Archive for December, 2011

Galileo's first navigation signal transmitted back to Earth

Posted December 21, 2011 By David Kolle

Europe’s Galileo system has passed its latest milestone, transmitting its very first test navigation signal back to Earth.

The first two Galileo satellites, launched on 21 October, are in the midst of their In-Orbit Test campaign. A detailed check-up is being carried out by ESA’s Redu ground station in Belgium to ensure their payloads are performing as specified, with no degradation from the launch.

The different Galileo signals are being activated and tested one by one. Soon after the payload power amplifiers were switched on and ‘outgassed’– warmed up to release vapours that might otherwise interfere with operations – the first test signal was transmitted in the early morning of Saturday 10 December by the first Galileo satellite. This signal was then captured at Redu.

The test signal was transmitted in the ‘E1’ band, which will be used for Galileo’s Open Service once the system begins initial operations in 2014. The Open Service will be freely available to users all over the world. This signal is particularly important because it shares the ‘L1’ band of the US GPS navigation satellites.

Nestled amid the Ardennes forest, Redu was selected for the campaign because of its long heritage performing similar assignments for European telecommunications satellites.

For Galileo, the Redu centre is equipped with a 20 m-diameter L-band antenna – needed to assess the quality of the navigation signals at the high accuracy and cleanliness needed with the satellites being 23 222 km up in orbit – and with a C-band transmit antenna to test the onboard mission receiver and uplink navigation messages to the satellite. A UHF antenna is also available for transmitting search and rescue test signals to the satellites.

Redu is the geographical focus of a Europe-wide effort. Command and control of the satellites is being undertaken from a dedicated Galileo Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich in Germany, with control of the payloads and their navigation signals being performed from the second centre in Fucino, central Italy.

Until the end of this year, the test campaign is concentrating on the first satellite. The focus will move to the second Galileo satellite in January, with the aim of completing the In-Orbit Test in the first quarter of 2012.

Galileo is an initiative of the European Commission and ESA to provide Europe with an independent global satellite navigation system.

The Galileo satnav system combines the best atomic clock ever flown for navigation – accurate to one second in three million years – with a powerful transmitter to broadcast precise navigation data worldwide.

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Bill Gates speaks about Microsoft and Steve Jobs

Posted December 20, 2011 By David Kolle

Bill Gates
Microsoft founder and IT visionary Bill Gates has ruled out ever returning to the helm of Microsoft and responded to criticism aimed at him by his former rival Steve Jobs.

Mr Gates contradicted rumours he was considering a comeback and said he would instead concentrate full-time on philanthropic work with his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it’s reported.

Steve Jobs

“I’m part-time involved with Microsoft, including even being in touch this week to give some of my advice but that’s not going to change – the foundation requires all of my energy and we feel we’re having a great impact,” Mr Gates said.

“…and that will be what I do the rest of my life.” “Microsoft machines outsold his machines by a lot”

Mr Gates responded to the often harsh criticism leveled at him by Steve Jobs which ranged from the professional “(Gates’ model) produced crappy products”, to the personal “(Gates would) be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger”.

Mr Gates said Jobs was wonderful competition but that “Microsoft machines outsold his machines by a lot he was always kind of tough on Microsoft, but that’s fine, he was a brilliant person”.

He was charitable about Jobs’ comments to his interviewer, Walter Isaacson, which slammed the Microsoft founder as “basically unimaginative”.

“(He) has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” Jobs told Isaacson. “He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

Mr Gates responded that: “our work at Microsoft was super successful for all good reasons but Steve made huge contributions and he actually in his last few years was a lot kinder than that but over the years he did say some tough things.”

The rivalry has been one of IT’s most enduring feud with Jobs previously accusing Gates of stealing the idea of a mouse-operated graphical user interface after seeing it on the original Macintosh.

“They just ripped us off completely, because Gates has no shame,” Jobs said.

Gates memorably responded to the accusation that he saw it differently: “We both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found that you had already stolen it.”

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Stonehenge mystery closer to being solved

Posted December 20, 2011 By David Kolle

Researchers claim to have found the source of the famous Stonehenge Bluestones, paving the way for further insight into how they were transported.


Geologists believe the stones came from a rocky outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin in north Pembrokeshire, UK, it’s reported.

Robert Ixer from the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales say the finding could help explain how and why the stones were taken to Stonehenge. This is because the site is small enough to be excavated to try and uncover evidence of human activity.

Scientists who study the origin of the Bluestones either believe they were transported by humans or created by glaciers.

It is believed that the large stones were added hundreds of years later.

Dr Bevins describes his discovery as like “looking for a needle in a haystack”, but says there has been a match on a range of features.

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Mind powered PCs and phones may the way of our future

Posted December 20, 2011 By David Kolle

Thought control
believe mind control phones and computers may be a case of sooner, rather than later.

IBM has just unveiled its top five predictions for new technologies to emerge or advance in the next five years, and early elements of thought-powered computer and smartphone control have made the list.

Hoverboards remain suspiciously absent, but the ability to dial someone just by thinking of them has been flagged as a way to take current technologies like Siri a step further.

IBM scientists are also working on ways to hook people’s brains to their computers, allowing for navigation by thought.

In data released in the US, predictions have also warned of the end of junk mail, replaced with spam advertising so sophisticated and tailored you won’t think it’s junk anymore.

Turning peddle power and the kinetic energy of water running through your pipes into electricity is also on the cards; as is the potential downfall of passwords in with the advent of voice and facial recognition.

Advances in smartphone technology have also been predicted to end the digital supremacy of high-income earners, with powerful, hand-held computers expected to be in the hands of 80 per cent of the world’s population within five years.

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