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20-Year-Old Military Weather Satellite Explodes In Orbit 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-boom dept.
schwit1 writes A 20-year-old U.S. military weather satellite apparently exploded for no obvious reason. The incident has put several dozen pieces of space junk into orbit. From the article: "A 20-year-old military weather satellite apparently exploded in orbit Feb. 3 following what the U.S. Air Force described as a sudden temperature spike. The “catastrophic event” produced 43 pieces of space debris, according to Air Force Space Command, which disclosed the loss of the satellite Feb. 27 in response to questions from SpaceNews. The satellite, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 13, was the oldest continuously operational satellite in the DMSP weather constellation."

Only Twice Have Nations Banned a Weapon Before It Was Used; They May Do It Again 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-skynet-cares-about-international-treaties dept.
Lasrick writes: Seth Baum reports on international efforts to ban 'killer robots' before they are used. China, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are apparently developing precursor technology. "Fully autonomous weapons are not unambiguously bad. They can reduce burdens on soldiers. Already, military robots are saving many service members' lives, for example by neutralizing improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq. The more capabilities military robots have, the more they can keep soldiers from harm. They may also be able to complete missions that soldiers and non-autonomous weapons cannot." But Baum, who founded the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, goes on to outline the potential downsides, and there are quite a few.
The Military

100 Years of Chemical Weapons 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-century-later dept.
MTorrice writes This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first large-scale use of chemical weapons during World War I. Sarah Everts at Chemical & Engineering News remembers the event with a detailed account of the day in 1915 when the German Army released chlorine gas on its enemies, igniting a chemical arms race. Read the diaries of soldiers involved in the first gas attack. By the end of WWI, scientists working for both warring parties had evaluated some 3,000 different chemicals for use as weapons. Even though poison gas didn't end up becoming an efficient killing weapon on WWI battlefields—it was responsible for less than 1% of WWI's fatalities--its adoption set a precedent for using chemicals to murder en masse. In the past century, poison gas has killed millions of civilians around the world: commuters on the Tokyo subway, anti-government demonstrators in Syria, and those incarcerated in Third Reich concentration camps. Everts profiles chemist Fritz Haber, the man who lobbied to unleash the gas that day in 1915.

Ask Slashdot: How Could We Actually Detect an Alien Invasion From Outer Space? 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-up-the-mothership dept.
First time accepted submitter defiant.challenged writes As I was watching another sci-fi blockbuster about aliens wanting to harvest the life stock population on earth for their energy since we are such a robust species, I was wondering how likely and easy/difficult it would be currently to actually detect an outer space invasion (fleet). I am a firm believer that if we would be invaded, we would not stand a chance and would probably not even hit a single ship when it comes to fighting them. The aliens in the movie had the capability to space-jump right into our solar system and even very close to earth. My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?
United States

Government, Military and Private Sector Fighting Over Next-Gen Cyber-Warriors 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-people-for-the-job dept.
An anonymous reader writes Both the U.S. Army and Britain's intelligence agency GCHQ launched new initiatives to address their severe shortfalls in cyber-security specialists. The United States Army Reserve launched the "cyber private public partnership" (Cyber P3) on Capitol Hill, which will give reservists the opportunity to train as cyber-warriors in six U.S. universities, in partnership with 11 employers. In the UK GCHQ announced an "Insiders Summer School", where first and second-year computer science undergraduates will be paid to attend a ten week intensive cyber-training course, culminating in a live display of their online and hacking acumen. The Government Accountability Office estimates a shortfall of 40,000 cyber security operatives, and with multiple branches of government in several western countries fighting each other (and the private sector, and the criminal arena) for the patronage of computer science students, cyber-security is looking to be the safest career path an undergraduate could pursue.
The Military

US May Sell Armed Drones 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Nations allied with the United States may soon be able to purchase armed, unmanned aircraft, according to an updated U.S. arms policy. Purchase requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and foreign military bodies would have to agree to a set of "proper use" rules in order for the U.S. to go ahead with the sale. For example: "Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense." These rules have done nothing to silence critics of the plan, who point out that the U.S. has killed civilians during remote strikes without much accountability. The drones are estimated to cost $10-15 million apiece.

Canada's Next-Generation Military Smart Gun Unveiled 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-way-to-shoot dept.
Zothecula writes Looking every bit like a weapon from a science fiction movie, the latest integrated assault rifle prototype being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is packed with some very smart weapons technology. Along with the ability to fire new lightweight telescoped ammunition, and a secondary effects module that adds either a three-round 40 mm grenade launcher or a 12-gauge shotgun, there is also a NATO-standard power and data bus to allow the attachment of smart accessories, such as electro-optical sights and position sensors that connect to command and control networks.

US Military Working On 3D Printing Exact Replicas of Bones & Limbs 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-you dept.
ErnieKey writes The U.S. military is working with technology that will allow them to create exact virtual replicas of their soldiers. In case of an injury, these replicas could be used to 3D print exact medical models for rebuilding the injured patient's body and even exact replica implants. Could we all one day soon have virtual backups of ourselves that we can access and have new body parts 3D printed on demand?
The Military

West Point and Marines Launch Open Cyber Conflict Journal 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the military-strategy-by-committee dept.
rumint writes: The Army Cyber Institute at West Point and the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command just launched an open journal studying cyber conflict — Cyber Defense Review. It focuses on strategy, operations, tactics, history, ethics, law and policy in the cyber domain. The Cyber Defense Review is positioning itself as the leading online and print journal for issues related to cyber conflict for military, industry, professional and academic scholars, practitioners and operators interested providing timely and important research to advance the body of knowledge in an inherently multi-disciplinary field.
The Military

Will Submarines Soon Become As Obsolete As the Battleship? 439

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-of-a-silent-era dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The United States spends $1.8 billion to build a brand new, state of the art, Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine. They are the backbone of the U.S. Navy and the ultimate threat to those nations who are building massive amounts of missiles to keep U.S. naval forces like aircraft carriers away from their shores — think China, Russia, Iran and various others. Sadly, the era of the submarine could be coming to an end. New types of detection technology could make the stealth capabilities of subs obsolete, just like the age of flight made the battleship into a floating museum:

"The ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, "big data" processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines."

This could force submarines to stay far away from areas where they could be found. Alternately, they could evolve into something different: underwater aircraft carriers hosting drones that could strike below the surface.
The Internet

'Google Search On Steroids' Brings Dark Web To Light 69

Posted by timothy
from the but-your-search-history dept.
snydeq writes The government agency that brought us the Internet has now developed a powerful new search engine that is shedding light on the contents of the so-called deep Web. DARPA began work on the Memex Deep Web Search Engine a year ago, and this week unveiled its tools to Scientific American and 60 Minutes. "Memex, which is being developed by 17 different contractor teams, aims to build a better map of Internet content and uncover patterns in online data that could help law enforcement officers and others. While early trials have focused on mapping the movements of human traffickers, the technology could one day be applied to investigative efforts such as counterterrorism, missing persons, disease response, and disaster relief."

Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone 100

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-employees-must-wash-hands dept. writes Andrew Moore-Crispin reports that beginning today, as result of an agreement major wireless carriers made with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in late 2013, wireless carriers in the US must unlock your phone as soon as a contract term is fulfilled if asked to do so unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money. Carriers must also post unlocking policies on their websites (here are links for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile), provide notice to customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, respond to unlock requests within two business days, and unlock devices for deployed military personnel. So why unlock your phone? Unlocking a phone allows it to be used on any compatible network, regardless of carrier which could result in significant savings. Or you could go with an MVNO, stay on the same network, and pay much less for the same cellular service.

SpaceX Signs Lease Agreement With Air Force For Landing Pad 53

Posted by timothy
from the military-musk-complex dept.
PaisteUser writes Space News reports that SpaceX has signed a historic agreement to allow construction of a landing pad for Falcon 9 booster stages. From the article: "The U.S. Air Force announced Feb. 10 that SpaceX has signed a five-year lease for Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 13, which was used to launch Atlas rockets and missiles between 1956 and 1978. In its new role, it will serve as a landing pad for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy booster cores launched from Florida, the Air Force said. Financial terms of the lease were not disclosed." Patrick Air Force Base also provides the documentation used for the environmental impact study which details out how the landing pad will be constructed.

The Blind Spots In the Nuclear Test Monitoring System 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the hiding-a-boom dept.
Lasrick writes The International Monitoring System managed by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization relies on detecting one or more of four distinct signatures from a nuclear explosion. Seismic detectors continuously listen for the shock waves passing through the earth from underground nuclear tests. Hydro-acoustic monitors listen for sound waves in the oceans from underwater tests. Infrasound detectors scan for pressure waves in the atmosphere. The fourth kind of signal involves radioactive gases generated by a nuclear explosion and released into the atmosphere. Ulrich Kuhn and Michael Schoeppner describe the system in detail, and point out that there are blind spots, particularly in the area of noble gas detection: "Our research has found that the noble gas detection part of the International Monitoring System is unlikely to work as it should because of the limited distribution of noble gas stations, neglect of important meteorological patterns in some areas, and the radionuclide background from emissions from the commercial production of medical isotopes." Kuhn and Schoeppner go on to describe possible fixes, and call on the 183 states that have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the CTBTO to provide the resources to build extra monitoring stations where they are required and to curb activities that might limit the global capability to monitor possible nuclear tests.

DARPA's ALASA Could Pave Way For Cheaper, Faster Satellite Launches 91

Posted by timothy
from the cheaper-faster-better-ok dept.
hypnosec writes DARPA is all set to take its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access module (ALASA) program to the next level after the program has shown promising results toward its mission of sending 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) for just $1 million per launch." ALASA is a new program that seeks to streamline production and encourage re-usability and interchangeability in satellite systems.

Students Demo Firefighting Humanoid Robot On US Navy Ship 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the terminating-fires dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Robohub: In fall 2014 in Mobile Bay, Alabama, Virginia Tech engineering students made history during a five-minute demo that placed an adult-sized humanoid robot with a hose in front of a live fire aboard a U.S. Navy ship.The robot located the fire and sprayed water from the hose. Water blasted the flames. The demo, four years in the making, is part of a new effort by the U.S. Navy to better assist sailors in fighting fires, controlling damage, and carrying out inspections aboard ships via user-controlled unmanned craft or humanoid robots. The firefighting robot is named SAFFiR, short for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, and the U.S. Office of Naval Research envisions a future — long off, but tangible — in which every ship has a robot as a tool for firefighters.

The US Navy Wants More Railguns and Lasers, Less Gunpowder 517

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-shoot-you-with dept.
coondoggie writes Speaking before nearly 3,000 attendees at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology EXPO in Washington, D.C., Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert charged his audience to reduce reliance on gunpowder in a wide-ranging speech on the future technological needs of the Navy. "Number one, you've got to get us off gunpowder," said Greenert, noting that Office of Naval Research-supported weapon programs like Laser Weapon System (LaWS) and the electromagnetic railgun are vital to the future force. “Probably the biggest vulnerability of a ship is its magazine—because that’s where all the explosives are." Weapons like LaWS have a virtually unlimited magazine, only constrained by power and cooling capabilities aboard the vessel carrying them. In addition, Greenert noted the added safety for Sailors and Marines that will come from reducing dependency on gunpowder-based munitions.

TP-82: The Gun Cosmonauts Carried On Space Missions 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the shoot-first dept. writes James Simpson has an interesting story about the TP-82 survival pistol that Russian cosmonauts carried into space with them on missions between 1982 and 2006. But calling it a pistol is slightly misleading—the TP-82 was essentially a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun with a short-barreled rifle added onto it. Having a gun inside a thin-walled spacecraft filled with oxygen sounds crazy, but the Soviets had their reasons. Much of Russia is desolate wilderness. A single mishap during descent could strand cosmonauts in the middle of nowhere. In March 1965, cosmonaut Alexey Leonov landed a mechanically-faulty Voskhod space capsule in the snowy forests of the western Urals 600 miles from his planned landing site. For protection, Leonov had a nine-millimeter pistol. He feared the bears and wolves that prowled the forest—though he never encountered any. But the fear stayed with him. Later in his career, Leonov made sure the Soviet military provided all its cosmonauts with a survival weapon. For the Soviets, the weapon was a case of "better safe than sorry," and from 1986, it was a permanent fixture in the portable survival kits of every Soyuz mission. "Astronauts of all nationalities—including Americans—have trained with the TP-82," writes Simpson. "And still today, before they ride the Soyuz to space, they must complete a Russian survival training course in the Black Sea and the Siberian forest."

State Television Says Iran Launches New Satellite Into Space 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the putting-it-out-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes State television in Iran is reporting the Islamic Republic has launched a new satellite into space, its fourth in recent years to orbit the Earth. The report Monday quoted Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan saying the satellite, designed and built in Iran, is named "Fajr," or dawn in Farsi. The report did not elaborate.

DARPA-Funded Robots Learning To Cook By Watching YouTube Videos 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the perfect-meal dept.
jfruh writes Once you've built humanoid-shaped robots, how do you get them to move and act like humans? Well, one way to teach them how to do it is to have them watch one of the greatest repository of recorded human experience ever: YouTube. Robots in a Maryland lab have learned how to prepare meals by watching and processing a slew of cooking videos, one of YouTube's most popular genres.