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Dual Citizen from L.A. Arrested in Russia on Charges of Treason

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Ksenia Karelina, a dual citizen of Russia and the United States, left Los Angeles around the New Year with excitement to see her family in Yekaterinburg, Russia. However, the 33-year-old spa aesthetician and amateur ballerina now finds herself behind bars in Russia on treason charges, leaving loved ones fearing for her fate and U.S. officials issuing warnings about the dangers of staying in the country.

Word of her arrest came from the main Russian security agency, with the treason charges stemming from an apparent donation to a New York-based Ukrainian charity that aids Ukraine’s military in their fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion. Eleonora Srebroski, Karelina’s former mother-in-law, expressed fear that Karelina would not make it out of Russia, where repression has grown harsher since the war in Ukraine began.

The case, the latest detention involving an American citizen in Russia, drew a sharp warning from the White House that U.S. nationals should not remain in the country. John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, stated that the Biden administration was trying to understand more about the arrest and the circumstances surrounding it. The State Department also declared that no consular access had been granted yet and highlighted that dual nationals such as Karelina are treated as Russian citizens for legal purposes.

Experts have noted that Russian authorities can target Americans as potential bargaining chips for use in possible prisoner swaps. This was seen in the recent case involving U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, who was freed in late 2022 in exchange for a Russian arms dealer named Viktor Bout. Kirby emphasized the active danger that U.S. nationals in Russia faced, urging them to leave right away.

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This alarming development comes at a time when the authoritarian nature of the Russian state is causing deep concern in Western capitals. Just last week, Russian authorities announced the death of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, causing a wave of criticism from President Biden, human rights groups, and European leaders.

The Federal Security Service in Russia, known as the FSB, stated that Karelina was accused of collecting funds for a Ukrainian organization to purchase tactical medicine, equipment, weapons, and ammunition for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The accusations against her could lead to up to 20 years in prison.

In the midst of this ordeal, the fears and concerns of Karelina’s loved ones are palpable. Her former mother-in-law, Eleonora Srebroski, spoke about Karelina’s journey to the United States and her continued close ties with her son, expressing hope that she would not spend her life in jail and concern for her wellbeing in the Russian justice system.

Karelina’s arrest is just one of several high-profile cases involving American citizens in Russia. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Yekaterinburg in March last year, while Alsu Kurmasheva, an editor with Radio Liberty-Radio Free Europe, was detained for failing to register as a foreign agent. Furthermore, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges, a case that the State Department considers to be wrongful detention.

Karelina’s situation highlights the dangerous and uncertain environment in Russia for American citizens. The concerns of her loved ones, the warnings from U.S. officials, and the broader context of escalating tensions between Russia and the West all serve as sobering reminders of the high stakes involved. As the world keeps a watchful eye on the fate of Ksenia Karelina, her case reinforces the need for heightened diplomatic efforts and international cooperation to address these pressing issues.

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What are the challenges of drilling in outer space?

Curiosity Sol 1833 3b Ken Kremer

Humans have been digging underground for millennia – on Earth. It’s where we extract some of our most valuable resources that have moved society forward. For example, there wouldn’t have been a Bronze Age without tin and copper – both of which are primarily found underground. But when it comes to drilling on celestial bodies, we face unique challenges that make the process incredibly difficult. This is a significant issue that needs to be addressed if we ever hope to utilize the potential resources that lie beneath the surface of other planets and moons. A paper from Dariusz Knez and Mitra Kahlilidermani of the University of Krakow sheds light on why drilling in space is so challenging and explores potential solutions.

In their paper, the authors highlight two primary categories of difficulties when it comes to drilling off-world – environmental challenges and technological challenges. Let’s delve into the environmental challenges first.

One major obstacle when drilling on celestial bodies is the lack of an atmosphere. While some exceptions like Venus and Titan exist, most rocky bodies lack the atmosphere required to support fundamental drilling materials, such as fluids. On Earth, cooling fluids play a crucial role in drilling, preventing the drill bit or workpiece from overheating and deforming. However, in space, liquids exposed to the vacuum of space would immediately sublimate, providing little to no cooling effect. This poses a significant challenge for drilling operations, especially those conducted autonomously by rovers or landers.

Another issue is the limitations of hydraulic systems, commonly used in drilling rigs on Earth. Extreme temperature variations in space make it difficult to maintain a liquid in hydraulic systems, as they may freeze in cold conditions or evaporate in high temperatures. These challenges, coupled with other factors like abrasive regolith and the absence of a magnetic field for guidance, make drilling in space incredibly complex.

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Technological challenges further complicate the drilling process off-world. Weight constraints are a critical consideration in space missions, and the heavy materials typically used in drilling rigs on Earth are not feasible for space exploration due to the high cost of launching such materials. Additionally, power sources for drilling systems in space must rely on solar cells and batteries, as traditional hydrocarbon-fueled engines are not viable off-Earth.

Despite these challenges, advancements in drilling technology are essential for the success of future space exploration endeavors, including crewed missions. To address these challenges, researchers are exploring innovative drill designs tailored for different depth categories, ranging from shallow-depth drills to large-depth drills. These designs incorporate concepts like inchworm systems and ultrasonics to enhance drilling capabilities in space.

While drilling off-world, particularly on asteroids and comets, remains a formidable task, it is essential for achieving ambitious goals like creating lunar cave cities or exploring ocean worlds like Enceladus. As we continue to refine drilling technologies and techniques, we move closer to unlocking the full potential of resources hidden beneath the surfaces of celestial bodies.

Image Caption: Curiosity’s arm with its drill extended. Credit – NASA/JPL/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

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