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Full Version: Mars: Ingenuity, gift that keeps giving + UK: How flooded coal mines could heat homes
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(engineering) Flying on Mars: NASA's Ingenuity helicopter is the gift that keeps on giving

EXCERPTS: A nail-biter of a flight saw Ingenuity take to the Martian skies for 166.4 seconds [...] During this flight, Ingenuity covered about 625 meters (2,050 feet), showcasing the advantages that flight missions can offer for exploring new planets.

[...] It was only meant to carry out three flights as a proof of concept — but now, Ingenuity just completed its ninth flight, and a daring one at that. ... The distance covered by Ingenuity in this single flight is comparable to what the Spirit rover has explored in its entire mission on the Red Planet.

[...] Until now, Ingenuity has kept close to its terrestrial exploration partner — the Perseverance rover. This is the main operation NASA is looking at (the ability of a flying craft to accompany an extraterrestrial rover) but Ingenuity is increasingly showing that it can do a lot of things on its own.

The flight was a nerve-wracking one, though. Ingenuity’s navigation system wasn’t meant to deal with this type of fluctuating topography, so the team had to work around this difficulty.

In the end, although NASA hasn’t released any data from the flight, the mission proved to be a success. Not only did Ingenuity manage to take photos of previously unexplored terrain, but it also showed that its operational limits can be stretched even further. We have likely not seen the full range of what the brave little helicopter can accomplish... (MORE - details)

(engineering, design) UK: How flooded coal mines could heat homes

INTRO: A quarter of the UK's homes sit above abandoned coal mines, long since flooded with water. Now, the mines are being put to a new, zero-carbon use.

Coal mines were the beating heart of Britain's industrial revolution. [...] The mines paved the way for a global dependence on fossil fuels, and in doing so, fired the starting pistol on the climate crisis that today confronts us all. 

But what if, in a serendipitous circle of history, our extractive past could be repurposed for a greener, cleaner future? What if the vast maze of coal mines beneath our feet, now filled with naturally warm water, could help decarbonise the UK's – and the world's – herculean heating needs?

That's the question Adam Black, a renewable energy enthusiast employed by one of Britain's largest bottling firms, asked himself a decade ago. "I had about 400,000 sq ft [37,000 sq m] of warehouse that needed heating," says the director of energy projects at Durham-based Lanchester Wines. "And it was right over four layers of mine workings, which had naturally flooded over time."

With the help of a few geothermal experts from Iceland, Black sunk a borehole into the murky depths of the old High Main coal seam in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England. Warmed by natural geological processes, the water they pumped to the surface was a pleasant 15C (59F).

With a little supplemental warmth from an electrical heat pump – "a bit like a fridge in reverse" – it was perfect for keeping the company's warehouse, and the millions of wine bottles within, at the right temperature. (Watch: how geothermal heat has been harnessed for centuries

"Nowadays we're heating a couple of warehouses, a distribution depot, a local bakery, and soon a nearby car showroom too," says Black.

He's not the only one excited by the energy potential of mine water. The UK Coal Authority, which is responsible for the country's disused pits, has big plans for the coming decade. Its geologists believe one-quarter of British homes currently sit on a coalfield, stretching across Wales, central Scotland, northern England, and the Midlands. An estimated 2 billion cubic metres (2 trillion litres/4.4 bilion gallons) of warm water occupy the old mine shafts – equivalent to more than a quarter of the volume of Loch Ness in Scotland. Researchers suggest that this makes mine water one of the UK's largest underused clean energy sources... (MORE)