World's Oldest Periodic Table Chart Found At University of St Andrews In Scotland

science - Posted On:2019-01-17 22:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A periodic table chart discovered at the University of St Andrews is thought to be the oldest in the world. The chart of elements, dating from 1885, was discovered in the University's School of Chemistry in 2014 by Dr. Alan Aitken during a clear out. The storage area was full of chemicals, equipment and laboratory paraphernalia that had accumulated since the opening of the chemistry department at its current location in 1968. Following months of clearing and sorting the various materials a stash of rolled up teaching charts was discovered. Within the collection was a large, extremely fragile periodic table that flaked upon handling. Suggestions that the discovery may be the earliest surviving example of a classroom periodic table in the world meant the document required urgent attention to be authenticated, repaired and restored. Mendeleev made his famous disclosure on periodicity in 1869, the newly unearthed table was rather similar, but not identical to Mendeleev's second table of 1871. However, the St Andrews table was clearly an early specimen. The table is annotated in German, and an inscription at the bottom left -- "Verlag v. Lenoir & Forster, Wien" -- identifies a scientific printer who operated in Vienna between 1875 and 1888. Another inscription -- "Lith. von Ant. Hartinger & Sohn, Wien" -- identifies the chart's lithographer, who died in 1890. Working with the University's Special Collections team, the University sought advice from a series of international experts. Following further investigations, no earlier lecture chart of the table appears to exist. Professor Eric Scerri, an expert on the history of the periodic table based at the University of California, Los Angeles, dated the table to between 1879 and 1886 based on the represented elements. For example, both gallium and scandium, discovered in 1875 and 1879 respectively, are present, while germanium, discovered in 1886, is not. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Bioacoustic Devices Could Help Save Rainforests

science - Posted On:2019-01-17 21:14:59 Source: slashdot

"Researchers writing in Science argue that networked audio recording devices mounted in trees could be used to monitor wildlife populations and better evaluate whether conservation projects are working or not," writes Slashdot reader Damien1972. From the report: Compared to ground surveys and camera traps, the technology provides cheap continuous, real-time biodiversity monitoring at the landscape scale. Thousands of hours of recordings can now be collected with long-lasting batteries and stored digitally. In sites with solar power and cellular signal, multi-year recordings have now been transmitted and saved to scientists' databases. That's possible thanks to the steep drop in the price of equipment that enables researchers to collect more than short, isolated sound snapshots. The key, says co-authors Eddie Game of The Nature Conservancy and Zuzana Burivalova at Princeton University, is to build out enough data to understand how changing soundscapes reflect biodiversity on the ground. Game says he has found plenty of "high-conservation value" tropical forests that are devoid of key species. This is common in reserves set aside by owners of plantation crops such as palm oil. Algorithms can use these recording to learn the sound of healthy forests, and infer the composition of their species. In Papua New Guinea, for example, the researchers found soundscapes in fragmented forests were far quieter during the dawn and evening choruses, the short cacophonous periods during the changing of day and night. Once enough data has been collected [...] the technology can be applied to the zero deforestation commitments set by corporations. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Adding New DNA Letters Make Novel Proteins Possible

science - Posted On:2019-01-17 19:59:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Economist: The fuzzy specks growing on discs of jelly in Floyd Romesberg's lab at Scripps Research in La Jolla look much like any other culture of E. coli. But appearances deceive -- for the dna of these bacteria is written in an alphabet that has six chemical letters instead of the usual four. Every other organism on Earth relies on a quartet of genetic bases: a (adenine), c (cytosine), t (thymine) and g (guanine). These fit together in pairs inside a double-stranded dna molecule, a matching t and c, g. But in 2014 Dr Romesberg announced that he had synthesised a new, unnatural, base pair, dubbed x and y, and slipped them into the genome of E. coli as well. Kept supplied with sufficient quantities of X and Y, the new cells faithfully replicated the enhanced DNA -- and, crucially, their descendants continued to do so, too. Since then, Dr Romesberg and his colleagues have been encouraging their new, "semisynthetic" cells to use the expanded alphabet to make proteins that could not previously have existed, and which might have properties that are both novel and useful. Now they think they have found one. In collaboration with a spin-off firm called Synthorx, they hope to create a less toxic and more effective version of a cancer drug called interleukin-2. Interleukin-2 works by binding to, and stimulating the activity of, immune-system cells called lymphocytes. The receptor it attaches itself to on a lymphocyte's surface is made of three units: alpha, beta and gamma. Immune cells with all three form a strong bond to interleukin-2, and it is this which triggers the toxic effect. If interleukin-2 can be induced to bind only to the beta and gamma units, however, the toxicity goes away. And that, experiments have shown, can be done by attaching polyethylene glycol (PEG) molecules to it. The trick is to make the PEGs stick. This is where the extended genetic alphabet comes in. Using it, Synthorx has created versions of interleukin-2 to which PEGs attach themselves spontaneously in just the right place to stop them linking to the alpha unit. Tested on mice, the modified molecule has exactly the desired anti-tumor effects. Synthorx plans to ask permission for human trials later this year. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Saturn Put A Ring On It Relatively Recently, Study Says

science - Posted On:2019-01-17 15:59:59 Source: slashdot

Saturn is famous for its lovely rings, but a new study suggests the planet has spent most of its 4.5 billion years without them. From a report: That's because the rings are likely only 10 million to 100 million years old, according to a newly published report in the journal Science that's based on findings from NASA's Cassini probe. Cassini spent some 13 years orbiting Saturn before plunging down and slamming into its atmosphere. During its final orbits, the spacecraft dove between the planet and its rings. That let scientists measure the gravitational effect of the rings and get a good estimate of the ring material's mass. What they found is that it's only about 40 percent of the mass of Saturn's moon Mimas, which is way smaller than Earth's moon. This small mass suggests that the rings are relatively young. That's because the rings seem to be made of extremely pure water ice, suggesting that the bright white rings have not existed long enough to be contaminated by the bombardment of messy, dirty comets that would be expected to occur over billions of years. Some scientists thought it was possible that darker debris from comets might lie beneath the bright ice, undetectable to their instruments, but this new study shows that isn't the case. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Amazon Launches re:MARS Event Focusing on AI, as Second Stage To Invite-only MARS

science - Posted On:2019-01-17 14:00:00 Source: slashdot

Amazon's annual invitation-only event on machine learning, automation, robotics and space -- known as Mars -- has become a high-tech highlight for insiders, featuring billionaire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos riding a giant robot or walking a robot dog. From a report: Now a wider circle of tech leaders can get in on a spin-off experience called re:MARS, which is due to make its debut June 4-7 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The event will shine a spotlight on the leading lights and cutting-edge advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Amazon said today in a blog posting. "We're at the beginning of a golden age of AI. Recent advancements have already led to invention that previously lived in the realm of science fiction -- and we've only scratched the surface of what's possible," Bezos said. "AI is an enabling technology that can improve products and services across all industries. We're excited to create re:MARS, bringing together leaders and builders from diverse areas to share learnings and spark new ideas for future innovation." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Anti-vaccine nonsense spurred NY’s largest outbreak in decades

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Health officials in New York are cautiously optimistic that they have a large measles outbreak under control after tackling the noxious anti-vaccine myths and unfounded fears that fueled the disease’s spread.

Since last fall, New York has tallied 177 confirmed cases of measles, the largest outbreak the state has seen in decades. It began with infected travelers, arriving from parts of Israel and Europe where the highly contagious disease was spreading. In New York, that spread has largely been confined to ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

As measles rippled through those insular religious communities, health officials ran into members who were wary of outsiders as well as those who harbor harmful myths and fears about vaccines. This included the completely false-yet-pernicious belief that the measles vaccine causes autism.

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If we stopped upgrading fossil-fuel-using tech, we’d hit our climate goals

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 12:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Because climate change is such a complex, globe-spanning problem, it’s hard to really wrap your head around possible future scenarios. A future where no action is taken to slow greenhouse gas emissions is easy enough to grok, but what exactly does a “middle-of-the-road emissions world” entail?

These scenarios work well for outlining the range of futures available to us, but it can be hard to understand the steps necessary to get to that future. “What if?” scenarios are often easier to think about. What if we eliminated all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow? Or, if those rainbow unicorns are too impractical for you, what if we didn't replace fossil fuel infrastructure when it reached the end of its life, replacing it with clean alternatives instead?

That’s the question that a new study led by the University of Leeds’ Chris Smith investigated. The basic idea is to find out how much warming the world’s existing fossil-fuel-burning machinery commits us to, given how long that machinery is likely to run before it naturally hits the scrap heap.

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How much will current fossil fuel tech emit before retirement?

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 12:00:01 Source: arstechnica

Because climate change is such a complex, globe-spanning problem, it’s hard to really wrap your head around possible future scenarios. A future where no action is taken to slow greenhouse gas emissions is easy enough to grok, but what exactly does a “middle-of-the-road emissions world” entail?

These scenarios work well for outlining the range of futures available to us, but it can be hard to understand the steps necessary to get to that future. “What if?” scenarios are often easier to think about. What if we eliminated all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow? Or, if those rainbow unicorns are too impractical for you, what if we didn't replace fossil fuel infrastructure when it reached the end of its life, replacing it with clean alternatives instead?

That’s the question that a new study led by the University of Leeds’ Chris Smith investigated. The basic idea is to find out how much warming the world’s existing fossil-fuel-burning machinery commits us to, given how long that machinery is likely to run before it naturally hits the scrap heap.

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Relativity Space to launch from historic Florida site

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 11:15:00 Source: arstechnica

A company that aspires to 3D print almost the entirety of its rockets has reached an agreement with the US Air Force to launch from historic facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Relativity Space said Thursday it has a multiyear contract to build and operate its own rocket launch facilities at Launch Complex 16.

Under terms of the competitively awarded agreement, the site will officially be a “multiuser” facility for five years. However, if Relativity meets certain milestones and begins regularly launching rockets, it will be able to convert the agreement into a 20-year, exclusive right to use the launch site.

Relativity has been searching for a launch site almost since the company’s inception in 2015, said co-founder Tim Ellis. However, the formal search has taken about eight months, he said. “This was definitely our top choice, I would say by quite a bit,” he said. “We looked at every launch site in the United States.”

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System has four stars and a planet-forming disk oriented vertically

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 07:59:57 Source: arstechnica

Models and observations indicate that both stars and planets form as a cloud of material collapses into a disk. If the process proceeds in an orderly manner, then the planets will all form from the same disk and thus orbit in the same plane. And—because material from the same disk will fall into the star, brining its momentum with it—the star will rotate with its equator along the same plane. That should lead to a tidy system with the equator of the star lined up with the plane of any planets orbiting it.

Except when it doesn't. Anything that upsets the even inflow of material—from clumping in disk to a passing star—can upset this process. We've seen the results: planet-forming disks and planetary orbits that don't line up with a star's equator.

Now, researchers are reporting a complex, four-star system where a planet-forming disk is lined up perpendicular to the stars, so that it orbits over their poles.

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Quad star system may form planets orbits orbiting over its poles

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 07:44:57 Source: arstechnica

Models and observations indicate that both stars and planets form as a cloud of material collapses into a disk. If the process proceeds in an orderly manner, then the planets will all form from the same disk and thus orbit in the same plane. And—because material from the same disk will fall into the star, brining its momentum with it—the star will rotate with its equator along the same plane. That should lead to a tidy system with the equator of the star lined up with the plane of any planets orbiting it.

Except when it doesn't. Anything that upsets the even inflow of material—from clumping in disk to a passing star—can upset this process. We've seen the results: planet-forming disks and planetary orbits that don't line up with a star's equator.

Now, researchers are reporting a complex, four-star system where a planet-forming disk is lined up perpendicular to the stars, so that it orbits over their poles.

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It’s the drag that helps the humble hagfish slime predators so quickly

Science - Posted On:2019-01-17 07:44:57 Source: arstechnica

The homely hagfish might look like just your average bottom feeder, but they have a secret weapon: they can unleash a full liter of sticky slime in less than one second. That slime can clog the gills of a predatory shark, for instance, suffocating it. Scientists are unsure just how the hagfish (affectionately known as a "snot snake") accomplishes this feat, but a new paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface suggests that turbulent water flow (specifically, the drag such turbulence produces) is an essential factor.

Scientists have been studying hagfish slime for years because it's such an unusual material. It's not like mucus, which dries out and hardens over time; hagfish slime stays slimy, giving it the consistency of half-solidified gelatin. That's due to long, thread-like fibers in the slime, in addition to the proteins and sugars that make up mucin, the other major component. Those fibers coil up into "skeins" that resemble balls of yarn. When the hagfish lets loose with a shot of slime, the skeins uncoil and combine with the salt water, blowing up more than 10,000 times its original size.

Yet the precise mechanism for slime deployment is still poorly understood, according to co-author Gaurav Chaudhary of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Recent research showed that sea water is essential to the formation of the slime, and that hagfish skeins can unravel spontaneously if ions in the sea water mixes the adhesives that hold the fibrous threads together in skeins. Chaudhary says that what's missing in this earlier work is taking the fast time scales into account. A 2014 study, for instance, showed that any spontaneous unraveling of the skeins would take several minutes—yet the hagfish deploys its slime in about 0.4 seconds.

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Fasting Can Improve Overall Health By Causing Circadian Clocks In the Liver and Skeletal Muscle To Rewire Their Metabolism, Study Finds

science - Posted On:2019-01-16 22:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceDaily: In a University of California, Irvine-led study, researchers found evidence that fasting affects circadian clocks in the liver and skeletal muscle, causing them to rewire their metabolism, which can ultimately lead to improved health and protection against aging-associated diseases. The study was published recently in Cell Reports. The research was conducted using mice, which were subjected to 24-hour periods of fasting. While fasting, researchers noted the mice exhibited a reduction in oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and energy expenditure, all of which were completely abolished by refeeding, which parallels results observed in humans. "The reorganization of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression. In other words, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses. Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against aging-associated diseases." This study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Researchers Report Breakthrough In Ice-Repelling Materials

science - Posted On:2019-01-16 20:44:58 Source: slashdot

"Researchers from the University of Houston have reported a new theory in physics called stress localization, which they used to tune and predict the properties of new materials," reports Phys.Org. "Based on those predictions, the researchers reported in Materials Horizons that they have created a durable silicone polymer coating capable of repelling ice from any surface." The new research has huge implications for aircraft, power transmission lines, and more. From the report: Hadi Ghasemi, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at UH and corresponding author for the work, said the findings suggest a way to take trial and error out of the search for new materials, in keeping with the movement of materials science toward a physics-driven approach. "You put in the properties you want, and the principle will tell you what material you need to synthesize," he said, noting that the concept can also be used to predict materials with superb antibacterial or other desirable properties. The new material uses elastic energy localization where ice meets the material, triggering cracks at the interface that slough off the ice. Ghasemi said it requires minimal force to cause the cracks; the flow of air over the surface of an airplane acts as a trigger, for example. The material, which is applied as a spray, can be used on any surface, and Ghasemi said testing showed it is not only mechanically durable and unaffected by ultraviolet rays -- important for aircraft which face constant sun exposure -- but also does not change the aircraft's aerodynamic performance. Testing indicates it will last for more than 10 years, with no need to reapply, he said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hubble Space Telescope Will Last Through the Mid-2020s, Report Says

science - Posted On:2019-01-16 05:14:57 Source: slashdot

schwit1 shares a report from Space.com: Despite recent issues with one of its instruments, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to last at least another five years. A new report suggests that the iconic spacecraft has a strong chance of enduring through the mid-2020s. [...] One reason the spacecraft has lasted so long is that astronauts have provided aid. Servicing missions continued to update the telescope until 2009, when the space shuttle was retired. The final update to Hubble included the installation of two brand-new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and WFC3. The astronauts on Servicing Mission 4 also performed on-site repairs for the telescope's two other instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), both of which had stopped working. The astronauts additionally replaced Hubble's 18-year-old batteries with new ones; installed six new gyroscopes, whose job is turning the telescope; and added a brand-new Fine Guidance System to point the instrument. Astronauts also covered Hubble's equipment bays with insulating panels and installed a device that will help to guide the observatory down when its mission comes to an end. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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China and NASA Shared Data About Historic Moon Landing

science - Posted On:2019-01-16 02:14:57 Source: slashdot

hackingbear writes: "China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since a Cold-War-era-like American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval," reports New York Post. "The Chinese space agency's deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft. China, in turn, shared the time and coordinates of Chang'e 4s scheduled landing. He added that while NASA's satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward." In response to the question about why would China allow this exchange given that the U.S. has put technological obstacles to China's lunar exploration program and refused to issue visas to Chinese experts, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, "China could have chosen not to offer the relevant information to the U.S., but as a major country, we should act with the posture and bearing of a major country. I believe what Mr. Wu said has shown the confidence, openness, and broadmindedness of Chinese aerospace engineers as well as scientists and researchers and China's confident and open posture as a major country." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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'Mona Lisa Effect' Is Real But Doesn't Apply To Leonardo's Painting

science - Posted On:2019-01-15 19:59:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: There have long been anecdotal reports that the eyes of the Mona Lisa -- Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting -- sometimes seem to follow viewers as they move around the artwork. The phenomenon is even called the "Mona Lisa effect" because of it. But a new study published in the journal i-Perception found that she's really "looking" to the right-hand side of her audience. "There is no doubt about the existence of the Mona Lisa effect," the authors wrote. "It just does not occur with the Mona Lisa herself." This was a small study, with just 24 subjects. All were asked to look at a high-resolution recreation of the Mona Lisa on a computer monitor, with a folding ruler placed between them and the screen to track viewing distance. Subjects would signal where they perceived Mona Lisa's gaze met the ruler. The researchers sampled 15 sections of the famous portrait, ranging from the Mona Lisa's full head to just her eyes and nose, and they showed subjects each image three times in random order. They also changed the ruler's distance from the monitor halfway through the sessions. Based on the more than 2,000 individual assessments, they found no evidence of the Mona Lisa effect with Leonardo's masterpiece. "We demonstrated that Mona Lisa gazes to her left-hand side [the viewer's right] from about 35.5 cm inside pictorial space, and 14.4 degrees to the viewer's right-hand side in real space," the authors wrote. "Thus, Mona Lisa does not fulfill the premise of the Mona Lisa effect. She does not gaze at the viewer." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Psychologists defend claim of “destructive aspects” to masculinity

Science - Posted On:2019-01-15 17:45:00 Source: arstechnica

The American Psychological Association is on the defensive over its newly released clinical guidance (PDF) for treating boys and men, which links traditional masculinity ideology to a range of harms, including sexism, violence, mental health issues, suicide, and homophobia. Critics contend that the guidelines attack traditional values and innate characteristics of males.

The APA’s 10-point guidance, released last week, is intended to help practicing psychologists address the varied, yet gendered experience of men and boys with whom they work. It fits into the APA’s set of other clinical guidelines for working with specific groups, including older adults, people with disabilities, and one for girls and women, which was released in 2007. The association began working on the guidance for boys and men in 2005—well before the current #MeToo era—and drew from more than four decades of research for its framing and recommendations.

That research showed that “some masculine social norms can have negative consequences for the health of boys and men,” the APA said in a statement released January 14 amid backlash. Key among these harmful norms is pressure for boys to suppress their emotions (the “common ‘boys don’t cry’ refrain”), the APA said. This has been documented to lead to “increased negative risk-taking and inappropriate aggression among men and boys, factors that can put some males at greater risk for psychological and physical health problems.” It can also make males “less willing to seek help for psychological distress.”

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Psychologists defend linking masculinity to violence, sexism, homophobia

Science - Posted On:2019-01-15 17:29:59 Source: arstechnica

The American Psychological Association is on the defensive over its newly released clinical guidance (PDF) for treating boys and men, which links traditional masculinity ideology to a range of harms, including sexism, violence, mental health issues, suicide, and homophobia. Critics contend that the guidelines attack traditional values and innate characteristics of males.

The APA’s 10-point guidance, released last week, is intended to help practicing psychologists address the varied, yet gendered experience of men and boys with whom they work. It fits into the APA’s set of other clinical guidelines for working with specific groups, including older adults, people with disabilities, and one for girls and women, which was released in 2007. The association began working on the guidance for boys and men in 2005—well before the current #MeToo era—and drew from more than four decades of research for its framing and recommendations.

That research showed that “some masculine social norms can have negative consequences for the health of boys and men,” the APA said in a statement released January 14 amid backlash. Key among these harmful norms is pressure for boys to suppress their emotions (the “common ‘boys don’t cry’ refrain”), the APA said. This has been documented to lead to “increased negative risk-taking and inappropriate aggression among men and boys, factors that can put some males at greater risk for psychological and physical health problems.” It can also make males “less willing to seek help for psychological distress.”

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Chinese firm scores a win in smallsat-launch competition

Science - Posted On:2019-01-15 17:14:59 Source: arstechnica

China’s new Long March 6 rocket has won a major commercial launch contract, with an agreement for up to six flights over two years to deploy 90 small remote sensing satellites for Argentina-based Satellogic.

The contract—which will allow Satellogic to deploy a constellation capable of imaging the entire planet at a 1-meter resolution on a weekly basis—is significant in that it comes at a time of increasing competition in the small-satellite launch market. Satellogic and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (or CGWIC), which sells Chinese government launch services on the commercial market, did not disclose terms of the agreement.

However, the Chinese launch marketer made clear that this is an important milestone for its Long March 6 (or LM-6) rocket. "Satellogic's constellation will introduce a new era of affordable Earth observation just as the LM-6 will open new opportunities for the global space industry," Gao Ruofei, executive vice president of CGWIC, said in a statement.

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