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Are we alone in the universe?

Extraterrestrial:  Barboza Space Center Project-Based learning

Extraterrestrial life, also called alien life (or, if it is a sentient or relatively complex individual, an “extraterrestrial” or “alien”), is life that occurs outside of Earth and that probably did not originate from Earth. These hypothetical life forms may range from simple prokaryotes to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity.The Drake equation speculates about the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The science of extraterrestrial life in all its forms is known as exobiology.

Since the mid-20th century, there has been an ongoing search for signs of extraterrestrial life. This encompasses a search for current and historic extraterrestrial life, and a narrower search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. Depending on the category of search, methods range from the analysis of telescope and specimen data[3] to radios used to detect and send communication signals.

The concept of extraterrestrial life, and particularly extraterrestrial intelligence, has had a major cultural impact, chiefly in works of science fiction. Over the years, science fiction communicated scientific ideas, imagined a wide range of possibilities, and influenced public interest in and perspectives of extraterrestrial life. One shared space is the debate over the wisdom of attempting communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. Some encourage aggressive methods to try for contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. Others—citing the tendency of technologically advanced human societies to enslave or wipe out less advanced societies—argue that it may be dangerous to actively call attention to Earth.[4][5]

Alien life, such as microorganisms, has been hypothesized to exist in the Solar System and throughout the universe. This hypothesis relies on the vast size and consistent physical laws of the observable universe. According to this argument, made by scientists such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking,[6] as well as well-regarded thinkers such as Winston Churchill,[7][8] it would be improbable for life not to exist somewhere other than Earth.[9][10] This argument is embodied in the Copernican principle, which states that Earth does not occupy a unique position in the Universe, and the mediocrity principle, which states that there is nothing special about life on Earth.[11] The chemistry of life may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, during a habitable epoch when the universe was only 10–17 million years old.[12][13] Life may have emerged independently at many places throughout the universe. Alternatively, life may have formed less frequently, then spread—by meteoroids, for example—between habitable planets in a process called panspermia.[14][15] In any case, complex organic molecules may have formed in the protoplanetary disk of dust grains surrounding the Sun before the formation of Earth.[16] According to these studies, this process may occur outside Earth on several planets and moons of the Solar System and on planets of other stars.[16]

Since the 1950s, scientists have proposed that “habitable zones” around stars are the most likely places to find life. Numerous discoveries in such zones since 2007 have generated numerical estimates of Earth-like planets —in terms of composition—of many billions.[17] As of 2013, only a few planets have been discovered in these zones.[18] Nonetheless, on 4 November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way,[19][20] 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars.[21] The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists.[19][20]Astrobiologists have also considered a “follow the energy” view of potential habitats.[22][23]

A study published in 2017 suggests that due to how complexity evolved in species on Earth, the level of predictability for alien evolution elsewhere would make them look similar to life on our planet. One of the study authors, Sam Levin, notes “Like humans, we predict that they are made-up of a hierarchy of entities, which all cooperate to produce an alien. At each level of the organism there will be mechanisms in place to eliminate conflict, maintain cooperation, and keep the organism functioning. We can even offer some examples of what these mechanisms will be.”[24] There is also research in assessing the capacity of life for developing intelligence. It has been suggested that this capacity arises with the number of potential niches a planet contains, and that the complexity of life itself is reflected in the information density of planetary environments, which in turn can be computed from its niches.[25]

Life on Earth requires water as a solvent in which biochemical reactions take place. Sufficient quantities of carbon and other elements, along with water, might enable the formation of living organisms on terrestrial planets with a chemical make-up and temperature range similar to that of Earth.[26][27] More generally, life based on ammonia (rather than water) has been suggested, though this solvent appears less suitable than water. It is also conceivable that there are forms of life whose solvent is a liquid hydrocarbon, such as methane, ethane or propane.[28]

About 29 chemical elements play an active positive role in living organisms on Earth.[29] About 95% of living matter is built upon only six elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. These six elements form the basic building blocks of virtually all life on Earth, whereas most of the remaining elements are found only in trace amounts.[30] The unique characteristics of carbon make it unlikely that it could be replaced, even on another planet, to generate the biochemistry necessary for life. The carbon atom has the unique ability to make four strong chemical bonds with other atoms, including other carbon atoms. These covalent bonds have a direction in space, so that carbon atoms can form the skeletons of complex 3-dimensional structures with definite architectures such as nucleic acids and proteins. Carbon forms more compounds than all other elements combined. The great versatility of the carbon atom makes it the element most likely to provide the bases—even exotic ones—for the chemical composition of life on other planets.

Some bodies in the Solar System have the potential for an environment in which extraterrestrial life can exist, particularly those with possible subsurface oceans.[32] Should life be discovered elsewhere in the Solar System, astrobiologists suggest that it will more likely be in the form of extremophile microorganisms. According to NASA’s 2015 Astrobiology Strategy, “Life on other worlds is most likely to include microbes, and any complex living system elsewhere is likely to have arisen from and be founded upon microbial life. Important insights on the limits of microbial life can be gleaned from studies of microbes on modern Earth, as well as their ubiquity and ancestral characteristics.”[33]

Mars may have niche subsurface environments where microbial life might exist.[34][35][36] A subsurface marine environment on Jupiter’s moon Europa might be the most likely habitat in the Solar System, outside Earth, for extremophile microorganisms.[37][38][39]

The panspermia hypothesis proposes that life elsewhere in the Solar System may have a common origin. If extraterrestrial life was found on another body in the Solar System, it could have originated from Earth just as life on Earth could have been seeded from elsewhere (exogenesis). The first known mention of the term ‘panspermia’ was in the writings of the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anaxagoras.[40] In the 19th century it was again revived in modern form by several scientists, including Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834),[41] Kelvin (1871),[42] Hermann von Helmholtz (1879)[43] and, somewhat later, by Svante Arrhenius (1903).[44] Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) and Chandra Wickramasinghe (born 1939) are important proponents of the hypothesis who further contended that life forms continue to enter Earth’s atmosphere, and may be responsible for epidemic outbreaks, new diseases, and the genetic novelty necessary for macroevolution.[45]

Directed panspermia concerns the deliberate transport of microorganisms in space, sent to Earth to start life here, or sent from Earth to seed new stellar systems with life. The Nobel prize winner Francis Crick, along with Leslie Orgel proposed that seeds of life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization,[46] but considering an early “RNA world” Crick noted later that life may have originated on Earth.[47]

In the early 20th century, Venus was often thought to be similar to Earth in terms of habitability, but observations since the beginning of the Space Agehave revealed that Venus’s surface is inhospitable to Earth-like life. However, between an altitude of 50 and 65 kilometers, the pressure and temperature are Earth-like, and it has been speculated that thermoacidophilic extremophile microorganisms might exist in the acidic upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere.[48][49][50][51] Furthermore, Venus likely had liquid water on its surface for at least a few million years after its formation.[52][53][54]

Life on Mars has been long speculated. Liquid water is widely thought to have existed on Mars in the past, and now can occasionally be found as low-volume liquid brines in shallow Martian soil.[55] The origin of the potential biosignature of methane observed in Mars’ atmosphere is unexplained, although hypotheses not involving life have also been proposed.[56]

There is evidence that Mars had a warmer and wetter past: dried-up river beds, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and minerals that form in the presence of water have all been found. Nevertheless, present conditions on Mars’ subsurface may support life.[57][58] Evidence obtained by the Curiosity rover studying Aeolis Palus, Gale Crater in 2013 strongly suggests an ancient freshwater lake that could have been a hospitable environment for microbial life.[59][60]

Current studies on Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable.[61][62][63][64] The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on Mars is now a primary NASA objective.[61]

Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, has a thin water-vapor atmosphere.[65][66] Frost on the surface may also have been detected in the form of bright spots.[67][68][69] The presence of water on Ceres has led to speculation that life may be possible there.[70][71][72]

Carl Sagan and others in the 1960s and 1970s computed conditions for hypothetical microorganisms living in the atmosphere of Jupiter.[73] The intense radiation and other conditions, however, do not appear to permit encapsulation and molecular biochemistry, so life there is thought unlikely.[74]In contrast, some of Jupiter’s moons may have habitats capable of sustaining life. Scientists have indications that heated subsurface oceans of liquid water may exist deep under the crusts of the three outer Galilean moons—Europa,[37][38][75] Ganymede,[76][77][78][79][80] and Callisto.[81][82][83] The EJSM/Laplace mission is planned to determine the habitability of these environments.

Internal structure of Europa. The blue is a subsurface ocean. Such subsurface oceans could possibly harbor life.[84]

Jupiter’s moon Europa has been subject to speculation about the existence of life due to the strong possibility of a liquid water ocean beneath its ice surface.[37][39] Hydrothermal vents on the bottom of the ocean, if they exist, may warm the ice and could be capable of supporting multicellular microorganisms.[85] It is also possible that Europa could support aerobic macrofauna using oxygen created by cosmic rays impacting its surface ice.[86]

The case for life on Europa was greatly enhanced in 2011 when it was discovered that vast lakes exist within Europa’s thick, icy shell. Scientists found that ice shelves surrounding the lakes appear to be collapsing into them, thereby providing a mechanism through which life-forming chemicals created in sunlit areas on Europa’s surface could be transferred to its interior.[87][88]

On 11 December 2013, NASA reported the detection of “clay-like minerals” (specifically, phyllosilicates), often associated with organic materials, on the icy crust of Europa.[89] The presence of the minerals may have been the result of a collision with an asteroid or comet according to the scientists.[89] The Europa Clipper, which would assess the habitability of Europa, is planned for launch in 2025.[90][91] Europa’s subsurface ocean is considered the best target for the discovery of life.[37][39]

Titan and Enceladus have been speculated to have possible habitats supportive of life.

Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has some of the conditions for life, including geothermal activity and water vapor, as well as possible under-ice oceans heated by tidal effects.[92][93] The Cassini–Huygens probe detected carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen—all key elements for supporting life—during its 2005 flyby through one of Enceladus’s geysers spewing ice and gas. The temperature and density of the plumes indicate a warmer, watery source beneath the surface.[56]

Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is the only known moon in the Solar System with a significant atmosphere. Data from the Cassini–Huygens mission refuted the hypothesis of a global hydrocarbon ocean, but later demonstrated the existence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in the polar regions—the first stable bodies of surface liquid discovered outside Earth.[94][95][96] Analysis of data from the mission has uncovered aspects of atmospheric chemistry near the surface that are consistent with—but do not prove—the hypothesis that organisms there if present, could be consuming hydrogen, acetylene and ethane, and producing methane.[97][98][99]

Small Solar System bodies have also been speculated to host habitats for extremophiles. Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have proposed that microbial life might exist on comets and asteroids.[100][101][102][103]

Models of heat retention and heating via radioactive decay in smaller icy Solar System bodies suggest that Rhea, Titania, Oberon, Triton, Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and Orcus may have oceans underneath solid icy crusts approximately 100 km thick.[104] Of particular interest in these cases is the fact that the models indicate that the liquid layers are in direct contact with the rocky core, which allows efficient mixing of minerals and salts into the water. This is in contrast with the oceans that may be inside larger icy satellites like Ganymede, Callisto, or Titan, where layers of high-pressure phases of ice are thought to underlie the liquid water layer.[104]

Hydrogen sulfide has been proposed as a hypothetical solvent for life and is quite plentiful on Jupiter’s moon Io, and may be in liquid form a short distance below the surface.[105]

The scientific search for extraterrestrial life is being carried out both directly and indirectly. As of September 2017, 3,667 exoplanets in 2,747 systemshave been identified, and other planets and moons in our own solar system hold the potential for hosting primitive life such as microorganisms.

Scientists search for biosignatures within the Solar System by studying planetary surfaces and examining meteorites.[12][13] Some claim to have identified evidence that microbial life has existed on Mars.[106][107][108][109][110][111] An experiment on the two Viking Mars landers reported gas emissions from heated Martian soil samples that some scientists argue are consistent with the presence of living microorganisms.[112] Lack of corroborating evidence from other experiments on the same samples, suggests that a non-biological reaction is a more likely hypothesis.[112][113][114][115] In 1996, a controversial report stated that structures resembling nanobacteria were discovered in a meteorite, ALH84001, formed of rock ejected from Mars.[106][107]

What biosignatures does life produce?

Electron micrograph of martian meteorite ALH84001 showing structures that some scientists think could be fossilized bacteria-like life forms.

In February 2005, NASA scientists reported that they may have found some evidence of present life on Mars.[118] The two scientists, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke of NASA’s Ames Research Center, based their claim on methane signatures found in Mars’s atmosphere resembling the methane production of some forms of primitive life on Earth, as well as on their own study of primitive life near the Rio Tinto river in Spain. NASA officials soon distanced NASA from the scientists’ claims, and Stoker herself backed off from her initial assertions.   Though such methane findings are still debated, support among some scientists for the existence of life on Mars exists.[120]

In November 2011, NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory that landed the Curiosity rover on Mars. It is designed to assess the past and present habitability on Mars using a variety of scientific instruments. The rover landed on Mars at Gale Crater in August 2012.

The Gaia hypothesis stipulates that any planet with a robust population of life will have an atmosphere in chemical disequilibrium, which is relatively easy to determine from a distance by spectroscopy. However, significant advances in the ability to find and resolve light from smaller rocky worlds near their star are necessary before such spectroscopic methods can be used to analyze extrasolar planets. To that effect, the Carl Sagan Institute was founded in 2014 and is dedicated to the atmospheric characterization of exoplanets in circumstellar habitable zones.[123][124] Planetary spectroscopic data will be obtained from telescopes like WFIRSTand ELT.   

 

In August 2011, findings by NASA, based on studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggest DNA and RNA components (adenine, guanine and related organic molecules), building blocks for life as we know it, may be formed extraterrestrially in outer space.[126][127][128] In October 2011, scientists reported that cosmic dust contains complex organic matter (“amorphous organic solids with a mixed aromaticaliphatic structure”) that could be created naturally, and rapidly, by stars.[129][130][131] One of the scientists suggested that these compounds may have been related to the development of life on Earth and said that, “If this is the case, life on Earth may have had an easier time getting started as these organics can serve as basic ingredients for life.”

 

In August 2012, and in a world first, astronomers at Copenhagen University reported the detection of a specific sugar molecule, glycolaldehyde, in a distant star system. The molecule was found around the protostellar binary IRAS 16293-2422, which is located 400 light years from Earth.[132][133]Glycolaldehyde is needed to form ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which is similar in function to DNA. This finding suggests that complex organic molecules may form in stellar systems prior to the formation of planets, eventually arriving on young planets early in their formation.[134]

Projects such as SETI are monitoring the galaxy for electromagnetic interstellar communications from civilizations on other worlds.[135][136] If there is an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, there is no guarantee that it is transmitting radio communications in the direction of Earth or that this information could be interpreted as such by humans. The length of time required for a signal to travel across the vastness of space means that any signal detected would come from the distant past.[137]

The presence of heavy elements in a star’s light-spectrum is another potential biosignature; such elements would (in theory) be found if the star was being used as an incinerator/repository for nuclear waste products.[138]

Artist’s Impression of Gliese 581 c, the first terrestrial extrasolar planetdiscovered within its star’s habitable zone.

Artist’s impression of the Kepler telescope in space.

Some astronomers search for extrasolar planets that may be conducive to life, narrowing the search to terrestrial planets within the habitable zone of their star.[139][140] Since 1992 over two thousand exoplanets have been discovered (3,815 planets in 2,853 planetary systems including 633 multiple planetary systems as of 1 August 2018).[141] The extrasolar planets so far discovered range in size from that of terrestrial planetssimilar to Earth’s size to that of gas giants larger than Jupiter.[141] The number of observed exoplanets is expected to increase greatly in the coming years.[142]

The Kepler space telescope has also detected a few thousand[143][144] candidate planets,[145][146] of which about 11% may be false positives.[147]

There is at least one planet on average per star.[148] About 1 in 5 Sun-like stars[a] have an “Earth-sized”[b]planet in the habitable zone,[c] with the nearest expected to be within 12 light-years distance from Earth.[149][150] Assuming 200 billion stars in the Milky Way,[d] that would be 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, rising to 40 billion if red dwarfs are included.[21] The rogue planets in the Milky Way possibly number in the trillions.[151]

The nearest known exoplanet is Proxima Centauri b, located 4.2 light-years (1.3 pc) from Earth in the southern constellation of Centaurus.[152]

As of March 2014, the least massive planet known is PSR B1257+12 A, which is about twice the mass of the Moon. The most massive planet listed on the NASA Exoplanet Archive is DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b,[153][154] about 29 times the mass of Jupiter, although according to most definitions of a planet, it is too massive to be a planet and may be a brown dwarf instead. Almost all of the planets detected so far are within the Milky Way, but there have also been a few possible detections of extragalactic planets. The study of planetary habitability also considers a wide range of other factors in determining the suitability of a planet for hosting life.[3]

One sign that a planet probably already contains life is the presence of an atmosphere with significant amounts of oxygen, since that gas is highly reactive and generally would not last long without constant replenishment. This replenishment occurs on Earth through photosynthetic organisms. One way to analyze the atmosphere of an exoplanet is through spectrography when it transits its star, though this might only be feasible with dim stars like white dwarfs.[155]

The science of astrobiology considers life on Earth as well, and in the broader astronomical context. In 2015, “remains of biotic life” were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia, when the young Earth was about 400 million years old.[156][157] According to one of the researchers, “If life arose relatively quickly on Earth, then it could be common in the universe.”[156]

In 1961, University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake devised the Drake equation as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at a meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).[158] The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation is best understood not as an equation in the strictly mathematical sense, but to summarize all the various concepts which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of life elsewhere.[159]The Drake equation is:

N=R_{\ast }\cdot f_{p}\cdot n_{e}\cdot f_{\ell }\cdot f_{i}\cdot f_{c}\cdot L

where:

N = the number of Milky Way galaxy civilizations already capable of communicating across interplanetary space

and

R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life
fl = the fraction of planets that actually support life
fi = the fraction of planets with life that evolves to become intelligent life (civilizations)
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology to broadcast detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time over which such civilizations broadcast detectable signals into space

Drake’s proposed estimates are as follows, but numbers on the right side of the equation are agreed as speculative and open to substitution:

{\displaystyle 10{,}000=5\cdot 0.5\cdot 2\cdot 1\cdot 0.2\cdot 1\cdot 10{,}000}[160]

The Drake equation has proved controversial since several of its factors are uncertain and based on conjecture, not allowing conclusions to be made.[161] This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless.

Based on observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, there are between 125 and 250 billion galaxies in the observable universe.[162] It is estimated that at least ten percent of all Sun-like stars have a system of planets,[163] i.e. there are 6.25×1018 stars with planets orbiting them in the observable universe. Even if it is assumed that only one out of a billion of these stars has planets supporting life, there would be some 6.25 billion life-supporting planetary systems in the observable universe.

A 2013 study based on results from the Kepler spacecraft estimated that the Milky Way contains at least as many planets as it does stars, resulting in 100–400 billion exoplanets.[164][165] Also based on Kepler data, scientists estimate that at least one in six stars has an Earth-sized planet.[166]

The apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for such civilizations is known as the Fermi paradox.[167]

Cosmic pluralism, the plurality of worlds, or simply pluralism, describes the philosophical belief in numerous “worlds” in addition to Earth, which might harbor extraterrestrial life. Before the development of the heliocentric theory and a recognition that the Sun is just one of many stars,[168] the notion of pluralism was largely mythological and philosophical.[169][170][171] Medieval Muslim writers like Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Muhammad al-Baqir supported cosmic pluralism on the basis of the Qur’an.[172]

With the scientific and Copernican revolutions, and later, during the Enlightenment, cosmic pluralism became a mainstream notion, supported by the likes of Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle in his 1686 work Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes.[173] Pluralism was also championed by philosophers such as John Locke, Giordano Bruno and astronomers such as William Herschel. The astronomer Camille Flammarion promoted the notion of cosmic pluralism in his 1862 book La pluralité des mondes habités.[174] None of these notions of pluralism were based on any specific observation or scientific information.

There was a dramatic shift in thinking initiated by the invention of the telescope and the Copernican assault on geocentric cosmology. Once it became clear that Earth was merely one planet amongst countless bodies in the universe, the theory of extraterrestrial life started to become a topic in the scientific community. The best known early-modern proponent of such ideas was the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, who argued in the 16th century for an infinite universe in which every star is surrounded by its own planetary system. Bruno wrote that other worlds “have no less virtue nor a nature different to that of our earth” and, like Earth, “contain animals and inhabitants”.[175]

In the early 17th century, the Czech astronomer Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita mused that “if Jupiter has (…) inhabitants (…) they must be larger and more beautiful than the inhabitants of Earth, in proportion to the [characteristics] of the two spheres”.[176]

In Baroque literature such as The Other World: The Societies and Governments of the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac, extraterrestrial societies are presented as humoristic or ironic parodies of earthly society. The didactic poet Henry More took up the classical theme of the Greek Democritus in “Democritus Platonissans, or an Essay Upon the Infinity of Worlds” (1647). In “The Creation: a Philosophical Poem in Seven Books” (1712), Sir Richard Blackmore observed: “We may pronounce each orb sustains a race / Of living things adapted to the place”. With the new relative viewpoint that the Copernican revolution had wrought, he suggested “our world’s sunne / Becomes a starre elsewhere”. Fontanelle‘s “Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds” (translated into English in 1686) offered similar excursions on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, expanding, rather than denying, the creative sphere of a Maker.

The possibility of extraterrestrials remained a widespread speculation as scientific discovery accelerated. William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus, was one of many 18th–19th-century astronomers who believed that the Solar System is populated by alien life. Other luminaries of the period who championed “cosmic pluralism” included Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Franklin. At the height of the Enlightenment, even the Sun and Moon were considered candidates for extraterrestrial inhabitants.

Artificial Martian channels, depicted by Percival Lowell

Speculation about life on Mars increased in the late 19th century, following telescopic observation of apparent Martian canals—which soon, however, turned out to be optical illusions.[177] Despite this, in 1895, American astronomer Percival Lowell published his book Mars, followed by Mars and its Canals in 1906, proposing that the canals were the work of a long-gone civilization.[178] The idea of life on Mars led British writer H. G. Wellsto write the novel The War of the Worlds in 1897, telling of an invasion by aliens from Mars who were fleeing the planet’s desiccation.

Spectroscopic analysis of Mars’s atmosphere began in earnest in 1894, when U.S. astronomer William Wallace Campbell showed that neither water nor oxygen was present in the Martian atmosphere.[179] By 1909 better telescopes and the best perihelic opposition of Mars since 1877 conclusively put an end to the canal hypothesis.

The science fiction genre, although not so named during the time, developed during the late 19th century. Jules Verne‘s Around the Moon (1870) features a discussion of the possibility of life on the Moon, but with the conclusion that it is barren. Stories involving extraterrestrials are found in e.g. Garrett P. Serviss‘s Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898), an unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells was published in 1897 which stands at the beginning of the popular idea of the “Martian invasion” of Earth prominent in 20th-century pop culture.

The Arecibo message is a digital message sent to Messier 13, and is a well-known symbol of human attempts to contact extraterrestrials.

Most unidentified flying objects or UFO sightings[180] can be readily explained as sightings of Earth-based aircraft, known astronomical objects, or as hoaxes.[181] Nonetheless, a certain fraction of the public believe that UFOs might actually be of extraterrestrial origin, and, indeed, the notion has had influence on popular culture.

The possibility of extraterrestrial life on the Moon was ruled out in the 1960s, and during the 1970s it became clear that most of the other bodies of the Solar System do not harbor highly developed life, although the question of primitive life on bodies in the Solar System remains open.

The failure so far of the SETI program to detect an intelligent radio signal after decades of effort has at least partially dimmed the prevailing optimism of the beginning of the space age. Notwithstanding, belief in extraterrestrial beings continues to be voiced in pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and in popular folklore, notably “Area 51” and legends. It has become a pop culture trope given less-than-serious treatment in popular entertainment.

In the words of SETI’s Frank Drake, “All we know for sure is that the sky is not littered with powerful microwave transmitters”.[182]Drake noted that it is entirely possible that advanced technology results in communication being carried out in some way other than conventional radio transmission. At the same time, the data returned by space probes, and giant strides in detection methods, have allowed science to begin delineating habitability criteria on other worlds, and to confirm that at least other planets are plentiful, though aliens remain a question mark. The Wow! signal, detected in 1977 by a SETI project, remains a subject of speculative debate.

In 2000, geologist and paleontologist Peter Ward and astrobiologist Donald Brownlee published a book entitled Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.[183] In it, they discussed the Rare Earth hypothesis, in which they claim that Earth-like life is rare in the universe, whereas microbial life is common. Ward and Brownlee are open to the idea of evolution on other planets that is not based on essential Earth-like characteristics (such as DNA and carbon).

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in 2010 warned that humans should not try to contact alien life forms. He warned that aliens might pillage Earth for resources. “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans“, he said.[184] Jared Diamond had earlier expressed similar concerns.[185]

In November 2011, the White House released an official response to two petitions asking the U.S. government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. According to the response, “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race.”[186][187] Also, according to the response, there is “no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”[186][187] The response noted “odds are pretty high” that there may be life on other planets but “the odds of us making contact with any of them—especially any intelligent ones—are extremely small, given the distances involved.”[186][187]

In 2013, the exoplanet Kepler-62f was discovered, along with Kepler-62e and Kepler-62c. A related special issue of the journal Science, published earlier, described the discovery of the exoplanets.[188]

On 17 April 2014, the discovery of the Earth-size exoplanet Kepler-186f, 500 light-years from Earth, was publicly announced;[189] it is the first Earth-size planet to be discovered in the habitable zone and it has been hypothesized that there may be liquid water on its surface.

On 13 February 2015, scientists (including Geoffrey Marcy, Seth Shostak, Frank Drake and David Brin) at a convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, discussed Active SETI and whether transmitting a message to possible intelligent extraterrestrials in the Cosmos was a good idea;[190][191] one result was a statement, signed by many, that a “worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent”.[192]

On 20 July 2015, British physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, along with the SETI Institute, announced a well-funded effort, called the Breakthrough Initiatives, to expand efforts to search for extraterrestrial life. The group contracted the services of the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia in the United States and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.[193]

  1. Jump up ^ Where “extraterrestrial” is derived from the Latinextra (“beyond”, “not of”) and terrestris (“of Earth“, “belonging to Earth”).
  1. Jump up ^ For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, “Sun-like” means G-type star. Data for Sun-like stars wasn’t available so this statistic is an extrapolation from data about K-type stars
  2. Jump up ^ For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, Earth-sized means 1–2 Earth radii
  3. Jump up ^ For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, “habitable zone” means the region with 0.25 to 4 times Earth’s stellar flux (corresponding to 0.5–2 AU for the Sun).
  4. Jump up ^ About 1/4 of stars are GK Sun-like stars. The number of stars in the galaxy is not accurately known, but assuming 200 billion stars in total, the Milky Way would have about 50 billion Sun-like (GK) stars, of which about 1 in 5 (22%) or 11 billion would be Earth-sized in the habitable zone. Including red dwarfs would increase this to 40 billion.

  1. Jump up ^ Davies, Paul (18 November 2013). “Are We Alone in the Universe?”. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
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  151. Jump up ^ Strigari, L. E.; Barnabè, M.; Marshall, P. J.; Blandford, R. D. (2012). “Nomads of the Galaxy”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 423 (2): 1856–1865. arXiv:1201.2687Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012MNRAS.423.1856S. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21009.x. estimates 700 objects >10−6 solar masses (roughly the mass of Mars) per main-sequence star between 0.08 and 1 Solar mass, of which there are billions in the Milky Way.
  152. Jump up ^ Chang, Kenneth (24 August 2016). “One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth”. The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
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  155. Jump up ^ Aguilar, David A.; Pulliam, Christine (25 February 2013). “Future Evidence for Extraterrestrial Life Might Come from Dying Stars”. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Release 2013-06. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  156. ^ Jump up to: ab Borenstein, Seth (19 October 2015). “Hints of life on what was thought to be desolate early Earth”. Excite. Yonkers, NY: Mindspark Interactive Network. Associated Press. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  157. Jump up ^ Bell, Elizabeth A.; Boehnike, Patrick; Harrison, T. Mark; et al. (19 October 2015). “Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon” (PDF). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. 112 (47): 14518–21. Bibcode:2015PNAS..11214518B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517557112. ISSN1091-6490. PMC4664351Freely accessible. PMID26483481. Retrieved 20 October 2015. Early edition, published online before print.
  158. Jump up ^ “Chapter 3 — Philosophy: “Solving the Drake Equation”. SETI League. December 2002. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  159. Jump up ^ Burchell, M. J. (2006). “W(h)ither the Drake equation?”. International Journal of Astrobiology. 5 (3): 243–250. Bibcode:2006IJAsB…5..243B. doi:10.1017/S1473550406003107.
  160. Jump up ^ Aguirre, L. (1 July 2008). “The Drake Equation”. Nova ScienceNow. PBS. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  161. Jump up ^ Cohen, Jack; Stewart, Ian (2002). “Chapter 6: What does a Martian look like?”. Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN0-09-187927-2.
  162. Jump up ^ Temming, M. (18 July 2014). “How many galaxies are there in the universe?”. Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  163. Jump up ^ Marcy, G.; Butler, R.; Fischer, D.; et al. (2005). “Observed Properties of Exoplanets: Masses, Orbits and Metallicities”. Progress of Theoretical Physics Supplement. 158: 24–42. arXiv:astro-ph/0505003Freely accessible. Bibcode:2005PThPS.158…24M. doi:10.1143/PTPS.158.24. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008.
  164. Jump up ^ Swift, Jonathan J.; Johnson, John Asher; Morton, Timothy D.; Crepp, Justin R.; Montet, Benjamin T.; et al. (January 2013). “Characterizing the Cool KOIs. IV. Kepler-32 as a Prototype for the Formation of Compact Planetary Systems throughout the Galaxy”. The Astrophysical Journal. 764 (1). 105. arXiv:1301.0023Freely accessible. Bibcode:2013ApJ…764..105S. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/764/1/105.
  165. Jump up ^ “100 Billion Alien Planets Fill Our Milky Way Galaxy: Study”. Space.com. 2 January 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  166. Jump up ^ “Alien Planets Revealed”. Nova. Season 41. Episode 10. 8 January 2014. Event occurs at 50:56.
  167. Jump up ^ Overbye, Dennis (3 August 2015). “The Flip Side of Optimism About Life on Other Planets”. The New York Times. Retrieved 29 October2015.
  168. Jump up ^ “Who discovered that the Sun was a Star?”. Stanford Solar Center.
  169. Jump up ^ Crowe, Michael J. (1999). The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750–1900. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN0-486-40675-X.
  170. Jump up ^ Wiker, Benjamin D. (4 November 2002). “Alien Ideas: Christianity and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life”. Crisis Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 February 2003.
  171. Jump up ^ Irwin, Robert (2003). The Arabian Nights: A Companion. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 204 & 209. ISBN1-86064-983-1.
  172. Jump up ^ David A. Weintraub (2014). “Islam,” Religions and Extraterrestrial Life(pp 161-168). Springer International Publishing.
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  178. Jump up ^ Wallace, Alfred Russel (1907). Is Mars Habitable? A Critical Examination of Professor Lowell’s Book “Mars and Its Canals,” With an Alternative Explanation. London: Macmillan. OCLC8257449.
  179. Jump up ^ Chambers, Paul (1999). Life on Mars; The Complete Story. London: Blandford. ISBN0-7137-2747-0.
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  182. Jump up ^ “LECTURE 4: MODERN THOUGHTS ON EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE”. The University of Antarctica. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
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  • Baird, John C. (1987). The Inner Limits of Outer Space: A Psychologist Critiques Our Efforts to Communicate With Extraterrestrial Beings. Hanover: University Press of New England. ISBN0-87451-406-1.
  • Cohen, Jack; Stewart, Ian (2002). Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. Ebury Press. ISBN0-09-187927-2.
  • Crowe, Michael J. (1986). The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750–1900. Cambridge. ISBN0-521-26305-0.
  • Crowe, Michael J. (2008). The extraterrestrial life debate Antiquity to 1915: A Source Book. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN0-268-02368-9.
  • Dick, Steven J. (1984). Plurality of Worlds: The Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democratis to Kant. Cambridge.
  • Dick, Steven J. (1996). The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science. Cambridge. ISBN0-521-34326-7.
  • Dick, Steven J. (2001). Life on Other Worlds: The 20th Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate. Cambridge. ISBN0-521-79912-0.
  • Dick, Steven J.; Strick, James E. (2004). The Living Universe: NASA And the Development of Astrobiology. Rutgers. ISBN0-8135-3447-X.
  • Fasan, Ernst (1970). Relations with alien intelligences – the scientific basis of metalaw. Berlin: Berlin Verlag.
  • Goldsmith, Donald (1997). The Hunt for Life on Mars. New York: A Dutton Book. ISBN0-525-94336-6.
  • Grinspoon, David (2003). Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. HarperCollins. ISBN0-06-018540-6.
  • Lemnick, Michael T. (1998). Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe. New York: A Touchstone Book.
  • Michaud, Michael (2006). Contact with Alien Civilizations – Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials. Berlin: Springer. ISBN0-387-28598-9.
  • Pickover, Cliff (2003). The Science of Aliens. New York: Basic Books. ISBN0-465-07315-8.
  • Roth, Christopher F. (2005). Debbora Battaglia, ed. Ufology as Anthropology: Race, Extraterrestrials, and the Occult. E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Sagan, Carl; Shklovskii, I. S. (1966). Intelligent Life in the Universe. Random House.
  • Sagan, Carl (1973). Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence. MIT Press. ISBN0-262-19106-7.
  • Ward, Peter D. (2005). Life as we do not know it-the NASA search for (and synthesis of) alien life. New York: Viking. ISBN0-670-03458-4.
  • Tumminia, Diana G. (2007). Alien Worlds – Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN978-0-8156-0858-5.

 

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Helping the World with Artificial Intelligence

Training students at the Barboza Space Center in the area of artificial Intelligence.  Welcome to our reading list.

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Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of “intelligent agents“: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.[1] Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.[2]

The scope of AI is disputed: as machines become increasingly capable, tasks considered as requiring “intelligence” are often removed from the definition, a phenomenon known as the AI effect, leading to the quip, “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.”[3] For instance, optical character recognition is frequently excluded from “artificial intelligence”, having become a routine technology.[4] Capabilities generally classified as AI as of 2017 include successfully understanding human speech,[5] competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go),[6] autonomous cars, intelligent routing in content delivery network and military simulations.

Artificial intelligence was founded as an academic discipline in 1956, and in the years since has experienced several waves of optimism,[7][8] followed by disappointment and the loss of funding (known as an “AI winter“),[9][10] followed by new approaches, success and renewed funding.[8][11] For most of its history, AI research has been divided into subfields that often fail to communicate with each other.[12] These sub-fields are based on technical considerations, such as particular goals (e.g. “robotics” or “machine learning”),[13] the use of particular tools (“logic” or artificial neural networks), or deep philosophical differences.[14][15][16] Subfields have also been based on social factors (particular institutions or the work of particular researchers).[12]

The traditional problems (or goals) of AI research include reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects.[13] General intelligence is among the field’s long-term goals.[17] Approaches include statistical methods, computational intelligence, and traditional symbolic AI. Many tools are used in AI, including versions of search and mathematical optimization, artificial neural networks, and methods based on statistics, probability and economics. The AI field draws upon computer science, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and many others.

The field was founded on the claim that human intelligence “can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it”.[18] This raises philosophical arguments about the nature of the mind and the ethics of creating artificial beings endowed with human-like intelligence which are issues that have been explored by myth, fiction and philosophy since antiquity.[19] Some people also consider AI to be a danger to humanity if it progresses unabatedly.[20]Others believe that AI, unlike previous technological revolutions, will create a risk of mass unemployment.[21]

In the twenty-first century, AI techniques have experienced a resurgence following concurrent advances in computer power, large amounts of data, and theoretical understanding; and AI techniques have become an essential part of the technology industry, helping to solve many challenging problems in computer science

 


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Students from around the world we need your helps creating clocks for Mars

What is a Mars Clock?  It is a hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) project to get kids excited about space mathematics.  Bob Barboza is the founder/director of the Barboza Space Center in Long Beach, California.  He trains Jr. astronauts, engineers and scientists for the “Occupy Mars Learning Adventures  International Fellowship Programs.”  His passion is space mathematics.

We invite you to share some of your creative ideas in creating  Mars clocks.  We have provided some samples to inspire you below.   If you do the math we will help by creating the clocks or you are welcome to create your own Mars clock from start to finish.  We just want to get our students around the world excited about math.  If and when we go to Mars, we will use one of these clocks to tell time, to remind us of planet Earth.

Will you help us?

www.KidsTalkRadioMathematics.WordPress.com

Contact: Bob Barboza at. Suprschool@aol.com.  

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Russia is Making Space Science News

Soyuz 2-1B launches new GLONASS spacecraft

written by William Graham June 16, 2018

Russia has launched a replenishment satellite for its GLONASS navigation system Sunday, with a Soyuz-2-1b rocket and its Fregat-M upper stage carrying the Uragan-M No.756 spacecraft into orbit. Soyuz lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 00:30 Moscow Time (21:30 UTC).

Following checkout and commissioning, the new satellite will bring the GLONASS system back up to full strength, enabling it to once again provide full worldwide coverage. A Russian analogue to the US Global Positioning System, and more recently Europe’s Galileo and China’s Beidou, GLONASS was developed by the Soviet Union beginning in the 1970s.

GLONASS uses a constellation of satellites in medium Earth orbit (MEO) to broadcast navigation signals. Like other satellite navigation systems, GLONASS works by broadcasting precise timing signals which a receiver can use to calculate how long a signal took to reach it – and therefore how far away the satellite is. Using orbital ephemeris, also broadcast by the satellites, to determine their exact positions, the receiver can use the distances to four different satellites to triangulate its position.

Each spacecraft in the GLONASS constellation broadcasts four L-band navigation signals: restricted-access L1 and L2 signals for the Russian military, and equivalent unrestricted signals for civilian applications.

The GLONASS system requires 24 satellites across three orbital planes to enable continuous worldwide service. A minimum of eighteen satellites are required to provide coverage of just Russia and its territories.

Named Uragan – meaning Hurricane – these satellites are manufactured by ISS Reshetnev (formerly NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki) with each current-generation Uragan-M spacecraft designed to provide seven years of service. Uragan-M spacecraft are three-axis stabilised and deploy twin solar panels to provide power once on orbit.

Each 1,415-kilogram (3,120 lb) satellite carries caesium atomic clocks for accurate timekeeping.

The Soviet Union’s deployment of GLONASS began in October 1982, with the launch of a single Uragan satellite and two mass simulators aboard a Proton-K rocket with a Blok DM-2 upper stage. Launches in the 1980s and late 1990s built up the GLONASS constellation, which reached initial operational capability with coverage of Russia in 1993, and full worldwide capability in 1996.

Under Russian control after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, GLONASS began to fall into disrepair in the late 1990s, as older spacecraft failed faster than new ones could be launched. By 2001 only ten satellites were serviceable.

Following a 1999 directive from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the second-generation Uragan-M spacecraft were developed to enable Russia to rebuild and upgrade the constellation. Vladimir Putin also took a personal interest in the project after becoming President in 2000. The first Uragan-M was launched in December 2001, accompanied by two first-generation spacecraft.

Compared to its predecessors, the Uragan-M offers an increased timing frequency by a factor of five, as well as introducing the civilian L1 signal that was not provided by the first-generation spacecraft. With Uragan-M, the service life of GLONASS satellites also increased from three to seven years.

While Uragan-M spacecraft continue to launch, Russia has been moving its focus to the next-generation Uragan-K spacecraft. Two Uragan-K1 prototypes were launched, in 2011 and 2014, with the second prototype now being used as part of the operational GLONASS constellation. Uragan-K1 spacecraft were originally to have served purely as prototypes, with the upgraded Uragan-K2 being used for operational satellites, however additional K1 satellites were ordered after the planned introduction of Uragan-K2 slipped to 2020. The next Uragan-K1 launch is expected towards the end of 2018.

The Uragan-M No.756 satellite aboard Sunday’s launch is a replacement for Uragan-M No.734, in slot five of the constellation’s first plane. No.734 – which is also known as Kosmos 2458 – is one of three satellites that were launched aboard a Proton-M/DM-2 rocket in December 2009 and reached the end of its design life in 2016. This satellite is to be replaced following an outage earlier this year, however it is expected to remain in service as an on-orbit spare.

Uragan-M satellites can be launched individually aboard Soyuz-2-1b rockets, or in trios atop the more powerful Proton-M. Both rockets require an upper stage to transport the satellites into their operational medium Earth orbits – with Soyuz using a Fregat-M and Proton the Blok DM-03. Sunday’s launch used the Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat-M combination and flew from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwest Russia.

Soyuz-2-1b is an evolution of the Soyuz rocket that was designed by Sergei Korolev, itself based on the earlier Voskhod rocket and ultimately the R-7 missile. R-7, which first flew in 1957, was the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile and a modified version of the rocket was used to launch the first satellite, Sputnik, later the same year.

The current generation of Soyuz rockets consist of the Soyuz-2-1a, a modernised version of the previous-generation Soyuz-U incorporating upgraded engines and digital avionics; Soyuz-2-1b, which uses an RD-0124 third stage engine to increase performance; and the lightweight Soyuz-2-1v which eliminates the rocket’s first stage and re-engines the second with and NK-33 motor to reduce the cost of launching smaller payloads. Soyuz-2-1b first flew in December 2004 deploying France’s CoRoT exoplanet detection satellite.

Sunday’s launch was its thirty-ninth mission, including thirteen launches as Soyuz-STB, a modified version optimised to fly from Arianespace’s Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) launch site at Kourou, French Guiana.

In its thirty-eight launches before Sunday’s, Soyuz-2-1b had achieved thirty-five successes. Launch failures in 2011 and 2017 resulted in the loss of the Meridian No.15L and Meteor No.2-1 satellites respectively. Another anomaly in 2014, involving a Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT, placed two of Europe’s Galileo navigation satellites into an incorrect orbit. Reliability has been a concern for Russia’s space programme over the last few years, with a high number of failures attributed to faults in the manufacturing and quality control processes.

Sunday’s launch took place from Site 43/4 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. One of four launch pads at Plesetsk built to support operational deployment of the R-7A missile in the 1960s, Site 43/4 is currently the only Soyuz launch pad in use at the Cosmodrome. Two other pads – 43/3 and 16/2 – are undergoing renovations that will see them take on a share of launches in the near future. Soyuz rockets can also launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome – which has two Soyuz launch complexes – from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome and from Kourou, French Guiana.

The launch began with ignition of the Soyuz rocket’s first and second stage engines, about sixteen seconds ahead of the planned liftoff. Under the stage numbering system used by Russia, the Soyuz is a three-stage vehicle with the rocket’s core considered the second stage and the four liquid-fuelled boosters that burned in parallel are its first stage. The boosters are powered by RD-107A engines, while the core stage sports an RD-108A, which is a closely-related development. The core and boosters, as well as the rocket’s third stage, consumes RG-1 propellant – a refined form of petroleum similar to the Western RP-1 – oxidised by liquid oxygen.

After ignition, the engines ramped up to full thrust before Soyuz lifted-off. The first and second stages burned alongside each other for a little under two minutes, before the first stage boosters burned out and separated – making a pattern named the Korolev Cross after the rocket’s chief designer. Soyuz’ second stage continued to burn through first stage separation, cutting off 170 seconds later. Between these two events – likely about 45 seconds after first stage separation – the payload fairing was also jettisoned from the nose of the rocket, exposing Uragan-M No.756 to space for the first time.

Shortly before second stage cutoff, the rocket’s Blok-I third stage ignited to begin its four-and-a-half-minute burn. Powered by an RD-0124 engine, the third stage brought the Uragan-M satellite close to orbital velocity before cutting off and separating from the Fregat-M, which is continuing the satellite’s journey.

Fuelled by unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and dinitrogen tetroxide, Fregat-M’s restartable S5.98M engine will make a series of burns during Sunday’s mission, initially completing its insertion into a parking orbit before raising Uragan-M No.39 into its planned circular 19,100-kilometre (11,900-mile, 10,300-nautical-mile) orbit, inclined at 64.77 degrees. Spacecraft separation is expected several hours after launch.

Sunday’s is the first replenishment launch for GLONASS since last September – further Uragan-M satellites are expected to fly aboard Soyuz-2-1b rockets in July and October.

The launch comes ten days after an older Soyuz-FG rocket was used to carry three cosmonauts into space aboard the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, while the next flight of a Soyuz rocket is currently scheduled to be made by a Soyuz-2-1a on 9 July, with the Progress MS-09 resupply craft bound for the International Space Station.


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Students around the world will be learning how to play chess in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventure training programs.

The Barboza Space Center is training Jr. astronauts, scientists and engineering in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Program to play chess.  This will help to keep our minds sharp on the long eight month journey to Mars.    www.BarbozaSpaceCemter.Com

How to Play Chess

Five Parts:Understanding the Board and PiecesKnowing How to WinPlaying the GameUtilizing StrategyKnowing the Special MovesCommunity Q&A

Chess is a very popular game, thought to have originated in eastern Asia many centuries ago. Although it has a set of easily comprehended rules, it requires a lot of practice in order to defeat a skilled opponent. To win, a player must use his or her pieces to create a situation where the opponent’s king is unable to avoid capture. This article offers a beginner the information he or she needs to get started playing this complex but fascinating game.

Chess Help

Chess Rule Sheet
Chessboard Diagram

Part 1

Understanding the Board and Pieces

A chessboard consists of 64 square spaces in an 8×8 grid. Each space is uniquely identified by a letter-number combination denoting first the file (vertical column “a” through “h”) of the square and then its rank (horizontal row 1 through 8). Each piece has a specific name, an abbreviation (in chess notation), and specific move capabilities. Here, we’ll explore the board, then each piece one by one. If you already know the basics, skip to the next section.

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    Position the board correctly. The orientation of the board is important for proper play. When positioned properly, each player will have a dark square (typically black) in the lower left corner.
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    Place the rooks on the corners of the board. The rook is also known as the castle. It is abbreviated as “R” in notation and starts on a1, h1, a8, and h8. Those are the corners as denoted in the rank and file system.

    • How do they move? Rooks may move any number of vacant squares vertically or horizontally. If an opponent’s piece blocks the path, that piece may be captured by moving the rook to (but not beyond) the occupied square and removing the opponent’s piece.
    • Rooks cannot jump over pieces of either color. If one of your other pieces blocks your rook’s path, your rook must stop before reaching that square.
    • Castling is a special move involving rooks detailed below.
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    Place your knights next to your rooks. This is the “horse” piece. In notation, it’s referred to as “N” (or “Kt” in older texts). The knights start on b1, g1, b8, and g8.

    • How do they move? Knights are the only pieces that can jump over other pieces and thus are the only pieces that cannot be blocked. They move in an L-shaped pattern — that is, two squares horizontally or vertically and then one square perpendicular to that (in other words, two spaces horizontally and one space vertically or one space horizontally and two spaces vertically).
    • A knight captures a piece only when it lands on that piece’s square. In other words, the knight can “jump” over other pieces (of either color) and capture a piece where it lands.
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    Place the bishops next to the knights. In notation bishops are referred to as “B.” They start on c1, f1, c8, and f8.

    • How do they move? Bishops may move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction. Like rooks, they may capture an opponent’s piece within its path by stopping on that piece’s square.
    • The bishop proceeds, lands, and captures diagonally and remains throughout the game on the same color squares on which it begins the game. Thus, each player has a white-square bishop and a dark-square bishop.
    • As with rooks, if another of your pieces blocks your bishop’s path, the bishop must stop before reaching the occupied square. If the blocking piece belongs to your opponent, you may stop on (but not jump over) that square and capture the occupying piece.
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    Place the queen near the center of the first rank on her color. The positions for black and white are mirrored. If you’re playing white, your queen will be on the fourth file (counting from the left). If you’re playing black, she’ll be on the fifth file from your left. In notation this is d1 (a white square for the white queen) and d8 (a dark square for the black queen). (Note that the two queens start on the same file, as do the two kings.)

    • How do they move? The queen is the most powerful piece on the board. She can be thought of as the rook and bishop combined. The queen can move any number of vacant squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
    • Attacking with a queen is the same as with rooks and bishops. That is, she captures an opponent’s piece that lies within her path by moving to that piece’s square.
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    Place the kings in the last empty squares in the first and eighth ranks. The king is notated as “K” and starts on e1 and e8.

    • How do they move? The king can move one space at a time vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The king is not used as an attacking piece (except perhaps at the very end of the game) because, since he’s so valuable, you want to keep him protected and out of harm’s way. Nonetheless, he is capable of attacking any of the opposing pieces except the king and queen, to which he cannot get close enough to capture.
    • Kings are not offensive pieces. Your king is the piece you most want to protect, because if you lose him, you lose the game.
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    Place your pawns in the rank in front of your other pieces. Pawns are not notated with a letter. They begin the game forming a shield for your other pieces.

    • How do they move? Usually pawns move forward (never backward) one square. However, the first time it moves, a pawn may move forward either one or two squares. In all subsequent moves, a pawn is limited to moving one square at a time.
    • If an opponent’s piece is directly in front of it, a pawn may not move forward and may not capture that piece.
    • A pawn may attack an opponent’s piece only if the piece is one square diagonallyforward from the pawn (i.e. up one square and one square to the right or left).
    • There is another move a pawn may make under very specific circumstances. The move is called en passant (“in passing”). (See below).
    • Pawn promotion, detailed below, occurs when your pawn has marched all the way across the board to the eighth (your opponent’s first) rank.
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    Learn the rank and file system. This is not required, but it makes it easier to visualize moves and talk about moves, especially in chess literature and on websites. Also, when your opponent wasn’t paying attention and says, “Where did you go?”, you can respond with “Rook to a4 (Ra4).” Here’s how it works:

    • The files are the columns going up and down, pointing at you and your opponent. From left to right as white views it, they are files “a” through “h.”
    • The ranks are the horizontal rows from the players’ perspective. From bottom to top as white views it, they are ranks 1 through 8. All of white’s main pieces start at the 1 position (first rank); black’s main pieces start at the 8 position (eighth rank).
    • It is an excellent learning habit to notate your games, listing each move you and your opponent make, writing down the piece and the square to which it moves (using the piece and square notations already mentioned).

Part 2

Knowing How to Win

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    Understand the object of the game and how it’s achieved. To win, you need to checkmate your opponent’s king. This means forcing the opposing king into a position where he will be captured no matter what, so that he cannot move and no other piece can protect him. Checkmate (the end of the game) can occur in as few as three moves, but it’s more likely that a game will last for dozens, even hundreds, of moves. A typical game requires a lot of patience.

    • A secondary goal is to capture as many of your opponent’s pieces as possible, thus making checkmate easier. You capture pieces by landing on the squares they occupy.
    • While attacking the opposing pieces, you must simultaneously protect your own king so he doesn’t get captured.
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    Know how to put your opponent’s king in “check.” That means threatening to checkmate the king on your very next move if your opponent doesn’t do something immediately to protect him.

    • When you place your opponent in check, as a courtesy you should say “check” out loud Your opponent must then, if possible, do one of the following:
      • Avoid checkmate by moving their king to any vacant square not attacked by one of your pieces.
      • Block the check by placing a piece between your piece and their king.
      • Capture your piece that has placed their king in check.
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    Remember that you are not allowed to put yourself in check. You cannot make a move that exposes your king to capture in the opponent’s next move. This means you cannot move your king onto a square to which an opponent’s piece could move in their the next move. It also means you cannot unblock your king from attack (that is, expose your king to direct attack by moving an interposing piece).

Part 3

Playing the Game

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    Set up the chess board. Use the positions described in the first section. If you don’t have a board, you can make your own.
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    Start the game. The player with the white pieces begins the game by moving one piece as described above. Then it’s black’s turn to move, and the players take turns moving for the rest of the game.

    • Choose who plays white by a coin flip, or the stronger player may let the weaker player take white. In an evenly matched game, white has a slight advantage by moving first. [1]
    • If two players engage in a series of games, they can alternate colors from game to game, or they could agree that the previous loser could take white.
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    Capture an opponent’s piece by moving one of your pieces into a square occupied by that piece. The captured piece is then permanently removed from the game.

    • In formal tournament play there is often a rule stating that a player may not touch a piece unless s/he intends to move it and in fact, must move it if s/he touches it. If s/he wants only to adjust the piece, s/he must say “adjust” before touching it. [2]
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    Continue to play with each player moving one piece per turn until the game ends. Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to “pass”, even when having to move is detrimental. Play continues until a king is checkmated or a draw occurs. Draws can occur in five ways:[2]

    • Stalemate: a king is the only piece left of his color, is not in check, but cannot move without placing himself in check (which is not legal).
    • Insufficient material: the pieces left on the board cannot force a checkmate on either side so that neither player can win.
    • Threefold repetition: The position of all pieces on the board has been repeated three times, such as players moving pieces back and forth.
    • Fifty-move rule: at least fifty moves for each player have occurred since the last time any piece was captured or any pawn was moved.
    • Agreement: both players simply agree to a draw.
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    End the game with a checkmate. Any game not ending in stalemate or a draw will end in checkmate, where either your king or your opponent’s king cannot avoid capture. Whoever accomplishes checkmate announces “checkmate!” out loud to make sure both players are aware the game is over. Here’s more about “check” and “checkmate”:

    • Do one of the following to get out of check (where your king is threatened with capture, but you have a way to escape):
      • Capture the piece threatening your king. You can do this with one of your other pieces or (if the opponent’s piece is not protected) with your king.
      • Move your king from the square being attacked.
      • Use one of your pieces to block the piece threatening your king.
    • If you cannot get your king out of check in your next move, it’s “checkmate,” and your opponent wins. If their king is checkmated, you win.

Part 4

Utilizing Strategy

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    Know the relative offensive-strength value of each piece:

    • Pawn – 1 point
    • Knight – 3 points
    • Bishop – 3.5 points
    • Rook – 5 points
    • Queen – 9 points
    • The king has no offensive value because it is normally not used as an offensive weapon except in the last stage of a game.
    • When assessing the relative strength of the two sides during a game, compare the total point value of all the captured pieces. This will show who has the current disadvantage and by how much.
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    Understand the individual strengths of each piece and their best positioning.Generally, pieces are strongest near the center of the board. Specifically, the queen and bishops can control longer diagonals from the center, knights lose some of their range of movement if situated near an edge, and pawns are more dangerous the farther they advance.

    • Pawns are stronger when together, such as in chains (diagonal lines in which each pawn protects another). Try not to break this formation unless there is a clear, overriding advantage to be had by doing so.
    • Knights are weakest near the edge of the board.
      • The maximum number of spaces a knight can control is eight. If a knight is on the edge of the board, the number of squares it can jump to is cut in half. Likewise, if a knight is one row from the edge, it controls only six spaces.
      • You may not miss the power of the knight right away, but if you move a knight near the edge of the board, you will often find yourself wasting a move to reposition it closer to the action near the center of the board.
    • Bishops are strongest on or near the long (“major”) diagonals where they command the most squares.
      • Realize that the bishop’s power can be diminished if the opponent places a protected piece along a diagonal controlled by your bishop. On the other hand, that piece is pinned in that position if the piece it is protecting is of high value.
    • Rooks are very powerful in open files. Position rooks on files that contain none of your pawns. Rooks are also powerful when controlling the seventh rank for white (second rank for black), but only if the opposing king is on its starting rank.
    • Queens have the most power when commanding the center of the board. On the other hand, they are in the most danger there as well. It is often a good strategy to keep the queen one move away from this position and to avoid blocking your queen’s movement with your own pieces.
    • Kings should always be protected. They are best shielded by lower-value pieces.
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    Aim to control the center of the board. As deduced from the optimal piece positionings detailed above, pieces near the center of the board are at their most powerful. Usually, the game is a fight for control of the center and, when you’re in the center, your opponent has far fewer “good” places to choose from. You have the power that can expand in all directions, while your opponent is relegated to the side, putting him/her on the defensive.

    • Pawns can help with this. While your more powerful pieces are attacking, a pawn or two can maintain control in the center.
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    Have a strong opening. A weak opening automatically puts you at a disadvantage for the rest of the game. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Usually you’ll be best off opening with the d or e pawn. That opens up the center of the board.
    • Make only a couple of pawn moves at the start. You want to get your more powerful pieces into play as soon as possible.
    • Get your knights out and then your bishops. Knights’ range is limited. It often takes several hops to get them into the fray. (Bishops, rooks, and queens can swoop the entire length of the board, whereas the lowly pawn must trudge space by space.) Sometimes it is less obvious what effect moving a knight might have, so their attack is often stealthiest.
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    Use all of your pieces. If your rook is sitting back in the corner, you are wasting powerful ammo. The beauty of chess is that no one piece can win the game. You need a team of pieces to bombard your opponent’s king.

    • This is especially important if your opponent is skilled. It’s fairly easy to thwart one attacking piece; it’s possible to fend off two; but a skilled opponent will mount a three-pronged attack if you don’t keep him/her busy with your own attack.
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    Protect your king. It’s important to capture pieces and to attack the opponent’s king, but if your king is unprotected, you’ll be checkmated, the game will be over, and that offense you were running will be entirely useless.

    • Chess is challenging because you have to think about half a dozen things at once. You have to protect your king while planning moves for your other pieces. You have to understand what your opponent is doing while anticipating all of his/her possible next moves. It can be a daunting task, but with plenty of practice, you’ll find it easier to do all of these things at once.
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    Think several moves ahead. When your opponent makes a move, there’s a reason why. They’re setting something up, eyeing a potential attack. What’s happening? What are they aiming for? Try your best to anticipate and circumnavigate their actions and thwart their plan.

    • The same goes for you. Maybe you can’t capture a pawn on your next move, but what can you do to set yourself up for subsequent moves? This isn’t your usual board game. Every move you make now affects the moves you make in the future.
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    Never give up pieces needlessly. When your opponent makes a move but doesn’t take one of your pieces, take a second to scan the board. Are they in a position to take one of your pieces? If so, don’t allow it! Move that piece out of the way, or threaten another of your opponent’s pieces. Even better, capture that threatening piece yourself. Never just let a piece go.

    • It’s OK to give up a piece if it’s bait to draw your opponent to a specific area of the board where you’re planning to trap an even more valuable piece.
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    Try for a speedy checkmate. Did you know you can checkmate your opponent in as little as two moves? There are very specific instructions for a win in two, three, and four moves. If you’re curious, here are some wikiHow articles to read:

Part 5

Knowing the Special Moves

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    Use the “en passant” rule for pawns. En passant (from French: “in [the pawn’s] passing”) is a special capture made by a pawn. It’s permitted immediately after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from its starting position, and if an opposing pawn could have captured it if it had only moved only one square forward. In this situation, the opposing pawn may on the very next move capture the pawn as if taking it “as it passes” through the first square.

    • The resulting position would then be the same as if the pawn had only moved one square forward and the opposing pawn had captured it normally. En passant must be done on the very next move, or the right to do so is lost.
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    Promote your pawns. If a pawn reaches the far side of the board (eighth rank for white, first rank for black), it can be promoted to any other piece (except a king). The piece to which the pawn is promoted does not have to be a previously captured piece; it can be any piece. Usually, a player promotes a pawn to a queen. Thus a player could wind up with two (or more) queens, three (or more) rooks, etc. This is a very powerful offensive move.

    • To indicate pawn promotion in chess notation, write the square where the pawn is promoted (e.g., c8). Then write an equals sign (e.g., c8=) and then the symbol for the piece to which the pawn is promoted (e.g., c8=Q).
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    Use castling as a means to protect your king. This is used to get your king out of the middle of its rank where it is most vulnerable. To castle, move your king two squares toward either rook, then move that rook to the square immediately on the other side of the king. You can castle only if:

    • There are no pieces between the king and that rook.
    • The king at that point is not in check and does not have to pass through or to a square in which he would be in check.
    • Neither the king nor that rook has made any moves yet in the game.

Community Q&A

  • What if the opponent doesn’t move the way I wish?
    wikiHow Contributor
    You need a strong defense and to be prepared for almost anything. One of the main strategies of chess is forcing your opponent into a situation where, no matter what he or she does, you are given an advantage, such as capturing a piece or securing a better position.
  • Can the pawn move forward two spaces only once?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Yes. Your pawns may each move either one or two spaces forward on their first move. In all subsequent moves, each may move only one space.
  • Can the rook and king move together?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Under certain conditions, yes. It is known as castling and is very useful. It was one of the few changes made in the last millennium.
  • What are promoted pawns?
    These are pawns that have reached their eighth row (the opponent’s first row) and have been converted to some other piece such as a queen.
  • Can a horse come back to its previous place?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Yes, it can.
  • What will happen if in the end only both kings are left?
    wikiHow Contributor
    This is called a stalemate, which is a draw or tie, because neither player can capture the other’s king. The game ends as soon as such a situation occurs.
  • What are the moves of the bishop?
    wikiHow Contributor
    A bishop moves diagonally in any direction and as many open squares as it wants. It must stop before coming to a square occupied by a piece of its own color. It can stop on a square occupied by an opponent’s piece (thereby capturing that piece).
  • Can you ever capture the king and take it off the board?
    wikiHow Contributor
    No. The king remains on the board until the very end of the game. If your king can be captured on your opponent’s next move, you are in check and must get out of check immediately. You can do so by moving your king to a safe spot, by putting one of your own pieces between your king and the attacking piece, or by capturing the attacking piece. If you are in check and cannot immediately get out of check in one move, you are in checkmate, and the game is over (without your opponent’s actually having to remove your king).
  • Can any chess pieces move backwards?
    wikiHow Contributor
    All pieces except pawns can move backwards in directions permitted for the piece in question (e.g. rooks can move straight backwards, bishops can go backwards diagonally, etc.). Promoted pawns can move backwards in the same manner as the piece they’ve become.
  • Can the king move without check?
    wikiHow Contributor
    A king can move anytime except if a move would put himself into check. A king becomes more powerful toward the end of the game and can help checkmate the other king.

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Quick Summary

In chess, you want to capture the opponent’s king while protecting yours, which you can do by moving your pieces across the board and eliminating their pieces. Remember how each piece moves: pawns move 1 space forwards but capture pieces by moving diagonally; rooks move vertically or horizontally as far as they’d like; bishops move diagonally as far as they’d like; knights move 2 spaces in one direction and then 1 space perpendicularly and can hop over pieces if necessary; the queen can move in any direction for as many spaces; and the king can move 1 space in any direction.

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Teaching Astronauts to Play Chess

The Barboza Space Center is training Jr. astronauts, scientists and engineering in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Program to play chess.  This will help to keep our minds sharp on the long eight month journey to Mars.    www.BarbozaSpaceCemter.Com

How to Play Chess

Five Parts:Understanding the Board and PiecesKnowing How to WinPlaying the GameUtilizing StrategyKnowing the Special MovesCommunity Q&A

Chess is a very popular game, thought to have originated in eastern Asia many centuries ago. Although it has a set of easily comprehended rules, it requires a lot of practice in order to defeat a skilled opponent. To win, a player must use his or her pieces to create a situation where the opponent’s king is unable to avoid capture. This article offers a beginner the information he or she needs to get started playing this complex but fascinating game.

Chess Help

Chess Rule Sheet
Chessboard Diagram

Part 1

Understanding the Board and Pieces

A chessboard consists of 64 square spaces in an 8×8 grid. Each space is uniquely identified by a letter-number combination denoting first the file (vertical column “a” through “h”) of the square and then its rank (horizontal row 1 through 8). Each piece has a specific name, an abbreviation (in chess notation), and specific move capabilities. Here, we’ll explore the board, then each piece one by one. If you already know the basics, skip to the next section.

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    Position the board correctly. The orientation of the board is important for proper play. When positioned properly, each player will have a dark square (typically black) in the lower left corner.
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    Place the rooks on the corners of the board. The rook is also known as the castle. It is abbreviated as “R” in notation and starts on a1, h1, a8, and h8. Those are the corners as denoted in the rank and file system.

    • How do they move? Rooks may move any number of vacant squares vertically or horizontally. If an opponent’s piece blocks the path, that piece may be captured by moving the rook to (but not beyond) the occupied square and removing the opponent’s piece.
    • Rooks cannot jump over pieces of either color. If one of your other pieces blocks your rook’s path, your rook must stop before reaching that square.
    • Castling is a special move involving rooks detailed below.
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    Place your knights next to your rooks. This is the “horse” piece. In notation, it’s referred to as “N” (or “Kt” in older texts). The knights start on b1, g1, b8, and g8.

    • How do they move? Knights are the only pieces that can jump over other pieces and thus are the only pieces that cannot be blocked. They move in an L-shaped pattern — that is, two squares horizontally or vertically and then one square perpendicular to that (in other words, two spaces horizontally and one space vertically or one space horizontally and two spaces vertically).
    • A knight captures a piece only when it lands on that piece’s square. In other words, the knight can “jump” over other pieces (of either color) and capture a piece where it lands.
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    Place the bishops next to the knights. In notation bishops are referred to as “B.” They start on c1, f1, c8, and f8.

    • How do they move? Bishops may move any number of vacant squares in any diagonal direction. Like rooks, they may capture an opponent’s piece within its path by stopping on that piece’s square.
    • The bishop proceeds, lands, and captures diagonally and remains throughout the game on the same color squares on which it begins the game. Thus, each player has a white-square bishop and a dark-square bishop.
    • As with rooks, if another of your pieces blocks your bishop’s path, the bishop must stop before reaching the occupied square. If the blocking piece belongs to your opponent, you may stop on (but not jump over) that square and capture the occupying piece.
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    Place the queen near the center of the first rank on her color. The positions for black and white are mirrored. If you’re playing white, your queen will be on the fourth file (counting from the left). If you’re playing black, she’ll be on the fifth file from your left. In notation this is d1 (a white square for the white queen) and d8 (a dark square for the black queen). (Note that the two queens start on the same file, as do the two kings.)

    • How do they move? The queen is the most powerful piece on the board. She can be thought of as the rook and bishop combined. The queen can move any number of vacant squares horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
    • Attacking with a queen is the same as with rooks and bishops. That is, she captures an opponent’s piece that lies within her path by moving to that piece’s square.
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    Place the kings in the last empty squares in the first and eighth ranks. The king is notated as “K” and starts on e1 and e8.

    • How do they move? The king can move one space at a time vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The king is not used as an attacking piece (except perhaps at the very end of the game) because, since he’s so valuable, you want to keep him protected and out of harm’s way. Nonetheless, he is capable of attacking any of the opposing pieces except the king and queen, to which he cannot get close enough to capture.
    • Kings are not offensive pieces. Your king is the piece you most want to protect, because if you lose him, you lose the game.
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    Place your pawns in the rank in front of your other pieces. Pawns are not notated with a letter. They begin the game forming a shield for your other pieces.

    • How do they move? Usually pawns move forward (never backward) one square. However, the first time it moves, a pawn may move forward either one or two squares. In all subsequent moves, a pawn is limited to moving one square at a time.
    • If an opponent’s piece is directly in front of it, a pawn may not move forward and may not capture that piece.
    • A pawn may attack an opponent’s piece only if the piece is one square diagonallyforward from the pawn (i.e. up one square and one square to the right or left).
    • There is another move a pawn may make under very specific circumstances. The move is called en passant (“in passing”). (See below).
    • Pawn promotion, detailed below, occurs when your pawn has marched all the way across the board to the eighth (your opponent’s first) rank.
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    Learn the rank and file system. This is not required, but it makes it easier to visualize moves and talk about moves, especially in chess literature and on websites. Also, when your opponent wasn’t paying attention and says, “Where did you go?”, you can respond with “Rook to a4 (Ra4).” Here’s how it works:

    • The files are the columns going up and down, pointing at you and your opponent. From left to right as white views it, they are files “a” through “h.”
    • The ranks are the horizontal rows from the players’ perspective. From bottom to top as white views it, they are ranks 1 through 8. All of white’s main pieces start at the 1 position (first rank); black’s main pieces start at the 8 position (eighth rank).
    • It is an excellent learning habit to notate your games, listing each move you and your opponent make, writing down the piece and the square to which it moves (using the piece and square notations already mentioned).

Part 2

Knowing How to Win

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    Understand the object of the game and how it’s achieved. To win, you need to checkmate your opponent’s king. This means forcing the opposing king into a position where he will be captured no matter what, so that he cannot move and no other piece can protect him. Checkmate (the end of the game) can occur in as few as three moves, but it’s more likely that a game will last for dozens, even hundreds, of moves. A typical game requires a lot of patience.

    • A secondary goal is to capture as many of your opponent’s pieces as possible, thus making checkmate easier. You capture pieces by landing on the squares they occupy.
    • While attacking the opposing pieces, you must simultaneously protect your own king so he doesn’t get captured.
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    Know how to put your opponent’s king in “check.” That means threatening to checkmate the king on your very next move if your opponent doesn’t do something immediately to protect him.

    • When you place your opponent in check, as a courtesy you should say “check” out loud Your opponent must then, if possible, do one of the following:
      • Avoid checkmate by moving their king to any vacant square not attacked by one of your pieces.
      • Block the check by placing a piece between your piece and their king.
      • Capture your piece that has placed their king in check.
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    Remember that you are not allowed to put yourself in check. You cannot make a move that exposes your king to capture in the opponent’s next move. This means you cannot move your king onto a square to which an opponent’s piece could move in their the next move. It also means you cannot unblock your king from attack (that is, expose your king to direct attack by moving an interposing piece).

Part 3

Playing the Game

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    Set up the chess board. Use the positions described in the first section. If you don’t have a board, you can make your own.
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    Start the game. The player with the white pieces begins the game by moving one piece as described above. Then it’s black’s turn to move, and the players take turns moving for the rest of the game.

    • Choose who plays white by a coin flip, or the stronger player may let the weaker player take white. In an evenly matched game, white has a slight advantage by moving first. [1]
    • If two players engage in a series of games, they can alternate colors from game to game, or they could agree that the previous loser could take white.
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    Capture an opponent’s piece by moving one of your pieces into a square occupied by that piece. The captured piece is then permanently removed from the game.

    • In formal tournament play there is often a rule stating that a player may not touch a piece unless s/he intends to move it and in fact, must move it if s/he touches it. If s/he wants only to adjust the piece, s/he must say “adjust” before touching it. [2]
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    Continue to play with each player moving one piece per turn until the game ends. Making a move is compulsory; it is not legal to “pass”, even when having to move is detrimental. Play continues until a king is checkmated or a draw occurs. Draws can occur in five ways:[2]

    • Stalemate: a king is the only piece left of his color, is not in check, but cannot move without placing himself in check (which is not legal).
    • Insufficient material: the pieces left on the board cannot force a checkmate on either side so that neither player can win.
    • Threefold repetition: The position of all pieces on the board has been repeated three times, such as players moving pieces back and forth.
    • Fifty-move rule: at least fifty moves for each player have occurred since the last time any piece was captured or any pawn was moved.
    • Agreement: both players simply agree to a draw.
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    End the game with a checkmate. Any game not ending in stalemate or a draw will end in checkmate, where either your king or your opponent’s king cannot avoid capture. Whoever accomplishes checkmate announces “checkmate!” out loud to make sure both players are aware the game is over. Here’s more about “check” and “checkmate”:

    • Do one of the following to get out of check (where your king is threatened with capture, but you have a way to escape):
      • Capture the piece threatening your king. You can do this with one of your other pieces or (if the opponent’s piece is not protected) with your king.
      • Move your king from the square being attacked.
      • Use one of your pieces to block the piece threatening your king.
    • If you cannot get your king out of check in your next move, it’s “checkmate,” and your opponent wins. If their king is checkmated, you win.

Part 4

Utilizing Strategy

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    Know the relative offensive-strength value of each piece:

    • Pawn – 1 point
    • Knight – 3 points
    • Bishop – 3.5 points
    • Rook – 5 points
    • Queen – 9 points
    • The king has no offensive value because it is normally not used as an offensive weapon except in the last stage of a game.
    • When assessing the relative strength of the two sides during a game, compare the total point value of all the captured pieces. This will show who has the current disadvantage and by how much.
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    Understand the individual strengths of each piece and their best positioning.Generally, pieces are strongest near the center of the board. Specifically, the queen and bishops can control longer diagonals from the center, knights lose some of their range of movement if situated near an edge, and pawns are more dangerous the farther they advance.

    • Pawns are stronger when together, such as in chains (diagonal lines in which each pawn protects another). Try not to break this formation unless there is a clear, overriding advantage to be had by doing so.
    • Knights are weakest near the edge of the board.
      • The maximum number of spaces a knight can control is eight. If a knight is on the edge of the board, the number of squares it can jump to is cut in half. Likewise, if a knight is one row from the edge, it controls only six spaces.
      • You may not miss the power of the knight right away, but if you move a knight near the edge of the board, you will often find yourself wasting a move to reposition it closer to the action near the center of the board.
    • Bishops are strongest on or near the long (“major”) diagonals where they command the most squares.
      • Realize that the bishop’s power can be diminished if the opponent places a protected piece along a diagonal controlled by your bishop. On the other hand, that piece is pinned in that position if the piece it is protecting is of high value.
    • Rooks are very powerful in open files. Position rooks on files that contain none of your pawns. Rooks are also powerful when controlling the seventh rank for white (second rank for black), but only if the opposing king is on its starting rank.
    • Queens have the most power when commanding the center of the board. On the other hand, they are in the most danger there as well. It is often a good strategy to keep the queen one move away from this position and to avoid blocking your queen’s movement with your own pieces.
    • Kings should always be protected. They are best shielded by lower-value pieces.
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    Aim to control the center of the board. As deduced from the optimal piece positionings detailed above, pieces near the center of the board are at their most powerful. Usually, the game is a fight for control of the center and, when you’re in the center, your opponent has far fewer “good” places to choose from. You have the power that can expand in all directions, while your opponent is relegated to the side, putting him/her on the defensive.

    • Pawns can help with this. While your more powerful pieces are attacking, a pawn or two can maintain control in the center.
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    Have a strong opening. A weak opening automatically puts you at a disadvantage for the rest of the game. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Usually you’ll be best off opening with the d or e pawn. That opens up the center of the board.
    • Make only a couple of pawn moves at the start. You want to get your more powerful pieces into play as soon as possible.
    • Get your knights out and then your bishops. Knights’ range is limited. It often takes several hops to get them into the fray. (Bishops, rooks, and queens can swoop the entire length of the board, whereas the lowly pawn must trudge space by space.) Sometimes it is less obvious what effect moving a knight might have, so their attack is often stealthiest.
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    Use all of your pieces. If your rook is sitting back in the corner, you are wasting powerful ammo. The beauty of chess is that no one piece can win the game. You need a team of pieces to bombard your opponent’s king.

    • This is especially important if your opponent is skilled. It’s fairly easy to thwart one attacking piece; it’s possible to fend off two; but a skilled opponent will mount a three-pronged attack if you don’t keep him/her busy with your own attack.
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    Protect your king. It’s important to capture pieces and to attack the opponent’s king, but if your king is unprotected, you’ll be checkmated, the game will be over, and that offense you were running will be entirely useless.

    • Chess is challenging because you have to think about half a dozen things at once. You have to protect your king while planning moves for your other pieces. You have to understand what your opponent is doing while anticipating all of his/her possible next moves. It can be a daunting task, but with plenty of practice, you’ll find it easier to do all of these things at once.
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    Think several moves ahead. When your opponent makes a move, there’s a reason why. They’re setting something up, eyeing a potential attack. What’s happening? What are they aiming for? Try your best to anticipate and circumnavigate their actions and thwart their plan.

    • The same goes for you. Maybe you can’t capture a pawn on your next move, but what can you do to set yourself up for subsequent moves? This isn’t your usual board game. Every move you make now affects the moves you make in the future.
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    Never give up pieces needlessly. When your opponent makes a move but doesn’t take one of your pieces, take a second to scan the board. Are they in a position to take one of your pieces? If so, don’t allow it! Move that piece out of the way, or threaten another of your opponent’s pieces. Even better, capture that threatening piece yourself. Never just let a piece go.

    • It’s OK to give up a piece if it’s bait to draw your opponent to a specific area of the board where you’re planning to trap an even more valuable piece.
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    Try for a speedy checkmate. Did you know you can checkmate your opponent in as little as two moves? There are very specific instructions for a win in two, three, and four moves. If you’re curious, here are some wikiHow articles to read:

Part 5

Knowing the Special Moves

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    Use the “en passant” rule for pawns. En passant (from French: “in [the pawn’s] passing”) is a special capture made by a pawn. It’s permitted immediately after a player moves a pawn two squares forward from its starting position, and if an opposing pawn could have captured it if it had only moved only one square forward. In this situation, the opposing pawn may on the very next move capture the pawn as if taking it “as it passes” through the first square.

    • The resulting position would then be the same as if the pawn had only moved one square forward and the opposing pawn had captured it normally. En passant must be done on the very next move, or the right to do so is lost.
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    Promote your pawns. If a pawn reaches the far side of the board (eighth rank for white, first rank for black), it can be promoted to any other piece (except a king). The piece to which the pawn is promoted does not have to be a previously captured piece; it can be any piece. Usually, a player promotes a pawn to a queen. Thus a player could wind up with two (or more) queens, three (or more) rooks, etc. This is a very powerful offensive move.

    • To indicate pawn promotion in chess notation, write the square where the pawn is promoted (e.g., c8). Then write an equals sign (e.g., c8=) and then the symbol for the piece to which the pawn is promoted (e.g., c8=Q).
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    Use castling as a means to protect your king. This is used to get your king out of the middle of its rank where it is most vulnerable. To castle, move your king two squares toward either rook, then move that rook to the square immediately on the other side of the king. You can castle only if:

    • There are no pieces between the king and that rook.
    • The king at that point is not in check and does not have to pass through or to a square in which he would be in check.
    • Neither the king nor that rook has made any moves yet in the game.

Community Q&A

  • What if the opponent doesn’t move the way I wish?
    wikiHow Contributor
    You need a strong defense and to be prepared for almost anything. One of the main strategies of chess is forcing your opponent into a situation where, no matter what he or she does, you are given an advantage, such as capturing a piece or securing a better position.
  • Can the pawn move forward two spaces only once?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Yes. Your pawns may each move either one or two spaces forward on their first move. In all subsequent moves, each may move only one space.
  • Can the rook and king move together?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Under certain conditions, yes. It is known as castling and is very useful. It was one of the few changes made in the last millennium.
  • What are promoted pawns?
    These are pawns that have reached their eighth row (the opponent’s first row) and have been converted to some other piece such as a queen.
  • Can a horse come back to its previous place?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Yes, it can.
  • What will happen if in the end only both kings are left?
    wikiHow Contributor
    This is called a stalemate, which is a draw or tie, because neither player can capture the other’s king. The game ends as soon as such a situation occurs.
  • What are the moves of the bishop?
    wikiHow Contributor
    A bishop moves diagonally in any direction and as many open squares as it wants. It must stop before coming to a square occupied by a piece of its own color. It can stop on a square occupied by an opponent’s piece (thereby capturing that piece).
  • Can you ever capture the king and take it off the board?
    wikiHow Contributor
    No. The king remains on the board until the very end of the game. If your king can be captured on your opponent’s next move, you are in check and must get out of check immediately. You can do so by moving your king to a safe spot, by putting one of your own pieces between your king and the attacking piece, or by capturing the attacking piece. If you are in check and cannot immediately get out of check in one move, you are in checkmate, and the game is over (without your opponent’s actually having to remove your king).
  • Can any chess pieces move backwards?
    wikiHow Contributor
    All pieces except pawns can move backwards in directions permitted for the piece in question (e.g. rooks can move straight backwards, bishops can go backwards diagonally, etc.). Promoted pawns can move backwards in the same manner as the piece they’ve become.
  • Can the king move without check?
    wikiHow Contributor
    A king can move anytime except if a move would put himself into check. A king becomes more powerful toward the end of the game and can help checkmate the other king.

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Quick Summary

In chess, you want to capture the opponent’s king while protecting yours, which you can do by moving your pieces across the board and eliminating their pieces. Remember how each piece moves: pawns move 1 space forwards but capture pieces by moving diagonally; rooks move vertically or horizontally as far as they’d like; bishops move diagonally as far as they’d like; knights move 2 spaces in one direction and then 1 space perpendicularly and can hop over pieces if necessary; the queen can move in any direction for as many spaces; and the king can move 1 space in any direction.

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Spanish and Portuguese Robots

Insight Robotics Expands its Footprint in Mexico, Portugal and Spain Through Strategic Distribution Partnership

PR Newswire

The successful delivery of the first project in Mexico and the demonstration project in Portugal opened up a new page for Insight Robotics in these continents and partner network.

HONG KONG, May 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Insight Robotics, a technology company that was founded in Hong Kong, with mission to safeguard natural resources and infrastructure through automation and early-warning threat detection, is pleased to announce the expansion of its business in Mexico, Portugal and Spain by establishing Distribution Partnership with Robotics Galu in Mexico and Leitek Innovative Solutions in Iberia respectively, which ensures an increased geographic sales footprint and broader access to maintenance and support resources for better client’s engagement.

Insight Robotics Wildfire Detection Robot

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Insight Robotics Wildfire Detection Robot
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The first five Wildfire Detection robots have been installed in the main forest in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. The robots are currently being monitored by state and federal authorities controlling forestry, an institution that provides assistance and resources at the national level — throughout 32 states. The potential for replicating the project across the State of Jalisco and at the national level is high.

Meanwhile, the Portugal’s demonstration was carried in March at the Europe’s largest laboratory for wildfire studies, LEIF (Laboratorio de Estudos de Incendios Florestais) and got national exposure and attention to Insight Robotics Early Wildfire Detection system to the Portuguese stakeholders, policy and key decision makers, as an effective solution to counter the recurring threat of wildfires that the country has been battered with.

Demonstration done at LEIF in Portugal (March 2018)

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Demonstration done at LEIF in Portugal (March 2018)
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The demonstration had a dedicated reportage in the major TV news channel in Portugal(SIC). “Portugal doesn’t have a culture of video surveillance of the forest and the big fire of Pedrogao Grande in June 2017 showed the benefit of video surveillance,” said Professor Domingos Xavier Viegas, professor of the University of Coimbra, who is the highest technical and scientific authority in Portugal related to wildfires. “Insight Robotics Wildfire Detection system enables not only the detection and location of the fire, but also a great added value with lots of information to the firefighter such as providing the best path towards the fire, monitoring several fires simultaneously from a Command and Control Center.” In the wake of the demonstration, Portugal government has enacted a regulation that installation of forest video surveillance systems, integrating with RGB and thermal cameras is mandatory for mitigation of wildfires.