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China Sprouts Cotton Seed for the first time on the dark side of Moon

China has made a remarkable achievement by being able to sprout seeds on the far side of the moon. It is for the first time, a mission is sent to the dark side of the moon by a country. The far side which is also known as the dark side of the Moon is less known as compared to the other side.

China National Space Administration (CNSA) led Chang 'e-4 landed moon's far side on 3rd January, it also has a lunar biosphere developed by Chongqing University. The scientist claims this as the first biological activity that happens on the surface of moon. Though plants are grown inside International Space Station, it is for the first time a seed is being sprouted on a solar system outside the earth in a lunar mini biosphere.
The lunar mini biosphere was designed in a canister to test photosynthesis. Chang 'e 4 has brought several seeds to the Moon which includes cotton, Rapeseed, Potato. Of these only Cotton has germinated. The reasons for that are yet to be found. The seeds were made dormant during 20 days journey from Earth to the moon. Only on reaching the moon the command to water the seed was given. The probe has taken 170 pictures.

This is a breakthrough in the realm of knowledge about the possibility of life in other parts of solar system. The ability to grow plants open new doors for a long term space mission and points out to the possibility of astronauts to potentially produce and consume their own food. 
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"Shooting Stars On Demand": Japan Sends Artificial Meteors Into Space

The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere.

TOKYO: A rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to deliver the world's first artificial meteor shower blasted into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said.
A start-up based in Tokyo developed the micro-satellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early next year as the initial experiment for what it calls a "shooting stars on demand" service.

The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower.

It hitched a ride on the small-size Epsilon-4 rocket that was launched from the Uchinoura space centre by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The rocket carried a total of seven ultra-small satellites that will demonstrate various "innovative" technologies, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto said.

By early afternoon, JAXA confirmed all seven satellites had successfully been launched into orbit.

"I was too moved for words," Lena Okajima, president of the company behind the artificial meteor showers, told the Jiji Press agency.

"I feel like now the hard work is ahead."

The company ALE Co. Ltd plans to deliver its first out-of-this-world show over Hiroshima in the spring of 2020.The satellite launched Friday carries 400 tiny balls whose chemical formula is a closely-guarded secret.

That should be enough for 20-30 events, as one shower will involve up to 20 stars, according to the company.

ALE's satellite, released 500 kilometres above the Earth, will gradually descend to 400 kilometres over the coming year as it orbits the Earth.

Worldwide meteor shower shows -

The company plans to launch a second satellite on a private-sector rocket in mid-2019.

ALE says it is targeting "the whole world" with its products and plans to build a stockpile of shooting stars in space that can be delivered across the world.

When its two satellites are in orbit, they can be used separately or in tandem, and will be programmed to eject the balls at the right location, speed and direction to put on a show for viewers on the ground.

Tinkering with the ingredients in the balls should mean that it is possible to change the colours they glow, offering the possibility of a multi-coloured flotilla of shooting stars.

Each star is expected to shine for several seconds before being completely burned up -- well before they fall low enough to pose any danger to anything on Earth.

They would glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light-polluted metropolis of Tokyo, ALE said.

If all goes well, and the skies are clear, the 2020 event could be visible to millions of people, it says.

Ms Okajima has said her company chose Hiroshima for its first display because of its good weather, landscape and cultural assets.

The western Japan city rose from the ashes after the 1945 US atomic bombing and faces the Seto Inland sea where the floating gate of Itsukushima Shrine is.

ALE is working in collaboration with scientists and engineers at Japanese universities as well as local government officials and corporate sponsors.

It has not disclosed the price for an artificial meteor shower as yet.
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Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

Asteroids still only smack Earth on average every million or few million years, even with the increased crash rate.
NASA’s list of potential big space rock crashes shows no pending major threats. (Image: AP)
Giant rocks from space are falling from the sky more than they used to, but don’t worry. For the past 290 million years, large asteroids have been crashing into Earth more than twice as often as they did in the previous 700 million years, according to a new study in Thursday’s journal Science.

But no need to cast a wary glance up. Asteroids still only smack Earth on average every million or few million years, even with the increased crash rate. NASA’s list of potential big space rock crashes shows no pending major threats. The biggest known risk is a 4,200-foot (1.3-km) wide asteroid with a 99.988 percent chance that it will miss Earth when it whizzes very near here in 861 years.

Tell that to the dinosaurs. Most scientists think dinosaurs and a lot of other species went extinct after a huge space rock crashed into Central America about 65 million years ago.

“It’s just a game of probabilities,” said study lead author Sara Mazrouei, a University of Toronto planetary scientist. “These events are still rare and far between that I’m not too worried about it.”
Mazrouei and colleagues in the United Kingdom and United States compiled a list of impact craters on Earth and the moon that were larger than 12 miles (20 km) wide and came up with the dates of them. It takes a space rock that’s half a mile (800 meters) wide to create holes that big.

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years and nine between 291 million years and 650 million years old.

Craters older than 650 million years are mostly wiped off on Earth by glacial forces so the scientists used impact craters on the nearby moon as a stand-in for holes between 650 million and 1 billion years old. The moon is a good guide for estimating Earth crashes, because it is close enough to be in the same bombardment path and its craters last longer.

So what happened nearly 300 million years ago? “Perhaps an asteroid family was broken up in the asteroid belt,” Mazrouei speculated. The space rocks then headed toward the Earth and moon, and the planet got slightly more because it is a bigger target and it has higher gravity, Ghent said.

Outside scientists are split about the research. Jay Melosh at Purdue said he found the number of craters too small to come to a reasonable conclusion, but Harvard’s Avi Loeb said the case was convincing.

Humans might not have emerged without mass extinctions from space rocks about 250 million and 65 million years ago, Loeb said in an email, adding, “but this enhanced impact rate poses a threat for the next mass extinction event, which we should watch for and attempt to avoid with the aid of technology.”

“This demonstrates how arbitrary and fragile human life is,” Loeb wrote.

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Alien life could exist on ‘Super Earth’ in a star-system close to Earth: Study

Bernard’s Star is about 9 billion years old, almost twice as old as the Sun, said the scientists. (Representational photo: Reuters)
A frozen planet, just six light years away from earth, could have the potential to harbour alien life, new research has claimed. The existence of the planet was confirmed after nearly 20 years of observations.

The planet, also dubbed as ‘Super Earth’, has been officially named ‘Bernard b’ and it was discovered by scientists orbiting the Bernard’s Star, reported sputnik news.

According to scientists, the planet is believed to be extremely cold with temperatures around minus 150-degrees Celsius and its core could be made of hot iron or nickel.

It’s enhanced geothermal activity could allow life to flourish.

Geothermal heating could support ‘life zones’ under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica said Astrophysicist Edward Guinan, The Sun reported.

He added that the surface temperature on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface.

Also Read: Big discounts on the way for iPhones!

The scientists also said that if water is present on the planet, geothermal heating could result in liquid water ‘life zones’.

Guinan said that much like Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that is heated by tidal heating rather than from geothermal energy.

Bernard’s Star is about 9 billion years old, almost twice as old as the Sun, said the scientists.

Guinan said that Bernard b could be imaged in the future by ‘very large telescopes’

Guinan also added that such observations will shed light on the nature of the planet’s atmosphere, surface, and potential habitability.

The closest star to the Bernard b is Alpha Centauri around four light years away.
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Newly Discovered Super-Earth Exoplanet May Harbour Alien Life, Study Claims

Newly Discovered Super-Earth Exoplanet May Harbour Alien Life, Study Claims
Photo Credit: Villanova University
 The recently discovered cold super-Earth exoplanet orbiting around the red dwarf Barnard -- the second closest star system to Earth -- has the potential to harbour primitive life, says a study.

Barnard b (or GJ 699 b) is a super-Earth with a minimum of 3.2 Earth masses. It orbits its red star every 233 days near the snow-line, a distance where water freezes.

Although likely cold (-170 degrees centigrade), it could still have the potential to harbour primitive life if it has a large, hot iron or nickel core and enhanced geothermal activity, said researchers from the Villanova University in the US.

"Geothermal heating could support 'life zones' under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica," said Edward Guinan, Astrophysicist at the varsity.

"We note that the surface temperature on Jupiter's icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface," Guinan added.

The results were announced at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomy Society (AAS) in Seattle.

Although very faint, it may be possible for Barnard b to be imaged by future very large telescopes, according to Guinan.

"Such observations will shed light on the nature of the planet's atmosphere, surface, and potential habitability," he said.

The most significant aspect of the discovery of Barnard's star b is that the two nearest star systems to the Sun are now known to host planets.

"This supports previous studies based on Kepler Mission data, inferring that planets can be very common throughout the galaxy, even numbering in the tens of billions," said co-author Scott Engle from the varsity.

"Also, Barnard's Star is about twice as old as the Sun - about nine billion years old compared to 4.6 billion years for the Sun. The universe has been producing Earth-size planets far longer than we, or even the Sun itself, have existed."
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WhatsApp’s new feature makes group video calling easier: Here’s how

The new WhatsApp feature lets you add up to three participants from a group in a conference call

The feature was rolled out to iPhone users last month and has been around on WhatsApp Beta for a few months.
The Android version of WhatsApp has received a new update which allows a user to place a group video call with a dedicated button. The feature was rolled out to iPhone users last month and has been around on WhatsApp Beta for a few months.

WhatsApp group calling has been around since August last year, but the process was fairly complicated. You first had to place a video or voice call to a contact and after you were connected, you were required to tap on a button that let you add more participants in the call. It was cumbersome and required quite a few unnecessary taps.

But the new button solves the issue. It lets you call contacts of your choice from a group. All you have to do now is tap on the add participant button in a group (right next to the hamburger button). Then you’re greeted with the list of participants that you can start a call with. The maximum number of participants is still restricted to four.

If you wish to place a group call with a bunch of friends that are not in a single group, you might have to resort to the previous method of adding participants after you’ve placed a call.

The new group call button was first tested out on WhatsApp beta, the version of the app that receives the newest features being tested. If you’re keen on trying it out, simply click on this link to become a tester. However, WhatsApp beta is known for having bugs and crashes, so be aware of what you’re getting into. You can always opt out of beta by going to the same link.
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Amazon Echo Input Goes on Sale in India, Brings Alexa to Your Dumb Speaker for Rs. 2,999

Back in September 2018, Amazon added a suite of new products to its Echo line of devices and among them was the Echo Input, which was scheduled to launch in early 2019 in India. It seems as if Amazon has kept good on its promise as the Echo Input is finally on sale in India, at a price of Rs. 2,999. The device adds Alexa support to any of your existing speakers at home, either through a wired or Bluetooth connection. This lets you stream music from Amazon Prime Music, Saavn and TuneIn and starting today, Hungama and Gaana music streaming services too, with simple voice commands. Apart from Amazon, the Echo Input will also be available from offline retailers such as Croma, Vijay Sales and others.
To recall, the Amazon Echo Input was first introduced in September last year, and at around the same time, US-based e-commerce giant had announced it would be made available in India early next year - that time has come. Amazon had not detailed the Amazon Echo Input price in India back in September, and this is the first we've learned of it.
Amazon Echo Input launch offers
Amazon has tied up with some speaker manufacturers to bundle the Echo Input with certain products. The JBL Go 2 speaker bundle gets you a flat Rs. 1,499 discount where as you can get the Echo Input for free if you buy the newly launched Ultimate Ears Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve. You can check out the offers on right side of the page, just below the ‘Buy Now' button.
Amazon Echo Input specifications
The Echo Input measures just 12.5mm in thickness and looks a bit like a hockey puck. There are two buttons on the top for switching the microphone off and triggering Alexa, respectively. You also get a four-microphone array on the Input which is said to recognise your voice across a room, even with music playing. There's a single LED light on the top and a 3.5mm headphone socket and a Micro-USB port on the side for connectivity and power.
It also features dual-band 802.11 Wi-Fiac for connecting the device to you home Wi-Fi. Setting up the Echo Input requires the Alexa app, which is available on both Android and iOS. The Echo Input ships with a 5W power adapter, Micro-USB cable, auxiliary cable and a quick start guide.
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