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Japan is Building Wooden Satellites to Cut Down on Space Junk

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A wooden satellite will be launched into space in 2023 to study how the organic material holds up in the vacuum outside our atmosphere.

Sumitomo Forestry

Wooden satellites would create a harmless alternative to metal ones, and significantly cut down on space junk orbiting the Earth which is expected to become a serious problem for spacefarers in the near future.

Researchers and space experts from Kyoto University, including a former Japanese astronaut, are working with the Sumitomo Group, a nearly 400-year old company, on the development and testing of special kinds of wood that can survive in the harsh environment of space.

A translation of a press release regarding the innovation, known as the LignoStella project, explains some of the benefits of using wood.

“Since wood transmits electromagnetic waves and geomagnetism, if the artificial satellite is made of wood, an antenna and attitude control device can be installed inside the satellite, and the satellite structure can be simplified.”

“The wooden artificial satellites that enter the atmosphere after the operation is completed will be completely burned out. This will lead to the development of cleaner and environmentally friendly artificial satellites that do not generate minute substances (alumina particles) that can be a source of [air pollution] during combustion.”

CHECK OUT: These Comfy T-Shirts Made From Wood and Algae Can Be Composted Once You’re Done With It

These particles can float in the air for many years, and Takao Doi, a visitor to the International Space Station and a researcher at the Kyoto University Space Research Unit, where he founded a new field called the “Basic Research on the Practicality of Wood Resources in Space,” has some worries about their effects on life down below.

“We are very concerned with the fact that all the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Takao Doi told the BBC.

There are about 6,000 satellites orbiting the Earth now, and many thousands more will be launched over the 21st century, including over 1,000 from Elon Musk’s universal internet access program, Starlink, alone.

Rendering of space junk, Miguel Soares, CC license

LignoStella holds hope for Kyoto University scientists of leading to the development of unique building materials that, as so many space technologies beforehand have, can eventually move back down to Earth to create more sustainable societies.

READ: These African Nations Used Satellite Monitoring to Cut Deforestation by 18 Percent

Wood has been used in every conceivable way for thousands of years, and so it’s perhaps appropriate that we should be employing its versatility in space now too.

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Uplifting News and Stories

Clever Australian Shepherd Appears to Outsmart Owner, Gets Two Treats

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This dog’s owner says he wanted to do a test to see if his dog could resist taking a treat, even if he left the room.

In the video, a 4-year-old Australian Shepherd named Morty pauses only a few seconds before he gobbles up the treat. But he soon scurries over to the drawer where the owner keeps the treats.

Morty is seen opening the drawer and grabbing another one, placing it where the old treat had been,

He closes the drawer again, and waits for his owner like nothing happened.

WATCH below…

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This ‘Life-changing’ Backward Walker is Helping People Move Forward – Hands Free

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The inventor has gone into debt launching this company, but he says that giving people the ability to walk again, and seeing them embrace their freedom, makes the effort worth more than words can say.

Rob Karlovich’s vision for a revolutionary new walking aide was inspired by a news story about disabled veterans returning from Afghanistan. These service people, who were once able to move with agility, were now struggling just to walk safely with the traditional walkers available to them.

As a lifelong technology innovator, Rob knew he could help. The San Jose, California designer recognized that available mobility devices all had two fundamental problems.

First, they threw people off their center of gravity by forcing them to lean forward, which made them unstable and more likely to fall. Second, they required using your hands to operate them, limiting daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, dancing and even hugging.

To solve these problems, he flipped the traditional walker concept upside-down—or backward, to be exact.

Solving the balance problem by working backward

Traditional walkers position the device in front of you, which forces you to hunch over to hang on to the grip bars. This promotes poor posture, throws off your balance and occupies your hands. Instead, the LifeGlider is positioned behind the body. It secures you with a belt at the pelvis, which has two benefits. You can be hands-free, and you’re held up at your center of gravity—a concept in physics that explains how ice skaters and ballet dancers can hoist a person in the air while moving, without falling.

RELATED: Researchers Unveil Ultra-Precise, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic: ‘It’s like you have a hand again’

“It’s is a major safety issue for people at risk for falling,” said Dr. Bruce Adornato, Adjunct Clinical Professor, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine. “Anyone using a walker today is a candidate for this device, but you have to have the coordination to put on the belt and tighten it up properly or someone who can help.”

Following five years of real-world trials by over 2,000 users, the LifeGlider was officially launched in the fall of 2020.

Though inspired by veterans, the idea of being able to walk safely, upright and hands-free has attracted all kinds of people who have suffered mobility loss.

Personal stories demonstrate the impact

Josie Ingber, who worked in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, was one of the first to try the LifeGlider.

Josie with her dog – LifeGlider

She had been getting increasingly unstable on her feet due to multiple sclerosis, and her cane wasn’t doing enough for her. She had fallen a couple of times and was starting to think she had no choice but to get a walker or use a wheelchair.

“I chose not to go out or accept social invitations since I always had to depend on someone’s arm to hold on to. I was starting to feel very isolated,” Josie said.

But LifeGlider was nothing like the walker experience she was dreading. It allowed her to keep working until she was ready to retire.

WATCH: Amazing Video Shows Special Needs Teen Walking For the First Time in 8 Years

“I have been able to do so much more by myself,” Josie said. “This device has changed my life.”

Nancy Troger also had a life-changing experience with the LifeGlider. She broke her back 12 years ago and endured difficult physical therapy to be able to walk with a cane. But Nancy wanted more stability than a cane could offer—and she longed to work in her garden again.

The LifeGlider, which is FDA approved as a mobility device, not only made gardening possible for Nancy. She was finally able to enjoy a daily walk.

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Her neighbor told Nancy that as she watched her walk down to the pier using the LifeGlider, she was able to see the person Nancy must have been before the accident.

“When I walk like that, my brain remembers how I used to walk,” Nancy said. “It’s hard to explain the feeling of that memory, but it’s like putting on your favorite clothing. It just feels right.”

It also allows users to bend over and pick up something from the floor.

Margaret Fisk didn’t appear to have a disability, but as a sufferer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the over-flexibility of her joints made walking painful and dangerous.

Not any more. Recounting her first time walking without having to focus on not falling, Margaret said, “I was speaking more coherently, I was engaged with things. I was walking with confidence for the first time in at least two years without every step being ultimate torture.”

“Life-changing is not overstating it,” she said. “Being locked in my house without nature is a nightmare. The LifeGlider gave that back to me.”

Whether the cause is a neurological disorder, injury, or simply aging, we don’t have to accept mobility limits any more.

A new LifeGlider costs $695, but the company sells refurbished devices for $495, plus shipping, at www.mylifeglider.com.

WATCH a company video to see it in action…

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IKEA Buys 11,000 Acres of U.S. Forest to Keep It From Being Developed

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IKEA is continuing to try and remain true to their principals—protecting the environment and striving to become a carbon neutral company, while still remaining one of the world’s  most pleasurable shopping experiences.

Stacy Funderburke for IKEA

Their latest move is a large purchase of 11,000 acres of forest in Georgia that looked like it would be lost to development.

To ensure it remains intact and working to suck up CO2 from the atmosphere, the forest was bought by IKEA as part of a strategy to reduce more carbon than it creates through its value chain.

Home to the valuable gopher tortoise, the working forest in the Altamaha Basin is now owned by the IKEA subsidiary, Ingka Group, which has worked with The Conservation Fund, a non-profit that has protected over 8-million acres of forests in the U.S. from fragmentation and development.

A working forest is one in which lumber is harvested and regrown—and it’s these forests which often suffer from being broken up into smaller segments and developed, something the Conservation Fund and Inka are ensuring will not happen by creating permanent easements that legally prevent the forest from ever being split up into smaller pieces.

And, these actions will, in turn, protect the gopher tortoise—a priority species for conservation.

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Ingka Group currently owns 616,000 acres of such forests in the U.S. and Europe, while privately choosing to ensure the highest international standards for good forest management. A spokesperson added that “no significant amount” of wood from the forests is currently used in Ikea products.

“Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund.

RELATED: Toronto’s Oldest Tree Will No Longer Be Cut Down Thanks to Last-Minute Decision By City Council

Gopher tortoise by Val Keefer for The Conservation Fund

“The transfer of these lands to Ingka Investments completes our Working Forest Fund process, through which we identify and buy important, at-risk private forests; develop sustainable harvest and restoration plans; (and) secure permanent conservation protections to block fragmentation and development,” he noted.

Forest stewardship is just one way that the world’s largest furniture outlet is trying to become a carbon-neutral company. They recently announced they would begin buying used IKEA furniture from customers for resale, while electric vans and less carbon-emitting materials are used in both packaging and product.

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