and are the smallest satellites ever sent into space. The test was designed to reveal how well the satellites’ electronics systems and radio communications performed in orbit.
The launch of the Sprite satellites marks the first demonstration that miniaturized electronics on small chips can be launched without damage, survive the harsh environment of space and communicate successfully with Earth. The Starshot Initiative aims to launch similar chips attached to a lightweight sail that it being pushed by a laser beam to a fifth of the speed of light, so that its camera, communication and navigation devices (whose total weight is of order a gram) will reach the nearest planet outside the solar system within our generation.
Our Universal Adventure
The Breakthrough Starshot initiative is an ingenious solution to many of the problems associated with traditional space rovers. Those complicated machines can sometimes fail, their size and weight can impair propulsion, and a single craft that can only travel to one destination can require a huge financial investment.
These tiny spacecraft should radically decrease the cost of interstellar exploration, while simultaneously increasing the speed at which we reach distant star systems. They’re also just one example of the many inventions that we are developing to investigate the cosmos.
Thanks to all these fascinating new technologies, we are living in the golden age of space exploration. The mysteries of our universe are being decoded, space is being deciphered, and technology is giving us new tools in the hunt for extraterrestrial life. Truly, there has never been a more exciting time to study the starry void in which we float.