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Gaofen 2

The Gaofen 2 is shown here in this CCTV 13 news broadcast, while undergoing assembly. Judging by the personnel in the screen garb, the bottom surface of the satellite, which would hold the camera lens, has an area of between 3 to 4 square meters. That suggests that the camera lens would have an aperture (diameter) of 1 to 1.2 meters.

Gaofen 2 Launch

Gaofen 2 launched on August 19, 2014. The usage of the Long March 4 rocket suggests that the satellite’s weight is between 1-2 tons.

The Gaofen 2 was launched on August 19, 2014 by a LM-4B rocket and currently speeds past at an orbit 630km above the Earth’s surface. It has a resolution of up to 80 centimeters in panchromatic setting, and can instantly cover an area of up to 48km across. Resolution, in satellite imagery, is defined as the ability to distinguish between two objects (for example, a 3 meter resolution would allow one to identify two tanks parked side by side). In contrast, the U.S KH-11 Kennan Block IV spy satellites is widely believed to have an image resolution of about 10cm-15 cm, though it orbits at a much lower altitude and has a 2.4+ meter wide lens (images of the Gaofen 2 suggests it has a 1-1.2 meter wide lens). As a caveat, it is important to remember that China could have understated the actual imaging resolution of the Gaofen 2, with resolution below 80 cm classified only for military usage.

Beijing Airport Blown Up

Shown here is the Shanghai airport on the left, and the Beijing Olympic Stadium on the right. The Gaofen 2 provides a level of detail that not only can one distinguish smaller airliners like the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 from larger Boeing 777 type jetliners, but also see the engine nacelles on the smaller airliners. This level of detail could be used to identify enemy warships and fighters for targeting.

However, a 80 cm resolution would be sufficient for a range of Chinese strategic intelligence needs, such as counting the number of Vietnamese fighters, tracking the location of a U.S. aircraft carrier, or monitoring Taiwanese tunnel construction activity. Most tellingly of the dual use nature of imaging satellites, it is operated by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense; the State Administration says it plans to use the Gaofen 2 for civilian purposes of ” disaster relief, land use surveillance and mineral resource surveys”. Of course, just as the U.S. Defense Department purchases satellite imagery from vendors GeoEye and Digital Global, the PLA will probably have access to the Gaofen 2 if the need arises.

Say Cheese…or xiào yī xiào!

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Come See China’s New Hexacopters And Self

The hexacopter, like the fixed wing UAV in front of it, are both used for tactical information gathering by Chinese troops. Oedo Soldier

CH-901

This display at the Military Museum indicates that the 20-pound CH-901 drone, which can be used as a loitering munition, is in service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Behind it is a smaller recon unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that’s launched from the smaller tubes on the 4X4 launch armored fighting vehicle (AFV).

As part of its celebration of the People’s Liberation Army, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing is showing off a range of exciting exhibitions, offering a peek into the PLA’s new self-propelled artillery, cruise missiles, ballistic missile launchers, and—perhaps most notably—tactical unmanned aerial systems.

First up, there’s official confirmation that the CH-901 “kamikaze” loitering attack munitions (a short-ranged mini-drone) is in use by the PLA. First publicly displayed at the DSA 2023 arms fair, CH-901 is a 20-pound, fixed-wing drone with a flight speed range of 9 to 90 miles per hour. It’s got a 1.2-mile-range electro optical camera for reconnaissance (it can be recovered this way) and/or it can crash into enemy targets, detonating its warhead. It is comparable to the American Aerovironment “Switchblade” used by Special Operations. At the Military Museum, a 4X4 armored fighting vehicle (AFV) is armed with a pop-up hatch that carries eight CH-901 pneumatically launch tubes. The launcher also has four launch tubes for a smaller fixed-wing reconnaissance UAV. The CH-901 launcher is likely to be used by lighter units like Special Operations, or amphibious and airborne troops, which cannot always count on conventional air and artillery support.

Slide and Launch

These tactical hexacopters can be deployed for launch by sliding their rack on the AFV backdoor, and use them to support company/battalion operations.

Another 4X4 AFV had an even more interesting cargo: three large hexacopter drones, with collapsible rotor-housing struts. Carried on a slide-out rack deployed out of the rear infantry exfiltration door of the vehicle, each hexacopter is about 4 feet tall, with a wingspan of about 6 and a half feet and a large dome camera mounted on the main body.

Judging by the performance of other similarly-sized hexacopters—like the 33-pound JSSG hexacopter—this reconnaissance vehicle would have a range of about 6-9 miles, a flight altitude of over 3,000 feet, top speed of 50 miles per hour and enough battery life for 1 hour of flight time. The setting suggests that the hexacopters would likely be deployed at the battalion or company level, and be used for communications and reconnaissance purposes.

Tactical Drones

The hexacopter, like the fixed wing UAV in front of it, are both used for tactical information gathering by Chinese troops.

Next to the hexacopter carrier display was another tactical unmanned aircraft system of interesting design. The systems is 2 meter wide flying wing with its electric propellers facing down, suggesting that it could be a tilt rotor drone with vertical take off and conventional flight capabilities.  The putative tilt rotor tactical drone is also likely to be carried by another 4X4 AFV.

The display fits well within the wider vision of the PLA. The planned integration of unmanned systems into the tactical level—in addition to cutting the total number of ground troops to increase resources per capita—suggests the army is hoping to delegate responsibility and initiatives to lower-level officers, in light of the increasingly chaotic battlefields seen in Iraq and Ukraine.

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Address Space Layout Randomization (Aslr) In Windows Explained

Security researchers at CERT have stated that Windows OS fails to properly randomize every application if system-wide mandatory ASLR is enabled via EMET or Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Microsoft has responded by saying that the implementation of Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) on Microsoft Windows is working as intended. Let us take a look at the issue.

Buffer Over-run Protection in Windows

Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) is a technology that defends buffer overrun exploits. Each time you boot Windows, the system code is loaded into different locations

What is Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) in Windows

ASLR is expanded as Address Space Layout Randomisation, the feature made a debut with Windows Vista and is designed to prevent code-reuse attacks. The attacks are prevented by loading executable modules at non-predictable addresses thus mitigating attacks that usually depend on code placed at predictable locations. ASLR is fine-tuned to combat exploit techniques like Return-oriented programming which rely on code that is generally loaded into a predictable location. That apart one of the major downsides of the ASLR is that it needs to be linked with /DYNAMICBASE flag.

The ASLR offered protection to the application, but it didn’t cover the system-wide mitigations. In fact, it is for this reason that Microsoft EMET was released. EMET (now deprecated) ensured that it covered both system-wide and application-specific mitigations. The EMET ended up as the face of system-wide mitigations by offering a front-end for the users. However, starting from the Windows 10 Fall Creators update the EMET features have been replaced with Windows Defender Exploit Guard.

The ASLR can be enabled compulsorily for both EMET, and Windows Defender Exploit Guard for codes that are not linked to /DYNAMICBASE flag and this can be implemented either on a per-application basis or a system-wide base. What this means is that Windows will automatically relocate code to a temporary relocation table and thus the new location of the code will be different for every reboots. Starting from Windows 8, the design changes mandated that the system-wide ASLR should have system-wide bottom-up ASLR enabled in order to supply entropy to the mandatory ASLR.

ASLR is always more effective when the entropy is more. In much simpler terms increase in entropy increases the number of search space that needs to be explored by the attacker. However, both EMET (now deprecated) and Windows Defender Exploit Guard enable system-wide ASLR without enabling system-wide bottom-up ASLR. When this happens, the programs without /DYNMICBASE will get relocated without entropy. As we explained earlier, the absence of entropy would make it relatively easier for attackers since the program will reboot the same address every time.

What Microsoft has to say

Microsoft has been swift and has already issued a statement. This is what the folks at Microsoft had to say,

“The behaviour of mandatory ASLR that CERT observed is by design and ASLR is working as intended. The WDEG team is investigating the configuration issue that prevents system-wide enablement of bottom-up ASLR and is working to address it accordingly. This issue does not create additional risk as it only occurs when attempting to apply a non-default configuration to existing versions of Windows. Even then, the effective security posture is no worse than what is provided by default and it is straightforward to work around the issue through the steps described in this post”

They have specifically detailed the workarounds that will help in achieving the desired level of security. There are two workarounds for those who would like to enable mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization for processes whose EXE did not opt-in to ASLR.

1] Save the following into chúng tôi and import it to enable mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization system-wide.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlSession Managerkernel] "MitigationOptions"=hex:00,01,01,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00

2] Enable mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization via program-specific configuration using WDEG or EMET.

Said Microsoft – This issue does not create additional risk as it only occurs when attempting to apply a non-default configuration to existing versions of Windows.

Florida, California, Washington D.c. And New York City To Receive Retired Space Shuttles

[Updated] After the final flight this summer, America’s space shuttles will retire to four locations across the continent, from California to Florida. Houston, home of Mission Control, was snubbed — it will receive shuttle seats, with actual training simulators leaving the JSC grounds for other museums in the midwest.

Atlantis will go to KSC, home of every historic launch in NASA history. The news provoked cheers from the audience assembled to hear NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announce the orbiters’ new homes, on the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight and the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight. Millions of visitors to KSC and the other institutions will be inspired by the chance to see a real, flown shuttle, he said.

Endeavour will wind up at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Bolden said.

Discovery, the first shuttle to officially retire and NASA’s most-traveled orbiter, will go to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Space shuttle Enterprise, which never reached orbit but served as the first test vehicle, already inhabits that space, and it will be transferred to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.

“Take care of our shuttles,” Bolden told the recipients, his voice breaking, as it did several times throughout his speech.

Olga Dominguez, assistant administrator for NASA’s Office of Strategic Infrastructure, led the process of determining where the shuttles would wind up. In a press conference Tuesday, Dominguez said her office studied each location’s regional population and its potential for broad domestic and international access, as well as cost of transporting the orbiters and other factors.

“It is unfortunate that the middle of the country did not fare as well as the coasts,” she said. “But we are giving them many of our specialized simulators … they will also have a wonderful story to tell about NASA and about the space program.”

Many other institutions had lobbied for shuttles, most notably Johnson Space Center, home of NASA’s Mission Control. JSC will receive seats flown on the shuttle, Dominguez said. Houstonians were upset, to say the least; several media representatives peppered Dominguez with questions about why the nation’s fourth-largest city did not get a shuttle. One reporter asked where Houston failed.

“Houston did not in any way, shape or form fail,” Dominguez replied. “We simply did not have enough to go around.”

Several other museums and educational institutions will be allocated various shuttle artifacts, Dominguez said. The Adler Planetarium in Chicago and Texas A&M University will each get shuttle simulators; the Museum of Flight in Seattle, which is building a new wing, will receive a full-size fuselage training module; and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio, will get a crew-compartment training module.

Congress had directed NASA to look at each location’s connection to the space program, and Dominguez noted several connections in New York, L.A. and Florida. The shuttles were designed at Rockwell International outside L.A., and Edwards Air Force Base, their backup landing site, is nearby; the USS Intrepid, now a museum in New York, served as the primary recovery ship for the Mercury 7 capsule; and the Smithsonian is the curator of Enterprise, along with many other national space treasures.

But she didn’t mention Houston, where most astronauts live, and whose connections to the space program are more immediately obvious than those of New York or L.A.

In his speech earlier Tuesday, Bolden said he appreciated the KSC employees’ gratitude, and acknowledged it had been a difficult decision. He promised other competing institutions would receive shuttle components and hardware.

Bolden, a former astronaut who flew on Atlantis, teared up while he spoke of the crew members who perished in the Columbia and Challenger disasters. “They were all true American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

“NASA is focused first and foremost on safely flying the last two flights,” she said.

Bolden also told NASA employees to stay focused on ensuring the final two missions are completed safely. He also had hopeful words for the post-shuttle era: “We will continue to lead the world in human exploration and discovery, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” he said.

Everyone who spoke on Tuesday’s shuttle commemoration celebrations had similar words, hoping for a future successor that will again send Americans into space. But they carefully sidestepped the fact that NASA does not yet have one.

The orbiters are slated to reach their final destinations by the end of 2012.

China’s Secretive Mega Chip Powers The World’s Fastest Computer

Fifteen years ago, China decided to build homegrown processors for PCs, servers, and supercomputers. Now the country’s latest chip is powering the world’s fastest computer.

The supercomputer is a big statement that China doesn’t have to rely on U.S. technology for its IT needs. China used Intel’s chips to build the world’s second fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-2, which until recently held the top spot on the Top500 list.

The U.S. in April last year banned the export of some Intel Xeon chips to China for use in supercomputers, with the government concerned the chips would be used in activities against U.S. interests. The Tianhe-2 and Tianhe-1A were allegedly used in nuclear weapon tests, which partly spurred the export ban.

The embargo on the Xeon chips did not affect the building of the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer. China already had set its sights on building the first supercomputer that could deliver a performance of more than 100 petaflops, Top500 wrote.

But the embargo did strengthen the resolve and precipitated efforts of China to build its own homegrown chips.

For the Chinese, the development of indigenous IT equipment, especially for high-performance computing, is a matter of priority and national pride, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

Developing a high-tech chip gives China bragging rights to stand up against countries and top chip-makers like Intel. It’s also a matter of cost, Brookwood said.

The home-grown Chinese chip also gives the country some weight and bargaining power against top chip makers Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, who are trying to push their own chips to server makers in China.

A supercomputer with a homegrown Chinese chip, the Sunway BlueLight MPP, running an early version of the ShenWei processor, entered the Top500 list in November 2011 at number 14. It was the first Chinese supercomputer with a homegrown chip to enter the Top500 list and was ranked at 119 on the list released on Monday.

China, the U.S., Japan, and European countries are in a constant race to build the world’s fastest computer. China had 167 supercomputers on the Top500 list, beating the U.S., which had 165.

The Sunway TaihuLight has the ShenWei SW26010 processor, a monster 260-core chip. Each chip delivers a performance of 3 teraflops, which Top500 rated as being on par with Intel’s latest Xeon Phi chip code-named Knights Landing. That chip is rated as one of the company’s fastest.

With Sunway TaihuLight, China is also the first country to make a supercomputer that passes 100 petaflops in performance. Countries are in a race to make a computer that can deliver a performance of an exaflop, or a million trillion calculations per second, which is expected to be reached sometime after 2023.

There’s still is some mystery to China’s latest homegrown chip. It is a 64-bit RISC processor, which Top500 speculates is based on the DEC Alpha architecture. The supercomputer has 1.3 petabytes of the older DDR3 memory, and uses 15.3 megawatts of power, making it more power-efficient than the number two supercomputer Tianhe-2, which uses 17.8 megawatts. It also has a homegrown interconnect, though its based on PCI-Express 3.0

China over years has developed a chip called Godson, which has been used in PCs, though progress has seemingly stalled. 

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