SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon

April 17, 2019 by  
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Just a few months ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) released designs for the first full-time human habitat on the lunar surface. Created in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the conceptual settlement — dubbed the “Moon Village” — outlines ways humans could live in an otherwise uninhabitable setting through self-sufficient means. Envisioned with a series of inflatable living modules, the Moon Village would not only harness resources for sustaining life and industrial activities, but would also be able to conduct research for sustaining life on terrestrial planets other than Earth. Because the Moon Village would harness sunlight for energy , the rim of Shackleton Crater near the South Pole has been selected as the project site, as it receives near continuous daylight throughout the lunar year. In situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiments would generate food and other life-sustaining elements, such as breathable air, which would be created from water extracted from the crater’s water-ice deposits near the South Pole. “The project presents a completely new challenge for the field of architectural design,” said SOM design partner Colin Koop. “The Moon Village must be able to sustain human life in an otherwise uninhabitable setting. We have to consider problems that no one would think about on Earth , like radiation protection, pressure differentials and how to provide breathable air.” Related: Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency The settlement would comprise clusters of inflatable pressurized modules that could easily expand to accommodate future growth and programmatic needs. Designed for self sufficiency, each three- to four-story modular unit would not only include living quarters and workspaces, but also environmental control and life support systems within a regolith-based protective shell resistant to extreme temperatures, projectiles, regolith dust and solar radiation. The settlement would allow mankind to conduct a more thorough exploration of the moon for research and development purposes and help pave the way to potential human settlements on Mars and beyond. + SOM Images via SOM

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SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon

Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

April 17, 2019 by  
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A new study published in Nature Communications reveals alarming amounts of microplastic particles in the air, even in the most remote, mountainous areas. News about microplastics throughout the ocean, soil and every marine mammal studied has been widely documented and publicized in recent years. ‘Microplastic’ was even called the “2018 word of the year” for its number of mentions by the news media. However, very few studies have researched the abundance of microplastics specifically in the air we breathe. In addition to the recently published research, two previous studies analyzed airborne microplastics in France and China. Those analyses from 2016 and 2017 revealed a steady rainfall of microplastics in the air — findings that are unfortunately further confirmed by the results of this most recent study. Related: Microplastics have made their way into human poop The authors counted 365 plastic particles falling per square meter, every day, with comparable results from Paris to isolated areas of the Pyrenees mountains. The researchers concluded that the amount of microplastics is correlated with the strength of the wind, but not necessarily with proximity to major urban areas or even villages. The fact that plastic particles are found so far from urban areas and direct sources of pollution indicates that the world’s plastic crisis is not a localized issue, but a global problem that affects everyone, regardless of their location or sustainable habits. The new findings are a major public health concern. The vast majority of the plastic particles identified were polystyrene and polyethylene — toxic materials often used in single-use packaging and plastic bags. Microplastics have also been found in human lung tissue, but scientists are still unsure of exactly what impacts this could have on long-term human health. “When you get down to respiratory size particles, we don’t know what those do,” research team member Deonie Allen told The Guardian . “That is a really big unknown.” + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo

February 6, 2019 by  
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The beauty world can be a complicated place, especially if you’re looking to ditch products with intimidating lists of ingredients and make the switch toward eco-friendly makeup and skincare. The return of the Indie Beauty Expo brought hundreds of independent retailers from around the world to showcase their amazing, one-of-a-kind products in the heart of Los Angeles . This year, our team of editors attended the IBE in Los Angeles and scouted the best beauty products from independent retailers that don’t compromise quality ingredients for their carbon footprint . Here are some of our favorite brands from IBELA. Little Moon Essentials The body care by Little Moon Essentials is “made by the phases of the moon” in Colorado. We love to spray the energizing mist at our desks when the climate news becomes too much to bear, and we enjoy the fun scent names (like Tired Old Ass). Kind Lips We always keep lip balm on hand, and our current go-to is Kind Lips . Not only are these hydrating and kind to the planet; the company also donates 20 percent of profits go toward anti-bullying organizations. Love Sun Body This is the world’s first sunscreen made using 100 percent natural ingredients. It is, of course, reef-safe and effective in protecting your skin from sun damage. Lunette Menstrual cups can be intimidating, but Lunette offers soft cups that hold for 12 hours and do not leak. Bare Me We love Bare Me’s reusable, dry sheet masks in a nod to waterless beauty. Plus, the packaging and masks can be recycled thanks to TerraCycle . Dirt Don’t Hurt From charcoal tooth scrubs and gum cleansing oils to a charcoal-based bath powder designed to soothe and relax, Dirt Don’t Hurt caught our attention with its natural products. Nature Lab Tokyo If you’re looking to really volumize your hair, try the clean, vegan hair products by Nature Lab Tokyo . As a lab, it has an array of specific formulas to fit your needs. IGXO IGXO prides itself on PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. Lipsticks are the star of the show, and we were highly impressed with their staying power and non-drying formulas. Lalicious Lalicious’ line of natural , cruelty-free body washes, scrubs and lotions are truly delightful. We instantly fell in love with the velour body melt, which made our skin softer than ever before. Pure Mana Hawaii With products plucked right from the owners’ beautiful farm in Hawaii , these serums and body oils will transport you straight to paradise. Speak We love Speak’s natural, vegan, cruelty-free skincare, especially the cream deodorant and the cleansing powder, which smells exactly like our morning oatmeal. KIND-LY These Australian-based natural deodorants are vegan and cruelty-free , and guarantee your pits will be free of aluminum, parabens, alcohol and other nasties. KIND-LY also offers an armpit detox for the transition to natural deodorants. Sway Sway offers natural deodorant, an armpit detox and skincare that is good for you and the planet. Founder Rebecca So just launched skincare at the event, and we are raving over everything: toners, moisturizers, serums and all. Atar Atar offers luxurious, cruelty-free and vegan hair care products made from natural ingredients. Our hair has never been softer. Hum Hum’s products promote beauty from within as they are meant to treat blemishes, acne, dry skin, hair and nails. The best part? All supplements are gluten-free, non-GMO and sustainably sourced. Lather From the bamboo lemongrass scrub to the hand therapy cream to the muscle ease, we loved Lather’s eco-friendly products approved by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Plus, Lather is a carbon-neutral business and uses green packaging. Herbal Dynamics Beauty This plant-based beauty brand embraces nature with every product. Try the refreshing rose water face toner, which applies like a mist, or the overnight recover mask, which will leave the fragile skin on your face softer than ever. PYT Beauty This is beauty without the BS (bad stuff) . We were pleasantly surprised with the intense pigmentation of this natural cosmetics brand — we highly recommend the highlighters and lip duos! Spinster Sisters Co Spinster Sisters offers pure ingredients and reusable and recyclable packaging: we’re talking glass jars and plant-based plastics. milk + honey We love milk + honey’s plant-based, organic skincare, especially the products in scent profile No. 16, which blends pink grapefruit, bergamot and cardamom. *hype We’re obsessing over *hype , a line of plant-based nail polishes in a wide variety of colors. Even after several days, our nails have minimal chipping. Olive + M Olive + M’s skincare products are made using an olive oil base and U.S.-sourced ingredients. Each product repairs and protects skin from sun exposure, air pollution and other common problems. Northlore We fell in love with Northlore , as all its products are completely eco-friendly, from packaging to ingredients and even shipping. The glacier salt soak is all the rave for its detoxing and skin nourishing properties. + Indie Beauty Expo Images via Inhabitat

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These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo

Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

January 18, 2019 by  
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China has taken a major step toward long-term space exploration. Earlier this month, the Chinese moon probe Chang’e 4 carried a container with cotton, mustard and potato seeds , yeast and fruit fly eggs to the moon’s far side (facing away from Earth), and early this week, the China National Space Administration said that those seeds started to sprout. Unfortunately, temperatures dropped and killed the plants. According to the BBC , the project was designed by 28 Chinese universities, and the experiment was contained within a canister 7 inches tall and weighing about 6.5 pounds. It was designed to test photosynthesis and respiration, which are processes that produce energy . For the first time ever seeds 🌱 are growing on the moon 🌑! China’s moon mission success means that astronauts 👩‍🚀👨‍🚀could potentially harvest their own food in space! Learn more 👉 https://t.co/S6dOB3p2Ym via @BBCNews #ZeroHunger #FutureofFood pic.twitter.com/TNssZBLG0R — FAO (@FAO) January 15, 2019 The plants  were in a sealed container on the lunar lander, and the hope was that the crops would form a mini-biosphere. Inside the container, the organisms had a supply of air, water and nutrients to help them grow. The scientists said that keeping it at the right temperature was a challenge, because of the wild temperature swings on the moon , which ultimately killed the first sprout. If the experiment worked, astronauts could potentially begin to harvest their own food in space. That would be incredibly useful for long-term space missions, because they wouldn’t have to return to Earth to resupply. Although the sprout died, the experiment is a move toward this goal. Related: China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’ But could these experiments contaminate the moon ? Generally, scientists don’t believe this is something we need to worry about, especially because there have been containers of human waste on the moon for 50 years thanks to the Apollo astronauts. The consensus among experts is that the sprout was “good news.” Fred Watson, astronomer-at-large at the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said that it could be a positive development for future space exploration. “It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment,” Watson said. “I think there’s certainly a great deal of interest in using the moon as a staging post, particularly for flights to Mars , because it’s relatively near the Earth.” Via BBC and The Guardian Image via Jeremy Bishop

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Seeds on the moon started to sprout for the first time but quickly died

China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’

October 29, 2018 by  
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A private aerospace institute in China has announced its ambitious plan to launch an “artificial moon” into stationary orbit above the city of Chengdu. Referred to as an “illumination satellite,” the new moon would serve as a sunlight reflector to provide a nighttime and backup light source for residents in the Sichuan province city. The venture — still obscure due to a lack of information — was first reported by Chinese newspaper People’s Daily in mid October. Since then, there have been many conflicting reports and figures on how the new moon would operate — or if it even could. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd. and head of Tianfu New District System Science Research Institute, said the artificial moon has been under development and testing for a few years and “is now nearly ready to launch.” Related: California plans to launch its own satellite to monitor air pollution There have been no accounts of what the stunt-double moon actually looks like or if it has any official support from the government or financial backers. Both experts and the general public have expressed widespread skepticism and even ridicule at the announcement. If the 2020 project does succeed, Wu claimed that two additional moons could be ready for orbit by 2022. “By then, the three huge mirrors will divide the 360-degree orbital plane, realizing illuminating an area for 24 hours continuously,” he said. The project aims to help Chengdu save money and electricity on street lamps and provide a reliable light source during blackouts caused by natural disasters and grid malfunctions. According to the aerospace center’s figures, a whopping $173 million ($1.2 billion yuan) could be saved on streetlights yearly for illuminating even a small portion of 19 square miles (50 sq km). The cost of illuminating the whole city? Well, in the long run, it’s certainly less than putting a moon in space, according to Wu. Dr. Matteo Ceriotti, a professor of space systems engineering, said the project is feasible and not as silly as it sounds. “Think of this as sort of an investment,” he explained to BBC . “ Electricity at night is very expensive, so if you could say, have free illumination for up to 15 years, it might work out better economically in the long term.” Recent social media backlash against the Chengdu moon has centered around the issue of animal protection. While Harbin Institute of Technology Director Kang Weimin insists that the fake moon “should not affect animals’ routines,” because its light would be similar to a “dusk-like glow,” other scientists disagree. Despite his agreeable response to the project, Ceriotti said, “It will disrupt the night cycle of nature [if the light is too strong], and this could possibly affect animals.” Wu insisted that the aerospace company’s technology could dim and brighten the moon. The light, which has the ability to reflect a beam “eight times” brighter than the moon, could also be timed. All in all, the few and contradicting details surrounding the project makes it uncertain whether the new moon will launch successfully in 2020. While experts debate whether or not it should be launched in the first place, those in Chengdu are probably looking upward, wondering whether or not they’ll miss this night sky — one that might never look the same again. Via BBC , China Daily  and  People’s Daily Images via Spencer Arquimedes and Mike Petrucci

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China plans to launch the world’s first ‘artificial moon’

A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

October 29, 2018 by  
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Tiny homes come in many shapes and sizes, but for a wandering family of three, the Valhalla tiny home is just the right fit. Built by French tiny home builder  Baluchon , this wood-clad tiny home on wheels is a lightweight structure that measures just under 20 feet long; however, a stunning space-strategic interior, which includes two bedrooms, makes you forget all about its itsy-bitsy size. Clad in red cedar with white and teal accents, the Valhalla tiny home emits a modern cabin feel from the outside. Three porthole-style windows along with a series of clerestory windows on each side give the design a contemporary edge and brighten the interior naturally. To create an energy-efficient shell, the home is insulated with sustainable materials such as sheep’s wool for the floor, cotton, linen and hemp in the walls and wood fiber in the ceiling. Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes The interior is clad in light spruce panels, which help to make the compact space feel larger. The front door opens to the fully-equipped kitchen area complete with custom cabinets, a fridge, a sink and a two-burner propane stove. On the adjacent wall, a narrow desk serves as a work or dining space. The master bedroom, which has enough space for a a double bed, is located on a sleeping loft reached by a set of floating stairs above the desk. On the other side of the home, another elevated platform houses the living room. Underneath the living area on the ground floor, a small room is located right next to the kitchen. Separated from the communal space by curtains, this compact area is well-lit and perfect for a child’s room, guest quarters or extra storage. + Baluchon Via Tiny House Talk Photography by Vincent Bouhours via Baluchon

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A family’s unique tiny home uses wool and hemp for insulation

Humans have already dumped 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon

January 31, 2018 by  
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Pollution isn’t just Earth’s problem anymore. Despite not having established a permanent lunar residency, humans have already managed to dump 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon . Much of this debris has been left behind over the twelve trips by humans to the lunar surface. Earthbound scientists figured out long ago that bringing the lunar visitors home would be cheaper and simpler if as much equipment as possible were left behind. Add in debris accumulated over unmanned missions and we have ourselves something of a lunar junkyard orbiting overhead. It’s important to remember that the trash we have left behind on the Moon does not exist in a vacuum. There is an enormous amount of space waste floating around our planet. Over 21,000 pieces of trash, from spacecraft fragments to disabled satellites, orbit the Earth. Most of the Moon’s trash was the result of crashed spacecraft , of which there are over 70. The remainder of the debris is a mish-mash oddly documenting humanity’s short lunar tenure. Because it is easier to return to Earth with as little weight as possible, each moon landing has permanently dropped a 22,700-pound Lunar Lander on the surface, as well as other modules, craft, or miscellaneous materials associated with that particular mission. Waste from low-gravity golf games as well as literal human waste (all 96 bags of it) litter the Moon’s face. Related: Super blue blood moon eclipse to occur next week for the first time in 150 years To be fair, we haven’t left only waste. A small aluminum memorial left by the crew of Apollo 15 to honor fallen astronauts stands on the silent lunar landscape. The feather dropped in Apollo 15’s “hammer-feather drop” experiment also remains. Even though the Apollo 1 mission never made it to the Moon, as it was shut down prematurely after three astronauts were killed during a training exercise, a patch from the unlaunched mission found its way to the lunar surface too. Via Gizmodo and the Atlantic Images via NASA (1)

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Humans have already dumped 400,000 pounds of trash on the Moon

NASA is returning to the Moon – but they don’t know how

January 9, 2018 by  
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NASA is returning to the Moon . President Donald Trump signed a directive in December to “refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery” using the Moon as something of a first step before a mission to Mars . But not everyone is pleased with the idea – and the space agency doesn’t know how they’ll go back. How will NASA return to the Moon? When will they go? How much will it cost? These are questions that are as of yet unanswered. The Washington Post spoke with acting administrator Robert Lightfoot, who said the agency would partner with other countries, but didn’t specify which ones. He also said the effort would be a public-private partnership, but didn’t name any companies. The Washington Post said he offered “no specifics about the architecture of a moon program;” he told them, “We have no idea yet.” Related: Trump signs directive to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars The president’s yearly budget request to Congress could bring more details to light, according to Lightfoot. As for now many specifics are open to speculation – and the agency still doesn’t have a permanent administrator, just another top science position still unfilled in Trump’s administration, according to The Washington Post. Trump nominated United States Representative Jim Bridenstine, a Republican of Oklahoma, in September, but Florida’s two senators Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson criticized the choice. Some people say the top position in NASA – which has received bipartisan support for years – shouldn’t be handed to a politician. Other people expressed frustration the agency’s direction has been changed once again – the third time in this century. Former astronaut Scott Kelly told The Washington Post, “We’re always asked to change directions every time we get a new president, and that just causes you to do negative work, work that doesn’t matter. I just hope someday we’ll have a president that will say, ‘You know what, we’ll just leave NASA on the course they are on, and see what NASA can achieve if we untie their hands.” Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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NASA is returning to the Moon – but they don’t know how

Trump signs directive to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

December 12, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s administration has made overtures about sending American astronauts back to the Moon . Yesterday, he signed Space Policy Directive 1, calling for a United States-led program with private sector partners to do just that, and then send humans to Mars . Harrison Schmitt, the most recent living human to walk on Earth’s satellite, was present at the signing, which happened 45 years to the minute after he landed on the Moon. Space Policy Directive 1 says the NASA administrator should “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” The policy halts NASA’s current work to send astronauts to an asteroid . Related: Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon Trump said, “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972…This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints – we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.” In their statement on the directive, the White House said Trump is refocusing the space program on feasible goals. They also said the country isn’t the accepted leader in human space exploration any longer, but “should be a leader in space.” The White House aims to send astronauts to space aboard American-made rockets in upcoming years, and said American companies will provide rockets and engines to the Pentagon for national security payloads. The policy was inspired by a unanimous recommendation from the National Space Council , which the White House says Trump revived after 24 years. Vice President Mike Pence chairs the council. Via NASA and The White House Images via NASA/Aubrey Gemignani and NASA HQ PHOTO on Flickr

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Trump signs directive to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars

Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

December 7, 2017 by  
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Walking the streets of Montreal , Canada, you’d probably never guess a cave system lurked 10 meters below. But that’s exactly what two speleologists, or cave experts, recently discovered. Daniel Caron and Luc Le Blanc found a 15,000-year-old network of caverns that might have formed as glaciers receded during Earth’s last Ice Age . They think it’s possible that no person had ever set foot inside these caves until now. Back in 1812, the Saint Léonard cave beneath Pie-XII Park was discovered. But cave experts wondered if there was more. Caron and Le Blanc, both amateur explorers, found a vast network in October after drilling through the limestone walls of the existing cave to expose a spacious chamber which branches off into several passages winding beneath the Saint-Leonard borough. Related: Magical New Zealand cave is illuminated by luminescent glowworms The cave system could have formed as pressure from colossal glaciers split the rock . The explorers uncovered between 250 and 500 meters (820 to 1,640 feet) of caves, according to The Canadian Press , although they think the actual dimensions are even longer. The furthest reaches extend to the Montreal water table, Caron said. Rock climbing equipment is necessary to explore some passages, and some may need more rock-breaking for a team to go inside. The team was stopped by water and could only partially explore one of the passages via an inflatable raft, but they aim to explore more in the dry season when the water level hopefully lowers. As the explorers only reached the system by drilling, they think it’s likely no other human beings have ever walked inside these caves. Caron said every caver’s dream is to find a place no one’s been before. He told The Canadian Press, “Normally you have to go to the moon to find that kind of thing.” Via National Geographic and The Canadian Press

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Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

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