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Colonizing Mars could be dangerous and ridiculously expensive. Elon Musk wants to do it anyway – CNN

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Musk, the company’s CEO and chief engineer, refers to his interplanetary ambitions more like a sci-fi protagonist with a moral calling than an entrepreneur with a disruptive business plan.
“If there’s something terrible that happens on Earth, either made by humans or natural, we want to have, like, life insurance for life as a whole,” Musk said during a virtual Mars conference on Aug. 31. “Then, there’s the kind of excitement and adventure.”
SpaceX’s plans for a Red-Planet settlement bring up numerous technological, political and ethical questions. One of the most challenging hurdles may also be financial: Not even Musk has ventured to guess an all-in cost estimate.
The last space program that came close to Musk’s interplanetary travel ambitions was NASA’s Apollo program, the mid-20th Century effort that landed six spacecraft and 12 astronauts on the moon. Apollo cost well over $280 billion in today’s dollars, and, in some years, NASA was taking up more than 4% of the entire national budget. The space agency, which in more recent years has received less than half of one percent of the federal budget, is mapping its own plans to return humans to the moon and, eventually, a path to Mars.
But the agency has not indicated how much the latter could cost, either.
Musk’s personal wealth has ballooned to about $100 billion — at least on paper — thanks in no small part to a series of stock bonuses from his electric car company, Tesla. Musk has also repeatedly said that he hopes profits from SpaceX’s other businesses, including a satellite-internet venture that is currently in beta testing, will help fuel development of his Mars rocket. SpaceX has also raised nearly $6 billion from banks and venture capitalists, swelling into one of the most highly-valued private companies in the world, according to data firm Pitchbook. Presumably, at least some investors will one day be looking to cash out.
And that begs the question: Is there money to be made on Mars?

Interplanetary profit

SpaceX is likely still many, many years from developing all the technology a Mars settlement would require. The company is in the early stages of developing its Starship, a massive rocket and spaceship system that Musk hopes will ferry cargo and convoys of people across the at-minimum 30 million-mile void between Earth and Mars. Musk has estimated Starship development will cost up to $10 billion, and Musk said Aug. 31 that SpaceX will look to launch “hundreds” of satellites aboard Starship before entrusting it with human lives.
If it proves capable of the trek to Mars, settlers will need air-tight habitats to shield them from toxic air and the deadly radiation that rains down on its surface.
A prototype of SpaceXs Starship is pictured at the company's Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Musk said. “Good chance you’ll die, and it’s going to be tough going…It’d better be pretty glorious if it works out.”
But for at least the first 100 years that humans have a presence on Mars, the economic situation will be dubious, said Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which recently launched the Perseverance rover to further study the planet robotically.
Musk does have a plan for making Mars an attractive destination for long-term living: Terraforming, a hypothetical scenario in which humans make Mars more Earth-like by pumping gases into the atmosphere. It’d be an attempt to use the same greenhouse gases causing the climate crisis on our home planet to make Mars’ atmosphere thicker, warmer and more hospitable to life. Musk has promoted the idea that the process could be kicked off by dropping nuclear bombs on the planet.
The idea of terraforming arose from scientists who were kicking around ideas, Meyer said, but not from anyone who thought it was something humans could or should do.
“It was an intellectual exercise,” Meyer said. But there’s barely any oxygen in Mars’ atmosphere. And there’s an infinitesimally small amount of water, meaning it will be extremely difficult to grow crops, much less create a Mars-wide water cycle. It’s not even clear if there are enough resources on Mars to make terraforming possible at all.
“I think ‘Total Recall’ has the right idea,” he joked. “You’d need to use some alien technology.”
Musk has also acknowledged that terraforming will be extremely resource-intensive. But the concept is ingrained in SpaceX lore, so much so that the company sells t-shirts saying “Nuke Mars” and “Occupy Mars.”
Musk is frequently seen wearing one.

Values and valuations

There are no known resources on Mars that would be valuable enough to mine and sell back to Earthly businesses, Meyer said. “Part of the reason [scientists are] interested in Mars is — it’s pretty much made of the same stuff as Earth,” he told CNN Business.
Musk has previously suggested that he agrees, noting that the resources on Mars would likely be valuable only to settlers hoping to build up industries on the planet. He noted eight years ago that the only “economic exchange” between Mars and Earth dwellers would be “intellectual property.”
Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, has days that are roughly as long as Earth days. But it's a smaller planet, its temperatures average -81 degrees Fahrenheit, and its atmosphere is much thinner and comprised mostly of carbon dioxide.Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, has days that are roughly as long as Earth days. But it's a smaller planet, its temperatures average -81 degrees Fahrenheit, and its atmosphere is much thinner and comprised mostly of carbon dioxide.
Money-making ambitions aside, the idea that Mars could one day become home to a metropolis and — potentially — a tourist destination is acknowledged by mainstream scientists like Meyer, NASA’s lead Mars expert.
Meyer said that, 20 years ago, he attended a presentation about Mars business and tourism. “I went in pretty skeptical of this… and coming away I was thinking, ‘Well, [there are] some pretty reasonable ideas,” he said, adding that he now embraces the idea that businesspeople could make space travel more accessible.
Meyer added that, in his mind, it’s not if Mars travel will one day be a profitable venture, but when.
Musk hasn’t expanded on his ideas for making money on Mars, but his musings about exporting intellectual property echoed a book written by Robert Zubrin, an influential but polarizing figure in the space community and a longtime Musk ally.
“Ideas may be another possible export for Martian colonists,” Zubrin, who heads the Mars Society, wrote in his oft-cited 1996 book, “The Case for Mars.”
To look towards a potential future of humanity, Zubrin looks to its past.
“Just as the labor shortage prevalent in colonial and 19th century America drove the creation of Yankee Ingenuity’s flood of inventions, so the conditions of extreme labor shortage…will tend to drive Martian ingenuity.”
In a recent interview with CNN Business, Zubrin stood by those ideas, arguing American colonization has worked. Zubrin again harkens back to the colonization of North America as an example of how would-be Mars colonists might fund their trip, either by liquidating their Earthly possessions to fund the trip or by “indentured servitude.”
“If you say, okay, you want to go to Mars, you’re going to want to offer something,” Zubrin said. “If you look at Colonial America, a middle-class person could travel to America by liquidating their farm. But, the proceeds would give them a one-way ticket. But if you are working, what you could do is sell your labor for seven years.”
Zubrin, who has worked with conservative think tanks but says he is not politically affiliated, also acknowledged that colonization can go hand-in-hand with exploitation: “If somebody says, ‘But won’t there be exploitation there?’ Well sure, that’s what people do to each other all the time.”
(Musk has not expounded on his thoughts about colonialism, and he donates to both US political parties.)
To be clear: The story of American colonialism also included chattel slavery and the brutalization and erasure of many native populations.
“There aren’t native Martians,” Zubrin said.
But Damien Williams — a teacher and PhD student at Virginia Tech who studies the intersection of advanced technologies, ethics and societies — warns that the stories we may tell ourselves about America and exploring outer space can leave out key context.
 A prototype of SpaceX's Starship spacecraft is seen at the company's Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas A prototype of SpaceX's Starship spacecraft is seen at the company's Texas launch facility on September 28, 2019 in Boca Chica near Brownsville, Texas
It’s still unclear, for example, who Musk envisions as the first Mars settlers. NASA astronauts? Ultra-wealthy thrill-seekers? SpaceX employees?
“This competitive stance of expansion and exploration, it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Williams, who also works with the advocacy group Just Space Alliance, said. But, when it comes to a private company using resources that international treaties say do not belong to anyone — “Who’s been brought in and how? Who’s been left out and why? These things matter.”
Musk’s use of the word “colonization” also belies a long history of Americans and other Western nations enriching themselves by exploiting and enslaving others. And when it comes to colonizing another planet, it’s not just the microbial lifeforms that may exist on Mars that should be concerned. Without clearly defined objectives and agreements, SpaceX’s colony could create a “contentious sphere of conflict,” Williams said.
“The values that we take with us into space exploration should be front and center,” he added.
SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

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Jupiter and Saturn to make a triangle with the moon – Met Office forecast and when to see them – Gloucestershire Live

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The moon, Jupiter and Saturn are lining up to form a triangle of astronomical delight in the skies above Gloucestershire again on Saturday.

On Friday, the two planets were clearly seen near the Moon and if the skies are clear, you should be able to see them again tonight.

Dara Ó Briain, the comedian, presenter and keen stargazer was one of those to tweet their delight at the sight on Friday, saying: “The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn making a gorgeous triangle right now.”

Many tweeted their own pictures of the night show

According to the experts at Earth Sky, the triangle will be visible tonight and the best time to see it is from around 9pm.

It said it’s hard to miss the two gas giants as they are so near and can be identified by their closeness to the moon.

The Met Office, in its latest forecast, is suggesting a partly cloudy night between 8pm and 11pm with temperatures around 11C.

The moon today is in its waxing gibbous phase, which lasts until the full moon due on Thursday, October 1.

Good places to go stargazing in Gloucestershire include Windsor Drive in Tuffley, Gloucester; Leckhampton Hill in Cheltenham, Painswick Beacon and Cranham Common in Stroud; Edge, in between Gloucester and Stroud’ Minchinhampton Common, in between Stroud and Nailsworth and the top of Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds.

If you’ve got any images of the three celestial bodies, share them with us at gloslivenews@reachplc.com

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The Moon is rusting, and researchers want to know why – Pattaya Mail

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The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University

While our Moon is airless, research indicates the presence of hematite, a form of rust that normally requires oxygen and water. That has scientists puzzled.

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Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, give the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.

A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon’s surface in 2008. Lead author Shuai Li of the University of Hawaii has studied that water extensively in data from Chandrayaan-1’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument, or M3, which was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Water interacts with rock to produce a diversity of minerals, and M3 detected spectra – or light reflected off surfaces – that revealed the Moon’s poles had a very different composition than the rest of it.

Intrigued, Li homed in on these polar spectra. While the Moon’s surface is littered with iron-rich rocks, he nevertheless was surprised to find a close match with the spectral signature of hematite. The mineral is a form of iron oxide, or rust, produced when iron is exposed to oxygen and water. But the Moon isn’t supposed to have oxygen or liquid water, so how can it be rusting?

Metal Mystery

The mystery starts with the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows out from the Sun, bombarding Earth and the Moon with hydrogen. Hydrogen makes it harder for hematite to form. It’s what is known as a reducer, meaning it adds electrons to the materials it interacts with. That’s the opposite of what is needed to make hematite: For iron to rust, it requires an oxidizer, which removes electrons. And while the Earth has a magnetic field shielding it from this hydrogen, the Moon does not.

“It’s very puzzling,” Li said. “The Moon is a terrible environment for hematite to form in.” So he turned to JPL scientists Abigail Fraeman and Vivian Sun to help poke at M3’s data and confirm his discovery of hematite.

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“At first, I totally didn’t believe it. It shouldn’t exist based on the conditions present on the Moon,” Fraeman said. “But since we discovered water on the Moon, people have been speculating that there could be a greater variety of minerals than we realize if that water had reacted with rocks.”

After taking a close look, Fraeman and Sun became convinced M3’s data does indeed indicate the presence of hematite at the lunar poles. “In the end, the spectra were convincingly hematite-bearing, and there needed to be an explanation for why it’s on the Moon,” Sun said.

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Three Key Ingredients

Their paper offers a three-pronged model to explain how rust might form in such an environment. For starters, while the Moon lacks an atmosphere, it is in fact home to trace amounts of oxygen. The source of that oxygen: our planet. Earth’s magnetic field trails behind the planet like a windsock. In 2007, Japan’s Kaguya orbiter discovered that oxygen from Earth’s upper atmosphere can hitch a ride on this trailing magnetotail, as it’s officially known, traveling the 239,000 miles (385,00 kilometers) to the Moon.

That discovery fits with data from M3, which found more hematite on the Moon’s Earth-facing near side than on its far side. “This suggested that Earth’s oxygen could be driving the formation of hematite,” Li said. The Moon has been inching away from Earth for billions of years, so it’s also possible that more oxygen hopped across this rift when the two were closer in the ancient past.

Then there’s the matter of all that hydrogen being delivered by the solar wind. As a reducer, hydrogen should prevent oxidation from occurring. But Earth’s magnetotail has a mediating effect. Besides ferrying oxygen to the Moon from our home planet, it also blocks over 99% of the solar wind during certain periods of the Moon’s orbit (specifically, whenever it’s in the full Moon phase). That opens occasional windows during the lunar cycle when rust can form.

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The third piece of the puzzle is water. While most of the Moon is bone dry, water ice can be found in shadowed lunar craters on the Moon’s far side. But the hematite was detected far from that ice. The paper instead focuses on water molecules found in the lunar surface. Li proposes that fast-moving dust particles that regularly pelt the Moon could release these surface-borne water molecules, mixing them with iron in the lunar soil. Heat from these impacts could increase the oxidation rate; the dust particles themselves may also be carrying water molecules, implanting them into the surface so that they mix with iron. During just the right moments – namely, when the Moon is shielded from the solar wind and oxygen is present – a rust-inducing chemical reaction could occur.

More data is needed to determine exactly how the water is interacting with rock. That data could also help explain another mystery: why smaller quantities of hematite are also forming on the far side of the Moon, where the Earth’s oxygen shouldn’t be able to reach it.

More Science to Come

Fraeman said this model may also explain hematite found on other airless bodies like asteroids. “It could be that little bits of water and the impact of dust particles are allowing iron in these bodies to rust,” she said.

Li noted that it’s an exciting time for lunar science. Almost 50 years since the last Apollo landing, the Moon is a major destination again. NASA plans to send dozens of new instruments and technology experiments to study the Moon beginning next year, followed by human missions beginning in 2024 all as part of the Artemis program.

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JPL is also building a new version of M3 for an orbiter called Lunar Trailblazer. One of its instruments, the High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3), will be mapping water ice in permanently shadowed craters on the Moon, and may be able to reveal new details about hematite as well.

“I think these results indicate that there are more complex chemical processes happening in our solar system than have been previously recognized,” Sun said. “We can understand them better by sending future missions to the Moon to test these hypotheses.”

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This modular home workout setup fits in your closet, no more excuses to not exercise! – Yanko Design

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Few industries have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic like the fitness industry has changed. Acclimating to the increasingly strange times, home gym designers have taken to the drawing boards by storm. Working out at home is possible, yes. Fun? Depends. Comfortable? Hard to say. What’s definite is that the team at G-Wall turned the everchanging state of 2020 into the well-knit, conceptual core of their sleek, modular home gym design. Recently, the designers behind the G-Wall Home Fitness System were presented with 2020’s K-Design Award.

Instead of answering the unanswerable (really, who can say what’s up next for 2020), the team behind G-Wall designed their home gym specifically so that it could be stored behind a closet or armoire cabinet’s door. That way the time that you would have spent making room for your home fitness system, instead is spent actually putting it to use. G-Wall’s Home Fitness System has several standout features: variable modules, user-adjustability, and compatibility, to name a few. Each user decides on which modules they want to comprise the larger system. This means that despite the amount of space in your home, G-Wall’s design makes it possible to incorporate a home gym anywhere. The different modules that users can decide on range from cardiovascular equipment, to free weights and even heavy training. The gear that comes with each module is stored in cabinets or racks that easily hang behind doors or however the user deems appropriate for their personal space.

Once quarantine started, many of us twiddled our thumbs while figuring out how to stay healthy and active within the confines of our respective homes. Fitness and health remained a top priority for many global citizens. It was never a question of compromise or adjustment when it came to working out during quarantine. Rather, designers and gym-goers took to the drawing boards to concoct their own solutions. That’s all to say that while the fitness industry has indeed changed with 2020’s unpredictable timeline, some of the most innovative new designs have been devised. Such deliberate and convenient designs like G-Wall prove that as unanswerable as some questions may be, as uncertain as the time may feel, design’s practical and adaptive nature is one thing on which we can always depend.

Designers: Tan Xuwen, Zhang Hu, Huang Shumei, Tong Bomin, Gao Lin x Guangdong Piano Customized Furniture Co., Ltd.









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