Watch The Launch: NASA’s TESS Blasts Off From Cape

 

TESS—NASA’s newest planet-hunter—is now in space.

Sitting atop a Falcon 9 rocket, the robotic probe launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:51 PM ET.

So far, there’s not a hitch in sight.

Says Sara Seager, MIT astrophysicist and the mission’s deputy director of science: “This is a wonderful celebration.”

And only the beginning.

TESS—$337 million and about the size of a stacked washer-dryer—will see “almost the entire sky,” says NASA.

And discover more worlds than ever before.

Credit: MIT

Artist impression of NASA’s TESS spacecraft.

During the two-year mission, NASA expects TESS to find perhaps 20,000 exoplanets.

Or more. The Kepler Space Telescope looked at less than one percent of the sky—and detected nearly 5,400 planets (with about 2,700 now confirmed).

But most Kepler planets “are too distant and too dim to do any follow-up observations,” says Jeff Volosin of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Instead, TESS will point its four cameras at 200,000 of the brightest, closest stars—30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler’s targets, and “only dozens to hundreds of light-years away,” says Volosin.

In space, that’s close—even though a single light-year equals almost six trillion miles.

Among the thousands of discoveries, NASA hopes to find hundreds of worlds reasonably near the size of Earth.

“Bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune,” says Seager. “These planets are still a big mystery. Are they giant rocky planets? Or water worlds?”

Credit: ESO / M.Kornmesser

Artist impression of a super-Earth.

Don’t expect discoveries within days. Once in space, TESS scientists have to check out the probe. That takes two months.

Says Seager: “You have to wake up one part at a time to make sure everything works, and works together.” Detection announcements will follow, probably in a few more months.

To find a new world, TESS will look for “transits”—eclipse-like events, when a planet passes between its star and the spacecraft.

As that happens, the planet blocks a bit of the star’s light; that dip in the light, minuscule but measurable, tells scientists that something might be there.

But TESS can’t tell if the planets are life-friendly. Discerning those details will be left for future space probes.

That includes NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2020—and ARIEL, a new mission from the European Space Agency, slated for a 2028 liftoff.

TESS, says Giovanna Tinetti, ARIEL’s principal investigator, “will clearly provide most of our exciting targets.”

Webb and ARIEL will analyze the atmospheres of TESS planets, searching for biosignatures—gases that indicate the possibility of life, like oxygen.

“Within the next decade,” says Volosin, “we hope we can identify the potential for life to exist outside our solar system.”

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Chris Meaney

Artist impression. TESS in space.

But as NASA looks ahead, launch day is a time to look back.

Just two decades ago, many astronomers thought exoplanets were nearly nonexistent. Our solar system, with eight major worlds, was believed a quirk.

“Exoplanets were just considered silly,” says Seager. “Twenty years ago, it was insane to search for exoplanets.

“But the line between what’s considered mainstream and what’s considered crazy is constantly shifting.”

And now, TESS has launched. “And now,” says Seager, “it’s so mainstream.”

[“Source-forbes”]

 

Residential Solar-Plus-Storage Economic Analysis 2018: Insights From AZ, CA, HI and MA

Image result for Residential Solar-Plus-Storage Economic Analysis 2018: Insights From AZ, CA, HI and MA

The economics of solar-plus-storage are changing. This report explores several key cases of utilities that are introducing new rate structures which radically alter the case for solar-plus-storage, though they do not necessarily make this configuration a better choice than solar alone. The results of GTM Research’s analysis reveal an interesting picture for a market in transition, where in some cases solar-plus-storage is nearing competitiveness with solar-only, while in others, solar-plus-storage remains far from economical.

The report examines the key markets of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, which are in the process of rate reform and thus merit study to understand the economic case for solar-plus-storage. It also presents a discussion and economic results for several utilities in these markets.

[“Source-greentechmedia”]

Insights from our 2017 holiday retail survey

By most accounts, the holiday shopping season was an e-commerce success, with final tallies beating analyst estimates. Earlier this month, we asked e-commerce teams about their holiday marketing strategies — planning, budgeting and expectations — and what they did differently this year from last year.

Nearly 100 respondents shared their feedback. The majority (57 percent) of respondents worked in-house, while 43 percent were at agencies. The client/company size represented skewed to the smaller end, with 60 percent of respondents working with companies with annual revenues below $25 million. Nearly 13 percent represented companies with annual revenues over $500 million.

There were several interesting findings from the survey. Here are some of the highlights from the final results.

Holiday budgets rose across most platforms

Overall, search and social budgets increased this holiday season over the previous year, with 70 percent of respondents saying they increased budgets on both channels. Display retargeting budgets for more than half of respondents (56 percent) also increased year over year. Sixty-five percent used dynamic retargeting ads this holiday season.

More than three-quarters of respondents said Google budgets rose year over year, with 25 percent saying Google budgets rose by more than 50 percent. Nearly 40 percent increased Bing budgets this holiday season, and 66 percent boosted Facebook ad budgets year over year.

Source: Search Engine Land 2017 Holiday Retail Survey

Pinterest advertising remains hard to scale, and that’s reflected here. Just 8 percent of respondents increased their Pinterest ad budgets over last year’s this season, and half aren’t using the platform at all.

Amazon has been rapidly increasing its ad offerings for sellers on the platform. Among respondents, 36.5 percent are selling on Amazon, and of those, 34 percent increased their ad budgets this holiday season.

Holiday planning is primarily a fall sport, but many plan year-round

When it comes to planning holiday marketing strategies, September was the most popular month to get cracking, with nearly 18 percent of respondents starting then. Just over 12 percent of respondents said they plan year-round. Just as many said they don’t have time to plan (this gives me anxiety) as those who said they start planning in August.

Source: Search Engine Land 2017 Holiday Retail Survey

For 56 percent of respondents, planning started at the same time it did the year before, while 20 percent started planning earlier.

These and many more findings from the survey — challenges, tactical changes and consumer behavior changes, to name a few — were the basis of a lively discussion packed with jewels of insights for retailers in a webinar with Brad Geddes of Adalysis, Elizabeth Marsten of CommerceHub and Aaron Levy of Elite SEM. You can find the webinar, Holiday Retail Search Strategies 2017: What worked, what didn’t, on demand (registration required).


Female Hentai Gamers Doubled In 2017 And More Insights From Nutaku’s Third Birthday

A screenshot from Flower Knight Girl, a pick from Nutaku’s considerable NSFW games catalog.

Nutaku, a portal for playing adult-oriented games with sexy animated characters, also called hentai games, just turned three. To celebrate the milestone, the Canadian company released some insights into its 25 million North American customers.

See also: More Than Just Skin: How Hentai Games Are Seducing New Audiences

Right now, Nutaku (Careful! This link may not be safe for work) is the most trafficked North American portal for 18+ games, and the company has had a lot of data to parse. The full infographic is below, but here are some of the most interesting tidbits:

Female hentai gamers doubled in 2017

Female gamers made up only 15% of Nutaku’s audience in 2017, but that’s up from 8% in 2016. This may have something to do with Nutaku’s expanded offerings that allow gamers both to play as girls and to seduce guys as well as girls. In Sweet Volley High, for example, the player avatar is a girl who chooses to romance different female and male cuties at her school.

A quarter of gamers have played porn games at work

I am not sure how Nutaku figured this one out, but 27% of its audience has apparently logged on at the office. I sure hope they are at least gaming on a discreet phone screen. After all, as another insight shows, Nutaku’s mobile audience now makes up 55% of traffic.

See also: Hentai Game Portal Nutaku Invests Big In Latin America

Almost half of hentai gamers play every day

In my June look into the hentai gaming community, I found out that it’s not just an excuse—a lot of hentai gamers say they are playing partially because they like the gameplay. There are puzzle games similar to Candy Crush, card games, and strategy games to pick from.

Check out all the statistics in the infographic below. And if you’re a Nutaku fan, feel free to take part in their birthday giveaway, too. Maybe your gaming habits will be included in the infographic next year!

Nutaku

An infographic for Nutaku’s third birthday.

 

I cover fandom and journalism at Otaku Journalist. I tweet @laureninspace. I write books; you can read them here.

[“Source-forbes”]