OK, maybe it won’t get better right away. NASA has released a more detailed analysis of the damage sustained by the James Webb Space Telescope during an encounter with a micrometeoroid, and deemed the damage “incorrigible”. Not that any damage to the JWST is fixable, at least in the sense that the Hubble Space Telescope may have been fitted with optics to attach its precise but inaccurate primary ground mirror. JWST is far too far for a service call, so remediation in this case refers to a combination of what can be accomplished by adjusting the shape and position of the affected mirror segment, and what can be supported with image processing. Damage to segment C3, as well as damage to other segments in a total of six crashes during the semester Webb has been on station, is assessed via “wavefront sensing,” which examines how well light from each is out of phase. mirror segment is. The damage looks bad, and it must certainly hurt the technicians and engineers who built the thing so lovingly and painstakingly to see it already broken down, but in the long run, that damage shouldn’t get in the way of science goals Webb’s long term.
In other space news, we hear that the Perseverance rover released its first piece of the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater. The rover rummaged around looking for something interesting to sample, but anything it tried with its abrasive tool was either too fragile, too hard to reach, or scientifically boring. Eventually the rover found a good place to drill and managed to pull up a 6.7cm core. This makes the tenth core sample collected overall, and the first from the delta area, which would have the best chance of containing evidence of ancient Martian life.
Closer to home, we’ve probably all heard of robotic surgery, but the picture that emerges doesn’t quite match reality. Robot-assisted surgery is probably a better term, since surgical robots are usually just ultra-precise remote manipulators guided by a trained surgeon. But if a study of the performance of surgical robots is any indication, the days of human surgeons could be numbered. The study compared the accuracy and speed of a human surgeon controlling a standard Da Vinci surgical robot and an autonomous version of the robot alone, using a depth camera for detection. Using a standard test of surgical skills, the Autonomous System matched human surgeons in terms of failures – fortunately, no “oopsies” for either – but beat humans in terms of speed and position accuracy. It will probably be a while before fully autonomous surgeons are a thing, but we wouldn’t bet against it in the long run.
Most readers will no doubt have heard the exciting news that Supercon will be back this year as an in-person event! Be sure to save the first weekend in November to do the pilgrimage to Pasadena – it will be great to see everyone again after the long absence. But if you can’t wait until November for an IRL con, consider checking out SCALE 19X, coming this week to Los Angeles. The Southern California Linux Expo is held July 28-31 and features a ton of speakers, including a keynote from Vint Cerf. Hackaday readers can save 50% on tickets with promo code HACK.
And finally, as lovers of Easter Eggs of all kinds, but particularly of the hidden message in software variety, we enjoyed this ode to the Easter Egg, the embedded art that served as a creative outlet for programmers over the years. The article lists some excellent examples of this art form, while explaining why they are in fact important artifacts of the world of technology and what they are used for. We tried a few of those listed in the article that we hadn’t heard of before; some hits, some misses, but they are all appreciated. Well, most of them – the corporate rah-rah kind can give a damn as far as we’re concerned.