NASA Wants Your Help Designing a Venus Rover Concept

From NASA

Venus rover conceptVenus rover concept

An illustration of a concept for a possible wind-powered Venus rover. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, under a grant from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, is running a public challenge to develop an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future Venus rover. The “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover” challenge is seeking the public’s designs for a sensor that could be incorporated into the design concept.

Venus is an extreme world. With a surface temperature in excess of 840 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth, Venus can turn lead into a puddle and crush a nuclear-powered submarine with ease. While many missions have visited our sister planet, only about a dozen have made contact with the surface of Venus before quickly succumbing to the oppressive heat and pressure.

The last spacecraft to touch the planet’s surface, the Soviet Vega 2, landed in 1985. Now, engineers and scientists at JPL are studying mission designs that can survive the hellish landscape.

“Earth and Venus are basically sibling planets, but Venus took a turn at one point and became inhospitable to life as we know it,” said Jonathan Sauder, a senior mechatronics engineer at JPL and principal investigator for the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) concept. “By getting on the ground and exploring Venus, we can understand what caused Earth and Venus to diverge on wildly different paths and can explore a foreign world right in our own backyard.”

Exploring and studying different geologic units across the surface of Venus could help us understand the planet’s evolution, and could contribute to a better understanding of Earth’s climate.

Powered by wind, AREE is intended to spend months, not minutes, exploring the Venus landscape. AREE could collect valuable, long-term longitudinal scientific data. As the rover explores the planet, it must also detect obstacles in its path, such as rocks, crevices and steep terrain. And NASA is crowdsourcing help for that sensor design. The challenge’s winning sensor will be incorporated into the rover concept and could potentially one day be the mechanism by which a rover detects and navigates around obstructions.

The difficulty of this challenge is in designing a sensor that does not rely on electronic systems. Current state-of-the-art electronics fail at just over 250 degrees Fahrenheit and would easily succumb to the extreme Venus environment. That is why NASA is turning to the global community of innovators and inventors for a solution.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the public to design a component that could one day end up on another celestial body,” said Ryon Stewart, challenge coordinator for the NASA Tournament Lab at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “NASA recognizes that good ideas can come from anywhere and that prize competitions are a great way to engage the public’s interest and ingenuity and make space exploration possible for everyone.”

Participants will have an opportunity to win a first-place prize of $15,000. Second place wins $10,000; and third place, $5,000. JPL is working with the NASA Tournament Lab to execute the challenge on the heroX crowdsourcing platform. Submissions will be accepted through May 29, 2020.

“When faced with navigating one of the most challenging terrestrial environments in the solar system, we need to think outside the box,” Sauder said. “That is why we need the creativity of makers and garage inventors to help solve this challenge.”

For more information about the challenge and how to enter, visit:

https://www.herox.com/VenusRover

AREE is an early-stage research study funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). NIAC is a visionary and far-reaching aerospace program, one that has the potential to create breakthrough technologies for possible future space missions; however, such early-stage technology developments may never become actual NASA missions.

NASA Tournament Lab is part of NASA’s Prizes and Challenges program within STMD. The program supports the use of public competitions and crowdsourcing as tools to advance NASA R&D and other mission needs.

Learn more about opportunities to participate in your space program:

www.nasa.gov/solve

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February 22, 2020 at 08:07AM

The mad rush to electric vehicles

Will this be another disaster for consumers?

Duggan Flanakin

Tesla’s stock market value is already bigger than Ford and General Motors combined, says a report in Forbes magazine. Elon Musk’s company had already received nearly $5 billion in federal subsidies by 2015, helping him amass a net worth of $31 billion. Who says government cannot make anyone rich?

But hold on. An ascendant Bernie Sanders has called for a massive expansion of government-run electricity production. He claims to be no friend of billionaires and is running against multiple billionaires, including two Democrat candidates and 23 contributors to Mayor Pete’s campaign.

But he sure is helping the rich. Sanders and many other politicos have championed a multi-state effort to end the sale of vehicles with internal combustion (IC) engines. So have several European nations. Related goals include phasing out coal, oil and natural gas for heating, electric power generation and other uses.

As Politico reports, a major part of Sanders’ $16 trillion Greener New Deal allocates massive new funding for the four existing “power marketing administrations” that are overseen by the Department of Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority and a new federal agency. The money would go to vastly expand their solar, wind and even geothermal power production.

Matt Palumbo, writing in the Bongino Report, says the Sanders plan will need $2 trillion just for infrastructure, dwarfing the cost of the interstate highway system, to add 800 gigawatts of intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar energy. Right now Sanders insists that he is not “nationalizing” energy production, but merely providing wholesale energy to public and private local suppliers. However, these subsidized government-run facilities will surely control the energy market. That looks like nationalization in all but official nomenclature.

Private companies that now rely on coal or natural gas will be further squeezed by mandated deep cuts in CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, energy demand for a mandated and growing fleet of electric vehicles will soar, requiring still more wind turbines, solar panels, backup batteries, transmission lines, and (as I note in a recent article about electric buses) metals, minerals and mining demands on unprecedented scales – coupled with rampant environmental destruction, child labor, and horrific increases in cancer and other diseases from the absence of workplace safety and pollution control standards.

Americans have expressed great displeasure over subsidizing EVs for the wealthy, a recent American Energy Alliance poll found. Only one in five voters would trust the federal government to make decisions about what kinds of cars should be subsidized – or mandated. Many do not even like, or cannot afford, the innovations already introduced for internal combustion vehicles, as evidenced by data showing that the average age of the U.S. vehicle fleet has increased in recent years.

Who can blame them for being angry? Wealthy EV buyers can get $7500 federal and up to $2500 state tax credits (not just deductions), free or low-cost charging at stations installed at taxpayer and electricity consumer cost, and access to HOV lanes even with no passengers. EV drivers pay no gasoline tax, and thus pay nothing for road construction, repair and maintenance. And as states “go green” and eliminate fossil fuel and nuclear power, average Americans will have to endure the eyesores, noise, habitat destruction and wildlife losses that will come with millions more wind turbines and solar panels.

Nevertheless, despite public qualms, most automakers have joined the EV movement. Like gossip in a small town, proposals and promises to ban or end production of IC engines have spread like wildfire. The Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo announced in 2017 it would stop designing new IC engines. German giant Daimler (Mercedes Benz) followed suit last year. And in the United States, General Motors in 2018 announced plans to offer only battery-powered or hydrogen-powered vehicles in the near future.

These automakers are perhaps just responding to the political climate in Europe. The United Kingdom just moved up its cutoff date for banning sales of new IC vehicles to 2035. The UK ban would even include hybrids! France and other countries are holding to a 2040 date for mandating all-electric fleets, while Norway has set a goal (not a mandate) to eliminate most IC engines (but not hybrids) by 2025. But amazingly California lawmakers actually killed a 2018 effort to ban IC engines by 2040.

Meanwhile, European automakers have moved to profit from EV charging stations. IONITY (created in 2017 as a joint venture between the BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz AG, the Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porcshe) has already built over 200 facilities with over 860 charging points. It plans to expand to 400 facilities in 24 countries by yearend 2020. And IONITY is not alone.

Europe today still has over 100,000 petrol and diesel fueling stations, certain to shrink as IC engines are now pariahs. But how do Europeans plan to charge all the electric cars, trucks and buses, if they must rely entirely on intermittent, unreliable, weather-dependent, super expensive wind and solar electricity?

Before February 2020, IONITY was charging a flat, fixed rate of eight Euros (about $8.87) for a fast charging session. That was less than 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for a 60-kW charge that might be good for 210 miles – on a continent where electricity prices are already 25 to 45 cents per kWh. With EU gasoline prices ranging from 1.77 euros/liter ($7.35 per gallon) in the Netherlands to $4.41/gallon in Romania, drivers would need about $31 in Romania or $51 in the Netherlands to drive the same distance (assuming 30 mpg), even at these incredible (and unsustainable) bargain basement electricity prices.

But as of February 1, IONITY switched to unit pricing at a rate of 0.79 euro/kWh (88 cents/kWh), or about $52.80 for a 60-kW charge. That’s a 500% increase in the cost of charging your car, just to travel a couple hundred miles. Suddenly, an EV charge is a whole lot more expensive than a fill-up.

So IONITY is offering discounts that customers can purchase from IONITY partner companies. At home chargers in the EU cost about $18 per 60-kW charge, plus about $1,000 for installation. That’s at the average EU residential rate of 30 cents/kWh (twice the current U.S. average). And that’s before the mad rush to electric cars, trucks and buses – and the mad rush to expensive “renewable” energy.

How will poor and working classes afford this, especially people who must drive to work or must use trucks in their small businesses? Who will subsidize their soaring costs – the EU’s increasingly stretched and impoverished middle class? Its millionaires and billionaires?

Here’s the rub for Americans. If Sanders gets his way, the federal government will control the price and availability of electricity in the USA. California, which wants to mandate EVs only, has already faced multi-day electricity blackouts due to fire concerns, and if there’s no power there’s no charging. Many other countries also lack reliable electric power – and increasing electricity scarcity (almost certain in a fossil fuel-free environment) drives up prices even in government-controlled marketplaces.

After the 1970s oil embargo, the United States opted for a broad-based energy sector, so that shortages in one fuel would not cripple the national economy. But today, many cities have already moved to ban oil, coal and natural gas, nuclear is still taboo, and wind and solar are intermittent. The push toward an all-electric society – plus heavy and rising burdens on the power grid from intermittent power generations and charging all-electric vehicles – looks like a recipe for disaster, at least for the average consumer.

The well-connected always do well enough in controlled economies – at least until government policies send energy prices soaring, and send angry poor and working class protesters into the streets, to rage and rampage, as has happened in Iran, France and Chile.

But what can a We the Governed do but submit to the will of the all-powerful state envisioned by Sanders and his fellow Democrat presidential wannabes? They’re all insulated by their wealth and positions from the impacts of their policies. But what about the rest of us? State and federal ruling classes might be surprised at how liberty and opportunity-loving Americans respond.

Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

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February 22, 2020 at 08:07AM

UN Admits That The Paris Climate Deal Was A Fraud

Back in November 2017, a United Nations climate report warned that even if every country should abide by the grand promises they made in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases, the planet would still be “doomed.”

The report said unless global greenhouse gas emissions peak before 2020, the CO2 levels would be way above the goal set for 2030, which, the report went on, will make it “extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2 degrees C can still be reached.”

Well, it’s now 2020. The list of what needed to be done by 2020 included: Boosting renewable energy’s share to 30%. Pushing electric cars to 15% of new car sales, up from less than 1% in 2017. Doubling mass transit use. Cutting air travel CO2 emissions by 20%. And coming up with $1 trillion for “climate action.”

Oh, and coal-fired power plants would have to be phased out worldwide, starting right then.

According to the report, “phasing out coal consumption … is an indispensable condition for achieving international climate change targets.” That means putting a halt to any new coal plants while starting to phase out the ones currently in use.

“Good luck with that,” said this article on investors.com. “There are currently 273 gigawatts of coal capacity under construction around the world, and another 570 gigawatts in the pipeline, the UN says. That would represent a 42% increase in global energy production from coal.”

And that’s just the beginning. It is my understanding that during the next five years Japan intends to build 22 coal-fired power stations to replace its nuclear power plants. Those 22 coal-burning plants will be built at 17 different sites in Japan.  It is claimed those 22 power plants will emit almost as much carbon dioxide annually as all the passenger cars sold each year in the United States. And don’t forget the coal-fired power stations being built in Germany, China, and God only knows where else.

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/the-un-admits-that-the-paris-climate-deal-was-a-fraud/

Thanks to John Galipeau for this link

The post UN Admits That The Paris Climate Deal Was A Fraud appeared first on Ice Age Now.

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February 22, 2020 at 06:51AM

Extinction Rebels on Wall Street

Raising alarms about the climate extincting humans is not only fun, but profitable. Just ask J.P. Morgan who recently put out a treatise pumping up the alarm.  Tyler Durden writes at Zero Hedge “The Human Race Could Go Extinct”: JPMorgan Fearmongers Climate Change Impact In Leaked Report. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A new explosive report from JP Morgan was leaked out this week titled “Risky business: the climate and the macroeconomy” warns climate change poses a significant macroeconomic risk to the world economy and could result in a “catastrophic” event.

“The response to climate change should be motivated not only by central estimates of outcomes but also by the likelihood of extreme events (from the tails of the probability distribution). We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened,” the report advised its top clients.

JPM’s David Mackie and Jessica Murray, the authors of the report, said: “climate change would not only impact GDP and welfare directly but would also have indirect effects via morbidity, mortality, famine, water stress, conflict, and migration.”

They said the impact of climate had been underestimated by governments, adding:

“Something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive.”

The reason for this elaborate scheme is that after the 2008 financial crisis, where financial elites were bailed out and the middle class was left to rot, convincing the average person that money printing is needed once more would be a difficult task.

So again, financial elites created a fake climate change crisis to offer a policy prescription of money printing to protect their asset bubbles, but simultaneously, make everyone believe that it’s to transform the global economy into a much greener trajectory to save the planet.

And if you care to read JPM’s leaked report, here it is:

 

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February 22, 2020 at 06:21AM