OTTAWA — The federal government has signed an agreement with the United States to send a Canadian astronaut around the moon as part of a broader effort to establish a new space station above the lunar surface.
Industry Minister Navdeep Bains unveiled the new Gateway Treaty on Wednesday, which formalizes Canada’s involvement in the U.S.-led effort to build that new station known as the Lunar Gateway.
The treaty includes a commitment to having a Canadian on board when the U.S. conducts a manned flyby of the moon in 2023, as well as a second yet-to-be-scheduled flight to the future station.
“Canada will join the U.S. on the first crewed mission to the moon since the Apollo missions,” Bains said during a news conference with Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques, Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons.
“Launching in 2023, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut will be part of Artemis 2, the first mission to carry humans to lunar orbit in over 50 years. This will make Canada only the second country after the U.S. to have an astronaut in deep space.”
The new treaty also formally confirms that Canada will contribute a new robotic arm to help with construction of the Lunar Gateway, which will orbit the moon and allow for exploration of the lunar surface and assist future missions to Mars.
The government last week committed $22.8 million toward development of the new Canadarm3 by MDA Canada.
The Canadian Space Agency is one of several partners in the U.S.-led endeavour along with the European Space Agency and their Japanese counterpart. Russia has also expressed an interest in joining.
The Lunar Gateway is projected to be about one-sixth the size of the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth, with plans to build it over the next decade.
Bains did not say how much Canada will spend to participate in the Artemis 2 flight, which will come after an unmanned flyby of the moon that the U.S. has scheduled for next year.
“It’s important to note that we’re a spacefaring nation, and very proud of our space history,” he said. “And this investment with regards to the Artemis 2 program, as well as the overall space strategies, is well over $2 billion over the next 24 years.”
Bains later said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the two flights as well as the Canadarm project and other robotics programs on the Lunar Gateway are included in the nearly $2 billion set aside for space.
The minister defended Ottawa’s planned investment in space, touting the economic and scientific benefits that come from Canada’s involvement in extraterrestrial exploration – a sentiment echoed by some of the astronauts in attendance.
MDA president Mike Greenley made similar comments in an interview following the announcement as he welcomed the new treaty with the U.S. as a win for Canada’s robotics sector and space industry.
“And then the astronauts’ flights are highly, highly motivational for the rest of the country,” he added.
“It’s been clearly demonstrated that the motivation of youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math and STEM professions has been inspired by astronauts in the space program, is high. And so you’re driving the next generation.”
As for the purpose of the Artemis 2 flyby, Kutryk said it will help test the rockets and other systems needed to start work on the Lunar Gateway.
“It’s worth pointing out here that this will be, I think, the farthest and fastest that any human in the history of our species has ever gone,” he said. “And so it’s a very big deal to be able to do just that: get a vehicle that far away and then safely recover it back to Earth.”
They also spoke about the excitement and interest that is generated among young Canadians who may be encouraged to pursue careers in robotics and other areas with potential links to space.
Exactly who will get to fly past the moon has yet to be determined.
“At some point, we will assign a crew and that’s when we’ll find out which Canadian astronaut is going to be selected,” Hansen said.
“One of the things that’s really important to us as an astronaut corps is the word ‘team,’ and that we take on these big challenges together … and it doesn’t turn into a competitive process, but turns into a process of us lifting each other up all the way.
One of the main drivers in the U.S. plan to get back to the moon has been Donald Trump. Bains suggested the president’s imminent departure from the White House next month after losing the November election to Joe Biden does not threaten the program.
“We’ll continue to remain engaged with the Americans,” he said. “But so far, all signals have been positive and we’ve heard nothing to the contrary. There’s a great deal of commitment to this program. And I believe it’s bipartisan.”
While Artemis 2 will not touch down on the moon, the U.S. has plans to land a ship on the lunar surface in 2024.
Bains would not rule out a Canadian being on that trip as well, saying: “Conversations are ongoing, and I wouldn’t necessarily close that door yet.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Three more COVID-19 cases at GRT – KitchenerToday.com
Grand River Transit is confirming three more COVID cases.
All the affected employees are bus drivers.
Two of them last worked on January 15, while the third was last on the job on Jan. 11.
GRT points out all three are now self-isolating at home.
So far in Janaury, nine employees have tested positive for the virus.
Grand River Transit lists COVID-19 cases on its website for transparency purposes, but some details are not released due to privacy concerns.
Since the on-set of the pandemic, multiple safety precautions have been put in place to protect drivers and riders, including barriers and mandatory masks.
Microplastics could be eliminated from wastewater at source – E&T Magazine
A team of researchers from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Quebec, Canada, have developed an electrolytic process for treating wastewater, degrading microplastics at the source.
Microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5mm long, often contained in toiletries or shedding from polyester clothing. They are present in virtually every corner of the Earth, and pose a particularly serious threat to marine ecosystems. High concentrations of microplastics can be carried into the environment in wastewater.
There are no established degradation methods to handle microplastics during wastewater treatment; although some techniques exist, these involve physical separation as a means of filtering the pollutant. These techniques do not degrade microplastics, which requires additional work to manage the separated fragments. So far, research into degradation of microplastics has been very limited.
The INRS researchers, led by water treatment expert Professor Patrick Drogui, decided to try degrading plastic particles through electrolytic oxidation – a process that does not require the addition of chemicals.
“Using electrodes, we generate hydroxyl radicals to attack microplastics,” Drogui said. “This process is environmentally friendly because it breaks them down into CO2 and water molecules, which are non-toxic to the ecosystem.”
Drogui and his colleagues experimented with different anode materials and other parameters such as current intensity, anode surface, electrolyte type, electrolyte concentration and reaction time. They found that the electrolytic oxidation could degrade more than 58 ± 21 per cent of microplastics in one hour. The microplastics appeared to degrade directly into gas rather than breaking into smaller particles.
Lab-based tests on water artificially contaminated with fragments of polystyrene showed a degradation efficiency as high as 89 per cent.
“This work demonstrated that [electrolytic oxidation] is a promising process for degradation of microplastics in water without production of any waste or by-products,” the researchers wrote in their Environmental Pollution report.
Drogui envisions this technology being used to treat microplastic-rich wastewater emerging from sources such as commercial laundries.
“When this commercial laundry water arrives at the wastewater treatment plant, it is mixed with large quantities of water, the pollutants are diluted and therefore more difficult to degrade,” he explained. “Conversely, by acting at the source, i.e. at the laundry, the concentration of microplastics is higher, thus more accessible for electrolytic degradation.”
Next, the researchers will move on to experimenting with degrading microplastics on water outside the artificial laboratory environment. Real commercial laundry water contains other materials that can affect the degradation process, such as carbonates and phosphates, which can trap radicals and limit degradation. If the technology is effective under these circumstances, the researchers plan to conduct a study to determine the cost of scaling up this treatment to implement in laundries.
Last week, researchers from the University of Barcelona published a study suggesting that encouraging a greater proliferation of seagrass meadows in the shallows of oceans could help trap, extract and carry marine plastic debris to shore.
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Eliminating microplastics in wastewater directly at the source – EurekAlert
A research team from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) has developed a process for the electrolytic treatment of wastewater that degrades microplastics at the source. The results of this research have been published in the Environmental Pollution journal.
Wastewater can carry high concentrations of microplastics into the environment. These small particles of less than 5 mm can come from our clothes, usually as microfibers. Professor Patrick Drogui, who led the study, points out there are currently no established degradation methods to handle this contaminant during wastewater treatment. Some techniques already exist, but they often involve physical separation as a means of filtering pollutants. These technologies do not degrade them, which requires additional work to manage the separated particles.
Therefore, the research team decided to degrade the particles by electrolytic oxidation, a process not requiring the addition of chemicals. “Using electrodes, we generate hydroxyl radicals (* OH) to attack microplastics. This process is environmentally friendly because it breaks them down into CO2 and water molecules, which are non-toxic to the ecosystem,” explains the researcher. The electrodes used in this process are more expensive than iron or steel electrodes, which degrade over time, but can be reused for several years.
An effective treatment
Professor Drogui envisions the use of this technology at the exit of commercial laundries, a potential source of microplastics release into the environment. “When this commercial laundry water arrives at the wastewater treatment plant, it is mixed with large quantities of water, the pollutants are diluted and therefore more difficult to degrade. Conversely, by acting at the source, i.e., at the laundry, the concentration of microplastics is higher (per litre of water), thus more accessible for electrolytic degradation,” explains the specialist in electrotechnology and water treatment.
Laboratory tests conducted on water artificially contaminated with polystyrene showed a degradation efficiency of 89%. The team plans to move on to experiments on real water. “Real water contains other materials that can affect the degradation process, such as carbonates and phosphates, which can trap radicals and reduce the performance of the oxidation process,” says Professor Drogui, scientific director of the Laboratory of Environmental Electrotechnologies and Oxidative Processes (LEEPO).
If the technology demonstrates its effectiveness on real commercial laundry water, the research group intends to conduct a study to determine the cost of treatment and the adaptation of the technology to treat larger quantities of wastewater. Within a few years, the technology could be implemented in laundry facilities.
About the study
The article “Treatment of microplastics in water by anodic oxidation: A case study for polystyrene”, by Marthe Kiendrebeogo, Mahmoodreza Karimiestahbanati, Ali Khosravanipour Mostafazadeh, Patrick Drogui and Rajeshwar Dayal Tyagi, was published in the Environmental Pollution journal. The team received financial support from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT), the CREATE-TEDGIEER program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Program (CFSP).
INRS is a university dedicated exclusively to graduate level research and training. Since its creation in 1969, INRS has played an active role in Quebec’s economic, social, and cultural development and is ranked first for research intensity in Quebec and in Canada. INRS is made up of four interdisciplinary research and training centres in Quebec City, Montreal, Laval, and Varennes, with expertise in strategic sectors: Eau Terre Environnement, Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications, Urbanisation Culture Société, and Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie. The INRS community includes more than 1,400 students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty members, and staff.
Service des communications de l’INRS
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