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First ever lightning-mapping satellite set for take off!!!

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It’s lightning like you’ve never seen it before: streamed, 24/7, from space.

On 19 November at 5:42 p.m. EST, an Atlas V rocket will launch the US’s most advanced weather satellite yet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have packed the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) full of scientific instruments that will improve weather prediction around the US and in space.

GOES-R will be fired into a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above Earth. The journey should take around 3.5 hours, after which it will unfold its solar panels. The satellite will then scan the western hemisphere every 15 minutes and the continental US every 5 minutes. Areas of severe weather will be given special attention with scans every 30 to 60 seconds.

“On-board is the world’s first lightning mapper to make it into geostationary orbit,” says William Koshak at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who helped develop the instrument. The lightning mapper will detect lightning within clouds, from one cloud to another, and between the clouds and the ground across the American continent.

Thunderstorms and tropical cyclones tend to show increased lightning activity before they can be picked up by radar, so GOES-R will be able to give weather forecasters a much needed heads-up.

Previously, lightning mappers have made only made it into low Earth orbits, which are out of sync with the spinning of the Earth. “This means that we will be able to get continuous, 24/7 monitoring. We’ve never had that before,” says Koshak.

The GOES-R satellite will also help to detect distress signals from aircrafts, ships, or personal devices. It should be able to pick up a signal from almost anywhere in the world and then relay it back to a search and rescue team.

Whilst GOES-R is looking down on Earth, it will also keep watch in the other direction. It will have UV and X-ray sensors pointed at the sun to keep an eye on solar flares, which can interfere with GPS. It will also carry a suite of space weather sensors that will collect data to help understand the possible hazards for astronauts and scientists.

GOES-R is the latest satellite in the GOES system that is currently used by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

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Samsung gets reports of Galaxy Fold screen problems, raising specter of Note 7 fiasco

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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it has received “a few” reports of damage to the displays of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone, raising the prospect of a less-then-smooth entry for the splashy $1,980 handset.

Source – Reuters

The Galaxy Fold, on sale from April 26 in the United States, resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm). The design, matched by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s Mate X, was hailed as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc’s iPhone in 2007.

Yet ahead of the launch, journalists supplied with review samples reported malfunctions after only a day or two of use.

“We will thoroughly inspect these units … to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement.

The malfunctions raised the specter of Samsung’s doomed Galaxy Note 7 phone three years ago. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 resulted in some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the model.

The recall wiped out nearly all profit of Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.

Reporting by Angela Moon in NEW YORK and Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in SEOUL, Editing by Leslie Adler and Christopher Cushing

With the Fold, analysts said malfunctions from the first batch of a test model were of little surprise. Moreover, the handset’s in-folding design is likely to be less durable than Huawei’s out-folding approach, they said.

“In-folding is more difficult to make than out-folding, as it adds higher pressure to screens, which people have worried about,” said analyst Park Sung-soon at BNK Securities.

DO NOT REMOVE

Technology journalists took to Twitter on Wednesday to report instances of the screen either cracking or flickering.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

Gurman removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterwards, according to his tweets.

A wrapper around the device featured “ATTENTION” in uppercase and warned not remove the layer, showed a tweet from another sample recipient.

Samsung on Thursday said removing the protective layer might result in damage, and that it would clearly inform customers of the issue.

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen. Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer an explanation for the problem.

“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the protective layer.

CNBC.com tech editor Steve Kovach tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.

HIGH DEMAND

Samsung has said it plans to make at least 1 million Fold handsets, versus the total 300 million phones it produces annually. It has closed Fold pre-orders due to “high demand”.

On Thursday, the firm told Reuters there was no change to its release schedule following the malfunction reports.

“I think as time goes on its yield rate will improve, and foldables that customers have in hand will be much better,” said analyst Lee Kyu-ha at NH Investment & Securities. “But I don’t know if Samsung can completely fix the problem about screens.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Israeli spacecraft suffers technical failure and crashes onto moon.

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Source: Reuters

The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the moon on Thursday after a series of technical failures during its final descent, shattering hopes of a historic controlled landing on the lunar surface.

The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the 21 minutes or so of the landing sequence, the support team said.

Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase “In the beginning”, had traveled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon’s gravity last week.

The final maneuver on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, 15-17 km (9-10.5 miles) from the surface at its closest. From there it was a short, nail-biting and ultimately disappointing conclusion.

So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a “soft” landing on the lunar surface: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

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