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Researchers: Sanitation, a Valuable Facet of Global Ecosystems

UI researchers identified six key resource recovery and sanitation topics covered in the published studies

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Sanitaion, Global, Ecosystems
The researchers found that between 2000 and 2018, there were over 56,000 published studies that discussed sanitation and resource recovery and approximately 36,000 on ecosystem services. Pixabay

Researchers at the University of Illinois (UI) see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients, organic material and water, according to a study posted on UI’s website on Monday.

The researchers found that between 2000 and 2018, there were over 56,000 published studies that discussed sanitation and resource recovery and approximately 36,000 on ecosystem services; of these, 155 discussed the linkages between the two fields, the Xinhua news agency reported.

UI researchers identified six key resource recovery and sanitation topics covered in the published studies: wastewater treatment, wastewater reuse, natural or constructed wetlands, nutrient and carbon recovery, storm water reuse and regulation, and energy recovery.

“We next identified the pathways in which the recovered resources and ecosystem services may lead to something of direct societal value,” said lead author John Trimmer, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student. “For example, nutrients recovered from a wastewater facility can be applied to farmland to increase food production.”

Sanitaion, Global, Ecosystems
Researchers at the University of Illinois (UI) see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients. Pixabay

The study describes 17 potential ecosystem services made available from the nutrients, water and organic material recovered from sanitation systems serving human populations. These include water purification, nutrient cycling, food provisioning and climate regulation.

“Environmental issues like biodiversity loss and climate change are increasingly prominent in the public eye and people now want to know what we, as a society, are going to do about them,” said Daniel Miller, a natural resources and environmental sciences professor and study co-author.

“Our research points to the unexplored aspect of sanitation and how it might contribute to addressing such problems. We typically think of sanitation as degrading the environment, but we find ways it could actually help improve it while bringing benefits for people.”

Human beings derive benefits from the ecosystems around them — services that often go undervalued in traditional economic systems, the researchers said. These ecosystem benefits include things like forests providing wood as a building material and natural hydrological processes that improve water quality.

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The research has been published in the journal Nature Sustainability. (IANS)

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SpaceX Launches 60 Mini Satellites for Cheaper Global Internet

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX

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SpaceX, Satellites, Global
FILE - A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 23, 2019. VOA

SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second batch of an orbiting network meant to provide global internet coverage.

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX. The compact flat-panel satellites – just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each – will join 60 launched in May.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk wants to put thousands of these Starlink satellites in orbit, to offer high-speed internet service everywhere. He plans to start service next year in the northern U.S. and Canada, with global coverage for populated areas after 24 launches.

Last month, Musk used an orbiting Starlink satellite to send a tweet: “Whoa, it worked!!”

SpaceX, Satellites, Global
SpaceX employees work on the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will astronauts to and from the International Space Station, from American soil, as part of the agency’s commercial crew Program, in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. VOA

Employees gathered at company bases on both coasts cheered when the first-stage booster landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic.

“These boosters are designed to be used 10 times. Let’s turn it around for a fifth, guys,” company’s launch commentator said.

This also marked the first time SpaceX used a previously flown nose cone. The California-based company reuses rocket parts to cut costs.

Stacked flat inside the top of the rocket, the newest satellites were going to maneuver even higher following liftoff, using krypton-powered thrusters. SpaceX said there was a potential problem with one of the 60 that could prevent it from moving beyond its initial 174 mile-high (280 kilometer-high) orbit. In that case, the faulty satellite will be commanded to re-enter and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

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Each satellite has an autonomous system for dodging space junk. In September, however, the European Space Agency had to move one of its satellites out of the way of a Starlink satellite. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.

SpaceX is among several companies interested in providing broadband internet coverage worldwide, especially in areas where it costs too much or is unreliable. Others include OneWeb and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

According to Musk, Starlink revenue can help SpaceX develop rockets and spacecraft for traveling to Mars, his overriding ambition. (VOA)