NASA is hiring a Planetary Protection Officer and the job pays six figures

August 3, 2017 by  
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If you grew up loving Men in Black and Independence Day , we may have found the gig for you. NASA is hiring a “planetary protection officer” to defend Earth from alien contamination, and the job comes with a six-figure salary. The individual chosen for the position will be tasked with ensuring humans in space do not contaminate planets and moons, as well as making sure “alien matter” does not infect Earth. All in all, the ideal candidate can expect to make $187,000 (£141,000) annually with benefits. The NASA job post reads: “Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic  space exploration .” It continues, “Nasa maintains policies for planetary protection, applicable to all space flight missions that may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies, and any mission employing spacecraft , which are intended to return to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extraterrestrial targets of exploration.” Related: NASA video of the aurora borealis from space will make you catch your breath The Independent reports that the three-year-position was created after the United States signed the Outer Space treaty of 1967. The document vowed to “pursue studies of outer space … and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter.” Some speculate that the new hire will be part of the upcoming NASA expedition to Europa , a moon of Jupiter. The $2.7bn (slightly over £2bn) mission seeks to map the moon’s surface and analyze whether or not it is habitable. The probe will probably crash-land, but the planetary protection officer will likely be prepared for such an arrival. Though the gig might be a dream job for many, only select individuals may apply. Candidates must have at least one year’s experience as a top-level civilian government employee, as well as an advanced degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics. They must also have “advanced knowledge” of planetary protection, which we assume NASA will supply. Furthermore, the position requires “demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions.” Finally, only US citizens or US nationals may apply. + NASA Job Post Via The Independent Images via Pixabay,  USA Jobs

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NASA is hiring a Planetary Protection Officer and the job pays six figures

Colorful tent cathedral in French village billows peacefully in the wind

August 3, 2017 by  
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British studio Neon has created a beautiful cathedral out of multi-colored windsocks that gently sway with the wind. The Tilted Wind Cathedral was built for an open-air art event in the French town of Massif du Sancy. The vibrant, billowy structure is located on a grassy hilltop overlooking the town, and it was built around the village’s beloved Perdue Cross, which marks the death of a local woman who passed away around 200 years ago. Neon installed the cathedral for Horizons – an open-air event that brings large art installations to the town during the summer months. The design studio created the structure with reverence for the site’s origins as well as its serene green-covered mountainous landscape. Related: 700 colorful mirrors bathe a 19th-century cathedral in gorgeous rainbow light Thirty colorful inflatable windsocks mimic the stained glass windows typically found in most cathedrals. The site’s blustery weather also served as an inspiration, prompting the designers to use inflatable panels that are constantly in motion, giving the impression that the cathedral is breathing. + Neon Via Dezeen

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Colorful tent cathedral in French village billows peacefully in the wind

Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

March 22, 2017 by  
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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law a new plan for NASA’s future . The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 calls for a $19.5 billion annual budget for the agency – not a major change from the agency’s $19.3 billion budget in 2016 – but the document seems to leave out the agency’s earth science division entirely. Trump claims this is simply a way of reaffirming the agency’s “core mission” of human space exploration, space science, and technology, but given how aggressively the new administration has gone after any agencies involved in atmospheric research, climate change denial is likely the underlying motive for the shift. Under the new act, Congressional Republicans have outlined a new roadmap for the agency’s future. The law calls on NASA to create a plan for humans to reach the surface of Mars by the 2030s, and to continue developing its Orion space capsule and its Space Launch System. The administration has also expressed a desire for NASA to return to the moon in the 2020s. Related: NASA releases startling new images showing 30 years of change on Earth What’s unclear is exactly how the new law will affect NASA’s earth science research. Trump’s proposed budget , however, may offer some clues. He hopes to cut the earth science budget by $102 million, potentially terminating a number of programs, including the   Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem  (PACE),  Orbital Carbon Observatory-3  (OCO-3),  Deep Space Climate Observatory  (DISCOVR), and  CLARREO Pathfinder missions. These four satellites help scientists monitor the Earth’s climate, weather, and oceans. While Trump may claim climate change is outside of the scope of NASA’s original research mission, that’s simply untrue. When NASA was formed in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act explicitly called on the new agency to contribute to the “expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere.” The loss of these resources would be devastating to the larger scientific world, which often relies on NASA data for research. Related: Gov. Jerry Brown pledges to launch California’s “own damn satellite” if Trump blocks climate research It’s still far too early to know what might happen: the funding requested would be for the 2018 fiscal year, so any cuts wouldn’t be felt immediately. The proposed budget also has to be reviewed and approved by Congress before anything is set in stone. Hopefully, lawmakers will see the value in maintaining some of these programs, even if Trump doesn’t. Via Business Insider Images via   NASA

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Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

Japan’s experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

February 7, 2017 by  
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An experimental effort to remove five decades worth of space junk orbiting Earth has met with failure due to technical problems. A Japanese team planned to use a 700-meter-long tether to coax floating debris to a lower orbit, where it would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. But something went amiss and the tether couldn’t be extended – despite the best efforts of technicians who tried to fix it. According to the Guardian , more than 100 million pieces waste of various sizes, including cast-off equipment from old satellites and bits of rockets, are currently floating around the Earth. Experts say this garbage could pose risks for future space exploration, or even provoke armed conflict one day. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) developed a giant electrodynamic “tether” which they hoped could slow space refuse and bring it into a lower orbit – where they hoped it could later enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. The plan was to extend the 700-meter-long tether, made from steel and aluminum wires, from a cargo ship launched in December to bring astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. However all did not go according to plan – “We believe the tether did not get released,” leading researcher Koichi Inoue told The Guardian. “It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives.” Related: Japan successfully orbits giant space junk collector The Guardian notes that JAXA has had some other disappointing results lately, including aborting a mission to use a mini-rocket to send a satellite into orbit a few weeks ago, and last year’s abandoned launch of a satellite designed to search for X-rays emanating from black holes and galaxy clusters. Via The Guardian Images via Jaxa and Wikimedia Commons

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China announces aim to be a major space power by 2030

December 29, 2016 by  
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China is making up for lost time in the space race. The China National Space Administration recently released a white paper outlining their ambitious plans for the next five years, which includes launching a Mars probe by 2020, enhancing their satellite systems, developing pollution-free medium-lift launch vehicles, and searching for extraterrestrial life. China’s space agency started in 1956, but they didn’t launch their first satellite until 1970, the year after the United States put a man on the moon. Yet China’s audacious goals for the next five years reveal the country’s revitalized dedication to exploring outer space. Related: China completes world’s largest radio telescope to search for alien life In the white paper preamble, the agency said, “The Chinese government takes the space industry as an important part of the nation’s overall development strategy, and adheres to the principle of exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes…In the next five years and beyond China will uphold the concepts of innovative, balanced, green, open, and shared development, and promote the comprehensive development of space science, space technology, and space applications, so as to contribute more to both serving national development and improving the well-being of mankind.” A 2020 Chinese Mars probe could execute what the agency refers to as orbiting and roving exploration. From there they hope to bring Mars samples back to Earth, explore asteroids, and explore Jupiter. In a press conference, agency deputy chief Wu Yanhua said, “Our overall goal is that, by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world.” Yanhua also spoke of cooperation with other countries’ space agencies, but don’t look for NASA on that list yet. The United States Congress hasn’t allowed NASA to work with China since 2011, citing concerns over national security. While American politicians have feared militarization, other international agencies, like the European Space Agency, are already collaborating with China . The country mentioned peace – either peaceful space exploration or contributing to world peace – 14 times in the English translation of the white paper. Via China National Space Administration and CNN Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes

December 29, 2016 by  
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An old potato barn doesn’t sound like an appealing place to live, but Eindhoven-based Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten managed to work their magic and transform those spaces into modern and stylish abodes for two families. Located in the rapidly developing Amsterdam Noord neighborhood, the pair of neighboring buildings were gutted and transformed with contemporary materials and furnishings; however, the architects preserved much of the open-plan layout and the industrial character. Although the two transformed potato barns sit side by side, they were built during different times. One barn was built using hybrid construction techniques in the Second World War, while the second barn was constructed in the 1960s using steel construction, wooden floors, and a concrete stone facade. Despite their differences, both homes were gutted, extensions removed, and revamped into airy loft-style living spaces that celebrate the original barn constructions , from the raw steel structures to existing timber boards. Related: Former factory site in rural Amsterdam to be reborn as a modern neighborhood In addition to housing for two families, the renovated barns also include a new in-house photo studio for the famous photography duo Scheltens & Abbenes who helped realize the modern finish of their house and studio interior. “In the arrangement of these spaces, the original constructions of the barns have remained visible,” write the architects. “Together with the new plastered cement screed floor, they define the basic character of these interiors. Furthermore, the finish is simple yet stylishly designed and realized, whereby the characteristics of a robust industrial past go hand in hand with a modernist interior of art and design fittings.” + Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten Via ArchDaily Images via Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten

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Old potato barns come back to life as a pair of modern and stylish homes

Finnish gaming company wraps new circular headquarters in solar panels

December 29, 2016 by  
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Finnish gaming company Paf has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by wrapping their circular new headquarters in solar panels . The building, designed in collaboration between architecture firm Murman Arkitekter , interior designer Bettina Ingves and Passive House expert Hans Eek, features an interior layout based on research into optimizing positive human interaction. The main aspects of the building, located in Mariehamn, capital of Åland in Finland, are its energy-saving potential and establishing a healthy work environment that encourages collaboration and increased productivity. Solar cells are integrated into the curved facade, minimizing heat loss . Laminated wood dominates the interior and creates a warm atmosphere for Paf’s 200 employees. Related: Brand New Aarhus Office Building Covered In A Wall Of Solar Panels “The building is designed to suit the variety of forms of collaboration that we need in a complex organization like ours,” said Anders Sims, Communications Director at Paf. “In our new office the workspaces are separated by glass walls to increase visibility. Research shows that people who see each other often tend to work better. This communal atmosphere is central to our work, as it is in all our operations and in Paf’s approach to our customers”. + Murman Arkitekter

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Ennead Architects break ground on celestial Shanghai Planetarium

November 18, 2016 by  
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Inspired by astronomical principles, the Shanghai Planetarium comprises three main forms: the Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere. All three components double as astronomical instruments tracking the sun, moon, and stars and communicate the changes to visitors through light patterns and views. Every visit to the planetarium will offer a different experience, depending on the time of day and year. Related: Ennead Architects unveil futuristic designs for spiraling Shanghai Planetarium “In linking the new Museum to both scientific purpose and to the celestial references of buildings throughout history, the exhibits and architecture will communicate more than scientific content: they will illuminate what it means to be human in a vast and largely unknown universe,” said Thomas Wong, lead designer of the building and Design Partner in Ennead Architects. The modern building is also a symbol of China’s future ambitions in space exploration. The Shanghai Planetarium is slated to open in 2020. + Ennead Architects Images via Ennead Architects

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Ennead Architects break ground on celestial Shanghai Planetarium

President Obama says we’ll be heading to Mars by the 2030s

October 11, 2016 by  
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President Barack Obama  is setting his sights towards  Mars . Recently, the president penned an opinion piece for CNN on the future of space exploration in America. In it, he talked of the scientific research he’s invested in during his presidency, and his belief that humans could reach the red planet “by the 2030s.” “I still have the same sense of wonder about our space program that I did as a child,” President Obama said. “It represents an essential part of our character – curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and doing it before anybody else.” Related: Leonardo DiCaprio could be headed to Mars with SpaceX President Obama recalled his vow “to return science to its rightful place” in his first presidential address. He detailed the accomplishments America’s space program has achieved since, such as finding water on Mars , taking some of the best images of Pluto ever, and finding Earth-like planets . He said only America can claim to have “flown by every planet in the solar system.” Even as such thrilling discoveries are made, the president said “the cost of space exploration” keeps going down for taxpayers. Linked to thriving space exploration is STEM education. According to President Obama, 100,000 engineers are now graduating each year “from American schools.” The president’s goal is to train 100,000 new quality STEM teachers in 10 years, and he said we are “on track” to reach that goal. President Obama referred to today’s students as “the Mars generation.” He said initially the goal will be to send humans to Mars and then return them to Earth, with a long term goal of astronauts remaining on Mars. He held out the hope he would witness that day with his grandchildren on his shoulders, as he once sat on his grandfather’s shoulders “waving a flag as our astronauts returned to Hawaii.” Via CNN Images via Daniel Borman on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Elon Musk reveals his big plan for colonizing Mars

September 27, 2016 by  
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SpaceX founder, lead designer, and chief executive  Elon Musk has talked a lot about Mars over the past few years, and today marks a culmination of everything he’s hinted at so far. This afternoon, the man behind wild ideas like the Hyperloop and solar roofs made an epic (and long-awaited ) announcement  revealing more details about his ambitious plans for colonizing the Red Planet . Musk warned months in advance that his plan would be “mind-blowing,” and he lived up to that promise today. Nearly 100,000 viewers around the world tuned in to the live stream of the event, for a never-before-seen look at simulations based on actual CAD designs for a Mars spaceship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1YxNYiyALg Musk made his announcement today at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico as promised. The announcement was broadcast simultaneously on SpaceX’s Facebook page and YouTube channel . His lecture, “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” focused on “making Mars seem possible” by with the establishment of a “self-sustaining city” on Mars. Despite its inhospitable environment, Musk insists Mars is the best candidate for supporting life, as opposed to Venus’ high-pressure atmosphere and Mercury’s close proximity to the sun. He further suggests Mars is the place to be, because a day on Mars is very similar to one on Earth, stretching 24.5 hours. Its atmosphere, he believes, would support plant life (not unlike we saw Matt Damon grow in “The Martian” ) which makes human civilization seem just a little more possible. Related: SpaceX retro travel posters make Mars look like the ultimate vacation destination As has been the case since the earliest murmurings of a SpaceX “city” on Mars , Musk says the effort will require intense participation (and a whole lot of funding) from industry, government and the scientific community here on Earth. So, how much will it cost future humans to move to Mars? Musk illustrated the estimated cost of a trip to Mars by revisiting the first Moon landing in present-day dollars, which breaks down to around $10 billion per person. He suggests targeting a “ticket to Mars” price around $200,000 per person, an affordable price point he says will be a “bit tricky” to reach, given the need to reduce the cost of interplanetary human travel by 50,000 times. Even so, he says he expects the ticket price to eventually drop below $100,000 after an initial base is setup and spacecraft reusability further brings down the cost of transportation. Musk’s big plan for establishing a human presence on the Red Planet without spending all the money in the world hinges on the development of a ginormous reusable rocket and a huge spaceship capable of carrying human passengers and all the necessary cargo for starting life on a new planet. Given the mixed results of SpaceX’s innovative  Falcon 9 rocket booster  so far in its short tenure, many are skeptical about the idea of ramping up rocket technology fast enough to meet Musk’s timeline. During his announcement today, Musk reiterated the importance of “full reusability” when it comes to colonizing Mars, in addition to refilling in orbit, generating fuel on Mars to use for rocket propellant, and ensuring that the right propellant is used considering all factors involved. Musk tweeted  yesterday (September 26), “SpaceX propulsion just achieved first firing of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine,” with two fiery photos attached as evidence. SpaceX also uploaded a video of the test to its YouTube channel. The company says this is the first stage of technology capable of launching a trip to Mars, with cargo and people in tow. Today, Musk said the design for the Mars spaceship calls for 42 Raptor engines, which provides the immense power necessary for the trip, as well as some redundancy in the event that an engine or two happens to fail. The biggest question, still pressing in just about everyone’s mind, actually has less to do with how humans will reach Mars and more to do with when . SpaceX announced plans earlier this year to send an unmanned vessel dubbed Red Dragon to Mars as early as 2018, and Musk has previously said he thought it would be possible to land on Mars by 2025. When it came time to discuss the timeline for a SpaceX trip to Mars during today’s announcement, Musk waxed poetic over the 14-year history of the company, which he founded, before finally saying that he plans for SpaceX to make its first true grab at the Red Planet as early as 2023. Via Phys.org Images via SpaceX

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