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A Tiny Art Museum Is Headed To The Moon In 2021

Carnegie Mellon University
The unmanned robotic rover that will travel to the moon in 2021. The CMU project is about four pounds, and the size of a shoebox.

On today’s program: A conversation with a pioneer of the space art movement about the first museum on the moon; Pennsylvania rivers get a second life as recreation hubs; the commonwealth's clean slate law gives second chances; researchers at Magee-Womens Research Institute are developing a new mesh for pelvic prolapse; and a sneak peek of WYEP Summer Music Fest.

Art that's out of this world
(0:00 – 12:39)

Capturing the essence of humanity in an 8-ounce work of art is no small feat, but that’s exactly what the team of artists who created the MoonArk are trying to do. Their project will travel to the moon in 2021 aboard a 4-pound robotic rover built by Carnegie Mellon University.

Lowry Burgess, a professor emeritus of art and former dean of CMU's College of Fine Arts, is a founding member of the MoonArk team and a pioneer of the space art movement.

“We’re sending something to the moon that represents the best of us,” he says of MoonArk, whose four chambers include hundreds of images, poems, music and artifacts.

MoonArk may be the first museum on the moon, but it is not the first piece of art to travel outside Earth’s atmosphere. Burgess’ own work, “Boundless Cubic Lunar Aperture,” was the first non-scientific payload taken to outer space in 1989. Burgess says humans should continue to sending art into space.

“When humans go into space, we bring our whole culture with us,” he says. “Space is not just an empty thing out there. It’s longing for life and longing for our love, and we are loving it.”

River cleanups create new opportunities
(13:50 – 17:50)

Discharge of iron and other metals from coal mines has plagued watersheds in Pennsylvania for decades, including the Kiski-Conemaugh River Watershed, which lies less than 100 miles outside of Pittsburgh and feeds into the Allegheny River.

The Kiski River is no longer bright orange with pollution and discharge, reports The Allegheny Front’s Andy Kubis. It’s now used for recreation, like the annual Stony-Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Sojurn. Kubis joined the expedition on the last day of their four-day trip to learn more about the river’s environmental impact.

Clean Slate offers a new start
(17:51 – 22:32)

Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law seals arrest records for people who have been arrested and charged but never convicted; those with non-violent misdemeanor convictions; and those with summary offense like harassment and disorderly conduct. The next phase of the law goes into effect Friday and will automatically seal the records of more than 40 million Pennsylvanians. WHYY’s Aaron Moselle reports that this law is already having transformative effects for eligible people, better positioning them for jobs and housing. 

New surgical material could help solve pelvic prolapse
(22:35 – 34:26)

An estimated one-third of women experience pelvic prolapse in their lifetime, according to Dr. Pamela Moalli, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. More than 12% of women will get surgery, often using surgical mesh, to fix the problem. But that mesh can fail and become dislodged by activities like running and jumping. Dr. Moalli and Dr. Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, have teamed up to create a biomechanical solution. They tell The Confluence's Megan Harris that they're working on new mesh materials to be used in surgery.

WYEP's Summer Music Festival returns Saturday
(34:31 – 39:00)

WYEP is hosting their Summer Music Festival on Saturday at Schenley Plaza in Oakland. WYEP music director and midday host Kyle Smith says performers include local and national talent, including Pierce Dipner, Elias Khouri, Nevada Color and DeVotchKa, plus a lineup of craftspeople, a picnic contest and more. Find the full lineup here.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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