NASA launches satellite to explore where air meets space

In this Oct. 1, 2019 photo made available by NASA, a Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer aircraft takes off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company's Pegasus XL rocket, containing NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), is attached beneath the aircraft. (Randy Beaudoin/NASA via AP)
Updated 11 October 2019

NASA launches satellite to explore where air meets space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: NASA has launched a satellite to explore the mysterious, dynamic region where air meets space.
The satellite — known as Icon, short for Ionospheric Connection Explorer — rocketed into orbit Thursday night. It was dropped from a plane flying over the Atlantic off the Florida coast.
The ionosphere is the charged part of the upper atmosphere extending several hundred miles (kilometers) up. It’s in constant flux as space weather bombards it from above and Earth weather from below, sometimes disrupting satellite communications.
The more scientists know, the better spacecraft and astronauts can be protected in orbit through improved forecasting.
Icon should have soared two years ago, but problems with Northrop Grumman’s air-launched Pegasus rocket interfered. Despite the long delay, NASA says the $252 million mission didn’t exceed its price cap.


Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 20 min 19 sec ago

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.