Archive for the ‘Environment’ Tag
What Would it Be Like to Live on Earth’s Cousin?
The discovery of Kelper 452b was announced on 23/05/15, and is 1,400 Light years away.
Photo Credit: Kelper 452-b JPL/NASA
An alien experience!
Exoplanet Kelper 452-b is 60% wider than Earth and approximately 5x as massive so much stronger surface gravity.
This provides for a great workout! For the manly among us this essentially means it will make you much stronger 🙂
For everybody chilling on this Earth cousin, the higher gravity would probably lead to significant body changes long term – e.g. becoming stockier built. This is probably not a plus if you’re already on the stocky side…you may become very short and squat…like a rotund garden gnome 😉
A Familiar Experience
As this world’s sun is roughly the same distance away as on Earth, the light factor would be much the same as on our home-world and Earth plants transported to its cousin-world could photosynthesis the same as on Earth.
So Kelper 452-b is similar to Earth but not the same. Its sun is 6 billion years old whereas our Sun is only 4.5 billion years old. Kelper 452-b’s sun is at a far more energetic life-stage therefore it is hotter. And it is about 10% larger and 20% brighter in the sky. Not bad for the sun tan then 😉
Kelper 452-b completes one orbit every 385 days so it’s year is only about 20 days longer than Earth’s. Pretty much home from home.
Photo Credit: Kelper 452-b JPL/NASA
“…substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”
(Jon Jenkins, Kelper data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffat Field, California. (Led team that discovered Kelper 452-b) )
No “Year In Review” From WordPress….So!
What If We “Got Shot” of the Moon?!!
‘The geological history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.’
It would? So what exactly would happen if we just got rid of it altogether and there was no moon? Which there probably wasn’t so far as many of us were concerned over Christmas! But say we blew it up?!! Blasted it completely out of the sky? After all do we actually need this shiny ball in the sky anyway?
The Birth of a New Ring World Earth
All those tiny fragments of blown up moon would be far too small to stick back together and create a new, if rather misshapen and little moon, which would have at least managed a near normal gravitational pull on Earth…important scientific detail….
A lovely ring would form around Earth consisting of little lumps of moon shrapnel …very, very tiny ones…very pretty but trouble is they wouldn’t be content with staying out there in space. Oh no, they would much rather make a regular and devastatingly determined habit of periodically hurtling out of their ring-world and slam-dunking into the Earth’s surface, bombarding us with meteorites that should otherwise never have thought of coming anywhere near us…oh dear! Moulton moon rain, cities destroyed, countries obliterated….
On top of which, if we have blown the moon sky high all those particularly dangerous outer space meteorites that had previously hammered the moon’s surface would no longer have anything to prevent them making a bee-line for Earth, happily re-creating the Moon’s surface on the home-world! Great! Craters everywhere… Even more cities destroyed, countries obliterated….
Axial Tilt of Earth
In between moon rocks and meteorite bombardments from the rest of the cosmos, Earth, minus the moon’s gravitational pull would develop a wobble…it had a little one before but it was stabilised by the Moon, which also protected it from the gravitational pull of the other planets…now it would have a huge wobble, and be pulled one way by Mars and another way by Jupiter – our planetary neighbours. Consequently with no moon to slow Earth’s orbit down we would be flying merrily around the sun in a wildly unhinged and erratic orbit…. shortening Earth’s day from 24 hours to only 8 – 10 hours.
Catastrophic seasonal changes
On top of which whilst currently we are worrying about global warming and climate change….or at least those of us with a scrap of common sense are, with the moon gone these problems will seem trivial….of course to the uneducated or just plain stupid they already are, but you “aint seen nothing yet!!”
Earth would be a very, very different place. As it would now be rotating so much faster, 160-200 km winds would be zooming across Earth’s surface.
With Earth’s now unstable axial tilt, we would see dramatic environmental changes over the course of thousands-millions of years – the loss of our conventional seasons and radical modifications in temperature would cause wide-ranging consequences for the growth of plant life and crops. This in turn would create some major headaches and very thorny problems for producing food for the billions of people dwelling on Earth. The animal world would have to adapt pretty quickly to a much shorter life pattern in terms of mating, migration and hibernation.
Moreover, the changing temperatures would lead to the loss of Earth’s N and S Poles. To an extent this is already happening but in such circumstances melting ice would have a hugely dramatic effect on the oceans which would rise to a point where they change the all the world’s coastlines.
Life on Earth both in countries and in cities would have no choice but to adapt pretty drastically in order to survive or disappear into extinction.
With no moon to affect the tides, which show a configuration related to the lunar phase cycle, Earth’s oceans would become very tranquil and still. Solar tides would have a very small effect; about half that of the Moon, so there would be the odd wave or two. (Assuming we hadn’t blown the Sun up as well 😉 ) Tides were also important in life’s early stages of evolution so this would be terrible news for sea life which would rapidly become extinct. Barely-there tides do not mix oceans which therefore do not circulate nutrients required for sea-life’s survival…so fishermen would quickly go out of business and no –one would be microwaving their “Fisherman’s Pies” ever again!
Not quite the useless lump rock some people seem to think it is then!
Happy New Year 2016!
Beijing Bubbling Towards A Smog-Free
Beijing smog alert! Recently raised to Level Orange – the alert system’s second highest smog threat category (levels consisting of blue, yellow, orange and red) which can lead to outdoor sports class cancellations and transport usage restrictions, highlights the shocking air quality crisis in China’s capital city. Citizens have been advised to stay indoors and to wear face masks if they do have to go out. This is the first time the pollution level has reached the smog alert system’s second worst threat level, and is a direct consequence of the notorious combination of coal burning power plants and the excessive number of cars on Beijing’s roads.
Levels of PM2.5 – tiny pollutant particles in Beijing’s atmosphere have been recorded as standing at 400 micrograms per cubic metre. The acceptable limit is 25 micrograms per cubic metre.
Park in a Bubble
Orproject – a London-based, British architecture and design company have a dedicated team working on the innovative idea of a dome-covered botanical garden which would be large enough to also enclose offices, shops and residential buildings.
The Bubble as it is known, would be helpful to those living with environmental pollution, and although it is not an alternative to finding ways to control pollution destroying the environment, it would offer a safe haven; a clean-air environment in a dangerously polluted city.
Costing in the region of £400/square metre the bubbles would be constructed with the same material as has been used in the Eden project (Cornwall, UK) inside the biomes panels. As it would not be designed using glass the structure would be much lighter and consequently far more cost effective. Highly heat resistant this stretchy plastic – a polymer known as ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) also has the potential to reduce energy costs and has already been tried and tested at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, both at the Aquatics Center and the Birds’ Nest National Stadium.
An interesting idea is the dome’s roof which the designers would craft by combining technology with nature, using a computer algorithm with the ability to initiate and grow roof-top patterns such as those on butterfly wings and on leaves…
Structural surface solar panels would provide electric for the clean-air bubble and humidity and temperature would be controlled internally. By necessity the bubble would be airtight therefore the air pumped into the proposed park and the buildings contained within it would have to be filtered beforehand.
Extreme Dinner is Served!
How do we grow food in space?!! This is one of our most prevalent challenges, although it may well become an even bigger one here on Earth if we cannot figure out how to grow enough on the home world to feed our ever-expanding population!
Launching supplies into space is, of course, costly. So the ultimate aim for any long-duration interplanetary trip or long-term human presence on the surface of Mars would be to develop sustainable food cultivation techniques.
Extreme Gardening on Mars
Future Gardening on Mars may yet become a reality with the European Research Project MELiSSA on track to grow vegetables on the Red Planet. MELiSSA is an ESA project which “strongly promotes the implementation of space research based innovations on Earth via Industry.” Initially vegetables will be grown from seeds in a closed Earth system, later progressing to growing on the Moon. The first Martian vegetables will be grown in a Mars-bound spacecraft and if all goes to plan the ultimate planting and growing on Mars will follow.
Nurturing vegetation and growing crops in such a hostile environment as space is fraught with difficulties and would involve a high degree of human ingenuity and new science. It would also require an intense and complex support system in order to succeed. In particular there is also the question of drinking water production, nutrients and crop cultivation techniques which will also require research.
If this plan does succeed, the new technologies and science necessary to achieve it could also be put to good use back on Earth, to develop land around the world which is not at this time suitable for food cultivation. This could provide a much needed lifeline to those countries where many of their citizens are starving, and also be of overall benefit in feeding our ever expanding population in general.
"Also companies on Earth can benefit from the space research. For instance, new energy efficient light systems can be developed and commercialized for growing plants in green houses." ~ Prof. Benedikt Sas from the Centre of Excellence Food2Know.
China to Grow Mars Veg’
State media in China have reported Chinese astronauts are preparing to grow fresh vegetables on the Moon and Mars. A successful test held in Beijing was conducted and completed for research purposes, consisting of four different vegetable types. Growing in an "ecological life support system" which relies on plants and algae this environment would create an opportunity for fresh, home-grown vegetables to be harvested for healthy, nutritious meals.
“Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future,” ~ Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing’s Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre quoted by Xinhua news agency.
3-D Printing of food
One potential solution to these issues could be 21st century open-source technology in the form of 3-D printers. Already being used in industry and the arts, 3-D printing looks set to become ‘one of the defining technologies in human space travel and colonization.’
So! If you are one of those angry American citizens raging furiously against the changes to your gun laws and the shortage of aforementioned item and plentiful supplies of ammo’ or possibly even a really determined, hard core survivalist then this 3-D printer maybe the revolutionary solution you have been feverishly searching for…just print a nice, shiny new gun and you’re right there in business to exercise your right to bear arms!
But how could the growth of a replenishable source of ‘Martian mushrooms and cosmic cucumbers’ – a healthy stock of crisp, garden-fresh veggies being a vital ingredient in ensuring colonies are in good physical shape – viably be achieved?
A 3-D printer controlled by software recipes, such as the one being developed by researchers at Cornell University, could be the answer to your unappeasable appetite for a nourishing snack.
It’s not quite a vegetable but it is the perfect choice for the first printed to order 3-D printed food; at your heady request it can print off a lovely big space pizza to satisfy even the largest of man-sized appetites!
It would be created by printing the first layer –dough for the pizza base, which will speedily bake on the hot plate it would be deposited on. This would be topped with a combo-layer of powdered tomato puree and oil then yet a further layer – of protein and ideally a blend of all nutrients and minerals required to create a thoroughly healthy pizza! Unheard of though a healthy pizza is, should it become possible it may even be possible to add medications where necessary, via computer commands.
NASA has been so enthusiastic about this innovative proposition for a galactic pizza express 😉 that it has approved a $125,000 grant for the development of a “universal food synthesizer,” a prototype dreamed up by mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor, of Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) in Austin, Texas. Based on 3-D printing technology this prototype also has the advantage of eliminating the problem of food waste.
“Long distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life. The way we are working on it is all the carbs, proteins and macro and micro nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out, and in that form it will last maybe 30 years.” ~ Anjan Contractor
Although this innovative design is currently only at the ideas stage, in the future it could transform the way we conceive food here on Earth. This in-turn may help feed the planet.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently. So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.” ~ Contractor
Image Credit:MSSS, JPL, NASA
NASA to Mars 2030
"Interest in sending humans to Mars I think has never been higher. We now stand on the precipice of a second opportunity to press forward to what I think is man’s destiny — to step onto another planet." NASA chief Charles Bolden at the Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University. (May 6-8 2013)
Yet the road to Mars is long and challenging, and the difficulties are scientific, technological, political and economic,”
“Sending astronauts to the Red Planet” (as President Barack Obama has directed NASA to do and to land humans on Mars by the 2030s) “will likely require at least three missions: one to launch the crew and the vehicle that will take them to Mars, one to launch the habitat humans will live on at the planet’s surface, and one to launch the vehicle that will lift off from Mars to take the crew home,“ said Doug Cooke, a former NASA associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate who now heads a space consulting firm.
"To me this is one of the biggest challenges," Mike Raftery, director of space station utilization and exploration at Boeing, the primary contractor for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket being developed to go to Mars. "We have to essentially land a launch pad on the surface that’s then ready to launch the crew back to Earth.”
This will be no small challenge as to date, NASA has been unable to land more than 1 metric ton at a time on the surface of Mars — the Curiosity Rover. With a total 200 to 400 metric tons of equipment requiring delivery to the surface of Mars after being launched from Earth at the rate of 40 metric tons per trip, clearly this could prove problematic.
Engineers will have to develop a means to shield the Mars crews from dangerous radiation both en-route and on the surface of the Red Planet where the atmosphere is too thin to shield them as it does on Earth. They will also have to bring their own life-support systems, medicine, food, communications systems and navigation equipment.
"It’s very likely that we’ll send some kind of lander or rover to the site we want to send people to first, to drill a couple meters down to tell us if we have fresh water," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate. Such a spacecraft could also serve as a beacon to guide the crewed lander down to the chosen spot on Mars.
"We’re going to have to rely on being able to live off the land," said James Reuther of NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. "Those will require significant technology investments in order to actually bring that about."
Despite the challenges involved, many NASA and industry experts expressed confidence it can be done. In the words of Artemis Westenberg, president of Explore Mars Inc., the non-profit space advocacy group that organized the conference:
"In the coming days we have the opportunity to write history, to determine the future of humankind. We of Explore Mars give you this platform of this three-day summit. Now all you have to do is tell each other and the world the ‘how’ of getting to Mars.” (via Space.com)
Mars One 2016
The organisers of the Mars One project (a Dutch group, led by Bas Lansdorp, a researcher from the Netherlands with a Masters in Science from Delft University of Technology) think they have the answers to this quandary. They have seemingly jumped ahead of NASA, announcing ambitious plans to, “execute the first fully commercial campaign of human exploration and development of Mars,” and have high hope of establishing the first settlers of a Mars colony by 2023.
By 2016 they intend to send a communications satellite to the Red Planet, following it up with additional time phased flights across succeeding years, before the actual landing of a foundation crew of permanent Mars colonists. The optimistic claim on their website states that:
“Mars One will establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2023. A habitable settlement will be waiting for the settlers when they land.”
Following the establishment of the foundation crew on the Red Planet, an additional group of new settlers will be sent to join them on a regular two-yearly basis, thereby expanding the colony.
Mars One has no shortage of industry support and their suppliers include, ILC Dover, MDA Corporation, Paragon Space Development, SpaceX, Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), and Thales Alenia Space.
“SSTL believes that the commercialization of space exploration is vital in order to bring down the costs and schedules. Mars-One is an imaginative venture making use of existing technology and SSTL is highly motivated to support this initiative,” Sir Martin Sweeting, Founder and Executive Chairman of SSTL.
“I believe that the endeavour holds great promise and Paragon is prepared to manufacture and integrate the Mars One life support, thermal control, and space suit systems,” Jane Poynter, President and Chairwoman at Paragon Space Development Corporation
The cost of launching the initial crew of four Martian colonists and landing them on the Red Planet, in addition to the utilisation of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launcher, will involve costs in the region of $6 billion, according to Mars One. Besides building their environment the colonists will also be tasked with answering questions regarding the on-going mystery of whether life in fact does exist on Mars and also the history of the neighbouring planet.
Astronaut selections (40 in total will be chosen) for the first manned Mars mission have already begun and applications have rolled in, in vast numbers. Potential applicants should however remember; this is a one-way trip! Mars One has no plans and no way of bringing you back! You will never set foot on Earth again…you will never breathe the air of Earth again…and you certainly won’t be able to Skype your friends and family!
Mars One Mission and Vision
Mars 2023: Inhabitants Wanted! Apply Now!
Radioactive Material Is Being Dumped in Japan’s Rivers…
The Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun has recently reported that radioactive water used to wash down contaminated buildings of the settlements close to the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor, which should have been sent through a stringent purification procedure was in fact being drained away into rivers rather than undergoing the intended strict disposal methods along with collected radioactive top soil and leaf debris which should have been securely and meticulously stored. This disposal method was seen to be standard procedure at 13 locations in Naraha, Iitate and Tamura. The allegation, supported by photographs
Many of the N-plant workers, fully aware of the breaching of rules and procedures set in place for the decontamination work claimed they were simply following orders from those above them on the basis that following nuclear waste disposal rules to the letter meant they would never complete the decontamination work. They also claimed that they were ordered as regarded the sites that monitor radiation, to merely sweep up around them and that was to be all they should do.
The government has committed 650 billion yen ($7.4 billion) to clean up the surroundings in contaminated towns and villages. The Environment Ministry engaged Japans most prominent contractors, the Taisei Corp who have a 7.72 billion yen contract in Iitate, and the Maeda Corp who have a contract in Naraha to the value of 18.82 billion yen. Infrastructures, highways and farm land will have radioactive substance sited within 65 feet of their location stripped away, if the objective is realised.
The Japanese government now plans to take tough action on the corrupt practice alleged to be currently in place around the Fukushima nuclear plant, and residents in surrounding areas have secured an apology from Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue.
Cleaning Radioactive Water With Graphene
The Rice University of Houston and the Lomonosov Moscow State University has generated exciting new research that suggests that there may be a way to use graphene, to reverse the disastrous environmental impact at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
**Graphene is a substance made of pure carbon. Its atoms are arranged in a similar way to graphite, but in a very light sheet only one-atom in density. It’s been suggested that Graphene could also be a highly significant factor in increasing the efficiency of the desalinization process, in flexible semi-conductors, and the improvement of electronics. Processes based on graphene could also be useful in the cleaning up of the natural gas industry, and if this report proves successful, it could play a very important role in the nuclear waste clean-up.
The researchers involved say that when graphene oxide flakes are introduced to contaminated water, the result is the condensing into clusters of the offending radionuclides. They can then be split away and securely disposed of.
"Graphene oxide introduced to simulated wastes coagulated within minutes, quickly clumping the worst toxins," Chemist Stepan Kalmykov.
"It’s too hot. Companies have to ship contaminated water to repository sites around the country at very large expense. The ability to quickly filter out contaminants on-site would save a great deal of money." ~ Chemist James Tour
Thousands of Japanese residents have been forced into homeless and it could take decades to clear all the contamination and complete the clean-up. Even then some towns and villages may have to be abandoned forever.
** Graphene is made by chemically processing graphite — also found in the ‘lead’ of pencils. A sheet of graphene is just a single layer of carbon atoms- one of the most abundant materials on Earth, an individual layer of crystalline graphite -locked together in a strongly-bonded honeycomb pattern.
Flexible, translucent and the most ultrathin material ever made Graphene is also the strongest substance known to mankind — 100-300 times stronger than steel and several times tougher than diamond. The best heat conductor known to man and better at conducting electricity than silicon, with its unique optical properties. Graphene has caused a dramatic surge in research and potential applications for the material.
An inherently sustainable and economical technology, Graphene could lead to roll up behind the ear mobile phones , paper thin HD televisions, and fold away into a tiny square, bendy electronic newspapers. It could transform the medications we use, and replace silicon which is currently used in the creation of the chips in our computers. It is also possible that Graphene being such a bendy substance could replace existing touch-screens materials for devices such as tablets making the likes of the i-pad as out-dated as anything else in ancient history!
EarthTechling; Beth Buczynski
The Lede; Robert Mackey
Chernobyl’s Radioactive Exclusion Zone Wolves
Hunting in the Land of Wolves
Chernobyl: 26 Year Anniversary…1986 – 2012
“When a radioactive nuclear wasteland is abandoned by humans, wildlife takes over. Wolves now rule this once prosperous farmland claiming buildings as their own personal mansions. With humans out of the picture, there is a new boss in town.”
“Chernobyl…an old river port in the middle of nowhere surrounded by marshes rivalling the everglades…site of a soviet nuclear power plant and history’s worst manmade nuclear disaster back in 1986. The Chernobyl accident displaced 1/2 million people leaving behind the world’s biggest ghost town and an exclusion zone the size of Rhode Island. Radio active land void of people for 25 years but now a raw wilderness – ruled by wolves.
A team of scientists enters the forbidden zone to explore the fate of radio active wolves. Why wolves? The wolf is at the end of the food chain. It’s the peak of the pyramid. The state of a wolf pack says a lot about the state of the entire ecosystem. Radio collaring wolves will help answer essential questions about the zone’s top predator and thus the rest of it’s wildlife.
Face masks matter now the wolfs fur is almost certainly radio active. Their time in the zone is up now. Boyde can stay. No one will disturb him here….
On the electronic map the researchers find the wolves GPS position this morning…the deserted village of Kososelya If Boyde and Lotta are part of a pack this could be their headquarters. The tracks in the snow confirm this is the base of a big pack….”
Wolves in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone which covers a 1,100 square miles reaching into Ukraine and Belarus, and due to the dangerous levels of radiation is still, 26 years later considered unsafe for human habitation. Scientists with special permits are allowed to visit the zone for short periods to study the effects of radiation on the ecosystem.
They also study it’s effects on the wildlife’s health although any handling of the animals, including wolves which they also tag, and their pups must be done with gloves on due to the dangerously high levels of radiation in their bones.
Health wise the wildlife is in pretty good shape, all things considered though birth abnormalities are twice the norm, but even these figures remain single ones. Where humans once lived wolves now roam, claiming their territory amongst the abandoned and evacuated buildings.
Hunting In The Land Of Wolves….
Chernobyl: 26 Year Anniversary…1986 – 2012