Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Various companies consider returning to the moon, AI in your IPhone, everything we thought we knew about Jupiter might be wrong, Japan wants to take humanity to Mars’ moons, and NASA is fast tracking plans to explore a metal asteroid.
Returning To The Moon
Forty-five years have passed since humans last set foot on an extraterrestrial body. Now, the moon is back at the center of efforts not only to explore space, but to create a permanent, independent space-faring society.
Planning expeditions to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor is no longer just a NASA effort, though the U.S. space agency has plans for a moon-orbiting space station that would serve as a staging ground for Mars missions in the early 2030s. The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is planning a lunar fueling station for spacecraft, capable of supporting 1,000 people living in space within 30 years.
Next Generation of iPhones May Ship With AI
You’re next smartphone might be more “intelligent” than anyone could have guessed. Apple is working on artificial intelligence (AI) chips for the iPhone that could increase battery life and perform tasks that currently require a human, according to an informant who wants to remain anonymous.
The chips, which are reportedly known internally as the “Apple Neural Engine” and would be integrated into all Apple devices, are specifically designed to cope with the high processing power that AI demands. Currently, Apple uses the main processor and graphics chips to deal with AI features like Siri, iPhotos’ facial recognition, and predictive typing — but, because the hardware not designed specifically for this purpose, battery life suffers.
Juno is Sending Back Weird and Shocking Information About Jupiter
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has just revealed a wealth of new information about our Solar System’s biggest resident, Jupiter, and it’s now clear that everything we thought we knew about the gas giant may have been wrong. The first observations were made when the spacecraft dipped closer to the tops of the clouds covering the planets’ surface and passed over the poles.
“What we’ve learned so far is Earth-shattering. Or should I say, Jupiter-shattering,” Juno’s principal investigator at the South Research Institute, Scott Bolton, said in a press release. “Discoveries about its composition, magnetosphere, and poles are as stunning as the photographs the mission is generating.”
Japanese Space Agency Proposes Missions to Phobos and Deimos
In the coming decades, the world’s largest space agencies hope to mount some exciting missions to the Moon and to Mars. Between NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), there is simply no shortage of proposals for Lunar bases, crewed missions to Mars, and robotic explorers to both.
However, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has a different mission in mind when it comes to the coming decades. Instead of exploring the Moon or Mars, they propose exploring the moons of Mars! Known as the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission, the plan is to have a robotic spacecraft fly to Phobos and Deimos to explore their surfaces and return samples to Earth for analysis.
NASA Is Fast-Tracking Plans to Explore a Metal Asteroid
NASA is fast-tracking a planned trip to 16 Psyche — an asteroid that almost completely consists of nickel-iron metal. The iron in 16 Psyche alone is estimated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion, if humans were able to somehow extract it and bring it to Earth, which sounds great, until you realize that the entire global economy is only worth $78 trillion. Injecting that much worth into the world economy would crash it, in a totally different kind of asteroid impact than most people think about.
Fortunately, extracting minerals from 16 Psyche is not in NASA’s plans. NASA’s lead scientist for the mission, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, posed some fascinating questions to Global News Canada in January 2017: “Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here…what would you do? Could you kind of sit on it and hide it and control the global resource — kind of like diamonds are controlled corporately — and protect your market? What if you decided you were going to bring it back and you were just going to solve the metal resource problems of humankind for all time? This is wild speculation, obviously.”