In 20 years from now, it may be possible to go on vacation to the Moon thanks to an ambitious plan recently announced by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Johann-Dietrich Woerner, head of the ESA, has revealed a vision of an international lunar base dubbed Moon Village, which could become a reality as early as by 2030. In a recent video by ESA, Woerner says that the establishment of a permanent settlement on the Moon, which would require a joint effort of all spacefaring nations, would be humanity’s next big step in space exploration. The Moon Village could be used for various purposes, including business, science and even tourism.
The lunar settlement would be built at the poles or on the far side of the Moon, in the areas with continuous daylight. At the same time, the South Pole, which has constant darkness and numerous craters with vast reserves of water ice, could be used to access the water and produce hydrogen and oxygen. In the Moon’s shadow, settlers would be safe from solar and cosmic radiation and would be at a lower risk of micrometeorite impacts.
Since 2013, the ESA has been working with private construction companies on developing and testing different technologies that could be exploited to build a lunar base. As a result, it was determined that the best solution would be to use natural resources found on the surface of the Moon, such as metals, minerals and water ice. It could be done with the help of a rover that would 3D-print building elements and structures out of these materials. Then, the rover would land on the surface and inflate a dome, after which a building would be constructed around it.
“First, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide. This turns it into ‘paper’ we can print with,” said Enrico Dini of the UK-based manufacturing company Monolite. “Then for our structural ‘ink’, we apply a binding salt which converts material to a stone-like solid. Our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 meters per hour while our next-generation design should attain 3.5 meters per hour, completing an entire building in a week.”
Woerner says that the Moon Village could open up lots of possibilities not only for space exploration but also for business, mining and even tourism. However, to make this project a reality, the collaboration of all spacefaring nations would be necessary so that each country can contribute with technology and knowledge. The Moon Village would engage space agencies from countries such as USA, Russia, China, India and Japan, as well as other countries.
It is estimated that it will take about 20 years to build the technology necessary for the implementation of the plan. With all these exciting developments and projects we have seen in the last few years, including the Moon Village and the upcoming manned missions to Mars, it becomes clear that humanity is on the verge of a new era in space exploration.
Learn more about the Moon Village in the video below:
Would you like to go on vacation to the Moon? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Image credit: ESA
In Major First, New System Lets Paralyzed Users Control Tablet Computer Wirelessly
In what could be a major breakthrough for people suffering paralysis and other permanent disabilities, the first wireless command to a computer has been demonstrated.
According to a new study published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, scientists at Brown University say that the new system called BrainGate can transmit brain signals at “single-neuron resolution and in full broadband fidelity.”
BrainGate clinical trial participants with paralysis used a small transmitter connected to a person’s brain motor cortex to manipulate the interface of a tablet computer.
Participants were able to achieve the same typing speeds and point-and-click accuracy on the BrainGate system as they could with wired systems.
“We’ve demonstrated that this wireless system is functionally equivalent to the wired systems that have been the gold standard,” said John Simeral, an assistant professor of engineering at Brown University.
“The signals are recorded and transmitted with appropriately similar fidelity, which means we can use the same decoding algorithms we used with wired equipment,” Simeral said.
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“The only difference is that people no longer need to be physically tethered to our equipment, which opens up new possibilities in terms of how the system can be used,” he added.
Neural interface technologies have attracted such high-profile figures as Elon Musk and social media titan Facebook in recent years.
“With this system, we’re able to look at brain activity, at home, over long periods in a way that was nearly impossible before,” said Brown University engineering professor and clinical trial leader Leigh Hochberg.
“This will help us to design decoding algorithms that provide for the seamless, intuitive, reliable restoration of communication and mobility for people with paralysis,” Hochberg added.
Scientists Discover X-Rays Coming From Uranus For Very First Time
Scientists are seeing X-rays being emitted from Uranus for the very first time, according to new research.
On Wednesday, the study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research that lays out how a comparison of two images of the planet taken by the Chandra Observatory in 2002 and 2017 show a clear detection of X-rays in the first image, while the second shows a possible flare of X-rays on the enigmatic and icy planet.
According to NASA, the reason for these X-rays is “mainly the sun.”
However, “there are tantalizing hints that at least one other source of X-rays is present,” the space agency noted.
“One possibility is that the rings of Uranus are producing X-rays themselves, which is the case for Saturn’s rings,” NASA said. “Another possibility is that at least some of the X-rays come from auroras on Uranus, a phenomenon that has previously been observed on this planet at other wavelengths.”
X-rays can be provide a crucial window into the processes and characteristics of our universe. In the case of Uranus, these characteristics can include “atmospheric, surface and planetary ring composition.”
And while X-ray lights given off by the sun have been previously observed by astronomers on Jupiter and Saturn, this hasn’t been the case for icy giants like Uranus and Neptune.
The agency hopes that by figuring out the origin of the X-rays observed at Uranus, researchers can better grasp how mysterious objects including black holes and neutron stars emit X-rays.
Uranus is roughly four times the diameter of Earth and is the seventh planet from the sun, and is known for its distinct pair of rings around its equator and its unique side rotation.
Breathtaking New Image of Black Hole Reveals Ultrapowerful Magnetic Fields
Two years after the first-ever image of a black hole was produced, an international team of scientists have released an updated view of the magnetic fields surrounding it, saying that the groundbreaking new development allows us to understand the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy’s ability to “launch energetic jets from its core.”
In a press release, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) said that over 300 researchers collaborated on the project and the findings were published Wednesday in two separate papers in The Astrophysical Journal.
In April 2019, scientists from EHT captured the world’s attention by releasing an image of the supermassive black hole lying at the center of M87, which is located 55 million light-years away from Earth.
The striking image showed a dark central region outlined by a ring-like structure, which scientists described at the time as “emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.” In the new image captured through polarized light, brightly colored streaks of light can be seen corresponding with its magnetic field.
“We are now seeing the next crucial piece of evidence to understand how magnetic fields behave around black holes, and how activity in this very compact region of space can drive powerful jets that extend far beyond the galaxy,” said Monika Mościbrodzka, coordinator of the EHT Polarimetry Working Group and a professor at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands.
The new observations, which are based on data collected by EHT researchers, should provide crucial insights on how a galaxy can project streams of energy thousands of light-years outward from its core.
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