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NASA’s robot is about to land on asteroid Bennu to unlock the secrets of life

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A meeting between OSIRIS-REx and Bennu will mark the first NASA mission to collect material from the surface of an asteroid. This mission is also a labor of love for researchers around the globe who invested years of their lives into the historic mission.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) arrived at Bennu late in 2018, and has been studying the asteroid ever since.

The asteroid containsome of the building blocks of life, making this mission vital in the search for answers to how life began on Earth, and — potentially — other worlds.

“OSIRIS-REx spectrometer data show absorptions (“fingerprints”) of complex organic molecules and carbonate minerals on Bennu’s surface… The presence of organics on Bennu suggests that asteroids like Bennu may have brought organic molecules to Earth,” researchers describe in an article published in the journal Science.

Carbon and associated molecules were detected on Bennu prior to the arrival of OSIRIS-REx, and that mission will assist researchers searching for answers to the chemical makeup of that enigmatic body.

“Bennu is likely rich in organic molecules, which are made of chains of carbon bonded with atoms of oxygen, hydrogen, and other elements in a chemical recipe that makes all known living things. Besides carbon, Bennu also might have another component important to life: water, which is trapped in the minerals that make up the asteroid,” NASA describes.

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The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prior to launch. Image credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Launched in 2016, OSIRIS-REx searched the asteroid for potential touchdown locations from September 4 to 27. The first sample collection attempt is scheduled for October 20, and the sample is due to arrive on Earth September 23, 2023.

“We’ve been working for over a decade toward the upcoming sampling attempt. It’s such an exciting time. The spacecraft will send back data pretty quickly to let us know if the maneuver itself was successful, and it’ll be exciting to see images from the sampling event, which should be sent back within a day,” Joshua Emery, associate professor in NAU’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, stated.

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The orbit of Bennu in relation to the inner planets of our Solar System. Image credit: NASA/GSFC

Bennu belongs to a class of asteroids know as rubble pile asteroids — which, as the name suggests, are loose amalgamations of smaller pieces, rather than one solid body.

New findings from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft suggest Bennu is stronger and denser in it’s outer layers than inside, like a creme-filled chocolate egg. This finding came from studying minor fluctuations in the gravitational field of the asteroid.

“If you can measure the gravity field with enough precision, that places hard constraints on where the mass is located, even if you can’t see it directly,” said Andrew French, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Bennu is rotating faster over time, pushing carbon-rich material from its core closer to the surface.

This could be bad news for Bennu, as the finding suggests the asteroid may fall apart within a million years.

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LG’s rollable TV finally goes on sale for $87,000

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LG has announced that its world-first rollable TV is finally going on sale, albeit in limited fashion. The 65-inch LG Signature OLED R is now available at seven consumer electronics store throughout South Korea and will cost 100 million won, or more than $87,000.

The Signature OLED R is built around a flexible OLED panel that LG describes with characteristic restraint as “the most innovative development in television technology in decades.” Because of its flexible nature, it can retract partially or fully into its base, adapting to different aspect ratios or hiding the panel completely when not in use.


“LG’s exquisite creation liberates users from the limitations of the wall, enabling owners to curate their living environment without having to permanently set aside space for a large, black screen that is only useful when turned on,” the company says in a statement. Buyers will be able to choose between four colors for the wool speaker cover, and the aluminum base can be personalized with an engraving.

Unsurprisingly for such an ambitious product, the Signature OLED R has faced a difficult path to market. LG Display first showed off a rollable TV prototype at CES 2018, and Bloomberg later reported that the display would make its way into a shipping product the next year. LG did indeed bring a commercial rollable TV to the next CES with plans to release it in spring 2019, but it never actually went on sale.

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Trump says ‘nobody gets hacked’ but forgot his hotel chain was hacked — twice

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According to President Trump speaking at a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday, “nobody gets hacked.” You don’t need someone who covers security day in and day out to call bullshit on this one.

“Nobody gets hacked. To get hacked you need somebody with 197 IQ and he needs about 15 percent of your password,” Trump said, referencing the recent suspension of C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, who admitted falsely claiming his Twitter account was hacked this week after sending a tweet to former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

There’s a lot to unpack in those two-dozen words. But aside from the fact that not all hackers are male (and it’s sexist to assume that), and glossing over the two entirely contrasting sentences, Trump also neglected to mention that his hotel chain was hacked twice — once over a year-long period between 2014 and 2015 and again between 2016 and 2017.

We know this because the Trump business was legally required to file notice with state regulators after each breach, which they did.

In both incidents, customers of Trump’s hotels had their credit card data stolen. The second breach was blamed on a third-party booking system, called Sabre, which also exposed guest names, emails, phone numbers and more.

The disclosures didn’t say how many people were affected. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t “nobody.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

It’s easy to ignore what could be considered a throwaway line: To say that “nobody gets hacked” might seem harmless on the face of it, but to claim so is dangerous. It’s as bad as saying something is “unhackable” or “hack-proof.” Ask anyone who works in cybersecurity and they’ll tell you that no person or company can ever make such assurances.

Absolute security doesn’t exist. But for those who don’t know any different, it’s an excuse not to think about their own security. Yes, you should use a password manager. Absolutely turn on two-factor authentication whenever you can. Do the basics, because hackers don’t need an IQ score of 197 to break into your accounts. All they need is for you to lower your guard.

If “nobody gets hacked” as Trump claims, it makes you wonder whatever happened to the 400-pound hacker the president mentioned during his first White House run.

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The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda’s adventures continue in brand new look at season two

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The Mandalorian’s second season is just days away from premiering on Disney Plus, and a new trailer for the Star Wars series teases what fans can expect.

Most of the trailer focused on the Mando’s continued adventures with the Child, including an ominous moment where he’s warned that the worlds he’s trying to visit are no places for a child. Much like executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni teased in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the show looks like it will tackle more substantial narrative lines than we got in the first season.

Picking up essentially where the last season left off, The Mandalorian’s second season will explore a much “larger story in the world,” according to Favreau. While many of the episodes in the first season could stand on their own as one-offs, the second season will see storylines intertwine even more, Favreau and Filoni told Entertainment Weekly ahead of the second season’s debut.

“Everything gets bigger, the stakes get higher, but also the personal story between the Child and the Mandalorian develops in a way I think people will enjoy,” Filoni said.

With The Mandalorian returning to Disney Plus, it’s an exciting time for Star Wars fans — but it’s also an important moment for the House of Mouse. The Mandalorian launched alongside Disney Plus in November 2019, and since then, Disney Plus has suffered from a lack of original, exciting programming that will bring in and keep subscribers happy. Part of that is because the pandemic made production nearly impossible on shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier until recently, but the fact remains: Disney needs something to get people talking again.

Executives are hoping that The Mandalorian’s second season, and its adorable star the Child — aka Baby Yoda — will do for Disney Plus in 2020 what the show did in 2019. If everything goes according to plan, The Mandalorian will roll into WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ next big show, which may roll into another big title. Disney Plus needs that continuous momentum to keep people around, especially as one year free offers from partners like Verizon start to end and Disney will start charging many customers who aren’t paying.

Regardless of whether The Mandalorian helps Disney amass and keep more subscribers, it’s exciting to have more new Star Wars back in our lives. The Mandalorian returns on October 30th.

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