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The proliferation of missile threats is increasing, this is the approach the Pentagon is employing to stay current

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In response to the increasing number of missile threats, the Missile Defense Agency is seeking to employ new sensors, advanced digital tools, and make modifications to older interceptors.

During a CSIS event on Thursday, Lt. Gen. Heath Collins, the MDA director, stated that a recent modification to the booster rocket of the Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) will enhance its effectiveness.

The GBI serves as a countermeasure against intercontinental ballistic missiles, albeit with a highly restricted capacity, consisting of only 40 interceptors in Alaska and four in California. The concept of operations in this system has been likened to the act of intercepting a bullet with another bullet. In tests, its performance has been slightly superior to a random coin toss. The Pentagon’s attempt to enhance their precision through an intricate multi-warhead initiative known as the Redesigned Kill Vehicle was terminated in 2019 due to its excessive difficulty and expense.

Collins, however, claimed that in December, staff members from MDA at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California discovered a relatively simple technique to improve GBI’s performance.

“We showcased two capabilities, one of which was the ability to choose between a three-stage or two-stage launch. This was a novel capability that we introduced.” The GBI was initially designed with a tripartite structure consisting of three stages. Presently, all GBIs in use employ all three stages. The separation of the kill vehicle is contingent upon the complete burning of all three stages. Therefore, one must patiently wait for the three stages to burn before initiating separation in order to successfully execute an intercept.

However, a meticulous examination revealed that by merely extending the time between the second and third stage launches, they were able to gain additional minutes of intercept space and decision space. This allowed them to potentially intercept scenarios that were previously unattainable.

Collins stated that incorporating contemporary digital and information tools into the agency will facilitate the discovery of additional enhancements in performance.

One important question is whether these fast and inexpensive solutions can effectively address new missile challenges, such as the recent threat made by Russian leader Vladimir Putin to provide long-range strike weapons to proxy forces attacking Western targets. Russia has promoted its new hypersonic missiles as “invincible,” but they have been shown to be susceptible to interception by Patriot interceptors in Ukraine, and they may also be vulnerable to SM-6 missiles.

The Pentagon has been implementing a long-term strategy to deploy groups of satellites in low-Earth orbit in order to improve the tracking of new hypersonic weapons as they perform complex maneuvers. According to Collins from the MDA, the emergence of new space and launch companies is also generating a new market for hypersonic vehicles that can be utilized for target practice.

“We are currently focusing on studying hypersonic targets in the near future. This is because once we have an interceptor, we need to be able to accurately identify and aim at these targets,” he explained.

According to the speaker, the collaboration between MDA and small, innovative teams and businesses can be highly advantageous. By assisting these entities in reaching a level of capability that aligns with the requirements at the intersection, MDA can enhance its testing capabilities, ultimately benefiting the organization in the long term.

Collins did not specifically mention a recent aerial threat that U.S. military personnel face: quick, highly developed unmanned aerial vehicles that occasionally make it difficult to tell the difference between a robotic device and a projectile. However, he did emphasize that the Iranian assault on Israel in April, which utilized numerous missiles in addition to strike drones, was the most extensive we have ever witnessed. Furthermore, it predicts that there will be more in the future.

The responsibility for countering large drone swarms is more likely to be assigned to ground forces, potentially equipped with the capabilities offered by MDA.

The commander of U.S. Army Futures Command recently stated that the challenge of drone swarms in the future may not be as formidable as it appears on the current battlefield in Ukraine. During a CSIS event on Monday, Gen. James Rainy stated that the United States will establish a significantly larger and better-coordinated military presence to address the issue.

“I am slightly more hopeful because there is no evidence of anyone effectively carrying out coordinated military operations involving different branches and units.” If someone were operating unmanned aerial systems (UAS) towards us, we would engage in combat with the UAS. However, we would also engage in combat against the enemy’s origin, in addition to their tactical force, while also deploying our combined military force. Therefore, I am slightly more hopeful. Deploying the quadcopter grenade into the turret of an M1 tank becomes challenging when it approaches at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour, accompanied by several hundred similar tanks, while you are also engulfed in flames. It is challenging.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Space Exploration

Someone in high school builds a model rocket that can land vertically, like a Falcon 9 Booster

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After three years of hard work, a high school student has finished a big project: making a model rocket that lands vertically.

It’s really rocket science to say that landing a rocket vertically is not easy. And SpaceX will tell you that they have blown up many a rocket stage while trying to land rocket boosters. But sometimes they do land before they blow up.

A student named Aryan Kapoor started building his own vertical lander in August 2021. At the end of May 2024, he finally hit the ground.

In a video for his YouTube channel JRD Propulsion, Kapoor said, “This rocket works differently than other model rockets of its kind.” “My rockets don’t have fins to keep them stable; instead, they use thrust vector control.” Thrust vector control lets the rocket’s engine move like a gimbal, giving the pilot control over the rocket’s path in space.

Even more impressive is the fact that software controls the rocket’s flight on its own.

“To guide the rocket, a flight computer makes all inflight decisions, such as steering the rocket and deciding when to ignite the landing motor.”

The onboard barometer gave the wrong reading of the rocket’s altitude during its first test flight in 2023. Kapoor wrote on his JRD Propulsion website, “The rocket did well in all other ways and collected useful data.” “Future flights will use only the accelerometer to measure altitude, providing much higher accuracy and precision.”

On his fifth attempt, Kapoor has landed successfully once more.

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Space Exploration

The Moon’s first cave has been found – Is it ready to be lived in?

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Atunnel has been found for the first time under the moon’s surface, right where people first set foot on the Sea of Tranquility. Although this isn’t the most likely place to build a colony, there are probably more caves in the area, which makes it more likely that people will move there in the future.

Even though the cost of launch is going down, it will still be very expensive to send heavy things to the moon for a while. Being able to get as much as possible on site is important for even a short-term base, let alone something permanent. A lot of attention has been paid to finding water sources lately, but shelter is also very important.

If future astronauts want to stay on the Moon for a long time, they will need to be well protected from space radiation and the huge changes in temperature that happen there. Also, we want something that is strong enough to survive a small asteroid strike, which happens a lot when there is no atmosphere to protect it. It would be much better if this was found naturally instead of having to build or dig our own.

In a statement, Professor Lorenzo Bruzzone stated that the Miniature Radio-Frequency (Mini-RF) instrument discovered a pit in Mare Tranquilitatis in 2010 as part of the ongoing Luna Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) NASA mission. After a while, we looked at these data once more using sophisticated signal processing techniques and discovered radar reflections from the pit area that are only consistent with an underground cave conduit. This finding is the first direct proof of a lava tube that can be reached below the moon’s surface.

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There have been more than 200 observations of pits like the one Bruzzone and his colleagues looked at. It is called the Mare Tranquillitatis pit. Some or all of these look like they were made when the ceiling of a lava tube caved in. But the fact that there is a pit like this doesn’t mean there is a cave below that is big enough to be useful.

That’s why the Mare Tranquillitatis pit looked like a good place to begin. It’s about 100 meters (328 feet) across, and the walls are so steep that they might hang over. For that reason, it’s one of the few big enough for the LRO’s radar to be able to pick up on internal features.

Orbital synthetic aperture radar images taken from the side by the LRO show a bright spot on the west side of the pit. Based on simulations, it looks like a pipe that is 30 to 80 meters (98 to 262 feet) long and 45 to 148 meters wide. It might not be big enough for a city, but it would be a good place for a lunar village. It is thought that the cave’s floor is flat enough to be useful. There are more than 100 meters (328 feet) between the cave entrance and the surface, but since the moon has low gravity, that might not be a big problem.

The authors made two models of the pit and cave that were based on different assumptions about their sizes. The main difference was the height of the rock pile that formed when the pit’s ceiling collapsed, which affected how steep the floor was.

gif of entering a lava tube on the Moon

The Sea of Tranquility is like New York: it’s a great place to visit, but we wouldn’t want to live there. That’s because it doesn’t have ice, which is another important thing about living on the moon. There is probably frozen water at the poles of the moon, especially at the south pole, which is what started the race to land there.

Mare Tranquilitatis is a flat equatorial plane. Any ice that was close to the surface of this plane would have melted in the hot lunar days. Being about 7 degrees north of where Armstrong took “one small step” won’t make up for not having anything to drink.

However, the work makes it more likely that these kinds of lava tubes could exist at the poles. What’s more, it may be more important that we can find them in space with a little better detail. “People have thought about these caves for more than 50 years, but this is the first time we have proven they exist,” Bruzzone said.

The study was written up in Nature Astronomy.

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Medicine and Health

A new immune pathway discovery points to a “possible cure” for lupus in the future

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Finding a pathway in the immune system that seems to be a main cause of lupus could lead to the creation of more targeted treatments for this autoimmune disease. This new study is good news for a lot of people who have been living with this long-term condition. In the US alone, 1.5 million people are affected.

People with systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, or just “lupus,” have a long-term autoimmune disease that shows up in many ways. Some of the most common are joint and muscle pain, extreme tiredness, and a rash that looks like a sunburn on the face. Other symptoms include headaches, fevers, hair loss, and swollen glands.

It may take some time to figure out if someone has lupus because their symptoms are so different and can look like other health problems. If you catch the disease early, you may be able to get better. Moderate to severe forms of the disease can damage organs like the heart and kidneys and, in some cases, even kill you.

Lupus affects millions of people around the world, mostly women and people who were assigned female at birth, but no one knows what causes it.

There is some evidence that it results from issues between the T cells and B cells, two different types of immune cells. Patients usually have a lot of T follicular helper cells and T peripheral helper cells. These cells make CXCL13, an inflammatory molecule that attracts B cells. It’s less clear why this happens, though.

The main goal of treatment is to weaken the immune system so that it doesn’t attack the body’s own tissues. However, this method doesn’t always work and can cause a number of side effects. “Ever since the beginning, all lupus treatment has been rough.” “It’s a broad immunosuppression,” dermatologist and co-corresponding author of the new study, Dr. Jaehyuk Choi, said in a statement.

Choi and his colleagues have now found a pathway in the immune system that seems to be responsible for the disease process in lupus. More importantly, they think they know how to fix it.

Co-corresponding author Dr. Deepak Rao said, “We’ve found a fundamental imbalance in the immune responses that people with lupus make, and we’ve identified specific mediators that can correct this imbalance to dampen the pathologic autoimmune response.”

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) controls the pathway in question. Its main job is to help cells deal with things that stress them out, like bacteria and pollution. If the AHR pathway isn’t activated enough, too many T peripheral helper cells are made. This leads to more autoantibodies, which are what make people with lupus have so many problems.

They put their theory to the test by adding AHR activators to blood samples from people with lupus. The researchers saw that the T cells changed into the Th22 subtype, which might help the body heal itself instead of making it inflamed and sick.

We learned that we can lower the number of these disease-causing cells by either using small-molecule activators to turn on the AHR pathway or limiting the amount of interferon that is too high in the blood. It might be possible to cure this if the effects last, Choi said.

People who have an autoimmune disease would love to hear those two words: “potential cure.” However, more research needs to be done before these results can be turned into clinical therapies that could help patients. The writers have already started this project and are looking into how AHR activators can be used in a treatment in a safe and effective way.

Still, these results are a big step toward finding better ways to treat a disease whose causes are still not well understood.

The study was written up in Nature.

 

 

 

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