The Aging Spacecraft of Deep Space | Government Executive


These hunks of gleaming metal and circuitry—they are the furthermost tangible proof of our existence.

The twin Voyager spacecraft took off in 1977, carrying scientific instruments and golden records stuffed with information. Millions of miles away, they still communicate with Earth. They still collect data. But they are aging.

The spacecraft, traveling in slightly different directions, weaken every year. Their thrusters, which keep them steady, are degrading. Their power generators produce about 40 percent less electricity than they did at launch.

Source: The Aging Spacecraft of Deep Space – Government Executive

Why synthetic chemicals seem more toxic than natural ones | Aeon Ideas


Toxicologists believe that nearly every substance is safe in certain amounts.

Take the example of botulinum, the most poisonous substance on Earth. Just 50 grammes of the toxin spread evenly worldwide would kill everyone. But, in very minute amounts, it is safely used for cosmetic purposes in Botox. Thus the adage ‘the dose makes the poison’.

Source: Why synthetic chemicals seem more toxic than natural ones | Aeon Ideas

Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’ | Defense One


We may be on the verge of a brave new world indeed.

Today’s advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering have exciting applications in medicine — yet also alarming implications, including for military affairs. China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion (军民融合) has highlighted biology as a priority, and the People’s Liberation Army could be at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this knowledge.

The PLA’s keen interest is reflected in strategic writings and research that argue that advances in biology are contributing to changing the form or character (形态) of conflict.

Source: Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’ – Defense One

The GOP’s climate change dilemma | Vox


Last month, Senate Democrats held a hearing to discuss the vexing subject of conservatives and climate change.

The Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, chaired by Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, invited several conservatives to testify. “Elected Republicans are mostly awful on climate,” he said, “but it wasn’t always that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way in the future.”

Among the conservatives invited was longtime pollster and wordsmith Frank Luntz, credited with, among other things, persuading the Bush administration to say “climate change” rather than global warming, popularizing the term “death tax” for estate taxes, and advising the Trump administration to use the term “border security.”

But, at least when it comes to climate change, he has come around.

Source: Republicans’ climate change dilemma: Frank Luntz vs. Grover Norquist – Vox

Climate campaigner Greta prepares to sail to the U.S. on boat with no toilet | Reuters


Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg will set sail for New York on Wednesday, crossing the Atlantic in a racing yacht with no shower or toilet to join protests in the United States and take part in a United Nations summit.

To avoid traveling by air, Thunberg is making her trans-Atlantic trip on board the 60-ft yacht, the Malizia II, fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines that produce electricity onboard, with the aim of making the journey zero-carbon.

Source: Climate campaigner Greta prepares to sail to the U.S. on boat with no toilet – Reuters

Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU | The Guardian


A cloud of smoke and soot bigger than the European Union is billowing across Siberia as wildfires in the Arctic Circle rage into an unprecedented third month.

The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the manmade climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions.

Source: Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU | World news | The Guardian

Kentucky Coal Miners Block Train Tracks in Pay Protests | Time


The protest, which started on July 29 in Cumberland, Kentucky, is in response to workers who were laid off by their former employer, Blackjewel LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 1. As well as “operational issues” in its mines, the company cited “a combination of declining commodity prices, reduced domestic demand for thermal and metallurgical coal, and increased oversight and costs associated with regulatory compliance” as factors leading to it going bankrupt in court filings.

“The entire U.S. mining complex has been impacted by these events. A growing number of peers have filed for bankruptcy over the course of the past 5+ years. The entire industry either has gone through, or is currently going through, a period of financial distress and reorganization,” the document continued.

Source: Kentucky Coal Miners Block Train Tracks in Pay Protests | Time

Airbus Builds SMILE Satellite for ESA | Via Satellite

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Airbus was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the European component of the Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) satellite.

SMILE will be the first joint satellite mission between the ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), following on from the success of the Double Star/Tan Ce mission which flew between 2003 and 2008.

The objective of SMILE is to study and understand space weather.

Specifically, it will look at the physics behind continuous interaction between particles in the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere, the magnetic shield that protects the existence of life in our planet.

The mission is now entering a four year period of manufacturing, testing, and integration of the payload module and the platform. In launch configuration these two components will form a 3.15-meter-high stack.

The payload module will be built at the Airbus site in Madrid, where the instruments will be integrated. The platform will be built in Shanghai.

Source: Airbus Builds SMILE Satellite for ESA – Via Satellite –

In Test, Webb Telescope Electronics Deploy a Mirror | EE Times

nullFinally, some bits of hopeful news about the troubled space telescope, which is supposed to replace the Hubble.

There’s been little good news throughout the tortured development of the over-budget James Webb Space Telescope, an instrument Nature magazine dubbed, “The telescope that ate astronomy.” If and when the Webb telescope is launched, it could end up costing nearly $10 billion.

So, it’s noteworthy that NASA contractor Northrop Grumman reported this week some incremental progress involving the telescope’s electronics. The company said the telescope’s secondary mirror support structure was deployed for the first time using the spacecraft flight electronics. The clean room test demonstrated how the components would work together in orbit.

Source: In Test, Webb Telescope Electronics Deploy a Mirror | EE Times

NASA agrees to work with SpaceX on orbital refueling technology | Intelligent Aerospace

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In addition to SpaceX, NASA will be working with myriad companies to source advanced communications, navigation, avionics, advanced materials, entry, descent, and landing equipment, in-space manufacturing and assembly tools, power systems, propulsion, and other technologies.

“NASA’s proven experience and unique facilities are helping commercial companies mature their technologies at a competitive pace,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Source: NASA agrees to work with SpaceX on orbital refueling technology | Intelligent Aerospace