Sunday, November 13, 2016

Southwest Airlines begins Cuba service from Florida

Southwest Airlines inaugurated service between South Florida and Cuba on Sunday with the scheduled 11:00 a.m. EST departure of Flight 3914 to Varadero from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Over 140 passengers and a crew of five Southwest employees donned Cuban-style hats as the aircraft departed to an orchestra playing Caribbean music.

Steve Goldberg, Southwest Airlines' vice president of Ground Operations, announced the airline intends to begin daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba, on Dec. 15, subject to requisite approvals of the Cuban government. "By the end of this year, we'll offer six daily round trips between two Florida gateways and three Cuban cities as the work continues to open a new, five-gate international concourse in Fort Lauderdale next summer,” Goldberg said.

On Oct.13, Southwest announced its flight schedule of new nonstop service between Florida and both Varadero and Havana. Cuba is the ninth country served by Southwest. Service between Havana and both Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Tampa International Airport begins Dec. 12, subject to requisite approvals of the Cuban government.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Video: Unmanned flight system under development for Huey helicopter

Aurora Flight Sciences continues to break ground on the development of advanced autonomous capabilities for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems. Aurora's work on the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program will integrate the company's Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS) on a UH-1H helicopter. The primary goal of the AACUS program is to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, VTOL systems.

At the AACUS flight testing event held Thursday in Northern Virginia, the program demonstrated on a manned Bell 206 the capabilities required for autonomous takeoff, transit and landing.

Aurora's TALOS system has been demonstrated previously on a Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird flown autonomously, and three different human-piloted Bell 206 aircraft.

"You're not buying a new fleet of helicopters, you're buying a capability set for your current fleet," said John Wissler, vice president of Aurora's R&D Center in Cambridge, Mass. "TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft -TALOS is transferable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind.”

Commercial applications for the TALOS technology are also being explored by Aurora. "Think of the civilian first responder pilot attempting to land in a remote, storm-ravaged area at night - TALOS senses and alerts to power lines and landing zone obstacles well before the pilot and informs the pilot's maneuvers," said Wissler.

The final phase of the AACUS program will transition the TALOS system onto an autonomous UH-1H platform currently under development at Aurora, with culminating demonstrations occurring in 2017-2018. Aurora's TALOS system is being developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research.

Unmanned drone use could increase cyberattacks

AT&T and NASA are researching the development of an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management solution that would support the safe and highly secure operation of drones in the national airspace.

AT&T has been working with NASA and other companies to make UAS flight path monitoring, flight planning, navigation, surveillance and tracking safer. “We have focused on the role of wireless networking and advanced technologies,” the company said in a press release.

AT&T brings expertise in networking, Internet of Things, cloud, identity management and cybersecurity to the effort.

Drones are already used in agriculture, public safety, construction, utilities, real estate and TV. AT&T uses drones to inspect cell towers and measure network performance at venues and locations across the country.

A key element AT&T and NASA are researching is the potential impact of cybersecurity threats. The vast availability of drones - and their many current and potential uses -- could increase their risk of cyberattacks. AT&T advocates cybersecurity protections designed into the system from the outset.

Chris Penrose, president of AT&T's Internet of Things Solutions, was selected as a member of the FAA's Drone Advisory Committee earlier this year. The group identifies and advises actions to support the safe introduction of UAS into our national airspace.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

First non-stop flight from Canada to Belize

With the departure of flight 2604 from Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturday, WestJet officially becomes the only Canadian carrier directly connecting Canadians to the beautiful country of Belize.

“We have absolutely changed the game with our twice-weekly service from Toronto," said Bob Cummings, WestJet executive vice-president, Commercial.

Belize is WestJet's 21st destination in the Caribbean and third destination in Central America.  During peak winter months the airline has a total of more than 90 flights per week from Toronto to the Caribbean and Central America.

Flights will be operated on WestJet's Boeing 737 aircraft.

Friday, October 21, 2016

P-8A aircraft training center opens at Whidbey Island

Boeing has installed a training center for the new P-8A Poseidon aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., as the base begins preparations for the arrival of P-8s beginning in 2017.

“About 70 percent of the training we do for our P-8 crews happens in this building,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad. “That is going to make that wonderful aircraft last longer and longer. As much as 45 years.”

The complete training system uses simulators and classroom-based materials to train pilots and mission crews to operate the aircraft, its sensors, communications and weapons systems without relying on live flights.

Boeing is on contract to modify and provide updates to the training devices over the next three years.

Boeing also provides P-8A aircrew training devices, electronic classrooms and courseware for the Navy at its Integrated Training Center (ITC) at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. Aircrews began training in the ITC in early 2012.

New hunting ground for planets outside our solar system

Eight people with no formal training in astrophysics helped discover what could be a fruitful new place to search for planets outside our solar system - a large disk of gas and dust encircling a star known as a circumstellar disk.

A paper, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and coauthored by eight citizen scientists involved in the discovery, describes a newly identified red dwarf star, AWI0005x3s, and its warm circumstellar disk, the kind associated with young planetary systems. Most of the exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, that have been imaged to date dwell in disks similar to the one around AWI0005x3s.

The disk and its star are located in what is dubbed the Carina association - a large, loose grouping of similar stars in the Carina Nebula approximately 212 light years from our sun. Its relative proximity to Earth will make it easier to conduct follow-on studies.

Since the launch of NASA's Disk Detective website in January 2014, approximately 30,000 citizen scientists have performed roughly two million classifications of stellar objects, including those that led to this discovery. Through Disk Detective, citizen scientists study data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission (WISE), the agency's Two-Micron All Sky Survey project, and other stellar surveys.

"Without the help of the citizen scientists examining these objects and finding the good ones, we might never have spotted this object," said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Fight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who leads Disk Detective. "The WISE mission alone found 747 million objects, of which we expect a few thousand to be circumstellar disks."

The eight citizen scientist co-authors, members of an advanced user group, volunteered to help by researching disk candidates. Their data led to the discovery of this new disk.

Disk Detective is a collaboration between NASA, Zooniverse, the University of Oklahoma, University of Córdoba in Argentina, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Space Telescope Science Institute, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Carnegie Institution of Washington, University of Hawaii and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

First Ariane 5 mission to loft Galileo navigation satellites

The first Ariane 5 mission to loft four global positioning satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation system has begun its build-up at a spaceport in French Guiana with a planned launch in November.

The mission will use an Arianespace Ariane 5 ES launcher designated as Flight VA233.

Arianespace has orbited 14 Galileo spacecraft, all lofted in pairs on seven previous missions utilizing the company's medium-lift Soyuz launcher - with the most recent conducted last May.

Europe's Galileo navigation system provides highly accurate global positioning services under civilian control. The European Commission funds and manages its Full Operational Capability phase, during which the network's complete operational and ground infrastructure will be deployed; with the European Space Agency designated as the system's design and procurement agent.

The Ariane 5 launcher will deploy the four Galileo satellites at a targeted release altitude of 23,222 kilometers.

The four spacecraft were built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany, with their navigation payloads provided by Surrey Satellite Technology in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kuwait Air Force orders Lockheed Martin sniper pod for Eurofighter Typhoon

Lockheed Martin has received a direct commercial sale contract for the integration of Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP) onto the Eurofighter Typhoon swing-role fighter.

The contract, signed with Eurofighter partner company Leonardo Aircraft, includes 18 pods, integration and logistics support for the Kuwait Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter Typhoon is the ninth aircraft platform to be equipped with Sniper ATP, joining variants of the F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52, F-2 and Harrier.

"The Kuwait Air Force will see significant targeting benefits, including high-resolution imagery, advanced targeting modes, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” said Ken Fuhr, fixed-wing program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Pod deliveries will begin in 2017 to support integration efforts.

Sniper ATP detects, identifies, automatically tracks and laser-designates small tactical targets at long ranges. It also supports employment of all laser- and GPS-guided weapons against multiple fixed and moving targets.

Air Canada adds six new destinations to its international network

Air Canada announced the addition of six new destinations to its international network Wednesday, including year-round Boeing 787-9 service between Toronto and Mumbai and between Vancouver and Taipei. The new services will launch for summer 2017, with the Montreal-Algiers and the Vancouver-Taipei routes subject to government approvals.

"Air Canada is pleased to offer customers these new non-stop routes," said Benjamin Smith, president, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada.

"Toronto-Mumbai is our third route between Canada and India starting with the launch of Toronto-Delhi service last fall, and Nagoya will be our fourth airport in Japan. With these new services, we will now operate 21 routes between Canada and Asia, including the Middle East. Berlin and Marseille will bring the number of European routes we serve to 44 next summer, including four cities in France. Algiers will be our second destination in Africa, which makes Air Canada one of only a small number of global carriers flying to all six inhabited continents," said Smith.

Air Canada will be the only carrier to offer non-stop service between Canada and Mumbai and the only Canadian carrier to operate non-stop service to Taipei. These routes will operate year-round aboard Air Canada's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The aircraft feature 30 International Business Class suites, 21 Premium Economy and 247 Economy Class seats.

The new seasonal routes to Berlin and Nagoya will be the only non-stop services between these cities and Canada. The service to Algiers will be the only non-stop flight by a Canadian carrier between Montreal and the North African city and the Marseille service will be the only non-stop flight operated by a network carrier between Marseille and North America. All will be operated with an Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Xiamen Airlines launches first direct international service between Shenzhen and US

Xiamen Airlines launched its Xiamen-Shenzhen-Seattle service on Monday, the first direct international service between Shenzhen and the U.S.

The service will be handled by a Xiamen Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with three flights per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The flight numbers are MF845 and MF846.

Xiamen Airlines chairman and general manager Che Shanglun said, "The launch of the Xiamen-Shenzhen-Seattle service is an important reflection of the results of the meeting between Chinese and American leaders in 2015. On the heels of these events, a Fuzhou-New York and a Xiamen-LA service will also be initiated, making air travel, and, by consequence, exchanges between the two countries much easier."

The Xiamen-Shenzhen-Seattle service is the sixth long haul and the first American route that Xiamen Airlines has launched. The existing services including Xiamen-Amsterdam, Fuzhou-Sydney, Xiamen-Sydney, Xiamen-Melbourne and Xiamen-Vancouver. The newly opened Seattle service is Xiamen Airlines' first long haul route with a stop at a city outside of the Fujian province.

To complete the build out of a network that extends beyond Seattle, Xiamen Airlines has signed a partnership agreement with Alaska Airlines that enables passengers traveling to Seattle via Xiamen Airlines, to fly onward to 61 major and secondary destinations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico by connecting to an Alaska Airlines flight in Seattle.

Xiamen Airlines operates the largest all-Boeing aircraft fleet in China. Seattle, where Boeing is located, is where each member of the 165-strong fleet of aircraft was manufactured.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Playboy Magazine October issue features Sky Ferreira

Playboy unveiled its October 2016 edition - "The Renegades Issue," on Thursday starring actress and musician, Sky Ferreira, who graces two different front cover designs that hit newsstands on Tuesday. A special interactive teaser of the magazine is available now on

Sky Ferreira leads a group of eight unconventional men and women who aren't afraid to break the rules in Playboy's first-ever "Renegades" issue. Among the cultural trendsetters are retired pro skateboarder Jason Dill on surviving near-death; Stoya, a ballerina turned porn star; Against Me! founder Laura Jane Grace who reveals the challenges of being transgender in punk rock; comedian and Fresh Off the Boat writer Ali Wong on motherhood; Paul Beatty, one of America's most daring writers who's known to push societal boundaries; Noor Tagouri, a 22-year-old Hijabi Muslim activist and journalist determined to break down stereotypes; and Sean Murray, founder of Hello Games and its ambitious video game No Man's Sky, that delivers on the promise of endless exploration and adventure.

The October 2016 issue also features an in-depth, 8-page conversation with the self-proclaimed "comedic rock star," Kevin Hart. Taking a break from world domination, Hart sat down with Playboy and opened up about his relationship with his father and shared his thoughts on controversial figures such as Donald Trump and Bill Cosby. Hart also discusses his Kevmoji app, currently the #1 downloaded app on iTunes, along with his record-breaking global comedy tour, upcoming tech deals, movies, endorsements and more.

Additional highlights of Playboy's October 2016 issue include:

    --  20Q with Rachel Bloom: the woman behind CW's hit sitcom and two-time
        2016 Emmy Awards winner, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, doesn't hold back as she
        discusses comedy, sex and politics.
    --  No Filter with Sharna Burgess: in its 23(rd) season, this Dancing with
        the Stars vet returns with all-new partner, racecar driver James
    --  Technology will destroy democracy...Alex Halderman: the professor behind
        hacking voting machines warns that our democracy is threatened by evil
    --  Miss October, Allie Silva: featured in a 10-page pictorial shot by
        notable photographer Henrik Purienne, 27-year-old Miss October uncovers
        her Norwegian and African American upbringing.
    --  Francofile: James Franco interviews Maggie Gyllenhaal (co-stars in HBO's
        upcoming series, The Deuce) on the science of playing a prostitute,
        navigating a sex scene, and the brilliance of Heath Ledger.
    --  Music: Long Beach native Vince Staples on breaking every rule in hip hop
        and how he fell into rapping by accident.
    --  Playboy Advisor: monthly advice columnist Bridget Phetasy deftly answers
        the age old question, "Is it ever okay to send a dick pic?"
    --  Additional content includes Fiction from Tony Tulathimutte's After the
        Dyerses and original art from Chloe Kovska.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Video: Asteroid-sampling spacecraft ready for launch

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be boosted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. The U.S.'s first mission to sample an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Learn how this pioneering spacecraft and the Atlas V were readied for flight.

Video: Cassini image shows dunes on Saturn's moon Titan

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has radar vision that allows it to peer through the haze that surrounds Saturn's largest moon Titan. This video focuses on Shangri-la, a large, dark area on Titan filled with dunes. The long, linear dunes are thought to be comprised of grains derived from hydrocarbons that have settled out of Titan's atmosphere. Cassini has shown that dunes of this sort encircle most of Titan's equator. Scientists can use the dunes to learn about winds, the sands they're composed of, and highs and lows in the landscape.

The radar image was obtained by the Cassini Synthetic Aperture radar on July 25, during the mission's 122nd targeted Titan encounter.

Air Canada non-stop flights from Vancouver to Dallas-Fort Worth

Air Canada announced Wednesday the introduction of new daily year-round non-stop service between Vancouver and Dallas-Fort Worth beginning Feb. 5, 2017.

"Air Canada is pleased to link Vancouver and Dallas-Fort Worth with non-stop flights, complementing our existing service from Toronto. We continue to strategically expand our Vancouver hub, and our newest transborder flights to the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the USA offer local business travelers non-stop service, as well as improved access for customers in British Columbia and Alberta via convenient connections in Vancouver," said Benjamin Smith, president, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada. "Travelers from the U.S. will also enjoy seamless connections to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo (Narita) and Hong Kong."

Air Canada's Vancouver-Dallas-Fort Worth flights will be operated by Jazz Aviation LP under the Air Canada Express brand with 75-seat, wi-fi equipped CRJ-705 aircraft, offering both Business and Economy cabins of service as well as in-flight entertainment at every seat.

This year from Vancouver, Air Canada has launched new international services to Brisbane and to Dublin, with new flights launching to Delhi in October. Air Canada has also launched new U.S. transborder flights from Vancouver this year to Chicago, San Jose, and San Diego.

Dassault's growing presence in Southeast Asia aviation market

Indonesia is currently the fastest growing business aviation market in Southeast Asia, with a double-digit growth rate, and the second largest fleet in the region after Singapore.

There are already a large number of small to medium sized business aircraft serving the Indonesian market, but operators are more and more eager to move up to large cabin and longer range jets.

Dassault Aviation's Falcon jets are tailor made for the demanding operating conditions of the region, in particular their great versatility, their airport performance and their unique long/short haul capability, which allows them to make a quick hop to a nearby destination with a full load of fuel before continuing on to a far off destination in Europe, Africa or the Americas.

This is particularly true of Indonesia, a collection of over 17,000 islands spanning a distance greater than the continental U.S. for which aviation is the only feasible means of travel. Although commercial aviation is quite developed, many destinations are under served and hard to get to except by private jet.

Dassault is a leading aerospace company with a presence in over 90 countries across five continents. The company employs a workforce of over 11,000 and has assembly and production plants in both France and the United States and service facilities around the globe. Since the rollout of the first Falcon 20 in 1963, over 2,400 Falcon jets have been delivered. Dassault offers a range of six business jets.

More than 100 Falcon jets are currently in service in Southeast Asia and the Asia/Pacific region from the very long range Falcon 7X to the Falcon 2000LXS/S widebody twins and the long range 900LX.

Falcon 8X

These aircraft will be joined soon by the Falcon 8X ultra long range trijet, which was awarded U.S. and European Aviation Safety Agency certification last June and will enter service in the coming weeks. The 6,450 nautical mile (11,945 kilometer) Falcon 8X will feature the same advanced technologies and exceptional short-field performance, operating economy and quietness as the revolutionary Falcon 7X from which it is derived. It will also offer the longest cabin of any Falcon and the largest selection of standard cabin configurations on any large business jet, including an optional shower capability.

The 8X will connect regional capitals like Jakarta and Singapore to most destinations in Europe non stop. Moreover, the aircraft's three engine design will permit it to fly more direct routes over water, meaning even greater time savings for business travelers.

Falcon 7X

In addition to its advanced systems, largely derived from military aircraft, the 5,950 nm (11,000 km) Falcon 7X features an ultra-comfortable, roomy interior that allows passengers to disembark fresh and relaxed after a 13 hour flight.

Falcon 2000LXS

The Falcon 2000LXS and S are Dassault's new short field champions. The 4,000 nm (7,410 km) LXS can access more airports than any other aircraft in its category, while the 3,350 nm (6,205 km) Falcon 2000S affords large cabin comfort and economics that were previously unheard of in the super mid-size segment.

Falcon 900LX

The 4,750 nm (8,800 km) Falcon 900LX trijet combines long range and low-speed landing capability with exceptional hot-and-high performance. It is the most efficient airplane in its class, with a fuel burn up to 40 percent lower than any comparable aircraft.

Dassault will highlight the expanding popularity of its Falcon Jet business aircraft line among Southeast Asian operators this week at the Indonesian Business & Charter Aviation Summit.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Computer hacker changes account balances on ClixSense

A computer hacker was able to change the names and balances for some member accounts on the popular online advertising website ClixSense, company officials announced Tuesday.

In a message posted on the ClixSense website company officials said, “I apologize for taking the site offline without warning but it seems this hacker was able to find an exploit and was able to remotely change the names and balances on some accounts. Some of you will need to reenter your names. None of your personal account information was exposed. We were able to restore many account names but we did not want to restore this information from our backup because it would mean much longer time offline so we made the decision to have some of you re-enter your first and last name.

“We understand this is a major inconvenience to all of you as this person is causing us much grief. But, on a side note, we've opened an investigation with the FBI and they are now investigating to try and find this person.

“Again I am very sorry for all of this and please be patient with us. We are doing the best we can to restore things back to where they should be.”

ClixSense members get paid for viewing ads, answering surveys, or viewing websites and videos posted by advertisers.

Over 11000 speeding citations issued in Pennsylvania during Labor Day weekend

Eleven people were killed and 223 others were injured in the 704 crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police during the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend driving period.

The official holiday driving period was Sept. 2 through Sept. 5. During that time, troopers cited 769 individuals for not wearing seat belts and issued citations to 198 motorists for not securing children in safety seats.

Troopers also issued 11,341 speeding citations and arrested 590 operators for driving under the influence. Of the 704 crashes investigated by State Police, 61 of those crashes, including four of the fatal crashes, were alcohol related.

During last year's four-day Labor Day holiday driving period, nine people died and 230 others were injured in 664 crashes to which state troopers responded.

The statistics cover only those crashes investigated by state police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded.

Monday, September 5, 2016

ClixSense hacked, redirected to a porn site

The popular online advertising website ClixSense was hacked recently and set to redirect to a porn site, company officials announced Monday.

“Members, as I am sure you have heard a hacker took over our DNS and set ClixSense to redirect to a porn site,” ClixSense owner Jim Grapp said in a notice on the website. “This hacker has been giving us trouble for over a month now first with the program CSAdViewer (we think), then with viruses in ads and now the DNS hack.

“Please note that none of your information is at risk or has been exposed. This person did not gain access to our servers or database. We've heard that other sites have also been hacked and we will follow up with the authorities on Tuesday and give them as much information as possible about what this person has done to ClixSense.

“We are truly sorry that this has effected your ability to participate here at ClixSense and also please know that extra security measures are being put in place to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again.

We appreciate your support during this terrible time and thank you for being a member of ClixSense.”

ClixSense members get paid for viewing ads, answering surveys, or viewing websites and videos posted by advertisers.

First Oceania route for Tianjin Airlines

Tianjin Airlines will launch the first Chinese flights from Auckland to Chongqing and Tianjin, China, in December. The flights will operate between Tianjin, Chongqing and Auckland three times a week using an A330 aircraft.

It will be the first Oceania route for the airline. In May, Tianjin imported its first A330 aircraft, since then nine international routes have been in operation, including Tianjin-Moscow and Tianjin-Chongqing-London.

The launch will involve direct flights from China's fourth largest city, Tianjin to Chongqing, one of the world's largest urban centers and a major manufacturing and transportation hub in southwest China, and then fly to Auckland three times per week all year-round.

Chongqing is a major economic center of the Yangtze basin and has a population of more than 30 million. Chongqing has invested heavily in infrastructure and is well connected to the rest of China. These infrastructure improvements have led to the arrival of numerous foreign direct investors in industries including car manufacture, finance and retailing.

With a population of more than 15 million, Tianjin is the largest coastal city in northern China and the major gateway port serving the capital Beijing. It is also home to a Special Economic Zone where key experimental economic reforms are taking place, and has become a hub of advanced industries and financial activities with 285 of Fortune 500 companies now having presence there.

The A330 selected by Tianjin is designed to carry 260 passengers with 18 business class seats and 242 economy class seats. Auckland Airport estimates that Tianjin Airlines' new service will add 83,000 seats for Auckland route every year and will provide a $102 million boost to the New Zealand tourism industry.

Tianjin Airlines Company Limited was founded in June 2009, as an aviation enterprise co-established by Tianjin government and the HNA Group. It opened its first international route in 2010 and now operates more than 20 international routes, connecting China to Japan, South Korea, Russia, Southeast Asia and other international destinations. Within the next five years, the airline plans to add more than 10 A330 wide-body aircraft, and more international routes to Europe, Oceania and America, connecting to major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Melbourne and more.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The study of Jupiter and Jupiter-like planets

Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

It turns out the inverse is also true -- we can turn our instruments and probes to our own backyard, and view Jupiter as if it were an exoplanet to learn more about those far-off worlds. The best-ever chance to do this is now, with Juno, a NASA probe the size of a basketball court, which arrived at Jupiter in July to begin a series of long, looping orbits around our solar system's largest planet. Juno is expected to capture the most detailed images of the gas giant ever seen. And with a suite of science instruments, Juno will plumb the secrets beneath Jupiter's roiling atmosphere.

It will be a very long time, if ever, before scientists who study exoplanets -- planets orbiting other stars -- get the chance to watch an interstellar probe coast into orbit around an exo-Jupiter, dozens or hundreds of light-years away. But if they ever do, it's a safe bet the scene will summon echoes of Juno.

"The only way we're going to ever be able to understand what we see in those extrasolar planets is by actually understanding our system, our Jupiter itself," said David Ciardi, an astronomer with NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech.

Juno's detailed examination of Jupiter could provide insights into the history, and future, of our solar system. The tally of confirmed exoplanets so far includes hundreds in Jupiter's size-range, and many more that are larger or smaller.

The so-called hot Jupiters acquired their name for a reason: They are in tight orbits around their stars that make them sizzling-hot, completing a full revolution -- the planet's entire year -- in what would be a few days on Earth. And they're charbroiled along the way.

But why does our solar system lack a "hot Jupiter?" Or is this, perhaps, the fate awaiting our own Jupiter billions of years from now -- could it gradually spiral toward the sun, or might the swollen future sun expand to engulf it?

Not likely, Ciardi says; such planetary migrations probably occur early in the life of a solar system.

"In order for migration to occur, there needs to be dusty material within the system," he said. "Enough to produce drag. That phase of migration is long since over for our solar system."

Jupiter itself might already have migrated from farther out in the solar system, although no one really knows, he said.

If Juno's measurements can help settle the question, they could take us a long way toward understanding Jupiter's influence on the formation of Earth -- and, by extension, the formation of other "Earths" that might be scattered among the stars.

"Juno is measuring water vapor in the Jovian atmosphere," said Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "This allows the mission to measure the abundance of oxygen on Jupiter. Oxygen is thought to be correlated with the initial position from which Jupiter originated."

Measuring the water is a key step in understanding how and where Jupiter formed.

"If Juno detects a high abundance of oxygen, it could suggest that the planet formed farther out," Quintana said.

A probe dropped into Jupiter by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in 1995 found high winds and turbulence, but the expected water seemed to be absent. Scientists think Galileo's one-shot probe just happened to drop into a dry area of the atmosphere, but Juno will survey the entire planet from orbit.

Where Jupiter formed, and when, also could answer questions about the solar system's "giant impact phase," a time of crashes and collisions among early planet-forming bodies that eventually led to the solar system we have today.

"It definitely was a violent time," Quintana said. "There were collisions going on for tens of millions of years. For example, the idea of how the moon formed is that a proto-Earth and another body collided; the disk of debris from this collision formed the moon. And some people think Mercury, because it has such a huge iron core, was hit by something big that stripped off its mantle; it was left with a large core in proportion to its size.

"For a long time, people thought Jupiter was essential to habitability because it might have shielded Earth from the constant influx of impacts [during the solar system's early days] which could have been damaging to habitability," she said. "What we've found in our simulations is that it's almost the opposite. When you add Jupiter, the accretion times are faster and the impacts onto Earth are far more energetic. Planets formed within about 100 million years; the solar system was done growing by that point," Quintana said.

"If you take Jupiter out, you still form Earth, but on timescales of billions of years rather than hundreds of millions. Earth still receives giant impacts, but they're less frequent and have lower impact energies," she said.

Another critical Juno measurement that could shed new light on the dark history of planetary formation is the mission's gravity science experiment. Changes in the frequency of radio transmissions from Juno to NASA's Deep Space Network will help map the giant planet's gravitational field.

Knowing the nature of Jupiter's core could reveal how quickly the planet formed, with implications for how Jupiter might have affected Earth's formation.

And the spacecraft's magnetometers could yield more insight into the deep internal structure of Jupiter by measuring its magnetic field.

"We don't understand a lot about Jupiter's magnetic field," Ciardi said. "We think it's produced by metallic hydrogen in the deep interior. Jupiter has an incredibly strong magnetic field, much stronger than Earth's."

Mapping Jupiter's magnetic field also might help pin down the plausibility of proposed scenarios for alien life beyond our solar system.

Earth's magnetic field is thought to be important to life because it acts like a protective shield, channeling potentially harmful charged particles and cosmic rays away from the surface.

"If a Jupiter-like planet orbits its star at a distance where liquid water could exist, the Jupiter-like planet itself might not have life, but it might have moons which could potentially harbor life," he said.

An exo-Jupiter's intense magnetic field could protect such life forms, he said.

Juno's findings will be important not only to understanding how exo-Jupiters might influence the formation of exo-Earths, or other kinds of habitable planets. They'll also be essential to the next generation of space telescopes that will hunt for alien worlds. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will conduct a survey of nearby bright stars for exoplanets beginning in June 2018, or earlier. The James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2018, and WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope), with launch anticipated in the mid-2020s, will attempt to take direct images of giant planets orbiting other stars.

"We're going to be able to image planets and get spectra," or light profiles from exoplanets that will reveal atmospheric gases, Ciardi said. Juno's revelations about Jupiter will help scientists to make sense of these data from distant worlds.

"Studying our solar system is about studying exoplanets," he said. "And studying exoplanets is about studying our solar system. They go together."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Air Canada brings Olympic athletes home

Air Canada will begin flying members of Canada's Olympic team back to Canada on Monday from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with flights arriving at Toronto Pearson airport early Tuesday morning.

The athletes will return to Toronto on Tuesday on flight Air Canada AC091 from Sao Paulo due to arrive at 5:40 a.m. and Air Canada AC1099 due to arrive at 5:15 a.m. from Rio de Janeiro. More athletes and team members will arrive on Wednesday with Air Canada flight AC091 due to land at 5:00 a.m. and Air Canada flight AC099 from Rio de Janeiro at 5:15 a.m.

In total, Air Canada transported approximately 690 athletes, coaches and support staff with the Canadian Team to Rio.

US cargo ship departure from International Space Station

After delivering almost 5,000 pounds of supplies, experiments and equipment - including a docking adapter for future American commercial crew spacecraft - a SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is set to leave the International Space Station Friday.

SpaceX's Commercial Resupply Service-9 mission arrived on station July 20. The Dragon spacecraft will be detached from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module using the station's Canadarm 2 robotic arm. Robotics controllers will send commands to maneuver the spacecraft into place before it's released by Expedition 48 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at 6:10 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft will move to a safe distance from the station and fire its engines at 10:56 a.m. EDT to drop out of orbit and descend back to Earth. A parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific is expected at 11:47 a.m. EDT about 326 miles west of Baja California.

A recovery team will retrieve the capsule and about 3,000 pounds of cargo and experiments for researchers and investigators.

In the event of adverse weather conditions in the Pacific, the backup departure and splashdown date is Sunday.

US spacewalk will work on space station cooling system

On Sept. 1, two NASA astronauts will spacewalk outside the International Space Station for the second time in less than two weeks.

The six-and-a-half hour spacewalk is scheduled to begin about 8 a.m. EDT.

Working on the port side of the orbiting complex's backbone, or truss, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA will retract a thermal radiator that is part of the station's cooling system. The radiator is a backup that had been deployed previously as part of an effort to fix an ammonia coolant leak. They'll also tighten struts on a solar array joint, and install the first of several enhanced high-definition television cameras that will be used to monitor activities outside the station, including the comings and goings of visiting cargo and crew vehicles.

This will be the 195th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the fifth of Williams' career and the second for Rubins. As was the case for their first spacewalk together Aug. 19, Williams will be designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), wearing a spacesuit with a red stripe, while Rubins will be EV2, wearing a suit with no stripes.

Arianespace ready to launch two Intelsat satellites

Arianespace's fourth Ariane 5 flight of 2016 has been given the "green light" for liftoff on Wednesday following Monday's successful launch readiness review, which was conducted in French Guiana, South America.

The approval also clears the Ariane 5 rocket for Tuesday's rollout from the Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone, where it is scheduled for liftoff on Wednesday.

Designated Flight VA232, the mission has an estimated payload lift performance of 10,735 kilograms (23,666 pounds). The rocket will carry Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36 into space.

Intelsat 33e is to be deployed first during the 41-minute flight sequence and will operate from an orbital position of 60 degrees East. Built by Boeing using a 702MP spacecraft platform, it is the second satellite in Intelsat's next-generation high-throughput Intelsat EpicNG series - joining Intelsat 29e, which was launched by Arianespace aboard another Ariane 5 in January.

Intelsat 36 will be the second passenger released by the Ariane 5. It was manufactured by Space Systems Loral based on the company's 1300 platform, and will operate from the 68.5 degrees East orbital position - where Intelsat 36 will be co-located with the Intelsat 20 satellite launched by Arianespace in August 2012.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sentient’s ViDAR system gives unmanned aircraft a ‘find’ function for the first time

Sentient Vision Systems has signed an exclusive global distribution agreement with Insitu for the ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) software to be incorporated within the company's unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Insitu will incorporate the ViDAR payload into its fleet of unmanned systems, beginning with its ScanEagle unmanned aircraft. The ViDAR software is built into the ScanEagle payload by Hood Technologies.

ViDAR is a wide area autonomous detection system for electro-optic imagery in the maritime domain enabling coverage over 80 times the ocean’s surface compared with existing electro-optic sensors. ViDAR transforms the utility of tactical UAS’s by giving them a ‘find’ function for the first time. Operators typically must rely on larger, more expensive aircraft to detect objects in the ocean; ViDAR provides the find capability in a smaller, more cost-effective payload.

“The inability to find objects on the ocean’s surface has placed a huge limitation on the utility of tactical UAS.” said Simon Olsen, Sentient’s Director of Business Development, Strategy and Partnerships. “Fast boats, rubber rafts or even a person in the water – ViDAR finds them all – and does so at a fraction of the size and cost of existing technologies.”

Sentient’s ViDAR software autonomously detects any object on the surface of the ocean, providing the ground control station with an image and location coordinate of each object detected in real time. In demonstrations, ViDAR has autonomously detected a fishing vessel at 14 nautical miles, a fast boat at more than 9 nm and even the spout of a whale at 1.5 nm from the aircraft.

Air Canada's first African route lands in Casablanca

The arrival of flight AC1936 at Casablanca's Mohammed V International Airport on Saturday marked the successful launch of non-stop service between Montreal and Casablanca, Air Canada's first African route and the only scheduled non-stop service to North Africa by a North American carrier. Flights between Montreal and the famed Moroccan city will be operated until Oct. 29 by Air Canada Rouge with a 282-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Service is scheduled to resume on May 1, 2017. Air Canada Rouge is the airlines leisure carrier.

On June 16, Air Canada will inaugurate new international services from Montreal to Lyon. Air Canada will also launch new international services between Toronto-London-Gatwick, Toronto-Prague, Toronto-Budapest, Toronto-Glasgow, Toronto-Warsaw, Toronto-Seoul, Vancouver-Brisbane and Vancouver-Dublin.

Air Canada also announced new seasonal Air Canada Rouge service from Toronto to London-Gatwick, Prague, Budapest, Glasgow and Warsaw, Montreal-Casablanca and Vancouver-Dublin.

Southwest Airlines celebrates inaugural service at Long Beach Airport

Southwest Airlines Co., the carrier offering more seats than any other carrier each day to, from, and within California, embarked upon a new chapter in a faithful 35-year partnership with California travelers Sunday. Southwest celebrates inaugural service at Long Beach Airport, the carrier's 98th city served, now offering service in all five major commercial airports in the L.A. Basin with four flights a day to and from the Bay Area nonstop between Long Beach and Oakland.

"Southwest's arrival in Long Beach brings much needed competition not just with our unique value and unparalleled customer service, but with unmatched access to the rest of the country through our Oakland gateway," said Paul Cullen, Southwest Airlines' Vice President of Corporate Planning and Financial Planning and Analysis, at a morning news conference. "The initial schedule for Long Beach offers long reach with easy connections to 19 cities through our four flights a day to Oakland."

Beginning Sunday, Southwest offers a peak summer schedule of nearly 60 flights a day in each direction between Oakland and Southern California's five airports in the greater L.A. region, plus San Diego. Last week, Southwest filed an application for route authority to add new daily international service later this year from LAX to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos in Mexico, alongside daily service to Costa Rica which began in April. Southwest also flies internationally from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Video: Canada's elite military aerobatic team visit Udvar-Hazy Center

The Canadian Armed Forces’ Snowbirds flew by the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in preparation for an all-day event at the museum. Officially known as the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, they are Canada’s elite military aerobatic flight demonstration team. The team was at the Udvar-Hazy Center on Wednesday where visitors were able to get an up-close look at the Canadair CT-114 Tutors that the Snowbirds fly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Poll: Americans select new face for Mount Rushmore

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's National Park System, commissioned a study of American attitudes toward which American president they would choose to add to Mount Rushmore, if given the chance.

The study was conducted from Feb. 26-29, and included responses from 1,039 American adults.

Americans were presented with a range of modern American presidents and asked to select the one they would choose to add to Mount Rushmore, alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the runaway winner, chosen by 29 percent of Americans.
  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt - 29%
  2. John F. Kennedy - 21%
  3. Ronald Reagan - 19%
  4. Barack Obama - 9%
  5. Dwight Eisenhower – 8%
  6. Harry S. Truman - 5%
  7. William Clinton – 4%
  8. George H.W. Bush – 3%
  9. George W. Bush - 2%

Americans also were given the option of writing in the name of a famous person - not a president - who they would like to see added to the monument. The most common recommendation was Martin Luther King, Jr., who was named by 11 percent of Americans. The top five non-presidential Mount Rushmore nominees include:
  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. - 11%
  2. Benjamin Franklin- 7%
  3. Albert Einstein - 3%
  4. Jesus Christ - 2%
  5. Donald Trump - 2%

Mickey Mouse ranked sixth, and Beyoncé came in eighth.

When asked which national park they consider to be their favorite, Yellowstone won the honor, cited by 27 percent of Americans. The Grand Canyon came in second, cited by 20 percent of Americans. The top five favorite American national parks are:
  1. Yellowstone - 27%
  2. Grand Canyon - 20%
  3. Great Smoky Mountains - 18%
  4. Rocky Mountain – 16%
  5. Yosemite - 10%

When asked to name the "most beautiful" national park, the same five parks were cited, only in a different order.
  1. Grand Canyon - 25%
  2. Yellowstone - 21%
  3. Yosemite – 20%
  4. Great Smoky Mountains - 12%
  5. Rocky Mountain – 9%

When asked which national parks landscape, monument, or feature Americans would "most like to take a selfie in front of," the top five selections were:
  1. Mount Rushmore - 30%
  2. Grand Canyon – 25%
  3. Old Faithful - 18%
  4. Lincoln Memorial – 13%
  5. Great Smoky Mountains – 7%