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China says its first Mars rover Zhurong has landed on the Red Planet • The Register

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Updated China’s Zhurong rover today touched down on Mars from the Tianwen-1 orbiter, the nation’s state media says.

We’re told the machine will take carry out self-tests, and try to move itself to explore the Red Planet’s surface.

“On May 15, our country’s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1, landed in a pre-selected landing zone in the southern Utopia Planitia of Mars, leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time. It marks an important step in our country’s interstellar exploration journey,” Xinhua reported at 0837 in Beijing (1737 PT, 0037 UTC).

“Next, the Zhurong rover will photograph the landing site, perform self-inspection, and depart from the landing point, and conduct inspections.”


This article was updated at 0056 UTC, May 15. Below is our original piece.

China’s National Space Administration will today attempt to land its first Mars rover Zhurong on the Red Planet.

The robot is in orbit around Mars aboard the Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which has been mapping the dust world since February for landing zones. Now, according to multiple sources, the spacecraft will attempt to get its solar-powered trundlebot onto the surface at around 2313 UTC (1613 PT) – and as past attempts by humanity have shown, it’s a 50-50 shot at best.

Anything can go wrong during the so-called “seven minutes of terror,” the time it takes for a lander to rip through the Martian atmosphere and plop on the ground.

The vehicle’s speed has to slow from typically thousands of metres per second to zero in that time to prevent the hardware from slamming straight into the ground and smashing into smithereens. Parachutes have to be deployed at exactly the right time to manage the first stage of descent properly – remember what happened to the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli when it failed to handle flight on Mars?

Once the parachutes have slowed down the spacecraft, directable rocket thrusters will deploy to manage the last stage of the landing. The touchdown spot has been picked as Utopia Planitia, a region measuring 3,300 kilometres across created by an ancient impact event near the Martian North Pole. If it gets down safely, the craft will release its rover, which will open its solar cells and try to call home, via the orbiting spacecraft.

Named after the God of Fire in ancient Chinese mythology, Zhurong (祝融) runs on six wheels and has a mass of 240 kilograms. It carries seven instruments: a Terrain Camera, a Multispectral Camera, the Mars-Rover Subsurface Exploration Radar, a Mars Surface Composition Detector, a Mars Magnetic Field Detector, and the Mars Meteorology Monitor.

Unlike NASA’s Perseverance rover, Zhurong isn’t trying to find evidence of microbial life. Instead it’ll be scouting for signs of leftover liquid water. Meanwhile, its orbiter is equipped with ion and particle analyzers to study the ionosphere and its effect on the planet’s climate.

Zhurong is powered by a set of solar panels that will unfurl; it’ll bask in the sunlight for a moment before it embarks on its main three-month mission to explore the Red Planet.

While NASA tends to live-stream such landings, it’s unlikely the Chinese will do the same. If the landing is successful we should hear about it pretty soon, though the longer we wait for news, the higher the probability that something didn’t quite work. ®

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Elon Musk sells Tesla shares worth $6.9bn as Twitter trial looms | Elon Musk

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Elon Musk has sold $6.9bn (£5.7bn) worth of shares in Tesla after admitting that he could need the funds if he loses a legal battle with Twitter and is forced to buy the social media platform.

The Tesla CEO walked away from a $44bn deal to buy Twitter in July but the company has launched a lawsuit demanding that he complete the deal. A trial will take place in Delaware in October.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk said in a tweet late on Tuesday.

In other comments on Twitter on Tuesday, Musk said “yes” when asked if he was finished selling Tesla stock. He also said he would buy Tesla stock again if the Twitter deal does not close.

Musk has committed more than $30bn of his own money to the financing of the deal, with more than $7bn of that total provided by a coterie of associates including tech tycoon Larry Ellison, the Qatar state investment fund and the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.

Musk, the world’s richest person, sold $8.5bn worth of Tesla shares in April and had said at the time there were no further sales planned. But since then, legal experts had suggested that if Musk is forced to complete the acquisition or settle the dispute with a stiff penalty, he was likely to sell more Tesla shares.

Last week Musk launched a countersuit against Twitter, accusing the platform of deliberately miscounting the number of spam accounts on the platform. Twitter has consistently stated that the number of spam accounts on its service is less than 5% of its user base, which currently stands at just under 238 million. Legal experts have said that Musk will find it hard to convince a judge that Twitter’s spam issue represents a “company material adverse effect” that substantially alters the company’s value – and therefore voids the deal.

Musk sold about 7.92m Tesla shares between 5 August and 9 August, according to multiple filings. He now owns 155m Tesla shares or just under 15% of the electric carmaker.

The latest sales bring total Tesla stock sales by Musk to about $32bn in less than one year. However, Musk remains comfortably ahead of Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man with an estimated $250bn fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

Tesla shares have risen nearly 15% since the automaker reported better-than-expected earnings on 20 July, also helped by the Biden administration’s climate bill that, if passed, would lift the cap on tax credits for electric vehicles.

Musk also teased on Tuesday that he could start his own social media platform. When asked by a Twitter user if he had thought about creating his own platform if the deal didn’t close, he replied: “X.com”.

With Reuters



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Iran reveals use of cryptocurrency to pay for imports • The Register

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Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions.

Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet below, which translates as “This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries.”

It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure.

But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

That’s very significant because Iran is subject to extensive sanctions aimed at preventing its ability to acquire nuclear weapons and reduce its ability to sponsor terrorism. Sanctions prevent the sale of many commodities and technologies to Iran, and financial institutions aren’t allowed to deal with their Iranian counterparts, who are mostly shunned around the world.

As explained in this advisory [PDF] issued by the US Treasury, Iran has developed numerous practices to evade sanctions, including payment offsetting schemes that let it sell oil in contravention of sanctions. Proceeds of such sales are alleged to have been funnelled to terrorist groups.

While cryptocurrency’s anonymity has been largely disproved, trades in digital assets aren’t regulated so sanctions enforcement will be more complex if Iran and its trading partners use crypto instead of fiat currencies.

Which perhaps adds more weight to the argument that cryptocurrency has few proven uses beyond speculative trading, making the ransomware industry possible, and helping authoritarian states like Iran and North Korea to acquire materiel for weapons.

Peyman Pak’s mention of “widespread” cross-border crypto deals, facilitated by automated smart contracts, therefore represents a challenge to those who monitor and enforce sanctions – and something new to worry about for the rest of us. ®



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Edwards Lifesciences is hiring at its ‘key’ Shannon and Limerick facilities

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The medtech company is hiring for a variety of roles at both its Limerick and Shannon sites, the latter of which is being transformed into a specialised manufacturing facility.

Medical devices giant Edwards Lifesciences began renovations to convert its existing Shannon facility into a specialised manufacturing centre at the end of July.

The expansion will allow the company to produce components that are an integral part of its transcatheter heart valves. The conversion is part of Edwards Lifesciences’ expansion plan that will see it hire for hundreds of new roles in the coming years.

“The expanded capability at our Shannon facility demonstrates that our operations in Ireland are a key enabler for Edwards to continue helping patients across the globe,” said Andrew Walls, general manager for the company’s manufacturing facilities in Ireland.

According to Walls, hiring is currently underway at the company’s Shannon and Limerick facilities for a variety of functions such as assembly and inspection roles, manufacturing and quality engineering, supply chain, warehouse operations and project management.

Why Ireland?

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Edwards Lifesciences established its operations in Shannon in 2018 and announced 600 new jobs for the mid-west region. This number was then doubled a year later when it revealed increased investment in Limerick.

When the Limerick plant was officially opened in October 2021, the medtech company added another 250 roles onto the previously announced 600, promising 850 new jobs by 2025.

“As the company grows and serves even more patients around the world, Edwards conducted a thorough review of its global valve manufacturing network to ensure we have the right facilities and talent to address our future needs,” Walls told SiliconRepublic.com

“We consider multiple factors when determining where we decide to manufacture – for example, a location that will allow us to produce close to where products are utilised, a location that offers advantages for our supply chain, excellent local talent pool for an engaged workforce, an interest in education and good academic infrastructure, and other characteristics that will be good for business and, ultimately, good for patients.

“Both our Shannon and Limerick sites are key enablers for Edwards Lifesciences to continue helping patients across the globe.”

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