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Much of Lord Howe Island closed to visitors due to plant fungus outbreak | Lord Howe Island



Much of Lord Howe Island has been closed to non-essential visitors due to an outbreak of myrtle rust, a highly contagious plant fungus.

Lord Howe Permanent Conservation Park, which covers about 70% of the World Heritage-listed island, has been “temporarily closed to all non-essential visitors with immediate effect,” Lord Howe Island Council said.

Myrtle rust was discovered on the island on 3 February. According to the council, despite continued treatment and preventive fungicide spraying, weekly sweeps revealed three more infested sites, two of which were located about 230 meters from the boundary of the permanent park-reserve.

Myrtle rust infects plants myrtle a family that includes eucalyptus trees, paper barks, and tea trees. The fungus infects flower buds and new shoots, affecting the ability of plants to photosynthesize.

There are concerns that myrtle rust may affect myrtle species endemic to the island, including mountain rose (Metrosideros nervulose), scaly bark (Syzygium fullagaria) and the Gnarled Moss Cloud Forest, an endangered forest that tops Mount Gower, the island’s highest mountain.

The fungus produces thousands of spores that remain viable for up to three months and are easily spread by wind, rain, and on clothing, skin, hair, shoes, and equipment.

“Due to the increasing risk, the closure of the permanent park-reserve is being carried out to prevent spread as a result of human activity,” the message says. “Rust can change the look of our mountains and forests, it can change food webs and ecology, and potentially affect world heritage values.”

The authorities held an information session on Thursday evening in the island’s public room with experts from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the Commodities Industries Department.

The board did not provide a timeline for the reopening of the reserve, noting that “the closure will remain in place until there is confidence that the necessary hygiene measures can be applied consistently and effectively…and maintain a manageable level of visitation.”

Professor Robert Park, director of the Australian Cereal Rust Program at the University of Sydney, said myrtle rust was first detected in Australia in 2010 on the central coast of New South Wales.

“Rust is one of the most feared of all plant pathogens – it is rapidly spread thousands of kilometers by wind and can cause huge losses in crop production,” Park said.

“Myrtle rust has quickly spread across the east coast of Australia and has led to the disappearance of at least three types of tropical forests. It was discovered on Lord Howe Island in 2016 and extirpated, but has now managed to spread there again. This second invasion clearly shows how incredibly difficult it is to fight rust diseases when they are introduced into a new region.”

Operators on the island are keen to emphasize that while the reserve is closed, other activities are still open to tourists.

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“We remain open for business with the exception of some activities,” said Stephen Sea, treasurer of the Lord Howe Island Tourism Association. “There are many more places that visitors can visit … The territory of the settlement itself is quite pleasant for walking, and that’s all [11] the beaches are open and people can still swim.”

Sarah Shields, media manager for Capella Lodge, said: “Walking in the parks is a big part of the island’s activities, but this time of year… you’ll be spending a lot more time in the water.

“March is indeed the peak time for Lord Howe Island in terms of maritime activity.

“The priority for the island at the moment is to stop the widespread spread of myrtle rust … We support that [the island board] do [but] we would also like the board to find a way for businesses to coexist while the board is looking into this matter.

“It’s like Covid is visiting the island again – exactly three years ago we closed the island.”

The permanent park reserve, which also covers Ball’s Pyramid and the islands adjacent to Lord Howe, was established in 1982 to protect the region’s biodiversity. 241 species of native plants grow here, of which more than 100 are found only on the island.

The Board of Directors of Lord Howe Island was contacted for comment.

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NASA awards advanced 3D printing and quantum technologies for climate research



New technologies are key to helping NASA achieve its long-term research goals for the benefit of all. To support its efforts, the agency announced on Thursday that it will create two new institutes to develop technologies in the critical fields of engineering and climate research.

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Nuclear Waste Drilling Demonstration Center launched



Increase / Artist’s impression of a deep nuclear waste disposal well by Sandia National Laboratories in 2012. The red lines show the depth of the mined storage sites: Onkalo is Finnish, and WIPP is the US Department of Energy defense waste storage facility in New Mexico.

Sandia National Laboratories

deep isolationthe company, founded in 2016 and headquartered in California, launched “Deep Well Demonstration Center” February 27. It is intended to show that getting rid of nuclear waste in deep boreholes is a safe and practical alternative to the shaft tunnels that make up most of today’s nuclear waste storage designs.

But while the initial board members were named at launch and a high-level plan released, the startup does not yet have a permanent location, nor funds committed to complete its planned drilling and testing program.

Although the idea of ​​using deep wells to bury nuclear waste not new, no one has yet demonstrated how it works. The Deep Well Demonstration Center is intended to be a full-scale end-to-end demonstration, testing everything from the safe handling of waste canisters on the surface, disposal, eventual retrieval, and ultimately permanent sealing deep underground. Techniques will also be worked out to ensure that possible underground leaks do not contaminate the environment on the surface, even many millennia after disposal.

But it will do all of this without any real nuclear waste: “This place, to be clear, will never be used for radioactive waste disposal,” said Liz Muller, CEO of Deep Isolation and chairman of the board of the Deep Well Demonstration Center.

“This is to really bring people together to understand what are the main issues that need to be addressed before we move forward,” said Ted Garrish, the center’s executive director. “There is nothing really new here in terms of real technology; it’s just to put them together and do it in a nuclear environment.”

Universal canister

By the time of this announcement, the center’s first exercise in “combining” conventional oil drilling and nuclear technology had already begun. In February, a demonstration of the technology took place at a downhole test site near Cameron, Texas. “We need to have a fastening mechanism for this nuclear design container to attach it to a standard oil and gas rig,” Mueller explained.

They used a newly designed canister large enough to hold 14 feet of spent fuel. fuel assembly from pressurized water reactor (PVR). They snapped it on with standard oilfield equipment, lowered it through the floor of the rig, and unhooked it there. Later, they hooked on him again and fished him out again.

Funded by the US Department of Energy ARPA-E program Deep Isolation is developing a new universal container that can enter the well and receive waste generated during various reactor designs, not just PWR: “We’re talking to a number of different advanced reactor companies, what would their waste form look like, could we design it to fit in this versatile container?” said Mueller, who believes they should all fit in the same size canister as the PWR spent fuel canister used in the February test.

Decentralized recycling

The universal container should make deep wells suitable for various nuclear wastes, and the depth of the wells must be suitable for various places.

At the depth at which nuclear waste storage facilities are built (about 400 meters), there is usually quite a lot of flowing groundwater that can carry pollutants to the surface. Therefore, mined storage facilities for nuclear waste must be located in unusual locations where the rock is dense and the water is static to ensure that leaks in the storage facility do not go far, even after millennia. But going much deeper, Müller argues, waste can be deposited at depths where groundwater flow is typically minimal, so there are far fewer restrictions on suitable locations. “The geology is much more flexible than when you look at a booby-trapped vault,” Muller said. “When you go much deeper, when you go a kilometer, two kilometers deep, there are many more suitable places.”

This means that most locations where nuclear waste is generated have the potential to have deep well disposal facilities, reducing the need to transport nuclear waste to centralized facilities such as unsuccessful Yucca Mountain in Nevada. “We expect the first iterations of the deep containment technology to be implemented in existing waste treatment facilities,” Mueller said.

“I think if we’ve learned anything from trying to… consolidate locations and relocate [nuclear waste] in all states, I think the main lesson, big, big lesson for everyone: don’t do it!” Mueller said. Transportation of nuclear waste remains to this day cited as one of the objections State of Nevada to the Yucca Mountain Range.

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NASA unveils new suit for astronauts on the Artemis lunar mission



A suit similar to the one the Artemis astronauts would wear on the Moon, but dyed black instead of white.

Axiom Cosmos

NASA has revealed the spacesuits that astronauts will wear on the Moon for the upcoming Artemis lunar missions, which will see the first woman and man of color reach the surface of the Moon.

“We haven’t had a new suit since the suits we designed for the Space Shuttle and these suits are currently in use on the space station – so for 40 years we have been using the same suit based on this technology. . said Vanessa Wych at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, at a March 15 press conference.

The new suit, built by private company Axiom Space for NASA, is designed to operate in the harsh environment of the moon’s south pole, where temperatures average around -13°C (9°F) but can drop hundreds of degrees. lower in craters in permanent shadow.

It will also have improved mobility over previous suits, weigh 55kg, about 25kg lighter than the suits worn by the Apollo astronauts, and have more custom joints for a greater range of motion. Since the suit has so many hinges, it is not easy to take it on and off. Astronauts will need to crawl through a hatch at the back of the suit to enter.

The suit also features a panel of lights above the helmet for working with instruments and scientific instruments in low light, as well as a high-definition camera so people on Earth can watch what the astronauts are doing.

Photos posted by Axiom Space show a suit with a black outer layer designed by Esther Marquis, costume designer from the Apple TV+ sci-fi series. For all mankind in Axiom brand colors. The suits worn on the Moon will be white to reflect heat and keep the astronauts at the right temperature.

If all goes according to schedule, NASA’s Artemis 3 mission will land the first woman and person of color on the moon in 2025. Historically, space exploration, especially on the Moon, has been done almost exclusively by white men. Until last year, for example, the specific radiation risk for women had never been studied.


  • Moon/
  • space exploration

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