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Babylon 5 solar system bears striking resemblance to our own


The number of planetary systems discovered seems to grow on a daily basis, but most of them are wildly different to our own solar system. Now a team of University of Arizona researchers led by Kate Su have used NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) flying observatory to take a closer look at a system 10.5 light years away and discovered it has a familiar general structure.


The star in question is Epsilon Eridani (ε Eri) in the southern hemisphere of the constellation of Eridanus. Its previous claims to fame were as the setting for the sci fi television series Babylon 5 and the disputed location of Star Trek‘s planet Vulcan. It’s also been the subject of several early studies seeking extrasolar planets and was even monitored in the 1960s by Project Ozma as a possible source of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Much of the previous work on Epsilon Eridani involved the Spitzer Space Telescope, but SOFIA is over twice the size of Spitzer, has three times the resolution, and can operate in the infrared at wavelengths between 25 and 40 microns. What this meant was that SOFIA could discern much smaller details, especially from warm materials, than before, which suggested an alternative model to the one provided by Spitzer’s data.


Rating 3.00 out of 5

Protecting the Soldier: U.S. Army Orders More Q-53 Counterfire Radars from Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin will manufacture additional AN/TPQ-53 counterfire radar systems for the U.S. Army under a $1.6 billion order-dependent contract. The Q-53 radar system supports troops in combat by detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying the location of enemy indirect fire in either 360- or 90-degree modes.

Lockheed Martin completed the 100th Q-53 radar system for the Army in January and is manufacturing multiple Q-53 radar systems per month. Since Lockheed Martin won the development contract for the Q-53 radar in 2007, the company has won five additional contracts for a total of more than 100 radar systems, 95 systems have been delivered to the Army. With this full-rate production contract award, the Army’s complement of Q-53 radar systems will total more than 170.

“The Q-53 system helps troops know what is going on around them in an increasingly complicated world,” said Rick Herodes, director of Lockheed Martin’s Q-53 radar program. “What’s so special about the Q-53 radar system is the inherent flexibility of its software controlled active electronically scanned array (AESA). Our engineers can adjust the Q-53’s software to address emerging threats. Having control in the software allows quick reaction to whatever comes next – so the first Q-53 radar system off the line could be quickly updated to be just as capable as the 170th Q-53 radar system.”

Lockheed Martin is the only company producing active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for the Army.

Over the last 10 years new threats have emerged including unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Thanks to the flexibility of open architecture designs, simple software modifications can be made to adjust radar systems, including the Q-53 radar, to meet various missions. The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $28 million contract in November for “quick reaction capability to add counter-unmanned aerial system to the AN/TPQ-53 radar system” simultaneous with its core counterfire mission.

The Q-53 radar can be readily adapted to provide both air surveillance and counterfire target acquisition in one tactical sensor. The radar system demonstrated its multimission radar (MMR) capability by identifying and tracking aerial systems and passing that information to a command and control node, a key capability as the battlespace rapidly becomes more crowded with emerging air threats.

The Q-53 supports counter-insurgency missions as well as high-intensity combat operations. The system is highly mobile on the battlefield; it can be set up in five minutes, taken down in two minutes and supports two-man operation.

Work on the Q-53 radars is performed at Lockheed Martin facilities in Syracuse and Owego, New York, Moorestown, New Jersey, and Clearwater, Florida.

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Rating 3.00 out of 5

​Report to Congress on Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies



Introduction 5

Iran’s Policy Motivators   5

Threat Perception  5

Ideology  6

National Interests  6

Factional Interests and Competition   7

Instruments of Iran’s National Security Strategy  8

Financial and Military Support to Allied Regimes and Groups  8

Other Political Action  11

Diplomacy  11

Iran’s Nuclear and Defense Programs  12

Nuclear Program  12

Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and Activities  12

International Diplomatic Efforts to Address Iran’s Nuclear Program 14

Developments during the Obama Administration  15

Missile Programs and Chemical and Biological Weapons Capability 17

Chemical and Biological Weapons 17

Missiles 18

Conventional and “Asymmetric Warfare” Capability 21

Military-Military Relationships and Potential New Arms Buys  21

Asymmetric Warfare Capacity  22

Iran’s Regional and International Activities  25

Near East Region 25

The Persian Gulf 25

Iranian Policy on Iraq, Syria, and the Islamic State  36

Iraq  36

Syria  38

Iran’s Policy toward Israel: Supporting Hamas and Hezbollah 39

Hamas 40

Hezbollah  41


Turkey 43

Egypt 44

South and Central Asia 44

The South Caucasus: Azerbaijan and Armenia 44

Central Asia  45

Turkmenistan 46

Tajikistan 46

Kazakhstan  47

Uzbekistan  47

South Asia 48

Afghanistan 48

Pakistan  49

India  50

Sri Lanka 51

Russia 51

Europe  52

East Asia 53

China  53

Japan and South Korea  54

North Korea 54

Latin America 55

Venezuela 56

Argentina 56

Africa 57

Sudan 58

Prospects and Alternative Scenarios 59



Figure 1. Map of Near East …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25

Figure 2. Major Persian Gulf Military Facilities ………………………………………………………………… 34

Figure 3. South and Central Asia Region ………………………………………………………………………….. 44

Figure 4. Latin America ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 55

Figure 5. Sudan ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 57


Table 1. Major Iran or Iran-Related Terrorism Attacks or Plots ……………………………………………. 10

Table 2. Iran’s Missile Arsenal ………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

Table 3. Iran’s Conventional Military Arsenal …………………………………………………………………… 23

Table 4. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) …………………………………………………… 24

Table 5. Military Assets of the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States …………………………….. 35



Author Contact Information ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 61


Iran’s national security policy is the product of many, and sometimes competing, factors: the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution; Iranian leadership’s perception of threats to the regime and to the country; long-standing Iranian national interests; and the interaction of the Iranian regime’s various factions and constituencies. Some experts assert that the goal of Iran’s national security strategy is to overturn a power structure in the Middle East that Iran asserts favors the United States and its allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Muslim Arab regimes. Iran characterizes its support for Shiite and other Islamist movements as support for the “oppressed” and asserts that Saudi Arabia, in particular, is instigating sectarian tensions and trying to exclude Iran from regional affairs. Others interpret Iran as primarily attempting to protect itself from U.S. or other efforts to invade or intimidate it or to change its regime. Its strategy might, alternatively or additionally, represent an attempt to enhance Iran’s international prestige or restore a sense of “greatness” reminiscent of the ancient Persian empires. From 2010 until 2016, Iran’s foreign policy also focused on attempting to mitigate the effects of international sanctions on Iran.

Iran employs a number of different tools in pursuing its national security policy. Some Iranian policy tools are common to most countries: traditional diplomacy and the public promotion of Iran’s values and interests. Iran also has financially supported regional politicians and leaders. Of most concern to U.S. policymakers is that Iran provides direct material support to armed groups, some of which use terrorism to intimidate or retaliate against Israel or other regional opponents of Iran. Iran’s armed support to Shiite-dominated allied governments, such as those of Syria and Iraq, also has fueled Sunni popular resentment.

Iran’s national security policy focuses most intently on the Near East region, including on U.S. operations, allies, and activities in that region. It is that region where all the various components of Iran’s foreign policy interact. Iran’s policy also seems to be directed at influencing the policies and actions of big powers, such as those in Europe as well as Russia, that are active in the Near East—either as partners or antagonists of U.S. interests in that region.

Some experts forecast that Iran’s foreign and defense policies would shift after international sanctions were eased in January 2016 in accordance with the July 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA). Additional financial resources enable Iran to expand its regional influence further. Others assessed that the nuclear agreement would cause Iran to moderate its regional behavior in order not to jeopardize the agreement and its benefits. During 2016, Obama Administration officials and U.S. reports asserted that there was little, if any, alteration of Iran’s national security policies. On February 1, 2017, the Trump Administration cited Iran’s continued “malign activities” and repeated ballistic missile tests, and asserted that Iran “is now feeling emboldened” and that the Administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” The Administration subsequently sanctioned additional Iran missile entities under existing authorities and maintained that a “deliberative process” was underway that could result in further actions not contravening the JCPOA. Recent U.S. statements and press reports indicate the Administration might be considering military efforts to set back Iranian influence in Yemen, and perhaps elsewhere.

Iran has used the JCPOA to ease its international diplomatic isolation and to try to develop itself as a regional energy and trade hub and to explore new weapons buys. Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i and key hardline institutions, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), oppose any compromises of Iran’s core goals, but support Iran’s reintegrate into regional and international diplomacy.

View full report here.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

NASA astronaut: Space toilet inspires ‘sheer terror’

Forget motion sickness and adjusting to microgravity. Astronaut Jack Fischer is most worried about facing the space station’s intimidating bathroom facilities.

On Thursday, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer is scheduled to embark on his first voyage to the International Space Station. He’s excited to be working on a variety of experiments, including ones dealing with plant growth and bone growth, but he’s less than thrilled about the prospect of using the loo in microgravity.

In a NASA Q&A, Fischer reveals what he expects his greatest challenge will be. He says it’s the toilet. “It’s all about suction, it’s really difficult, and I’m a bit terrified,” Fischer says.

In case you think Fischer is exaggerating his toilet trepidation, here’s NASA description of how the commode functions: “The toilet basically works like a vacuum cleaner with fans that suck air and waste into the commode.” It also requires the use of leg restraints.

“Unlike most things, you just can’t train for that on the ground,” Fischer says, “so I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.”


Rating 3.00 out of 5

First SPY-6(V) Radar BMD Test

An Arleigh Burke class destroyer
An Arleigh Burke class destroyer

Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers a variety of courses on Radar, Missiles & Defense.  The news below would be of interest to our readers.

The U.S. Navy successfully conducted a flight test March 15 with the AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) off the west coast of Hawaii, Naval Sea Systems Command announced in a March 30 release.

During a flight test designated Vigilant Hunter, the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR searched for, detected and maintained track on a short-range ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai. This is the first in a series of ballistic missile defense flight tests planned for the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR.

Read more here.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Stunning Space Station photo of glowing auroras

Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)
Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) photographed brightly glowing auroras from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 27, 2017. (ESA/NASA)

NASA has released an amazing photo show by Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, who photographed bright auroras from the International Space Station on March 27, 2017.

“The view at night recently has been simply magnificent: few clouds, intense auroras. I can’t look away from the windows,” Pesquet wrote in a tweet that included the image.

Here’s what NASA wrote about the image:

“The dancing lights of the aurora provide stunning views, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.’

Check out more images from NASA’s Aurora Image Gallery

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Free EMI Workshop- Prevent EMI Problems

Free Troubleshooting EMI workshop.
Identify, Characterize, and Prevent Electromagnetic Interference Problems

Hosted by Rohde & Schwarz

Join this highly focused free one-day seminar and learn how to uncover, characterize, and solve the most elusive EMI problems. Troubleshooting and localizing intermittent signals or multiple layers of broadband and narrowband signals can be frustrating even for the most seasoned EMC troubleshooter and RF engineer. We will discuss and demonstrate a number of test setups that can help the root causes of EMC test failures and then demonstrate how real-time analysis can literally make previously-hidden signals leap into plain view.
This seminar is intended for engineers and technicians involved in the development, troubleshooting, pre-compliance testing and certification of electronic products, systems and assemblies for EMC.

More information here.


Lee Hill is an industry expert in electromagnetic compatibility and founding partner of SILENT Solutions LLC, an EMC and RF design firm established in 1992. Lee provides EMC troubleshooting services, design reviews, and training to a wide variety of industries nationally and around the world. He earned his MSEE in electromagnetics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology EMC Laboratory.

Contact this instructor

Available Dates:

Select the date/location that best fits your
schedule to register now!

Tuesday, April 4 – New York, NY
Thursday, April 6 – Columbia, MD
Tuesday, April 18 – San Diego, CA
Thursday, April 20 – Milpitas, CA
Monday, May 22, – Dallas, TX

Rating 3.00 out of 5



Tom Logsdon
“Hi diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.”
My mother taught me that playful English nursery rhyme when I was about nine years old..
Notice how the poet who wrote it couldn’t think of anything more fanciful than having a living,
breathing creature ending up in the vicinity of the moon!
It took 300,000 of us a full decade of very hard work, but we did it! We sent two dozen
astronauts on the adventure of a lifetime and we brought all of them back alive. In 1961
President John F. Kennedy, youthful and exuberant and brimming over with confidence,
announced to the world that America’s scientists and engineers would—within a single decade
—land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. No cows need apply. But
potential human astronauts were bigly and hugely enthusiastic about their new opportunity
to fly through space to a different world.
By using the math and physics we had learned in school, we covered hundreds of pages with
with cryptic mathematical symbols to work out the details down to a gnat’s eyebrow.
We ended up hurling 24 American astronauts into the vicinity of the moon!. 12 of them
“kangaroo hopped“ on its surface.
Earlier this month, when the moon grew to its maximum apparent size, we were all reminded of
the excitement we felt during Project Apollo. Of course, the size of the moon did not actually
change, it merely moved up to its point of closest approach.
Systematic perturbations on the moon’s orbit coupled with rhythmic variations in its distance
from the Earth as it traveled around its elliptical orbit resulted in surprisingly large variations
in its apparent size and its brightness as seen from the Earth.
These distance variations, in turn, cause its observed diameter and its brightness to vary by as
much as 15 and 30 percent, respectively. When the moon approaches its maximum apparent
size and brightness, it is characterized as a supermoon. The biggest and brightest supermoons
are spaced out several decades apart.
My son, Chad, who participates in Special Olympics, used his cellphone camera to create the
two photographs that accompany this blog. He took the first picture at the crack of dawn
when the moon reached its maximum diameter at the edge of the parking lot at the Embassy
Suites Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky (population 360,000). He made the second photograph
12 hours later in my hometown of Springfield, Kentucky, ((population 2900). That second
picture was made on a small roadside hill beside the Bardstown Road above the IGA
Supermarket within sight of the yellow blinker light at the edge of town.
Author and short-course instructor, Tom Logsdon, who wrote this article, teaches the Launch
and Orbital Mechanics short course for The Applied Technology Institute. Click here for more
information on that course. He also teaches the GPS and Its International Competitors short
course. Click here for more information.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

DRONE DISASTER Facebook’s massive Aquila drone that hopes to bring internet to the whole world CRASHES

GOVERNMENT authorities are investigating Facebook’s massive drone Aquila after it crash landed.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTBS) launched a probe into the inaugural flight of Facebook’s drone which the social networking giant hopes will be able to bring internet to remote parts of the world.

Following the flight, Facebook said in a statement: “We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results.”

However it has now emerged that the inaugural flight, which took place in July, was not without incident.

Peter Knudson, a NTSB spokesman, has today confirmed that when flying over Arizona in the United States the drone suffered “substantial” damage in a crash.

No one was harmed in the incident, and there was no damage on the ground.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in July: “We gathered lots of data about our models and the aircraft structure – and after two years of development, it was emotional to see Aquila actually get off the ground.

“But as big as this milestone is, we still have a lot of work to do.

“Eventually, our goal is to have a fleet of Aquilas flying together at 60,000 feet, communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time – something that’s never been done before.

“To get there, we need to solve some difficult engineering challenges.”

The crash could prove to be a setback for Facebook’s plan, which hopes to bring extensive internet access to under-served areas of the world such as parts of Africa, India and the Middle East.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Super-Moon Photos and Facts

One of the super-moon photos is a humorous hoax. Can you spot it? We knew that ATI’s instructors are world-class experts. They are the best in the business, averaging 25 to 35 years of experience, and are carefully selected for their ability to explain advanced technology in a readily understandable manner. We did not know that many are talented photographers. We challenged them to take some photographs of the November 13-14 super-moon.  See our previous post and then the resulting photographs.

Tom Logsdon, who teaches Orbital & Launch Mechanics – Fundamentals provided us some of the orbits key parameters.

Here are the best, most appropriate, average orbital parameters for Earth’s.

perigee radius: 363,300 Km (for the super-moon it was 356,508 Km (or 221,524 miles)

apogee radius: 405,400 Km

Inclination to the ecliptic plane: 5.145 deg

(the plane containing the Earth and the moon)

orbital eccentricity: 0. 0549 (sometimes quoted as 5.49 percent)

recession rate from the Earth: 3.8 cm/yr

Siderial month: 27.3 days

Synodic month: 29.5 days

( the sidereal month is the time it takes for the moon to make one 360 deg trip around the earth;

the synodic month is the month we observe from the spinning earth…it involves a few extra degrees of travel beyond the sidereal month)

Dr. Peter Zipfel Shalimar, Florida

  Dr. Peter Zipfel

Six Degree of Freedom Modeling of Missile and Aircraft Simulations

Aerospace Simulations In C++

  James  Jenkins, Riva, MD

Sonar Signal Processing

 Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Engineering Systems Modeling with Excel / VBA

Thermal & Fluid Systems Modeling

  Matt Moran, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

Fundamentals of Synthetic Aperture Radar

Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar

Richard Carande, Denver, CO

The photos that beat them all! Taken by the wife or Matt Moran

Rating 4.00 out of 5