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How Flat Earthers Nearly Derailed a Space Photo Book

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 12:30
An anonymous reader writes: A photographer trying to raise money for a self-published book of historical space artifacts had his Facebook ads repeatedly removed by Facebook because flat-Earthers and Moon hoax conspiracy theorists were offended. About 24 hours after the ads were approved, he got a notification telling him the ad had been removed. He resubmitted it. It was accepted -- and then removed again -- 15 or 20 times, he said. The explanation given: He had run "misleading ads that resulted in high negative feedback." He understood that it was Facebook's algorithm that rejected the ads, not a person. Getting additional answers proved difficult, a common complaint with advertising on Facebook. The best clues he could find came in the comments under the ads, which he and his colleagues captured in screenshots before they were removed and in responses to other posts about the project: There were phrases such as "The original moon landing was faking" and "It's all a show," along with memes mocking space technology. Some comments were hard to gauge, with users insisting that the earth was flat but that they'd buy the book anyway. Mr. Redgrove didn't entirely blame the commenters. If these were their beliefs, then of course they were going to be annoyed by the ads. But how these individuals had ended up with the power to derail his campaign perplexed him. "They don't really have their systems in place to protect people," Mr. Redgrove said of Facebook. Facebook said it could not immediately comment on what had gone wrong. On Thursday, after the publication of this article, a representative for the company said it had investigated the issue and had confirmed that, as Mr. Redgrove had said, all the ads were originally approved.

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T-Mobile 'Put My Life in Danger' Says Woman Stalked With Black Market Location Data

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 11:47
Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Ruth Johnson didn't know exactly who rang her phone and threatened her around 20 times in 2014. The person on the other end said he was John Edens from the U.S. Marshals with a warrant for her arrest for stealing a car. She was behind on her payments. It later turned out John Edens didn't have a warrant, nor was he from law enforcement at all. Instead, he was a debt collector with a history of stalking and domestic violence who had managed to get hold of Johnson's phone location data. He did this by pretending to be a U.S. Marshal with the "Georgia Fugitive Task Force" to T-Mobile, which then provided Edens with the location of Johnson's phone in a handy Google Maps interface -- "pinging" the phone, in industry parlance. "Fearful," is the word Johnson first used to explain the episode in a phone call with Motherboard. "It was very fearful." Motherboard previously reported on Edens' case using court documents and sources in the bounty hunting industry; Edens was sentenced to one year in prison for impersonating a U.S. officer. Now, Johnson explained in an interview what it was like to have her phone tracked. Her story demonstrates the very real human impact that the black market use and sale of phone location data can have. "I was very upset with the phone company, because I was under the impression that you had to get [a] court order in order to get information such as that out," she said. T-Mobile "put my life in danger," she added.

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Gmail in G Suite Now Uses AI For Inline Spelling and Grammar Suggestions

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 11:10
Ever been stumped by spelling or sentence syntax while pecking out an email to colleagues? Fortunately for G Suite users, Google will soon introduce improved spelling and grammar correction tools in Gmail that offer corrections as you type. From a report: Starting August 20 for rapid release domains and September 12 for scheduled release domains across all G Suite editions, Google will begin applying AI to make real-time spell-check suggestions while detecting potential grammar issues. For some common spelling mistakes, it'll also add "as-you-type" autocorrection for improved accuracy. The inline grammar suggestions are a carryover from Google Docs, which gained them back in February 2019. Squiggly blue lines appear under erroneous phrases as you write them, and right-clicking on them accepts or dismisses the corrections. The Mountain View company says its engine can handle basic cases like "affect" versus "effect" and "there" versus "their," in addition to more complicated rules like how to use prepositions correctly or to pick the right verb tense.

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Apple, Google, and Mozilla Block Kazakhstan's HTTPS Intercepting Certificate

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 10:33
Apple, Google, and Mozilla have moved in to ban a root certificate the Kazakhstan government used in the past month to spy on its citizens' web traffic. From a report: Starting today, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will show errors if any HTTPS web traffic is encrypted with the Kazakh government's root or leaf certificates. This coordinated action will ensure the safety of Kazakh users who were forced last month by their local Kazakh ISPs to install this certificate under the threat of not being allowed to use the internet otherwise. Kazakh ISPs forced their customers to install the government's root certificate after the Kazakh government issued a decree and said the measure was "aimed at enhancing the protection of citizens, government bodies and private companies from hacker attacks, Internet fraudsters and other types of cyber threats." But in reality, the Kazakh government abused this root certificate installed in millions of users browsers to intercept and decrypt HTTPS traffic users were making to 37 domains, such as such Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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Intel's Line of Notebook CPUs Gets More Confusing With 14nm Comet Lake

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 09:50
Intel today launched a new series of 14nm notebook CPUs code-named Comet Lake. Going by Intel's numbers, Comet Lake looks like a competent upgrade to its predecessor Whiskey Lake. The interesting question -- and one largely left unanswered by Intel -- is why the company has decided to launch a new line of 14nm notebook CPUs less than a month after launching Ice Lake, its first 10nm notebook CPUs. From a report: Both the Comet Lake and Ice Lake notebook CPU lines this month consist of a full range of i3, i5, and i7 mobile CPUs in both high-power (U-series) and low-power (Y-series) variants. This adds up to a total of 19 Intel notebook CPU models released in August, and we expect to see a lot of follow-on confusion. During the briefing call, Intel executives did not want to respond to questions about differentiation between the Comet Lake and Ice Lake lines based on either performance or price, but the technical specs lead us to believe that Ice Lake is likely the far more attractive product line for most users. Intel's U-series CPUs for both Comet Lake and Ice Lake operate at a nominal 15W TDP. Both lines also support a "Config Up" 25W TDP, which can be enabled by OEMs who choose to provide the cooling and battery resources necessary to support it. Things get more interesting for the lower-powered Y-series -- Ice Lake offers 9W/12W configurable TDP, but Comet Lake undercuts that to 7W/9W. This is already a significant drop in power budget, which Comet Lake takes even further by offering a new Config Down TDP, which is either 4.5W or 5.5W, depending on which model you're looking at. Comet Lake's biggest and meanest i7, the i7-10710U, sports 6 cores and 12 threads at a slightly higher boost clock rate than Ice Lake's 4C/8T i7-1068G7. However, the Comet Lake parts are still using the older UHD graphics chipset -- they don't get access to Ice Lake's shiny new Iris+, which offers up to triple the onboard graphics performance. This sharply limits the appeal of the Comet Lake i7 CPUs in any OEM design that doesn't include a separate Nvidia or Radeon GPU -- which would in turn bump the real-world power consumption and heat generation of such a system significantly.

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Sony Pulls Spider-Man Out of the MCU Over Profit-Sharing Dispute With Disney

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 09:05
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has pulled out of producing future Spider-Man movies. From a report: The news was first reported by Deadline and later confirmed by Sony Pictures. According to Deadline's reporting, the break is due to disputes between Sony -- which still holds the rights to the character -- and Marvel's parent company Disney over revenue sharing from films starring the web-slinging hero. The news means that Spider-Man's appearances in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe films -- as well as crossovers from characters like Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man or Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury in future Spider-Man films -- could end with Spider-Man: Far From Home, released earlier this summer.

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Japan's Digital Pop Stars Blur Line Between Virtual and Reality

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 08:00
An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report about Japan's virtual YouTubers or VTubers that act as live performers, corporate PR officials and even surrogate children. From The Wall Street Journal: Ryosei Takehisa, 24 years old, doesn't have any children -- unless you count an animated character with elfin ears called Mikuriya Kuon. In live appearances on YouTube, the kimono-clad Kuon character, voiced by an actor hired by Mr. Takehisa, dispenses advice about the latest video games and plays rock-paper-scissors with her fans. The creator says he considers Kuon his "real daughter" even though she "resides within pixels." While others may compete for fame or page views, "for me, I'm totally satisfied just with the fact that she was born and is continuing to live life in good health," says Mr. Takehisa. Digital avatars with human traits have long carved out a role on social media, on Instagram in particular. Japan, as it often does, has taken the idea and run with it, with its virtual characters now estimated to number more than 3,000. Technology allows Kuon and her peers to have more direct engagement with fans -- and sometimes a family-like relationship with their own creators. The characters, known as virtual YouTubers or VTubers because many are active on YouTube, sing and dance at live performances and answer questions on webcasts. VTubers are so embedded in Japanese culture that one of them serves as a face of the Japanese government's tourism campaign. Another presented earnings results for game-site operator Gree Inc. in August last year, informing investors that "we will aggressively invest in strengthening our three earnings pillars." "VTubers are an evolution in Japan's long tradition of manga and anime, giving real-time interactivity to the sort of characters earlier depicted in comic books and on television screens," the report says. "The next step could be artificial intelligence to allow the VTubers to sing, dance and be mischievous without any backstage human help." Sony is trying to further extend one of their latest pop sensations, a VTuber called Kaguya Luna, by building on its virtual-reality technology. "It has already staged concerts by Luna that fans view through a VR headset," reports The WSJ. "Next the company is looking into haptic technology -- which can convey vibrations and force -- to allow fans to get up close and personal with Luna."

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The First Lightning Security Key For iPhones Is Here, and It Works With USB-C, Too

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 05:00
Yubico is releasing the $70 YubiKey 5Ci, the first security key that can plug into your iPhone's Lightning port or a USB-C port, and it's compatible with popular password vaults LastPass and 1Password out of the box. The Verge reports: That means you may not have to remember your password for your bank ever again -- just plug the YubiKey into your iPhone, use it to log into the 1Password app, and get that bank password. At launch, it'll support these well-known password managers and single sign-on tools: 1Password, Bitwarden, Dashlane, Idaptive, LastPass, and Okta. And when using the Brave browser for iOS, the YubiKey 5Ci can be used as an easier way to log into Twitter, GitHub, 1Password's web app, and a couple other services. Notably, the 5Ci doesn't work with the newest iPad Pros at all, despite having a USB-C connector that fits. And you can't just plug the Lightning side of the 5Ci into an iPhone and expect it to work with any service that supports the FIDO authentication protocol -- our passwordless future isn't here just yet. Yubico tells The Verge that services have to individually add support for Lightning connector on the 5Ci into their apps.

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'World's Oldest Webcam' To Be Switched Off

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 02:00
The world's oldest continuously working webcam is being switched off after 25 years. The BBC reports: The Fogcam was set up in 1994 to watch how the weather changed on the San Francisco State University campus. has broadcast almost continuously since then barring regular maintenance and the occasional need for it to be re-sited to maintain its view. Its creators said it was being shut down because there were now no good places to put the webcam. Jeff Schwartz, who with Dan Wong set up the webcam, said it would go offline on 30 August. "We felt it was time to let it go," Mr Schwartz told the SFGate newspaper, adding that it was getting harder to find secure locations to put the camera so it had a good view of Holloway Avenue. Mr Schwartz said he was inspired to set up the camera by what is believed to be the first-ever live webcam which was set up at Cambridge University in 1993 to watch a communal coffee pot.

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Pig To Human Heart Transplants 'Possible Within Three Years'

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Adapted pig hearts could be transplanted into patients within three years, according to a report citing the surgeon who pioneered heart transplantation in the UK. On the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart transplant, Sir Terence English told The Sunday Telegraph that his protege from that operation would try to replace a human kidney with a pig's this year. "If the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to humans, then it is likely that hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years," the 87-year-old said. "If it works with a kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the issue." The anatomy and physiology of a pig's heart is similar to that of a human's, so they are used as models for developing new treatments.

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YouTube Removes Videos of Robots Fighting For 'Animal Cruelty'

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 21:10
YouTuber and robot enthusiast Anthony Murney noticed YouTube has removed hundreds of videos showing robots battling other robots after claiming they are in breach of its rules surrounding animal cruelty. He's blaming a new algorithm introduced by YouTube to detect instances of animal abuse. The Independent reports: Several other channels dedicated to robot combat have also produced videos pointing out the issue in an effort to get YouTube to restore the content. Channels posting robot combat videos saw their content removed and received a notice from YouTube explaining that the videos were in breach of its community guidelines. Each notice cited the same section of these guidelines, which states: "Content that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube." It goes on to state: "Examples include, but are not limited to, dog fighting and cock fighting."

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Walmart Sues Tesla Over Fires At Stores Fitted With Its Solar Panels

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 20:30
Walmart filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Tesla accusing the company of supplying solar panels that were responsible for fires at about seven of its stores. Reuters reports: The fires destroyed significant amounts of store merchandise and required substantial repairs, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket losses, Walmart said in the lawsuit. As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores, including in Denton, Maryland and Beavercreek, Ohio, had experienced fires due to Tesla's solar systems, according to the lawsuit. The world's largest retailer started using solar panels made by SolarCity in 2010 and the roofs of around 240 of its stores were fitted with solar panels made by the company. "This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla with respect to solar panels that Tesla designed, installed, and promised to operate and maintain safely on the roofs of hundreds of Walmart stores," Walmart said in the court filing.

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Former Siri Chief Is Leaving Apple To Join Microsoft's AI Division

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:50
Bill Stasior, the former head of Apple's Siri division, is leaving the company after nearly a decade to join Microsoft's artificial intelligence division, reports The Information. "Although Stasior left Apple in May, he's only joining Microsoft later this month as a corporate vice president, reporting to Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott," reports The Verge. "Stasior worked at Apple for more than seven years, joining back in 2012." From the report: After Giannandrea took a more hands-on role in the Siri division upon being hired last summer, he was subsequently promoted to a senior vice president role at Apple in December. That meant he was reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and he was also responsible for all machine learning and general AI projects at Apple. According to The Information, that promotion resulted in Stasior walking away from day-to-day duties running the Siri team. Prior to Giannandrea joining, Stasior had the responsibility of running Siri, who was vice president of the division for more than seven years. But Apple effectively tossed executive leadership of the product around like a hot potato. It was initially former iOS software chief Scott Forstall's job to oversee Siri, but after he left the company unceremoniously over the controversial Apple Maps fiasco, the role went to services chief Eddy Cue and then eventually VP of software engineering Craig Federighi. Finally, when Giannandrea joined, Siri had a proper executive to oversee it, but that seems to have resulted in Stasior's departure for reasons unknown. The Information notes that Stasior will not be working on Cortana. Instead, he'll be leading up an AI group, although it's unclear what exactly he'll be working on.

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Solar Power Is Now As Inexpensive As Grid Electricity In China

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 19:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Solar power now costs the same as, or less than, electricity from the grid in many of China's cities, a new study finds. This research may encourage broader adoption of industrial and commercial solar power there. Advances in solar technology have helped bring solar within reach of grid parity sooner than expected in China. Whereas the cost of solar photovoltaic electricity there was up to 15.1 Chinese yuan per kilowatt-hour in 2000, it was only up to 0.79 Chinese yuan per kilowatt-hour in 2018. In addition, in 2018, the Chinese government dramatically cut subsidies to the solar photovoltaic industry to drive it to compete with coal without government aid. To see where Chinese solar energy stood now, scientists in Sweden and China analyzed the net costs and profits associated with building and operating industrial and commercial solar energy projects in 344 prefecture-level cities in China. They found in all 344 cities, solar photovoltaic systems were capable of generating and selling electricity at lower prices than the grid without subsidies, and in 22 percent of those cities, they could also produce electricity at lower prices than coal. The scientists detailed their findings in the 12 August edition of the journal Nature Energy.

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IFTTT Warns Its Users Not To Migrate To Google Accounts

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 18:30
Back in May Google announced it was phasing out its Work With Nest program in favor of a Works With Google Assistant framework, frustrating many users as it will break IFTTT tie-ins. Thankfully, IFTTT has some good news for concerned users: IFTTT applets designed for the Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect and Nest Cam will continue to work after August 31st, when Google plans on shutting down the Works With Nest Program. Engadget reports: But, there's some bad news. IFTTT's applets won't work at all if users move their Nest accounts to Google accounts. This is fine for now, obviously, but in the future it means users could miss out on new features only available through a Google account. Google has said it's working on a system that will allow IFTTT users to migrate, but whether the company will integrate the comprehensive features that made IFTTT so popular in the first place is another question entirely.

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'Matrix 4' Officially a Go With Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:50
Lana Wachowski is set to write and direct a fourth film set in the world of "The Matrix," with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity, respectively. Variety reports: Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film. In addition to Wachowski, the script was also written by Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell. Wachowski is also producing with Grant Hill. Sources say the film is eyed to begin production at the top of 2020. Warner Bros. has been trying for the last of couple years to find a way to get back into "The Matrix" universe, but a hold-up over producing rights slowed the project down. Over the past couple of months, the studio saw an opportunity to ramp up development, with Reeves boasting a strong summer that included box office hits "John Wick 3"; and "Toy Story 4" and a script from Wachowski that drummed up excitement. Plot details are currently unknown, as is how the role of Morpheus will be handled, originally played by Laurence Fishburne. Some sources say the role may be recast for a younger take. Further reading: Was 'The Matrix' Part of Cinema's Last Gear Year?

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Man Sued For Using Bogus YouTube Takedowns To Get Address For Swatting

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 17:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: YouTube is suing a Nebraska man the company says has blatantly abused its copyright takedown process. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act offers online platforms like YouTube legal protections if they promptly take down content flagged by copyright holders. However, this process can be abused -- and boy did defendant Christopher L. Brady abuse it, according to YouTube's legal complaint (pdf). Brady allegedly made fraudulent takedown notices against YouTube videos from at least three well-known Minecraft streamers. In one case, Brady made two false claims against a YouTuber and then sent the user an anonymous message demanding a payment of $150 by PayPal -- or $75 in bitcoin. "If you decide not to pay us, we will file a 3rd strike," the message said. When a YouTube user receives a third copyright strike, the YouTuber's account gets terminated. A second target was ordered to pay $300 by PayPal or $200 in Bitcoin to avoid a third fraudulent copyright strike. A third incident was arguably even more egregious. According to YouTube, Brady filed several fraudulent copyright notices against another YouTuber with whom he was "engaged in some sort of online dispute." The YouTuber responded with a formal counter-notice stating that the content wasn't infringing -- a move that allows the content to be reinstated. However, the law requires the person filing the counter-notice to provide his or her real-world name and address -- information that's passed along to the person who filed the takedown request. This contact information is supposed to enable a legitimate copyright holder to file an infringement lawsuit in court. Shortly after filing a counter-notice, the targeted YouTuber "announced via Twitter that he had been the victim of a swatting scheme." YouTube says it doesn't have hard proof that Brady was responsible for the swatting call -- even though it "appears" that way, but it does have compelling evidence that Brady was responsible for the fraudulent takedown notices, which are against the law.

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Google Launches Android Studio 3.5 With Improved Memory Settings, Build Speed, and Apply Changes

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:30
Google today launched Android Studio 3.5, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with a specific focus on "product quality." From a report: This release is the last one under Project Marble, a fancy name for an initiative Google announced late last year to improve Android Studio. For eight months, the team focused "on making the fundamental features and flows of Android Studio & Emulator rock-solid." All the improvements were either to system health, feature polish, or bug fixes. To improve system health, Google created a new set of infrastructure and internal dashboards to better detect performance problems. The team ultimately fixed over 600 bugs, 50 memory leaks, and 20 IDE hangs, and improved XML & Kotlin typing latency. For the Android Emulator, the team decreased the CPU and memory impact. The team also took a look at app deployment flow to a device, replacing Instant Run with Apply Changes. The new system no longer modifies an APK during your build. Instead, it uses runtime instrumentation to redefine classes on the fly.

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IBM is Moving OpenPower Foundation To The Linux Foundation

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:50
IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open sourcing several other important bits. From a report: Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization's evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. But IBM didn't stop there. It also announced that it was open sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are "the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power," the company explained. King sees open sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. "The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we're licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights," he explained. The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation.

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NASA Mission To Jupiter Moon Europa Moves Step Closer To Launch

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:10
A NASA mission to explore the most tantalizing of Jupiter's 79 moons has been given the green light to proceed to the final stages of development. From a report: Europa -- which is slightly smaller than our own moon -- has long been considered a possible candidate in the hunt for alien life. Evidence suggests there is an ocean below the moon's thick, icy crust that might be tens of miles deep. Scientists believe this body of water could contain the right chemical cocktail for life and could even be home to some form of living organisms. Europa appears to have the hat-trick of conditions needed to kick off life: water, possibly chemistry, and energy in the form of tidal heating, a phenomenon arising from gravitational tugs acting on the moon. This could not only drive chemical reactions but also aid movement of chemical substances between rock, surface and ocean, possibly through hydrothermal vents. It is proposed that the NASA mission, named Europa Clipper, will make a number of close flybys -- it cannot orbit the moon as Jupiter's radiation belt would fry its electronics -- carrying cameras and intruments to measure the moon's magnetic field. The mission will look for subsurface lakes and provide data on the thickness of the moon's icy crust. The team also hope to confirm the presence of plumes of water, previously detected by NASA's Galileo spacecraft and the Hubble space telescope. If confirmed, it would mean scientists would not need to find a way of hacking through the moon's icy crust to explore the makeup of the ocean.

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