(TMU) — One year ago in January, a Chinese robot landed on the dark side of the moon. Since then, the Chang’e 4 probe and the Yutu-2 rover it carried onboard have been busy photographing and scanning minerals, growing yeast, hatching fruit-fly eggs, and cultivating cotton, potato, and rapeseeds in the moon’s low gravity, according to the Daily Beast.
Now, China’s National Space Administration is quietly planning to launch yet another probe into space. Chang’e 5 could blast off as early as this year.
Last year, TMU reported that the Yutu-2 rover came across a strange “gel-like” substance which the Chinese began to study extensively.
The Chinese space agency has continued to work on its Tiangong 3 space station and is planning on testing a new manned spacecraft for deep-space missions. That permanent station will reach orbit aboard the country’s new Long March 5B rocket in the first half of 2020, AFP reported. The mission will not be associated with the International Space Station.
It is worth noting that China and Europe both planned on building a moonbase together in a move of “international collaboration” back in 2017. Europe and Russia are also eyeing plans to send a probe to the dark side of the moon to determine if they should build a moon base on the far side of the lunar surface.
And the U.S. hasn’t been quiet when it comes to the space race either with the introduction of Space Force and plans of its own for a joint base with Russia.
For the U.S., this space race to build a moonbase is nothing new. A project known as Horizon was supposedly a plan drawn up in the 1950s that seemingly depicts the blueprints for a base on the moon. Project Horizon sought to establish a stationary Army control base on the moon by 1966 but the operation was allegedly shut down and canceled and the idea never materialized further.
It was reported in a joint announcement by NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities that the U.S. and Russia wanted to build a “moonbase” the same year that Europe and China announced their cooperation. However, the current plan with Russia resembles another previous proposal called the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) which ironically was suggested during the Cold War. Russia and the U.S. now seek to revive that plan with a base that will orbit the moon similar to how the International Space Station moves around Earth.
The MOL ran from December 1963 until its alleged cancellation in June 1969. Its mission was to use an elite corps of secret U.S. astronauts to gather intelligence on the Soviets during the Cold War.
NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos stated the partnership was for human exploration of the moon and deep space. Both agencies signed a joint statement on the collaborative effort. It all stemmed from NASA’s “deep-space gateway” concept, a mission architecture designed to send astronauts into lunar orbit by 2020.
“This plan challenges our current capabilities in human spaceflight and will benefit from engagement by multiple countries and U.S. industry,” NASA officials said in a statement at the time.
The status of plans between Russia and the U.S. as well as China and Europe aren’t currently public and either could be canceled for reasons of political tensions or something else before they see the light of day.
“China, the United States, Russia and Europe are all discussing whether to build a research base or a research station on the moon,” Wu Yanhua, deputy chief commander of China’s Lunar Exploration Program said.
The bigger worry isn’t space exploration—it is weaponizing space. The New York Times reported in 2015 that space could be the next war zone, warning about the implications of weaponizing space in an opinion piece literally titled “Preventing A Space War.”
FBI Seizes Capitol Building LEGO Set From Alleged Rioter’s House
Many of us know, either from our childhood or even our adulthood, that building and collecting LEGO can be a fun hobby that allows us to tap into our creativity in a relaxing, stress-free way.
But what if someone’s LEGO hobby is something much more nefarious – or even seditious in the eyes of the government?
Such may have been the case when special agents with the FBI confiscated a fully completed LEGO set of the U.S. Capitol Building from the home of Robert Morss, 27, whom they allege participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to court documents published by The Smoking Gun.
The large LEGO set is comprised of 1,032 pieces and was released in 2016 and is no longer available for retail. The agents seized the finished set along with other items matching those they believe Morss had in his possession when he allegedly stormed the building – including a neck gaiter, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, a military-style satchel, a black tourniquet, and military battle dress uniforms.
The documents also note that he “had three different firearms including a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle” in his possession.
According to LEGO, the United States Capitol Building set “focuses on the structure’s neoclassical style facade, steps and lawns” and is “finished with a decorative ‘US Capitol’ nameplate.” In 2019, the product was “retired” – which has less to do with politics and more to do with the limited availability of the company’s unique product lines.
Morss, who is from Pennsylvania, was arrested last month on a range of federal charges. According to the Department of Justice, his alleged crimes “include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States.”
An FBI investigator’s affidavit notes that Morss joined rioters in direct confrontations with officers guarding the Lower West Terrace doors of the Capital in “an intense and prolonged clash between rioters and law enforcement.”
Law enforcement officers claim that they also found a notebook in Morss car that had instructions on a “Step by Step to Create Hometown Militia” that included a list of names, equipment, and sections on “ambush,” “battle drills,” and “formations.” The notebook also contained notes that said “bring assault rifle,” “4 magazines,” and “bring kit/body armor.”
However, the court documents do not indicate whether the LEGO set was deployed in tactical drills prior to the botched uprising.
The DOJ says that roughly 465 individuals have been arrested on charges related the events of Jan. 6.
Neptune, the Roman God of Water, ‘Emerges’ From Waves in Photo During UK Storm
If we were to believe our eyes, it would seem that the ancient Roman god of water himself made an appearance on the shores of New Haven, England, on a day of especially rough surf.
What appears to be the “face” of Neptune was captured on Tuesday when photographer Jeff Overs of the BBC was taking photos of waves crashing over the harbor wall in the port city.
Of course, one is free to believe that the ferocious deity emanated from the depths of the sea to remind us puny humans of his wrath.
But alas, it was likely a simple example of pareidolia – the phenomenon of seeing faces and figures in otherwise random or ambiguous everyday objects.
The photographer snapped the shot amid high tide and winds exceeding 50 miles per hour (80km/h), namely because of the violent nature of the shore.
“It’s become a popular location for photographers because the sea ‘boils’ in high wind against the sea wall,” Overs explained.
“The waves splash into the high wind and when blown back occasionally make patterns that look like ghoulish faces.”
Overs added that one of the small foreground waves even resembles a hand – albeit a pareidolic one.
“It’s a straight shot and I haven’t manipulated the image at all,” he added.
Lunar New Deal: GOP Lawmaker Suggests Altering Moon & Earth’s Orbit to Stop Climate Change
Texas Republican Congressman Louise Gohmert raised the eyebrows of his Congressional colleagues on Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that climate change could be combatted by changing the orbit of the moon, or even altering “Earth’s orbit around the sun.”
Gohmert, who has been decried as the “dumbest member of Congress” for his past absurdly anti-scientific comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and a number of other issues, has been a vocal opponent of progressive legislators’ attempts to put a “Green New Deal” on the government’s agenda.
However, his apparent suggestion of a “Lunar New Deal” to mitigate global warming could take the cake as his most hare-brained idea yet.
The comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on four pending bills while questioning Jennifer Eberlien of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, reports NBC.
“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the B.L.M. [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” the Texas congressman began.
“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun,” he continued.
“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Gohmert said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or B.L.M. can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”
“Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate,” the lawmaker added.
Responding, Eberlein said with a smile: “I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.”
“If you figure out there’s a way in the forest service you could make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert responded, without any trace of irony.
Longtime critics of the conservative legislator were besides themselves with bewilderment and mockery over the out-of-this-world suggestion.
On the opposite side of the aisle California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu suggested that perhaps Marvel Comics superheroine Captain Marvel was up to the task.
“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
According to NASA, the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history for various reasons, including small variations in the planet’s orbit.
However, the agency’s website notes that this doesn’t discount the fact that anthropogenic or human-caused activities are the culprit of the current warming.
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia,” the site says.