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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - December 2020

Dec 2020

May 16, 2021

Rare Plutonium from Space Found in Deep Sea Crust

  • A rare version of the radioactive element plutonium embedded in Earth's crust below the deep sea is providing new clues as to how heavy metals form in the stars.
  • The new research finds that the isotope, called plutonium-244, may arrive on Earth in tandem with iron-60, a lighter metal known to form in supernovas, explosions that occur during the death throes of many types of stars. This finding suggests that supernovas may create both heavy metals — although it's possible that other events, such as the mergers of neutron stars, are responsible for at least some of the plutonium-244.

Amazon India Launches New Free Video Streaming Service miniTV

  • Amazon India launched a free video streaming service called miniTV which will available within the Amazon Android app.
  • The company said that ad-supported miniTV has professionally created and curated content across web-series, comedy shows, tech news, food, beauty, fashion and more.
  • Currently available for Android, miniTV will be extended to iOS app and mobile web over the coming months.
  • With this launch, Amazon has two video entertainment offerings -- miniTV and Prime Video.

May 15, 2021

China Completes Historic Mars Spacecraft Landing

  • An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of Mars, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.
  • The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, "leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a message of congratulations to all the people involved in the mission.

May 14, 2021

South Korea Unveils $450 Billion Push for Global Chipmaking Crown

  • South Korea unveiled ambitious plans to spend roughly $450 billion to build the world's biggest chipmaking base over the next decade, joining China and the US in a global race to dominate the key technology.
  • Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. will lead more than 510 trillion won of investment in semiconductor research and production in the years to 2030 under a national blueprint devised by President Moon Jae-in's administration. They'll be among 153 companies fueling the decade-long push, intended to safeguard the nation's most economically crucial industry. Moon got a briefing from chip executives on the initiative Thursday during a visit to the country's most advanced chip factory, a Samsung plant south of Seoul.

May 13, 2021

Astronomers Capture Stunning New Images of Jupiter

  • Three images of Jupiter from the 8-m Frederick C. Gillett Gemini North telescope at the Gemini Observatory and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show the gas giant at three different types of light (infrared, visible, and ultraviolet) and reveal a multitude of atmospheric features such as the Great Red Spot, superstorms, and cyclones stretching across the planet's disk.
  • The new images of Jupiter highlight the key advantage of multiwavelength astronomy: viewing planets and other astronomical objects at different wavelengths of light allows scientists to glean otherwise unavailable insights.
  • Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a prominent feature of the visible and ultraviolet (UV) images, but it is almost invisible at infrared (IR) wavelengths. The planet's counter-rotating bands of clouds, on the contrary, are clearly visible in all three views.
  • Observing the Great Red Spot at multiple wavelengths yields other surprises — the dark region in the IR image is larger than the corresponding red oval in the visible image.
  • This discrepancy arises because different structures are revealed by different wavelengths; the IR observations show areas covered with thick clouds, while the visible and UV observations show the locations of chromophores — the particles that give the Great Red Spot its distinctive hue by absorbing blue and UV light.

China Launches more Classified Yaogan Satellites into Orbit

  • China conducted two launches of classified Yaogan satellites in the last week while much of the world waited to see where and when the Long March 5B would fall.
  • A Long March 2C rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China, sending the eighth trio of Yaogan-30 satellites into a 370-mile-altitude (600 kilometers) orbit.
  • The Yaogan-30 (08) triplets join seven previous groups in orbit which have been launched since 2017.
  • The satellites will be used for electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests.

May 12, 2021

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites in Record 10th Liftoff

  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit early Sunday (May 9) and then stuck a landing at sea to cap a record 10th flight for the company's reusable booster.
  • The veteran Falcon 9 rocket blasted off before dawn from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, marking the company's 14th launch of the year. It was also one for the record books as the flight was this particular booster's 10th launch and landing attempt. The rocket's once pristine exterior was almost black, charred by its many trips to orbit and back.
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