Sustainable Energy Now

 

futurism

2.6 Billion People Lack Access to Electricity. The World Needs Sustainable Energy Now.

Communities lacking electricity are forced to rely on dangerous fuels that can result in pollution and even cause premature death. The Global Maker Challenge received over a thousand submissions from innovators with potential solutions to help these communities.

3D-Printed Mars Habitats

 


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Here’s a closer look at what it’ll be like to live on Mars one day.

Space Habitat

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge that kicked off in 2015 has challenged teams around the U.S. to render, prove the structural integrity, and construct a model of a habitat that could one day shelter humans on the surface of the Moon or even Mars.

And yesterday, NASA crowned the top three winners of the Challenge’s latest round, challenging the participating teams to “complete a virtual construction level.” The top three teams, which split a prize of $100,000, hail from New York, Arkansas, and New Haven — and their designs are bold visions of off-world habitation.

First Place

The winner of this round of the Challenge is team SEArch+/Apis Cor for a vertical habitat design that can be continuously reinforced with additional 3D printing. Light enters through circular ports around the outside and the top.

Second Place

Second place goes to Team Zopherus for a design that would be constructed by a roving 3D printer.

Third Place

Team Mars Incubator was awarded third place. Its pods are made out of hexagonal pieces of 3D printed plates consisting of polyethylene, fibers, and locally sourced regolith, could one day house a team of astronauts.

It’s a fascinating competition that paints an incredibly detailed picture of what the future of Moon or even Mars exploration could look like one day — and we’ve never been closer to that future.

READ MORE: Top Three Teams Share $100,000 Prize in Complete Virtual Construction Level of 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge [NASA]

More on the Challenge: Here Are The Finalists For NASA’s Mars Habitat Design Competition

Test Hopper

 


In a series of tweets yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the space company is about to start testing an early prototype of its Starship spacecraft.

The so-called “hopper” test vehicle will feature only a single Raptor engine, as opposed to three for the final version. The test vehicle won’t enter orbit, but its low altitude test flights help prepare for future journeys as lengthy as a trip to Mars.

Starship Hopper in preparations to hop, “Ooh ah, just a little bit”.

📸@BocaChicaGal https://t.co/fk1cdRpyvm pic.twitter.com/VLW5ADBtgP

Moon Water

 


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Moving Water

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) just spotted “moving water molecules” on the near side of the Moon — which could be a big deal for future human missions to the Moon.

Scientists observed water molecules moving around as the lunar surface heated up during the Moon’s day cycle. Researchers had previously assumed that the main source of water — hydrogen ions from solar wind — would be cut off when the Earth travels between the Moon and the Sun. But the new findings didn’t see any decrease when the Earth cut off solar wind to the Moon, suggesting that it could harbor a more sustainable source of water than previously believed.

Hot Topic

The discovery is described in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by researchers from the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard  Space Flight Center in Maryland. The data was collected by the LRO’s Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), an ultraviolet spectrograph that was built to map ultralight wavelength reflections on the lunar surface.

“This is an important new result about lunar water, a hot topic as our nation’s space program returns to a focus on lunar exploration,” said Kurt Retherford, principal investigator of the LAMP instrument from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said in a statement. “We recently converted the LAMP’s light collection mode to measure reflected signals on the lunar dayside with more precision, allowing us to track more accurately where the water is and how much is present.”

The Shape Of Water

A groundbreaking 2017 study from Brown University suggested that there may be substantial amounts of water inside lunar rocks. At the time, the discovery was a major shift from the consensus view that most water on the Moon is located near its poles.

This year’s results discovered by LAMP seem to underline that the lunar water cycle could make water far more accessible to us during future missions to the Moon than we previously thought — the more water already exists on the Moon, the less time and resources we have to spend in trying to get it there.

READ MORE: LRO sheds light on lunar water movement [NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center]

More on water on the Moon: New Study Challenges Previous Conclusions About Water on the Moon

Most Dire Predictions for the Future

 

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Stephen Hawking was a brilliant astrophysicist who inspired and awed. He pushed our understanding of, curiosity about, and excitement for the universe around us. He made us laugh. He made us curious. He made us imagine.

He also, at times, made us afraid.

Hawking, who died this morning at the age of 76 after 52 years of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), will leave behind a deeply important legacy. But his paranoia about the future of humanity, especially in his later years, may prove to be one of the most lasting (and pertinent) aspects of that legacy.

These are a few of his most dire predictions:

AI Takeover

“The genie is out of the bottle. We need to move forward on artificial intelligence development but we also need to be mindful of its very real dangers,” Hawking said last year in a Q&A with WIRED. “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.”

As AI permeates more of our daily lives, Hawking isn’t the only one to fear a robot takeover.

But there are other threats.

Self-Destruction

“Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing… I would not be optimistic about the long-term outlook for our species.”

Hawking said this in 2016 at an event at Cambridge University, attesting his pessimism in part to the recent referendum for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union. In a 2017 documentary, he said humanity has just a century left on Earth, down from the 1,000 years he predicted the year before.

That’s in part because of climate change and environmental destruction that, he feared, may make the Earth uninhabitable. Since he became president, Donald Trump had become a favorite target of Hawking’s:

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action [pulling out of the Paris Agreement] could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid,” Hawking told BBC News.

“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now. By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children.”

Fortunately, though, he sees a solution.

Planetary Colonization

“If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in boldly going where no one else has gone before,” Hawking said at a festival in Norway last year.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems,” he continued. “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all… A new and ambitious space program would excite [young people], and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology.”

He laid out a fairly comprehensive series of benchmarks: nations should send astronauts to the Moon by 2020 (and set up a lunar base in the next 30 years). And we should get to Mars by 2025.

If Hawking is even remotely right, Musk had better hop to it.