Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Indian sky is captured by United States of America and NASA rules our Digital biometric Desh nowadays! Was it a Security drill just before the arrival of US President? Last night as a violent message floated to turn off your cellphones because of cosmic rays entering the Earth from Mars? Palash Biswas

The Indian sky is captured by United States of America and NASA rules our Digital biometric Desh nowadays!

Was it a Security drill just before the arrival of US President?

Last night as a violent message floated  to turn off your cellphones because of cosmic rays entering the Earth from Mars?

Palash Biswas

How NASA Plans to Explore Mars With Microsoft's Holographic GogglesSPAC

The Indian sky is captured by United States of America and NASA rules our Digital biometric Desh nowadays!Everything that New Delhi is planning, from snipers to sniffers to satellite surveillance, Washington is doubling up on - that's the huge and unprecedented involvement by American security agencies in Barack Obama's three-day visit to Delhi and Agra starting this Sunday, January 25. An advance team of US Secret Service agents who are in the capital to ensure the security of President Barack Obama during his three-day India visit are reportedly "bullying" their Indian counterparts on every aspect of the security.

What a timing for a misinformation campaign pressing the panic button!Well,it should not be a refined joke at all and some meat should be there.Expect technical expertise to decode the NASA gimmick!Meanwhile, Indian airports have stepped up security measures ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to the country. Obamais expected to land in India on January 25, a day before the Republic Day celebrations, in which he will be the chief guest.

It happened yet again last night as a violent message floated  to turn off your cellphones because of cosmic rays entering the Earth from Mars? Professionally we have to be awake till almost dawn and we did witness the panic flowing just before the arrival of US President Barack Obama.As the ritual has always been,the formal contradicton from NASA folowed just after midnight and FACEBOOK blocked all such mesages immediately.

I am amused and not sure whether it was a security drill to revamp digital India and activating a misinformation drive and controlling it with robotic blocking!

Just mind you,top security and intelligence officials in India told ET that the scale of security will be far bigger — 50,000 security personnel, 15,000 CCTV cameras, 3-day traffic lockdown in key south and central Delhi areas — than anything seen, even for other visiting US presidents. These officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.

Among the firsts in security arrangement are US satellites being deployed for watching Rajpath - the key road in the Republic Day parade route that hosts - the key road in the Republic Day parade route that hosts the VVIP podium.

Also, for the first time, US Secret Service (the agency that guards American political VVIPs) snipers will be posted alongside sharpshooters from India's NSG ( National Security Guard) at all relevant venues, including Rajpath and Maurya Sheraton, the Delhi luxury hotel President Obama will be staying in.

Our internal security,our sky and our space have been captured by United States of America ironically on the occasion of the biggest celebration of our own republic day!

All security arrangements are in place for the three-day visit of US President Barack Obama beginning Sunday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.

Sources said a seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure on Rajpath for the Republic Day parade, where Obama will be chief guest, and the airspace over the area would be monitored by a radar to be specially set up.

This will be part of the ground-to-air security drill during Obama visit, which will take him to Agra too.

Asked about the security preparation for Obama's visit, Singh told reporters here that "All security arrangements are in place. There will be no problem anywhere."

A multiagency control room will monitor the surveillance operations in every area of the national capital which has been put on the highest alert because of the visit of the US President.

BSF, which comes under the Home Ministry, has stepped up security along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir, deploying close to 1,200 additional personnel there in view of the US President's visit to India.

The timing this time was said to be between 12.30 to 3.30 with a warning that the rays would hit India and may play havoc damage.One easy way to establish the veracity of such reports circulating in the social media is to see if there is a link to a reputed website attached. Many users when circulating a story also prefer to add the link to the website they found it on, for added information and credibility. If the news sounds big but the news media isn't reporting it, chances are, it is another of those hoaxes circulating.

Social media is the playground of hoaxes and many of these just refuse to fade away. The 'cosmo rays from Mars' rumour (and also its rebuttal) has been doing the rounds for long and has again reappeared with renewed gusto on our timelines.

The hoax message with information attributed to NASA and BBC says, "Tonight 12:30 am to 3:30 am cosmo rays entering Earth form Mars. So switch off your mobile at night." The fact is that, as many less gullible users have pointed out, that Mars doesn't emit the said rays and neither NASA has issued any such advice nor the BBC has reported the story.

Are you worried about a message you received asking you to turn off your cellphones because of cosmic rays entering the Earth from Mars?

Then worry no more because that's nothing but a hoax.

But it seems not to be  a hoax at all that Well-informed sources said that around 25 Secret Service agents arrived in the capital Jan 13. They have attended several meeting with the Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials and Delhi Police personnel for the security arrangements for Obama's visit, but their "overbearing" attitude is said to be upsetting junior police officials.It is hardcore reality which inflicts Indian Republic Day.

"We have discussed every minute security detail of our arrangements with the Secret Service agents. We are also working on the suggestions they shared with us. But their demands are increasing every time. They don't behave like the security agencies of other countries," an official, close to the security arrangements for the Obama visit, told IANS.

He said: "I have done my 30 years in Delhi Police and made arrangements for several high profile foreign dignitaries. I have good friends in security agencies of other countries, but the US Secret Service agents are not like them. They are very rude and overbearing. It appears that they do not like to give importance to us."

Another source told IANS that the advance US Secret Service agents are "interfering in all our security arrangements and trying to show themselves as more competent and with more expertise".

Since the US Secret Service team arrived in the capital, they are "demanding new things and trying to point out loopholes in several aspects", he said.

"Now they want to position surveillance satellites to track each and every movement of Obama, and are pressurizing us to cut short the time of Obama's stay in the open air on Rajpath for the Republic Day parade," the official said.

"We are ready to provide surveillance satellite facility on Rajpath on Jan 26 as we are also keen to ensure safe arrangements for the VVIP enclosure where Obama will be seated along with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Despite all our efforts to please them with our arrangements, the Secret Service agents are exhibiting their mistrust in us. Now they have demanded to deploy dozens of their own snipers on the rooftops in the two-kilometre circle of Rajpath along with Delhi Police snipers," he said.

The Indian security agencies are ready to provide a seven-layer security on Rajpath during the two hours that Obama will spend in the open watching the parade.

The US forces will provide close proximity security to Obama while the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos will be in the second layer, and the third will be covered by the Special Protection Group (SPG), while other three layers will be managed by the Delhi Police.

Another team of over 300 US Secret Service agents will reach Delhi Jan 25 morning along with the US president, another official said.

The US team is staying in the super-luxury ITC Maurya hotel where the US president will be stationed during his three day visit between Jan 25 and Jan 27.

As the website notes: "Depending on their type, cosmic rays come from outside our solar system or from the sun. They do not come from Mars or any other planet. And, the Earth's atmosphere largely protects us from cosmic rays.

The site also notes that there are no news organizations reporting about the event. "There are no reports about this supposed threat on BBC news. Nor is there any evidence that cosmic rays could somehow make cell phones dangerous. Sharing this silly nonsense will help nobody," said the site.

The hoax has been going on for years, with a 2010 report by the BBC on how people in Ghana fell for it.

However First Post reports:

As the date of the United States President Barack Obama's India visit nears, disagreement between the security agencies of US and India is getting sharper.

The two countries have been working together since December 2014 on several security measures to ensure the safety of the most protected person on this planet for his Republic Day visit in Delhi. But lately, the US Secret Service has been rather disappointed with the arrangements made by the Indian agencies.

Obama's visit to India is not impressing his security staff: AP

Obama's visit to India is not impressing his security staff: AP

According to sources, a number of special requests made by the US secret service to the Indian security agencies and the Indian government have been turned down. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs in India confirmed that some of the demands made by the secret service are rather unrealistic.

Here are five areas that the US agencies are disappointed with the Indian security arrangements:

1. Extended outdoor time

The American president has never been on an outdoor event for more than 45 minutes. However, the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi last for almost two hours. The secret service had requested Indian agencies to either cut short the event or ensure that Obama will not be attending the event for more than 45 minutes.

But the Indian government has refused to oblige, according to a source in the Home ministry. To make things worse between the agencies, the number of tableaux participating in the parade could be increased from 20 to 25. It means that the event may end up extending the function further, beyond the usual two hours. This has not gone down well with the US Secret Service, but the Indian government too is not willing to budge.

2. No Fly zone over NDMC area

The US security agencies had earlier asked the Indian government to clear airspace over Delhi on January 25 and 26, according to sources in the MHA. In this case too Indian agencies refused to oblige. Following this, it was decided that commercial planes will be kept clear of the airspace over the New Delhi Municipal Corporation area during the event.

However, the US Secret Service had more recently asked the government for a five-kilometre radius no-fly zone (both commercial and the Indian Air Force) imposed around Rajpath during the event. That has also been turned down by the government as it is tradition for the Indian Air Force to do a flypast on Republic Day.

3. Airspace security over Yamuna Expressway

The Americans are also unhappy about the fact that while the airspace over the 165-kilometre long Yamuna Expressway to Agra, has not been declared a no-fly zone for commercial aircraft while the US President's convoy is travelling on it. We have restricted the highway from public use for as long as the US President's convoy is travelling through it. They have two F-35 raptors doing surveillance of the sky and will be flying on top of the President's convoy. In addition to that, there are a number of security measures taken to ensure that any threat is detected beforehand. I don't see why they should be upset," an official at the Ministry of Home Affairs said.


4. Indian anti-terrorist squad unsatisfactory

Sources also revealed that the US secret service officials said that the Indian commandoes gave unsatisfactory results in the aptitude test on security along with surprise checks conducted by the agency. As a result, the Central Intelligence Agency is bringing their Concealed Anti-Terrorists (CAT) squads to the national capital.

5. Agra visit

Former US President Bill Clinton called Agra a 'ghost town' after his visit to the city on March 20, 2000. But that's because city was cleared of people for his security. The US Secret Service wanted the same measure extended to President Obama, but the Indian agencies have denied that request as well.

Obama, during his earlier trip had reportedly skipped visiting the Taj due to the fact that the city did not pass the security scanner. "This time around we had issued directions for security arrangements to the state government way in advance," a senior administrative official at the Ministry of External Affairs said. "But, we want to avoid clearing the city completely. It is an inconvenience for the general public and we wish to maintain an 'organic' look of the city rather than it feeling like a deserted town," he added.

However,during Microsoft's demo of its fascinating holographic headset HoloLens today, the company barely mentioned the coolest way it's already using it: to develop software with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that will let scientists explore and work on the Red Planet remotely.

Halfway through Microsoft's promotional video for HoloLens, the company showed a clip of a scientist wearing the headset as he points out an area of interest on the surface of Mars. HoloLens, the video explained, will be used by NASA scientists to work "on" Mars by July of this year. Intrigued by the brief mention, we reached out to NASA for more information, and in a new statement and video it explains a bit more about the project.

Over the past year, JPL and Microsoft have been building a software called OnSight that's designed to let scientists carry out their work as though they were standing on the distant planet they're studying. Using HoloLens, of course.

Imagine being able to put on a headset and walk around another planet. Or control a rover as if you were sitting in it. Or look out over the yawning rim of a martian canyon. That's exactly what OnSight does, using data and images taken from Mars itself.

According to JPL, it's the next best thing to actually being there-recreating the experience that earthbound geologists benefit from using augmented reality. That includes not only inspecting the landscape, but communicating with other scientists from around the world through this virtual meeting place-not to mention making notes and creating points of interest that other teams can explore and comment upon as they go.

How NASA Plans to Explore Mars With Microsoft's Holographic Goggles

"By building tools that make us feel more connected to those robots and the environments they're exploring, we can change our experience of exploration in a very fundamental and exciting way," says Jeff Norris, the project manager of OnSight, in a video published on YouTube today. "Not because it's a gimmick and not because it's fun, but because it will help them to reach scientific insight more quickly and more confidently than peering at images on the screen, like they do today."

They'll also be able to actually program Curiosity from within the HoloLens environment, JPL explains in a statement:

They then can stroll around the rocky surface or crouch down to examine rocky outcrops from different angles. The tool provides access to scientists and engineers looking to interact with Mars in a more natural, human way.

The OnSight tool also will be useful for planning rover operations. For example, scientists can program activities for many of the rover's science instruments by looking at a target and using gestures to select menu commands.

There's been plenty of clamoring about sending human scientists to Mars over the past few years. HoloLens doesn't completely obliterate the reasons we'd need to visit ourselves, but it definitely expands on the ways we can do it. As rovers get more complex and sensitive, it might be possible to explore using these virtual reality-augmented proxies-much more durable envoys in our ever-expanding reach into space.

Connecting Mars to the web, and other big ideas

Who's harbouring these celestial ambitions?

The name is Musk, Elon Musk. He is the founder of, among others, SpaceX aka Space Exploration Technologies Corp, based in the US. SpaceX is also popular for making re-usable rockets.

What's he smoking?

As it turns out, he's quite rooted. Only his ideas fly. In this case, he wants to set up a colony on Mars and use it as a communication hub to beam internet to our humble planet. But this will take time; some years in Musk's own words. His immediate goal — and something that's more important to lesser mortals like us — is to plant hundreds of satellites across the orbit and provide seamless, superfast and affordable internet to over three billion people who still have poor access to the web.

Will anyone buy these ideas?

Well, Google just did. This week, along with Fidelity Investments, the search giant invested $1 billion in SpaceX, which also builds rockets, for a 10 per cent stake.

What's driving Google here?

Google is enamoured by SpaceX's mission to offer seamless, faster connectivity to people, which is perfectly in sync with its business and research interests. Last year, Google bought a company called Skybox Imaging, which makes small, high-resolution imaging satellites, for about $500 million.

Also, the search giant wants to race ahead of rival Facebook, which is already associating with a project by WorldVu Satellites (now OneWeb) that aims to deliver web access untapped, poor regions by building drones, satellites and lasers. OneWeb, backed by Qualcomm and Richard Branson's Virgin Group, plans to launch a constellation of 648 micro-satellites into the orbit.

Is OneWeb a rival to Musk's venture?

Not really. Musk believes his is a larger canvas. His space internet venture will have several hundreds of satellites in all sizes and shapes orbit about 750 miles (1200 km) above the earth. That's much closer given that traditional communications satellites roam around at altitudes of about 22,000 miles (35,405 km). That the satellites are closer to our planet will make internet speedier, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to travel.

This is important and innovative because the delay in current satellite systems makes applications such as Skype, online gaming and other cloud-based services fail intermittently while they are running on satellite internet.

But can it match fibre optic-based web?

Musk says his system can give them a run for their money. Ideally, his space internet can deliver data many times faster than fibre optic cables.


Usually, in landline internet, which most of us use in India as well, data packets shuttle between dozens of routers and terrestrial networks. In space internet, data would go to space, bouncing between satellites until they reach the one nearest their destination, then return to an antenna on earth.

According to Musk, the speed of light is 40 per cent faster in the vacuum of space than it is through fibre. Also, satellite signals can reach places where cables just can't go, thereby making internet accessible to poorer and remote regions.

That'd be great, if it works out

Let's hope so. There are many risks. A similar project, Globalstar, which tried to build a network of low-orbit satellites in the 1990s, had to wind up as multiple failures and fund troubles dogged it.

Anyway, SpaceX has the money now; it's valued at about $10 billion, and runs contract operators for Nasa, to supply cargo to the International Space Station. Musk wants to make his space internet dream functional in about five years and plans to use it as the basis for a system that will go up all the way to Mars.

A weekly column that helps you ask the right questions

(This article was published on January 21, 2015)

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