Agtech start-up Plenty plans to grow hydroponic peaches

March 19, 2018 by  
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San Francisco -based start-up Plenty is expanding the possibilities of what can be grown on indoor farms, with its sights set on peaches. Plenty uses a hydroponic growing system, which feeds crops through a steady flow of nutrient-rich water, to grow high-quality, local produce. This kind of system is typically used to grow annual crops, not perennial trees like peaches. Nonetheless, Plenty’s success has the company confident that it can break new ground. “[Plenty’s kale] is nothing like the tough, bitter leaf we’re used to,” Plenty CEO  Matt Barnard proudly stated to Wired . “It’s sweet and velvety. People say we should find another name for it.” Plenty grows its crops indoors thanks to light supplies by LEDs and vertically-aligned growing spaces. This allows for greater crop density, which best serves the urban environment in which Plenty farms. In addition to its environmental benefits, Plenty’s local harvest tastes better too. “Right now, produce often has to travel 3,000 miles from the farm to consumer,” said Barnard, “which is why so many farms grow iceberg lettuce , which tastes of nothing. Our salads are spicy and citrusy and sweet at the same time. People are amazed they can eat it without salad dressing.” Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food The primary obstacle to greater success for operations like Plenty is cost. “Anyone can buy some shelves, some lights, irrigation,” said Barnard. “The challenge is to get your produce down from $40 per pound to $1. At the moment, for example, we have an expensive peach.” Plenty plans to incorporate data and machine learning capabilities into the system, so as to allow for algorithmic alterations based on plant needs. “Now we are having what I like to [call] a ‘Google moment,’” explained Barnard. “Just like Google benefited from the simultaneous combination of improved technology, better algorithms and masses of data, we are seeing the same.” Via Wired Images via Plenty and Depositphotos

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Agtech start-up Plenty plans to grow hydroponic peaches

Airbus wants to harpoon a satellite and bring it back to Earth

March 19, 2018 by  
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The aeronautics company Airbus is currently testing a three-foot harpoon they hope will catch the nonfunctional satellite Envisat and pull it back to Earth. This particular proposal may also address the rising problem of space debris. “If we can design a harpoon that can cope with Envisat, then it should be able to cope with all other types of spacecraft including the many rocket upper-stages that remain in orbit,” project engineer Alastair Wayman told the BBC . Prior to launch, the harpoons are being tested by being shot at high speeds into various materials that are used to build satellites. “The harpoon goes through these panels like a hot knife through butter ,” said Wayman. “Once the tip is inside, it has a set of barbs that open up and stop the harpoon from coming back out. We’d then de-tumble the satellite with a tether on the other end.” In the end, the ancient technology of the harpoon may prove more effective than robotic arms in space. “Many of these targets will be tumbling and if you were to use a robotic arm, say, that involves a lot of quite complex motions to follow your target,” explained Wayman.”Whereas, with the harpoon, all you have to do is sit a distance away, wait for the target to rotate underneath you, and at the right moment fire your harpoon. And because it’s a really quick event, it takes out a lot of the complexity.” Related: Space Scientists Develop Harpoon System to Capture Rogue Satellites and Clean up Space Junk Prior to its sudden death in 2012, Envisat, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), was the world’s largest civilian Earth observation satellite. The ESA hopes to bring it back home, starting with a scaled-down harpoon expedition known as the RemoveDEBRIS Mission. The RemoveDEBRIS demo satellite will bring its own debris into space, then attempt to catch it. This experiment will also test a net-based system. Via BBC Images via European Space Agency and  RemoveDEBRIS Mission

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Airbus wants to harpoon a satellite and bring it back to Earth

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