Tesla Roadster and Starman Make First Close Approach With Mars - autoevolution
On February 6, 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made history when he launched a car, a first-generation Roadster, into space. That Roadster, along with its driver / pilot known as Starman, has now made a first close approach with Mars.
It’s been two years and eight months since the historical event and, while interest in the Roadster and Starman’s journey has diminished a bit, it’s still impressive. Just in case you woke up this morning and, while sipping coffee, were quietly asking yourself, “gee, I wonder where what Starman is up to today,” as one does, the answer comes from SpaceX itself: Starman is basking in the sight of the Red Planet. Or did, briefly. “Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today - within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet,” SpaceX says in a recent tweet. Sure, it’s not like Starman came within touching distance of Mars, but it’s still closer to it than it is to Earth right now, according to the WhereIsRoadster website, which has been tracking progress of the Roadster and its pilot. The same source notes that, if the battery on the Roadster is still working, Starman will have listened to Space Oddity 265,533 times in one year, and to Is there Life On Mars? 357,794 times in the other. Starman is a mannequin dressed up in a prototype of the SpaceX space suit, and there’s another, smaller version of it inside the Hot Wheels toy Roadster on the dashboard. A data storage device with a copy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels is included, just in case the duo encounter aliens on their space journey. The Roadster was launched into space on board the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, with no particular target in mind. It sped away at 4,641 mph (7,469 kph) and, according to consensus, it will continue to move into space until it collides with something and is destroyed. Unless it hasn’t happened already. Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today—within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet pic.twitter.com/gV8barFTm7 — SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 7, 2020
Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test Set for 2021, Astronaut Replaced - autoevolution
There are two privately-built spacecraft currently in development, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner. But even if both started off at about the same time, SpaceX’s hardware managed to get in front of its rival.
The Crew Dragon already flew to the ISS both uncrewed and with people on board, and it nailed both missions. The next one is scheduled for later this month, when four people will take a trip to space in it heading to the ISS.The Starliner on the other hand had it a bit rougher. In December 2019 the capsule went on its first voyage, an uncrewed mission to the ISS. Because of a software error that caused the spaceship to believe it was in an orbital insertion burn, when it was not, docking failed and the mission was abandoned. Starliner did manage though to nail the airbag landing at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico – and that’s something no other astronaut-capable capsule has done before. Sometime in 2021 (the date is for now set for June) the Starliner will take off with people on board. The initial crew was made up of Mike Fincke, Nicole Mann, and Chris Ferguson, but since the latter decided, for personal reason, to skip this mission, his place will be taken by Barry “Butch” Wilmore. The fact that private companies have decided to build spacecraft for NASA astronauts freed the agency’s hand to focus on the Artemis program. The Space Launch System rocket, the Orion capsule, the Gateway lunar space station and even an on-the-ground base on the Moon should be all up at running, at intervals, by the end of this decade. Then comes the real test, humanity’s first expedition to Mars, which is, by all intents and purposes, heavily dependent on the success of the Artemis program.
New Mercedes-AMG E63 Hits 186 MPH Like It's Nothing on the Autobahn - autoevolution
The updated Mercedes-AMG E63 has arrived in Germany, bringing with it a few juicy cosmetic updates. The V8 performance remains unchanged, but we still wanted to sample what the car is capable of on the legendary Autobahn.
The thing we like the most about the new E63 is the interior. It borrows most of the goodies from the new S-Class and packages them in carbon fiber trim. A major highlight is that steering wheel, with buttons integrated into thin black spokes and tiny drive mode displays.There was nothing wrong with the way the old model looked, so Mercedes didn't go wild in the exterior department. But look closely and you will notice the new headlights, wider brake lights, and an angry-looking AMG grille. As we've already stated, the E63 S has the same power output. More specifically, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo makes 603 hp (612 PS) going to all wheels via a revised 9-speed Speedshift transmission, which now features a wet start-off clutch instead of a torque converter. You can still get it with the 563 hp base engine, but the S model is the focus of this autobahn high-speed performance test. First to be timed is the 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint, which takes just under the officially claimed 3.4 seconds. After that, we learn that going from 62 to 124 mph (100 to 200 km/h) takes 7.7 seconds. Reviewer Automann-TV says this makes the E63 S quicker than the Audi RS6, which is totally expected. Even the RS7 might lose in this kind of sprint. Something tells us they're not going to make them like this for much longer in Germany. And finally, we enjoy seeing the 600+ hp sedan put to 300 km/h (186 mph) with ease. That kind of highway speed would get you on national TV in America but is completely legal in Germany. Heck, it even looks relatively safe.
Google's New Android Auto Music App Is Seriously Slow - autoevolution
Google is killing off Play Music and wants everybody to make the switch to YouTube Music, something which really shouldn’t be very inconvenient since the company also provides users with automatic migration tools.
But as many discovered the hard way, YouTube Music comes with a series of drawbacks on Android Auto, and one of them is the slow interaction with the app.As if the subscription requirement wasn’t enough for those who didn’t want to make the switch to YouTube Music in the first place, some are now complaining that finding a song to play in the music library takes way too long because the app is very slow. Users who turned to Google’s forums to describe the problem explain that YouTube Music feels slower when playing all kinds of content, not just music in the library. “In Google Play Music I could scroll through my entire library in seconds whereas now in YouTube Music it loads a few then another few then another, I've tried to see how long it takes me to scroll through my list of albums but never managed to get past the E's before I have to stop though frustration,” someone explains in a recent post. “I'm very willing to move along with Google's new approach to music apps, and I'll accept the flaws as I know most will be fixed, but at this point it's just unusable in the car. That's a big problem to me,” another user says. Is there anything you can do right now to fix all these issues? Not really. But the good news is that Google is well aware that the experience with YouTube Music needs to be further polished, so the company has already promised to increase its focus on enhancing the usability and reliability both on the phone and in the car. And this makes total sense now, especially at this point when YouTube Music is supposed to replace Google Play Music for all users out there.
Google Releases New Google Maps Updates for Android and Android Auto Users - autoevolution
Google has released a bunch of new Google Maps versions for Android devices, thus bringing an updated experience to Android Auto too.
The last time Google published a Google Maps update was in late July, but the company has resumed the work on both the beta and stable releases this week.So the first updates landed on August 14 when Google shipped version 10.48.0 beta and 10.47.2 stable. Three days later, Google officially rolled out the Google Maps version 10.48.1 for production devices, and this was the first stable release of 10.48 branch. However, the search giant jumped to Google Maps 10.49 beta yesterday, with the stable channel also being updated to 10.48.2. If everything goes according to the plan, there’s a good chance that the stable version of Google Maps is also updated to 10.49 by the end of the month. Now let’s see what’s inside these new updates. As usual, Google doesn’t provide changelogs for its app updates but judging from all the announcements that the company has released recently, we can actually try to figure this out on our own. First and foremost, there’s the new SOS alert feature that Google has included in Google Maps and Google Search for wildfires in the United States. Beginning with this update, users should be able to view more information about a specific blaze right in Google Maps, along with information regarding road closures. Then, Google has also recently announced an improved color scheme for the different types of terrain on Google Maps, so again, the new versions could be the ones making the whole thing happen on mobile devices. For Android Auto users, the Google Maps updates could include additional GPS tracking improvements, as users have been complaining of the app no longer being able to locate them on the map, thus breaking down the navigation. You can download the latest Google Maps updates from this page, and if you notice anything new, make sure you drop us a line in the box after the jump.
Viper Rover to Reach Moon on Astrobotic Spaceship, Ticket Costs $199 Million - autoevolution
NASA is determined to get to the Moon and possibly even create a permanent base there. For that to happen, there might be a need for at least some of the resources needed for the people there to be exploited locally rather than be carried up from Earth at eno…
NASA calls this type of localized operation in-situ exploitation, and at least in this stage, that means finding water on the Moon. To do that, the space agency will rely on a brand new and specialized rover called Viper. That’s short for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, and basically translates into a water-hunting machine.About the size of a golf cart, the Viper is fitted with four scientific instruments, including a 1-meter drill to be used to dig holes in the Moon. The machine will do this at our planet satellite's South Pole, the same place where astronauts are scheduled to arrive as part of the Artemis program three years from now. Earlier this week, NASA said it would soon announce the name of the company tasked with getting the rover to the Moon under the provisions of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. On Friday (June 12) it did, confirming the company in charge of the rover’s well-being is Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic. Astrobotic is one of three companies (alongside Intuitive Machines and Orbit Beyond) that in the summer of 2019 were announced as the main candidates for the delivery of various science and technology payloads to the Moon in preparation for human return. The company will receive $199.5 million to get the job done with the help of a lander called Griffin. there is no info on the rocket that will carry Griffin and Viper into space for now. “The VIPER rover and the commercial partnership that will deliver it to the Moon are a prime example of how the scientific community and U.S. industry are making NASA’s lunar exploration vision a reality,” said in a statement NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Commercial partners are changing the landscape of space exploration, and VIPER is going to be a big boost to our efforts to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 through the Artemis program.”