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Impact - 2nd Edition


The moon is set to have its own time-zone

Scanning for Life - Space Tech in Search & Rescue

After a horrific series of earthquakes devastated parts of Turkey and Syria last month, much of the world did what it does best in an emergency and reached out to lend a hand. One such offer of assistance came from NASA who offered the use of devices called FINDERs, initially developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The devices work by using microwave radar to detect tiny motions caused by living processes such as heartbeats and respiration — almost impossible to see with the naked eye, but able to be picked up by FINDER through deep mountains of rubble. FINDER is not the only tech assistance being provided either. EMIT (Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation) is a device based on the International Space Station designed to detect dust composition in the atmosphere, now also being used to detect dangerous gas leaks from damaged pipes.

Space tech finding and supporting human life on Earth. We love to see it. More please.


Asteroid Near (and not so near) Misses — Where Are We With Intercepting Them?

Four large asteroids are passing by Earth this week, all within 7.5 million kilometers — close enough to make NASA's potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) list. The closest predicted pass is 3.5 million km from our planet nowhere near as close as the one that whizzed by Earth in late January at a distance of roughly 2000 km, closer than some satellites. That asteroid was 3.5–8.5m across. Had it actually collided with Earth, it would have broken up into very small fragments as it passed through the atmosphere. The asteroids that pose a serious risk to Earth are much bigger, 1–2km according to NASA still small compared to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, which was around 12 km across. Fortunately, there are people working on how we can detect, intercept, and redirect large celestial objects in danger of colliding with Earth. AIDA is a collaboration between NASA and ESA, involving the DART asteroid redirection mission and the follow-up Hera mission. Last September, the DART spacecraft successfully collided with and redirected the asteroid Dimorphos, shortening its orbit around the larger asteroid Didymos. Hera will launch in 2024 to study the binary asteroid system and validate this method of asteroid redirection. These efforts are complemented by China’s ‘Fuyan’ asteroid detection project, in its second phase and expected to be completed by 2025. It is aimed at tracking asteroids as small as “dozens of metres” up to 150 million km away and determining whether they are a threat to Earth. In a similar vein, ESA’s planned NEOMIR mission aims to act as an early warning system for those asteroids coming from the direction of the sun that are hard to detect. Lunar Time - The Moon Might Be Getting Its Own Time Zone


In the last month there has been a flurry of conversation around the topic of lunar time keeping. In particular, proposals for a dedicated lunar time zone - something that would be an enormous help in organizing and coordinating the rapidly increasing activity on and around the Moon.


‘Lunar time’ is something both the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Open Lunar Foundation have been thinking hard about. At the ESA, the conversation is in early stages and plays into a larger plan for ‘LunaNet’ - a framework of standards and protocols that covers communication and navigation services. While over at the Open Lunar Foundation, the topic has been the specific focus of a project led by Philip Linden, who proposes “a cooperative, decentralized network of timekeeping devices” as a solution.


Naturally, there’s a lot of shared thinking about the issue — particularly the need for consensus and interoperability — as it’s something that needs to work for everyone. And because the Moon may well be the first of many off-planet places to get their own time-zone, how it works this ‘time’ will likely influence others to come.


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