NASA’s Historic New International Agreements Set Stage for Peaceful and Cooperative Future of Space Exploration

NASA, along with a number of partnering space agencies from around the world, have announced a new set of international agreements that will help to govern a “safe, peaceful, and prosperous future” of space exploration.

The recently-released “Artemis Accords” are the latest development of the Artemis Program, through which the agency vows to send the first woman—and next man—to the moon by 2024.

NASA hopes that the Accords will better allow it to work with international partners to conduct a human mission to Mars as well.

“It’s a new dawn for space exploration!” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter last week. “Today, I’m honored to announce the Artemis Accords agreements—establishing a shared vision and set of principles for all international partners that join in humanity’s return to the Moon. We go, together.”

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The core values enshrined in the Accords expand upon the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. They include the principle that space exploration should be done for peaceful purposes, that the U.S. and its partner nations must be transparent in their practices, and they should strive to build interoperable systems to information that can be exchanged and shared between nations.

The program also aims to protect historic sites and artifacts beyond the bounds of our planet, in much the same way that heritage sites on earth are protected by law. These include the artifacts left behind during the moon landings of the Apollo program of 1969-1972.

“International space agencies that join NASA in the Artemis program will do so by executing bilateral Artemis Accords agreements, which will describe a shared vision for principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to create a safe and transparent environment, which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy,” NASA said in a statement.

International partners that have signed on to the Accords include the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, according to CNN.

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The Accords mark one of the most significant accomplishments thus far of the largest Artemis program, announced in 2019. The program involves the Orion spacecraft, Gateway and Space Launch Rocket System (SLS). The SLS rocket will be used to send Orion, with astronauts and large cargo on board, to the moon.

Unlike previous spacecraft which only supported short-term missions, the Orion will dock at the Gateway, described by CNN as “a spaceship that will go into orbit around the moon and be used as a lunar outpost. About 250,000 miles from Earth, the Gateway will allow easier access to the entire surface of the moon and potentially deep space exploration.”

Photo by NASA

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Another Roundup of Positive Updates on the COVID Outbreaks From Around the World

Last week, we published a list of ten positive updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks from around the world.

Since the article has been viewed millions of times, we thought we would go ahead and publish another round-up of optimistic occurrences to keep your spirits up.

So here is another list of reasons why the global situation is not as bad as the mainstream media might have you think.

1) World Health Organization (WHO) Officials Say There Are Now 20 Coronavirus Vaccines in Development

Although there are still a number of logistical and financial hurdles that will need to be overcome in the race to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the public, WHO representatives say they are working with scientists around the world to test and develop 20 different vaccines.

“The acceleration of this process is really truly dramatic in terms of what we’re able to do, building on work that started with SARS, that started with MERS and now is being used for COVID-19 ,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press conference in Geneva last week, according to CNBC.

The collective body of research is particularly “remarkable” since the vaccines are in development just 60 days after a number of international scientists decoded the virus’s genetic sequence and shared it with the rest of the world.

One of the vaccines—which is already being tested on a number of American volunteers in Seattle—has already illustrated the “unprecedented speed” with which the medical community is working together to develop a vaccine.

2) From Individuals to Countries and World Governments–Everybody is Sharing Face Masks

Not only is this French fashion designer making her own face masks and giving them away for free, she is showing how other people can make their own as well. In North Carolina, a textile mill is gearing up to start making 10 million masks per week. A number of international fashion companies have also redirected their manufacturing teams to produce face masks as well.

Multiple businesses and schools have donated their recently rediscovered face mask treasure troves to hospitals in need. Other major tech companies such as Facebook and Apple are donating millions of masks and medical supplies to US healthcare facilities. Chinese companies are passing on their own stashes of face masks to European countries newly impacted by the virus. Taiwan is reportedly donating 100,000 masks to the United States.

Even medical TV shows have donated their medical supply props to North American hospitals in need.

File photo by Senior Airman Nancy Hooks

3) As American Cities Close Up Amidst Outbreaks, Pollution Plummets

The United States is now benefiting from the same environmental silver lining to the pandemics as China and Italy: as cities encourage self-isolation, air pollution is plummeting.

Over the course of the last few weeks, satellite imaging has revealed significant reductions in air pollution—particularly across California, Seattle, and New York City.

According to CNN, environmental scientists are estimating that the improvement in air quality could collectively save as many as 75,000 people from dying prematurely.

Photo by Descartes Labs

4) As Physicians Worry About Potential Ventilator Shortages, Researchers Develop Several Low-Cost Solutions

In a stroke of genius, one scientist from the University of Minnesota says he went “full-on MacGyver” to build a makeshift ventilator in a matter of hours. Although his team has revised his design over the course of several prototypes with the hopes of eventually submitting it for FDA approval, he says that the inexpensive ventilator is one that he “would be comfortable with someone [using to] take care of me in an ICU or in an operating room.”

The compassionate medical research continues in Italy as a pair of engineers have taken it upon themselves to 3D-print free respirator parts for their local hospitals. As of last week, the Isinnova startup engineers told Forbes that they had successfully printed more than 100 parts.

Meanwhile, MIT scientists are publishing open-source instructions and research on how to build inexpensive ventilators.

“We are releasing this material with the intent to provide those with the ability to make or manufacture ventilators, the tools needed to do so in a manner that seeks to ensure patient safety,” they wrote. “Clinicians viewing this site can provide input and expertise and report on their efforts to help their patients.”

Isinnova’s Christian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli—Photo by Isinnova

5) Communities and Countries Opening Up New Lanes of Free Entertainment for the Masses

In addition to Italians singing songs and playing music together from their balconies, homeowners have begun projecting classic films onto building fronts for the neighbors to enjoy.

As a means of keeping self-isolated people amused during global shutdowns, many online services have made their services free to the public as well.

For starters, Amazon has unlocked more than 40 new children’s shows for all of their customers to watch for free, regardless of Prime membership. Audiobook platform Audible has also released a number of free audiobooks for users to stream from their devices.

“For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids,” reads the Audible website. “All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening. It’s that easy.”

More than 2,500 art museums and galleries have also partnered with Google to offer free virtual tours and displays of their collections to art lovers around the world.

If you prefer cuter online content, then you can check out this handy list of zoos and aquariums offering livestreams of their animal residents.

6) More Than 100,000 People Have Already Recovered From the Virus Worldwide

According to research from Johns Hopkins University, more than 100,000 COVID-19 patients have already made full recoveries from the infection—and that number may very well climb ever higher as more and more potential treatments are tested around the world.

If that’s not enough, patients as old as 90 have managed to recover from the virus as well.

As Chinese cities gradually reopen to the public now that they have gotten the virus under control with less than 10 new infections reported each day, other countries are expected to experience similar recoveries during the coming months.

7) Nobel Prize Winner Who Correctly Predicted COVID-19 Trends Says ‘We’re Going To Be Fine’

According to a recently-published interview with the Los Angeles Times, Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist Michael Levitt has been “remarkably accurate” in predicting China’s recovery from the virus since he began researching the infection rates back in January.

Levitt, who won the 2013 prize for developing complex chemical models of calculation, says that as long as countries continue to practice safe self-isolation measures, the numbers show that they are already beginning to experience slow signs of improvement.

“What we need is to control the panic,” he told the news outlet. “We’re going to be fine.”

© Nobel Media AB. Photo: A. Mahmoud

8) Celebrities and Businesses Have Contributed Millions Towards Feeding and Caring for At-Risk People

From Michelin-starred Chef José Andrés to the Bill Gates Foundation—millions of dollars are being donated to novel coronavirus research and charities feeding families amidst the shutdowns.

It’s hard to quantify just how many resources are being contributed to the cause, but suffice it to say that it’s a lot—in fact, here’s just a quick list of celebrities giving back to their communities that we published last week.

9) No Matter Where You Look, People Are Being Kind to Each Other

People and small businesses are delivering groceries to their elderly neighbors in self-isolation; kids are caring for the homeless; social media users are setting up “caremongering” groups to support each other and share helpful information; people are sharing their toilet paper with community members.

There are even more stories of kindness and compassion being reported from around the world every day—so remember to keep your chin up during the weeks ahead and remind yourself that this situation might not be as terrible as your social media feed might have you believe.

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Chinese Company Ships Crates of Masks to Italy Covered in Italian Poetry: We Are ‘Leaves of the Same Tree’

A Chinese company has shipped crates containing tens of thousands of respirator masks to Italy in her time of need.

And it has done so with the artistic flair of a true Italian romantic.

Consumer technology giant Xiaomi mailed the shipment to the Italian Civil Protection Department, and they stapled to the side of the crates an ancient line of poetry from the Roman philosopher Seneca:

We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, and flowers from the same garden.

Siamo onde dello stesso mare, foglie dello stesso albero, fiori dello stesso giardino

The European country has had a terrible time of the pandemic, and Xiaomi International (pronounced Sheeow-mee) announced the donation on its Facebook page March 5, saying the company felt a responsibility to a market which had welcomed them so warmly when the smartphone maker expanded into Italy two years ago.

“Since we arrived two years ago, we have felt loved and deeply integrated into the life of the country. This is also why we felt the duty to support Italy in the management of the COVID-19 epidemic, by donating a first important quantity of FFP3 masks.”

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They also uploaded the photos showing the lovingly prepared crates in their post.

The company’s chief financial officer called it a “source of great pride” to be able to offer the help, and praised the Italian government’s “excellent job for the benefit of the whole community.”

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Medical shortages of masks, test kits, respirators, and other goods are one of the major reasons why a country might find it difficult to control an outbreak, and the quality of the FFP3 masks sent from Xiaomi are the most effective available.

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