Friday, July 19, 2024

Short Takes – 7-18-24 – Space Geek Edition

NASA Spent $450 Million on a Moon Rover. Now It’s Canceling the Mission. NYTimes.com article (free). Pull quote: “NASA is planning to disassemble VIPER and use the instruments and other components on the other missions. However, NASA said it was willing to listen to proposals from American companies or international partners for using the VIPER system as is, as long as there would be no additional cost to the federal government.”

How NASA and SpaceX will bring down the space station when it's retired. Phys.org article. Pull quote: “NASA wants to bring back some small items from inside the space station for museum display, like the ship's bell and logs, panels with patches and other mementos. Those can come down in SpaceX supply ships in the final year or two. "Unfortunately, we can't bring home really, really big stuff," said NASA's Ken Bowersox. "The emotional part of me would love to try and save some," but the most practical approach is to bring everything down in one destructive stroke, he said.”

Boiling Macaroni in Space? You’ll Need a Weirdly Shaped Pot. ScientificAmerican.com article. Pull quote: “Another problem concerns the science of boiling itself. On Earth, buoyancy-driven convection, in which cooler and denser water falls below hotter liquid, relies on gravity to distribute heat evenly and remove bubbles from the surface. In space, that doesn’t happen. Boiling water instead forms larger bubbles that loll around in place; this could lead to poorly cooked food. Thus, food has never been cooked by boiling in space. On the H0TP0T, however, heating elements are screwed to the outside of the aluminum shell to heat a large surface area of the pot, which lessens the need for gravity-driven convection to heat the water evenly. The container’s metal lid also has a pressure valve to release steam.”

After Falcon 9 Rocket Anomaly, SpaceX Seeks Rapid Return to Flight. ScientificAmerican.com article. Pull quote: “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received a request from SpaceX on Monday (July 15) to continue launching Falcon 9 flights during the mandatory mishap investigation following the ill-fated Starlink 9-3 mission in which the rocket's upper stage experienced a liquid oxygen leak. SpaceX has asked the FAA to make a public safety determination, which would allow the company to resume launches if the administration determines the anomaly "did not involve safety-critical systems or otherwise jeopardize public safety," SpaceflightNow reported reported on Tuesday (July 16). The FAA also provided Space.com with the statement, after a request.”

NASA, Boeing Complete Starliner Engine Testing, Continue Analysis. Blogs.NASA.gov post. Pull quote: “NASA and Boeing engineers are evaluating results from last week’s engine tests at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico as the team works through plans to return the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test from the International Space Station in the coming weeks.

Teams completed ground hot fire testing at White Sands and are working to evaluate the test data and inspect the test engine. The ongoing ground analysis is expected to continue throughout the week. Working with a reaction control system thruster built for a future Starliner spacecraft, ground teams fired the engine through similar inflight conditions the spacecraft experienced on the way to the space station. The ground tests also included stress-case firings, and replicated conditions Starliner’s thrusters will experience from undocking to deorbit burn, where the thrusters will fire to slow Starliner’s speed to bring it out of orbit for landing in the southwestern United States. For a detailed overview of the test plans, listen to a replay of a recent media teleconference with NASA and Boeing leadership.”

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Discovers a Surprise in a Martian Rock. JPL.NASA.gov article. ““Finding a field of stones made of pure sulfur is like finding an oasis in the desert,” said Curiosity’s project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “It shouldn’t be there, so now we have to explain it. Discovering strange and unexpected things is what makes planetary exploration so exciting.””

Transportation Chemical Incidents – Week of 6-8-24

Reporting Background

See this post for explanation, with the most recent update here (removed from paywall).

Data from PHMSA’s online database of transportation related chemical incidents that have been reported to the agency.

Incidents Summary

• Number of incidents – 623 (538 highway, 76 air, 8 rail, water 1)

• Serious incidents – 5 (4 Bulk release, 1 evacuation, 0 injury, 0 death,0 major artery closed, 1 fire/explosion, 29 no release) Note: The fire was not reported as a ‘Serious’ incident.

• Largest container involved – 33,693-gal 112J340W railcar {Propane} Minor release (odor report), valve open and plug less that tool tight and needed new Teflon tape.

• Largest amount spilled – 200-gal Metal IBC, 275-gal{Corrosive Liquid, Acidic, Inorganic, N.O.S} Fork lift puncture on unloading dock.

NOTE: Links above are to Form 5800.1 for the described incidents.

Most Interesting Chemical: Nitroglycerin Solution in Alcohol With Not More Than 1 Percent Nitroglycerin – Primary hazard is the flammability of the ethyl alcohol, but if the alcohol is allowed to evaporate, the explosive hazard of the nitroglycerin becomes a potential source of ignition. Standard firefighting warning for ethyl alcohol, it burns with an ‘invisible’ flame, so fire detection can be a problem. Also, ethyl alcohol dissolved in water can burn, causing water runoff problems.

 


Bills Introduced – 7-18-24

Yesterday, with the House and Senate meeting in pro forma session, there were 32 bills introduced. Two of those bills will receive additional attention in this blog:

HR 9071 To require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information relating to security threats posed by covered unmanned aircraft systems, and for other purposes. Nunn, Zachary [Rep.-R-IA-3]

HR 9074 To amend title 49, United States Code, to require Class I railroad carriers to operate certain freight trains with 2-person crews, and for other purposes. Sykes, Emilia Strong [Rep.-D-OH-13]

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Short Takes – 7-18-24

Will space-based solar power ever make sense? ArsTechnica.com article. Pull quote: “These plans involve large fluxes of microwave or radio radiation. But space-based solar power is relatively safe. For microwave radiation from a space-based solar power installation, “the only known effect of those frequencies on humans or living things is tissue heating,” Vijendran said. “If you were to stand in such a beam at that power level, it would be like standing in the… evening sun.” Still, Caplin said that more research is needed to study the effects of these microwaves on humans, animals, plants, satellites, infrastructure, and the ionosphere.”

New map depicts the world’s hidden reserves of groundwater in unprecedented detail. TheHill.com article. Pull quote: “These groundwater springs are resources that are often hidden and exposed to destruction by agriculture. About 53 percent of the ecosystems identified on the map are undergoing depletion, and of these declining springs, only one-fifth are under any official protection.”

How Countries Are Preparing for a Potential Bird Flu Pandemic. ScientificAmerican.com article. Pull quote: “Isabella Monne, who studies the molecular epidemiology of animal viruses at the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Venice in Legnaro, Italy, is developing and evaluating tools to help laboratories across Europe to detect viral particles and antibodies, which are evidence of past infection, in cow blood and milk. Groups across Europe, Canada and the United States have started testing cow blood or bulk milk samples.”

Long Covid and Vaccination: What You Need to Know. NYTimes.com article (free). Pull quote: “In the new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Al-Aly and his colleagues provided persuasive evidence that vaccines cut the risk of long Covid.”

Sea ice's cooling power is waning faster than its area of extent. NewsWise.com article. Pull quote: “Beyond disappearing ice cover, the remaining ice is also growing less reflective as warming temperatures and increased rainfall create thinner, wetter ice and more melt ponds that reflect less solar radiation. This effect has been most pronounced in the Arctic, where sea ice has become less reflective in the sunniest parts of the year, and the new study raises the possibility that it could be an important factor in the Antarctic, too—in addition to lost sea ice cover.”

Review – 3 Advisories Published – 7-18-24

Today, CISA’s NCCIC-ICS published two control system security advisories for products from Subnet Solutions and Mitsubishi Electric. They also published a medical device security advisory for products from Philips.

Advisories

Subnet Advisory - This advisory discusses a prototype pollution vulnerability with known exploits in the Subnet PowerSYSTEM Center.

Mitsubishi Advisory - This advisory discusses an improper verification of cryptographic signature vulnerability in the Mitsubishi MELSOFT MaiLab.

Philips Advisory - This advisory discusses 13 vulnerabilities (2 with known exploits) in the Philips Vue PACS product.

 

For more information on these advisories, including links to 3rd party advisories and exploits, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - https://patrickcoyle.substack.com/p/3-advisories-published-7-18-24 - subscription required.

Review - HR 8544 Introduced – Right-to-Repair

Back in May, Rep Morelle (D,NY) introduced HR 8544, the Fair Repair Act. The bill would establish a requirement for original equipment manufacturers to make available “documentation, parts, and tools, inclusive of any updates to information or embedded software” for the purpose of diagnosis, maintenance or repair of equipment sold or used in the United States. It would also make the Federal Trade Commission the agency responsible for enforcement of the requirement.

Morelle introduced a similar bill last session, HR 4006 (removed from paywall). No action was taken on that bill. There have been significant changes made from that earlier version.

Moving Forward

Neither Morelle or his three cosponsors are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. Generally, this means that the Committee is unlikely to consider this bill. If the bill were to be considered in Committee, it would almost certainly draw significant opposition from Republicans supporting manufacturers, and from some Democrats for privacy issues. There may not be enough votes to move the bill forward because of that opposition.

Commentary

This bill addresses an issue of some importance, but I think that more works needs to be done on the concept.

There is one particular piece that deserves specific attention, the provision concerning security measures. If this were included in a bill written by some law-and-order Republican, I would suspect that §4(1) was specifically included to provide police with a way to get around encryption on computers and communication devices. Limitations need to be put into place to ensure that this is not a tool to get around self-incrimination protections.

 

For more details about the provisions of the bill, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - https://patrickcoyle.substack.com/p/hr-8544-introduced - subscription required.


Short Takes – 7-18-24 – Federal Register Edition

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Requests Comment on Implementation of the Cybersecurity Labeling for Internet of Things Program. Federal Register FCC proposed rule. Summary: “In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC) seeks comment on additional items to further the efficient and timely rollout of the IoT Labeling program. These items include the format of Cybersecurity Label Administrator (CLA) and Lead Administrator applications; filing fees for CLA applications; criteria for selecting CLAs and the Lead Administrator; CLA sharing of Lead Administrator expenses; Lead Administrator neutrality; processes for withdrawal of CLA and Lead Administrator approvals; recognition of CyberLABs outside the United States; complaint processes; confidentiality and security requirements; and the IoT registry.” Comments due: August, 19th, 2024.

Redesignation of Regulations for Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain. Federal Register BIS final rule. Summary: “This rule redesignates regulations governing the procedures for the review of certain transactions involving information and communications technology and services (ICTS) designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary and which pose or may pose undue or unacceptable risks to the United States or U.S. persons. This action reflects the transfer of responsibility for implementing these regulations from the Secretary of Commerce to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Office of Information and Communications Technology and Services (OICTS).” Effective date: July 18th, 2024.

Standards-Related Activities and the Export Administration Regulations. Federal Register BIS interim final rule. Summary: “In this interim final rule, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to revise the scope and the terms used in the EAR to describe “standards-related activities” that are subject to the EAR. BIS is making these revisions to ensure that export controls and associated compliance concerns do not impede the participation and leadership of U.S. companies in legitimate standards-related activities.” Effective date: July 18th, 2024.

 
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