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NASA sets 2022 launch for air quality sensor that will provide hourly updates across North American

NASA is sending a payload that could help improve air quality forecasting to orbit aboard a Maxar 1300-class satellite whose primary mission is to provide commercial satellite communications for Intelsat customers, the agency announced today. NASA’s new air quality measurement tool is called ‘TEMPO,’ which stands for Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, and it’ll provide hourly measurements of the levels of gases in the atmosphere over North America, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols. That’ll paint a picture of the relative air quality, and that info will be available publicly so that weather monitoring agencies and others can provide more accurate and up-to-date air quality information to people as part of their forecasts.

The TEMPO tool won’t launch until 2022, however, which is when the Maxar satellite, called Intelsat 40e, is set to be delivered to geostationary orbit. It’s not uncommon for NASA to host its scientific payloads on commercial communications satellites, providing an opportunity for NASA to effectively hitch a ride on a large geostationary satellite that’ll cover the territory it wants to cover, while offering significant cost savings vs. putting up a dedicated spacecraft.

Ball Aerospace developed the TEMPO instrument for NASA, and it’ll be transported to Maxar’s Palo Alto-based satellite manufacturing facility for incorporation into the Intelsat 40e vehicle ahed of its scheduled launch. The instrument will also be used alongside other tools including one from the European Space Agency, and South Korea’s Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer, which will all combine to provide a more comprehensive and detailed picture of air quality across the northern hemisphere.

NASA has already contributed to improved air quality index (AQI) information, boosting accuracy of the EPA’s daily AQI by as much as 38 percent according to tests conducted in August after satellite data refreshed every three hours was incorporated into that index’s calculation. Continuing to improve the quality and accuracy of these and other measures of air quality could potentially have tremendous impact on the lives of us here on Earth as air quality worsens due to the impact people have on the environment and airborne pollutants.

TechCrunch is hosting its first ever dedicated space event in 2020 – TechCrunch Sessions: Space, happening June 25 in LA. Get your tickets now!

Source: TechCrunch

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72 hours left to save $150 on tickets to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020

We’re counting the days (35 to be precise) until TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 takes place on March 3 in Berkeley, Calif. But we’re also counting the days that you can save on the price of admission. The early-bird pricing ends in just three days on January 31. Buy your ticket right here before that bird flies south, and you’ll save $150.

This single-day conference features interviews, panel discussions, Q&As and demos with the leaders, founders and investors focused on the future of robotics and AI. TechCrunch editors will interview the people making it happen, explore the promise, expose the hype and address the challenges of these revolutionary industries.

The lineup, as impressive as ever, also includes workshops and demos because who doesn’t want to see robots in action? From autonomous cars and assistive robotics to advances in agriculture and outer space, our conference agenda covers the leading edges of the complex and exciting world of robots and AI.

Here’s a taste of what we’re serving.

Engineering for the Red Planet: Maxar Technologies has been involved with U.S. space efforts for decades and is about to send its sixth robotic arm to Mars aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Lucy Condakchian, general manager of robotics at Maxar, will speak to the difficulty and exhilaration of designing robotics for use in the harsh environments of space and other planets.

Investing in Robotics and AI — Lessons from the Industry’s VCs: Leading investors will discuss the rising tide of venture capital funding in robotics and AI. Dror Berman, founding partner at Innovation Endeavors; Kelly Chen, partner at Data Collective DCVC; and Eric Migicovsky, general partner at Y Combinator, bring a combination of early stage investing and corporate venture capital expertise, sharing a fondness for the wild world of robotics and AI investing.

We’ve added a new, exciting element this year. It’s Pitch Night, a sort of mini Startup Battlefield. The night before the conference, 10 teams will pitch to an audience of VCs and other influencers at a private event. Judges will choose five finalists, and those teams will pitch again from the Main Stage at the conference. We’re taking applications until February 1, so apply right here. It’s free, and a great way to showcase your startup to the people who can supercharge your startup dreams.

Don’t miss your chance to learn from, share with and pitch to the brightest minds, makers, investors and researchers in robotics and AI. And don’t miss out on serious savings. Buy an early-bird ticket to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 — before prices go up on January 31 — and you’ll keep $150 in your wallet.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Robotics & AI 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: TechCrunch

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Save over $200 with discounted student tickets to Robotics + AI 2020

If you’re a current student and you love robots — and the AI that drives them — you do not want to miss out on TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020. Our day-long deep dive into these two life-altering technologies takes place on March 3 at UC Berkeley and features the best and brightest minds, makers and influencers.

We’ve set aside a limited number of deeply discounted tickets for students because, let’s face it, the future of robotics and AI can’t happen without cultivating the next generation. Tickets cost $50, which means you save more than $200. Reserve your student ticket now.

Not a student? No problem, we have a savings deal for you, too. If you register now, you’ll save $150 when you book an early-bird ticket by February 14.

More than 1,000 robotics and AI enthusiasts, experts and visionaries attended last year’s event, and we expect even more this year. Talk about a targeted audience and the perfect place for students to network for an internship, employment or even a future co-founder.

What can you expect this year? For starters, we have an outstanding lineup of speaker and demos — more than 20 presentations — on tap. Let’s take a quick look at just some of the offerings you don’t want to miss:

  • Saving Humanity from AI: Stuart Russell, UC Berkeley professor and AI authority, argues in his acclaimed new book, “Human Compatible,” that AI will doom humanity unless technologists fundamentally reform how they build AI algorithms.
  • Opening the Black Box with Explainable AI: Machine learning and AI models can be found in nearly every aspect of society today, but their inner workings are often as much a mystery to their creators as to those who use them. UC Berkeley’s Trevor Darrell, Krishna Gade of Fiddler Labs and Karen Myers from SRI International will discuss what we’re doing about it and what still needs to be done.
  • Engineering for the Red Planet: Maxar Technologies has been involved with U.S. space efforts for decades and is about to send its fifth robotic arm to Mars aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Lucy Condakchian, general manager of robotics at Maxar, will speak to the difficulty and exhilaration of designing robotics for use in the harsh environments of space and other planets.

That’s just a sample — take a gander at the event agenda to help you plan your time accordingly. We’ll add even more speakers in the coming weeks, so keep checking back.

TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 takes place on March 3 at UC Berkeley. It’s a full day focused on exploring the future of robotics and a great opportunity for students to connect with leading technologists, founders, researchers and investors. Join us in Berkeley. Buy your student ticket today and get ready to build the future.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: TechCrunch

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Maxar is selling space robotics company MDA for around $765 million

Satellite industry giant Maxar is selling MDA, its subsidiary focused on space robotics, for $1 billion CAD (around $765.23 million USD), Reuter reports. The purchasing entity is a consortium of companies led by private investment firm Northern Private Capital, which will acquire the entirety of MDA’s Canadian operations, which is responsible for the development of the Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic manipulators used on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station respectively.

Maxar’s goal in selling the business is to help alleviate some of its considerable debt, which stood at $3.1 billion as of this past September. The company was already known to be seeking potential buyers for MDA, so it’s not much of a surprise. MDA will continue to operate as its own company under the terms of the new ownership, which should mean that its current plans and contracts will continue.

MDA is working on a number of projects for various clients, including developing wildfire monitoring satellites, navigation antennas for use on other company’s satellites and to develop Canadarm3, the next version of its robotic appendage, for use on the NASA Lunar Gateway that will be a research and staging station orbiting the Moon as part of the U.S. space agency’s Artemis mission series.

Source: TechCrunch