STM inks cyber security agreement with ministry

Defense engineering, design and software powerhouse STM has inked a protocol with Turkey’s interior ministry with the scope of “Reviewing and Improving Existing Information Technology and Security Infrastructure”, TR Defence sources reported on April 21.

While the details of the protocol are not included in the report, the new agreement is likely part of the country’s wider, renewed efforts in improving its national information handling and storage systems following several prior high-profile leaks.

In one such event that took place in 2010, a database comprised of voter registration information was compromised, resulting in a leak involving millions of Turkish citizens’ names, addresses, basic family information and national identification numbers.

Turkey to Sync Air & Space Power

Turkey aims to maximize its aerial firepower through several simultaneous programs, mostly indigenous, that better synchronize air and space assets.

The most ambitious program is locally designing, developing and building, with foreign technical support, the country’s first “national” fighter jet, dubbed the F-X.

Turkey’s procurement authorities recently decided to employ Sweden’s Saab, maker of the JAS 39 Gripen, to help shape their plans to manufacture the F-X. Turkish engineers, with help from Saab, have drafted three models that will be presented to top management at the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) procurement agency and the air force in September.

According to a draft plan, Turkey aims for its national fighter jet to make its maiden flight in 2023, the Turkish Republic’s centennial. Production will commence in 2021 and deliveries to the Air Force are planned between 2025 and 2035.

Turkey, whose fighter fleet is composed of U.S.-made aircraft, plans to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.

“The F-35 will be the principal air power asset, with the Turkish fighter complementing it,” one procurement official said.

In January, SSM announced that it put off plans to order an initial two F-35s, citing rising costs and technological failures, although it said it still intends to buy 100 more in the long run. Turkey is one of nine countries that are part of the U.S.-led F-35 consortium.

Turkey’s plans heavily rely on several unmanned aerial vehicle variants that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has been striving to develop. TAI will soon finalize a contract with SSM for the sale of 10 locally made Anka drone systems. The last of these passed acceptance tests in January, including a full endurance, 18-hour flight, successful automatic landing and data link performance at a distance of 200 kilometers.

Anka is the first medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle to be produced by TAI.

A more ambitious program involves development of an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, which would have longer range and function as a strategic bomber. TAI officials declined to provide details, citing confidentiality.

A Turkish air force official said these aircraft programs would be synchronized with numerous planned satellite programs.

“We aim to achieve an excellent interoperability between our aerial and space assets,” the official said.

One highly ambitious program aims to build a missile with a maximum range of 2,500 kilometers. In 2011, the Turkish government announced plans to develop that missile, not revealing whether it would be ballistic or cruise.

Although little information about the program has been released, a Turkish Cabinet minister in January confirmed that Turkey can produce a missile with a range of 800 kilometers.

State scientific institute Tubitak-Sage has been awarded the development contract and said it intends to test a prototype in the next two years. But while Turkish officials have indicated a desire for an independent capability to launch satellites, the military aspects of the missile program have not been released.

Earlier this year, the Air Force devised a national roadmap that will eventually lead to the launching of Turkish space command within its structure, a move that may be a boon for space-related procurement in the country. The space command will become fully operational by 2023.

As a first step, the air force is founding a space group command, or a de facto “aerospace force” unit that will comprise reconnaissance, early warning, electronic support, satellite command and satellite launching center departments.

Air force officials said the work and procurement under the roadmap would enable the service to perform reconnaissance and observation through imagery intelligence regardless of weather and geographical conditions; build a communications system for secure command and control; provide early detection of ballistic missile threats; and conduct electronic support for operational and warfare purposes.

The system will enable the air force to monitor Turkish and non-Turkish satellite activity and upgrade Turkish satellite programs.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said Jan. 3 that the government would start negotiations with state-run missile maker Roketsan for the early design phase of a new launch system “to ensure that military and civilian satellites can be sent into space.”

Also in January, Turkey’s top decision-maker in procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, approved starting talks with TAI for domestic development of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft dubbed Gokturk-3, with support from defense electronics manufacturer Aselsan and Tubitak.

With a space segment composed of a single satellite equipped with a SAR payload, a fixed main ground terminal and mobile backup station, Gokturk-3 will provide high-resolution radar images from anywhere in the world in day/night, all-weather conditions, according to Defense Ministry requirements.

The Turkish military’s space-based assets are geared more toward intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Placed in orbit late in December was Gokturk-2, an Earth observation satellite designed and built by Tubitak’s space technologies research unit, Tubitak-Uzay, in cooperation with TAI.

Gokturk-2, launched Dec. 18 from China, encompasses 80 percent indigenously developed technology and 100 percent domestically developed software. It provides day imagery of 2.5 meters’ resolution. It is Turkey’s second national satellite.

The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data gathered by national assets, including Gokturk-2 and an unknown number of operational and planned unmanned aerial vehicles, will be integrated into Turkey’s command and control network.

Turkey plans to launch the next satellite in the series, Gokturk-1, in the next few years. Gokturk-1, under construction through a deal with Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space, is a larger and more powerful optical imaging spacecraft capable of sub-meter resolution. Under the government roadmap, Turkey plans to send 16 satellites into orbit by 2020.

A space industry expert based here said the next five years’ satellite contracts could amount to $2 billion.


TUBITAK to develop laser CIWS

Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Foundation TUBITAK has officially opened a bid for the in-country development of a high-power laser weapon system. Such weapons are currently only deployed by the United States military.

TUBITAK’s SAVTAG, the Turkish equivalent of “DARPA” of the US Department of Defense, is officially put in charge of supporting a high budget project, internally named the “1007 Program”, that intends to organize and support Turkey’s current hi-tech weapons manufacturers and accomplished universities around this ambitious goal. The laser is planned to be used primarily as a precision close in weapon system (CIWS) aboard Turkey’s next generation frigates, dubbed the TF-2000, to engage enemy ships, aircraft and oncoming missile threats. The project will last for 72 months and will be run under “top secret” status, requiring all participants to comply with SAVTAG’s safety and security regulations.



Human brain mapped in 3-D with high resolution

A new 3-D map of the brain is the best thing since sliced cold cuts, at least to some neuroscientists.

“It’s a remarkable tour-de-force to reconstruct an entire human brain with such accuracy,” says David Van Essen, a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Using a high-tech deli slicer and about 100,000 computer processors, researchers shaved a human brain into thousands of thin slivers and then digitally glued them together. The result is the most detailed brain atlas ever published. Dubbed BigBrain, the digital model has a resolution 50 times greater in each of the three spatial dimensions than currently available maps, researchers report in the June 21 Science.

The difference is like zooming from a satellite view of a city down to the street level, says coauthor Alan Evans, a neuroimaging scientist at McGill University in Montreal.

BigBrain allows researchers to navigate the landscape of the human cortex, the rugged outer layer of the brain. And unlike previous maps, the tool also lets scientists burrow beneath the surface, tunnel through the brain’s hemispheres and step slice-by-slice through high-res structural data.

Around 100 years ago, neuroscientists relied on thick slabs of brain tissue to crudely chart out neural regions. More recently, imaging tools such as MRI have let researchers take a more detailed look. But even the very best MRI maps are still a little fuzzy, says Hanchuan Peng, a computational biologist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

In 2010, a team of Chinese researchers constructed a digital map of the mouse brain using techniques similar to the ones that produced BigBrain. But until now, no one had done it in humans. Because the human brain is thousands of times bigger than the mouse brain, Evans and colleagues had to massively scale up slicing and computing methods. First, Katrin Amunts and colleagues at the Jülich Research Center in Germany carved the donated brain of a 65-year-old woman into 7,404 ultrathin sheets, each about the thickness of plastic wrap.

Next, researchers stained the sheets to boost contrast, took pictures of each sheet with a flatbed scanner, and then harnessed the processing power from seven supercomputing facilities across Canada to digitally stitch together the images. In all, the researchers analyzed about one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, of image data. That’s about the same amount of data as 250,000 MP3 songs.

“Your laptop would choke if it tried to run a typical image-processing program to look at this dataset,” Evans says.

His team designed a software program that lets researchers dig into BigBrain’s data. Users will be able to pick up the brain, rotate it in any direction and cut through any plane they want. “It’s like a video game,” he says.

Evans hopes BigBrain will provide a digital scaffold for other researchers to layer on different kinds of brain data. Scientists could stack on information about chemical concentrations or electrophysical signals, just as climate and traffic data can be layered onto a geographical map.

The 3-D map could also help researchers interpret data from lower-resolution brain-scanning techniques such as MRI and PET, study coauthor Karl Zilles of the Jülich Research Center said during a press briefing June 19. Overlaying images from these scans onto BigBrain might give neuroimagers a better idea of where exactly damaged tissue lies in diseased brains.

And neurosurgeons might use BigBrain to guide placement of electrodes during deep-brain stimulation for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases, he said.

Though all human brains have largely similar architecture, Evans says, every person has subtle shape variations. As a result, he’d like to make maps of more brains for comparison.

Now that the teams have ironed out BigBrain’s technical kinks, the researchers think they can compile a second brain’s map in about a year. “The computational tools are all largely in place now,” Evans says.

Science News

Satellite captures Earth’s greenery

A new instrument onboard the NASA–NOAA Suomi satellite has been capturing exquisitely detailed views of seasonal and environmental shifts in plant cover. Light sensors on the satellite identify vegetation by detecting differences in reflected amounts of visible light, which plants absorb for photosynthesis, and near-infrared light, which plants don’t absorb. Subtle changes in greenness can give advance warning of drought or fire conditions. Meteorologists can also use data on vegetation dynamics to improve weather prediction.


Aselsan to Build 4G Systems for Turkey

Aselsan Elektronik Sanayi & Ticaret AS, a producer of civilian and defense electronic systems, and partners will build fourth-generation mobile phone software and equipment, allowing Turkish operators to avoid costly imports.

Aselsan, along with Netas Telekomunikasyon AS and Argela, a software company owned by Turk Telekomunikasyon AS, signed a $46.8 million contract with the Turkish government, according to Transport, Maritime and Telecommunications Minister Binali Yildirim.

“Turkish telecom operators spend billions of dollars for telecommunication equipment,” Yildirim said today at an Istanbul conference where the agreement was signed. “We have to cut that spending and get them to use locally made equipment instead of imports.”

Turkey’s three mobile operators — Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Vodafone Group Plc and the Avea Iletisim Hizmetleri AS unit of Turk Telekom — bought equipment from suppliers including Ericsson AB and Huawei Technologies Co. for third-generation systems when they got government licenses in 2008. The three operators spent about 19.4 billion liras ($11 billion) on investments from 2008 to the end of September last year, primarily for third-generation equipment, according to telecom market regulator BTK.

The new system for civilian and military use will be capable of delivering speeds of 100 megabits per second for mobile and 1,000 Mbps for fixed-line telecommunication, Yildirim said. Speeds for current third-generation mobile systems average 10 Mbps and can occasionally reach 40 Mbps, Ahmet Hamdi Atalay, a member of the executive committee of Netas, said at the conference.

Mobile Transmission

The Aselsan-led group will complete the development of the system, also known as Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, by 2016 for commercial use and 2017 for the military, the Ankara-based company said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange. The system includes development of software and building of base stations for mobile transmission.

Aselsan shares rose as much as 6.4 percent in Istanbul and were up 3.4 percent at 9.10 liras at 5:15 p.m., a record high.


New Rover Sends Images From Mars

NASA followed up its picture-perfect landing of a plutonium-powered rover Sunday night with a picture of the balletic Mars landing — as well as some well-earned self-congratulation about what the accomplishment says about NASA’s ingenuity.

“There are many out in the community who say NASA has lost its way, that we don’t know how to explore — we’ve lost our moxie,” John M. Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate, said at a post-landing news conference, where beaming members of the landing team, all clad in blue polo shirts, crammed in next to the reporters. “I want you to look around tonight, at those folks with the blue shirts and think about what we’ve achieved.”

That achievement, in the early hours of Monday morning Eastern time, was indeed dramatic: with the eyes of the world watching, the car-size craft called Curiosity was lowered at the end of 25-foot cables from a hovering rocket stage, successfully touching down on a gravelly Martian plain.

For the world of science, it was the second slam-dunk this summer — the first one being the announcement last month that the Higgs boson, a long-sought particle theorized by physicists, had likely been found. But while the focus of high-energy physics world has shifted overseas to CERN, the European laboratory, the United States remains the center of the universe for space, ahead of Russia, Europe and China, and for NASA, it was a chance to parry accusations of being slow, bloated and rudderless.

“If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space,” John P. Holdren, the president’s science adviser, said at the news conference, “well, there’s a one-ton automobile-size piece of American ingenuity. And it’s sitting on the surface of Mars right now.”

Now that it has reached Mars, Curiosity ushers in a new era of exploration that could turn up evidence that the Red Planet once had the necessary ingredients for life — or might even still harbor life today. Far larger than earlier rovers, Curiosity is packed with the most sophisticated movable laboratory that has ever been sent to another planet. It is to spend at least two years examining rocks within the 96-mile crater it landed in, looking for carbon-based molecules and other evidence that early Mars had conditions friendly for life.

On Monday, NASA released a photograph taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing Curiosity still encased in the descent capsule as it sailed under a parachute 210 miles below.

“You can see the lines on the parachute,” said Sarah Milkovich, a NASA scientist who works with the orbiter camera.

NASA officials were working to give Dr. Holdren a framed print of the photograph to show President Obama.

Only one other country, the Soviet Union, has successfully landed anything on Mars, and that spacecraft, Mars 3 in 1971, fell silent shortly after landing. So far, this rover appears to be healthy.

“There’s a lot ahead of us, but so far we are just ecstatic about the performance of the vehicle,” said Jennifer Trosper, one of the mission managers.As the spacecraft sped toward its destination on Sunday, the pull of Mars’s gravity accelerating it to more than 13,000 miles per hour, officials tried to tamp down concerns that a crash would entirely derail future plans.

“A failure is a setback,” said Doug McCuistion, the Mars exploration program director. “It’s not a disaster.”

The Curiosity landing seemed particularly risky. Engineers chose not to use the tried-and-true systems used in the six previous successful landings, neither the landing legs of the Viking missions in 1976 nor the cocoons of air bags that cushioned the two rovers that NASA placed on Mars in 2004. Those approaches, they said, would not work for a one-ton vehicle.

Instead, for the final landing step, they came up with what they called the sky crane maneuver. The rover would be gently winched to the surface from a hovering rocket stage.

As the drama of the landing unfolded, each step proceeded without flaw. The capsule entered the atmosphere at the appointed time, with thrusters guiding it toward the crater. The parachute deployed. Then the rover and rocket stage dropped away from the parachute and began a powered descent toward the surface, and the sky crane maneuver worked as designed.

“Touchdown confirmed,” Allen Chen, an engineer in the control room here, said at 10:32 p.m. Sunday. “We’re safe on Mars.” The room erupted with cheers, hugs, handshakes and high-fives.

Two minutes later, the first image popped onto video screens — a grainy, 64-pixel-by-64-pixel black-and-white image that showed one of the rover’s wheels and the Martian horizon. A few minutes later, a clearer version appeared, then an image from the other side of the rover.

“That’s the shadow of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars,” Robert Manning, the chief engineer for the project, gushed.

More photos followed. One image showed the rover’s destination, a three-mile-high mound at the center of the crater informally known as Mount Sharp.

NASA also released a series of photographs that the rover snapped as it descended, showing the heat shield falling away and later a plume of dust kicked up by the rocket engines.

Over the first week, Curiosity is to deploy its main antenna, raise a mast containing cameras, a rock-vaporizing laser and other instruments, and take its first panoramic shot of its surroundings. NASA will spend the first weeks checking out Curiosity before embarking on the first drive.

The successful landing helps wash away the mission’s troubled beginnings. Originally it was to cost $1.6 billion and was scheduled to launch in fall 2009, but technical hurdles and cost overruns led NASA to wait more than two years for the next time that Mars and Earth lined up in the proper positions. The project’s cost will now be $2.5 billion.

Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which operates Curiosity and many other planetary missions, said it was well worth the money and compared the night’s exhilaration to an adventure movie.

“This movie cost you less than seven bucks per American citizen, and look at the excitement we got,” Dr. Elachi exulted.

Even at the late hour, NASA’s Web sites collapsed as throngs of people across the Internet tried to look at the new Mars photos.

The New York Times

Finmeccanica Completes First Tests for NATO Cyber Security System

The Finmeccanica Cyber Solutions team selected in February 2012 to fulfil the  NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) – Full Operating Capability  (FOC) requirement, has completed the testing phase of the programme’s Proof of  Concept in line with the challenging timescale set by NATO. NCIRC FOC will  provide a highly adaptive and responsive system to help protect NATO from  cyber-attacks against both its mobile and static Communication  and Information Systems.

This world-class team led by Finmeccanica (FNC IM, SIFI.MI), comprising its  companies SELEX Elsag, SELEX Systems Integration and VEGA, together with its  partner Northrop  Grumman, is leveraging its wealth of experience in addressing complex  cyber-defence requirements.

The completion of the testing phase of the Proof of Concept, confirms that  the programme continues to meet its objectives and demonstrates the value of the  team’s multi-national capability, leadership in the development and delivery of  cyber defence solutions, and unrivalled experience of multi-domain cyber  programmes for government and defence customers in the US, UK,  Italy and other countries around the world.

Once delivered, NCIRC FOC will provide an agile, flexible and interoperable  solution featuring advanced cyber defence systems to protect NATO static  commands, crisis operations, NATO signal battalions, Article V Operations and  the NATO Reaction Force.

“With the completion of the testing of the Proof of Concept, we have achieved  an important stage in delivering the NCIRC FOC. This reflects the growing  partnership between NATO, Finmeccanica and our Northrop Grumman partner,” said  Giuseppe Orsi, Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica.

“Through our chosen solution, NATO will be able to improve their capability  to counter the ever increasing and sophisticated threat from cyber-attack.

“The successful achievement of this important milestone is a further step  towards full implementation of NATO’s CIRC capability and demonstrates the  growing strength of the partnership we have established on this programme”, said  Mike Papay, Vice President Cyber Initiatives of Northrop Grumman Information  Systems.

“We look forward to continuing to apply the full range of our resources and  decades-long cyber security  experience both in the U.S and U.K., to ensure the successful delivery of this  programme.”


Space new destination for Turkish tourism firm

VIP Tourism, a Turkish tourism firm, will start organizing space tours to the stratosphere by 2014, the company announced yesterday.


Turkey’s VIP Tourism offers tourists from all over the world a four-hour space experinece on a special vehicle. Hürriyet photo
Turkey’s VIP Tourism offers tourists from all over the world a four-hour space experinece on a special vehicle. Hürriyet photo

The company will offer space tourists from Turkey and around the world a four-hour-long experience 36 kilometers above the Earth’s surface aboard a space balloon named “Bloon,” which has reportedly been developed with state-of-the-art technology by Spanish firm zero2infinity. The company has invested 20 million euros in the Bloon project.
“Reservations will begin Jan. 1, and we expect 400 people to register before the launch of the service,” VIP Tourism Chief Executive Officer Ceylan Pirinçcioğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
The first take-off is slated to occur by the end of 2014 in Turkey – the first country in which the project is being implemented. The Central Anatolian provinces of Eskişehir and Konya are the two strongest possibilities for the location of the Bloon facility, Pirinçcioğlu said.
Four people will be able to travel at a time on Bloon, he said, adding that the ascent would take two-and-a-half hours and that tourists would enjoy a meal in space before preparing to land.
The cost of the trip will be 110,000 euros, he said.







ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

NASA launches car-sized rover to Mars

The new NASA rover 'Curiosity' will look for the ingredients of life on the surface of Mars.

Reporting from Cape Canaveral, Fla.— With the roar of an Atlas 5 engine, NASA began its boldest venture yet to another planet, sending its Mars Science Laboratory on an eight-month journey that is expected to provide Earth with new and more detailed information about whether the red planet is — or ever has been — hospitable to life.

After being postponed by one day to replace a faulty battery, the launch went off flawlessly at 7:02 a.m. PST Saturday, the rocket rising on a column of white smoke into a blue sky mottled with puffy cumulous clouds.

“Whew! That felt so good,” exulted Joy Crisp, a deputy project scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in La-Canada Flintridge. “That was spectacular!”

The rocket’s payload was the rover Curiosity, the largest and most sophisticated in a series of robotic vehicles that NASA has landed on Mars. Built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Curiosity is a six-wheeled, one-ton, car-sized vehicle crammed full of sophisticated scientific gadgets.

Its mission, NASA officials stressed, is not to find life on Mars, but to find out whether life could have existed on Mars in the form of microbes, tiny organisms that are abundant on Earth. It also will try to find further evidence to suggest whether astronauts could survive on Mars.

“I like to say it’s extraterrestrial real estate appraisal,” said Pan Conrad, a JPL astrobiologist, at a prelaunch briefing earlier in the week.

Within hours of takeoff, control of the spaceship was shifting from the Kennedy Space Center to JPL, which will run the mission for its duration, which is expected to be a minimum of two years.

The Mars Science Lab faced a journey of 354 million miles, which it expects to end in spectacular fashion in early August. Because of the size of the rover, NASA decided that its previous technique, in which the vehicles were bounced onto the surface of the planet on air bags, would not work.

So Curiosity, after being slowed in its descent by parachutes, will be lowered softly — NASA hopes —using a sky crane modeled after those used by helicopters.

Once on the ground, NASA intends for the rover to spend one Martian year, which is about two Earth years, exploring an area called Gale Crater, which includes a gently sloped, three-mile-high mountain made of sedimentary rock. As with prior missions, there is the likelihood that the rover will keep going after its two-year “warranty” expires.

Scientists hope that as the rover ascends the mountain, the rock will tell the geologic history of the area, and ideally suggest whether it could have supported life.

“We’re basically reading the history of Mars’ environmental evolution,” said John Grotzinger, the project’s chief scientist. However, he has been at pains to tamp down expectations.

To sustain life, scientists say, a planet needs three elements: water, energy and carbon. The first two have been established as existing on Mars, but previous missions have not allowed scientists to determine whether there is carbon.

“We’re on the hot seat, and a wise friend of mine once told me, ‘don’t promise more than you can deliver,’ ” Grotzinger said. “So we’re on a mission to look for organic carbon, there’s no question about it.”

But he downplayed the odds of success. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, and the haystack’s as big as a football field.”

The Mars Science Lab is the latest in a long series of U.S. missions to Mars, dating to 1964, when Mariner 4 flew by the planet and returned 21 photos to Earth. More recently, the Pathfinder, Exploration and Opportunity missions landed robotic rovers that have sent back dramatic ground-level photos and other data about the planet, which is considered the most likely planet other than Earth to have nurtured life.

By “life,” however, scientists stress that they are considering the most primitive forms, and don’t expect Curiosity to be met by an ambassador.

At the same time, said Steven Benner, a biochemist who heads the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, “We don’t want to have a lot of preconceptions. We want to consider that if, you know, Tim Allen’s “Galaxy Quest” alien rock creature comes up and bangs us on the head, we don’t want to ignore it. That would be the ‘Ah ha!’ moment that we would regret having missed. But that’s relatively far down in our what-if scenarios.”

L.A. Times