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Pre-announcement of the issue of a joint call for missions from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA)
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration (ESA-SRE) and the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) intend to issue in January 2015 a Call for Missions for the selection of a scientific mission to be jointly implemented by the ESA Science Programme and the Chinese National Space Science Centre (NSSC) under the CAS.
Conference Announcement: Planck 2014 - The microwave sky in temperature and polarization
The Planck Collaboration will present the latest scientific results from ESA’s Planck satellite during a conference to be held from 1 to 5 December 2014 in Ferrara, Italy.
Brazil, Russia in talks on air defense system
Brasilia, Brazil (UPI) Nov 24, 2014 -Brazilian and Russian military officials have been talking medium-range air defense systems.

The Brazilian Ministry of Defense reports the talks took place in Brazil last week and were conducted by delegations led by Brig. Gershon Machado, head of Logistics at the Ministry of Defense and Gen. Sergei Babakov, commander of the anti-aircraft missile troops of the Russian Air Force.

The talks, as well as visits to Brazilian military facilities, were "to strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the air defense sector."

"Brazil and Russia have established a series of conversations over the past few years on the Brazilian armed forces' need of a medium-range air defense system, able to engage targets flying at altitudes of up to 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet)," the ministry said.

"In August this year, a Brazilian delegation was in Moscow to conduct additional assessments of the Pantsir-S1 medium altitude anti-aircraft artillery system, which could be purchased by Brazil to meet this need.

By the end of this year, another delegation is expected to visit the Russian Ministry of Defense, as part of the continuation of negotiations between the two countries on the subject."

The fear and the chaos of a missile attack in east Ukraine
Donetsk, Ukraine (AFP) Nov 24, 2014 -There was a blinding flash, then complete darkness and thick clouds of dust. A missile had just hit Ivan Balabanov's house in rebel-held east Ukraine.

Stunned, Ivan groped around in the pitch black to find his flashlight.

His ears ringing from the explosion, he took a few seconds to regain his senses and remember what was around him.

He remembered he was in one room with his daughter while his wife had been tending to their thirteen- month granddaughter in the room next door before the explosion.

"I was confused," he says. "We could not see anything."

Suddenly he heard the sound of the baby crying. Then he realised that he could make out another noise: his wife groaning in agony.

She was surrounded by debris in the hallway, her right shoulder smashed and blood flowing from where shrapnel had pierced her thigh.

But miraculously she was still standing, clutching her granddaughter -- safe and sound -- in her arms.

Some neighbours came quickly to the rescue. They placed the injured on a stretcher made from a blanket and carried her to a vehicle that set off quickly for the hospital.

- Blood and dust -

Balabanov is a small man of 64 with sad eyes, who tells his story now sitting in the middle of his wrecked living room, wrapped in a jacket that is too big for him.

Under his feet are shrapnel fragments and chunks of plaster.

His wife's dried blood can be seen on the ground mixed with the dust from the blast.

The rocket burst through the roof of his small home Saturday night, exploding in his modest kitchen.

In the more than seven months of fighting between government forces and rebels in this blighted region the terror felt by Balabanov has become a terrifying new reality for those living here.

As both sides have unleashed ageing and imprecise Soviet-made weapons at each other, civilians have paid the highest price.

More that 4,300 people -- mostly innocent local residents -- have been killed and some 10,000 more have been wounded.

No one knows who fired the missile that hit Balabanov's house.

Up until now, his district in the west of the rebel city of Donetsk -- studded with coalmines -- has got off relatively easy and shelling here has been lighter than in some other areas.

But the Ukrainian army and the insurgent fighters face off just kilometres away and the threat and distant thud of shelling remains ever present.

Despite the damage, Balabanov considers his family lucky. Like most here, he now has his own tale of lucky escape.

"A quarter of an hour earlier, we were all sitting in the kitchen," he told AFP.

"If we had stayed there, then all four of us would have been killed."

He trembled as he thought about how close three generations of his family came to being wiped out.

"It is a miracle that my wife was able to protect the baby despite all her wounds," he said.

She will soon be out of hospital, however, as there are no places left in the casualty ward for her.

Before she came back Balabanov had planned to come back to the house to start work with a few friends and neighbours clearing the debris.

They returned the day after the attack but as they set to work eight loud explosions shook around them, sending what was left of it crashing to the ground.

Once again, Ivan says, he was left lying dazed on the ground.

Elbit's anti-missile system to feature on German A400M transports
Haifa, Israel (UPI) Nov 21, 2014 -Airbus A400M airlifters of the German Air Force are to be equipped with Elbit Systems' J-MUSIC Multi-Spectral Directed Infrared Counter Measure systems.

J-MUSIC is a high-performance, fiber-laser based DIRCM solution that enables an aircraft to defend against man-portable ground-to-air heat-seeking missiles by sending them off target.

Elbit Systems Ltd of Israel said its systems are being provided under a contract from Diehl Defense. They will be integrated into a DIRCM multi-turret to ensure 360-degree protection of the aircraft.

"We are proud of our cooperation with DIEHL Defense on DIRCM that has resulted in this initial contract for the protection of the German Air Force's A400M aircraft," said Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, president and chief executive officer of Elbit Systems. "Our DIRCM systems provide effective protection to the growing threat of MANPADS, and we hope that additional customers will follow and select our systems as their preferred solution."

Elbit Systems did not disclose the monetary value of the award.

The German Air Force is scheduled to receive its first A400M transport from Airbus later this year, becoming the fourth operator of the aircraft.

Sagem demos drone for use in civilian airspace
Boulogne, France (UPI) Nov 24, 2014 -European technology company Sagem has conducted test flights of its Patroller to demonstrate safe use of drones in civilian airspace.

About 20 flights were conducted between late October and early November near the city of Toulouse, France, with the French air navigation and safety agency, DSNA, the laboratory run by the national civil aviation school ENAC, and Rockwell Collins France through what is known as the ODREA project.

ODREA stands for Operational Demonstration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in European Airspace.

Sagem said the Patroller was equipped with its "see and avoid" anti-collision system, which combines an infrared optronic sensor, and an automatic risk collision estimation and avoidance flight path generation module. During the flight tests, this system was successfully operated using different conflict scenarios with a "dummy" aircraft provided by ENAC.

The tests also demonstrated Patroller's ability to carry out approaches to the Toulouse-Blagnac airport using civilian air traffic control procedures.

Sagem's Patroller is a long-endurance tactical unmanned aerial system with a flight ceiling of 20,000 feet.

Sense and Avoid system for UAVs in civilian airspace closer to reality
San Diego (UPI) Nov 21, 2014 -General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is advancing its Sense and Avoid system for unmanned aerial vehicles in non-segregated civilian airspace.

A proof of concept SAA system was successfully tested in collaboration with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Honeywell in a demonstration of the FAA's Airborne Collision Avoidance System for Unmanned Aircraft.

The company also performed the first flight tests of a pre-production air-to-air radar for SAA, called the Due Regard Radar.

"Our latest Sense and Avoid test represents a major step forward for integrating RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) safely into domestic and international airspace," said Frank Pace, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. "Our proof-of-concept SAA system is now functional and ready for extensive flight testing with the FAA, NASA, and our industry partners."

GA-ASI said its functional flight test of its SAA system -- which includes automatic collision avoidance and a sensor fusion capability to give an on-ground UAV pilot a picture of air traffic -- was conducted in September in California using a Predator B.

DRR testing occurred at various locations across Southern California onboard a Beechcraft King Air in an attempt to detect and track multiple test aircraft across "the full Field-of-Regard, including General Aviation aircraft beyond 10 miles," the company said. "The tests are the first in an extensive flight test campaign designed to develop the Engineering Development Model DRR fully and make it ready for flight testing on Predator B."

France studies how to intercept mystery drones over nuclear plants
Paris (AFP) Nov 27, 2014 -A spate of mystery drones flying over French nuclear plants has led the country to launch a programme aimed at developing ways of detecting and intercepting them, officials said Thursday.

Around 20 unidentified drones have been spotted over nuclear plants since October 19 throughout France.

Police are clueless as to who is piloting the unmanned aircraft at a time of heightened vigilance in the face of Islamist extremism. France is heavily dependent on nuclear power.

"While the currently listed overflights do not present a threat to the operation and security of nuclear installations, they nevertheless constitute a warning of the potential risks from inappropriate or malicious use," a statement from France's General Secretariat of Defence and National Security said.

The secretariat has put France's National Research Agency in charge of developing the 1-million-euro programme ($1.2 million) aimed at finding ways to detect and intercept such drones.

France plans to share its findings with other European countries.

French law bans small, civilian drones from areas such as nuclear facilities, which are protected by a no-fly zone that spans a 2.5-kilometre (1.6-mile) radius and a height of 1,000 metres.

State-run power company EDF was the first to ring the alarm bells when it announced it had filed a complaint with police after detecting the small unmanned aerial vehicles zipping over seven nuclear plants last month.

Since then, more drones fitted with propellers have been spotted above nuclear facilities.

Experts say they do not pose a threat to the rock-solid plants and believe the mystery flyovers are being carried out to prove a point about nuclear security.

Stealthy spy software snooping for years: Symantec
San Francisco (AFP) Nov 25, 2014 - Computer security firm Symantec on Monday said it uncovered stealthy software wielded as part of a years-long spying campaign, most likely by a nation state.

The malicious software, dubbed Regin, has a rare level of sophistication and has been targeting government agencies, telecoms, utilities, airlines, research facilities, private individuals and others since at least 2008, according to Symantec Corporation.

Attacks on telecom firms appeared aimed at getting access to calls being routed through networks.

"Regin is a highly complex threat which has been used in systematic data collection or intelligence gathering campaigns," the Silicon Valley-based computer security firm said in a paper detailing the threat.

"The development and operation of this malware would have required a significant investment of time and resources, indicating that a nation state is responsible."

Regin was found mainly in 10 countries, but more than half of infections discovered were in Russia and Saudi Arabia, according to Symantec researchers.

Regin's capabilities include letting hackers snap screen-shots, steal passwords, monitor network traffic, take files or tap into mobile telephone calls, researchers said.

The "backdoor-type Trojan" takes great measures to hide its presence as well as any data it is stealing, according to Symantec.

"Regin's developers put considerable effort into making it highly inconspicuous," the report said.

"Its low key nature means it can potentially be used in espionage campaigns lasting several years."

Regin may have taken years to make, according to Symantec, which said the tool could be used for mass surveillance.

Nearly half the infections discovered targeted small businesses and private individuals.

Researchers found Regin infected a variety of organizations from 2008 to 2011, only to be withdrawn, though a new version of the malicious software appeared last year.

Symantec did not indicate who it thought might be behind the cyber-espionage tool.

China Premier calls for greater role in shaping Web
Hangzhou, China (AFP) Nov 20, 2014 - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday demanded a greater role for Beijing in shaping the global Internet, calling for "order" online as he failed to address his government's censorship of content it deems politically sensitive.

"We believe in an open, transparent and above all safe Internet," Li said on the sidelines of a Chinese-created Internet conference.

"That requires an Internet shared and governed by all -- all stakeholders equal," he added, in comments made to representatives from US chip maker Qualcomm and professional networking site LinkedIn.

Li met with China's top Internet company bosses as well as officials from foreign firms and industry groups in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

His visit was seen as an attempt to raise the profile of the World Internet Conference, which was being held in nearby Wuzhen.

Human Rights group Amnesty International has called the conference an attempt by Beijing to spread its model of strict Internet supervision to the world.

China's Communist rulers also block some Western media websites and bar services from Internet giants Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Li acknowledged the benefit of e-commerce as an engine of China's economy, but called for "order" in the freewheeling Internet.

"Without order, the Internet would not be a safe and credible place," he said.

Founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma, told Li of his vision to build a "global version" of Taobao.

"We're going to have a global version of Taobao, which enables say, customers in the Philippines to get in touch with suppliers in Argentina," he said, but gave no concrete details of the plan.

The platform currently accounts for over 90 percent of consumer-to-consumer transactions in China.

But Taobao's foreign efforts to date have focused mainly on overseas Chinese communities, company officials have said.

Ma is a Chinese Internet success story, with Alibaba recently listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the world's biggest IPO to date.

But Paul Jacobs, the executive chairman of Qualcomm which is reportedly facing an investigation in China for monopoly behaviour, referred to difficulties with its business.

"We're going through some difficult discussions now," he said, but gave no details.

Li replied: "I believe the opportunities in China will be greater than the challenges."

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