NASA telescope set for launch on million-mile voyage

Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket, with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard, is seen at the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 23, 2021. (NASA andout via REUTERS)
Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket, with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope onboard, is seen at the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 23, 2021. (NASA andout via REUTERS)
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Updated 25 December 2021

NASA telescope set for launch on million-mile voyage

NASA telescope set for launch on million-mile voyage
  • Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble — but intends to show humans what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago
  • The telescope's mirror measures 6.5 meters in diameter, triple that of Hubble’s mirror

KOUROU, French Guiana: The world’s most powerful space telescope is set to blast off on Saturday to its outpost 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth, after several delays caused by technical hitches.
The James Webb Space Telescope, some three decades and billions of dollars in the making, will leave Earth enclosed in its Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou Space Center in French Guiana.
The launch, scheduled in a brief window after 9:20 am (1220 GMT), will send the telescope on a month-long journey to its remote orbit.
It is expected to beam back new clues that will help scientists understand more about the origins of the Universe and Earth-like planets beyond our solar system.
Named after a former NASA director, Webb follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble — but intends to show humans what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago.
Speaking on social media, Webb project co-founder John Mather described the telescope’s unprecedented sensitivity.
“#JWST can see the heat signature of a bumblebee at the distance of the Moon,” he said.
All that power is needed to detect the weak glow emitted billions of years ago by the very first galaxies to exist and the first stars being formed.

The telescope is unequalled in size and complexity.
Its mirror measures 6.5 meters (21 feet) in diameter — three times the size of the Hubble’s mirror — and is made of 18 hexagonal sections.
It is so large that it had to be folded to fit into the rocket.
That maneuver was laser-guided with NASA imposing strict isolation measures to limit any contact with the telescope’s mirrors from particles or even human breath.
Once the rockets have carried Webb 120 kilometers, the protective nose of the craft, called a “fairing,” is shed to lighten the load.
To protect the delicate instrument from changes in pressure at that stage, rocket-builder Arianespace installed a custom decompression system.
“Exceptional measures for an exceptional client,” said a European Space Agency official in Kourou on Thursday.
Crew on the ground will know whether the first stage of the flight was successful about 27 minutes after launch.
Once it reaches its station, the challenge will be to fully deploy the mirror and a tennis-court-sized sun shield.
That intimidatingly complex process will take two weeks and must be flawless if Webb is to function correctly.
Its orbit will be much farther than Hubble, which has been 600 kilometers above the Earth since 1990.
The location of Webb’s orbit is called the Lagrange 2 point and was chosen in part because it will keep the Earth, the Sun and the Moon all on the same side of its sun shield.
Webb is expected to officially enter service in June.


Review: Prequel - Photo & Video Editor

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 20 June 2022

Review: Prequel - Photo & Video Editor

Photo/Supplied
  • The homepage has all themes organized in folders for your choosing such as horoscope, autumn vibes, summer vibes, fairycore, cinematic and more

Prequel is my favorite photo-editing application because of its cool retro filters that are not available on any social media application.

I had so much fun taking my Instagram photos to the next level with edits that look like a vintage photoshoot.

It also has video effects, and it is available on both the App Store and Google Play.

Some of the most popular effects are VHS, Kidcore, Teal, Dust, Canvas, Grain, and Renaissance.

My personal favorite photo filter is Disco#1 for its vintage lens effect and sparkles.

I attended a concert recently, and used the VHS effect for a video that I took of the band, which added a lot of edge to the video.

The homepage has all themes organized in folders for your choosing such as horoscope, autumn vibes, summer vibes, fairycore, cinematic and more.

Prequel does not just serve vintage aesthetics, it also has modern effects that I personally like; I cartoonized a group photo and sent it to my friends who loved the result.

There are festive filters for occasions such as Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

The application has more than 500 filters and effects with color correction too, giving you the opportunity to customize and adjust the effects to your desire.

You can create 3D moving pictures easily as well.

Import and edit any of your videos with retro designs from the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s, 1090s and early 2000s.

You are allowed to speed up, slow down, trim and crop your videos to your preference.

Prequel also offers fun stickers and fonts for any texts you would like to add to your photos.

If you join Prequel Gold, you will have unlimited full access to all filters and effects, advanced editing tools and retouch toolkits.


China launches three astronauts to space station

China launches three astronauts to space station
Updated 05 June 2022

China launches three astronauts to space station

China launches three astronauts to space station
  • Shenzhou-14 mission commander Chen Dong and his team will work on the space station for 6 months
  • They will be returning to Earth in December with the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crew

BEIJING: China launched a spacecraft on Sunday carrying three astronauts to the Chinese space station, due to be completed by the end of the year, as construction entered a pivotal stage.
A Long March-2F rocket transporting the Shenzhou-14, or “Divine Vessel” in Chinese, blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 10:44 a.m. (0244 GMT), a live broadcast by state television showed.
Construction of the space station began last year with the launch of the first and largest of its three modules — Tianhe — the living quarters of visiting astronauts. The modules Wentian and Mengtian are to be launched in July and October, respectively, docking with Tianhe to form a T-shaped structure.
Shenzhou-14 mission commander Chen Dong, 43, and team mates Liu Yang, 43, and Cai Xuzhe, 46, all from China’s second cohort of astronauts, will live and work on the space station for six months before returning to Earth in December with the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crew.
Former air force pilot Chen with Liu, who became China’s first female astronaut in space a decade ago, and space mission debutant Cai, will oversee the rendezvous, docking and integration of Wentian and Mengtian with the core module.
They will also install equipment inside and outside the space station and carry out a range of scientific research.
“The Shenzhou-14 mission is a pivotal battle in the construction stage of China’s space station,” Chen told a news conference in Jiuquan on Saturday. “The task will be tougher, there will be more problems and the challenges will be greater.”
The space station is designed for a lifespan of at least a decade. (Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and William Mallard)


DIDI’s debut graduate exhibition displays innovative MENA minds

DIDI’s debut graduate exhibition displays innovative MENA minds
Updated 01 June 2022

DIDI’s debut graduate exhibition displays innovative MENA minds

DIDI’s debut graduate exhibition displays innovative MENA minds

DUBAI: The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) launched its first graduate exhibition as its first intake of undergrad students from 2018 head into the world with their bachelor’s of design this summer. From fashion targeting children with tactile sensory disorders to virtual reality goggles that offer stressed users a meditative digital escape, the projects on show are nothing less than impressive.

The institute, which is found in the Dubai Design district in a 100,000-sq-ft facility, was launched in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Parsons School of Design. 

The school’s curriculum was conceived by MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, offering design-focused courses and others in fashion, multimedia, strategy, management and art. 

Ahead of the class of 2022’s graduation ceremony, the institute’s exhibition is being held in Building 7 at Design District 3 until June 5, showcasing next-level projects by 32 senior students.

The institute’s exhibition is being held in Building 7 at Design District 3. Supplied

“We are immensely proud of the caliber of our students and the thought-provoking works that are on public view,” said Mohammad Abdullah, president of DIDI, adding: “As the first intake of students to join our program and now the first to graduate, we have seen them undertake a remarkable and enlightening journey over the last four years to develop a heightened design and innovation driven mindset.”

Abdullah said: “The demand for bright, courageous, innovative, and empathetic minds has never been stronger, as we head to the fifth industrial revolution and see the working relationship between increasingly smart technologies and humans evolve yet further. Our students represent that future-focused cadre of thinkers, innovators and disruptors who will define the world of tomorrow and make an impact.”

From a fashion collection designed for children with tactile sensory disorders to an application which aims to support early to mid-stage dementia patients with reminiscence therapy using artificial intelligence and augmented reality, there is no shortage of mindblowing creations.

The school’s curriculum was conceived by MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. Supplied

Jeddah-born design student Abdulaziz Zamil Alzamil, 22, is one of the two Saudi students graduating from DIDI this year. For his senior project, “The Application of Universal Laws Into the Design Process,” he dreamed up his very own methodology to better understand the relationship between universal law and design.

“The universal law is believed to be a set of principles that govern our universe mostly found in ancient books and teachings as well as philosophies. There are many books that portrayed their own principles. During my research, I looked at the different books and picked one in order to translate their principles into a design language that can positively impact design practices,” said Alzamil, who added that his project took nine months to complete.

The student came up with a unique design methodology, which he translated into a set of educational cards to aid him in the creation of two furniture pieces.

The two sets of cards, one for designers working on a completely new project and the second for designers working on an existing project, come enclosed in a black box and ask helpful questions that aim to streamline the design process. Along with the set of cards is a pack of sticky notes to attach to the back of each card after the designer narrows down their answers.

“It’s important for us as designers to refine our thoughts and set our intentions and goals for each project,” said the student. “As creators, whatever we’re going to produce is going to have certain effects on the environment or to the user. So it’s important to ask ourselves what causes or effects we want our product or service to have before we create something.”

Alzamil and his professor plan to publish the methodology and create a business model out of his strategy.

Other standout projects include “MindPlay” designed by Sana Mohamed, which is described as a product-service system for remotely monitoring and treating children diagnosed with ADHD by utilizing Brain-Computer Interface and eye-tracking technology to help the child to self-regulate their abnormal brain activity signals, improving attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms.

Also showcasing his work is Emirati student Nayef K. Al-Bastaki, who programmed his own virtual world in the metaverse accessible by VR goggles that serves as an idyllic and meditative digital escape for those seeking a sense of calm.

There was also a handful of projects that showed a myriad of perspectives on where fashion could go next. Supplied

In addition to the programs, applications, tools and prototypes trying to address pressing global issues, there was also a handful of projects that showed a myriad of perspectives on where fashion could go next, from a charitable NFT fashion collection to a sustainable clothing brand made from upcycled materials and second-hand garments designed to reduce fast fashion’s environmental impact.

“Label Unknown” by Lebanese student Tamara Samir Naoura hopes to eliminate the labeling imposed on people by allowing the wearer to decide what they want to write on their clothing tag.

“I wanted to create a brand that is inclusive and that everyone can resonate with,” explained the graduate student.

Additionally, all garments are customized to the user’s body rendering standardized sizing obsolete.

“The process began from observing how people feel like they can’t express their identity due to social expectations, and ‘Label Unknown’ aims to encourage people to deviate from that.”

Nouara added: “The outcome was heartwarming, especially seeing people wearing the garments and observing their reactions. The most important thing for me as a designer was to capture people’s confidence through my garments and that will be my main driving point for all the future collections.”

Hani Asfour, the institute’s dean, said: “This graduate exhibition is testimony to the hard work of our students and represents DIDI’s rich DNA for design-driven innovation. All the student projects seamlessly integrate design, technology and strategy, combining visuality with digitization and business methodologies.”

He added: “DIDI is fully aligned with the UAE’s recent educational reforms. We seek to further empower our youth as creative, independent thinkers and makers, and we are proud to be a part of this transformation as we prepare the next generation of changemakers.

“Our vision at DIDI is simple: to prepare students for a world where today’s jobs may not exist in the future.” But if the graduate exhibition is any indication, our future is in good hands.


From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps
Updated 30 May 2022

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps
  • Singapore has 605 robots installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry

SINGAPORE: After struggling to find staff during the pandemic, businesses in Singapore have increasingly turned to deploying robots to help carry out a range of tasks, from surveying construction sites to scanning library bookshelves.
The city-state relies on foreign workers, but their number fell by 235,700 between December 2019 and September 2021, according to the manpower ministry, which notes how COVID-19 curbs have sped up “the pace of technology adoption and automation” by companies.
At a Singapore construction site, a four-legged robot called “Spot,” built by US company Boston Dynamics, scans sections of mud and gravel to check on work progress, with data fed back to construction company Gammon’s control room.
Gammon’s general manager, Michael O’Connell, said using Spot required only one human employee instead of the two previously needed to do the job manually.
“Replacing the need for manpower on-site with autonomous solutions is gaining real traction,” said O’Connell, who believes industry labor shortages made worse by the pandemic are here to stay.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s National Library has introduced two shelf-reading robots that can scan labels on 100,000 books, or about 30 percent of its collection, per day.
“Staff need not read the call numbers one by one on the shelf, and this reduces the routine and labor-intensive aspects,” said Lee Yee Fuang, assistant director at the National Library Board.
Singapore has 605 robots installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry, the second-highest number globally, after South Korea’s 932, according to a 2021 report by the International Federation of Robotics.
Robots are also being used for customer-facing tasks, with more than 30 metro stations set to have robots making coffee for commuters.
Keith Tan, chief executive of Crown Digital, which created the barista robot, said it was helping solve the “biggest pain-point” in food and beverage — finding staff — while also creating well-paid positions to help automate the sector.
However, some people trying the service still yearned for human interaction.
“We always want to have some kind of human touch,” said commuter Ashish Kumar, while sipping on a robot-brewed drink. 


From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps
Updated 30 May 2022

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps

From baristas to inspectors: Singapore’s robot workforce plugs labor gaps

SINGAPORE: After struggling to find staff during the pandemic, businesses in Singapore have increasingly turned to deploying robots to help carry out a range of tasks, from surveying construction sites to scanning library bookshelves.
The city-state relies on foreign workers, but their number fell by 235,700 between December 2019 and September 2021, according to the manpower ministry, which notes how COVID-19 curbs have sped up “the pace of technology adoption and automation” by companies.
At a Singapore construction site, a four-legged robot called “Spot,” built by US company Boston Dynamics, scans sections of mud and gravel to check on work progress, with data fed back to construction company Gammon’s control room.
Gammon’s general manager, Michael O’Connell, said using Spot required only one human employee instead of the two previously needed to do the job manually.
“Replacing the need for manpower on-site with autonomous solutions is gaining real traction,” said O’Connell, who believes industry labor shortages made worse by the pandemic are here to stay.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s National Library has introduced two shelf-reading robots that can scan labels on 100,000 books, or about 30 percent of its collection, per day.
“Staff need not read the call numbers one by one on the shelf, and this reduces the routine and labor-intensive aspects,” said Lee Yee Fuang, assistant director at the National Library Board.
Singapore has 605 robots installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry, the second-highest number globally, after South Korea’s 932, according to a 2021 report by the International Federation of Robotics.
Robots are also being used for customer-facing tasks, with more than 30 metro stations set to have robots making coffee for commuters.
Keith Tan, chief executive of Crown Digital, which created the barista robot, said it was helping solve the “biggest pain-point” in food and beverage — finding staff — while also creating well-paid positions to help automate the sector.
However, some people trying the service still yearned for human interaction.
“We always want to have some kind of human touch,” said commuter Ashish Kumar, while sipping on a robot-brewed drink.