NASA is Practicing Asteroid Deflection as Consumers Spend $14 Billion over Black Friday

NASA

NASA is practicing asteroid deflection in its DART Mission. Consumers spend over $14 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Samsung announces plans to build a semiconductor plant in Texas. Egypt reopens 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes. A new variant of Coronavirus is discovered in South Africa. Here are this week’s stories.

1. NASA is Practicing Asteroid Deflection

NASA

Earlier this week, NASA launched its DART mission, or the Double Asteroid Redirect Mission, which will be the first-ever attempt to change the orbit of an asteroid. DART will crash into the asteroid in 2022, moving at roughly 15,000 miles per hour, transferring its momentum to the asteroid. The impact should deflect the asteroid off its original path by a fraction of one percent, which will significantly alter the astroid’s path in the long term. The DART mission is aiming for Dimorphos, a half-mile-wide asteroid that orbits another satellite. With this mission, NASA is attempting to find out whether crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid will save the Earth in the future if an asteroid is headed our way. So far, none of them pose a risk in the next 100 years. However, NASA believes it has only discovered about 40% of all large near-Earth asteroids, so it is critical that NASA has a method to redirect these asteroids.

2. Consumers Return on Black Friday Despite Weaker Discounts

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

The holiday shopping season has officially kicked into high gear, but it is playing out much differently than in the past. In 2020, most consumers did a majority of their shopping online from the safety of their homes and were cautious with their spending. This year, families have built up substantial savings and have money to spend and shop in stores. Many consumers are also shopping early because of supply chain issues. Out-of-stock messages online are up 261% compared to two seasons ago. There are also widespread shipping delays because of a shortage of workers. Prices are also up on goods: toys, clothing, appliances, and electronics are between 5% and 15% more expensive than last year, while TVs are up 17% from last year. Despite weaker deals and higher prices, consumers are still shopping at high rates. Consumer spending levels are expected to break records this season, and sales are predicted to increase by 8.5% to 10.5% for the holiday season. Consumers have already spent $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving, and $8.9 billion on Black Friday.

3. Samsung Plans to Build Semiconductor Plant in Texas

Samsung Austin Semiconductor

Samsung has announced plans to build a $17 billion semiconductor factory near Austin, Texas, over the next three years to increase its production volume and assist with the global chip shortage. The facility will boost the production of advanced logic semiconductors, which are used in phones and computers. Samsung says it will start building it in the first half of 2022 and begin production in the second half of 2024. The 5 million square meter facility is expected to create over 1800 jobs in the area. Many other chipmakers are also making investments in the US to cope with the global chip shortage. Intel is spending $20 billion to build two new chip factories in Arizona which they announced in September. Taiwan Semiconductor plans to build a $12 billion production factory in Arizona. Ford is partnering with GlobalFoundries to produce more chips for its vehicles. Hopefully, these investments will help resolve the global chip shortage.

4. Egypt Reopens 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes

Khaled Desouki / AFP — Getty Images

Egypt has reopened the 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes to the public in an extravagant ceremony. The Sphinxes are located in the southern city of Luxor, and it took decades to excavate from the sand. The pathway, once named “The Path of God,” connects the Temples of Karnak in the north with Luxor in the south. It is nearly 2 miles long and has over 1,000 statues of sphinxes and rams on each side, but only 309 statues have been excavated in good condition. Archeligeosts are currently unsure of who built the road. Some suggest that it could date back to Queen Hatshepsut, about 3,500 years ago, and others believe it was built under King Amenhotep III, a couple of hundred years later. The road was discovered by Egyptian archaeologist Zakaria Ghineim in 1949 when she noticed eight sphinx statues in front of the Luxor Temple. Egypt celebrated the reopening with a lavish celebration that included fireworks, dancing, and music. The country has been trying to restore its tourism sector, which has been hit by political instability and the pandemic.

5. New Coronavirus Variant Discovered in South Africa

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

A new variant of Coronavirus was discovered earlier this week in South Africa after cases spiked in the country. The new variant, named Omicron, was labeled as a variant of concern, the only one to get that designation since Delta appeared in India in late 2020. Scientists have identified approximately 30 mutations in the coronavirus’ spike protein, indicating that the infection can likely spread easier and faster. However, there is no indication that the variant will cause more severe illness. According to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, no abnormal symptoms have been reported with this variant. Most other viruses, like the H1N1 influenza virus responsible for the 1918 Spanish flu and the 2009 swine flu, evolve to become more contagious and less dangerous over time. Scientists have also raised concerns regarding vaccine effectiveness against Omicron. Several companies are already researching the new variant to see if it eludes immunity from their vaccines. They are also ready to alter their vaccines as required to offer greater protection against this variant.

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Curious High Schooler, who loves to share new and exciting stories. Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com

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Lakshya Jain

Lakshya Jain

Curious High Schooler, who loves to share new and exciting stories. Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com

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