What Would Happen if We Cancelled the WFIRST Space Telescope?

Goodbye, WFIRST?

The new White House budget proposal is calling for the cancellation of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). The WFIRST Space Telescope is a mission concept that aims to help scientists detect exoplanets, explore dark energy, and find answers to many of life’s mysteries. Some think that the threat of cancellation is a sharp message to the WFIRST mission leaders to reduce operational costs.

However, if this does lead to the cancellation of the WFIRST, it could be a devastating blow to the global astrophysics community, and to progress on the whole.

WFIRST was set to become NASA’s next flagship mission, with a tentative launch set for 2020. It was scheduled to join the ranks of other large-scale flagship missions like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, and more.

Leading Discovery

The WFIRST would not only aid in the discovery and exploration of planets orbiting other stars in far-off systems; its foray into studying dark energy separates it from other leading telescopes. The WFIRST could allow scientists to answer a host of questions that remain astronomical uncertainties: “What is driving the acceleration of the universe? What are the properties of exoplanet atmospheres? How did our galaxy and its neighbors form and evolve? What determines the architecture of exoplanets? US should be leading the world in addressing these big questions,” posed David Spergel, a physicist at Princeton University and the co-chair of the WFIRST science team, on Twitter.

In the 2010 decadal survey, a survey put out every 10 years by the National Academy of Sciences to guide funding and priorities, the WFIRST mission was listed as the top mission priority. This is true not just for U.S. astronomy, but also for the whole astrophysics community. Without the WFIRST mission, astronomers and astrophysicists might not have access to such tools at all.

“I think it’s a poor decision and an unnecessary one,” Spergel told Space.com. “I see it as abandoning U.S. leadership in space astronomy. Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency, France — they are all ready to partner with us and make contributions to the mission. They join in because they think this is something we’ll do, because it’s our top [decadal survey] priority.”

This move may just be a financial threat. Yet whether or not WFIRST is actually cancelled, it seems to be a concerning display of the White House’s regard towards progress in the astronomical sector.

The post What Would Happen if We Cancelled the WFIRST Space Telescope? appeared first on Futurism.


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Android phone makers review the iPhone X: 5 stars, would copy again

iPhone X Review

Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone X continues to get stellar reviews, but not only from gadget bloggers and Apple fans. There’s another group that is absolutely enamored with Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone: Android phone makers. Several Android phone companies love Apple’s new design so much that they’re not even trying to hide it anymore, blatantly ripping off Apple’s work in their own upcoming devices.

Bigger companies like Samsung will stick to copying features such as Face ID and Animoji (well, aside from this upcoming gem from Huawei). But other Android smartphone makers are taking things much, much further by shamelessly copying Apple’s iPhone X design. That’s right, Apple’s signature iPhone X design feature — the “notch” at the top of the display — will appear on a number of different Android smartphones this year. But Android vendors won’t stop there, and they plan to steal even more key elements from Apple’s iPhone X.

Last week, we told you about two upcoming Android phones that were shaping up to be blatant iPhone X ripoffs. Both phones came from smaller China-based smartphone makers, and their iPhone X knockoffs will never make it to US shores. Still, it’s a bit unsettling to see how shameless these companies have become; our favorite of those two iPhone X knockoffs is the “Leagoo S9,” which impressively manages to steal the name of Samsung’s upcoming new flagship phone while stealing the design from Apple’s just-released flagship phone. You can see the phone here. Impressive work indeed, Leagoo.

As we mentioned earlier, better-known companies that sell their phones around the world are mostly steering clear of Apple’s iPhone X design. Instead, they’re just stealing key features from the iPhone X. This is something that happens all the time, so it’s hardly a surprise. Android phone makers steal features from Apple, Apple steals features from Android phone makers, and time marches on.

In this case, Apple’s Face ID feature on the iPhone X has prompted Android phone vendors to work on 3D facial recognition, since current facial recognition features on Android phones are terribly unsecure. Other iPhone X features are being aped by Android phone makers as well, of course. The big one this year appears to be Apple’s Animoji feature, which will come to smartphones from Samsung, Huawei, and other companies in 2018.

Smaller phone makers are going full steam ahead, though. They have no qualms with shamelessly stealing from Apple. Interestingly, however, the latest iPhone X clone comes from an unlikely place: Sharp.

Sharp was one of the first phone makers in the world to release a smartphone with an “all-screen” design, like the one pictured above. The company has continued to explore designs with wonderfully narrow bezels since first launching the Aquos Crystal in 2014. In 2018, however, it looks like the company has a new design in store for its upcoming flagship smartphone… and it’s Apple’s design.

The image above was posted by a user on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. No, that’s not the iPhone X. Instead, it’s an upcoming Sharp smartphone believed to be called the Sharp Aquos S3. That’s quite a nice notch at the top of the display, no? Quite unique, right?

Now let’s take a look at the back of the phone:

We know we’ve seen a dual-lens rear camera setup like that before, but we can’t quite put our finger on it…

The upcoming Sharp Aquos S3 is just the latest in a long line of iPhone X clones that are set to flood the market this year. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Android phone makers are comfortable with copying Apple so blatantly, and yet we’re still taken aback every single time. Apple has certainly aped various aspects of smartphone designs from other companies, but can you imagine what would happen if Apple released a device that was a spitting image of some other company’s phone? Jony Ive et al. might not always hit home runs, but at least they design Apple products themselves.

Apple – BGR

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