54. Mars Helicopter Ingenuity takes Flight, MOXIE Produces Oxygen on Mars, EU’s Regulation on AI
54. Mars Helicopter Ingenuity takes Flight, MOXIE Produces Oxygen on Mars, EU’s Regulation on AI
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April 26, 2021
Cool STEM News:
NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity’s 1st & 2nd Flight | Space (01:41)
- 1st Flight:
- On Monday, April 19th, Ingenuity performed the first-ever powered flight on a world beyond Earth.
- The 4-lb chopper took off around 12:31 am EDT, raised roughly 10 feet above Mars’ Jezero Crater, and hovered for around 40 seconds.
- At about 6:15 a.m. EDT, data came down from Ingenuity — via NASA’s Perseverance rover — that the rotorcraft had indeed flown.
- “Ingenuity has performed its first flight, the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet!” Ingenuity’s chief pilot Håvard Grip said as he confirmed telemetry at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Watch the 1st Flight Here on Youtube.
- Ingenuity’s $85 million mission is a technology demonstration, designed to show that powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet.
- See for yourself the excitement of the JPL crew.
- 2nd Flight:
- Again the little chopper flew, early Thursday morning (April 22nd), but this time the helicopter team pushed the rotorcraft a little harder.
- The plan explained in a preflight blog post was to climb to 17 feet, hover, tilt slightly and move sideways for 7 feet.
- NASA’s Perseverance rover watched all of the aerial action from about 210 feet away, just as it did for the 1st flight.
- According to agency officials, imagery and other data captured by the six-wheeled robot started coming down to Earth at 9:20 a.m. EDT confirming the results of the test.
NASA has produced oxygen on the surface of Mars for the first time | New Scientist (07:23)
- The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) landed on Mars with the Perseverance rover on 18 February and has now completed its first test.
- Mars’ atmosphere is made up of mostly (95%) Carbon Dioxide. But of course, that is helpful for plants, but not humans who need Oxygen (0.13%).
- Additionally, oxygen is a crucial ingredient for rocket fuel.
- It is required for rocket fuel because it is an oxidizer that needs to be mixed with the fuel for it to burn.
- If astronauts want to get home, they need fuel for that return trip.
- NASA estimates that to get 4 astronauts home from Mars would take about 25 metric tons (roughly 27.5 English tons) of oxygen.
- In space travel, every gram counts!
- MOXIE is a step towards solving those problems by producing oxygen on Mars.
- It sucks in carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere and heats it to temperatures around 800°C.
- Allowing it to strip oxygen atoms from the carbon dioxide and then vent out carbon monoxide.
- The experiment’s first test, which took place on April 20th, produced about 5 grams of oxygen, which is equivalent to about 10 minutes of breathable air for an astronaut.
- MOXIE is only capable of producing about 10 grams of oxygen per hour (20 minutes of breathable air for every hour of work).
- Beneficial to test the process for future oxygen generators.
- Could create larger generators and rip oxygen atoms off carbon dioxide far faster.
- Over the next year, MOXIE plans to run at least nine more experiments, testing its capabilities during different times of day and seasons, when conditions in the Martian atmosphere change.
Whitest paint ever made is also the coolest | Futurity (14:24)
- To curb global warming, engineers have created the whitest paint ever made.
- In October, the team created an ultra-white paint that pushed limits on how white paint can be.
- But since then they have created a new white paint. It is whiter and can keep surfaces cooler than the formulation the researchers had previously demonstrated.
- Reflects up to 98.1% of sunlight.
- Sends infrared heat away from a surface
- According to Xiulin Ruan, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, this could have a huge effect on cooling houses:
- “If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet, we estimate that you could get a cooling power of 10 kilowatts. That’s more powerful than the central air conditioners used by most houses.”
- The researchers demonstrated outdoors that the paint can keep surfaces 19 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than their ambient surroundings at night.
- It can also cool surfaces 8 degrees Fahrenheit below their surroundings under strong sunlight during noon hours.
- It even worked during the winter, during an outdoor test with an ambient temperature of 43 ℉, the paint still managed to lower the sample temperature by 18 ℉.
- The researchers showed in their study that their paint can potentially handle outdoor conditions and their process is compatible with the current commercial paint fabrication process.
- The team has filed patent applications for the paint formulation through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.
Electrifying cement with nanocarbon black | Phys.org (22:00)
- A multi-year effort by MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) researchers, in collaboration with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), aims to make concrete more sustainable by adding novel functionalities—namely, electron conductivity.
- In a paper in Physical Review Materials, they validated their approach which relies on the controlled introduction of highly conductive nanocarbon materials into the cement mixture.
- Nancy Soliman, the paper’s lead author, and a postdoc at the MIT CSHub believes that this research has the potential to add an entirely new dimension to what is already a popular construction material.
- “Concrete is naturally an insulative material,” says Soliman, “But when we add nanocarbon black particles, it moves from being an insulator to a conductive material.”
- By just adding nanocarbon black at a 4 percent volume of their mixtures they were able to make it conductive.
- They noticed that this current also had an interesting outcome: It could generate heat!
- In their experiments, they found that even a small voltage (5V) could increase the surface temperatures of their samples up to 41 ℃ (around 100 ℉).
- If implemented in concrete pavements, the researchers believe that nanocarbon cement could mitigate durability, sustainability, and safety concerns.
- The researchers explain: “In North America, we see lots of snow. To remove this snow from our roads requires the use of de-icing salts, which can damage the concrete, and contaminate groundwater.”
- Radiant heating in pavements could save potentially millions of dollars in repair & de-icing operations.
- Additionally, the researchers were able to quantify the electrical conductivity properties of the concrete providing engineers with exactly what they need to implement multifunctional cement on a broader scale.
- Interesting comment on Minds: @echuck
- “This is really interesting. I read the early part of the article and only had time to skim the later half. I did not see any mechanical or electrochemical robustness studies or references. My concern would be that adding carbon impregnation would decrease the compressive strength or increase the spalling rate of the concrete base.”
Europe lays out a plan for risk-based AI rules to boost trust and uptake | TechCrunch (31:57)
- European Union lawmakers have presented their risk-based proposal for regulating high-risk applications of artificial intelligence.
- The plan includes prohibitions on a small number of use-cases that are considered too dangerous to people’s safety or EU citizens’ fundamental rights.
- a China-style social credit scoring system
- AI-enabled behavior manipulation techniques can cause physical or psychological harm.
- law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance in public places
- Most won’t face any restriction except for cases that are “high risk”. They will be subject to specific regulatory requirements, both before and after launching into the market.
- The planned law is intended to apply to any company selling an AI product or service into the EU, not just to EU-based companies and individuals.
- For now, cited high-risk examples (Annex 3, pg.4) fall into the following categories:
- Biometric identification and categorization of natural persons;
- Management and operation of critical infrastructure;
- Education and vocational training;
- Employment, workers management and access to self-employment;
- Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits;
- Law enforcement;
- Migration, asylum and border control management;
- Administration of justice and democratic processes.
- Military uses of AI are specifically excluded from the scope
- The makers of high-risk applications will have a set of obligations to comply with before bringing their products to market.
- Based on the quality of the data sets used to train their AIs and a level of human oversight over not just design but the use of the system.
- Other requirements include a need to create records of the AI system to enable compliance checks and also to provide relevant information to users.
- Penalties for infringing the rules on specific AI use-case bans have been set at up to 6% of global annual turnover or €30M (whichever is greater). While violations of the rules related to high-risk applications can scale up to 4% (or €20M).
- There will also be an EU-wide database set up to create a register of high-risk systems implemented (which will be managed by the Commission).
- Of course, there was pushback to this proposal. One such case was by Monique Goyens, director general Consumer rights umbrella group, BEUC, attacking it for being weak on consumer protection:
- “The European Commission should have put more focus on helping consumers trust AI in their daily lives … People should be able to trust any product or service powered by artificial intelligence, be it ‘high-risk’, ‘medium-risk’ or ‘low-risk’. The EU must do more to ensure consumers have enforceable rights, as well as access to redress and remedies in case something goes wrong.”
- My thoughts on Twitter: “Not a huge fan of the large governing body known as the EU, but I’m glad at least someone is starting to think about ‘high-risk’ AI. Better to start now than just ignore it. I hope they bring in people with [a] software background to discuss this further.”