All this may seem like a stretch for a social networking company. But it’s a necessary part of Zuckerberg’s efforts to bring the net to the vast parts of the world that still don’t have it — an effort known as Internet.org that makes an awful lot of sense for a company whose continued expansion depends on the continued expansion of the net. And though the general public may not realize it, Facebook has a long history with building new hardware that can advance its cause. The company declined to comment on the lab, but it confirms that the lab will be run by Yael Maguire, the former MIT Media Lab researcher who played a big role in the Open Compute Project, Facebook’s effort to build a more efficient breed of computer servers and data centers for driving its web and mobile services.
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Revealed this afternoon by the Facebook CEO and founder, it’s known as the Facebook Connectivity Lab. According to Zuckerberg, the lab’s engineering staff already spans “many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology,” including researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA’s Ames Research Center, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. And the company is now adding engineers from a British company called Ascenta, an outfit that helped create the world’s longest solar-powered unmanned aircraft.
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