New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

July 24, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have assumed that the interior of the Moon is dry. However, a new study of satellite data has located numerous volcanic deposits around the moon – which could indicate large quantities of water trapped beneath its surface. The study, published in Nature Geoscience , explains that the ancient deposits are believed to be glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma from the deep lunar interior. As a result of this discovery, scientists are formulating a new opinion that the lunar mantle is actually water-rich. The study was led by Ralph Milliken, an associate professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences . He said of the findings, “The key question is whether those Apollo samples represent the bulk conditions of the lunar interior or instead represent unusual or perhaps anomalous water-rich regions within an otherwise ‘dry’ mantle. By looking at the orbital data, we can examine the large pyroclastic deposits on the Moon that were never sampled by the Apollo or Luna missions. The fact that nearly all of them exhibit signatures of water suggests that the Apollo samples are not anomalous, so it may be that the bulk interior of the Moon is wet.” To detect the water content of the lunar volcanic deposits , scientists used orbital spectrometers to measure the light that bounces off a planetary surface. After collecting that data, they took into account the wavelengths of light which are absorbed or reflected by the surface to get an idea of which minerals and other compounds may be found in the rock’s interior. One challenge was taking into account the rising surface temperatures over the course of a day. Using the new thermal correction, the scientists were able to find evidence of water in almost all of the pyroclastic deposits that had been previously mapped across the Moon’s surface. Such deposits include the Apollo 15 and 17 landing sites. “The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing,” said Milliken. “They’re spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn’t a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle .” Now that evidence has been obtained suggesting that the interior of the Moon is water-rich, theories about its formation are evolving. Scientists presently believe the moon formed from debris left behind after an object about the size of Mars slammed into the Earth early in the solar system’s history. However, the original theory assumes that the Moon’s interior was dry. “The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggest that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified,” said co-author Shuai Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii and a recent Brown Ph.D. graduate. “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question.” The finding has huge implications for future lunar exploration . The volcanic beads don’t contain a lot of water, but the deposits are large, meaning the H2O could be extracted. Said Li, “Anything that helps save future lunar explorers from having to bring lots of water from home is a big step forward, and our results suggest a new alternative.” + Nature Geoscience Via Phys Images via Depositphotos , Wikimedia , Pixabay

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New discovery suggests large quantities of water hidden inside the Moon

Saturn’s biggest moon has enough energy to power a US-sized space colony

July 13, 2017 by  
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Feeling like you’ve had enough of this planet? Saturn’s biggest moon , Titan, is an attractive option for a space colony, according to new research. Amanda Hendrix of the Planetary Science Institute and Yuk Yung of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) say the moon has enough energy sources to power a settlement the size of the United States. Saturn is home to 53 moons. But Titan, the largest, possesses its own atmosphere , which according to NASA is rare for a moon. It turns out Titan could also have an abundance of energy sources, according to Hendrix and Yung. They say there are options for solar power , wind power , hydropower , and nuclear power on the moon. They drew on the information we know about Titan and mathematics based on technologies we currently have on Earth. Related: Scientists Discover an Ocean of Water and Potential for Life on Saturn’s Moon The scientists said, “Once propulsion challenges are overcome, allowing humans to travel great distances quickly without incurring significant radiation damage, Saturn’s moon Titan is the optimal location in the solar system for an off-Earth human settlement.” Researchers know there are oceans of methane on Titan, which could offer a source of power or rocket fuel. Tidal power could also potentially energize some of the colony as experts have observed strong tides on the moon. In particular, an area called the Throat of Kraken, which John Hopkins University planetary scientist Ralph Lorenz likened to the Strait of Gibraltar, could be the perfect location for a settlement. Lorenz, who was not involved with the research, told New Scientist, “We’re pretty sure there’s a very strong flow of liquid back and forth every Titan day. If you want reliable power that you know is going to be accessible, that’s where I would go.” Hendrix and Yung did say they overlooked some details, because there’s still a lot we don’t know about Titan, but view their research as a first step. Their study was published in the Journal of Astrobiology and Outreach this week. Via ScienceAlert Images via Wikimedia Commons and NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS

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Rare bag of moon dust to be auctioned for millions of dollars

May 23, 2017 by  
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Souvenirs from humankind’s missions to the Moon are extremely rare; NASA usually holds on to moon rocks or moon dust instead of allowing private owners to keep them. But they couldn’t hold on to one bag of moon dust. The artifact – supposedly collected by astronaut Neil Armstrong – is the property of a Chicago lawyer, and now she plans to auction it off. After Armstrong took that historic leap for mankind on the Apollo 11 mission, he did what many of us would do – grabbed a space souvenir in the form of a handful of moon rocks placed in a bag, which he put into a second bag. That second outer bag then embarked on a journey of its own. When the bag was accidentally put up for auction, lawyer Nancy Lee Carlson obtained the bag in February 2015 for $995 on a federal auction website. Related: ESA 3D prints extraterrestrial bricks with concentrated sunlight and moondust Carlson kept the bag for a while and then decided to send it to NASA to see if it was really authentic. NASA said the bag did indeed have traces of the moon’s dark gray powder. But then the agency tried to confiscate the bag as the property of the government . Carlson fought the move and this year in February a judge decided she’d acquired the bag legally and could keep it. NASA put out a statement after the ruling: “This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public, which is where it was before all of these unfortunate events occurred.” Before going up for auction the bag belonged to Max Ary of the Kansas Cosmosphere museum; he was convicted of stealing such interstellar objects and putting them up for sale, and when several of his possessions were seized by the government, the moon bag was among them but was mixed up with another bag lacking the treasured dust. Now Carlson plans to auction the bag off once again on July 20, send some money to charity , and set up a scholarship at her alma mater, Northern Michigan University. Auctioneers think the bag could be sold for between two to four million dollars. Sotheby’s auction house curators think the bag of moon dust could be the only privately held object of this nature on Earth. Via the Chicago Tribune Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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ESA 3D prints extraterrestrial bricks with concentrated sunlight and moondust

May 4, 2017 by  
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The European Space Agency (ESA) is getting in on the 3D-printing fun with extraterrestrial materials. They used simulated lunar material and the sun’s heat to print bricks that are as strong as gypsum . Their project demonstrates how lunar explorers could one day use a similar method to construct Moon colonies. Future travelers to both the Moon and Mars could use locally-sourced materials to build habitats. Recently University of California, San Diego engineers funded by NASA were able to create super-strong bricks with simulated Mars dirt, and now ESA scientists have been able to use dust with similar composition and grain size as the material on the moon to 3D print bricks. Related: Scientists create super-strong bricks from Mars-like soil Materials engineer Advenit Makaya said they cooked successive layers of moondust 0.1 millimeters thick in a solar furnace at temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius – or 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. The team can finish a 7.9 by 3.9 by 1.1 inch brick in about five hours. The solar furnace is located at the DLR German Aerospace Center , a place you may be familiar with because they recently built the world’s largest artificial sun . The bricks will now go through extensive mechanical testing. They’re not perfect yet; for example, some have warped at their edges because the center cools slower than the edges. Advenit said they’re looking into ways to manage the warping, “but for now this project is a proof of concept, showing that such a lunar construction method is indeed feasible.” The European Union’s Horizon 2020 program will back a follow-up project, RegoLight , which aims to develop 3D printing technology to shape lunar regolith, or the “loose layer of dust, soil, and broken rocks on the Moon surface.” Advenit said the recent ESA project occurred in normal atmospheric conditions, but RegoLight will attempt to 3D print with moondust in the high temperature extremes and vacuum conditions you’d find on the Moon. Via the European Space Agency Images via ESA – G. Porter and ESA/Foster + Partners

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ESA 3D prints extraterrestrial bricks with concentrated sunlight and moondust

Indiana governor delivers blow to solar industry

May 4, 2017 by  
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The solar industry provides three times as many jobs in the state of Indiana as natural gas, but governor Eric Holcomb doesn’t seem to care. Despite Department of Energy statistics that show the industry’s potential benefits to his constituents, Holcomb just signed a bill reducing incentives for solar power , impacting both installers and customers. Holcomb signed Senate Bill 309 this week. It’s better than a previous variant, which would have treated homeowners as power plants and consumers simultaneously, requiring them to sell all of the power generated on their own rooftops at the wholesale rate, around four cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh), and then buy it back at the retail rate of about 11 cents per kwh. That version didn’t go through; but the new bill hits net metering , or the opportunity for homeowners to sell excess energy at the retail rate in Indiana. Now they can only sell it at just above the wholesale rate. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. That’s not all. Utilities can now charge those homeowners with rooftop solar an extra fee for “energy delivery costs.” Some people think the bill’s ambiguous language also ends net metering entirely for people obtaining power from community solar, or those leasing their panels. People who get rooftop solar installed after 2022 won’t be able to benefit from net metering at all; neither will those people who replace or expand the system they have now after 2017. The public were against the bill, according to Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda who said, “Ask Republicans , ‘What kind of feedback are you getting from your constituents?’ They’ll tell us that they have gotten dozens and dozens of calls opposing the bill, but zero supporting the bill.” Solar installer Paul Steury of Indiana-based Photon Electric said the law could hurt sales since it’s stripped away incentives. He said he knows many representatives who didn’t listen to the people. Indiana rooftop solar owner Lanette Erby told Nexus Media, “We’re currently on an inverter with the electric company, but obviously if the net metering bill were to go through, we’d be purchasing battery backups. That’s where we’re at. The same kind of legislation killed the solar industry in a couple of other states…which is terrible because it’s creating so many jobs.” Via Nexus Media Images via Rectify Solar Facebook

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Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

May 4, 2017 by  
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Five international studios recently unveiled exciting plans to revitalize seven disused rail yards in Milan, Italy. MAD Architects , EMBT , Stefano Boeri Architects , Cino Zucchi Architetti and Mecanoo reimagined the brownfield sites as beautiful green spaces with social housing and green transportation systems. MAD Architects focused on incorporating sustainable mobility in their design. The team envisioned an entire ecosystem of cycle lanes, footpaths, and pedestrian-friendly spaces that connect different spatial concepts dedicated to different functions. Related: MAD offers up two design proposals for Lucas Museum: one for SF, one for LA Miralles Tagliabue EMBT designed a project named Miracoli a Milano (Miracles in Milan) that includes an area devoted to creativity, one that focuses on education, one dedicated to leisure and entertainment, and a zone for emerging, innovative start-up companies . Stefano Boeri Architects proposed an urban reforestation project for the city. The proposal would transform 90% of the site area into public lawns, woods, green spaces, and orchards interconnected by a sustainable mobility network. Related: UNESCO announces winning design for the Bamiyan Cultural Center in Afghanistan Dutch firm Mecanoo designed seven mobility hubs where trains, subway lines, trams and busses would meet and link to other local and regional hubs. Cino Zucchi Architetti designed a proposal that references the traditional Brolo wooded garden. They replicated the flexibility of this space and envisioned different sites as distinctive environments dominated by greenery. + MAD Architects + Miralles Tagliabue EMBT + Stefano Boeri Architects + Cino Zucchi Architetti + Mecanoo Via Dezeen

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Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

NASA unveils inflatable greenhouse for sustainable farming on Mars

April 27, 2017 by  
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A group of researchers from the University of Arizona, in collaboration with NASA scientists, have created an innovative inflatable greenhouse to help feed astronauts on other planets. The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse project would allow astronauts on deep space missions access to healthy, fresh food year-round. The greenhouse is made of an inflatable material and functions as a closed loop, integrated with the astronaut’s life support systems. The carbon dioxide released by the astronauts is used to support the plants, which convert it into oxygen while also providing a source of food. Water to grow the plants would be brought along or gathered on site, depending on whether the site had ice or liquid water nearby. Then the water would be oxygenated and infused with nutrient salts, continuously slowing across the root zone of the plants. The entire process is designed to mimic the resources that plants would have access to on Earth, in order to give them the optimal conditions for growth. Research is still ongoing to determine which plants, seeds, and other materials would be most suitable for use on the moon or Mars . Related: Trump plans to strip NASA’s earth science division, promote mission to Mars The plants would need to be protected from the harsh radiation of space on a planet without Earth’s protective atmosphere, so the greenhouses would likely be buried under the ground for protection, and the plants would be fueled by special lighting instead of natural sunlight. Scientists have had success both with LED lighting and light concentrators that use fiber optic bundles to channel natural sunlight from the outside. While the current experiments with the greenhouse are taking place on Earth, astronauts on the International Space Station have been experimenting with the practical challenges of growing food in space. NASA’s Veggie Plant Growth System was the first American fresh-food growth experiment on the station back in 2014. + Prototype Lunar Greenhouse

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A mile-wide asteroid is flying uncomfortably close to Earth tomorrow

April 18, 2017 by  
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A mile-wide asteroid is about to swing by the Earth in the closest shave we’ve had in over a decade. Nicknamed ‘The Rock’ because of its massive size, the asteroid is barreling towards us at 75,072 mph – and it’ll fly past Earth at 4.6 times the distance of the moon. Scientists don’t know much about The Rock – it was only spotted 3 years ago – but we do know that it is twice as reflective as the moon, so you might be able to see it fly past on its way through the galaxy. Object 2014 J025 will fly 1,097,590 miles away from the earth tomorrow – and it won’t be this close again for at least another 400 years. We’ll be safe here on the ground, but it is also a pretty close shave – scientists call it “among the strongest asteroid radar targets of the year.” A large ~2 km asteroid, 143404 (2003 BD44), will pass safely by the Earth today (22 Lunar Distance) pic.twitter.com/X4pWnQyjo1 — Ron Baalke (@RonBaalke) April 18, 2017 Related: Scientists capture first ever image of dark matter web that connects galaxies The Rock should pass by around 8:24 am (Eastern). This will be the closest asteroid this size to pass by Earth since September 2004, when 4179 Toutatis passed within 4 lunar distances. While there isn’t any chance it will hit Earth, it is a startling reminder of how close space debris comes to smacking into the planet all the time. Via the Daily Mail images via NASA and Kevin Gill

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A mile-wide asteroid is flying uncomfortably close to Earth tomorrow

Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

March 30, 2017 by  
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The day when tourists venture to space could arrive sooner than we think. Blue Origin – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ‘ spaceflight company – just unveiled images of the interior of their New Shepard capsule that could transport travelers to outer space as soon as 2018. Blue Origin’s emphasis on tourism means the capsule is filled with large windows to allow stunning views of Earth. New Shepard could transport the first space tourists to just above the Kármán line, commonly considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. There they’ll float around weightless for a few minutes. Naturally windows are an all-important component of space tourism, and Blue Origin says on their website their capsule will have the biggest windows in the history of spaceflight . In an email, Bezos said, “Every seat’s a window seat, the largest windows ever in space.” Related: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the first to land a rocket intact upon return from space Inside reclining black seats featuring the Blue Origin feather logo hint at luxury aboard the New Shepard, which can seat six. The company draws on the romanticism surrounding astronauts as they describe the experience on their website, from communicating with Mission Control to earning astronaut wings. The reusable New Shepard rocket has successfully launched and landed five times to this point, but a person has not yet traveled in the capsule. The interior is quite a departure from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule interior – which has smaller windows – but The Verge pointed out while SpaceX’s primary target is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station , Blue Origin focuses on tourism. But Elon Musk did say recently two private citizens could travel around the moon in a Crew Dragon – also in 2018 – so it appears a new space race is on. After New Shepard’s booster and capsule separate, the capsule free falls for a few minutes before landing with the help of parachutes. The booster also returns to Earth courtesy of an autonomously controlled rocket-powered landing so both can be reused. A New Shepard capsule mockup will be on display at the 33rd Space Symposium from April 3 to 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. + Blue Origin Via The Verge Images via Blue Origin

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Blue Origin unveils interior images of capsule to transport tourists to outer space

Zaha Hadid’s Kushner tower reimagined as the Eye of Sauron

March 30, 2017 by  
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When the family of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and China’s Anbang Insurance Group announced plans to redevelop a Zaha Hadid -designed skyscraper at Manhattan’s 666 Fifth Avenue, just about everyone, from lawmakers to government ethicists, balked. Although the deal would have helped transform the Kushners’ struggling office-and-retail property into a 1,400-foot mixed-use tower with retail space, high-end condominiums, and an 11-story hotel, negotiations eventually buckled under public pressure. Still, we’ll always have the renderings—and the Photoshopped artwork, one of which reimagines the monolith-like edifice as Barad-dûr . Designed by Hadid before her death last year, the $7.5 billion project, renamed 660 Fifth Avenue, would have involved gutting the 60-year-old building to its steel bones and adding 40 or more floors. Anbang’s withdrawal from negotiations has thrown the future of the property into question, although a spokesman says that the Kushner Companies is in active discussions with other investors to keep the project on life support. @PeterGrantwsj Here's the final concept. pic.twitter.com/AOIe9YHH7F — Grok (@Groked) March 21, 2017 Related: Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza focuses on environmental sustainability Meanwhile, the Twittersphere has been having a field day with a rendering of the proposed citadel, with one adroit user Photoshopping it into the Tower of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings . Whether this is in reference to the Mark of the Beast, the Kushners’ Trump-adjacency, or the fact that the building is a mite four blocks south of Trump Tower , is up for debate. The Kushners purchased 666 Fifth Avenue on Jared’s birthday in January 2007 for $1.8 billion. Although Jared, who is married to First Daughter Ivanka Trump, divested his stake in the building after taking a job in the White House, he sold it to his family, raising not just concerns about Anbang’s links to the Chinese government but also conflicts of interest. In fact, five Democratic members of Congress wrote to a White House lawyer last week about the would-be deal, which they called “unusually favorable for the Kushners.” Anbang would have invested $400 million in the project, as well as taken out a $4 billion construction loan for renovations, according to reports. Via Artnet

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