World space launch amid COVID-19: business as usual? - CGTN
Two new satellites have been sent into planned orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Saturday, as work and life slowly go back to normal after the COVID-19 epidemic. Launched via a Long March-11 carrier rocket at 4:13 a.m. (Beijing Time), the experimental satellites are designed to be used for the Earth observation. According to China aerospace science and technology corporation (CASC), the developer of the Long March family, Long March 11 will continue to carry out multiple land and sea launch missions in the next several months. Additionally, China's self-developed navigation system will also have its last satellite in place in June. "The BeiDou Satellite Navigation system-3 plans to have 30 satellites, with 29 now in orbit. It will be fully completed in June with the launch of the last satellite," Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV on May 15. "Both the satellite and carrier rocket have been sent to the launch site, and preparations for the upcoming launch are underway," he said. Ariane 5 rocket /CFP Space Launch in Europe On the other side of the world, the inaugural flight of the Ariane 6 rocket has been pushed back until next year because the coronavirus pandemic has led to project delays at development sites, the European Space Agency (ESA) said Thursday. "We can say for certain that the launch will not happen in 2020," Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA's director of space transportation, told AFP. The ESA, which groups 13 European countries, has not indicated when in 2021 a launch from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, may now be possible. Daniel said several sites in France, Italy and Spain were closed as a result of the different national lockdowns or were operating at reduced staffing levels. But activities were now being stepped up again. He said the site would only be able to resume operations with just half of it staff around mid-June. U.S. SpaceX Although the initial takeoff attempt was postponed on Wednesday due to unpleasant weather condition, SpaceX, seemingly unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., is poised to be the first private company to fly humans into orbit. Two veteran NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley plan to take a 19 hour long trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The trip marks the first manned launch from U.S. soil since NASA retired the Space Shuttle program in 2011. U.S. President Donald Trump, who flew in for the previous launch attempt, is expected to attend again. (With input from AFP)
Macao 'King of Gaming' Stanley Ho dies at 98 - CGTN
Macao gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun died on Tuesday at the age of 98, after operating at the helm of Asia's largest casino empire for half a century.
Macao gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun died on Tuesday at the age of 98, after operating at the helm of Asia's largest gaming empire for half a century. One of Asia's richest men, Ho, whose name was connected with Macao's rise to overtake Las Vegas as the world's gaming capital, died at Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital. Being an eminent figure, Ho has met China's top leaders many times and witnessed some of the country's historic moments, including China's negotiations with Portugal and the UK and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SAR) return to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively. He was a member of the Economic Council and a trustee of the Macao Foundation by the Macao SAR government. In 1998, an avenue in Macao was named after Ho, who is the first Chinese in the history of Macao to receive such an honor while still living. Family members of Macao gaming king Stanley Ho speak to the media in Hong Kong, China May 26, 2020. /Reuters Family members of Macao gaming king Stanley Ho speak to the media in Hong Kong, China May 26, 2020. /Reuters Swashbuckling business empire Ho was born into the rogue branch of Hong Kong's famed Ho Tung clan in 1921. His great-grandfather, Charles Bosman, was a successful Dutch-Jewish entrepreneur in mid-19th century Hong Kong. Ho's business interest spanned the world with particular emphasis on China's Hong Kong and Macao SARs, and Portugal. Besides gaming, his empire also covered shipping, tourism, entertainment, hospitality, property, finance, airport and airline sectors. Ho's personal fortune was estimated at 50 billion Hong Kong dollars (6.4 billion U.S. dollars) when he retired in 2018, just months before his 97th birthday. Ho spearheaded what is known in Macao as the junket VIP system, where a middleman acts on behalf of casinos by extending credit to gamblers and taking responsibility for collecting debts. As early as in 1970, Ho sought to craft Macao as Asia's Monte Carlo by declaring his presence with hotel casino Casino Lisboa in Macao, which combines Vegas with a grand European hotel. Although the blueprint was initially criticized by many as too fancy for Macao, Lisboa represented a "crucial stage" in Ho's career, acknowledged University of Macau Associate Professor of Business Economics Ricardo Siu. "The most lasting contribution of Stanley Ho to Macao may indeed be reflected from his ambitious and unceasing efforts to modernize the Macao economy," Siu said. Ho was managing director of both Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, SARL (STDM) and its subsidiary Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, SA (SJM), which is Ho's flagship gaming empire. Under Ho's direction, STDM invested in infrastructure, including Macau International Airport, flag carrier Air Macau and the city's first iconic convention venue, Macao Tower, and ran horse and dog racing. It also took stakes in banks, hotels and properties, including Macao's only department store, New Yaohan, which it rescued when the chain went bankrupt in 1997. It was hard to spend a dollar or a Macanese pataca in Macao without Ho getting a piece of it. Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho looks out from the Macao Ferry Terminal and in the background berths his latest in a fleet of jetfoils from his Hong Kong flagship company Shun Tak Holdings Ltd in Hong Kong, China. /Reuters Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho looks out from the Macao Ferry Terminal and in the background berths his latest in a fleet of jetfoils from his Hong Kong flagship company Shun Tak Holdings Ltd in Hong Kong, China. /Reuters Additionally, Ho pioneered hydrofoil travel in Asia between Macao and Hong Kong, replacing the previous overnight cruise with a one hour jaunt. He was the founder and group executive chairman of Shun Tak Holdings Limited, which assembled one of the world's largest hydrofoil fleets, developed its Hong Kong terminal into a major shopping and office complex and was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1973. Memorable contributions Ho earned the adoration of many for his philanthropic work and contribution to China's economic development. He founded the Stanley Ho Astronautics Training Foundation in China in 1990 and built the Stanley Ho Astronautics Training Center in Langfang, Hebei Province. He was proclaimed an Honorable Citizen of Beijing in 2001 and of Guangzhou in 1993. Ho served as an adviser to Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games Bidding Committee in 2001. After knowing Beijing won the bid for the 2008 Olympics in 2001, he made a substantial donation to the construction of the National Swimming Center. In 2003, Mo donated a bronze statue of the pig head of Yuanmingyuan Garden worth more than six million yuan to Poly Art Museum. In September 2007, he once again purchased the bronze statue of the horse head of Yuanmingyuan with 69.1 million Hong Kong dollars and displayed it publicly in Hong Kong and Macao, hoping to encourage more people to participate in the protection of Chinese cultural relics. The bronze statue of the horse head was donated to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in November 2019, as a gift to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland. Spending over half of his life in Macao and dedicated to the gaming industry for nearly 50 years to actively contribute to the development of Macao, Ho once said he was gratified to stick to his belief that it is more blessed to give than receive. HKSAR chief executive expresses sorrow Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam extended her deepest condolences on Tuesday to Ho's family in a statement published on the HKSAR government's website. Lam said Ho "loved the country and started to invest in the mainland as early as the 1970s to support its reform and opening-up and participate in its development. He also served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, contributing further to the advancement of the country." Ho "was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee, witnessing the city's return to the motherland. He took an active part in the development of Hong Kong's community service, lending staunch support for the fundraising activities of the Community Chest and donating generously to various local charitable organizations as well as tertiary education institutions," Lam said. Macao chief executive offers profound condolences Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, expressed his profound sorrow on Tuesday in a letter of condolence regarding the death of Ho. The Macao chief executive said Ho had devoted his life to charity and public welfare issues and made significant contributions to Macao's stability and prosperity. 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Climate change is turning Antarctica green, study finds - CGTN
Parts of the Antarctic Peninsula will change color as "green snow" caused by blooming algae is expected to spread with increases in global temperatures, research showed Wednesday.
Parts of the Antarctic Peninsula will change color as "green snow" caused by blooming algae is expected to spread with increases in global temperatures, research showed Wednesday. Although often considered devoid of plant life, Antarctica is home to several types of algae, which grow on slushy snow and suck carbon dioxide from the air. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey combined satellite imagery with on-the-ground observations to detect the current extent of green algae in the world's most barren continent. They identified more than 1,600 separate green algae blooms on snow across the peninsula, with a combined surface area of 1.9 square kilometres. "Even though the numbers are relatively small on a global scale, in Antarctica where you have such a small amount of plant life, that amount of biomass is highly significant," Matt Davey from Cambridge's Department of Plant Sciences, told AFP. "A lot of people think Antarctica is just snow and penguins. In fact when you look around the fringe there is a lot of plant life." The team calculated that algae on the peninsula currently absorb levels of CO2 equivalent to 875,000 average car journeys. They also found that the majority of algae blooms were within five kilometres (three miles) of a penguin colony, as the birds' excrement is an excellent fertilizer. The polar regions are warming far faster than other parts of the planet and the team predicted that low-lying coastal areas of Antarctica would soon be free from algae as they experience snow-free summers. But that loss will probably be offset by a preponderance of large algae blooms as temperatures rise and snow at higher altitudes softens. "As Antarctica continues to warm on small low-lying islands, at some point you will stop getting snow coverings on those in the summer," said Andrew Gray, lead author and researcher at the University of Cambridge and NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility, Edinburgh. "Conversely, in the north of the peninsula we saw some really large blooms and we hypothesize that we are likely to see more of these larger blooms." Gray told AFP that the green snow blooms on higher ground would "more than offset" the effect of sea-level algae losses. While more algae means more CO2 is absorbed, the plants could have a small but adverse impact on local albedo -- how much of the Sun's heat is reflected back from Earth's surface. Whereas white snow reflects 80 percent of radiation that hits it, for green snow that figure is closer to 45 percent. The team however said the reduced albedo is unlikely to impact Antarctica's climate on any meaningful scale. "There will be more carbon locked up in future just because you need snow to be in a slushier state for algae to bloom," said Evans. "We expect there to be more suitable habitat and overall more carbon sequestration." (Cover image via VCG) (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])