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i7 Engineering is an engineering firm specializing in the development of advanced electrical, mechanical, software & autonomous robotic systems.


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Physicists Control Quantum Particles Using Quantum Entanglement


Scientists from the FOM Foundation and Delft University of Technology have manipulated a quantum particle, merely by looking at it in a smart way. By adjusting the strength of their measurement according to earlier measurement outcomes, they managed to steer the particle towards a desired state. The scientists published their results online on 16 February 2014 in Nature Physics.

Quantum mechanics describes the behaviour of microscopic particles, such as atoms and electrons. When we compare it to our observations in everyday life, nature behaves very strangely at the scale of these particles. For instance, an electron can be in two states at the same time.

To demonstrate how peculiar this property is, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a famous thought experiment where the state of a quantum particle is linked to the fate of a cat. The two are situated in a sealed box. The quantum particle acts as a switch that can either open (switch on) or close (switch off) a small flask of poison. As long as the quantum particle can be simultaneously in two states (on and off), the flask with poison is open and closed, and the cat is both dead and alive at the same time.

But the weirdness doesn’t end there: as soon as the box is opened to observe the state of the cat, this situation changes. The act of measurement forces the animal to be either dead or alive. This is called the quantum mechanical measurement back-action: the state (of the particle as well as the imaginary cat) is inevitably perturbed by the measurement and collapses to a classical state. In this work, the scientists investigated what happens when the box is only slightly opened. Is it possible to peek at the cat, without destroying the fragile quantum state?

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The World’s First 1080p Video From Space Available to the Public

Typically, when we see high-resolution content taken from satellites in space, we are looking at still photos. A company called Skybox Imaging has shown off some of the very cool HD footage that it has taken from its first satellite orbiting the Earth. Currently the company has a single satellite in orbit called SkySat-1.

That satellite launched in November and the company plans to have a second satellite in orbit by March 2014. The satellite in orbit now is capable of taking HD resolution video from space. It’s really cool to see the video with clouds, cars, and smoke moving across the screen.

The resolution of the video isn’t enough to see people, but you can see cars on the road. You can’t tell what types of cars you are seeing though. The resolution of the video is around three feet. The impressive part about this video is that the satellite that made it uses off the shelf hardware.


If a satellite with off the shelf hardware can take video with this sort of resolution from miles above the surface of the Earth, it makes you wonder what the high-tech spy satellites are capable of shooting. The Skybox satellites can take 90-second video clips at 30fps. The company wants to sell the video to city planners and other state and local governmental agencies.

Hubble Spots Five Planets With Watery Atmospheres

The Hubble Space Telescope has spied five alien worlds around distant stars that show clear signs of water vapor filling their atmospheres, according to a new study. The find represents the first conclusive detection and comparison of water vapor in the atmosphere of planets orbiting nearby stars.

While they all have unromantic names like WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b, and XO-1b, they also all orbit nearby stars and show signs of water vapor in their atmospheres.

These “exoplanets” are no place for life, since each is classified as a hot Jupiter—gas giants that circle very closely to their parent suns. However, clear chemical fingerprints of water vapor were detected in light reflected off their uppermost cloud decks and seen by the storied space telescope.

“To actually detect the atmosphere of an exoplanet is extraordinarily difficult. But we were able to pull out a very clear signal, and it is water,” co-author Drake Deming, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, said in a statement.

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Submaran Under Sail For The First Time In San Diego Bay


This weekend marks the first time the Ocean Aero Submaran - Unmanned Underwater Surface Vessel or UUSV, was powered solely by it’s test wing-sail technology. Submaran used the wind along with remote control inputs from an operator on shore to navigate it’s way through the San Diego Bay near Naval Base San Diego. This is by no means the final design however is a first step in the development of it’s fully autonomous wing-sailing technology. 

The Ocean Aero team consist of experts in wing-sail technology development including many years of multihull racing design experience with BMW Oracle Racing for the America’s Cup, to aerospace experts who have developed everything from aero-thermal analysis and more for Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, to life-support and 100% of all space-rated electrical hardware onboard the Red Bull Stratos capsule.

Engineers at i7 Engineering are hard at work developing the brain of the Submaran which will enable full autonomous operation of the Submaran platform. The ground breaking technology that will make up the Submaran’s brain is still not public however consists of revolutionary techniques in cognitive robotics which will position Submaran as one of the most capable mobile robotic platforms on the planet.

Stay tuned for more information and updates on the development.




SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket On First GEO Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky over Florida Tuesday (Dec. 3) in a landmark communications satellite mission that catapulted the private spaceflight company into the commercial launch business.

The upgraded Falcon 9 rocket launched into space from SpaceX’s pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a mission to deliver the 3.2-ton SES-8 communications satellite into orbit. The liftoff at 5:41 p.m. EST (2241 GMT) marked SpaceX’s first entry into the large commercial satellite market and its first launch into a geostationary transfer orbit needed for such a mission.

The launch also marked the first flight of SpaceX’s enhanced Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from Florida and came after two aborted attempts last week due to technical glitches, making the third time the charm for the upgraded rocket design.

"We’ve had a great launch today," SpaceX Falcon 9 product manager John Insprucker said just after liftoff.

Another major milestone for SpaceX occurred 27 minutes after liftoff, when the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket reignited its second stage for a maneuver that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its intended orbit. An attempt to perform the maneuver during a September test flight of the upgraded Falcon 9 failed due to a frozen igniter fluid line, a glitch SpaceX engineers fixed with the addition of insulation to the affected system.

"Spacecraft separation confirmed!" SpaceX officials wrote in a Twitter post 33 minutes after launch. "SES-8 is now in its targeted GEO transfer orbit."

SpaceX’s billionaire CEO and founder Elon Musk was exultant.

"Restart was good, apogee raised to 80k km (50k miles). Yes!!!" Musk wrote on Twitter.

The 6,918-lb. (3,138 kilograms) SES-8 satellite was placed in a transfer orbit that ranges between 183 miles (295 kilometers) above Earth at its nearest point and 49,709 miles (80,000 km) at its highest point. The satellite is a hybrid Ku-and Ka-band spacecraft built to provide high-definition telecommunications services to SES World Skies customers across the South Asia and Pacific region.

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China’s 1st Lunar Rover Launches to the Moon

China’s first-ever mission to land a rover on the moon has begun its journey to the lunar frontier.

Riding atop a modified Long March 3B rocket, China’s Chang’e 3 moon lander and its rover Yutu, launched toward the moon at 1:30 a.m. Monday (Dec. 2) local time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the country’s Sichuan province. It was 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) on Dec. 1 at launch time.


If the probe continues on track, Chang’e 3 will land on the lunar surface by mid-December, becoming the first spacecraft to touch down on the moon in more than 37 years. The moon landing mission was the former Soviet Union’s robotic Luna 24 sample return mission in 1976.

Shortly after the Chang’e 3 spacecraft separated from its rocket, launch officials declared the liftoff a success.

"The Chang’e probe on its way to the moon, of course, is a symbol of China’s national prowess," Zhang Zhenzhoung, director of China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center, according to a translation by the state-run CCTV news broadcast. "Let’s all work together … to make more efforts in space exploration and realize the Chinese dream."

Chang’e 3 is expected to touch down by Dec. 14 or 15 to begin conducting scientific surveys on the moon. The mission is China’s first-ever landing on the surface of an extraterrestrial body and signals a shift into the second stage of China’s lunar exploration program. That program consists of three major steps: orbit the moon, land on the moon, and return moon rock samples to Earth by 2020.

China’s first two unmanned moon missions, the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 lunar orbiter flights, launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively.


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ESA’S GOCE Mission Out of Fuel and Falling to Earth!


A European satellite the Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Explorer, better known as GOCE, ran out of fuel and will start falling back to earth in the next few days. Fragments of the disintegrating 2,000-pound spacecraft are expected to strike the Earth’s surface.

Nobody knows where or when the fragments will hit, but the European Space Agency has said the parts are likely to fall into the ocean or unpopulated areas. Potential spots will be narrowed down closer to re-entry, ESA said on its website.

Re-entry probably will occur Sunday or Monday, Rune Floberghagen, mission manager for the GOCE mission, told the New York Times.

GOCE was launched in 2009 to map variations in the Earth’s gravity in 3D, provide ocean circulation patterns and make other measurements.
ESA’s website said the satellite “became the first seismometer in orbit” in March 2011 when it detected sound waves from the earthquake that struck Japan.

GOCE was expected to fall much earlier but fuel consumption was less than expected. In August, the satellite’s altitude was lowered to about 139 miles, lowest of any research satellites, to improve the accuracy of the information being gathered, ESA’s website said.
GOCE ran out of fuel October 21. On November 4, ESA’s website said the satellite was orbiting the Earth at 119 miles and the rate of descent would increase significantly in coming days.

Original Article on CNN


VIDEO: Amazing 3D Flyover of Mars Using Stitched Images From Mars Express

A newly released video, created by stitching together images taken by a veteran Mars spacecraft, provides a richly detailed, three-dimensional view of the Red Planet.

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft has orbited the Red Planet nearly 12,000 times, capturing images of Martian valleys, canyons and lava flows that have provided unprecedented views of planet’s terrain. Researchers pieced together the individual images into a video that shows a eye-popping video of Mars in 3D.


"For the first time, we can see Mars spatially — in three dimensions," Ralf Jaumann, project manager for the Mars Express mission at the German Aerospace Center, said in a statement.

Mars Express has covered 37 million square miles (97 million square kilometers) of Mars’ surface (out of 56 million square miles or 145 million square kilometers) in high resolution. Researchers around the world combine data from Mars Express with other NASA missions at the Red Planet, to better understand the foreign world.

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ESA Concept Robot Video Depicts Future of Space Exploration

Robots have become a mainstay of space exploration. From rovers to chatty anime robots on the International Space Station, they have already proven their worth in many ways. But what will the space robots of the future look like? The European Space Agency has released a video showing advanced robotics designs for lunar and planetary exploration. The concepts include multifunction robots designed for both autonomous space exploration and to aid astronauts in working on other worlds.


ESA has had a keen interest in robotics for decades and as the 2018 launch date for its ExoMars rover approaches, that interest grows ever keener. The new ESA video is designed to give us some idea of what future robot explorers will look like by showing them in action in a hypothetical lunar scenario.


Here we see a concept of a future lunar rover using a laser to scan the terrain in front of it. In this case, the red of the laser indicates that it’s detected a rough, sloping terrain that will be difficult to navigate. The wheels of the rover may seem over complex and the general design of the robot a bit simple, but there’s a reason for this.

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Lunar Orbiting Spacecraft Uses Laser Beams to Break Records

A laser communications experiment flying on NASA’s newest moon probe is now a record holder.

The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) — a technology test flying on NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft, or LADEE — has set a record for the fastest download rate between the moon and Earth.


LADEE recently began a month-long checkout period at the moon that included testing the communications demonstration, a system that employs laser technology instead of radio wave transmissions. Using a pulsed laser beam, the instrument sent data 239,000 miles (384,633 kilometers) home to Earth at the relatively speedy download rate of 622 megabits per second. The test also showed an “error-free upload rate” of 20 megabits per second from the primary ground station in New Mexico, NASA officials said.


"The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it," Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement. "This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities."

Laser communications technology could help NASA scientists communicate with farflung spacecraft in the future, allowing rapid and high-fidelity downloads of 3D images and high-definition video from distant parts of the solar system, NASA officials have said.

The LLCD is not the first laser communicator to leave the planet, although it is the first dedicated laser communications instrument of its kind. NASA used a laser to send a picture of the Mona Lisa to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the moon.


"LLCD is the first step on our roadmap toward building the next generation of space communication capability," Badri Younes, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation, said in a statement. "We are encouraged by the results of the demonstration to this point, and we are confident we are on the right path to introduce this new capability into operational service soon."

LADEE launched on Sept. 6 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The probe is tasked with investigating the moon’s thin atmosphere and helping to solve a moon dust mystery dating back to before the Apollo era. Astronauts noticed a glow on the lunar horizon before sunrise, and scientists think it may have been caused by particles of dust, a claim that LADEE will investigate during its 100-day science mission.

Original article on Space.com