Russian satellite is set to unfurl into the third brightest object in the sky behind the sun and the moon

A Russian satellite developed by Moscow Polytechnic University is set to become the third brightest object in our sky, behind the sun and the moon.

As reported by The Register, the satellite named Mayak – which appropriately is the Russian word for beacon – is one of 72 “smallsats” that were launched into space atop a Russian Soyuz rocket last Friday.

“On July 14, from the Baikonur Spaceport, we launched Mayak – the first crowdfunding spacecraft in the history of Russia, created by young scientists,” reads Mayak’s website. “At night, in clear weather, one can see it as the brightest shooting star.”

Featured image courtesy of head of the MTI aerospace laboratory Denis Efremov. Image courtesy of Mayak

Mayak is currently circling the planet at about 600 kilometres (372 miles) high. Eventually the satellite will unfold into a three meters high regular pyramid sun reflector.

Mayak’s goal is to inspire people to look up to space, as well as testing technology to de-orbit satellites.

Its creators hope that the data it records will assist with the design of larger devices that can be attached onto larger pieces of space junk and used to bring them down from orbit so that they can burn up in the atmosphere. Such junk is a growing issue and has caused its own problems for the International Space Station.

Mayak is the result of a crowdfunding effort by the Moscow Polytechnic University, which raised over $34,000 to get the satellite aloft.

An Android app has been built that allows them to track the progress of the satellite in the months that it is expected to stay aloft.

After Mayak’s month is up it will be deorbited and burnt in the atmosphere.

Memories don’t pass from short term to long term; all of our different memory types coexist

A study by New York University (NYU) scientists has concluded that memory, rather than being a complete store of past events, is composed of a vast repertoire of coexisting time windows.

Most memories last seconds before they are forgotten, but some last a lifetime. However, the scientists Thomas Carew and Nikolay Kukushkin have concluded that rather than going from short term to long term, both types of memories coexist.

So, for example, a familiar musical piece is experienced simultaneously through the short-term memory of the few notes just heard and the long-term memory of listening to the piece in the past. Both retain information about the past, they write, and both shape perception in the present.

“Much like sound is broken down by the auditory system into many discrete bins of frequencies that are perceived simultaneously, an experience as a whole is parsed by the brain into many ‘time windows’ that collectively represent the past,” said Carew, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Image courtesy of University of Florida

As a result of their research, Carew and Kukushkin believe memory cannot be restricted to a defined object or state; instead, it is fundamentally structured in terms of time.

The scientists note that brains of living organisms – as diverse as sea slugs and humans – have the capacity to represent experience on many timescales, simultaneously recalling events occurring over years, hours, and milliseconds.

“Time is the only physical variable that is ‘inherited’ by the brain from the external world,” the scientists conclude. “Thus, memories must be ‘made of time,’ or, more precisely, of temporal relationships between external stimuli.

“In effect, the entire biological utility of memory relies on the existence of many dimensions of homeostasis, some shorter-term and some longer-term. The many timescales of memory represent many timescales of past experience and must be simultaneously available to the organism to be useful.”