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Huawei to launch its Mate-20 Pro on 30 Dec

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: Huawei is all set to launch its flagship smartphone — Mate 20 Pro — in Pakistan on 30 December.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is equipped with a 3D 6.39-inch AMOLED display, which gives 1440×3120 pixels resolution, 19.5:9 ratio with curved edges and notch on top.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is powered by the company’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date—the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the advanced 7nm process incorporating the powerful Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC — Octa-core (2×2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2×1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55) — offers improved performance and an unprecedented smooth user experience.

The SoC is coupled with 6GB RAM and 128GB Internal storage expandable up to 256GB (uses SIM 2) with Huawei’s Nano-Memory Card.

The triple setup contains the 40 MP main RGB lens captures great details in everyday photos, while the 8 MP telephoto lens will focus on distant shots and the whole new 20 MP Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens is perfect for the landscape photos and macro shots.

The smartphone will be available for around Rs160,000 and it comes in three colours Emerald Green, Twilight and Black.

The Mate 20 pro will be available exclusively at Huawei Experience Store at Lucky One Mall in Karachi.

The Experience Store will open its doors for the public on Sunday, 30 December.

The store will house state-of-the-art facilities where people can avail after-sales services and try out Huawei smartphones before purchasing them.

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Signs of water found on asteroid Bennu

NEW YORK (EarthSky): NASA’sOSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu on December 3, 2018. One week later – on December 10 – NASA announced the craft has already made a significant discovery. It has found hydrated minerals on Bennu’s surface – thatis, evidence for previous (ancient) water on the rocky little world.

Just to clarify, this discovery doesn’t mean Bennu has liquid water – either inside or on its surface – right now. Instead, it shows that Bennu’s parent body, probably a much larger asteroid that Bennu broke off of a long time ago, did have water.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer – OSIRIS-REx – spacecraft reached Bennu on December 3 after traveling 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km) during the approach phase of the mission, from mid-August to early December. As of now, the spacecraft is only 12 miles (19 km) away from Bennu! As would be expected, this means that OSIRIS-REx has been sending back some stunning close-up images of this little world, which was first discovered in 1999. During the next preliminary survey of the asteroid, the spacecraft will pass over Bennu’s North Pole, equator and South Pole as close as 4.4 miles (7 km) to the surface.

OSIRIS-REx is also NASA’s first asteroid sample-return mission, which will collect samples of the surface regolith and bring them back to Earth for further study.

The mission team is elated at what has been seen and discovered so far, said Humberto Campins, a University of Central Florida planetary scientist, professor of physics and member of the OSIRIS-REx Science Team:

We’re very excited. The images are spectacular and spot on, what we expected thanks to predictions made with the instrumentation at the Arecibo Observatory in the late 90s and early 2000s. We will spend a year and a half mapping Bennu and have to wait until mid 2020 to collect the sample, but it is pretty amazing to actually see it now. Christmas came early.

So what about the water? The data comes from two spectrometers, the OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) and the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES), which revealed the presence of the hydrated minerals – molecules that contain oxygen and hydrogen atoms bonded together, known as “hydroxyl groups” – that exist globally across the asteroid in water-bearing clay minerals.

This means that Bennu’s rocky material once interacted with water, millions or billions of years ago. Bennu itself is too small to have ever hosted liquid water, so where did the water come from? Scientists think that the liquid water was present on Bennu’s parent body, a much larger asteroid that Bennu broke off of. Perhaps something like the dwarf planet Ceres – the largest asteroid in the main asteroid belt – which also shows evidence of liquid water in the past. As explained by Amy Simon, OVIRS deputy instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland:

The presence of hydrated minerals across the asteroid confirms that Bennu, a remnant from early in the formation of the solar system, is an excellent specimen for the OSIRIS-REx mission to study the composition of primitive volatiles and organics. When samples of this material are returned by the mission to Earth in 2023, scientists will receive a treasure trove of new information about the history and evolution of our solar system.

Bennu itself is very interesting appearance-wise, looking kind of like a rough diamond. Data obtained from the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) corroborated ground-based telescopic observations of Bennu, confirming the original model developed in 2013 by OSIRIS-REx Science Team Chief Michael Nolan and his colleagues. That model suggested just such a shape for the asteroid, which turned out to be pretty much correct, along with the diameter, rotation rate and inclination.

According to Anne Virkki, a research scientist at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico:

The amazing Bennu images coming out now look strikingly similar to the shape model derived from Arecibo radar data in 2013.

Arecibo played a big role in the planning of the mission, said Campins:

The information obtained from radar characterization of this asteroid at Arecibo was critical in mission target selection and supported OSIRIS-REx science definition and mission planning. Arecibo’s radar data gave us two main advantages. It minimized the uncertainty in the shape of the asteroid and its orbit, which help reduce risk and increase the likelihood of a successful mission.

Nolan also commented on this:

Radar observations don’t give us any information about colors or brightness of the object, so it is really interesting to see the asteroid up close through the eyes of OSIRIS-REx. As we are getting more details, we are figuring out where the craters and boulders are, and we were very pleasantly surprised that virtually every little bump we saw in our radar image back then is actually really there.

Bennu’s surface overall is very rocky, with a mix of boulder-filled regions and a few smoother regions that lack boulders. There are actually more boulders than had been expected however. One boulder in particular near the south pole stands out – literally – at about 164 feet (50 meters) in height and 180 feet (55 meters) wide.

The mission is going well so far, as noted by Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson:

Our initial data show that the team picked the right asteroid as the target of the OSIRIS-REx mission. We have not discovered any insurmountable issues at Bennu so far. The spacecraft is healthy and the science instruments are working better than required. It is time now for our adventure to begin.

OSIRIS-REx is currently conducting a preliminary survey of the asteroid, flying over Bennu’s north pole, equator and south pole as close as 4.4 miles (7 km). This will help scientists determine Bennu’s mass – important information needed for the spacecraft’s insertion into orbit, since mass affects the asteroid’s gravitational pull on the spacecraft – as well as the asteroid’s internal structure and composition. The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), an instrument contributed by the Canadian Space Agency, will also now be able to make its first observations.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to enter orbit around Bennu on December 31, 2018, and it will remain in orbit until mid-February 2019. After that, it will leave orbit in order to initiate another series of flybys for the next survey phase.

During its first orbital phase, the spacecraft will pass very close to the asteroid, from a range of 0.9 miles (1.4 km) to 1.24 miles (2.0 km) from the center of Bennu. This will set a new record for both the smallest body ever orbited by a spacecraft and the closest orbit of a planetary body by a spacecraft – a remarkable achievement.

Bottom line: The study of Bennu has just begun, but there are already significant discoveries being made, among them evidence for previous (ancient) water. It’s a world never explored before – until now – but scientists will be learning much about its origin and evolution – and asteroids in general – over the months and years ahead.

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Super massive Black Hole could swallow earth: Italian astronomer

Monitoring Desk

ROME: An Italian astronomer has explained that super massive black holes have masses millions or billions times greater than that of the Sun, and have grown to huge proportions by swallowing matter and merging with other black holes.

In an animated TED-Ed video, titled “Could the Earth be swallowed by a black hole ?” Fabio Pacucci, a Yale Postdoctoral Associate, explains that a super massive black hole works as a “cosmic vacuum cleaner with infinite capacity”, wiping out everything in its path due to the immense gravitational field.

“Nothing, not even light, can move fast enough to escape a black hole’s gravitational pull once it passes a certain boundary, known as the event horizon. The black hole is millions or billions times greater than that of our Sun and has an event horizon that could span billion of kilometres”, he details.

Pacucci elaborated that if a stellar-mass black hole were to pass along Neptune, the orbit of the Earth would be significantly modified, “with dire results”. Still this type of black hole doesn’t cause as much worry as super massive black holes that lie at the centre of galaxies.

“Our solar system is in a stable orbit around a super massive black hole that resides at the centre of the Milky Way, at a safe distance of 25,000 light-years. But that could change. If our galaxy collides with another, the Earth could be thrown towards the galactic centre, close enough to the super massive black hole to be eventually swallowed up.

“In fact, a collision with the Andromeda Galaxy is predicted to happen 4 billion years from now, which may not be great news for our home planet”, he added.

At the same time, the astronomer stressed that the black holes were not just “agents of destruction”, but play a key role in the formation of galaxies.

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China launches mission to far side of Moon

CHINA: China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft, which is bound for the Moon’s far side, successfully lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province on 8 December.

The craft, carrying a lander and a rover, aims to be the first to ‘soft’ land on the Moon’s crater-filled far side. The rover will survey its surroundings, and the lander will carry out several science experiments, including testing whether plants can grow on the Moon and collecting radio astronomy data.

“Everything appears to have worked flawlessly,” says Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, a physicist at the University of Kiel inGermany, who has a radiation-detection experiment on the lander.

Although the landing date has not yet been officially announced, Chang’e-4 is expected to attempt to touch down on the Moon’s surface sometime early next month. The site will probably be inside a 186-kilometre-wide crater called Von Kármán, which is part of the South Pole–Aitken basin. The basin is the largest known impact structure in the Solar System and the oldest on the Moon.

A spacecraft landing on the Moon’s far side will be a great accomplishment, says Xiaoyu Hong, a radio astronomer at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China. “I feel proud,” he says.

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Samsung launches world’s first ever quad camera smartphone

F.P. Report

KARACHI: In keeping with its commitment towards maximum efficiency and innovation, Samsung Pakistan recently introduced the new Galaxy A9, the world’s first quad camera smartphone. With four rear cameras such as the 8MP Ultra Wide camera, the 10MP Telephoto Camera, 24MP Main Camera and the 5MP Depth Camera, customers will now be able to take four times the quality of photos for all their special occasions.

All four rear cameras of the new Samsung Galaxy A9 offer a diverse range of options that gives customers the freedom of choice while taking photos. The 8MP Ultra Wide Camera offers a 120º view that helps capture a vast landscape while the 10MP Telephoto Camera with 2x optical zoom displays beautifully detailed photos even from a distance. In addition, the 5MP Depth Camera adjusts the depth of field, blurring out the background to deliver quality, professionally touched photos. Finally, the 24MP Main Camera is able to shoot crystal clear photos in both intense and low light conditions and minimizes other disruptions for greater detail.

Apart from the aforementioned features, customers will also be able to use intelligent features such as Scene Optimizer and Flaw Detection to enhance the quality of their photos with complete ease. Other features on the phone include a 6.3-inch Infinity Display that offers a more expansive view, greater storage with 6 GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, Dolby Atmos surround sound, a sleek, ergonomic touch that makes it easier to hold and a unique, colorful design that speaks to customers’ aesthetic sense.

With the new Samsung Galaxy A9, Samsung Pakistan hopes to provide customers with greater flexibility that in turn helps them to make the best of their phone, thereby allowing them to enjoy their special moments to the fullest. This amazing device is available across in the price of PKR 99,999.

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Japan’s top three telecom operators to exclude Huawei, ZTE products

TOKYO (Reuters): Japan’s big three telecom operators plan not to use current equipment and upcoming fifth-generation (5G) gear from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp (0763.HK) (000063.SZ), Kyodo News reported on Monday.

The news, for which Kyodo did not cite sources, comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of Chinese tech firms by Washington and some prominent allies over ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns they could be used by Beijing for spying. Last week sources told Reuters that Japan planned to ban government purchases of equipment from Huawei and ZTE to ensure strength in its defences against intelligence leaks and cyber attacks.

A SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) spokesman said Japan’s third-largest telco was closely watching government policy and is continuing to consider its options. The amount of equipment in use from Chinese makers “is relatively small”, he said.

Japan’s top two telecommunications operators, NTT Docomo Inc (9437.T) and KDDI Corp (9433.T), said the firms had not made any decision yet.

Docomo does not use Huawei or ZTE network equipment, but it has partnered with Huawei on 5G trials. KDDI also does not use Huawei equipment in its “core” network, a spokeswoman said, adding it does not use any ZTE network equipment.

Asked to comment on the report, Huawei referred to a Japanese government policy document issued on Monday concerning cybersecurity during procurement. That document states the aim of a “free, fair and secure cyberspace”.

“These are ambitions Huawei shares and we look forward to continuing to work closely with customers in the Japanese market,” a Huawei spokesman said.

Huawei has already been locked out of the U.S. market, and Australia and New Zealand have blocked it from building 5G networks amid concerns of its possible links with China’s government. Huawei has said Beijing has no influence over it.

Japan’s decision to keep it out would be another setback for Huawei, whose chief financial officer was recently arrested by Canadian officials for extradition to the United States.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China has already had “communication” with Japan about the issue.

China has all along been asking Japan to provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies operating in the country, and Beijing will continue to pay close attention to this issue, Lu told a daily news briefing.

“We believe that Chinese companies’ normal operating activities should not be treated in a discriminatory way,” he added.

World financial markets have been roiled since news of the arrest, on worries it could reignite a Sino-U.S. trade row that was only just showing signs of easing. Shares of SoftBank, which has the deepest relationship with Huawei among the big Japanese telcos, fell the most among the three top Japanese telcos on Monday, ending down 3.5 percent.

Industry sources said SoftBank would find it difficult to replace pre-existing Huawei network equipment that is designed for the company and not easily interchangeable. Docomo and KDDI shares fell around 1 percent, in a wider market .N225 that closed down 2 percent.

Earlier, SoftBank’s Japanese telecoms unit priced its IPO at an indicated 1,500 yen ($13.31) per share and said it will sell an extra 160 million shares to meet solid demand, raising about $23.5 billion in Japan’s biggest-ever IPO.

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Samsung to launch its Galaxy A8s today

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: Samsung Galaxy A8s will launch today as it was already scheduled. Fans will be able to watch the live streaming of the Samsung Galaxy A8s by South Korean consumer electronics giant.

It will be the first smartphone that will sport an Infinity-O Display. On Sunday, Samsung just revealed on its Weibo page the time of the Galaxy A8s launch. The Samsung Galaxy A8s live stream will start at 4pm CST (1:30pm IST). The live stream will be broadcast on the Samsung China site and on the Galaxy Club site.

Samsung Galaxy A8s has a 6.39-inch display. It comes with a full-HD+ resolution and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This new handset is packed by Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, paired with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB internal storage. The internal storage is expandable up to 512GB via microSD card.

When it comes to the camera section, this new device has 24-megapixel, 5-megapixel, and 10-megapixel sensors at the rear.  You will find a 24-megapixel in a display hole and the size of the hole is 6.7mm. The Samsung Galaxy A8s measures 159.11×74.88×7.38mm. According to the report, the smartphone will come in a Black-Grey color.

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Facebook fined $11.3 million by Italy for selling users data

ROME (AFP): Italy’s competition authority has fined Facebook 10 million euros ($11.3 million) for selling users’ data without informing them and “aggressively” discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data.

Facebook “misleadingly gets people to sign up… without informing them in an immediate and adequate way of how the data they will provide will be harvested for commercial purposes,” a statement from Italy’s AGCM consumer and market watchdog said on Friday.

The company also does not clearly tell people about “the remunerative purpose that underlies the provision of the social network’s services, simply stressing the fact that it’s free.”

Facebook “aggressively” discourages users from  trying to limit how the company shares their data by telling them that by doing so they risk “significant limitations”.

Facebook has repeatedly said it does not sell users’ data.

The company has faced a barrage of criticism recently for the misuse of users’ data to influence elections amid increasing calls for the company run by Mark Zuckerberg to be regulated.

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China launches rover to far side of moon

BEIJING (AFP): China launched a rover early Saturday destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing´s ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said.

The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang´e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.

“Chang´e-4 is humanity´s first probe to land on and explore the far side of the moon,” said the mission´s chief commander He Rongwei of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main state-owned space contractor.

 

“This mission is also the most meaningful deep space exploration research project in the world in 2018,” He said, according to state-run Global Times.

Unlike the near side of the moon that is “tidally locked” and always faces the earth, and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon´s “dark side”.

No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the area.

“China over the past 10 or 20 years has been systematically ticking off the various firsts that America and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space exploration,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“This is one of the first times they´ve done something that no one else has done before.”

It is no easy technological feat — China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct “line of sight” for signals.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao (“Magpie Bridge”) satellite into the moon´s orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang´e-4 is being sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region — known for its craggy and complex terrain — state media has said.

The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.

They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies — aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side — as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.

The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

The Chang´e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

“The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission,” he said.

‘National pride’

Chang´e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover mission in 2013.

Once on the moon´s surface, the rover faces an array of extreme challenges.

During the lunar night — which lasts 14 earth days — temperatures will drop as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit). During the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

The rover´s instruments must withstand those fluctuations and it must generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

Yutu conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon´s surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China´s space programme.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang´e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to earth.

 

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

“Our country´s successful lunar exploration project not only vaults us to the top of the world´s space power ranks, it also allows the exploration of the far side of the moon,” said Niu Min, an expert on China´s space programme.

The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, “greatly inspires everyone´s national pride and self-confidence”.

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SpaceX launches carrying thousands of worms to ISS research team

FLORIDA (BBC): Thousands of worms have been fired into space so that scientists can learn how their muscles work in zero gravity.
They hitched a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 18:16 GMT on Wednesday.
The flight was delayed for 24 hours after mouldy food was found in another team’s capsule within the rocket.
The worms are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday.
Teams from Exeter, Nottingham and Lancaster universities are hoping the microscopic worms could lead to new treatments for muscular dystrophy.
The Molecular Muscle Experiment aims to “understand the causes of neuromuscular decline in space”.
The two new astronauts who will be conducting experiments on the worms have already arrived at the ISS.
Anne McClain, an American who studied at Bath and Bristol universities, and Canadian David Saint-Jacques, who studied at Cambridge University, launched from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz on Monday.
Researchers had been worried that the worms, which have a life span of about two weeks, could have grown to be too old after the launch was delayed.
The worms share many biological characteristics with humans, according to the University of Exeter, including “alterations to muscle and the ability to use energy”.
Research fellow Colleen Deane said: “Astronauts lose muscle mass in space…and this really impairs their mobility when they’re back on earth.
“What we’re trying to do with these worms is to try to understand the precise molecular mechanisms that are contributing to that loss of muscle.
“It goes further than that because as you age, you lose muscle mass as well, so we can hopefully translate these findings into other populations such as aging.”
Other experiments among more than 250 on board include one which involves a new kind of mustard green lettuce that will be grown in space by astronauts.
The mission is SpaceX’s 16th for Nasa as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space.