Scientists Test Solar Panel that Beams Power to Earth from Space

Scientists Test Solar Panel that Beams Power to Earth from Space

Pentagon scientists have successfully tested a small solar panel that, when launched into space, can collect solar power and beam it to any place on earth. The special panel is called a Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM) and was launched last May attached to a drone that circles the earth once every 90 minutes. If scaled up, scientists say that these orbital solar panels could work 24/7 and collect more sunlight than those on earth, and provide power to remote areas of the globe and major power grids alike.

Why This Matters: Along with hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters, climate change will also be increasing power outages. This new technology could play a role in reducing power outages and creating a globally connected power grid.

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First All-Civilian Private Space Flight to Launch This Year

First All-Civilian Private Space Flight to Launch This Year

On Monday, SpaceX announced that it would launch the first all-civilian crew to space this year, with no training or assistance from NASA or another government agency.  Leading the four-person mission will be billionaire Jared Isaacman, an experienced pilot and CEO of e-commerce company Shift4.

Why this Matters: This publicity stunt is meant to suggest that the goal of space tourism — to bring ordinary citizens to outer space — is nearer than we think.

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As Private Companies Near Space Travel and Exploitation, New Legal Questions Arise

As Private Companies Near Space Travel and Exploitation, New Legal Questions Arise

To many companies, space is the new “Wild West,” a “final frontier”  of resources to be exploited for profit. To avoid a “land rush” in space, nations and space companies will need to agree on what they can claim to own or even begin to extract from outer space before their competitors beat them to it. 

Why this Matters:  Tesla and Amazon are working to make space travel and resource extraction for private citizens and companies possible.

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One Fragrant Thing:  Eau De Space

One Fragrant Thing: Eau De Space

Have you ever wondered what space smells like?  Now we know.  According to astronauts, it is “a mix of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries and rum.”  Hmmm.  CNN reports that the fragrance was invented to help astronauts train for space — so that nothing about it would be surprising to them (seems like that would take […]

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Monitoring Animals From the Space Station To Improve Their Conservation

Monitoring Animals From the Space Station To Improve Their Conservation

Using inexpensive tracking technology and a large antenna installed on the International Space Station, a consortium of researchers is hoping to gather a wider range of data than they had using previous tracking technologies, including long migration patterns, allowing them to better understand how climate change and habitat loss impact wildlife. 

Why This Matters:  In addition to better understanding of wildlife migration and threats, the technology could be used for a range of other goals.

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One Amazing Thing: She Walked In Space and Dove to the Deepest Part of the Ocean

One Amazing Thing: She Walked In Space and Dove to the Deepest Part of the Ocean

We are proud to call Dr. Kathy Sullivan a Friend of the Planet and now she can claim to know the planet better than anyone else ever has, and may ever again.  This week, Kathy completed a dive to the depths of the bottom of the ocean — the Challenger Deep 35,810-feet down — in […]

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