Tech Digest daily round up: China’s spacecraft lands on Mars

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An unmanned Chinese spacecraft has successfully landed on the surface of Mars, Chinese state news agency Xinhua has reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the US to land on the red planet. The official Xinhua news agency said the lander had touched down on Saturday, citing the China National Space Administration.  China’s Tianwen-1 probe, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched from southern China’s island province of Hainan in July, around the same time as a US mission. It sent back its first picture of Mars in February. A photo released by the China National Space Administration showed geological features including the Schiaparelli crater and the Valles Marineris, a vast stretch of canyons on the Martian surface. Guardian

The boss of the US tech giant IBM has said a computer chip shortage could last another two years. Its President Jim Whitehurst told the BBC it could be “a few years” before the situation improves. Many firms have seen production delayed because of a lack of semiconductors, triggered by the pandemic. The shortage has been exacerbated by surging demand for TVs, phones and gaming consoles while consumers are stuck at home. Mr Whitehurst said on BBC World Business News: “There’s just a big lag between from when a technology is developed and when [a fabrication plant] goes into construction and when chips come out”. So frankly, we are looking at couple of years… before we get enough incremental capacity online to alleviate all aspects of the chip shortage.” IBM licenses its microprocessor technology to the world’s biggest chip makers such as Intel, TSMC and Samsung. BBC News 

British government adverts announcing lockdown measures, explaining business loans and offering help to victims of domestic violence were wrongly removed by Facebook for breaking its rules on political advertising. The social media giant nixed at least 128 coronavirus-related messages paid for by UK state agencies since the start of the pandemic, saying that they should have carried a disclaimer stating who paid for them. Among the banished ads were vital public information bulletins about social distancing, self-isolation laws and the Government’s reopening road map, as well as NHS ads promoting rapid testing and rubbishing vaccine myths. After inquiries from the Telegraph, however, Facebook said some of those decisions had been incorrect and removed its “political” label from at least 71 ads, while others remained listed. Telegraph 

Microsoft is stepping up preparations to bring Dolby Vision HDR gaming to the Xbox Series X and Series S. Xbox Insider Alpha and Alpha Skip Ahead members can now play with the feature ahead of a broader rollout, which is said to be coming soon. Xbox’s director of programming for Xbox Live, Larry Hryb, announced the news in a tweet. Microsoft says Dolby Vision will bring “brighter highlights, sharper contrast, and more vibrant colours” to games, provided, of course, that you own a Dolby Vision-capable TV. The announcement also promises that the Series X and S will support “a new enhancement created by Dolby and Microsoft for HDR gaming”. Microsoft has yet to release details of this, but claims it will beef up your HDR gaming experience “when connected to a Dolby Vision TV”. What Hi-Fi

A Tesla involved in a fatal crash on a Southern California freeway last week may have been operating on Autopilot before the wreck, according to the California Highway Patrol. The May 5 crash in Fontana, a city 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is also under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The probe is the 29th case involving a Tesla that the federal agency has probed. In the Fontana crash, a 35-year-old man was killed when his Tesla Model 3 struck an overturned semi on a freeway about 2:30 a.m. The driver’s name has not yet been made public. Another man was seriously injured when the electric vehicle hit him as he was helping the semi’s driver out of the wreck. The CHP announced Thursday that its preliminary investigation had determined that the Tesla’s partially automated driving system called Autopilot “was engaged” prior to the crash. AP News

Chris Price
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