Building the World

March 29, 2018
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The Lab that Fell to Earth

“Hypervelocity Impact Demonstration” image: Nasa

It’s the size of a bus and it’s coming towards you, from space. European Space Agency (ESA) predicts China’s Tiangong-1 space station will return to earth in the next few days, as confirmed by China’s Manned Space Engineering Office. Tiangong-1, weighing 8.5 tons, is not expected to cause significant danger upon landing, but there is concern. Uncontrolled re-entry of space debris has seen increasingly large objects since COMSAT began to fill the sky: examples include STS-107 (106 tons) in 2010; Skylab (75 tons) in 1979. The most crowded area of space is between 700km and 1,000 km (435 miles to 621 miles), low enough feel gravity’s drag. The 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects has seen little compliance with the rule that non-functioning space objects must be removed in 25 years. Problems: attempts at removal create more debris, and few launches have a de-orbit plan. A 2009 collision of Motorola’s Iridium 33 and Russia’s Cosmos 2251 destroyed both: resultant debris wiped out decades of effort to clean up space junk. How much is “up there?” Over 20,000 objects are in orbit, and an estimated 500,000 pieces of space debris. To witness Tiangong-1’s return to earth, click here.

Amos, Jonathan. “Space debris collisions expected to rise.” BBC News, 22 April 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22253966.

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/media/Conv_International_Liab_Damage.pdf

Hunt, Katie with contributions by Serenitie Wang.”Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 to fall to Earth within days.” CNNhttps://www.cnn.com/2018/03/26/asia/china-tiangong-1-intl/index.html

Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. “IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines.” Report 22.4, 2007. http://www.unoosa.org/documents/pdf/spacelaw/sd/IADC-2002-01-IADC-Space_Debris-Guidelines-Revision1.pdf

Moskowitz, Clara. “How much junk is in space?” 3 May 2010. Space.com. https://www.space.com/8334-junk-space.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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February 25, 2018
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Olympics: Speed and Innovation

Speed Skating Pictogram: wikimedia.

PyeongChang’s Olympics saw gold, silver, bronze, and a glimpse into the future. Some parts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games received 5G coverage. KT and Intel were among the providers; after the Olympics, AT&T will debut 5G in Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco.

Every era of civilization might be characterized by its predominant mode of transport; perhaps the Internet is the road of our time, it’s new fast lane: 5G. Three decades after COMSAT launched satellites, AT&T began developing an industry standard for interoperability of wireless communication with partner Nortell. As a result, GSM became the standard. Today’s interoperability certification is TETRA. The result? Driverless cars, smarter cities. Should the United States Interstate System open a tetra lane for autonomous vehicles? The Critical Communications Association (TCCA), coordinating public safety and disaster response, might suggest, next to the tetra lane, a sportsway with charging stations, segway and bike lanes, and walking routes. Boston might consider building the first link, in cooperation with the Central Artery, part of the Interstate: nickname, 5Greenway.

Instant takes time. The first idea for 5G dates to April 2008 when NASA and Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (m2mi) partnered, termed by some as the “commercialization of space.” The Memorandum of Understanding was only the third in NASA’s history. Stated goals included: “Under the agreement, NASA and m2mi will cooperate to develop a fifth generation telecommunications and networking system for internet protocol-based and related services. The cooperative effort will combine NASA’s expertise in nano sensors, wireless networks, and nano satellite technologies with m2mi’s unique capabilities in software technology, sensors, global system awareness, adaptive control and commercialization capabilities. Fifth Generation, of 5G, incorporates Voice Over Internet Protocol, video, data, wireless, and an integrated machine-to-machine intelligence layer, or m2mi, for seamless information exchange and use.” In December 2017, 5G was approved by the 3GPP international wireless consortium. The United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union will consider the system in 2019.

Next Olympics: 2020 Tokyo. Japan launched high speed train system Shinkansen for the opening of the 1964 Olympics. Speed has always been a winning characteristic of Olympic gold. What kinds of speed, including 5G, will we see in 2020?

3gpp. “First 5G NR Specs Approved.” 22 December 2017. http://www.3gpp.org/news-events/3gpp-news/1929-nsa_nr_5g.

3gpp. “Drafting and publication of GSM Specs…in the pre-3GPP era.” 3gpp: The Mobile Broadband Standard. http://www.3gpp.org/specifications/gsm-history/.

Goldman, David and Betsy Klein. “What is 5 G?” CNN.com. 29 January 2018. http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/29/technology/what-is-5g/index.html

m2mi. Machine to Machine Intelligence Corporation, “Safe, more livable, and efficient Smart Cities: The Internet of Things.” http://www.m2mi.com/

NASA. “NASA Ames Partners with M2Mi For Small Satellite Development.” 24 April 2008. https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/apr/HQ_08107_Ames_nanosat.html.

“Olympic Visions: PyeongChang 2018.” 10 February 2018. Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2018/02/10/olympic-visions/.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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November 17, 2017
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Bonn Voyage

Sunrise in Bonn, Germany. Image wikimedia.

The Conference of the Parties (COP23) met in Bonn, Germany to put the walk in the talk. COP23’s purpose? Make actionable those agreements, formed in Paris at COP21, addressing climate change. Among developments in Bonn, the Ocean Pathway will include waters not contained within specific countries. Other notable achievements: Powering Past Coal Alliance. World agreements, such as that achieved in Paris and followed up in Bonn, are relatively rare in history. Global time zones were agreed at the International Prime Meridian Conference of 1884, as a result of the work of Sandford Fleming, surveyor on the Canadian Pacific Railway. COMSAT invited companies around the world to join governments to build a new “railway” in the sky: communications satellite systems later resulted in the Internet. Bonn’s achievements at COP23 will determine the future, as participating nations (with a notable exception) work together to rebuild a sustainable world. Even where a country might not participate, states and cities continue the effort: We Are Still In.

Ellis, Jonathan. “The Bonn Climate Conference: All Our Coverage in One Place.” 13 November 2017. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/climate/bonn-climate-change-conference.html

Powering Past Coal Alliance. http://www.ym.fi/download/noname/%7B2ECC2AA5-F5D9-4551-BEC1-63C29DDB57A4%7D/132328

United Nations. COP23. https://cop23.unfccc.int

We Are Still In. https://www.wearestillin.com/cop23-press-release

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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August 4, 2017
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Space Agent Wanted: Apply Here

“Buzz Aldrin Walks On Moon.” Image: wikimedia commons.

Just two more weeks to apply for an out-of-this-world job: Nasa is seeking a “planetary protection officer.” Think public health on a galactic level. Spacecraft land on planets, but they rarely take their shoes off upon returning home. Similarly, as humans set foot on lunar and other surfaces, what might they carry  on those moon boots that will forever contaminate new worlds?

In 1967, the United Nations Outer Space Treaty stipulated that nations take heed of contamination, but the law applied only to countries; at the time, COMSAT was just forming, nor were private space enterprises such as Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, Inc, and SpaceX yet anticipated.

“The Day the Earth Smiled.” On 19 July, 2013, Cassini slipped behind Saturn for this photo. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Nasa is so careful about contamination, according to current PPO Dr. Catharine Conley, the agency learned a lesson on 21 September 2003 when Galileo, first spacecraft to visit an asteroid (two, actually: Isa and Gaspra), observer of Venus, explorer of Jupiter, where it discovered the saltwater ocean on Europa and volcanic activity on Io, and a magnetic field on Ganymede, plummeted into Jupiter’s atmosphere rather than crash into Europa. It is there one might find life. Cassini, currently orbiting Saturn, will be similarly decommissioned.

If you become the successful applicant for HQ17S0010, as PPO it may be your responsibility to update the Outer Space Treaty? What will you do to protect interplanetary public health?

For More:

Outer Space Treaty. http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html

Galileo: End of Mission Status. https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/galileo_final.html.

Weinzierl, Matthew and Angela Acocella: “Blue Origin, NASA, and New Space” Harvard Business School, HBS Case Collection, 2016. http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50708

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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July 14, 2017
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Eye on the Sky

Jupiter’s “Red Eye in the Sky” image by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the Juno NASA mission. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI/MSSS/Jason Major. Nasa.gov.

Juno met Jupiter this week. NASA‘s Juno mission flew over the planet’s 10,000-mile-wide (16,000 kilometers) storm, so big that three earths could fit inside of the Great Red Spot. Since 1830, sky-watchers have kept an eye on this mysterious spot marking a storm that has raged for eons. When the Juno mission launched in 2011, the spacecraft did not arrive in orbit around Jupiter until July 4, 2016. Since then, it’s been photographing Jupiter, and will continue operations until 2018. Knowledge gained by Juno may serve useful in updating the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space that entered into force in 1967. Principles include:

“Exploration of space for the benefit of all countries and all humankind;

Outer space not subject to national appropriation or occupation;

Outer space to be free of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction;

Countries and states shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects;

The Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

At the start of the Space Race, only governments were thought to be financially and technologically capable of Space missions. But now private enterprise has taken impressive steps; Weinzierl and Acocella recently introduced a Harvard Business School case on the ownership of space with a close up of Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. Planetary Resources, Inc, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic are also prominent, joined now by an enterprise hoping to win Google’s $20million Lunar X Prize, Moon Express.

COMSAT might be an organizational model to follow. On 31 August, 1962 the Communications Satellite Act became law and set a new tone of inclusiveness that transformed the space race with greater multinational, public/private cooperation. New agreements about the future of space may foretell a mixed-economy organization to promote world-wide distribution of solar power.

Outer Space Treaty:http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/publications/STSPACE11E.pdf

Google Lunar X Prize:http://lunar.xprize.org

COMSAT:https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-76/pdf/STATUTE-76-Pg419.pdf

Space Solar Power:https://archive.org/details/sps91powerfromsp00unse

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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May 5, 2017
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Bloom in the Plume

Cassini found bloom in the plume. Image:: Enceladus, nasa. gov.

At a cocktail party, someone whispered while toasting the launch of the International Geophysical Year. News spread quickly that another launch had just occurred. Sputnik may have been the spike in the punch; Apollo soon countered. Fast forward to Comsat, the international space station, spacex, and beyond. Cassini spacecraft flew through of plume of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, finding evidence of hydrothermal processes that “favor the formation of methane from CO2 in the ocean of Enceladus.” How should the Outer Space Treaty reflect such new discoveries?

“Cassini finds molecular hydrogen in the Enceladus plume: Evidence for hydrothermal processes.” J. Hunter Waite, Christopher R. Glein, Rececca S. Perryman, et al. Science 14 Apr 2017. Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 155-159. COI: 10.1126/science.aai8703. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6334/155.

Outer Space Treaty: http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/publications/STSPACE11E.pdf

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 22, 2017
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It’s Earth Day: Look Up!

Ra, Egyptian sun god. Artist: Jeff Dahl. Image: wikimedia commons.

Earth Day. Could the answer to our planet’s energy problems and resultant climate change be found by looking up? Every culture on earth has myths about the sun. For example, Egypt worshipped Ra, the sun god whose falcon head was crowned with a solar disk. In 1973, building upon the success of COMSAT and the Apollo Moon Landing, Peter Glaser was awarded the United States patent for solar power from space, via satellite. Honored in the spring, as the sky glows with a stronger light, Earth Day might call us to look up.

Thanks to Jacques Horvilleur, and Lucien Deschamps, and Sociéte de électricité et des électronique et des technologies de l’information et de la communication (SEE), Société des Ingénieurs et Scientifiques de France (ISF).

For solar power from space: http://archive.org/details/sps91powerfromsp00unse/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2017
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Of Course I Still Love You

Saturn V launches Apollo 11. Image: NASA, Marshall Image Exchange.

For the first time in history, a rocket has been reused successfully. SpaceX has been practicing round-trip rocketry for years: Falcon 9 launchers have flown to/fro 13 times, with 8 perfecting the touchdown. That meant 8 rockets sitting in inventory. But never had a launch rocket yet been reused. “It’s been 15 years to get to this point,” stated Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, who now prices reused rockets at a discount. Packaging and discounts are a sign of private industry in space, a step beyond NASA or ESA, the European Space Agency. But reuse means more than discount: Luxembourg’s SES used the occasion to launch a communications satellite, descendant of COMSAT, to convey an environmental message. SpaceX sent a message too: in the spirit of whimsy, Falcon 9 landed on a welcoming vessel – an autonomous ship – named: “Of Course I Still Love You.”

For video of the Falcon landing on “Of Course I Still Love You:”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqnQ1dHnUr0

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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November 25, 2016
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Island in the Sun

Rose Atoll, American Samoa. Image: NASA.gov.

4,000 miles + 600 people + cost of diesel delivery = innovation. T’au traded fossil fuels for renewable energy via solar collectors combined with storage batteries. Building a microgrid generating 1.4 megawatts of energy, powered by 60 Tesla power packs and 5,328 solar panels, American Samoan island T’au can supply residents and businesses with electricity. In case clouds shroud the island in the sun, battery power runs for three days. Islands in space, like satellites launched by Comsat, Nasa, and the International Space Station, rely upon solar energy. But oceanic islands formerly waited for boats to deliver diesel to power generators. T’au’s solar innovation, funded by contributors including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and American Samoa Economic Development Authority, may set a new standard for renewable energy. Next? Tesla and partner Solar City hope to apply the model to Hawaiian island, Kaua’i.

Thanks to Jason W. Lusk for suggesting this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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July 20, 2016
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Moon: Property Rights

Lunar property rights? Image: wikimedia commons.

July 20, 1969: “A giant leap for mankind” as the first human set foot upon the moon in Nasa’s Apollo mission. Two years before, the Outer Space Treaty was signed with the provision that celestial bodies not be owned by any nation; at the time, only governments had enough resources for space exploration. Today, enterprises like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Planetary Resources, Inc. are commercializing the heavens. The Google Lunar X Prize stimulated interest in space resources. European Space Agency and Luna-Resurs plan to drill the lunar south pole where “water and other volatiles” might be discovered. China and Japan are readying moon forays. Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Tony Milligan of King’s College London, and Alanna Krolikowski of Georg-August University Göttingen published, in Space Policy, a warning regarding the moon’s ‘Peaks of Eternal Light’ where a photovoltaic solar power installation could be positioned. In 2015, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act clarified rights. Professor Matthew Weinzierl and Angela Acocella have written a Harvard Business School case, “Blue Origin, NASA, and New Space.” Could COMSAT provide a model for international cooperation? Before enterprises claim rights, how should the Outer Space Treaty be updated?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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