Friday, December 15, 2017

India Preparing for March 2018 Chandrayaan-2 Lunar Mission

The launch of the next Moon mission could be just four months away. India plans to return to the Moon in a big way with the ambitious Chandrayaan-2, which includes an orbiter, lander, and a small rover. If it all succeeds, it will be India's first soft landing on another world, and only the second such landing since the end of the Apollo and Luna era. For India, landing success would be "a stepping stone for future exploration missions to other planets," according to Indian Space Research Organisation Satellite Centre (ISAC) director M. Annadurai.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Europe Wants its own X-37B, called the Space Rider

Space Rider is a re-entry vehicle, the evolution of the IXV (Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, launched by Vega in February 2015), capable of ‘navigating’ up to 2 months in low Earth orbit before returning to earth. Re-entry enables the recovery of all the useful load that can be analysed, and the vehicle to be reused for a new mission. The contract signed by ESA with Avio and TAS-I (Thales Alenia Space Italia) is worth a total of €36.7 million for the development of the Space Rider system, consisting of two modules: AOM (Avum Orbital Module) and RM (Re-entry Module). Avio will handle the development of AOM, a specific version of AVUM (fourth stage of the VEGA C) capable of supplying power and services for controlling the vehicle’s re-entry attitude during the orbital stage.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Stealth Saga #69

Have Blue & Tacit Blue:

A test pilot that flew both the Tacit Blue and Have Blue prototypes recounts his experiences.


Japan will conclude the X-2 program in March 2018.  The RCS was better than expected and all the data required was gathered in 34 flights.  What the path forward for the F-3 program will be will be based on the evaluation of the X-2 data brings to light.  Two options being considered are building a fighter indigenously or with a foreign partner.


Is the FC-31 being used to help


The Russians are trying to convince the Indians to not abandon the Su-57 derivative for India's first stealth aircraft.


A Su-57 prototype flew with the new engine for around 17 minutes.

Is the Su-57 program toast though?  Some think so.


Is the construction at Area 51 related to the B-21 Raider?


The B-2 Spirit might be deployed to South Korea for exercises.

The B-2 is getting a new GPS receiver.


Six F-22s arrived in South Korea for exercises.

Watch an F-22 hunt and kill an A-4 in an exercise.

An F-22 can actually save fuel by flying faster.  


US DOD gave Pratt & Whitney a $351 million contract for logistics and maintenance on the F135 engine.

South Korean media are reporting USAF F-35As deployed to the Korean Peninsula right after the F-22s.  They are both participating in exercises with South Korea.

Does the US Navy actually think the F-35C is important to the carrier air wing?

Some are STILL angry over the F-35 program.

Lockheed certified various weapons for the F-35.

Lockheed is touting the synthetic training capabilities of the F-35.

The F-35 is undergoing cold weather testing in Alaska.

Israel has declared its F-35I to be combat operational.

Two Dutch F-35s did a flyover in Star Wars canyon.

Drag chute deployment tests are underway in Alaska for the Dutch and Norwegian F-35s.

The Netherlands might have problems paying for their last three F-35As due to currency exchange rates.

Counter Stealth:

China is attempting to build a satellite based imaging system that can detect stealth aircraft.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A/2017 U1 "Oumuamua:" More on our Interstellar Visitor

Systematic takes another look at the strange visitor.

Scientists are dazzled by our interstellar visitor.

The visitor is definitely weird.

Is Oumuamua really interstellar in nature?

Where did Oumuamua come from?  The Local Association?  From a binary star system?

What is the origin of Oumuamua?

How does Oumuamua compare to objects from our solar system?

What are the implications for planet and planetesimal formation?

Observations of Oumuamua by the NOT and WIYN telescopes.

Oumuamua is tumbling.

Is Oumuamua really macroscopic dark matter?  Really???

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Will Venezuela Launch First Hyperinflating? or Oil-Backed? Cryptocurrency, the Petro?

President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that Venezuela will launch a cryptocurrency to combat what the leftist leader says is a financial “blockade” against the crisis-hit nation spurred by U.S. sanctions.

Maduro said the OPEC member’s new currency, “petro,” will be backed by natural resources reserves although he did not provide details on the logistics of its roll-out.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Russian Test the Moscow Missile Defense System

On November 23, 2017 the Air and Space Defense Forces (VKS) conducted a successful test of an interceptor of the Moscow missile defense system. The test took place at the Sary-Shagan test site. The launch was conducted by the crews of the VKS air and missile defense army.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #17

Genus Homo:

The brains of modern humans are different than other primates in particular ways.

Modern Humans (H. sapiens):

Ancient DNA from South Africa pushes back the origins of modern humans.

How did ancient humans organize themselves?  Check their genomes.

Did the first Americans come via the Kelp Highway?  More evidence.

Ancient mitochondrial DNA studies have shown three different groups swept into Labrador and Newfoundland at different times.

Hobbits (H. floresiensis):

How the Hobbit, LB1, was found.

Did Hobbits eat rats?


John Hawks disagrees when the Denisovans and Neandertals split.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

New wrist bones from the Neandertals of El Sidron, Spain have been found and studied.

The Mousterian Neandertals of China are discussed.

A high coverage DNA Neandertal genome has been recovered from Vindijia, Croatia.

The interbreeding between modern humans and Neandertals reintroduced older, lost DNA from ancient, older hominins to the modern human genome.

The interaction between Neandertals and modern humans has been modeled.

A paper suggested modern humans replaced Neandertals through immigration.  A response has been posted.

H. heidelbergensis:

Did the sinuses of H. heidelbergensis have a special role or placement

H. naledi:

Reviewing the September excavations at the Rising Star Caves.

An H. naledi pelvis is examined and found to have characteristics of Homo and Australopithecus pelvises.

Genus Paranthropus:

P. robustus:

Isotopic analysis of P robustus teeth show the environments and even movements of individuals lived in.


Crocodiles may make similar marks on bones when feeding like those interpreted to be done by stone tools and flakes used for butchery by hominins.

The jaws of hominins and their variation give important clues as to whether or not they belong to a specific species.

There are deep concerns some of the fossils from Europe of hominins were stolen and used in a study.  Even the journal has grown concerned.

Stone tools from late Oldowon from the Olduvai are investigated with new digs.

Pounding tools from the Oldowon to Acheulen transition are examined as well.