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

Chinese space station could plummet back to Earth in March

January 4, 2018 by  
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China lost control of their first space station Tiangong-1 in 2016 – and now pieces of it could come crashing back down to Earth. Research organization Aerospace Corporation recently predicted the station could re-enter our planet’s atmosphere sometime around the middle of March. Around 2,000 to 8,000 pounds of the almost 19,000-pound station could hit the surface. Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, was the first station China built and launched. They sent it to space in 2011, and two manned missions to the station were completed. Tiangong-1 wasn’t supposed to last much past 2013, but China decided to lengthen its lifespan. Then they lost control in 2016. The station’s orbit has been gradually degrading, so its re-entry will ultimately be uncontrolled, according to The Verge . Related: ESA unveils magnetic space tug to corral broken satellites drifting in space All this may sound like really bad news. And it’s true that thousands of pounds of Tiangong-1 could make it back to Earth. But multiple space agencies have been tracking the station, and think it may crash down between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South latitude – a region largely covered in ocean. Most of the land in that area is also unpopulated. In the Aerospace Corporation’s map shown above, there’s a zero probability of trash re-entry in blue areas; green areas have lower probability and yellow areas have a higher probability. But the organization said, “When considering the worse-case location (yellow regions of the map) the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.” This also won’t be the first time an object as big as Tiangong-1 – or even larger – has made an uncontrolled re-entry. Phobos-Grunt, an almost 30,000-pound Russian spacecraft intended for a trip to Mars failed and plummeted to Earth in 2012. And NASA’s almost 160,000-pound Skylab, their old space station, also made an uncontrolled re-entry, according to The Verge. Humanity has been launching rockets for around 50 years – and a single person is known to have perhaps been struck by space trash in all that time. In 1997, Lottie Williams was taking a walk in Tulsa, Oklahoma when metal fragment hit her shoulder , and according to Wired, NASA confirmed the time and place were consistent with the re-entry of a second-stage Delta rocket – although the shard wasn’t ever positively identified, and Williams wasn’t injured. Via The Verge , Business Insider , and Aerospace Corporation Images via CMSE via Phys.org , Aerospace Corporation , and copyright ESA – D. Ducros

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Chinese space station could plummet back to Earth in March

Japan successfully orbits giant space junk collector

December 12, 2016 by  
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Around 100 million pieces of trash cast off from satellites and rockets are circulating in space, causing hundreds of potentially dangerous collisions each year. Now Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) just blasted into orbit a space garbage collector, constructed with the help of a 106-year-old fishing net manufacturer, to help remedy the mess we humans have created. Secure aboard the HTV6 or KOUNOTORI6 vessel, the space trash collector reached its destination successfully Friday. Now the world waits to see just how well the garbage gatherer works. Made of an aluminum and stainless steel mesh with the help of fishing net manufacturer Nitto Seimo , the gatherer’s tether should generate electricity as it passes Earth’s magnetic field to slow junk. Scientists think this action will cause the junk to move into lower orbits so it can burn up in our planet’s atmosphere without harming anyone on Earth. Related: Japan Prepares to Launch Giant Net into Orbit to Sweep up Space Debris The tether made with Nitto Seimo’s fishnet plaiting technology is 2,300 feet long. But engineer Katsuya Suzuki said ultimately such a tether would need to be much longer – as much as 16,400 to 32,800 feet long – “to slow down the targeted space junk.” For now, the shorter tether will test how the design functions, with more trials likely to follow. A JAXA spokesperson said they hope to start regularly using the trash collector by 2025. Garbage can rocket through space at as much as 17,500 miles per hour, damaging expensive equipment and putting astronauts at risk, as harrowingly depicted in the 2013 movie Gravity . JAXA researcher Koichi Inoue told Bloomberg, “We need to take action on this massive amount of debris. People haven’t been injured by the debris yet, but satellites have. We have to act.” The cargo ship carrying the innovative trash collector also ferried drinking water and six lithium-ion batteries to replace nickel-hydrogen batteries that currently store energy from the International Space Station’s solar array. Via Phys.org and Bloomberg Images via JAXA ( 1 , 2 )

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Trump launches "witch hunt" for government employees who worked on climate change policy

December 12, 2016 by  
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At the same time Donald Trump was taking meetings with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio , the president-elect was selecting a climate change skeptic and fossil fuels industry ally to head the Environmental Protection Agency. But perhaps the most disturbing action of the Trump transition so far took place at the Department of Energy, where a questionnaire was distributed to agency officials asking them to name employees and contractors who have participated in United Nations climate talks over the past five years. “I am alarmed by the questionnaire sent by the Trump transition team to the Department of Energy seeking the names of career civil servants who have worked on climate change policy,” House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement . “This raises serious concerns as to the motivation of such a request and raises questions of possible retribution for following President Obama’s policies.” Related: 22 Nobel Prize winners tell Trump that science must play a “critical role” in US policy Another one of the 74 questions asked which staffers worked on calculating the Social Cost of Carbon , a measurement that the DOE and other federal departments and agencies use to weigh the climate change benefits and costs of regulations. The government determined the price of carbon pollution at $36 a ton. Question 29 asked which DOE programs are involved in implementing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, an initiative that Trump has threatened to cancel upon taking office . The survey also targeted the department’s Energy Information Administration, challenging the independence of its statistical analysis during the Obama Administration and questioning if EIA unfairly favored renewables over fossil fuels. With Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, calling the questionnaire a “witch hunt” and “environmental McCarthyism,” it is becoming clear that a Trump Administration will not be guided by science but instead by what is good for the Koch brothers , ExxonMobil and other dirty energy companies. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump was completely dismissive of the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation are contributing to global warming, saying that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real. Via Politico Lead image via Wikimedia , other image via Wikimedia

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Trump launches "witch hunt" for government employees who worked on climate change policy

Critics are fuming over potentially toxic Russian rocket about to crash in the Arctic

June 2, 2016 by  
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Parts of a Russian rocket are expected to crash in Canadian Arctic waters this weekend. The rocket will be launching a satellite under Russia’s Rokot program, and its debris may still contain hydrazine, a toxic fuel, when it makes its descent back down from space. It is unclear who will clean up the debris or what the environmental impact will be in a place that’s home to polar bears and whales , but critics are fuming. The rocket is a ballistic missile from the Cold War era. According to the Canadian Press service, only two countries in the world still use hydrazine, and Russia is one of them. Related: The Russians want to build an outpost on the moon Although Canada was warned about the launch, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Austin Jean said they should have been warned further in advance to address airspace safety and environmental concerns. Russian Embassy press secretary Kirill Kalinin said environmental concerns were “seriously taken into account.” University of British Columbia International Law professor Michael Byers said hydrazine has devastated the launch site most used by countries in Kazakhstan. He said we don’t know much about how hydrazine interacts with cold water, and that there should be an international ban on the fuel. It’s likely the debris will plummet into the North Water Polynya, an area rich with seals, narwhals, walruses, and beluga whales. Inuit people from Greenland and Canada hunt in the area. Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner Alex Speers-Roesch said , “The idea of dropping a missile full of toxic chemicals in the Arctic waters off Baffin Island is just as preposterous as drilling for oil there. Dumping these chemicals from a ship would be a clear violation of international and Canadian law, and it is no more acceptable when it is dumped from the air.” It’s not yet known how much hydrazine will be in the debris when it hits. Jean said the fuel could burn out completely as it re-enters the atmosphere. Byers said rockets often contain remaining propellant after onboard computers shut them down. Back in 2005, an American rocket released over two metric tons of fuel that was hydrazine-based near Newfoundland. Via The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Press on the Huffington Post and Cambridge Times Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Critics are fuming over potentially toxic Russian rocket about to crash in the Arctic

Turkey presents a huge ship made from 4 tons of reused materials in Venice

June 2, 2016 by  
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The large ship measures 30 meters (98 feet) and weighs four tons. It was built from more than 500 pieces of reused materials , including seven kilometers (4.6 miles) of steel cable, wooden moulds, discarded furniture , signboards and boats found on site. Related: Slovenia built a habitable structure with latticed wooden bookshelves The design, curated by Feride Çiçeko?lu, Mehmet Kütükçüo?lu and Ertu? Uçar, focuses on the concept of borders and ways in which these can be dissolved and transformed. After the Biennale closes next November, the structure will travel back to Istanbul, where it will become a centerpiece of a museum of arsenal. Via urdesign Photos by Cemal Emden

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Turkey presents a huge ship made from 4 tons of reused materials in Venice

Mysterious metal “space balls” found in Vietnam turned out to be space junk

January 11, 2016 by  
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After hearing what they thought was thunder, some Vietnam residents discovered three mysterious metal orbs ranging in size from just 9 ounces to 99 pounds. The spheres reportedly fell from the sky and two of them landed in residential neighborhoods, causing locals to run in fear. Government officials say they believe the strange round objects are actually space debris , and local residents can rest easy knowing the orbs are no longer dangerous to them. Read the rest of Mysterious metal “space balls” found in Vietnam turned out to be space junk

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Mysterious metal “space balls” found in Vietnam turned out to be space junk

Chinese scientists want to use a nuclear-powered vacuum to turn space junk into fuel

December 4, 2015 by  
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A team of Chinese researchers believes they have developed a solution to the problem of ‘space junk.’ Picture a giant space vacuum cleaner, not entirely unlike the one pictured in the 1987 classic film Spaceballs , that could capture errant space garbage and break it down into fuel. The resulting fuel would then be used to propel the cleaning craft so it could continue to collect more garbage. This is the latest in a series of attempts to clean up the smaller bits of discarded satellites, rocket parts, and other broken things floating around in space. Read the rest of Chinese scientists want to use a nuclear-powered vacuum to turn space junk into fuel

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Chinese scientists want to use a nuclear-powered vacuum to turn space junk into fuel

The Wide Open Heavens Aren’t So Open After All

June 12, 2014 by  
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Whether you saw the movie Gravity or not, you probably already know that space debris can be a big problem . But until you see a visual showing just how ridiculously packed the Earth’s atmosphere is, it is hard to understand how bad the problem has gotten. To provide you with that visual, the folks over at Orbital Objects have created an interactive globe of space pollution that might just blow your mind – or just make you want to invent a giant space vacuum cleaner. Read the rest of The Wide Open Heavens Aren’t So Open After All Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: inactive satellites , Orbital Objects , Orbital Objects map , Orbital Objects space debris , satellite debris , satellite pollution , space debris , space debris map , space debris pollution , space junk , space junk map , space pollution , space pollution map , tracked space junk

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The Wide Open Heavens Aren’t So Open After All

Japan Prepares to Launch Giant Net into Orbit to Sweep up Space Debris

January 16, 2014 by  
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In late February, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is teaming up with a fishing equipment company to test out an unusual approach to fighting space junk: a satellite equipped with a 300-meter magnetic net that will sweep up the man-made debris hovering in low-Earth orbit. Read the rest of Japan Prepares to Launch Giant Net into Orbit to Sweep up Space Debris Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: experimental technologies , Fishing Net , Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency , japanese policy , japanese space program , JAXA , near-earth orbit , orbital debris , space debris , space fishing net , space junk        

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