China to launch Mars probe in space race with US

first_imgChina aims to launch a rover to Mars on Thursday on a journey coinciding with a similar US mission as the powers take their rivalry into deep space.The two countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are closest to send their probes, with China’s mission due to lift off by Saturday and the US spacecraft on July 30.It will be a crowded field. The United Arab Emirates launched a probe on Monday that will orbit Mars once it reaches the Red Planet. But the race to watch is between the United States and China, which has worked furiously to try and match Washington’s supremacy in space.The Chinese mission has been named Tianwen-1 (“Questions to Heaven”) in a nod to a classical poem that has verses about the cosmos.It is expected to launch on a Long March 5 — China’s biggest space rocket — from the southern island of Hainan on Thursday, depending on the weather.Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive in February 2021 after a seven-month, 55-million-kilometre (34-million-mile) voyage. Catching up After watching the United States and the Soviet Union lead the way during the Cold War, China has poured billions of dollars into its military-led space program.”China joining [the Mars race] will change the situation dominated by the US for half a century,” said Chen Lan, an independent analyst at, which specializes in China’s space program.China has made huge strides in the past decade, sending a human into space in 2003.The Asian powerhouse has laid the groundwork to assemble a space station by 2022 and gain a permanent foothold in Earth orbit.China has already sent two rovers to the Moon. With the second, China became the first country to make a successful soft landing on the far side.The Moon missions gave China experience in operating spacecraft beyond Earth orbit, but Mars is another story.The much greater distance means “a bigger light travel time, so you have to do things more slowly as the radio signal round trip time is large,” said McDowell.It also means “you need a more sensitive ground station on Earth because the signals will be much fainter,” he added, noting that there is a greater risk of failure.China has upgraded its monitoring stations in the far-western Xinjiang region and northeastern Heilongjiang province to meet the Mars mission requirements, state news agency Xinhua reported last week.The majority of the dozens of missions sent by the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and India to Mars since 1960 ended in failure.Tianwen-1 is not China’s first attempt to go to Mars.A previous mission with Russia in 2011 ended prematurely as the launch failed.Now, Beijing is trying on its own.”As long as [Tianwen] safely lands on the Martian surface and sends back the first image, the mission will… be a big success,” Chen said. Topics : The mission includes a Mars orbiter, a lander and a rover that will study the planet’s soil.”As a first try for China, I don’t expect it to do anything significant beyond what the US has already done,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.The United States has already sent four rovers to Mars since the late 1990s.The next one, Perseverance, is an SUV-sized vehicle that will look for signs of ancient microbial life, and gather rock and soil samples with the goal of bringing them back to Earth on another mission in 2031.The Chinese mission is similar to NASA’s Viking missions in 1975-1976, in that it has both an orbiter and a lander, McDowell said.Tianwen-1 is “broadly comparable to Viking in its scope and ambition,” he added.last_img read more

Hoornstra: For two former major leaguers, retiring at age 30 beckoned in different ways

first_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Usually, it’s a lot more real. For a baseball player, “retire at 30” is a sobering thought, not a sales pitch. It’s something Segedin and Anderson contemplated out of necessity for a time. Now that it’s here, it doesn’t always look the way they imagined. It announces itself like a mockingbird with a series of sophisticated whistles, making the monotonous life of a baseball player sound like a one-note chirp.This is how two former Major League Baseball players are transitioning into retirement.ARTHRITIS TO ANALYTICSRobinson Segedin’s birth announcement descended to Earth on a cloud from the baseball gods. It was delivered by Vin Scully in the sixth inning of a game between the Giants and Dodgers on Aug. 24, 2016, while Chase Utley batted against Johnny Cueto.Tuesday afternoon, as his dad paused preparations for the family move to Philadelphia, Robinson napped.The respite was well-earned. It’s been a busy few months since arthritis ended Segedin’s playing career. The build-up to the end was as predictable as it was painful. He’d had surgery to fuse two joints in his right hand after the 2017 season, but it never healed according to plan. During spring training last year, Segedin tried reaching the various thresholds the Dodgers’ medical staff laid out for him, each time to no avail. How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Retirement can announce its presence in different ways. It might be a toddler waking from an afternoon nap. It might be a digitized Steinway piano dropping in on Bar 73 of a working track titled “changing my ways.” It might be the thwack of a golf club rippling down a fairway lined with gout-friendly condominiums, though probably not if you’re in your early thirties.For Rob Segedin and Lars Anderson, retirement means there’s still work to do.Segedin and Anderson were teammates less than three years ago. They hung their jerseys in the clubhouse of the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, a phone call away from the major leagues. Now they live about as far apart as two men can – Segedin in Florida, Anderson in Australia – chasing the first dream that materialized after the final season of their playing careers.“Retirement” is the universally understood term for what Segedin and Anderson are doing. It’s the blank space after the final line on their baseball cards. We adulate an athlete’s retirement if it comes with a formal announcement and an emotional press conference and a discussion of their Hall of Fame credentials. That’s memorable, but that isn’t usually how it works. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco center_img Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.“It got to the point where I couldn’t grip a bat and make contact without any pain, regardless of whether I squared it up or not,” Segedin said.At first, he resolved to play through it. When the minor league season began, Segedin reported to Oklahoma City and spent a month on the active roster, batting .217. Next, he tried resting for a month. But in eight games after returning from the disabled list, Segedin batted .182.“When Andrew Friedman was in town, I told him, ‘I’m not helping the Dodgers right now in my current state. It’s not getting better’,” he said. After an 0-for-3 night against Las Vegas on June 18, Segedin went on the disabled list for the final time.The following months were filled with frustration. Segedin traveled to New York to see a hand specialist, Dr. Robert Hotchkiss. He received multiple cortisone shots. He tried swinging a bat. Each time, the pain was a morass on the road to recovery. The Dodgers released him in August. When he met with Hotchkiss again in October, Segedin received the message he expected: “You’re done. Move on with your life.”There was no time to mourn the news. Segedin has a wife, two young children and a third, a boy, due in May. With little more than a year of major league service time to his credit, Segedin’s career earnings in baseball did not amount to a life-changing cushion. Recently Segedin earned a Master’s degree in Business Analytics through the Kelley School of Business. He completed the coursework online between games over a two-year span, culminating last March. Quickly, the degree became an asset.While his spring training teammates marched to the World Series, Segedin picked up his phone.First, he called Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers’ former farm director who had just completed his first season managing the Phillies. He called Farhan Zaidi, the former Dodgers general manager who had just left for San Francisco. He called Tim Hyers, the former Dodgers assistant in his first season as the Red Sox’s hitting coach. He called the Astros and the Yankees. Ultimately it was the Phillies who called back to offer an unusual job: Player Information Assistant.“It was exactly what I wanted to do,” Segedin said. “Since I’ve been hired (in December), we’ve sat in on minor league free agent meetings, gave recommendations on that. Developed player information plans – the strengths and weaknesses of each player, how to utilize them. Listened to the coordinator presentations, what they want to teach at each level. Working closely with R&D, figuring out how data is best used. You have your hands in a lot of different departments.”When you’re not used to feeling useful, retiring means working more.BATS TO BEATSAnderson’s gut tells him that his playing career is over. He hasn’t appeared in a game since September. He’s getting ready for spring training, but not as a player. Committing to retirement just isn’t his forte.“I thought I was going to retire for like the last five years, honestly,” Anderson said via Skype. “Ever since I got released by the White Sox and I went through the (2013) offseason, where I was a free agent – I didn’t sign with the Cubs until the end of January 2014. Ever since then I was kind of like, ‘this might be it.’ Then you get a second wind, a sixth wind, a 12th wind.”Committing to retirement might be the only thing Anderson can’t do. He writes, sometimes a lot. He produces electronic music and uploads it to his Soundcloud account. He co-owns a startup bat manufacturer, Birdman Bats, which counts Cincinnati Reds right fielder Yasiel Puig among its disciples. That’s why he’s getting ready for spring training; Anderson is planning to fly to meet with Birdman clients in various Arizona clubhouses in March.For some retirees, the path from Point A to Point B is a straight line. Segedin’s last major league at-bat was in October 2017, and it might have been more recent if his health allowed. Anderson’s was in May 2012 for the Boston Red Sox. Since then he’s played for franchises based in five countries on four continents. He was part of the trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Cleveland Indians in 2012. He was teammates with a 45-year-old Manny Ramirez in a Japanese independent league in 2015. He’s made friends, drank exotic coffee, found a girlfriend in Sydney – that’s why he’s there now – and helped spread the Birdman gospel from Adelaide to Solingen. He’s thinking about writing all of this down someday.“I’m in a fortunate position (financially) where I don’t have to decide what the next step is right away,” he said. “It is unsettling, to be honest. I feel like I’m going through this death process that has been my life. Baseball, other than my parents and my family, has been there longer than anything. As long as I knew what baseball was, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I’m under no illusions that this process will be easy. But that’s how it is. It should be difficult.”Related Articles Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error January is prospect ranking season in baseball. This used to be Anderson’s playground. From 2008-10, he was a fixture in the national Top 100 lists, the consensus first baseman on Boston’s next championship roster, until suddenly it was Adrian Gonzalez and the list-makers dropped Anderson’s name like a hot potato. The number-17 prospect of 2009 will retire with 53 days of major league service time.For Anderson, a funny thing happened as his baseball career began to die: He enjoyed it more.“Once I kind of made this transition from prospect to suspect at the minor-league level, it was almost a relief,” he said. “I was happy to have a team, make some money, work on my game. Then it came to a point in 2016 with the Dodgers, I got to the point where I was the old veteran guy. It didn’t matter how well I played; the young guys were going to play. If Cody Bellinger needed a rest, I was going to play. I understood. It made sense to me. It’s one thing to play every day. It’s another to be sitting on the bench. If I’m going to keep playing I’m going to (have to) go elsewhere.”So he did. “Changing My Ways,” one of Anderson’s Soundcloud tracks, might make for a good book title someday. When he asked about the writer’s life, I told him about the paychecks (meager) and the joy of drinking coffee (subtle), and maybe that was enough to conjure a 13th wind.last_img read more

Lyon face up to Ronaldo and Juventus as Juninho era struggles for lift-off

first_imgCristiano RonaldoLyon, France | AFP |  Anthony Lopes describes Cristiano Ronaldo as “extraordinary”, and the Lyon goalkeeper knows how big a job he faces keeping his Portuguese international colleague quiet when the French side face Juventus in the Champions League this week.“I have been lucky enough to play alongside him. He is the captain and an extraordinary personality, a great man,” Lopes told AFP when asked about playing with Ronaldo.Lopes, 29, was born near Lyon and has spent his entire club career there. But thanks to his Portuguese roots he has won seven caps and been to two major tournaments with Ronaldo, including Euro 2016 which Portugal won.“I have gone to major tournaments with him, the Euro and the World Cup, where you have to develop links to those around you, and to do what he does every day is quite incredible,” Lopes added. “Players today take great inspiration from him.”On Wednesday, OL host Ronaldo and the Italian giants in the first leg of their last-16 tie.Lyon are massive underdogs against a Juve side in a hurry for Champions League success given the massive investment they made in Ronaldo, who recently turned 35.Last year it was Lionel Messi who put Lyon to the sword at this stage, scoring twice as Barcelona won 5-1 in the second leg after a goalless draw in France.“When you play Barca or Juve, the danger comes from everywhere,” Lopes said, adding: “All eyes will be on Ronaldo, especially in the stands.”Lyon want to become regulars in the Champions League knockout stage, but they only just scraped through their group and have since lost star player Memphis Depay to a serious knee injury.– Off-field progress –OL are currently seventh in Ligue 1, seven points adrift of the Champions League qualifying spots for next season.Coach Rudi Garcia has struggled to win over supporters who were unimpressed at the decision to appoint him in October after the failed experiment with Brazilian novice Sylvinho.“We know our future and our chances of being in the Champions League again next season will go down to the wire,” Lopes said. Lyon president since 1987, Jean-Michel Aulas prefers to point out that they remain in every competition — they face Paris Saint-Germain in both the French Cup semi-finals and the League Cup final.Supporters are impatient for a first trophy since 2012, too long for a club who are France’s second-richest behind PSG.The latest Deloitte Football Money League ranking of the world’s richest clubs has Lyon 17th with revenue of 220.8 million euros ($240m).They are well behind PSG’s 636 million euros, and Juventus on 460 million euros. Nevertheless, Lyon’s potential is clear.In 2016 they opened a stunning 59,000-seat stadium which has hosted the women’s World Cup final. Their women’s team is Europe’s best, and the club recently bought Reign FC, the US team of Megan Rapinoe.Lyon’s stock market-listed holding company, OL Groupe, is expected to soon welcome French former NBA star Tony Parker onto its board — OL Groupe holds a sizeable stake in ASVEL, the local basketball club which is France’s most successful.But fans fear OL’s ever-growing off-field status will not be matched by on-field results.“We know not many of the supporters wanted Rudi Garcia, but it is down to the president, the board and me to make decisions,” sporting director Juninho told Le Progres.The Brazilian, a legendary former player, returned last summer but his attempts at building a new team have not yet convinced.Lyon sold stars like Nabil Fekir, Tanguy Ndombele and Ferland Mendy in the close season, while sizeable investments in new signings have yet to bear fruit.“We have an inconsistent team, but there are no bad guys. Most of the players are 24 or 25, have not won many trophies, and lack a bit of the culture that existed at the club when I played,” said Juninho.How they could have done with the Brazilian in his pomp against Juventus. Getting the better of Ronaldo and co. is a huge challenge for Lyon’s current crop.Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

WATCH Live: DNI Testifying On Capitol Hill

first_imgActing Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying before a congressional intelligence committee about a whistleblower complaint about a phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president. The complaint, that Trump was leveraging military aid to have Ukraine investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son for corruption, is at the center of an impeachment inquiry opened this week by House Democrats. Trump says he was just concerned with rooting out corruption and that he did nothing wrong. The whistleblower compliant was declassified yesterday and released today.last_img read more