Mushroom Cabins On The Moon

If space agencies want boots on the Moon constructing homes/research facilities is their first hurdle. Traditional building materials create payload challenges, heavy metal and glass take up a lot of room. All that weight puts a strain on fuel requirements. Enter synthetic biology, the study of how we can use life in technology – in this case fungus, as in mushrooms used to grow self repairing, self replicating habitats.

NASA researchers call it myco-architecture. Exploring the potential of Mycelia in fungus – tiny nutrient absorbing underground threads combining with precision and networking to build complex structures we recognize as mushrooms. A statement from NASA –

Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places like Mars. Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and simply adding water, the fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.”

Black-gloved hands holding small round dish with branching fibers on it.

A researcher holding a petri dish containing mycelia – the underground threads that make up the main part of a fungus – growing in simulated Martian soil, also known as Martian regolith. Image via NASA/ Ames Research Center/ Lynn Rothschild

A short, gray, bumpy squarish column.

A stool constructed out of mycelia after two weeks of growth. The next step is a baking process that leads to a clean and functional piece of furniture. The myco-architecture project seeks to design not only for habitats, but for the furniture that could be grown inside them as well. Image via 2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team/ NASA.

Could future moon homes be made of fungi?

Next time you brown bag mushrooms in the produce aisle, take a moment to ponder remarkable legions off unseen mycelia that one day might create mushroom cabins on the Moon.

Orbem Terrae

Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films effortlessly sprinkles corners of imagination with stardust. Ponder Orbem Terrae ( Latin, loosely translated as orbiting Earth or the whole world). Mauduit’s unique artistry hums arias of wonder. Wrap yourself in Orbem Terrae-

All the modern films taken at night usually capture this celestial course from a fixed point of the Earth. Thus you will most likely watch the moon or the milky way make their way across the firmament. In the Northern Hemisphere, it seems to move from left to right, and the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. Nonetheless have you ever seen a film where the night sky is fixed and the Earth moves instead? Well, now you have!That was the whole point of this short time-lapse film that I dubbed ‘Orbem Terræ’, or orbiting Earth in latin. The goal is to bring a whole new perspective on how we actually move against the background sky! In this manner, some of the clips give a very cool effect where you almost feel like you’re on the International Space Station lokking down at the Earth. This ‘floating’ effect is admittedly unsettling though, as if we will fall into the abyss of the universe. However only now can you appreciate the true movement of rotation of our planet in the solar system. Some of the clips are also tilted, reversed and rotated on purpose to accentuate the effect, so much that sometimes, you have no clue what is up and what is down! It’s especially true for the scenes featuring water reflection!

To achieve this particular effect, it actually not rocket science. There exist simple devices that, if set in the right way, can follow and track a particular point of the sky by compensation for the rotation of the Earth. By mountain your camera on top of those ‘tracker’, you can now have a fixed sky, a rotating Earth effect, and some advantages as the cherry on top: more details in the night sky objects!

This short film is actually a compilation of all the best tracked shots I have acquired during the past 4 years. After all my different movies, I’ve been asked a number of times to put together this compilation, so here you go! They were taken all over the globe from Europe to South America, Africa to North America. It features some of the most detailed astrophotography sequences on the market for this quality output, including some never-seen-before ones! “ – Adrien Mauduit

Nazi Propaganda, Ultima Thule and Arrokoth

On January 1, 2019 NASA darling New Horizons made the farthest close approach fly-by of a cosmic object in human history. Tiny 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object far beyond Pluto was dubbed Ultima Thule shortly before the historic encounter. Ancient geographers used the term ultima Thule in reference to distant territory or destination, northernmost region of the habitable world, remotes goals or ideals. Ultima Thule suited the apple of New Horizons eye. Beyond limits of the known world, a fitting moniker until Nazi propaganda compelled Ultima Thule to become Arrokoth.

2014 MU69 – Arrokoth (Sky, in the Powhatan and Algonquian languages)

Long before a Newsweek reporter mentioned Nazi party use of Ultima Thule in reference to a mythical homeland for Aryan people, NASA pondered implication by association, including its legal team in naming 2014 MU69. Ultima Thule was a fine name, but for media buzz over Nazi propaganda I never would have known neo-Nazis and far right extremists claimed it for their cause. Nor would I known a Swedish skinhead band named Ultima Thule attained three top twenty hits in their homeland.

Imperatives to rename Ultima Thule had little to do with common public knowledge of  Nazi propaganda, everything to do with alt-right association and use of Ultima Thule in their cause.

Ultima Thule renamed to avoid Nazi link

Hunter’s Moon 2019

In honour of the full Hunter’s Moon this weekend – timelapse from Adrien Mauduit at Night Lights Films –

Hunter’s is an autumn moon, the first full moon of fall following the Harvest (full moon closest to the fall equinox) moon.

Ponder origin of all named moons at the link below –

Open Contest To Name 20 New Moons Of Saturn

Today, Scott Sheppard of Carnegie Institution for Science launched a contest to name 20 newly discovered moons of Saturn. For those keeping score,  Saturn (now with 82 moons) leapfrogged past Jupiter (79 moons) to claim satellite supremacy.

Illustration is courtesy of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Saturn image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Starry background courtesy of Paolo Sartorio/Shutterstock.

Dust off history books, brush up on Norse, Gallic and Inuit mythology – between now and December 6, 2019 the contest is open to anyone who follows IAU rules. Follow link below to enter contest.

From Wikipedia –

In 1847 the seven then known moons of Saturn were named by John Herschel. Herschel named Saturn’s two innermost moons (Mimas and Enceladus) after the mythological Greek Giants, and the outer five after the Titans (Titan, Iapetus) and Titanesses (Tethys, Dione, Rhea) of the same mythology. Until then, Titan was known as the “Huygenian (or Huyghenian) satellite of Saturn” and the other moons had Roman numeral designations in order of their distance from Saturn. Subsequent discoverers of Saturnian moons followed Herschel’s scheme: Hyperion was discovered soon after in 1848, and the ninth moon, Phoebe, was named by its discoverer in 1899 soon after its discovery; they were named for a Titan and a Titaness respectively. The name of Janus was suggested by its discoverer, Audouin Dollfus.

Current IAU practice for newly discovered inner moons is to continue with Herschel’s system, naming them after Titans or their descendants. However, the increasing number of moons that were being discovered in the 21st century caused the IAU to draw up a new scheme for the outer moons. At the IAU General Assembly in July 2004, the WGPSN allowed satellites of Saturn to have names of giants and monsters in mythologies other than the Greco-Roman. Since the outer moons fall naturally into three groups, one group is named after Norse giants, one after Gallic giants, and one after Inuit giants. The only moon that fails to fit this scheme is the Greek-named Phoebe, which is in the Norse group.

  • Two of the newly discovered prograde moons fit into a group of outer moons with inclinations of about 46 degrees called the Inuit group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Inuit mythology.
  • Seventeen of the newly discovered moons are retrograde moons in the Norse group. All name submissions for this group must be giants from Norse mythology.
  • One of the newly discovered moons orbits in the prograde direction and has an inclination near 36 degrees, which is similar to those in the Gallic group, although it is much farther away from Saturn than any other prograde moons. It must e named after a giant from Gallic mythology.