NASA scientists have solved the 39-year-old mystery of Jupiter’s lightning storms.
When Voyager 1 flew past the planet in 1979, it collected data showing mysterious lightning-associated radio signals completely different to the signals produced by lightning on Earth.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, the scientists from NASA’s Juno mission have discovered that Jovian lightning is inside-out compared to lightning on Earth.
While the revelation showed how Jupiter lightning is similar to Earth’s, the new paper also notes that where these lightning bolts flash on each planet is actually quite different.
“Jupiter lightning distribution is inside-out relative to Earth,” said Shannon Brown, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the lead author of the paper.
“There is a lot of activity near Jupiter’s poles but none near the equator. You can ask anybody who lives in the tropics-this doesn’t hold true for our planet,” Mr Brown added.
This was probably due to the way that the gas giant was heated, the team believed – because on Earth, where we received most of our heat from the sun’s radiation, the hottest place is the equator which receives the most of the sunshine.
This causes warm most air to rise most freely at the equator, powering huge lightning storms.
But for Jupiter, which orbits the Sun more than five times the distance that Earth does, and receives 25 times less sunlight, the atmosphere receives most of its heat from within the planet itself.
Image: The equator may be the most stable part of gas giant Jupiter’s atmosphere. Pic: NASA SVS/CI, Dan Gallagher
Although the Sun’s rays heat up Jupiter’s equator more than the poles – just as they do on Earth – the scientists believe that this actually stabilises Jupiter’s atmosphere, preventing air warmed by the planet’s interior from rising.
Because the poles do not have this upper-level warmth creating atmospheric stability, the warm gases from Jupiter’s interior are able to rise and result in powerful lightning storms.
The research has posed an answer to a mystery which had been been puzzling scientists since the 1979 Voyager 1 flyby.
“No matter what planet you’re on, lightning bolts act like radio transmitters – sending out radio waves when they flash across a sky,” said NASA’s Shannon Brown.
He said the previous analysis of Jupiter’s atmosphere had been limited by the spacecrafts’ equipment.
“Until Juno, all the lightning signals recorded by spacecraft were limited to either visual detections or from the kilohertz range of the radio spectrum, despite a search for signals in the megahertz range,” Mr Brown explained.
“Many theories were offered up to explain it, but no one theory could ever get traction as the answer.”
:: Cyclones look like lava flows in Juno flyover of Jupiter north pole
1:10 Video: Flying through Jupiter’s polar storms
Juno, which launched in 2011, has been orbiting Jupiter since July 2016.
Its highly sensitive scientific instruments include the Microwave Radiometer Instrument (MWR) which records radiation from deep inside the gas giant’s atmosphere.
“In the data from our first eight flybys, Juno’s MWR detected 377 lightning discharges,” said Mr Brown.
“They were recorded in the megahertz as well as gigahertz range, which is what you can find with terrestrial lightning emissions.
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“We think the reason we are the only ones who can see it is because Juno is flying closer to the lighting than ever before, and we are searching at a radio frequency that passes easily through Jupiter’s ionosphere.”
Juno will make the 13th flyby out of 37 planned orbits over Jupiter’s mysterous cloud tops on 16 July.
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Memes ‘will be banned’ under new EU law
A new copyright law from the European Union would lead to the banning of memes on the internet, campaigners are warning.
The EU Copyright Directive intends to protect the intellectual property rights of people who upload their material to the internet.
However, campaigners are warning the law will require “all content uploaded to the internet to be monitored and potentially deleted if a likeness to existing copyright is protected”.
The campaign against a particular provision of the directive, Article 13, warns that online platforms would be economically damaged if they were forced to comply with its expensive obligations.
The law would “destroy the internet as we know it” warn the campaigners, who add it would “allow big companies to control what we see and do online”.
Essentially, the campaigners are arguing the stringent copyright protections of Article 13 would damage the sharing of parody content and memes which, while themselves being original and creative works, are often developed from other people’s original content.
Memes including image macros – such as the stock photograph of a distracted boyfriend taken by photographer Antonion Guillem – are often shared without the approval of the copyright holder.
Image: The ‘distracted boyfriend’ photo was taken by Antonio Guillem and used as a meme
The campaign follows an open letter sent by academics from intellectual property research centres in Europe regarding the copyright directive.
The allegations have been robustly rejected by the European Commission.
Introducing the legislative drive in 2016, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted “journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work”.
The copyright protections would apply to that work “whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web.”
In response to the campaign, a European Commission spokesperson told Sky News: “The idea behind our copyright proposals is that people should be able to make a living from their creative ideas.
“The proposals to modernise EU copyright provisions will not harm freedom of expression on the internet.
“They take into account technological developments that have already been introduced by some of the major players and which help in two ways.
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“Firstly, they help to inform authors when their works are used online and to prevent that these works are used by major online platforms without their author’s consent.
“Secondly, such technological developments help to ensure the author’s fair remuneration for their work.”
Navigating Amazon’s increasingly complicated collection of Alexa-enabled devices
Amazon Fire TV Cube
What’s inside the mysterious cube? Well, lots of stuff.
This morning, Amazon announced a new device called the Fire TV Cube. As you might expect, it has Alexa built in, just like the “tens of millions” of other devices made by Amazon and third-party manufacturers looking to grab hold of consumers increasingly smart homes.
The Fire TV Cube is an odd duck in the Amazon hardware lineup. Its primary function is as a set-top box streaming device like the Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV. It brings Amazon’s operating system to the big screen (or any screen with an HDMI port, really) so users can stream popular services, like Netflix and Hulu and, of course, buy stuff from Amazon.
The differentiating feature is an array of infrared blasters, that allow it to act like a universal remote and control a collection of other devices that still require a physical remote control, like a DVD player or non-Wi-Fi TV.
Unlike a physical remote, however, the Fire TV Cube requires you to ask Alexa to perform your home theater task with your voice. You can shout to the Cube’s built-in microphones, or press the Alexa button on the Fire remote (which is the same one that comes with other Fire TV devices) and talk quietly. Whichever option you choose, however, you have to talk to give commands—you don’t get the typical array of buttons you’d get with a full universal remote.
In some ways, these commands are more versatile than buttons on a remote.. For instance, it can control cable boxes from some providers like Spectrum, which allows you to ask Alexa to do things like turn on AMC, change the volume, or open a specific streaming service like Hulu or Netflix.
This is a big step for Amazon’s Fire TV lineup because it’s the first time that an Amazon streaming device has a built-in speaker. It acts like an Echo, allowing you to interact with Alexa even when the TV is off.
Where does it fit into the Amazon Alexa lineup?
Amazon’s hardware offerings have grown increasingly complex lately, which can make picking the right device tricky. Here’s a quick breakdown of each Fire TV and Echo device to help you sort out which one you need.
**Fire TV Stick $39 **
Fire TV Stick
The smallest Amazon TV streaming device is shaped like a pack of gum.
Where does it go? In your luggage, so you can plug it into the hotel TV when traveling and not be stuck watching reality shows about moonshiners on basic cable.
The cheapest Fire TV you can buy is shaped like a pack of gum and plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port. It can stream all the popular services, but it doesn’t do 4K or HDR. This is the one that you throw into your suitcase before a trip so you can sit and watch The Office on Netflix when you’re bored of vacationing. It has Alexa, but only through the remote; the stick itself doesn’t have a microphone.
Fire TV $69
Amazon Fire TV
The bigger Fire TV device supports 4K streaming and HDR video.
Where does it go? On the back of a secondary TV or your main screen if you don’t use a lot of other devices like DVD players and external speakers.
The middle-of-the-road Fire TV has a faster processor than the Fire TV Stick, which gives it the power to pump out 4K and HDR content. Other than that, its features are almost identical to its cheaper sibling, including the lack of microphone.
Fire TV Cube $119
Where does it go? In your home entertainment system next to all the old set top boxes you refuse to get rid of.
The new flagship Fire TV device links all of your home theater gadgets together, including cable boxes, Blu-ray players, and soundbars. It streams 4K and HDR content, and it has an array of microphones so you can use Alexa by calling out to it. It also has twice the internal storage of the other Fire TV boxes.
Toshiba Fire TV Edition $329 – $479
Amazon Fire TV Edition
This is a full TV with the Fire OS built-in. You can get it at Best Buy before Amazon kills Best Buy.
Where does it go? These HDTVs have Amazon’s Fire platform built-in, so they can go anywhere you want an extra smart TV.
Many of the big manufacturers like Sony and LG make smart TVs that will take commands from Alexa, but these displays natively run the Fire TV OS with direct access to the digital assistant. This is part of Amazon’s partnership with Best Buy, which is helping the online retail giant creep into whatever is left of brick-and-mortar retail.
Echo Show $149
Amazon Echo show
This 7-inch smart hub is like a miniature TV, only it’s smaller and you can’t really watch TV on it.
Where does it go? Wherever you’re cool with putting a camera in your house that could maybe see what you’re up to when you trigger it.
Echo Show isn’t part of the Fire TV system, but it does have Alexa and a screen, so it’s worth mentioning in this context. The display is only seven-inches and you don’t get the full breadth of app compatibility you’d get from a device with the full Fire OS. So, if you wanted to watch Hulu on a very tiny screen for some reason, you’re out of luck. This does, however, have a pair of stereo speakers, which makes it much better for audio than any of the dedicated Fire products, unless you’re routing them to a sound system.
The Echo Spot has a similar feature set to the Show, but it has a smaller, round screen that’s meant to provide information rather than consume any kind of video content.
Echo Dot $39
Amazon Echo Dot
The best and cheapest way to get Alexa into your house is still the Dot.
Where does it go? Pretty much anywhere
Again, this is an Echo device and not a Fire TV, so it’s primarily designed for smart home control and converting speakers without Wi-Fi to Alexa. It’s $40, it’s versatile, and it’s the simplest way to get Alexa into your smart home.
**[Echo](https://amzn.to/2M8uzkv_ and Echo Plus $99 and $149 respectively **
The most familiar home for Alexa is the original Echo speaker
**Where do they go? **When Sonos announced its new connected soundbar with Alexa yesterday, it claimed that Google and Amazon Echo speakers are competing for the kitchen and that’s a fairly accurate sentiment.
These stand-alone smart speakers from Amazon can play music from decent built-in speakers, and also dish out commands to connected smart home devices. These are the quintessential bottles that hold the Alexa genie.
‘Significant breakthrough’: Complex organic matter on Mars
By Lucia Binding, news reporter
A NASA robot has detected complex organic matter on Mars in a “significant breakthrough” in the hunt for life on the planet.
The unmanned Curiosity rover discovered the matter from 3.5 billion-year-old rocks on the surface of the Red Planet, scientists have revealed.
The samples were drilled from the base of Mount Sharp, inside a basin called Gale Crater.
The discovery is not a direct evidence of life.
But the compounds are the most diverse array ever found on the surface of the planet since the robotic vehicle landed six years ago, experts claim.
Curiosity has also found increasing evidence for seasonal variation of methane on Mars – indicating the source of the gas is likely the planet itself, or possibly its subsurface water.
“This is a significant breakthrough because it means there are organic materials preserved in some of the harshest environments on Mars,” said lead author of one of two studies in Science, Jennifer Eigenbrode.
“And maybe we can find something better preserved than that, that has signatures of life in it,” added Ms Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center.
Image: NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recorded the sun setting at the close of the mission’s 956th Martian day in 2015
A smaller discovery of organic matter by NASA’s Curiosity rover was announced in 2012.
:: NASA solves the mystery of Jupiter’s lightning
The new study reveals the discovery of complex and diverse organic compounds in more detail, however.
“This is the first really trusted detection,” said co-author Sanjeev Gupta, a professor of earth science at Imperial College London.
1:16 Video: Mars mission takes off on Atlas V rocket
“What this new study is showing in some detail is the discovery of complex and diverse organic compounds in the sediments. That doesn’t mean life, but organic compounds are the building blocks of life,” he added.
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“This is the first time we have detected such a diverse array of these sorts of things.”
The compounds may have come from a meteorite or geological formations similar to coal and black shale on Earth, Ms Eigenbrode said.
Liam Fox: UK ‘well behind’ on cyber exports
By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter
Despite being at the “cutting edge” of developing cyber security technology, the UK has struggled to compete in export environments, according to Liam Fox.
Figures recently released by the Department for International Trade suggest the country is on track to account for less than 2% of global cyber security sales by 2021.
This is in stark contrast to the wider UK’s defence and security exports, where it holds about 18% of the global defence market and 7% of the global security market.
In an interview with Sky News, the international trade secretary described the situation as “almost paradoxical” because the UK is at the “cutting edge of the technology” development itself.
Dr Fox said he had reorganised the UK’s Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) because there are significant differences in selling arms and selling security products.
Separating the pair into different strands is intended to allow the department to concentrate on growing cyber security exports as effectively as the UK sells arms.
“Defence, particularly big defence projects, are increasingly government-to-government [sales],” Dr Fox said, referencing the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
Image: Defence sales, such as Typhoons, are completed government-to-government
Cyber security sales on the other hand are much more likely to come from SMEs rather than big primes, and so do not complete in large multibillion transactions at a time.
This could account for the disparity between the UK’s cyber security exports and defence exports in real numbers, but not in terms of proportion.
“We’re at a relatively low share of global security sales,” Dr Fox acknowledged.
According to government figures, global spend on cyber security is expected to exceed £759bn cumulatively from 2017 to 2021.
The same estimates suggest that the UK’s share of that market would be less than 2% over the same period.
Asked if had an aim for where that share should be, the secretary of state said: “Yeah, up.”
Although a figure wasn’t offered, he said: “As much as we can get.
“Even if you looked across all our security, whether that’s drones, whether it’s electronic surveillance, whether it’s cyber, we should be able to push our security sales up to the level of our defence sales.
“So if we’re getting 18% of the total global security market that would be great for us, and as you say we’re well behind.”
Image: The UK is paradoxically at the ‘cutting edge’ of technology, but lagging in sales
There are a number of technologies which lie outside of the typical cyber export market and are covered by the Wassenaar Arrangement, which controls the export of “dual-use technologies” such as surveillance equipment to prevent them being used by governments known to abuse human rights.
Official statistics show that 11% of the total export licences issued in 2017 were for cyber exports covered by this regime.
Laws in the UK have also been criticised by domestic businesses, although these do not always cover exporting materials which are licensed.
Information assurance firm NCC Group has complained that the Computer Misuse Act 1990 is outdated and prevents it from conducting commercial threat intelligence analysis, which its competitors in the US and Israel do not have to worry about..
Asked if there is any intention to consider legislative change considering the arguments of firms such as NCC Group, Dr Fox said:
“Obviously we’ve got to strike a balance between promoting UK companies and their ability to still make profits abroad, but we also have very strict rules around exports and security.
“The consolidated criteria that we work against are actually some of the most rigorous rules anywhere,” he added.
“It’s difficult in some areas where the same capabilities can be used for a defensive and an offensive capability, so like a lot of areas the rules around cyber are having to evolve as the technology improves, but [that has to take place] against the established law and criteria we have to operate in.
“We’ve got this almost paradoxical position where the UK is at the cutting edge of the technology” but is doing poorly in sales.
Image: The UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, is part of the ‘cutting-edge’ of technology. Pic: GCHQ
Alongside the reorganisation of the DSO, the international trade department has released a cyber export strategy to assist SMEs in getting into foreign markets.
According to the government’s statistics, Europe has typically been the UK’s largest export market for cyber security, and accounted for roughly 55% of all security exports in 2016.
It is not clear how Brexit will affect these export figures, but all of the key markets targeted in the cyber export strategy are outside the EU.
The strategy has included a partnership with banks to help SMEs acquire export finance on an expedited basis, as accessing loans usually has taken longer than the windows of opportunities that businesses need to take advantage of contracts.
“Now you can go into one of the five big banks and say, ‘I’m an SME, I want access to export finance’, and they can tell you within an hour whether you’d be eligible, and they can close the deal in six days,” said Dr Fox.
“Last year, 78% of all the acceptances for export finance were SMEs – that was virtually a flip from before.”
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The international trade department is also developing advisers in markets and will have cyber experts embedded in Washington DC, Dubai, Delhi, and Singapore.
“They’re our key areas where we’re promoting big demand for British products and where the UK already enjoys a high reputation,” Dr Fox added.
Hacked firms mistaking NCSC staff for pranksters
By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter – Exclusive
Businesses contacted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are mistaking the intelligence agency staff for pranksters.
The NCSC, which opened as the defensive arm of GCHQ in 2016, contacts organisations following cyber security breaches and attacks to confirm details and offer advice.
A number of organisations which have suffered security incidents have mistaken these contacts and failed to engage with the agency, Sky News has learned.
When the agency opened, the deputy director for its incident management directorate, Peter Yapp, explained the environment around its outreach work to businesses.
“If something [regarding a cyber incident and your company] breaks in the press, I’ll get a call from someone in government,” Mr Yapp was quoted in The Register, before adding that he would be expected to explain to government what the incident meant.
“If you haven’t phoned me and told me about it, I will phone you,” he added.
These kinds of contacts are being treated with suspicion, according to individuals with knowledge of the outreach efforts, who said the intelligence agency’s staff had been accused of being pranksters.
These mistakes were especially understandable following security incidents, Sky sources added, when criminals can often attempt to take advantage of the confusion.
Image: NCSC has launched an online contact validation tool which will deal with the doubts
Businesses which have been contacted by the agency are encouraged to use the Contact Validation tool on the ncsc.gov.uk website which allows them to confirm the identity of the staff member.
A number of organisations first encountered NCSC during and just after the WannaCry attack which hit the NHS last year and led to almost 20,000 hospital appointments and operations being cancelled.
NCSC aims to offer both the public and private sector incident response advice as British businesses continue to be hit by more online attacks than ever before.
Sky sources noted that the situation is improving as the agency works on building a recognisable brand as a resource for providing cyber security advice.
A spokesperson for NCSC told Sky News: “As the UK’s authority on cyber security, we are committed to providing effective incident response to minimise harm and provide expert advice and guidance when needed.
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“On occasions when NCSC technical experts contact organisations about cyber incidents, we provide them with the option to confirm the caller’s identity via the NCSC website.
“Our Contact Validation gives reassurance to our customers and ensures best practice in keeping the UK’s digital communities the safest place to live and work online.”