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This Is How We’d All Die Instantly If The Sun Suddenly Went Supernova

As far as raw explosive power goes, no other cataclysm in the Universe is both as common and as destructive as a core-collapse supernova. In one brief event lasting only seconds, a runaway reaction causes a star to give off as much energy as our Sun will emit over its entire 10-12 billion year lifetime. While many supernovae have been observed both historically and since the invention of the telescope, humanity has never witnessed one up close.

Recently, the nearby red supergiant star, Betelgeuse, has started exhibiting interesting signs of dimming, leading some to suspect that it might be on the verge of going supernova. While our Sun isn’t massive enough to experience that same fate, it’s a fun and macabre thought experiment to imagine what would happen if it did. Yes, we’d all die in short order, but not from either the blast wave or from radiation. Instead, the neutrinos would get us first. Here’s how.

An animation sequence of the 17th century supernova in the constellation of Cassiopeia. This... [+] explosion, despite occurring in the Milky Way and about 60-70 years after 1604, could not be seen with the naked eye due to the intervening dust. Surrounding material plus continued emission of EM radiation both play a role in the remnant's continued illumination. A supernova is the typical fate for a star greater than about 10 solar masses, although there are some exceptions.

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration. Acknowledgement: Robert A. Fesen (Dartmouth College, USA) and James Long (ESA/Hubble)

A supernova — specifically, a core-collapse supernova — can only occur when a star many times more massive than our Sun runs out of nuclear fuel to burn in its core. All stars start off doing what our Sun does: fusing the most common element in the Universe, hydrogen, into helium through a series of chain reactions. During this part of a star’s life, it’s the radiation pressure from these nuclear fusion reactions that prevent the star’s interior from collapsing due to the enormous force of gravitation.

So what happens, then, when the star burns through all the hydrogen in its core? The radiation pressure drops and gravity starts to win in this titanic struggle, causing the core to contract. As it contracts, it heats up, and if the temperature can pass a certain critical threshold, the star will start fusing the next-lightest element in line, helium, to produce carbon.

This cutaway showcases the various regions of the surface and interior of the Sun, including the... [+] core, which is where nuclear fusion occurs. As time goes on, the helium-containing region in the core expands and the maximum temperature increases, causing the Sun's energy output to increase. When our Sun runs out of hydrogen fuel in the core, it will contract and heat up to a sufficient degree that helium fusion can begin.

Wikimedia Commons user Kelvinsong

This will occur in our own Sun some 5-to-7 billion years in the future, causing it to swell into a red giant. Our parent star will expand so much that Mercury, Venus, and possibly even Earth will be engulfed, but let’s instead imagine that we come up some clever plan to migrate our planet to a safe orbit, while mitigating the increased luminosity to prevent our planet from getting fried. This helium burning will last for hundreds of millions of years before our Sun runs out of helium and the core contracts and heats up once again.

For our Sun, that’s the end of the line, as we don’t have enough mass to move to the next stage and begin carbon fusion. In a star far more massive than our Sun, however, hydrogen-burning only takes millions of years to complete, and the helium-burning phase lasts merely hundreds of thousands of years. After that, the core’s contraction will enable carbon fusion to proceed, and things will move very quickly after that.

As it nears the end of its evolution, heavy elements produced by nuclear fusion inside the star are... [+] concentrated toward the center of the star. When the star explodes, the vast majority of the outer layers absorb neutrons rapidly, climbing the periodic table, and also get expelled back into the Universe where they participate in the next generation of star and planet formation.

NASA / CXC / S. Lee

Carbon fusion can produce elements such as oxygen, neon, and magnesium, but only takes hundreds of years to complete. When carbon becomes scarce in the core, it again contracts and heats up, leading to neon fusion (which lasts about a year), followed by oxygen fusion (lasting for a few months), and then silicon fusion (which lasts less than a day). In that final phase of silicon-burning, core temperatures can reach ~3 billion K, some 200 times the hottest temperatures currently found at the center of the Sun.

And then the critical moment occurs: the core runs out of silicon. Again, the pressure drops, but this time there’s nowhere to go. The elements that are produced from silicon fusion — elements like cobalt, nickel and iron — are more stable than the heavier elements that they’d conceivably fuse into. Instead, nothing there is capable of resisting gravitational collapse, and the core implodes.

Artist's illustration (left) of the interior of a massive star in the final stages, pre-supernova,... [+] of silicon-burning. (Silicon-burning is where iron, nickel, and cobalt form in the core.) A Chandra image (right) of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant today shows elements like Iron (in blue), sulphur (green), and magnesium (red). We do not know whether all core-collapse supernovae follow the same pathway or not.

NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang & J.Laming

This is where the core-collapse supernova happens. A runaway fusion reaction occurs, producing what’s basically one giant atomic nucleus made of neutrons in the star’s core, while the outer layers have a tremendous amount of energy injected into them. The fusion reaction itself lasts for only around 10 seconds, liberating about 1044 Joules of energy, or the mass-equivalent (via Einstein’s E = mc2) of about 1027 kg: as much as you’d release by transforming two Saturns into pure energy.

That energy goes into a mix of radiation (photons), the kinetic energy of the material in the now-exploding stellar material, and neutrinos. All three of these are more than capable of ending any life that’s managed to survive on an orbiting planet up to that point, but the big question of how we’d all die if the Sun went supernova depends on the answer to one question: who gets there first?

The anatomy of a very massive star throughout its life, culminating in a Type II Supernova when the... [+] core runs out of nuclear fuel. The final stage of fusion is typically silicon-burning, producing iron and iron-like elements in the core for only a brief while before a supernova ensues. Many of the supernova remnants will lead to the formation of neutron stars, which can produce the greatest abundances of the heaviest elements of all by colliding and merging.

Nicole Rager Fuller/NSF

When the runaway fusion reaction occurs, the only delay in the light getting out comes from the fact that it’s produced in the core of this star, and the core is surrounded by the star’s outer layers. It takes a finite amount of time for that signal to propagate to the outermost surface of the star — the photosphere — where it’s then free to travel in a straight line at the speed of light.

As soon as it gets out, the radiation will scorch everything in its path, blowing the atmosphere (and any remaining ocean) clean off of the star-facing side of an Earth-like planet immediately, while the night side would last for seconds-to-minutes longer. The blast wave of the matter would follow soon afterwards, engulfing the remnants of our scorched world and quite possibly, dependent on the specifics of the explosion, destroying the planet entirely.

                        

But any living creature would surely die even before the light or the blast wave from the supernova arrived; they’d never see their demise coming. Instead, the neutrinos — which interact with matter so rarely that an entire star, to them, functions like a pane of glass does to visible light — simply speed away omnidirectionally, from the moment of their creation, at speeds indistinguishable from the speed of light.

Moreover, neutrinos carry an enormous fraction of a supernova’s energy away: approximately 99% of it. In any given moment, with our paltry Sun emitting just ~4 × 1026 joules of energy each second, approximately 70 trillion (7 × 1013) neutrinos pass through your hand. The probability that they’ll interact is tiny, but occasionally it will happen, depositing the energy it carries into your body when it happens. Only a few neutrinos actually do this over the course of a typical day with our current Sun, but if it went supernova, the story would change dramatically.

A neutrino event, identifiable by the rings of Cerenkov radiation that show up along the... [+] photomultiplier tubes lining the detector walls, showcase the successful methodology of neutrino astronomy and leveraging the use of Cherenkov radiation. This image shows multiple events, and is part of the suite of experiments paving our way to a greater understanding of neutrinos. The neutrinos detected in 1987 marked the dawn of both neutrino astronomy as well as multi-messenger astronomy.

Super Kamiokande collaboration

When a supernova occurs, the neutrino flux increases by approximately a factor of 10 quadrillion (1016), while the energy-per-neutrino goes up by around a factor of 10, increasing the probability of a neutrino interacting with your body tremendously. When you work through the math, you’ll find that even with their extraordinary low probability of interaction, any living creature — from a single-celled organism to a complex human being — would be boiled from the inside out from neutrino interactions alone.

This is the scariest outcome imaginable, because you’d never see it coming. In 1987, we observed a supernova from 168,000 light-years away with both light and neutrinos. The neutrinos arrived at three different detectors across the world, spanning about 10 seconds from the earliest to the latest. The light from the supernova, however, didn’t begin arriving until hours later. By the time the first visual signatures arrived, everything on Earth would have already been vaporized for hours.

A supernova explosion enriches the surrounding interstellar medium with heavy elements. The outer... [+] rings are caused by previous ejecta, long before the final explosion. This explosion also emitted a huge variety of neutrinos, some of which made it all the way to Earth.

ESO / L. Calçada

Perhaps the scariest part of neutrinos is how there’s no good way to shield yourself from them. Even if you tried to block their path to you with lead, or a planet, or even a neutron star, more than 50% of the neutrinos would still get through. According to some estimates, not only would all life on an Earth-like planet be destroyed by neutrinos, but any life anywhere in a comparable solar system would meet that same fate, even out at the distance of Pluto, before the first light from the supernova ever arrived.

https://www.forbes.com/video/6111169884001/

The only early detection system we’d ever be able to install to know something was coming is a sufficiently sensitive neutrino detector, which could detect the unique, surefire signatures of neutrinos generated from each of carbon, neon, oxygen, and silicon burning. We would know when each of these transitions happened, giving life a few hours to say their final goodbyes during the silicon-burning phase before the supernova occurred.

There are many natural neutrino signatures produced by stars and other processes in the Universe.... [+] Every set of neutrinos produced by a different fusion process inside a star will have a different spectral energy signature, enabling astronomers to determine whether their parent star is fusing carbon, oxygen, neon, and silicon in its interior, or not.

IceCube collaboration / NSF / University of Wisconsin

It’s horrifying to think that an event as fascinating and destructive as a supernova, despite all the spectacular effects it produces, would kill anything nearby before a single perceptible signal arrived, but that’s absolutely the case with neutrinos. Produced in the core of a supernova and carrying away 99% of its energy, all life on an Earth-like would receive a lethal dose of neutrinos within 1/20th of a second as every other location on the planet. No amount of shielding, even from being on the opposite side of the planet from the supernova, would help at all.

Whenever any star goes supernova, neutrinos are the first signal that can be detected from them, but by the time they arrive, it’s already too late. Even with how rarely they interact, they’d sterilize their entire solar system before the light or matter from the blast ever arrived. At the moment of a supernova’s ignition, the fate of death is sealed by the stealthiest killer of all: the elusive neutrino.

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Ethan Siegel Ethan Siegel

I am a Ph.D. astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at various colleges. I have won numerous awards for science writing since 2008 for my blog, Starts With A Bang, including the award for best science blog by the Institute of Physics. My two books, Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive, Beyond the Galaxy: How humanity looked beyond our Milky Way and discovered the entire Universe, are available for purchase at Amazon. Follow me on Twitter @startswithabang.

Source: This Is How We’d All Die Instantly If The Sun Suddenly Went Supernova

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Our Sun would never undergo a Supernova explosion. But what if it does? Video clips from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and ESA/Hubble Images by: ESA/NASA, pixabay.com Music: Olympus by Ross Budgen – Music ( https://youtu.be/BnmglWHoVrk ) Licensed under CC BY 4.0 International License We’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/astrogeekz/ We’re on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/astrogeekz/ Support us on Patreon.

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Why NASA And Apple Are Using This Startup To Test Their Electronics More Efficiently

When Danielle Wuchenich hatched the idea for measurement startup Liquid Instruments, she was not chasing worldly success but a faster process for discovering the secrets of space. Her solution—a tool which jams 12 different electrical signal and frequency instruments into a single device—ended up being useful on Earth, with Apple, NASA and Texas Instruments employing the tool to ensure that the electronics they’re developing work.

Now Liquid Instruments’ chief strategy officer, Wuchenich was a graduate student at Australian National University, working on creating a tool called a phasemeter to measure gravitational waves in space, something only of use to high-level researchers. But in conducting the routine electrical measurements required for her research, she encountered a problem:

Every time she wanted to measure voltage over time, signal frequency or signal transmission, Wuchenich had to rely on separate devices with separate software and user interfaces, each with hefty price tags. To avoid this headache, Wuchenich programmed the high-tech phasemeter to do multiple kinds of measurements. In so doing, Wuchenich landed on a universally viable application for an otherwise esoteric product.

Over three years, a twelve-person founding team—consisting of Wuchenich, her lab mates and principal investigator CEO Daniel Shaddock—turned prototype into product. Liquid Instruments began selling its device, dubbed Moku:Lab, in 2017, an 8-inch tool the company argues is not only more efficient than the competition, but cheaper. Moku:Lab costs $6,500, whereas all the tools the device replaces cost up to $60,000, the company estimates. Shaddock says the product has the potential to fundamentally change the test and measurement industry.

“In the old days you had a typewriter for writing letters and a calculator for calculating. And they did the job pretty well. Then along came the computer, and it can write letters, it can calculate things, but it can do a whole lot more,” says Shaddock. “We’ve stumbled upon the formula for the computer for the test and measurement industry.”

So far, investors and scientists are buying it. The startup has raised $10.1 million from Anzu Partners, ANU Connect Ventures and Australian Capital Ventures Limited at a valuation of $33.7 million, with its 2018 revenue coming to around $750,000, according to Wuchenich. And Liquid boasts some big-name customers, including NASA, Texas Instruments, Apple and Nvidia.

Despite this early success, Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Richard Eastman says Liquid Instruments faces a tough challenge breaking into an oligopoly dominated by five major companies—Keysight, Rohde & Schwarz, Tektronix, National Instruments  and Anritsu. With several of these large players also selling single pieces of hardware that can make multiple measurements, Eastman is skeptical Liquid Instruments can make a dent. “I’m not sure it looks disruptive,” Eastman says.

Also, Liquid Instruments will need to prove it offers comparable precision to its rivals. J. Max Cortner, president of the Instrument & Measurement Society, says while Liquid Instruments offers a unique product, its specs are in mainstream ranges, which may not be good enough for its customer base of highly trained researchers. “That’s going to be their dividing line, their frontier. How do they expand this easy-to-use concept into the physical extremes?” Cortner says.

Wuchenich is hoping Moku:Lab’s ready-to-use software and a specialized computer chip called FPGA will separate it from the competition. She notes whatever Liquid Instruments loses on precision, it more than compensates with its low price point. “Bottom line—customers don’t want/can’t afford to overpay for specs they don’t need,” she wrote in an email.

It’ll be an uphill battle for a small startup like Liquid Instruments to compete with behemoths whose customers have been loyal for decades. But for Colonel Brian Neff, who heads the department of electrical engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy and uses Moku:Lab to train his students, Liquid Instruments is a formidable challenger.

“There are advantages to this new way of thinking that I’d love to see some of the other players adopt, and if they don’t adopt, then I think it’s that’s just more promising for a company like Liquid Instruments to be able to come in and innovate a solution that hasn’t really been done to this point,” Neff says.

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Source: Why NASA And Apple Are Using This Startup To Test Their Electronics More Efficiently

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In 2017, a Nobelprize was awarded for the direct detection of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. But really we are still no sure that the events are indeed of astrophysical origin and not misidentified noise that originates on Earth. In this video I tell you what gravitational waves are, how to measurement (directly and indirectly), what the problem is with the existing direct detection, what’s the matter with LIGO’s Nobelprize winning figure, and what’s with the glitches. References: * Better climate predictions https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/op… https://www.extremeearth.eu/ * Articles I have written recently about LIGO In English http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019… In German https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldu… * How can LIGO detect signals? https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0702079 https://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0511083 * Plot was made by eye quotes: https://www.newscientist.com/article/… * List of LIGO/Virgo run 3 alerts and retractions https://gracedb.ligo.org/superevents/…

Chinese Drone Air Taxi Maker EHang Files For $100 Million IPO On Nasdaq

EHang, a Chinese company that is preparing to launch what could be the first autonomous air taxi service, filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq with a $100 million offering of depository shares.

In January, EHang became the first company to receive approval from Chinese aviation regulators to establish a pilot air taxi service. EHang is planning an initial cross-river route in its home city of Guangzhou using a two-seat, 16-rotor autonomous passenger vehicle called the EHang 216. The company is hoping to expand to other major cities in China, where crushing traffic congestion makes the prospect of an aerial alternative tantalizing, as well as internationally.

While it’s been developing its passenger vehicles, EHang has made a name for itself, and some money, by staging light shows with hundreds of coordinated small drones, as well as selling surveillance drone systems. According to Derrick Xiong, a cofounder of the company and its chief marketing officer, the light shows have given EHang valuable experience that is helping it to perfect software that will be capable of coordinating a large network of passenger-carrying vehicles. “When we build a three-dimensional transport system, we need to be able to control thousands of aircraft,he told Forbes in a phone conversation last month.

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Xiong says that in addition to air taxi services, the company has customers in China who want to use its passenger drones for sightseeing in scenic locations in the mountains or on the coast, as well as interest in Norway to use them to transport workers and supplies to offshore oil platforms.

Another market: speedy delivery of organs for transplant. In 2016, the U.S. biotech company United Therapeutics said it would order up to 1,000 of EHang’s first passenger drone, the one-seat EHang 184, to transport manufactured lungs and other organs its developing.

United Therapeutics and its subsidiary Lung Biotechnology have pumped $17 million into EHang in return for 2.9 million preferred shares, EHang’s F-1 filing says. The company has already delivered 38 passenger drones to customers and has a backlog of 28 orders, according to the filing.

EHang disclosed a net loss of $5.5 million for the first six months of 2019, up 42% from the same period in 2018, on $4.7 million in revenue, off 15.6%, as a rise in sales in its passenger and cargo drone businesses was undercut by a decline in its light show and surveillance drone operations. The company has raised $52 million in venture capital from funds including GGV Capital and ZhenFund.

EHang was founded in 2014 by Xiong, who had just returned to China after earning an MBA at Duke, and CEO Huazhi Hu, a software developer who had built an emergency dispatch system for the Beijing Olympics.

The EHang 216, which the company is manufacturing in Austria in collaboration with FACC, a maker of composite airframe parts, has a range of roughly 10 miles and a top speed of 99 mph. The company says it has safely conducted over 2,000 flight tests of the 216 and the 184, including in high winds.

Since June 2018, EHang has been operating a pilot drone food delivery service in Guangzhou the supermarket chain Yonghui within a roughly 6-mile radius of a store in the center of the city. Xiong said that the service had successfully completed 30,000 deliveries to distribution points where customers come to pick up their order.

It’s also launched a drone cargo delivery service with DHL-Sinotrans between an industrial park in Guangzhou and a DHL hub 5 miles away in Dongguan.

The share offering is being underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Needham & Co. and Tiger Brokers.

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Source: Chinese Drone Air Taxi Maker EHang Files For $100 Million IPO On Nasdaq

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Subscribe to our YouTube channel for free here: https://sc.mp/subscribe-youtube Chinese firm shows off its pilotless air taxi for the first time in Europe. Developed by Chinese drone company Ehang and Austrian aeronautics company FACC, the Ehang 216 was tested in Vienna, Austria on April 4. The flying taxi’s speed can reach up to 130 kilometres per hour and fly for 40 minutes. The flying taxi is expected to cost 200,000 euros (US$224,000). The autonomous flying car industry is rising, with aerospace giant Airbus and Boeing aiming to offer such service. However, regulations have yet to be made for this kind of transportation.

Can We Really Use The Moon’s Billion-Year Old Water To Make Rocket Fuel And Open Up The Cosmos?

The moon has water. That’s great news for a future moon-base, but it’s also often talked-up as a resource for creating rocket fuel. Last week NASA announced that it would send a mobile robot, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon to find the exact location and concentration of water ice in the region. “The key to living on the Moon is water—the same as here on Earth,” said Daniel Andrews, project manager of the VIPER mission and director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. “Since the confirmation of lunar water-ice ten years ago, the question now is if the Moon could really contain the amount of resources we need to live off-world.”

Another theory goes that if we can use the water on the moon—which is locked-up as ice, but we’ll worry about that later—to power spacecraft, they will be able to go way, way further into the cosmos and kick-start a new era of interstellar mining. Water on the moon would make future Mars missions more affordable and could fuel commercial enterprises that link Earth and the Moon. “Creating space fuel depots would allow spacecraft to travel much farther and allow missions and satellites to sustain operations,” says Karen Panetta, IEEE Fellow, Dean for Graduate Education, Tufts University. “Rather than transporting water into space in heavy loads on rockets, the goal is to extract it (mine it) from the moon and asteroids.” It would also mean rockets don’t have to expend a lot of fuel just to get the fuel for their entire up into space with them. Launch costs would plummet.

Today In: Innovation

Wait. Water into rocket fuel? Surely you cannot fuel a rocket with water; liquid-fuel rockets use liquid oxygen and either kerosene or liquid hydrogen. Ah … oxygen and hydrogen.

So what’s the science behind making rocket fuel from moon-water and asteroid-ice?

How do you make rocket fuel from water?

“Water—h2o—consists of hydrogen and oxygen, which can be refined into high-efficiency fuel,” says Panetta. It’s all about water electrolysis, a technique that uses an electric current (in space, from solar panels) to break down compounds and convert them into something else. In this case, hydrogen fuel. “Electrolysis is one approach that has been used in space to separate h2o to provide oxygen supplies for manned space missions, which helped alleviate the need for high-pressure oxygen storage tanks,” she says. On the International Space Station astronauts use electrolysis to split oxygen from hydrogen in water.

Why don’t we already make rocket fuel from water on Earth?

We could, but water is a precious commodity on Earth. It’s also not economical, and in any case, we’re talking about pretty small amounts of fuel needed by spacecraft. “Propelling an object in zero gravity doesn’t need much fuel, so water offers a viable solution in space,” says Panetta. However, water molecules are already used in many launch systems, albeit in their cryogenic liquid state to increase their density. “Couple this with solar energy for reliable power and it opens up new avenues for not just space exploration, but also for autonomous mining operations,” says Panetta.

Yup—autonomous mining is what the “water into rocket fuel” debate is really all about.

How water-ice at the moon’s South Pole will be ‘mined’

Get ready for autonomous robots on the moon. A lot of work will be needed on developing reliable autonomous mining techniques for docking, drilling, detecting and repairing equipment. “The robots will use artificial intelligence to gather information and communicate among each other what they learn, so each robot doesn’t have to relearn everything from scratch, but rather, just upgrade their knowledge and data models,” says Panetta.

How old is the water-ice at the Moon’s South Pole?

A new study published in the journal Icarus suggests that while a majority of those deposits are likely billions of years old, some may be much more recent. While most of the ice deposits are in patches on the floors of large craters formed about 3.1 billion years or longer ago, the researchers also found evidence for ice in smaller and relatively young craters. It’s argued that older ice could have been sourced from water-bearing comets and asteroids hitting the moon, while newer water-ice might come from bombardment from pea-sized micrometeorites.

What about mining asteroids? 

The technology is likely to be perfected on the moon. “Landing and taking off again from an asteroid adds another dimension of challenges,” says Panetta. However, asteroids are a much more exciting prospect. “C-type asteroids contain potentially up to 20% water by mass and will be good targets for mining (and) M-type asteroids contain structural metals like iron, nickel and cobalt which can be used to build structures in space using 3D printing,” says Panetta. It would therefore be possible to fabricate spare parts on site from mined materials, allowing robots to repair each other and drilling equipment.

As natural resources become depleted on Earth, successfully mining and transporting them back could become big business.

Is any of this going to happen soon?

That depends on technology. “The combination of solar energy, artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science are truly responsible for enabling mining in space to become a reality,” says Panetta. “Don’t be surprised if the first successful mining operation on the moon is announced within the next five years.”

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.

Source: Can We Really Use The Moon’s Billion-Year Old Water To Make Rocket Fuel And Open Up The Cosmos?

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NASA is sending a mobile robot to the south pole of the Moon to get a close-up view of the location and concentration of water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program. About the size of a golf cart, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, will roam several miles, using its four science instruments — including a 1-meter drill — to sample various soil environments. Planned for delivery in December 2022, VIPER will collect about 100 days of data that will be used to inform development of the first global water resource maps of the Moon. Learn more: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-vipe… Video credit: NASA/Ames Research Center The video may be downloaded at: https://images.nasa.gov/details-ARC-2…

Last Seen In 1986, Halley’s Comet Will Make Its Presence Known This Week With Shooting Star Show

Will you be alive in 2061? If not, your only chance to see something of Halley’s Comet comes in both early May and late October each year when Earth moves through streams of particles the great comet deposited in the solar system in 1986.

As those particles hit Earth’s atmosphere they energise and glow for a millisecond, something that happens as many as 40 times per hour to create a meteor shower. That’s what is happening on Monday/Tuesday as the Orionid meteor shower peaks after midnight.

What has Orion got to do with this meteor shower?

Technically speaking, nothing whatsoever. The Orionid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation its shooting stars appear to come from—Orion the Hunter. Astronomers call this the “radiant point”, which more precisely is close to an open cluster of stars called Collinder 69. A lovely sight though binoculars and easy to see with the naked eye from a dark sky site, Collinder 69 can be found just above Orion the Hunter’s head. However, just look in the general direction of Orion’s Belt and you’ll see any shooting stars from the Orionid meteor shower.

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When, where and how to see the Orionids?

Although it runs from October 2 through November 7, the night to watch for shooting stars from the Orionid meteor shower is Monday through Tuesday, October 21 and 22, 2019. The best time will be after midnight when your location will be on the nightside of Earth. A lawn chair or deckchair is perfect for watching meteor showers, though the best advice is always to wrap up warm and let you eyes adjust to the dark and just watch the night sky (in this case, look generally southeast towards Orion). Whatever you do don’t stop looking, and absolutely do not look at your smartphone. Its white light will instantly kill your night vision.

Visible from both hemispheres, the Orionids—and any moonless meteor shower—is best enjoyed under a dark country sky. If that’s not going to be possible, make sure there are no artificial lights in your line of sight, and even better, find a place in shadow from any artificial lights.

How to find a dark sky

About 40km from a town is where to go. Here are some great resources to help you find a dark sky near you:

What is Halley’s Comet?

Every 75 years a 15x8km comet enters the solar system and becomes visible to the naked eye from Earth. The only known short-period comet that can be seen twice in one lifetime (if observed when very young), its arrival was first predicted by British astronomer Edmond Halley, who calculated that it would appear in 1758. It duly did, though 16 years after his death. Halley also discovered that transits of Mercury and Venus across the sun could be used to calculate the size of the solar system.

When is the Halley’s Comet meteor shower in May?

That would be the Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower that will peak on May 5/6 in 2020, though it’s not as dependable a meteor shower as the Orionids.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.

Source: Last Seen In 1986, Halley’s Comet Will Make Its Presence Known This Week With Shooting Star Show

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The Halley Armada, Giotto, Vega 1 and 2, Suisei and Sakigake, all visited Halley’s Comet at roughly the same time in 1986. What did they discover? Why was this such a groundbreaking mission? https://brilliant.org/astrum/ ************** A big thank you to Brilliant for supporting this video. Sign up for free using the link above. That link will also get the first 200 subscribers 20% off a premium subscription to the website if you like what you see. ************** Looking for the Astrum Hindi Channel? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Y6… SUBSCRIBE for more videos about our other planets. Subscribe! http://goo.gl/WX4iMN Facebook! http://goo.gl/uaOlWW Twitter! http://goo.gl/VCfejs Donate! Patreon: http://goo.gl/GGA5xT Ethereum Wallet: 0x5F8cf793962ae8Df4Cba017E7A6159a104744038 Become a Patron today and support Astrum! Donate link above. I can’t do it without you. Patreons can help pick the next Astrum Answers in a fortnightly poll. Thanks to those who have supported so far! Image Credits: NASA/ESO/ESA/ISAS/VEGA Music Credits: Stellardrone – Cepheid Stellardrone – Billions and Billions

Two Female Astronauts Are Making History

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Men have floated out the hatch on all 420 spacewalks conducted over the past half-century. That changed Friday with spacewalk No. 421.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir ventured outside the International Space Station before 8 a.m. ET Friday and will spend over five hours replacing a broken battery charger, or BCDU. NASA’s livestream of the historic spacewalk features astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson as one of the female narrators.

The units have previously been replaced using a robotic arm, but the newly failed unit is too far for it to reach.

The units regulate how much energy flows from the station’s massive solar panels to battery units, which are used to provide power during nighttime passes around Earth. Three previous spacewalks had been planned to replace lithium-ion batteries, but those will be rescheduled until the latest BCDU issue is resolved.

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The hardware failure does present some concern, especially since another BCDU was replaced in April and there are only four more backups on the station. In total, there are 24 operational BCDUs.

The battery charger failed after Koch and a male crewmate installed new batteries outside the space station last week. NASA put the remaining battery replacements on hold to fix the problem and moved up the women’s planned spacewalk by three days.

All four men aboard the ISS remained inside during Friday’s spacewalk.

The spacewalk is Koch’s fourth and Meir’s first.

Koch and Meir will have some time left over during their extravehicular activity, or EVA, to finish additional tasks like hardware installations for the European Space Agency.

The planned EVA comes almost seven months since the first all-female spacewalk was canceled due to a lack of properly sized spacesuits for astronauts Koch and Anne McClain. Astronaut Nick Hague ended up joining Koch instead.

But this time, the right spacesuit hardware is in place.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history months after the first all-female spacewalk was supposed to take place with Anne McClain. USA TODAY

NASA, meanwhile, is asking schoolteachers to share photos of their students celebrating “HERstory in the making.” The pictures could be featured on the spacewalk broadcast.

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Russia holds claim to the first spacewalk in 1965 and also the first spacewalk by a woman in 1984. The U.S. trailed by a few months in each instance.

As of Thursday, men dominated the spacewalking field, 213 to 14.

Meir, a marine biologist who arrived at the orbiting lab last month, will be the 15th female spacewalker. Koch, an electrical engineer, is seven months into an 11-month spaceflight that will be the longest by a woman.

Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida TodayAssociated Press

Source: Two female astronauts are making history. How to watch NASA’s first all-female spacewalk

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Watch as NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir prepare tools necessary for their spacewalk duties outside of the International Space Station. Watch the Spacewalk Live https://www.space.com/first-all-femal… Credit: NASA

Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

Want to see the Northern Lights AND the Milky Way? Those in the northern U.S. states–and even in cities including New York and Boston–could have some extraordinary luck this weekend. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center is predicting a G1 or G2 Geomagnetic Storm for both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Where to see the northern lights this weekend

The aurora borealis are possible overhead in the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine according to abc57. Although they’re not nearly as well placed, cities including Omaha, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York City and Boston could also get a glimpse of a “forest fire” layer of green above the northern horizon.

How to see the Milky Way

Even if the northern lights don’t materialize, or take their time, this weekend is a fine time to look for the Milky Way while you wait. The rules for finding the Milky Way are pretty simple. Just wait for a New Moon in summer and go to where people are not. That scenario happens for the final time of 2019 this weekend. It’s a last chance for galaxy-gazers and night-scape photographers to gawp at our home galaxy.

While the Milky Way will be visible to the south, the northern lights will–as the name suggests–be in the north (with a little luck).

Today In: Innovation

When to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

This weekend is perfect for seeing both because there’s a New Moon. Technically it’s a “Supermoon New Moon” because it’s relatively close to Earth. However, its only relevance is that there will be no bright moonlight in the sky. The New Moon occurs on Friday, August 30, but for a good few days after there is no significant moonlight.

This is the tail-end of late August’s “stargazing window,” (when the moon is down), but as a bonus, if you get to your observing location around sunset on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you may see a beautifully slim crescent moon setting in the western sky soon after the Sun.

The ideal time to look at the Milky Way is when it’s arching overhead. That occurs in the northern hemisphere from around 10 p.m. through until about 1 a.m. Before that, and after that, it will be at an angle and closer to the horizon, which makes it more difficult to appreciate. However, true darkness is limited at this time of year, so for best results have a look around 11 p.m. to midnight.

For the northern lights, the prediction for this weekend is more general, and there are no specific times to look. It will be best to be outside after dark, and for as long as possible.

Wherever you plan to go, do check the weather forecast, as well as the space weather forecast. You need clear skies to see anything at all.

Where to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

Anywhere with an inky-black dark sky. Unfortunately, the combined light of billions of stars can easily be smudged-out by artificial light pollution. However, don’t ever use light pollution as an excuse. You just need to make a little effort, which will be well rewarded if the the skies are clear.

As a rule of thumb, anywhere about 40 miles from a significant town or city (or other major source of light pollution) will be ideal. However, just as important for you to see the bright core of the Milky Way is to look for a location that has no sources of light pollution to the south. It’s above the southern horizon that the Milky Way will impress most. Thankfully, there are a number of websites to help you choose a place to view from:

Beware the ‘Supermoon New Moon’

Although a visit to a south-facing coastal location may be tempting for a view of the Milky Way over the ocean (a reliably dark place, and great for interesting photographic compositions), note that the Supermoon New Moon will cause “king” tides this weekend. So be sure to study tide times for wherever on our planet you go, and tread carefully.

How to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

You need to give your eyes a little time to adjust to darkness. Although you may get a “wow” moment when you step out of the car having driven to a dark sky site, and see the Milky Way above you, it’s still worth switching-off all lights and simply standing in the dark for 20 minutes. After that time your eyes will have adjusted to the dark and will let more light in. Ditto for a subdued display of the northern lights. However, beware the smartphone; even a quick peek at a planetarium app will destroy your night vision. The Milky Way will be gradually revealed to you, but it can be quickly snatched away.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.

Source: Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

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Amazon Is The Second Company To Report Tesla Solar Panel Fire

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Topline: Amazon is joining Walmart in pointing the finger at Tesla solar panels for fires on the roofs of their facilities in what is yet another hiccup for Tesla’s embattled solar business.

  • Amazon said Tesla solar panels caught fire in June 2018 at one of its warehouses in Redlands, California.
  • Amazon’s disclosure comes days after Walmart sued Tesla for breach of contract and gross negligence after seven stores experienced roof fires allegedly caused by faulty Tesla solar panels. Both companies later said they are working together to “addressing all issues.”
  • Amazon said it would not install any more Tesla panels.

In a statement to Forbes, a Tesla spokesperson said in an email that the Amazon fire was an “isolated event” at one of 11 Amazon sites with solar panels.

“Tesla worked collaboratively with Amazon to root cause the event and remediate. We also performed inspections at the other sites, which confirmed the integrity of the systems. As with all of our commercial solar installations, we continue to proactively monitor the systems to ensure they operate safely and reliably,” the statement continues.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla did not respond when Forbes asked whether the company has plans for broader inspections of both commercial and residential solar power installations.

According to a Business Insider report, Tesla was aware of problems related to its solar panels. In the summer of 2018, around the same time as the Amazon fire, Tesla launched a secret internal project called Project Titan to replace what the company said were faulty “connectors” manufactured by Connecticut-based Amphenol, according to the report.

“We have no reason to believe that Amphenol’s products are the cause of any issues related to the claims filed by Walmart against Tesla,” an Amphenol spokesperson said in a statement.

Key Background: Tesla’s embattled solar business has been plagued by plunging sales, production delays and layoffs since CEO Elon Musk acquired solar company SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016.

Musk hasn’t tweeted about the Walmart or Amazon complaints, but instead announced a revamped pricing plan in an effort to boost the slowing solar panel business. The new pricing model allows residents in six states to rent solar power systems starting at $50 a month ($65 a month in California) instead of buying them up front.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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Elon Musk Says a SpaceX Starship Design Update Is Coming in Mid-August

We won’t have to wait much longer for our next update about SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing spaceship, which the company calls Starship.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk had promised that he’d unveil the latest Starship design changes after the vehicle’s stubby test-flight prototype, known as Starhopper, completed its first untethered hop.

That milestone occurred last week at SpaceX’s South Texas facility in Boca Chica, so the update will be coming soon — probably by mid-August, Musk said over the weekend.

Related: SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Mars Rocket in Pictures

“Now that Hopper has flown, Starship update probably in two weeks or so,” the billionaire entrepreneur wrote on Twitter Sunday (July 28).

Musk first outlined a detailed Starship design in September 2016, during a talk at the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Mexico (though he had discussed a “Mars Colonial Transporter” architecture more vaguely previously). Back then, the reusable 100-passenger vehicle and the huge booster that will launch it from Earth were together called the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).

Musk summarized SpaceX’s latest Mars-colonization thinking at the next IAC meeting, which occurred in Australia in September 2017. He told us then that ITS had become BFR, short for “Big Falcon Rocket.” (Technically, the booster was BFR and the spaceship was BFS, short for “Big Falcon Spaceship.” But most people just called the whole system BFR.)

We got another update in September 2018, when Musk told us that the spaceship-rocket duo would stand 387 feet (118 meters) tall at launch — about 11% taller than previously envisioned. He also revealed, among other things, that the BFS will feature two large “actuated” fins near its tail, to help the vehicle steer through planetary atmospheres for safe landings. A landing leg back there will also be stylized to look like one of those structures, he added, giving the BFS the three-finned look of the rocket flown by the comic-book character Tintin in the 1954 book “Explorers on the Moon.”

Two months later, Musk announced another name change: BFS was now Starship, and BFR was to be called Super Heavy.

As currently envisioned, Starship will sport six of SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engines, and Super Heavy will be powered by 35 of them, with slots for two more Raptors if need be. But things could change; we’ll have to wait and see what Musk says in the coming design update.

SpaceX sees Starship and Super Heavy eventually performing all of the company’s spaceflight duties, from launching satellites to ferrying people to and from the moon and Mars to completing superfast “point-to-point” passenger trips around Earth. As a result, SpaceX plans to eventually phase out its other spaceflight hardware — its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, the newer, more powerful Falcon Heavy and the cargo and crew versions of its Dragon capsule.

SpaceX aims to launch satellites using Starship and Super Heavy as early as 2021. The first crewed mission, which will send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a handful of artists on a trip around the moon, is targeted for 2023.

Starhopper, which sports a single Raptor, has now left the ground three times. In addition to last week’s flight, which Musk said targeted an altitude of about 65 feet (20 m), the vehicle took two brief test hops in early April, remaining tethered to the ground for safety’s sake on both occasions.

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.

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Source: Elon Musk Says a SpaceX Starship Design Update Is Coming in Mid-August | Space

Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

To paraphrase Walter Cronkite, it was, and remains to this day, the greatest adventure in the history of mankind.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing says much about the capability of our country, the miracles of science and engineering and the commitment of the NASA team. But it also offers important lessons on leadership, which are as relevant today as they were in July, 1969.

These are leadership lessons that transcend time and circumstance, which corporate executives and board members may well want to consider as they commemorate this great event.

Lesson #1: Visions Can Come True. JFK’s memorable 1962 “Moon Speech” set forth the vision of Apollo. It included the famous “…because it is hard” acknowledgment, and the equally inspiring charge that “…to do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out—then we must be bold.” Some 57 years later, vision, boldness and the motivation they generate in others remain essential tools by which leaders take organizations to great heights. Their absence can create insurmountable barriers to growth.

Lesson #2: Teamwork Matters. The three Apollo 11 astronauts were not close friends. They had different personalities. Armstrong was emotionally remote. Aldrin acerbic and abrasive. Collins more “happy go lucky.” But they made it work; they interacted successfully under the most extreme circumstances. For leaders don’t need to be BFFs with their colleagues in order to be effective. They do, however, need to be accepting and respectful of who their colleagues are, and the contributions they offer.

Lesson #3: Confidence. They believed in their systems in spite of the risks: the Saturn V liftoff, the LM ascent engine firing, trans-earth injection, the re-entry and splashdown. Even at NASA’s famous 99.9% reliability standard, much could still go wrong. Yet they moved forward in reliance on confidence in the technical competency of the workforce and the efforts to remove risk from the conceptual design. Where leaders can establish an organizational commitment to quality, safety and risk management, managers can more comfortably implement even the most aggressive of products.

Lesson #4: We Need The Michael Collinses. It was not for Collins to land on the moon. It was for him to orbit the moon in solitude, waiting/hoping for the return of Armstrong and Aldrin from the lunar surface. His glory would be less; history would not treat him nearly as prominently. And he was good with it. Indeed, every organization needs leaders content to do their job, who are willing to be part of a larger effort and not likely to complain or worry about more glamorous tasks being assigned to others.

Lesson #5: Command Decisions Count. The legend is indeed the fact. Armstrong really did land the Lunar Module, manually, with just 16 seconds of fuel remaining. Aborting the descent was not an option. Like all good leaders, Armstrong was in charge. He knew the terrain. He knew his machine. He knew the stakes and he was going to get the job done. The absolute ultimate command decision. Leaders who “sit in the left seat” must be prepared to “make the call,” to make the most difficult of decisions, often in the most trying of circumstances.

Lesson #6: Encourage Ideas. It wasn’t store-bought. There wasn’t a model or prototype. The enormous “crawler” that transported the Saturn V from the Vehicle Assembly Plant to the launchpad was the brainchild of a member of the launch operations team, whose name is now lost to history. He reportedly got the idea from watching the strip-mining process. Ingenuity and creativity often have wildly diverse parentage, and smart leaders will encourage ideas from all elements of the workforce, starting with the mailroom and continuing up the ladder.

Lesson #7: “Code 1202” Events. It was the Apollo version of a “black swan.” On final lunar descent, an unusual program alarm (code 1202) flashed, indicating a problem with the guidance computer. With the landing in balance, a young control officer in Houston, familiar with the code from earlier simulations, provided the critical “go on that alarm” assurance. No company is immune to a Code 1202 event. The unforeseeable will occur. But leadership can set expectations concerning risk evaluation that will help the company respond in crisis situations.

Lesson #8: It Takes A Village. A very big village, in fact. The Apollo project team was estimated at over 300,000 people. It was an amazing partnership between the government, private industry and the astronauts—and, ultimately the American public. And on their final flight transmission, the Apollo astronauts paid a humble video tribute to that partnership. Effective leadership recognizes that success often requires a combination of management vision and workforce commitment. Rarely is it one or the other, and almost never “just about me.”

Lesson #9: Learn from Mistakes. The great success of Apollo 11 was made possible in large part by the tragic failure of Apollo 1. That catastrophe forced NASA to confront its culture of complacency for risk and safety, and to restructure its entire operations. Indeed, great lessons can be learned from failure as well as success; from accepting responsibility for non-performance and moving forward from there. Even on the largest possible scale, leaders never stop learning-even from their own (or their organization’s) mistakes.

Lesson #10: Otherworldly Commitment. Armstrong attributed Apollo’s success to its nature as “a project in which everybody involved was…interested…involved…and fascinated by the job they were doing.” (“Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) In today’s business environment, when leaders are increasingly focused on workforce culture and satisfaction, major initiatives are more likely to succeed when employees, like the Apollo team, are motivated “to [do] their job a little better than they have to.”

There is an understandable tendency to marginalize important events that happened long ago. Men in a spaceship—how interesting, but of course it was long ago, and we’ve progressed so much since then. It’s hardly relevant to our world today. But as to Apollo 11, that would be a huge mistake; it still matters, very much so.

In his Farewell Address to the nation, President Reagan spoke to the lasting value of the American heritage. He warned of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” And, one might add, of what we are capable of achieving, as a nation, as individuals—and as organizations. That’s the transcendent lesson of Apollo 11. And it’s a lesson that is meaningful in the boardroom, and the executive suite.

I wish to acknowledge “Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) as a resource in the preparation of this post.

Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a partner in the Chicago office of international law firm McDermott Will & Emery and earned my law degree at Northwestern University. I represent corporations (and their officers and directors) in connection with governance, corporate structure, fiduciary duties, officer-director liability issues, charitable trust law and corporate alliances. Over the course of my 39-year career, I have served as outside governance counsel to many prominent national corporations. I speak and write on a range of emerging trends and issues in corporate governance to help leaders understand the implications and how they might be relevant to their own circumstances. Writing is a passion of mine and I do my best writing on the porch of my home in Michigan.

Source: Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

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