DAILY DOSE: Lower Earth Orbit clutter may hinder response to dangerous asteroids.


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A sustainable future can’t happen without the participation of major industries, e.g. automotive, power, materials. That’s why it’s an encouraging sign when companies make commitments to green technologies that move the needle even a little. (And, of course, nobody is doing things out of the goodness of their environmental hearts. It’s about profits.) According to Reuters, “Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will boost its planned investment in a new U.S. battery plant from $1.29 billion to $3.8 billion, partly in response to rising consumer demand for electric vehicles, the company said on Wednesday. Battery maker Panasonic (6752.T) will be a partner in the Liberty, North Carolina, plant through its Prime Planet Energy & Solutions (PPES) joint venture with Toyota, according to Norm Bafunno, senior vice president of powertrain manufacturing and engineering at Toyota Motor North America.” The Liberty plant is slated to open in 2025. Panasonic also has a joint venture with Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) in Nevada and recently announced plans to build a $4 billion plant in Kansas. https://reut.rs/3AztTys


There are some harrowing and tragic news filtering out of Pakistan regarding the terrible flooding that recently hit parts of the country. An Associated Press article recounts how quickly the waters appeared, leaving people with little to no time to react. “When the water hit Majooki hours after the warning, it poured into the house where the 53-year-old Bibi lived with her two sons, a daughter-in-law and her grandchildren. One of her grandchildren, 5-month-old Dua Humayun, was sleeping on a cot in the house’s courtyard. In an instant, the baby was swept away by the rushing waters. It was too fast for anyone to even think of saving her. She was gone.” https://bit.ly/3KCfd6w


One of the many lessons the Covid-19 pandemic taught the scientific and public health community was the need to be able to quickly and nimbly design or redesign drug development platforms to produce new products in the event of another emergency. A new effort in Australia called the Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics is designed to accomplish just that. Per Nature, “CGCPT aims to go further and will look for an entirely new drug creation platform that can be repurposed to find treatments for outbreaks of pathogens with pandemic potential, including influenza, coronaviruses, and even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One possible approach could be a drug platform that targets nucleic acid, which would only need the genetic sequence of the virus to get started. Biologics – drugs made of complex biological molecules – are another potential option, although they are currently expensive to make.” https://go.nature.com/3PXz4xS


Stargazers have never hid their displeasure at the increasingly cluttered Lower Earth Orbit environment. The constantly expanding network of satellites often gets in the way of Earth-based observations. Now, another group have spoken out against the overcrowding, stating that it can actually put the entire planet in danger. Per space.com, “Apollo Academic Surveys and Carrie Nugent of the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts surveyed planetary defense experts on a range of topics regarding near-Earth asteroids (NEA) and comets. Of the 34 experts polled, all of them said they were at least slightly concerned about the effect of satellite overcrowding on asteroid detection; 24% identified as extremely concerned. ‘Studies (e.g. Mroz et al. 2022(opens in new tab)) have shown that LEO satellites can severely affect observations taken during twilight, and that is an important parameter space for NEO search,’ wrote one anonymous survey participant.” https://bit.ly/3pZajXC

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/CTIO/AURA/DELVE.

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