With the launch of TESS, NASA will boost its search for exoplanets

illustration of TESS telescpope

NASA is stepping up its search for planets outside our solar system. Its next exoplanet hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is due to launch from Cape Canaveral on the evening of April 16.

Following the Kepler space telescope’s discovery of more than 5,000 possible exoplanets since 2009, TESS will continue the galactic census — flagging more planetary candidates for further study.

Astronomers expect TESS to find about 20,000 planets in its first two years in operation, focusing on nearby, bright stars that will be easy for other telescopes to investigate later. About 500 of those expected exoplanets would be less than twice the size of Earth — and therefore may be good places to look for life.

NASA’s next exoplanet hunting telescope, TESS

SMALL BUT MIGHTY NASA’s next exoplanet hunting telescope, TESS, is only 1.5 meters tall (shown here with engineers). Its size is partly due to the fact that it was designed to launch on NASA’s small Taurus rocket, but will instead launch on a larger SpaceX Falcon 9 on April 16.

ORBITAL ATK

The TESS mission is “a whole new opening for exoplanet studies,” MIT astronomer Sara Seager, TESS’ deputy science director, said during a news conference describing the upcoming launch.

TESS will be the first NASA science mission launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Once in orbit, the spacecraft will trace an unusual, elliptical path between Earth and the moon that will enable it to observe at least 85 percent of the sky — 350 times as much sky as Kepler saw.

Most of the planets found by Kepler orbit stars 1,000 light-years away or farther. TESS will focus on 200,000 stars that are a few hundred light-years away at most, and shine between 30 to 100 times brighter on average than Kepler’s.

The brighter the star, the easier it is to determine its planet’s characteristics, such as its mass and whether it has an atmosphere, Seager says. “Photons are our currency — the more, the better,” she says.

That follow-up will help TESS avoid some of Kepler’s pitfalls. Because Kepler’s stars were so far and so dim, some of its planet candidates were confirmed as actual planets only by statistics rather than by other telescopes. And not all those confirmations may stick. A recent paper posted at arXiv.org showed that Kepler 452b, an Earth-sized planet that orbits a sunlike star at the same distance Earth orbits the sun, may be a mirage (SN: 8/22/15, p. 16). Many of TESS’ planets won’t face the same uncertainty.

the TESS sattelite

COASTING IN SPACE The TESS satellite’s unusual 13.7-day orbit uses the moon’s gravity to stabilize it, so it needs little fuel. During the part of the orbit colored blue, TESS will observe the sky. During the part marked in orange, it will transmit data back to Earth. The gray ring marks the moon’s orbit.

NASA

But the way TESS will search for exoplanets is the same as Kepler: The satellite will watch stars for signs of dimming, which can indicate that a planet is transiting, or crossing in front of, the star. Measuring how much starlight is blocked can tell astronomers the size of the planet.

Once TESS finds a planet, astronomers will need more information to understand its qualities, such as whether it’s rocky or gassy (SN Online: 6/19/17). For that, other telescopes will follow up. Ground-based telescopes will measure the gravitational tug of a planet on its host star to learn the planet’s density, which is a clue to its composition. Astronomers plan to measure masses for at least 50 TESS planets that are smaller than Neptune in the hopes that many of them will have rocky, and therefore potentially habitable, surfaces.

Undiscovered country

Before TESS, most known planets were more than 1,000 light-years away, with a few closer than 30 light-years (a parsec is 3.26 light-years). TESS (orange circles) will fill in the gap. The size of the circles represents how easy the planets are to find.

graph showing where TESS will be able to detect planets
ZACH BERTA-THOMPSON

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, now scheduled to launch in 2020, will then check some of those planets for signs of life (SN: 4/30/16, p. 32).

“This is one of the major questions that TESS is intended to answer: Where will we be pointing Webb?” said the mission’s principal investigator, MIT astronomer George Ricker, at the press conference. Webb will peer at the starlight filtering through planetary atmospheres to try to detect molecules that could be produced by something living on the surface.

It will take a few months for TESS to swing into its regular orbit before it begins collecting data. At that point, it will be able to use the moon’s gravity to stabilize itself for decades in orbit without using extra fuel. The mission is set to last two years, but could continue taking data almost indefinitely.

“TESS is not going to be limited by any expendable or other aspects,” Ricker said. “It will be basically limited by how long NASA has the patience to fund the mission.”

[“Source-sciencenews”]

Xiaomi Mi TV 4S With 55-inch 4K HDR Display, AI Voice Remote Launched

Xiaomi Mi TV 4S With 55-inch 4K HDR Display, AI Voice Remote Launched

Mi TV 4S 55-inch is the latest Xiaomi smart TV, and comes with features similar to the 40-inch Mi TV 4A

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Xiaomi Mi TV 4S launched in China priced at CNY 2,999
  • The device supports both DTS and Dolby Audio
  • It is powered by Amlogic Cortex-A53 processor with 2GB of RAM

Xiaomi Mi TV 4S is the company’s newest Mi TV series of smart TVs in its home market. Xiaomi has launched the 55-inch Mi TV 4S in China, and the 4K TV comes with an HDR display, PatchWall, Dolby audio, and other features. Earlier this month, the manufacturer had announced another 40-inch Mi TV 4A in the country, but the new TV comes with additional features and a larger screen. The 55-inch Mi TV 4S is priced at CNY 2,999 (roughly Rs. 31,100) in China. Pre-orders for this TV are already open on the company’s website, but the device will go on sale on April 3. The is no clarity on whether Xiaomi will launch this TV in other markets, including India.

When it comes to specifications, the MI TV 4S sports a 55-inch (3840×2160 pixels) 4K display. It has direct type backlight, 178-degree viewing angle, refresh rate of 60Hz, and 8ms dynamic response. The smart TV is powered by a 64-bit quad-core Amlogic Cortex-A53 processor with clock speed of up to 1.5GHz, coupled with 2GB of RAM. It also comes with 750MHz Mali 450 GPU and has an inbuilt storage of 8GB. Connectivity options in the new TV include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 + LE, USB port, HDMI port, AV port, analogue signal DTMB, and Ethernet. It has two 8W speakers with Dolby and DTS enhancements.

Other features in the new Mi TV 4S 55-inch TV includes voice control support that lets buyers use the remote with inbuilt mic to give commands such as “shut down after 20 minutes,” or “fast forward to 54 minutes and 21 seconds” to control certain functions without pressing any buttons. It is based on the Android-Based Patchwall UI that the company is known to use in its other TVs.

Additionally, there are two 8W stereo speakers included on the 55-inch Xiaomi Mi TV 4S and the device supports both DTS and Dolby Audio. In terms of dimensions, the TV measures 123.6×77.6×71.6cm and weighs 13.4 kg without the base weight.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

46% of marketers aren’t sharing regular customer insights with sales

Almost half (46%) of marketers only share customer insights, data and feedback with sales teams at most once a month, according to a new study.

New research from experience management company Qualtrics, conducted with 260 in-house marketing professionals, examines the extent to which marketers are working in a silo across many businesses. While integration with sales is lacking, the disconnect with other departments and teams is even more pronounced.

While 54% of marketers regularly share customer insights and feedback with sales, only 50% do so with customer service teams, 29% with the wider workforce, and 27% with the board or C-level executives.

While some marketers may question the need to keep the wider business in touch with customer insights, according to Qualtrics it is only by sharing data that businesses can develop truly effective customer experiences. Leonie Brown, Customer Experience Consultant for Qualtrics EMEA, explains: “Great customer experiences cannot exist in a vacuum. Brands must guarantee that every aspect of the customer journey is delivering a consistent, seamless and high quality experience. To achieve this, everyone involved – from sales staff to delivery drivers to the CEO – must understand how the customer thinks, behaves and what they are looking for.

“Access to data goes a long way to improve each interaction along the customer journey, but information alone isn’t enough. Today the vast amount of data that brands are using look only to the past for insights, reflecting previous shopping habits, purchases and behaviours. By bringing together insights from every customer touchpoint we can unlock “Experience Data” — or X-data — which reveals why consumers behave in the way they do and predicts their next move. That is the real secret to a successful customer experience.”

To find out more about the role of X data in customer experience management, download Qualtrics’ full report here.

Methodology

Qualtrics commissioned a survey with a panel of 260 marketing professionals in July 2017. All respondents worked in-house (rather than agency-side) in UK-based organisations employing at least 50 people and had a minimum of two years’ experience in a marketing role. A second survey of 250 consumers was conducted in August 2017 using the Qualtrics platform.

[“Source-netimperative”]

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber is seeking a second chance in Barcelona three years after it was forced to shut down in the face of taxi driver protests – by introducing a fully licenced ride-hailing service that meets local transportation laws.

Its new UberX service will operate with hundreds of professional, licenced drivers in contrast to the UberPopservice it ran until late 2014 using non-professional drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, Uber said on Tuesday.

Uber is looking to make a clean break with business practices that resulted in a litany of regulatory battles, driver and consumer scandals and court cases.

“We made mistakes along the way,” Uber General Manager for Southwest Europe Carles Lloret said in a company blog post.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate. Barcelona is no exception.”

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in January he was focused on “responsible growth” as he seeks to put an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited upon joining the pioneer of ride-hailing services last year.

Two years ago, Uber re-introduced UberX using professional drivers in Madrid. In December 2014, a judge had ordered all Uber services to be shut down in Spain’s capital city.

Decrying Uber’s return as unfair competition to their livelihoods, taxi drivers have mounted a series of 24-hour strikes in Madrid, Barcelona and other Spanish cities over the past year.

“We are fully committed to working with the entire sector – including taxis – to improve mobility in Barcelona together,” said Lloret.

San Francisco-based Uber pre-emptively closed its services in Barcelona in December 2014 as local officials geared up to pass legislation against the UberPop service, which city authorities legally barred the following year.

Protests by taxi associations over the past year against Uber have also targeted Madrid-based Cabify, a rival founded in 2012 that operates in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Uber operates a range of ride-hailing services in more than 600 cities around the world.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]