French Polynesia could become home to the Seasteading Institute’s first floating city after presidential meeting

The Seasteading Institute has announced that it met with Édouard Fritch, the President of French Polynesia, in order to discuss the development of a floating city in the region.

The meeting, held on Friday, was attended by an international delegation from the Institute and followed a tour of several potential sites as well as meetings with other officials.

The delegation has looked at the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti, Tupai, and Raiatea as possible locations for the Seasteading and met with Teva Rohfristch, Minister for Economic Recovery, the Blue Economy and Digital Policy, Sylviane Terooatea, Mayor of Raiatea, and Gaston Tong Sang, former president and Mayor of Bora Bora and Tupai.

The tour was part of the Seasteading Institute’s hope to negotiate a Special Economic Zone with French Polynesia in order to construct one of their floating cities in the region.

seastead-meeting

“We look forward to working with French Polynesia to develop floating islands that will benefit our host country and our international community of seasteaders,” said Randolph Hencken, executive director of the Seasteading Institute.

“With numerous protected waters where we could station the first pilot platforms, French Polynesia offers many optimal locations for seasteading from an engineering point of view.”

The Institute has already undertaken tests of its design for the floating platforms that will ultimately make up the city and proved that, provided the Seasteading was located in a protected area of the sea, it would be perfectly buoyant.

Given their plans to begin construction of the first such city within four years, the securing of a location for the city has been a vital step that has thus far eluded the Institute. The visit to French Polynesia however, seems promising in the fit between the project’s goals and the needs of the nation.

Images courtesy of The Seasteading Institute

Images courtesy of The Seasteading Institute

From an engineering standpoint, the location is ideal due to its range of protected waters while the Polynesian people would benefit from the economic possibilities offered by the Seasteading as well as the potential solutions it offers to rising sea levels.

If approved, the Polynesian platforms will serve as a test pilot in order to prove the final constructed model, as well as showcasing the actual functioning of the Seasteading as a city in collaboration with the host nation.

Former Minister of Tourism for French Polynesia Marc Collins expressed his support for The Seasteading Institute’s vision.

“Polynesian culture has a long history of seafaring across the Pacific Ocean that will contribute to this ambitious project,” he said.

“More than most nations, our islands are impacted by rising sea levels, and resilient floating islands could be one tangible solution for us to maintain our populations anchored to their islands.  For many Polynesians, leaving our islands is not an option.”

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Juno mission: Jupiter’s magnetic field is even weirder than expected

It has long been known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in the solar system, but the first round of results from NASA’s Juno mission has revealed that it is far stronger and more misshapen than scientists predicted.

Announcing the findings of the spacecraft’s first data-collection pass, which saw Juno fly within 2,600 miles (4,200km) of Jupiter on 27th August 2016, NASA mission scientists revealed that the planet far surpassed the expectations of models.

Measuring Jupiter’s magnetosphere using Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) tool, they found that the planet’s magnetic field is even stronger than models predicted, at 7.766 Gaus: 10 times stronger than the strongest fields on Earth.

Furthermore, it is far more irregular in shape, prompting a re-think about how it could be generated.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and magnetic field investigation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

An enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset. Featured image courtesy of NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

At present, scientists cannot say for certain why or how Jupiter’s magnetic field is so peculiar, but they do already have a theory: that the field is not generated from the planet’s core, but in a layer closer to its surface.

“This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen,” said Connerney.

However, with many more flybys planned, the scientists will considerable opportunities to learn more about this phenomenon, and more accurately pinpoint the bizarre magnetic field’s cause.

“Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works,” added Connerney.

With each flyby, which occurs every 53 days, the scientists are treated to a 6MB haul of newly collected information, which takes around 1.5 days to transfer back to Earth.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

A newly released image of Jupiter’s stormy south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

An unexpected magnetic field was not the only surprise from the first data haul. The mission also provided a first-look at Jupiter’s poles, which are unexpectedly covered in swirling, densely clustered storms the size of Earth.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) also threw up some surprises, with some of the planet’s belts appearing to penetrate down to its surface, while others seem to evolve into other structures. It’s a curious phenomenon, and one which the scientists hope to better explore on future flybys.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Bolton.

“If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”