SpaceX completes major test for Starship

Starship SN15 landing in Texas, May 5, 2021. (File photo: CFP)LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- SpaceX completed a major test of its latest Starship prototype on Monday, one step closer to the first orbital launch attempt of the towering rocket.Starship prototype 24, stacked on Super Heavy booster prototype 7, was fueled up at SpaceXs Starbase test site in Texas in a test known as a "wet dress rehearsal.""This was the first time an integrated Ship and Booster were fully loaded with more than 10 million pounds of propellant," SpaceX said in a tweet.The test will help verify a full launch countdown sequence, as well as the performance of Starship and the orbital pad for flight-like operations, according to SpaceX.The wet dress rehearsal was one of the final milestones for the vehicle before SpaceXs attempt for an orbital launch.SpaceX is developing Starship to get people and cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond. NASA selected the vehicle to be the first crewed lunar lander for its Artemis program.

Aussie technology developed to help safeguard used nuclear fuel

File photo: CFPResearchers from Australias national science agency have developed a world-leading system to safeguard spent nuclear fuel around the world.Revealed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Tuesday, the Robotized Cherenkov Viewing Device (RCVD) autonomously navigates spent fuel ponds and provides inspectors with real-time footage and data that can be used for safeguard verification.The RCVD, which was developed by CSIROs digital specialist arm Data61 and Hungarian robotics company Datastart, analyzes the position of each fuel assembly and its unique signature to detect if nuclear fuel has been removed or replaced.Rosie Attwell, CSIROs Technical Program Manager, said the technology could remove the risk for humans in protecting nuclear material."The test demonstrates that autonomous robots could soon assist with field measurement and analysis of spent nuclear fuel, providing greater protection for human workers," she said in a media release."Inspectors currently operate above the pond on a suspended platform, sometimes in 40-degree Celsius heat, using a handheld device to identify hundreds of used nuclear fuel rods."This new technology will remove humans from harms way and ensure the rate of safety inspections matches that of nuclear material."The team is now working to improve the RVCDs ability to navigate and take detailed photographs in a bid to have it replicate human inspectors.They are also aiming to outfit it with computer vision to enhance its autonomy in the next round of development.

Chinese submersible reaches deepest point of Diamantina Trench, making history

Chinas Fendouzhe (Struggler) deep-sea manned submersible made history by completing 10 consecutive hours of operations at the deepest point of the Diamantina Trench in southeastern Indian Ocean and was successfully retrieved by the scientific research ship Tansuo (Exploration) -1 on Sunday.The first full-depth deep-sea manned submersible of China. (Photo: IACAS) This is the first time in human history a submersible has reached the deepest point of the trench, accelerating the scientific investigation of the trench system and is of great significance to the development of global abyssal science.The abyss expedition team, organized by the Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), comprised 56 members from Chinas top universities including Shanghai Jiaotong University and Tongji University, set sail from South Chinas Sanya city on October 6, 2022.After that, the team completed two joint scientific research missions by China and Singapore at the Kermadec Trench and is now working on the third one at the Diamantina Trench, also its first expedition in southeastern Indian Ocean since it was officially put into use. As of January 22, Chinas Fendouzhe manned submersible has made a total of 159 dives, including 25 at the 10,000-meter level. In addition to discovering a large number of iron and manganese nodules at the bottom of the Diamantina Trench, the team of the abyss scientific expedition also placed markers saying "Happy Year of the Rabbit" at the depth of 5,810 meters in the trench. The submersible will return to Sanya city in early March 2023 as planned, after performing 22 dives in the area.

Microsoft to extend partnership with OpenAI with billions dollars investment

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Microsoft said on Monday that it will invest in OpenAI on a "multi-year, multi-billion-dollar" scale to extend partnership.File photo: CGTN"We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.In this next phase of the partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications, said Nadella.In a blog post, Microsoft said that it will increase its investments in the deployment of specialized supercomputing systems to accelerate OpenAIs AI research and integrate OpenAIs AI systems with its products while "introducing new categories of digital experiences."OpenAI said that the new capital will be used to continue its independent research and develop AI thats "safe, useful and powerful."OpenAI will remain a capped-profit company as a part of the new investment deal with Microsoft. Under the model, backers returns are limited to 100 times their investment, according to a report by TechCrunch.Microsoft and OpenAI have collaborated closely in recent years. In 2019, Microsoft announced that it would invest 1 billion U.S. dollars in OpenAI to jointly develop new technologies for the Azure platform and further extend OpenAIs large-scale AI capabilities.A year later, Microsoft revealed itd built an Azure-hosted, OpenAI-co-designed supercomputer. In 2021, Microsoft launched the Azure OpenAI Service, an offering designed to give enterprises access to OpenAIs AI systems.Microsoft is also a key backer of OpenAIs Startup Fund. Its Azure cloud platform will continue to be OpenAIs exclusive cloud provider."The past three years of our partnership have been great," OpenAI CEO Sam Altman sa...

Canada to commercialize world's first photonic-based quantum computer

OTTAWA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday a new federal investment to build and commercialize the worlds first photonic-based, fault-tolerant quantum computer.File photo: CGTNAccording to a news release from the prime minsters website, the investment of 40 million Canadian dollars (32 million U.S. dollars) will enable Xanadu Quantum Technologies Inc., a Toronto-based Canadian quantum computing company, to develop the quantum computer which will have the potential to provide world leading capabilities to help solve complex data problems and could be used in a variety of sectors such as finance, transportation, environmental modelling, and health.Supported through the governments Strategic Innovation Fund, this project of 177.8 million Canadian dollars (142 million U.S. dollars) is expected to create 530 new highly skilled positions in the high-tech and quantum computing fields, the release said.Earlier this month, Canada launched its National Quantum Strategy, which invests an additional 360 million Canadian dollars (288 million U.S. dollars) to help solidify Canada as a global leader in quantum technologies.Founded in 2016, Xanadu, with the mission to build quantum computers that are useful and available to people everywhere, leads the development of PennyLane, an open-source software library for quantum computing and application development.

China-made trains enter service in Istanbul's new metro line

A new metro line connecting central Istanbul and the city's new international airport officially opened to the public on Sunday, featuring China-made automated driverless trains that could run up to 120 kilometers per hour."This 800,000 daily capacity metro line will allow travel from Kagithane Stat

Photo exhibition held on China's space station

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A special exhibition of space-related photographs is being held on Chinas Tiangong space station, orbiting about 400 km above Earth, as a New Year gift for the Spring Festival.The Shenzhou-15 astronauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu showcased 21 photographs of the orbiting Chinese space station captured from Earth, featuring various splendid moments and unique angles.The photos were among those collected from various sources in a project called "Global Lens on Tiangong" that began in November 2021. The project has attracted widespread attention from professional photographers, astronomy enthusiasts, space professionals and youngsters, producing more than 10,000 photos showing the Chinese space station in action.The photos displayed in the Tiangong space station were launched together with the Shenzhou-15 mission on Nov. 29 last year.The Shenzhou-15 mission is aimed at wrapping up the final stage of space station construction and starting the first stage of its application and development.

China's spending on R&D hits 3 trln yuan in 2022

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinas total expenditure on research and development (R&D) amounted to nearly 3.09 trillion yuan (about 456 billion U.S. dollars) in 2022, up 10.4 percent year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).Photo: CFPAfter deducting price factors, Chinas R&D spending in 2022 rose 8 percent year on year, said the NBS.Chinas total spending on R&D accounted for 2.55 percent of its gross domestic product last year, up 0.12 percentage points from the previous year.Investment in basic research stood at 195.1 billion yuan last year, up 7.4 percent year on year, accounting for 6.32 percent of the total R&D spending, the data showed.

Chinese submersible reaches deepest point of Diamantina Trench

Chinas Fendouzhe (Struggler) deep-sea manned submersible completed 10 consecutive hours of operations at the deepest point of the Diamantina Trench, and was successfully retrieved by the scientific research ship Tansuo (Exploration) -1 on Sunday.The Fendouzhe deep-sea manned submersible in water. (Photo: CMG)The abyss scientific expedition team, organized by the Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, comprises 56 members. The team set sail from south Chinas Sanya City on October 6, 2022, and then completed two scientific research missions at the Kermadec Trench. Currently, the team is conducting the third abyss exploration mission at the Diamantina Trench.Liu Zhu, captain of the Tansuo-1, said that the windy weather at the Southeast Indian Ocean adds difficulty to the deploying and retrieving work of the submersible."The operation area was located in the westerly belt, where the sea conditions were particularly bad, with strong winds and ocean swells. It was very difficult to deploy and recover the submersible, but we were able to withstand the pressure and successfully completed the mission here," Liu said.This is the first time in human history to reach the deepest point of the Diamantina Trench, which is of great significance to the development of the global abyss science."This is the first time in history that humans have come to the Diamantina Trench in the southeastern Indian Ocean for diving operations. Through on-the-spot observation and sampling, we will hopefully have a comprehensive understanding of the various geological, environmental and life phenomena that are taking place at the bottom of the trench, thereby revealing the inner mechanism driving the geology and life activities there," said Huang Xiaoxia, member of the abyss expedition team. According to the expedition team, the Fendouzhe submersible will continue to carry out observation and research on the geological, enviro...

Sinopharm's mRNA Omicron vaccine gets green light for trials

(Photo: VCG)China National Biotec Group, a subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd (Sinopharm), announced on Friday that its biotech unit in Shanghai has received regulatory approval for clinical trials of Chinas first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron strains.The approval for Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine clinical trials,granted by the State Drug Administration on Thursday, is a "milestone"in the companys COVID-19 vaccine development after producing inactivated and genetic recombinant vaccines, Zhang Yuntao, vice-president and chief scientist of the group, said in a statement."From the early stage of research and development, CNBG has been working toward developing a world-class Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine in all aspects. Also, we have been making efforts to speed up the process for clinical trials," Zhang said.CNBG began research on and development of Omicron-specific vaccines near the end of 2021, Zhang had previously said.Jia Weiguo, chief scientist at CNBGs Virogin Biotech Company,said the new mRNA vaccine, which can encode the full length of the Omicron variants S protein, could help the body to create antibodies more efficiently. It has proved effective in preventing infection in animal trials."The companys advanced mRNA-LNP encapsulation technology can further guarantee the production capacity of the vaccine," Jia said.Virogin, which is based in Shanghai, has built a research and development platform, as well as production lines with an annual capacity of 2 billion doses of mRNA vaccine. They can quickly produce mRNA vaccines to deal with pandemics, CNBG said.The company added that it will further assess the safety, immunogenicity and effectiveness of production during clinical trials.According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Chinas annual COVID-19 vaccine production capacity has reached 7 billion doses, and the annual output exceeded 5.5 billion ...

Sinopharm's Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine approved for clinical trials

The China National Pharmaceutical Group (CNBG)s Omicron-specific mRNA COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for clinical trials, the Chinese pharmaceutical giant announced on Friday. Developed by CNBG-Virogin Biotech (Shanghai), which operates under Chinas state-owned Sinopharm, the vaccine is Chinas first Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine able to encode the full-length S protein of the Omicron variant.Photo via CGTNZhang Yuntao, vice president and chief scientist of CNBG, hailed the latest mRNA vaccine progress as a "milestone" after the group on Wednesday revealed that it has developed four potential Omicron-specific candidate vaccines, including inactivated, recombinant protein and mRNA vaccines, as well as a very effective preventative inhaled monoclonal antibody product.According to Jia Weiguo, a scientist at CNBG, the mRNA vaccine uses a novel antigen design to further improve its ability to induce effective neutralizing antibodies, and has shown protection in susceptible animal models.The vaccines development takes aim at world-leading technologies, and its advanced mRNA-LNP encapsulation technology can further guarantee the production capacity of the vaccine, Jia told media.CNBG-Virogin Biotech (Shanghai) has built a pilot mRNA vaccine research and development platform covering design to production and an intelligent mRNA vaccine production facility with an annual capacity of 2 billion doses. The company has also developed a response capacity to develop mRNA vaccines against sudden infectious diseases in a short period of time and to rapidly scale up production.Subsequent clinical trials will further evaluate the safety, immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the mRNA vaccine.Gao Fu, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggested Wednesday that vaccines against mutant strains of COVID-19 should be approved for use as soon as possible, considering the risk of local infections of Omicron XBB and ...

Chinese scientists design wearable sensor capable of monitoring facial expressions

BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have developed an ultra-thin, anti-microbial and breathing-friendly wearable sensor that can monitor human body movements and even subtle facial expressions.The researchers from Tsinghua University and Xian Polytechnic University described their design in a study published recently in the journal Nano Research.The sensor is a three-layered nanogenerator with a sandwich structure, which can harvest renewable and abundant mechanical energy with high efficiency, according to the study.The nanofiber in the middle serves to convert the mechanical energy into electricity, and it is plated by two nanofiber membranes on both sides, with a 110-nanometer silver layer on one side that serves as the electrode layer.The sandwiched structure is only 91 micrometers thick and has a high air permeability and significant antibacterial effects, according to the study.The study has revealed that the design demonstrates good sensitivity to human motion, indicating great potential for application in flexible self-powered electronic wearables and body health monitoring.

Research on China's Chang'e-5 lunar samples shows fruitful results

An illustration of Chinas Change-5 lunar probe. /China National Space AdministrationMore than 50 research results on the lunar samples brought back by the Change-5 mission have been published in notable academic journals at home and abroad, pushing Chinas lunar science research to the international forefront, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).Over 150 scientists and researchers participated in the first Change-5 Lunar Sample Research Results Seminar held by the CNSA on Monday. They discussed topics ranging from the characteristics of Change-5 lunar soil samples, the history of lunar volcanic activities, meteorite impacts on the lunar surface, and space weathering to the new techniques for analyzing extraterrestrial samples, etc.In 2020, Chinas Change-5 mission retrieved samples from the moon weighing about 1,731 grams, the first lunar samples retrieved in over 40 years.After the first batch was handed over to Chinese scientists on July 12, 2021, 65.1 grams of lunar samples have been distributed to research units in five batches, said the CNSA.Experts attending the seminar agreed that the forum not only provided a valuable opportunity for the researchers to exchange ideas but also offered a platform for the display of vital scientific research results, which will further promote and facilitate the development of lunar scientific research and exploration in China.Lunar samples collected through Chinas Change-5 mission. /China Media GroupAccording to the CNSA, one of the most notable research results on the lunar samples is about the history of volcanic eruptions in the Change-5 landing region, which was published in October 2021 in three Nature papers.In the study, a research team at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics (IGG), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) dated the youngest rock on the moon at around 2 billion years in age, extending the "life" of lunar volcanism 800...

China to boost density of manufacturing robots

File photoBEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- China will strive to double its manufacturing robot density by 2025 compared with that of 2020, according to an action plan released Thursday.A "robotics+" action will be launched to expand the use of robotics, said the action plan jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and 16 other government departments.The use of service and special robots will be significantly increased by 2025, with the capability of the countrys robotics industry to promote high-quality economic and social development markedly improved, said the plan.The plan urged efforts to focus on ten key application areas and achieve breakthroughs in more than 100 innovative application technologies and solutions for robots.Over 200 model-application scenarios with cutting-edge technologies, innovative application modes, and prominent application results will be promoted. A batch of industry-leading "robotics+" application enterprises, experience centers, and verification centers will be established.It also emphasized efforts to build a collaborative innovation system for robot production and application and speed up the development and promotion of robot application standards.Robot density, measured by the number of robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers, is a key indicator for measuring intelligent manufacturing levels.

China to launch 2 manned spacecraft, one cargo spacecraft in 2023: blue book

Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on November 29, 2022. (Photo/China News Service) (ECNS) -- China will carry out launch missions of Shenzhou-16, Shenzhou-17 manned spacecraft and Ti

Researches on Chang'e 5 lunar samples gain fruitful results

File photo: Photo provided by the China National Space Administration shows Chang'e-5 probe gathering samples on the moon on Dec 2, 2020. Photo/Xinhua BEIJING -- More than 50 research results on the lunar samples brought back by the Chang'e-5 mission have been published in notable academic journal

Rocketry expertise used in artificial lung


China's first artificial cornea surgery completed

An ophthalmologist examines a 25-year-old female patient after artificial cornea transplant surgery at Union Hospital, an affiliate of Tongji Medical College at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province. [Photo by Liu Kunwei/For] Union Hospital, an af

Scientists use laser to guide lightning bolt for first time

Scientists said Monday they have used a laser beam to guide lightning for the first time, hoping the technique will help protect against deadly bolts, and one day maybe even trigger them.Lightning strikes between 40-120 times a second worldwide, killing more than 4,000 people and causing billions of dollars worth of damage every year.Yet the main protection against these bolts from above is still the humble lightning rod, which was first conceived by American polymath Benjamin Franklin in 1749.A team of scientists from six research institutions have been working for years to use the same idea but replace the simple metal pole with a far more sophisticated and precise laser. Now, in a study published in the journal Nature Photonics, they describe using a laser beam, shot from the top of a Swiss mountain, to guide a lightning bolt for more than 50 meters."We wanted to give the first demonstration that the laser can have an influence on lightning, and it is simplest to guide it," said Aurelien Houard, a physicist at the applied optics laboratory of the ENSTA Paris institute and the studys lead author.But for future applications, "it would be even better if we could trigger lightning," Houard said.A sleepy town is illuminated by a backdrop of spectacular lightning strikes over a mountain range in Spain, June, 2022. /CFPHow to catch lightningLightning is a discharge of static electricity that has built up in storm clouds, or between clouds and the ground.The laser beam creates plasma, in which charged ions and electrons heat the air.The air becomes "partially conductive, and therefore a path preferred by the lightning," Houard said.When scientists previously tested this theory in New Mexico in 2004, their laser did not grab the lightning.That laser failed because it did not emit enough pulses per second for lightning, which brews in milliseconds, Houard said. He added that it was also difficult to "predict where the lightning was g...

China to launch Queqiao-2 relay satellite for lunar missions in 2024

The Change-4 lunar lander captured by Yutu-2s panoramic camera, January 11, 2019. /CNSAChina plans to launch a Queqiao-2 satellite in 2024 to provide relay communication services for Change-6, 7 and 8 lunar missions, according to China National Space Administration (CNSA). Wang Qiong, deputy chief designer of the Change-6 mission, told China Media Group (CMG) that the Change-6 probe, which serves as a backup for the Change-5 probe, is planned to undertake a lunar sample collection mission on the far side of the moon from 2024 to 2025.Since direct communication with the far side of the moon is not possible, Change-6 will need a relay satellite to support its work. So China will launch the Queqiao-2 in 2024 for the lunar mission, said Hu Hao, chief designer of the third phase of Chinas lunar exploration project and also chief designer of Change-6. Compared with Change-4 relay satellite Queqiao, the Queqiao-2 will have a greater improvement in overall level and capability, Hu added. A model of the Change-5 probe on display at the booth of "Lunar Exploration Project" at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai City, south Chinas Guangdong Province, September 27, 2021. /CFPThe designed lifespan of Queqiao is about to end, and China plans to launch Queqiao-2 in 2024 before the Change-6 mission for the countrys phase-4 lunar mission, serving Change-6, 7 and 8, Wang added.Launched in 2022, the phase-4 lunar mission will conduct scientific exploration at the lunar south pole to facilitate the construction of a basic structure for the International Lunar Research Station in the area by 2035.Wang further said that the goal of Change-6 is to make technological breakthroughs in retrograde orbit design, intelligent sampling, take-off and ascent as well as automatic sampling and return from the moons backside, besides carrying out effective international...

Nation's space industry hits new heights


Scientists from China, overseas obtain valuable data from Tianwen-1 during Sun outage

Scientists from home and abroad have obtained a large amount of data recently by observing the solar influence on signals between Chinas first Mars probe Tianwen-1 and that of the European Space Agency (ESA) during a month-long Sun outage, which will help researchers to study the near-Sun space environment and its impact on deep space communications. Illustration of the Tianwen-1 orbiter in the remote sensing orbit (Photo: CASC)In late September, communication between Chinas Zhurong Mars rover and the Earth began experiencing partial or full blackouts due to disturbances caused by the Suns radiation, which was caused by a phenomenon known as a solar outage, when the Earth and Mars fall on either side of the Sun in an almost straight line.During the blackouts, Chinas Mars probe continued its observation together with the ESAs Mars Express orbiter. By transmitting radio signals from the two orbiters periodically to the Earth, scientists from multiple countries used more than a dozen radio telescopes to observe the signals under the influence of the Sun, obtaining a large amount of data. More than six research institutes from China, Australia and Europe co-published the research results on The Astrophysical Journal Letters, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of astrophysics and astronomy. According to one of the authors - Ma Maoli, a research fellow at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences - when the Mars projection point was 2.6 Rs from the heliocenter on October 9, 2021, six observatories received radio signals from Tianwen-1 and Mars Express, with the strongest ±20 Hz turbulences occurring for up to 10 minutes. By observing these turbulences, researchers have found that when the radio signals traveled through the near-Sun region, the total electron content changed by thousands of TECU, caused by coronal mass ejection (CME) phenomenon, a significant release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field from t...

China powers up satellite payloads for gamma-ray burst observation

File photo BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The four payloads on three satellites that were sent into space from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north Chinas Shanxi Province on Jan. 15 have been powered up for preliminary testing, according to Tsinghua University on Monday.The four payloads, GRID-05B, GRID-06B, GRID-07 and GRID-08B, will carry out networked joint observations with those satellites in orbit to analyze gamma-ray bursts, solar activities and pulsars in the universe over the coming years.Developed by Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, Sichuan University and Beijing Normal University, the payloads act like wide-field telescopes installed on satellites to observe cosmic phenomena.They are part of Chinas Gamma Ray Integrated Detectors (GRID) project. The GRID, led by a team comprised mostly of undergraduate students, was initiated by Tsinghua University in 2016. It aims to conduct the detection of gamma-ray bursts and other high-energy astrophysical transients.The GRID has attracted more than 20 universities and institutes, with the first batch of scientific achievements published in December 2021.So far, eight satellite payloads have been sent into orbit for the project. Over the next two or three years, the GRID project will form a constellation observation network to conduct more valuable observations.

Chinese, European Mars probes help examine atmosphere near sun

[Photo: Shanghai Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences]SHANGHAI, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- In an "almost-out-of-service" period in 2021, Chinas Tianwen-1 orbiter, along with Mars Express of the European Space Agency, helped solar scientists know more about what happens near the sun.During the late September to mid-October stretch in 2021, Chinas Mars orbiter experienced its first sun transit, when its communication with Earth was significantly disturbed by solar radiation.The Mars Sun Transit is a phenomenon in which Earth and Mars move to opposite sides of the sun, and the three are almost in a straight line.During the transit, Tianwen-1 and Mars Express sent out frequent signals, allowing radio telescopes on Earth to examine how those signals were affected.A paper published recently in Astrophysical Journal Letters revealed that on Oct. 9, 2021 -- when the red planets projection point near the sun was 2.6 times solar radius away from the suns center -- a violent solar burst event called a coronal mass ejection (CME) caused noticeable disturbances for a period of 10 minutes.Also, coronal waves were detected near the projection point, a phenomenon reflecting how magnetic fields constrain solar winds, according to the study led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.The scientists also identified the high-speed primary solar wind when the CME was winding down. The high-speed solar wind was detected much closer to the sun than expected, according to the study.Chinas Tianwen-1 Mars mission, comprising an orbiter, lander and rover, was launched on July 23, 2020.

NASA says 2022 is fifth warmest year on record amid warming trend


Asteroid to come 'extraordinarily close' to Earth: NASA

This diagram made available by NASA shows the estimated trajectory of asteroid 2023 BU, in red, affected by the earths gravity, and the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, in green. (Photo: AP)A truck-sized asteroid will pass near Earth on Thursday in one of the closest approaches to our planet ever recorded, NASA said, emphasising that it poses no danger.Asteroid 2023 BU, which was recently discovered by an amateur astronomer, will zoom by the southern tip of South America at around 4:27 pm PST on Thursday (0027 GMT Friday), according to NASA.It will pass just 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometres) from Earths surface, much closer than many geostationary satellites orbiting the planet.But there is no risk that the asteroid will hit Earth, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.Even if it did, the asteroid measuring 3.5-8.5 metres (11-28 feet) across would largely disintegrate in the Earths atmosphere, potentially just resulting in a few small meteorites.It was discovered on Saturday from an observatory in Crimea by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, who previously spotted an interstellar comet in 2019.Dozens of observations were then carried out by observatories across the world.NASAs Scout impact hazard assessment system quickly determined that the asteroid would miss Earth, the US space agency said."Despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth," said NASAs Davide Farnocchia who helped develop Scout."In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded."The asteroid will come so close that its trajectory around the Sun will be significantly altered.Previously it took the asteroid 359 days to complete its orbit around the Sun, but after this close call with Earth, it will now take 425, NASA said.

Chinese virologists develop technique to store mRNA vaccines at room temperature

File photo: CFPBEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- A group of Chinese virologists have developed a technique that helps store mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines at normal temperature for more than half a year.Most current mRNA vaccines require to be stored at minus 20 to 70 degrees Celsius due to their poor stability, thus restricting their availability.The study published in the journal Cell Discovery this week showed that a kind of freeze-dry lipid nanoparticle vaccine prepared via an optimized lyophilization technique with precise temperature control and lower residual water content can remain physiochemically stable at 25 degrees Celsius over six months while eliciting potent humoral and cellular immunity in mice, rabbits, or rhesus macaques.In the human trial, administration of lyophilized Omicron mRNA vaccine as a booster shot also engendered strong immunity, and the titers of neutralizing antibodies against multiple Omicron variants are seen to increase by at least 253-fold after a booster shot following two doses of the commercial inactivated vaccine, according to the study.The technique overcomes the instability of mRNA vaccines without affecting their bioactivity and significantly improves their accessibility, particularly in remote regions, said the researchers.

Earth's inner core rotating slower than surface, study suggests

Photo via CGTNEarths inner core, a hot iron ball the size of Pluto, has stopped spinning faster than the planets surface and might now be rotating slower than it, research suggested on Monday.Roughly 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) below the surface we live on, this "planet within the planet" can spin independently because it floats in the liquid metal outer core.Exactly how the inner core rotates has been a matter of debate between scientists -- and the latest research is expected to prove controversial.What little is known about the inner core comes from measuring the tiny differences in seismic waves -- created by earthquakes or sometimes nuclear explosions -- as they pass through the middle of the Earth.Seeking to track the inner cores movements, new research published in the journal Nature Geoscience analysed seismic waves from repeating earthquakes over the last six decades."We believe the inner core rotates, relative to the Earths surface, back and forth, like a swing," the studys authors, Xiaodong Song and Yi Yang of Chinas Peking University, told AFP."One cycle of the swing is about seven decades," the authors said.The inner core started rotating slightly faster than the rest of the planet in the early 1970s, the study said.But it had been slowing down before coming in sync with Earths rotation around 2009, it added.There has been a "negative trend" since, the study said, meaning the inner core is now rotating slower than the surface.The researchers predicted the next change would occur in the mid-2040s.They said this rotation timeline roughly lines up with changes in what is called the "length of day" -- small variations in the exact time it takes Earth to rotate on its axis.Stuck in the middleSo far there is little to indicate that what the inner core does has much effect on surface dwellers.But the researchers said they believed there were physical links between all Earth...

Chinese researchers reproduce solar-flare features in lab

BEIJING, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have demonstrated laser-driven turbulent magnetic reconnection in a laboratory, an experiment that can help scientists learn more about solar flares. A paper on the findings, which reproduce key features of solar flares, has been published in Nature

US to test nuclear engine for future Mars missions

Artist concept of the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations spacecraft, which will demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine. (Credits: U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)NASA and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Tuesday a collaboration to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space, the key steps for sending the first crewed missions to Mars. NASA and DARPA will partner on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program.Using a nuclear thermal rocket allows for faster transit time, reducing risk for astronauts, according to NASA.Reducing transit time is a key component for human missions to Mars, as longer trips require more supplies and more robust systems."NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027. With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever - a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

China successfully tests ultra-high-speed maglev trains that 'fly on the ground'

The ultra-high-speed maglev train running in a low vacuum pipeline is successfully tested in Central China's Shanxi Province. (Photo/CASIC) China has successfully carried out a systematic test on a cutting-edge transportation system involving an ult

China launches 14 new satellites

8(Video by Sun Gongming; Cover photo: Wang Xiaohu)TAIYUAN, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- China successfully launched a Long March-2D rocket on Sunday, sending 14 new satellites into space.The rocket blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north Chinas Shanxi Province at 11:14 a.m. (Beijing Time).The satellites, including Qilu-2 and Qilu-3, have entered their planned orbits.Qilu-2 and Qilu-3 are a high-resolution optical satellite and a wide-swath optical satellite, respectively, with payloads of optical-imaging devices for Earth observation.They will provide east Chinas Shandong Province with remote sensing services for land survey, agriculture, forestry, environmental protection, and disaster prevention and reduction. They will also work in coordination with the in-orbit Qilu-1 satellite.This was the 462nd flight mission using the Long March rocket series.The Long March-2D rocket was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.Known for its reliability and adaptability, this rocket can meet multiple launching demands for a single satellite and series satellites in series-or-parallel layouts aboard the rocket. In this mission, it carried 14 satellites from 7 different developers.

China names its lunar space exploration mascot 'To Star'

China announced on Saturday the official name of its lunar space exploration mascot, “Tu Xingxing” in Chinese and “To Star” in English.Photos: Ourspace“To” sounds similar to the Chinese word for rabbit (tu), and the mascot has been generically known as “Space Rabbit” for the past few years.Many of China’s lunar exploration achievements, including the lunar rovers of the Chang’e 3 and 4 missions, are named after the Jade Rabbit, the pet rabbit of the moon goddess Change in Chinese mythology.The Chinese name “Tu Xingxing,” literally “rabbit star” in English, reflects its association with space and expresses the original aspiration and mission of China’s space endeavors.The English name “To Star” signifies the Chinese people’s continuous quest for space, reflecting the combination of the Chinese nation’s dream of exploring the moon for thousands of years and China’s ambitious vision of advancing into deep space in a new era.“To Star” got its official Chinese and English name on the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year beginning on January 22, which is the Year of Rabbit.(Compiled by Zhao Yang)

China makes breakthrough to mimic 'chemical language' of human brain

Reproducing ion channel-based neural functions with artificial fluidic systems has long been a goal for both neuromorphic computing and biomedical applications. Chinese scientists have now made a breakthrough by developing a polyelectrolyte-confined fluidic memristor (PFM), which is expected to promote the reading and interaction of "chemical language" of the human brain, and provide new ideas to develop neurointelligent sensing, brain-like intelligent devices and neurosensory prosthetics. A: An illustrated image of neuron models. B: An illustrated image of polyelectrolyte-confined fluidic memristor (PFM). (Photo: CAS)The study, conducted by scientists from Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Living Biosystems, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was published in the international journal Science on January 12, 2023.In the study, neuromorphic functions were successfully accomplished with a PFM, in which confined polyelectrolyte-ion interactions contributed to hysteretic ion transport, resulting in ion memory effects.Various electric pulse patterns were also emulated by the PFM with ultralow energy consumption. The fluidic property of the PFM enabled the mimicking of chemical-regulated electric pulses, according to the study. More importantly, chemical-electric signal transduction was implemented with a single PFM. With its structural similarity to ion channels, a PFM is versatile and easily interfaces with biological systems, paving a way to building neuromorphic devices with advanced functions by introducing rich chemical designs, according to the study.

COVID treatment molnupiravir to hit Chinese market on Friday: Sinopharm

The COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir is expected to hit the Chinese market on Friday, after passing its first import test on Wednesday, said Liu Yong, president of Sinopharm, the dealer and exclusive agent for the drug in the domestic market.The first batch of molnupiravir, known by the brand name La

Crop seeds, microbial strains tested in China space missions unveiled

The China Manned Space Agency on Friday unveiled a detailed list of crop seeds and microbial strains on board the Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 manned spaceships.The re-entry module of the Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft successfully lands at Dongfeng Landing Site, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, North China, April 16, 2022. (Photo: CFP)More than 1,300 pieces of crop seeds and microbial strains from 112 contributors, including Chinese universities, research institutes, and grass-root breeding stations, were brought into space for breeding experiments.China launched the crewed spaceship Shenzhou-14 on June 5, 2022, to dock with its space station combination, and then the Shenzhou-15 on November 29, 2022 to render the countrys first in-orbit crew rotation.Astronauts on two missions are tasked with performing breeding experiments in the space station.Among the seeds are those of staple foods like rice, wheat, and potato, familiar fruits and vegetables, forage grass, and herbal materials used in traditional Chinese medicine. A variety of probiotics are on the experimental list.Space breeding involves exposing seeds and strains to cosmic radiation and microgravity during a spaceflight mission to mutate their genes.The space breeding tests have been conducted in all the flight missions during the essential technology verification phase of Chinas space station project. Thousands of crop seeds and microorganisms were carried into space and brought back to Earth by Shenzhou-12 and Shenzhou-13 crews.Chinese scientists have completed the 120-day life-cycle growth experiments of rice in its space station, which is for the first time in the world. The experiments were conducted from July 29 to November 25 last year.In future missions, more experimental samples will be sent into space to ensure Chinas food security, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

China launches three new satellites into space

JIUQUAN, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday launched a Long March-2D carrier rocket, placing three satellites in space.The rocket blasted off at 3 p.m. (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China and sent the satellites Yaogan-37, Shiyan-22A, and Shiyan-22B into preset orbit.Photos: Peoples DailyThe three satellites will mainly be used for in-orbit verification of new technologies such as space environment monitoring.It was the 461st flight mission of the Long March series rockets.

World's first '5G cruise ship' to be delivered in China

Worlds first cruise ship covered by a 5G network will be delivered in China later this year, announced by Adora Cruises, a brand of Chinese cruise ships under CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping, on Thursday.An image of Adora Cruises cruise ship, worlds first 5G cruise ship to be delivered in China in 2023. (Photo: CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping)The company has partnered with China Telecom to bring 5G connectivity to its first China-built large cruise ship and also the worlds first 5G cruise ship. The cruise ship will be equipped with advanced wireless communication technology, and a Wi-Fi6 and mobile 5G network will be both available to provide passengers on board with the same network experience as on land."By seizing a first-mover advantage in the cruise industrys 5G market, we hope to set a new standard for digital communication in the marine travel sector," said Chen Ranfeng, managing director of CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping, a joint venture between Chinas largest shipbuilding company China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and the U.S.-based Carnival Corporation.Construction of Adoras first cruise ship has been completed and it is expected to start operation in 2023. With a gross tonnage of 135,500 tonnes, the ship has 2,125 guest rooms and can carry 5,246 passengers."We will focus on network communication, digital high-definition, as well as AR/VR and other content services, in order to further improve the guest experience and jointly promote the high-quality development of the tourism economy," said Gong Bo of China Telecoms Shanghai branch.

Chinese-made battery-powered locomotive launched in Thailand

The first battery-powered locomotive manufactured by China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Dalian Co. Ltd was launched in Bangkok on Wednesday to aid Thailands efforts to improve its railway service while cutting carbon emissions. Photo: CRRCTesting of the locomotive was conducted successfully by the State Railway of Thailand at the Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok. Speaking at the testing ceremony, Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said that Thailand is encouraging the use of renewable energy, which is environmentally friendly, to replace the use of fuel in the countrys transportation system, as part of the efforts to achieve Thailands commitment to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 25 percent by 2030. The minister also spoke highly of the cooperation between Thailand and China on railways. "Thailand and China have been cooperating in various aspects of railway development," he said, "Thailand hopes to develop railway technology cooperation with countries around the world including China, and the success of this test marks significant progress in the battery-powered locomotive project." Nirut Maneephan, governor of the State Railways of Thailand, said the development of a battery-powered locomotive is part of a plan to improve the efficiency of the railway services. The locomotive was jointly developed by CRRC Dalian and Energy Absolute Public Company Limited (EA) of the Southeast Asia country. Amorn Sapthaweekul, EAs deputy chief executive officer, said the battery-powered locomotive made in China, with world-leading technology, meets the needs of Thailand in terms of production costs and the requirements of the Thai government for energy conservation and emission reduction. According to CRRC Dalian, the battery-powered locomotive was developed for passenger and general freight based on Thailands original locomotive platform. The six-axle locomotive can haul 2,500-tonne freight trains at ...

Chinese-led int'l team discovers a new type of carbon

An international team led by Chinese scientists has discovered a new type of carbon, the long-range ordered porous carbon (LOPC), the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei City, east Chinas Anhui Province, said on Thurday.Screenshot of the study from the website of Nature.Carbon is one of the most common elements in nature. The atoms of carbon can bond together in multiple ways, resulting in various forms of carbon, such as graphite, diamond and amorphous carbon, which have been used in various fields.New carbon materials including fullerene, carbon nanotube and graphene have been discovered successively and attracted peoples attention.To prepare such new carbon materials, researchers in the past either used extreme conditions such as high temperature and high pressure or microscopic processing technologies such as ultraviolet light and electron beam irradiation. It resulted in low yield and impure products and prevented people from exploring the properties and applications of such materials.Zhu Yanwu, a researcher at the USTC, who led the team, heated C60 fullerene with lithium nitride to moderate temperatures and formed the polymerized C60 crystal forms and the LOPC.Further study showed that the LOPC is a "metastable structure produced during the transformation from fullerene-type to graphene-type carbons."The LOPC – microscopically porous but completely retains the macroscopic periodicity of crystals – may have potential applications in energy storage, ion screening, load catalysis and other fields in the future, Zhu said."The charge injection technology used in this study is expected to be a new way to regulate crystal structure with atomic-level precision," Zhu added.The study was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.The reviewers said the results are compelling and is of great importance to the fields of crystallography and materials science, according to a report issued in the Chinese newspaper Gua...

Most long COVID symptoms clear up in a year for mild cases: study

Most symptoms from long Covid clear up within a year for people who had mild initial infections, a large Israel study said Thursday, with the findings welcomed as "reassuring".People walk with masks on as COVID-19, flu and RSV cases rise in New York City, New York, U.S., December 12, 2022. (Photo: CFP)At least 17 million people in Europe suffered from long Covid symptoms months after recovering from their initial infection during 2020 and 2021, according to modelling from the World Health Organization.However much about the condition has remained unclear, including how long it lasts. Researchers in Israel analysed the medical records of nearly two million people of all ages who were tested for Covid in the country between March 2020 and October 2021.The results therefore covered the earlier Covid variants including Delta, but not the more recently discovered Omicron variants.The researchers combed through the records, which were provided by Maccabi Healthcare Services, for more than 70 different symptoms that have been linked to long Covid.They excluded patients who had more serious illness, including those who were hospitalised, which previous research has suggested have a higher risk of long Covid.For the mild cases, the study found a significantly increased risk of several conditions, including loss of smell and taste, breathing problems, weakness, palpitations, strep throat, dizziness, and concentration and memory impairment commonly called "brain fog".However most symptoms cleared up within 12 months."There is a small number of people still suffering from shortness of breath or weakness for a year after Covid," said Maytal Bivas-Benita, a researcher at Israels KI Research Institute and study co-author.The study, published in the journal BMJ, also found that vaccinated patients had a lower risk of breathing problems -- the most common symptom -- compared to unvaccinated cases.Children meanwhile had fewer health problems than ad...

NASA's satellite discovers Earth-size world

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. scientists have identified an Earth-size world using data from NASAs Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA announced on Tuesday.Photo: NASAThe planet, called TOI 700 e, is 95 percent Earths size and likely rocky.Astronomers previously discovered three planets in this system, called TOI 700 b, c, and d. Scientists needed an additional year of TESS observations to discover TOI 700 e."This is one of only a few systems with multiple, small, habitable-zone planets that we know of," said Emily Gilbert, a postdoctoral fellow at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, who led the work."That makes the TOI 700 system an exciting prospect for additional follow up. Planet e is about 10 percent smaller than planet d, so the system also shows how additional TESS observations help us find smaller and smaller worlds," Gilbert said."TESS just completed its second year of northern sky observations," said TESS deputy project scientist Allison Youngblood. "Were looking forward to the other exciting discoveries hidden in the missions treasure trove of data."

China's space-based solar camera publishes data on solar atmosphere

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- A China-developed space-borne solar camera studying the solar transition region released its first group of scientific data on Wednesday.(File photo: SUTRI)The 46.5-nanometer extreme-ultraviolet imager or Solar Upper Transition Region Imager (SUTRI), mounted on SATech-01 satellite, was launched into space on July 27, 2022, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China by a Lijian-1 carrier rocket.SUTRI is the first solar imager in the world to work at a wavelength of 40 to 110 nanometers based on a multilayer narrow-band filtering technique, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of China under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.The device is capable of taking full-disk dynamic pictures of solar regions between the solar chromosphere and corona, thus building a key bridge for solar scientists for the lower atmosphere and higher one on the sun.Starting operation on Aug. 30, 2022, SUTRI obtained over 200,000 pictures within four months. The data released in its first group were acquired between September 5 to November 5 last year.Now, the device in orbit is in good working order and is expected to produce more data.

China's homegrown large jetliner receives over 1,000 orders

China Eastern Airlines first C919 passenger jet lands at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai, China, January 10, 2023. (Photo: CFP)The C919, Chinas first homegrown large jetliner, had gained 1,035 orders from 32 customers by the end of 2022, according to the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai.The first C919 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines in December 2022. The company is expected to put the aircraft into commercial operation by the spring of 2023.The report also shows that by the end of 2022, the ARJ21, Chinas homegrown regional jetliner, had received 690 orders from 25 customers.As a pioneer of China-developed commercial airplanes, ARJ21 was put into commercial service by Chengdu Airlines in June 2016. As of the end of 2022, ARJ21 jetliners have safely carried around 6 million passengers, according to the report.

Pfizer expects to start making COVID drug Paxlovid in China in 3 to 4 months

Pfizers Paxlovid tablets – an oral treatment for COVID-19. (Photo: CFP)U.S. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said it could start making its COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid in China through a local partner in as soon as three to four months, Financial Times (FT) reported on Tuesday.Albert Bourla, Pfizers chief executive, said on Monday that the company has an agreement for local manufacturing of Paxlovid in China, and its local contract manufacturer was gearing up to begin production of the drug. Pfizer signed a deal with Chinese drug maker Zhejiang Huahai in August 2022 to produce Paxlovid to meet the demands of Chinese patients."We were calculating that this will take us all the way to the end of the year to be able to have local manufacturing, but with the progress that I see and the effort for the Chinese authorities to clear the production, that will happen way earlier," Bourla was quoted as saying at the JPMorgans healthcare conference in San Francisco."I wouldnt be surprised if it comes in three, four months," he added.In reply to an inquiry from an investor about the cooperation on Tuesday, Zhejiang Huahai said that the company is actively working with Pfizer to accelerate the preparation work for local manufacturing of Paxlovid, so as to ensure sufficient supply of medicine in the Chinese market.Demand surge in ChinaPaxlovid, which is usually prescribed to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 cases with a high risk of developing severe disease, was approved for use in China in February 2022. So far, the drugs sold to China have been shipped from Pfizers manufacturing sites outside the country.In 2022, the company shipped only thousands of courses of the treatment to China, Bourla said. But in the past couple of weeks, that number increased to millions, according to him.There has been a surge of infections across the country since China relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions in late December.Paxlovid not included in Chinas...

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