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We wrote earlier this week that President Trump issued an executive order establishing a policy that calls for the U.S. to mine and exploit the other resources like water on the moon. As Axios explained, the order “directs the State Department to find international partners that are interested in collaborating with the U.S. on creating ‘sustainable operations’ related to commercial use of space-based resources.”
A nation that won’t be a partner in this new scheme? Russia.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has condemned the order this week, likened it to colonialism and said in a statement that “There have already been examples in history when one country decided to start seizing territories in its interest — everyone remembers what came of it.”
Why This Matters: Meanwhile as oil companies are collapsing and solar energy keeps growing, Trump has made no indication he’ll help the renewable energy industry during the coronavirus recovery. We need our President to focus less on the moon and more on what’s happening on Earth (like pandemics and climate change).
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.
This week presents a rare astronomical event: the northern lights will be visible to a large swathe of the United States. According to the latest forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center, the Aurora Borealis can be spotted from the Pacific Northwest to New England and as far south as northern Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania.
NASA launched a new ocean observation satellite on the back of a SpaceX rocket last week. Now that it’s in space, the Sentinel-6 named the “Michael Freilich” will perform continuous monitoring of ocean levels and currents for the next 30 years. The “unprecedented accuracy” of its data will benefit ocean travel, weather forecasts, hurricane predictions, and climate science.
Why This Matters: The Sentinel-6 will help scientists monitor the climate crisis as it unfolds in our world’s oceans and coasts (home to 40% of humanity).
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