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July 17, 2013

2014 Hyundai Equus

Filed under: solar lighting — Tags: — solaroutdoorlight @ 3:52 am

Earlier this year, Hyundai officially revealed the 2014 Equus at the New York Auto Show, revealing some revisions for its flagship luxury sedan. Changes for the model year include new 19-inch turbine-inspired wheels, the removal of chrome strips on the front and rear bumpers, revised headlight and taillight graphics, standard LED fog lamps  and the addition of new colors

Inside changes include a completely redone instrumental panel, center console, steering wheel control layout, rear seat center console controls and updated leather and trim selections. The infotainment and cluster display also feature larger screens and there are new dual entertainment systems in the back for rear-seat passengers.

The suspension is also revised, receiving new modes optimized for specific driving conditions, including snow mode, normal mode and sport mode. New bushings smooth things out even further.

The Tau 5.0-liter V8 remains as the car’s powerplant, producing 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Hyundai’s eight-speed transmission sends power to the rear wheels.

Pricing for the Equus starts at $61,920 for the Signature line, while the top-of-the-line Ultimate starts at $68,920 including destination.

During a drive event for the new Equus at Hyundai’s North American Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., we were able to get the full scoop and drive the Korean automaker’s flagship luxury sedan.

The Equus’ overall look is essentially unchanged, except for some minor exterior revisions. It’s a handsome car, if not a bit generic looking. We would’ve liked to see Hyundai take more of a risk in the design department by adding more complex lines to the design (We think its cousin, the Kia Quoris, looks better). Nevertheless, the removal of the chrome strips on the rear and front bumpers help improve aesthetics while the turbine rims look more upscale than the previous 2013’s chrome clad slap-ons.

Stepping inside the car, the interior is plush and feature filled, but we did notice some flaws. The wood trim on the dash looks tacky and some of the buttons look cheap. There are some hard plastics found as well throughout the door panels and dash.

The dash cluster graphics are neat though, and the infotainment system is intuitive and easy to read and use. The Lexicon sound system in the Equus is excellent. Turn the bass up loud enough and you can nearly shatter the windows. In terms of features, the Hyundai has just about has every option you would expect to find in this class, with most of them being standard depending which trim you buy.

The real experience for the Equus is being a passenger. Get into the back seat and you feel like you’re a government diplomat. You’re greeted by seats that recline, move forward and give you ample leg room. Optional dual monitors behind the driver and passenger seat display movies, media and the navigation screen while the rear console can control just about everything in the car from the radio to the seat in front of you.

In terms of the driving experience, the Hyundai’s V8 is the star of the show. With the eight-speed transmission on board, power was plentiful and not once did the Equus feel slow. Customers certainly won’t be racing, but it’s nice to know you have overtaking power at your disposal when needed.

While inside, there was minimal road noise and the Hyundai swallowed up bumps and potholes fairly well. The car took sweeping corners comfortably, and although it is obviously no sports car, it’s not intended to be. The steering feels a little disconnected from the car, which seems a tad bit slow to react.

May 20, 2013

The First Humans To Live On Mars Need To Be Farmers

Filed under: solar lighting — Tags: — solaroutdoorlight @ 9:46 am

To establish a sustainable settlement on Earth’s solar system neighbour, space travellers will have to learn how to grow food on Mars — a job that could turn out to be one of the most vital, challenging and labour-intensive tasks at hand, experts say.

“One of the things that every gardener on the planet will know is producing food is hard — it is a non-trivial thing,” Penelope Boston, director of the Cave and Karst Studies program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, said yesterday at the Humans 2 Mars Summit here at George Washington University. “Up until several hundred years ago it occupied most of us for most of the time.”

NASA is actively engaged in researching how to farm on Mars and in space, as the agency is targeting its first manned Mars landing in the mid-2030s. And some NASA officials are wondering if that mission ought to be of long duration, rather than a short visit, given the difficulty of getting there and the possible benefits of an extended stay. “Sustained human presence — should that be our goal? I think that’s a good discussion,” Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said here Monday (May 6).

Yet growing food on Mars presents several significant challenges. While research on the International Space Station suggests plants can grow in microgravity, scientists don’t know how the reduced gravity on Mars might affect different Earth crops. Mars’ surface receives about half the sunlight Earth does, and any pressurised greenhouse enclosure will further block the light reaching plants, so supplemental light will be needed. Supplying that light requires a significant amount of power.

“In terms of the systems engineering required, it’s not an insignificant challenge,” said D. Marshall Porterfield, Life and Physical Sciences division director at NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA has been studying using LED lighting to give plants only the wavelengths of light they need to boost efficiency, he said.

Researchers are also studying whether plants can survive under lower pressures than on Earth, because the more pressure inside a greenhouse, the more massive that greenhouse must be to contain it.

“You don’t have to inflate that greenhouse to Earth-normal pressure in order for plants to grow,” said Robert Ferl, director of the Interdisciplinary centre for Biotechnology Research at the University of Florida. “Maintaining a full atmosphere of pressure is difficult on a planetary surface. You can take plants down to a tenth of an atmosphere and they’ll still function.”

Martian farmers must also contend with the issue of radiation. Mars lacks Earth’s thick protective atmosphere, so particles from space reach its surface that would be damaging to both people and plants. Thus, some kind of shielding or mitigation will be necessary.

“To maintain the infrastructure is the expensive part to grow plants, coupled with the need for redundancy if something fails,” MacCallum said. In fact, so much mass must be launched from Earth to Mars to establish a Martian garden that if missions last less than 15 to 20 years, it might require less mass to simply send along food, he said.

Despite the challenges, though, scientists said farming on Mars will eventually be achieved.

“Every great migration in history happened because we took our agriculture with us,” Ferl said. “When you learn to take your plants with you, you can not only go to visit, you can go there to stay and live.”

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