Flooded Canyons Found on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Flooded Canyons Found on Saturn's Moon Titan: Nasa

US space agency Nasa on Wednesday said its Cassini spacecraft has found deep, steep-sided canyons on Saturn’s largest moon Titan that are flooded with liquid hydrocarbons.

“The finding represents the first direct evidence of the presence of liquid-filled channels on Titan, as well as the first observation of canyons hundreds of meters deep,” Xinhua quoted Nasa as saying.

The discovery, published in the US journal Geophysical Research Letters, was based on data collected from a close flyby Cassini made over Titan in May 2013, during which the spacecraft’s radar instrument focused on channels that branch out from the moon’ s second largest hydrocarbon sea Ligeia Mare.

Previously, the branching channels appear dark in radar images, much like Titan’s methane-rich seas, but it was not clear if the dark material was liquid or merely saturated sediment, which at Titan’s frigid temperatures would be made of ice, not rock.

So during the 2013 pass, the Cassini spacecraft pinged the surface of Titan with microwaves, and the returned signals indicated the surface of the channels is extremely smooth, meaning they are currently liquid filled.

 The Cassini observations also revealed that the channels – in particular, a network of them named Vid Flumina – are narrow canyons, generally a bit less than a kilometre wide, with slopes steeper than 40 degrees.

The canyons also are quite deep with those measured 790 to 1, 870 feet (240 to 570 meters) from top to bottom, Nasa said.

The presence of such deep cuts in the landscape might be the result of uplift of the terrain, or changes in sea level, or perhaps both.

“It is likely that a combination of these forces contributed to the formation of the deep canyons, but at present it is not clear to what degree each was involved,” said Valerio Poggiali of the University of Rome, a Cassini radar team associate and lead author of the study.

“What is clear is that any description of Titan’s geological evolution needs to be able to explain how the canyons got there,” Poggiali added.

Maharashtra Government to Deploy Drones to Monitor Traffic

Maharashtra Government to Deploy Drones to Monitor Traffic

Maharashtra government is considering the use of drones to monitor, identify and control vehicles breaking traffic rules.

Minister of State for Home (Urban) Deepak Kesarkar said initially, drones would be put in place on a pilot basis on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

A meeting was held between officials of the Home department and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation earlier this week at the Mantralaya in Mumbai, which was attended by Kesarkar and PWD (undertakings) minister Eknath Shinde.

Kesarkar said Mumbai-Pune expressway has become a “death trap” with a large number of road casualties reported lately.

“Incidents of road accidents have increased due to indiscipline and rash driving. We do not have control over rash driving as the length of the express way is long and there is insufficient police staff for surveillance,” Kesarkar said.

He said while there is a need to control vehicular traffic, doing so by using a CCTV camera has its own limitations. Thus, the idea of using drones has been mooted.

“The drones will be used at load line of the ‘ghat’ on expressway where setting up of CCTV cameras is not possible,” he said.

“Mostly heavy loaded trucks jump lanes to overtake other big vehicles. This causes a traffic jam. The drones would click photos of such instances and the the Transport department will take action against errant drivers,” he added.

The minister said that even small vehicles would not be spared if found violating lane discipline.

He said the site of using drones has not been decided as yet but the MSRDC would submit its report suggesting requirement within the next 15 days.

“Initially, four to five drone will be hired from private companies for the expressway. Depending upon the result, the Home department is considering to use drones across Mumbai,” he said.

Along with CCTVs, usage of drones in the island city would take the burden of traffic police riddled with various woes, Kesarkar said.

Nasa Selects Six Firms to Develop Habitats for Mars Mission

Nasa Selects Six Firms to Develop Habitats for Mars Mission

Nasa has selected six US companies to help develop prototypes and concepts of deep space habitats for future manned missions to Mars.

Habitation systems provide a safe place for humans to live as we move beyond Earth on our journey to Mars, Nasa said.

“Nasa is on an ambitious expansion of human spaceflight, including the journey to Mars, and we’re utilising the innovation, skill and knowledge of the both the government and private sectors,” said Jason Crusan, director of Nasa’s Advanced Exploration Systems.

“The next human exploration capabilities needed beyond the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule are deep space, long duration habitation and in-space propulsion,” said Crusan.

“We are now adding focus and specifics on the deep space habitats where humans will live and work independently for months or years at a time, without cargo supply deliveries from Earth,” he said.

The selected companies are Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and NanoRacks.

 The six partners will have up to about 24 months to develop ground prototypes and conduct concept studies for deep space habitats.

Nasa has estimated that the combined total of all the awards, covering work in 2016 and 2017, will be about $65 million.

Selected partners are required to contribute at least 30 percent of the cost of the overall proposed effort.

The ground prototypes will be used for three primary purposes: supporting integrated systems testing, human factors and operations testing, and to help define overall system functionality.

These are important activities as they help define the design standards, common interfaces, and requirements while reducing risks for the final flight systems that will come after this phase.

The selections are part of a phased approach that will catalyse commercial investment in low-Earth orbit and lead to an operational deep space habitation capability for missions in the area of space near the moon, which will serve as the proving ground for Mars during the 2020s.

These missions will demonstrate human, robotic and spacecraft operations in a true deep space environment that is still relatively close to Earth and validate technologies for the longer journey to Mars.

The activities of these awards will inform the acquisition and deployment approach for the next phase of flight systems for deep space including important aspects, such as standards and interfaces, module configurations, and options for deployment.

 

Meizu Mix Smartwatch With Analogue Display Launched

Meizu Mix Smartwatch With Analogue Display LaunchedMeizu started off with manufacturing mp3 players, and has since then overhauled its strategy to launch smartphones and audio accessories as well. Now, the company has extended its portfolio further, and launched its first smartwatch. The Meizu Mix smartwatch features an analogue display and is scheduled to be made available in China by October.

The Meizu Mix smartwatch comes in Black and Silver colour options; and comes in denim, leather, and steel straps. The denim strap sets you back by CNY 1,000 (roughly Rs. 10,100), the leather strap is priced at CNY 1,300 (roughly Rs. 13,100), and the steel strap is priced at CNY 1,500 (roughly Rs. 15,100).

As mentioned, the Meizu Mix smartwatch does not feature a digital display, and sticks to the mechanical analogue display. It has a 42mm case and the innards are protected by a sapphire glass screen at the front. It has a notification LED light, a vibration mode, is waterproof, and offers Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. To pair it with a smartphone, the user must have the Meizu app installed. It comes with an accelerometer and gyroscope, and has a 270mAh battery that the company claims can last up to 240 days (standby time, presumably).

Meizu is crowdfunding the smartwatch on Chinese site Taobao, and looks to raise CNY 500,000 (roughly Rs. 50 lakhs) before it begins production. There is no information on when the company plans to bring the smartwatch to international markets. Just to recall, Meizu also launched the MX6 smartphone in China last month. The Meizu MX6 is priced at CNY 1,999 (approximately Rs. 20,000), and features a 5.5-inch (1080×1920 pixels) LCD, a 2.3GHz deca-core MediaTek Helio X20 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage.

Apple Watch Successor Said to Sport GPS but No LTE Connectivity

Apple Watch Successor Said to Sport GPS but No LTE Connectivity

Apple has hit roadblocks in making major changes that would connect its Watch to cellular networks and make it less dependent on the iPhone, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company still plans to announce new watch models this fall boasting improvements to health tracking.

The updated versions will also be able to integrate GPS-based location tracking, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple shipped its first watch in April 2015, hoping for a new blockbuster product amid slowing iPhone sales, which contribute almost 60 percent of revenue. While the company shipped 1.6 million watches from April to June, that was less than half as many as during the same period in 2015, according to IDC.

With investors expecting a revenue decline this fiscal year, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is banking on a slew of new gadgets, including a new iPhone with a faster chip and improved cameras, and a slimmer MacBook Pro laptop, to reignite growth in 2017.

Ever since its inception, network carriers have been urging Apple to release a version of the watch that can connect to data networks independent of the iPhone, and the Cupertino, California-based company had been working to untether it from the handset, one of the people said. As it is now the watch must be synced with an iPhone to download most types of content and consistently track location.

Apple had been in talks this year with mobile phone carriers in the U.S. and Europe to add cellular connectivity to the watch, according to people familiar with the talks. A cellular chip would have theoretically allowed the product to download sports score alerts, e-mail and mapping information while out of an iPhone’s reach.

During the discussions, Apple executives expressed concern that the cellular models may not be ready for release this year and that the feature may be pushed back to a later generation, according to the people. Apple warned that, even on an aggressive schedule, the earliest possible shipment time-frame for cellular models would have been this December, one of the people said.

The source of the delay is that current cellular chips consume too much battery life, reducing the product’s effectiveness and limiting user appeal, according to three of the people. Apple has begun studying lower-power cellular data chips for future smartwatch generations.

Even without cellular connectivity, Apple still anticipates shipping models of the watch that can more precisely determine a user’s location by way of GPS chips that communicate with satellites. This technology would allow the device to track running and walking distances more precisely and improve the accuracy of data submitted to health tracking applications, two of the people said. The GPS would also make navigation on the watch more accurate, the people said.

Apple said in June that it’s adding health features, such as a new app to track breathing, and watch faces with integrated activity statistics, to the device’s software this fall. The update also launches apps more quickly, allows users to more easily move between different watch faces, and adds a new swipe-up menu to access battery and audio controls.

While the plan for this year had been to at least partially untether the watch from the iPhone, Apple’s ultimate goal is to eliminate any need to connect the two devices, according to a person familiar with the company’s strategy. That ambition is currently stymied by technological limitations.

Nokia Cuts Price of Ozo Virtual Reality Camera

Nokia Cuts Price of Ozo Virtual Reality Camera

Nokia has cut the price of its Ozo virtual reality camera by 25 percent from its initial launch price, the Finnish company said on Thursday.

Nokia, whose main business is now telecoms network equipment, started selling the camera earlier this year as the first device to be produced for its digital media business, one of its new hopes for future growth.Having launched the device at $60,000 in the United States and Europe, Nokia has now priced it at $45,000, saying it was also taking the camera to the Chinese market next month.

The spherical camera features eight sensors and microphones and is designed for making 3D movies and games that can be watched and played with virtual reality headsets.

Nokia said the virtual reality market was developing quickly and the new price reflected that.

Last year, GoPro introduced a VR camera system using Google’s software, while several other technology companies such as Facebook and Samsung have also announced new products.

 Nokia, known for its once-dominant phone business which it sold to Microsoft in 2014, is also bringing its name back to the handset market after a new company backed by its former executives teamed up with Foxconn to buy the rights to the brand.

 

USB-IF Announces Charger Certification Programme for USB Type-C Devices

USB-IF Announces Charger Certification Programme for USB Type-C Devices
  • Certification to be provided if products comply with specifications
  • Issued logo to also carry power capability of product in watts
  • Manufacturers can send their products to organisation for certification

There are many USB chargers available on the Internet, but sadly there has been no standard certification that can notify the users if the charger indeed produces the power delivery specifications that are listed on the product. Now, the non-profit body that determines USB specifications and standards – the USB Implementers Forum – has announced that it will perform the standardisation and give the certified logos if the products meet its USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery specifications.

The USB-IF was created to “provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of Universal Serial Bus technology” as per the organisation’s website. As a part of organisation’s new certification and compliance programme (Certified USB Charger Logo and Compliance Program), manufacturers will submit their products and the certifications will be given on the basis of USB Power Delivery and USB Type-C specifications.

The logo on the product, issued by the organisation on compliance with the required qualities, will also carry the power capacity of the products in watts. The program is meant to certify USB chargers for USB Type-C devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, docking stations, displays, and other products.

“Certified USB Chargers will give users an interoperable power source and a seamless experience. From displays, to smartphones and docking stations, the industry is aligning behind USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery as the last wire you’ll ever need for faster charging,” organisation’s CTO Rahman Ismail was quoted as saying in a press statement.

Standardisation in any field is a good thing but when it comes to electronics, its importance cannot be overstated as a product with poor quality can potentially damage or even destroy other devices that are associated with it.

Nikon Announces D3400 Entry-Level DSLR With SnapBridge Support

Nikon Announces D3400 Entry-Level DSLR With SnapBridge Support
  • The camera features Bluetooth for sharing files with your smartphone
  • The D3400 ships with a new 18-55mm AF-P DX NIKKOR lens
  • The camera and kit lens will be available early September for $649.95

Nikon has announced the D3400, which will replace the highly popular D3300 in the entry-level DSLR space. The new camera will go up against Canon’s 1300D (Review), which also caters to the beginner segment. The camera will be available from September with the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens for $649.95 (approximately Rs. 43,600).

The biggest addition to the camera is support for Nikon’s SnapBirdge for quickly transferring photos to a connected device like a smartphone or tablet. The D3400 uses Bluetooth Low Energy to sync with your device. Sadly, there’s no Wi-Fi present here. Battery life is also supposed to have improved as the camera now boasts of almost 1,200 shots on a single charge, which is big improvement over its predecessor.

The rest of the features remain pretty much the same. We have a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor mated to the company’s Expeed 4 image processor and no optical low-pass filter, for crisper shots. The camera offers an ISO range of 100-25600, 5fps burst shooting and maximum shutter speed of 1/4000sec. You can do 1080p video recording at 60fps however there’s no support for 4K video. GPS is also something that’s still absent. One thing that we found missing is support for an external microphone, which was present in the D3300.

The Nikon D3400 appears to be just a mild upgrade of the outgoing model and we would have liked to see more features added, especially considering its launch price. We’ll have to wait and see when and how Nikon India positions this camera in our market.

Xbox Wireless to Make Xbox One Peripherals Work With Windows 10 PCs and Vice Versa

Xbox Wireless to Make Xbox One Peripherals Work With Windows 10 PCs and Vice Versa
  • Xbox Wireless will let you use the same peripherals on PC and Xbox One
  • PCs will have Xbox Wireless support
  • Microsoft is in talks with motherboard manufacturers for integration

In what seems to be another attempt at merging the PC and Xbox One platforms, Microsoft has announced Xbox Wireless. It’s a new ecosystem of compatible hardware and peripherals.

Existing Xbox One consoles and accessories are Xbox Wireless ready. The upcoming Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube will be the first Xbox Wireless PC. It’s launching in October. More partners and devices are on the way.

“While this is the first partner device to have built-in Xbox Wireless support, it won’t be the last. We are currently working with other partners such as Astro, PDP, Turtle Beach, and many more,” posted Will Tuttle, Xbox Wire Editor in Chief on the official Xbox website. “Going forward, you should expect to see both new PCs and new accessories that support Xbox Wireless as we create new ways for our fans to play seamlessly across devices.”

 With Xbox Wireless, you can use a single set of peripherals between the Xbox One and PC such as PDP’s Band Wireless Fender Jaguar Guitar Controller which won’t need extra dongles or adapters – working seamlessly across supported devices.

And if you don’t have a PC that has built-in Xbox Wireless support, there will be an adapter available for you to use Xbox One peripherals with ease. It seems that in conjunction with the Xbox Play Anywhere program, Microsoft wants to unify PC gamers under a single banner, bringing both hardware and software under a single brand – Xbox. What’s more is that the company plans to court PC component makers directly.

“In the IdeaCentre Y710, for example, we are using the Xbox Wireless Adapter and integrating it inside the physical chassis – the first time this has ever been done officially,” Tuttle claims. “In the future, we plan to enable direct integration of Xbox Wireless into PC motherboards with our hardware partners.”

xbox_wireless.pngAll of this falls in line with what Windows insider Brad Sams revealed in March.

“What if Xbox just becomes software?” he asked rhetorically on his podcast. “If your system [PC] meets the specs, your PC can be an Xbox. Don’t get me wrong Microsoft will still build a dedicated box. But eventually it becomes software.”

While these are welcome additions, it means nothing if the gaming experience on Windows 10 isn’t what it should be. With ReCore out later next month we should have a good idea of how Microsoft’s vision of gaming across PC and Xbox One works out.

Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatch Launch Expected at Pre-IFA 2016 Event

  • Samsung expected to launch Gear S3 at IFA 2016 on September 1
  • The invites have clock hands imprinted on them
  • Company expected to launch Galaxy Tab S3 at the event as well

Samsung has started sending out invites for its event at IFA and if the South Korean manufacturer continues its annual trend of launching Gear smartwatches at the event, it is about time to prepare for the launch of Gear S3. Samsung’s event is scheduled to take place on September 1 from 11am to 12pm CEST. IFA 2016 kicks off on September 2 and lasts till September 7.

To make the launch of next smartwatch in the Gear series even more obvious, the company has even included two clock hands as part of its design on the invite (via Android Police) for the event.

Interestingly, Samsung has also posted on its Columbian website that it will be launching its Galaxy Tab S3 around the same time as the release of Galaxy Note 7, i.e. September 2, and that the tablet will carry features from its predecessor as well as some features that have not been announced yet.

As of now, it looks like both the devices might be launched at the same event but we will have to wait for the official announcement for the confirmation.

 Samsung launched its Tizen OS-based smartwatch the Gear S2 last year in September and the watch was launched in India in January this year starting from Rs. 24,300.

In our review of Samsung Gear S2 we said, “The Korean company has seen success with its smartphones, tablets and TVs already, and has now cracked the budding smartwatch segment with the Gear S2. It’s beautifully designed, has a superb screen, performs well and has a lot to offer for everyone. It is, in our opinion, the best smartwatch you can buy today (February 2016).”