Consequences Of Solar Power

Grind for May 16th, 2018

“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.” – HP Lovecraft

The Future Is Now

The Headline

NASA will send tiny helicopter to Mars

The Grind

NASA last Friday announced plans to send a four-pound helicopter to Mars as part of its 2020 rover mission.

“#BREAKING @NASA news! Our next rover to Mars will carry the first helicopter ever to fly over the surface of another world,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on May 11th.

The Details

Foremost among the challenges faced by the helicopter’s creators was the Red Planet’s weak atmosphere. To take off from Mars, the tiny helicopter will have to spin its blades 3,000x per minute while carrying batteries and other equipment.

The helicopter will also have to be somewhat autonomous thanks to the sheer distance between Earth and Mars. Even traveling at the speed of light, signals sent from Earth will take several minutes to reach the helicopter (and vice versa).

When it gets to Mars in February 2021, the helicopter will perform scouting missions to search for ideal landing sites that could benefit future astronauts. The helicopter will also assist with geology research currently being conducted by rovers Opportunity and Curiosity.

If all goes according to plan, the four-pound aircraft could provide us with valuable information that could take us one step closer to sending men to Mars.

Upping The Ante

The Headline

Will California’s new solar panel law help or hurt residents?

The Grind

California’s Energy Commission on May 9th approved a set of regulations that will require all new homes and apartment buildings to utilize solar power. The rules also require new buildings to use energy-efficient ventilation, insulation, and lighting.

Builders will have the option to add solar panels to individual structures or to create shared systems for groups of homes; buildings located areas of constant shade will be exempt.

The mandate, if approved by California’s Building Standard Commission, will take effect starting in January 2020.

The Implication

Experts have compared the mandate’s effect on greenhouse gases to removing 115,000 cars from the road, but opponents worry the new rules will make it even harder for California residents to find affordable housing.

The state of California certainly leads the way in terms of “green policy,” but it comes in dead last in terms of affordable housing. Despite its vast amount of land, California has far fewer homes than it needs to support its population of 39.5 million.

While the mandate is expected to save homeowners about $633 per month on bills and maintenance, it could increase the price of home construction by about $9,500.

The average rent and home price in California are already well above national averages. As of 2015, the average rent was $1,240 per month and the average price of a home was $437,000.

“[The solar panel mandate] is great for wealthier homeowners, but for everybody else it’s one more reason to not go to California or leave ASAP,” says economic policy analyst Jimmy Pethokoukis. “What [California governments] should focus on is affordability and lowering the cost of living for Californians.”

Did you know… The first alarm clock could only ring at 4 a.m.

April grew up in the Midwest, where she developed a passion for writing and storytelling at a young age. She transformed that passion into a degree at Indiana University (2008-2012), after which she promptly moved to South Florida to escape the cold.

Since then, April has worked as a content writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, tour guide, scriptwriter, and - I’ll admit it - bartender. Her favorite topics on which to write include health, politics, science & nature, and space exploration (anything but sports, really).

April is an amateur artist who enjoys spending time outdoors and inventing new cocktails. She currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida

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