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Why SpaceX bought Swarm Technologies

Plus: Toyota has made the everlasting gobstopper of cars.

Global satellite communications. Conceptual representation of a global network of communications sat...

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, August 10, 2021. I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief for Inverse. I’m back after a brief vacation, which taught me to respect a proper bedtime once again. Let’s jump into four essential science and innovation stories from our team...

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, August 10, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox. ✉️

Elon Musk, the chief engineer of SpaceX, speaking about the Starlink project at the hybrid keynote during the second day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) on June 29, 2021, in Barcelona.

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SpaceX’s new acquisition Mike Brown reports SpaceX has acquired Swarm Technologies, which it claims are the smallest commercially operated satellites in space:

SpaceX is making big moves with small satellites.

On Monday, CNBC announced the spaceflight firm is acquiring Swarm Technologies. The California-based firm claims to have “the smallest commercially operational satellites in space,” with each similar in size to a small book.

The acquisition, noted by CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz following a Federal Communications Commission filing, is its latest move in its growing satellite operations.

It’s unclear at this stage what SpaceX plans to do with Swarm, but it comes as the firm works to build out its Starlink constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit. SpaceX plans to use up to 42,000 satellites to offer high-speed and low-latency internet access almost anywhere with a view of the sky.

Read the full story.

Learn more:


An “invisible” exercise Sophie Putka reports on NEAT, an important but overlooked portion of overall physical activity. It is increasingly linked to most aspects of health and longevity:

Lugging clothes to a laundromat, missing the bus and having to walk, or rushing from room to room tidying up before having people over for dinner aren’t typically fuel for a humblebrag.

However, it’s time to give yourself some credit. They have one important thing in common with the cycling trip or the marathon you’d tell your friends about: they’re exercise.

There’s actually a name for this kind of undercover physical activity: non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. It’s a broad category that includes everything from walking the dog to shopping for groceries, doing the dishes, and reorganizing the closet.

As one study explains, “activities that create movement will enhance caloric expenditure.”

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Learn more:

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The secret to life on Earth Tara Yarlagadda reports on a big question: Could volcanoes be responsible for creating the conditions for life on Earth to flourish?

These arid mineral-rich lands support Australia’s mining and crude oil industries, but they also reveal remarkable geological secrets about ancient Earth long before humans roamed the planet.

According to research released on Monday, the Pilbara Craton — one of the few crusts remaining on Earth from the Archaean era 2.7 to 3.6 billion years ago — could help us understand the emergence of Earth’s most essential ingredient for life: oxygen.

Read the full story.

More science about our past:

Toyota/Inverse photo illustration

The everlasting gobstopper of cars The Toyota Mirai is a hydrogen-powered car that is only available in a few counties in California, and that's just the beginning. But is this the future? Jordan Golson reports back after a week in this hydro-car:

It’s one of the strangest cars I've ever driven.

A cerulean luxury sedan, it feels like it rolled out of Willy Wonka’s fantastical factory — and not a boring Toyota manufacturing plant.

It's the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, and it might be the future, or it might be a research project that will ultimately prove too weird for the public. It's the everlasting gobstopper of cars. While it’s too soon to know its future, the years ahead could be bright.

As a car, the Mirai is lovely. It's built on the same platform as the Lexus LS, and it's comfortable, roomy, quiet, and luxurious. And with a $67,420 price tag, that all makes sense.

Read the full story.

More on the future of transportation:

August 10 each year is World Lion Day.

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