вторник, 7 августа 2018 г.

HiPOD (7 August 2018): Gullies in a Crater in Acidalia Planitia …

HiPOD (7 August 2018): Gullies in a Crater in Acidalia Planitia

   – The objective of this observation is to examine gullies on the north wall of a crater. The slope looks quite steep and the gullies are fairly straight. (305 km above the surface. Black and white is less than 5 km across; enhanced color is less than 1 km.)

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Vessel Ventures Your body is a complex mash up of different…

Vessel Ventures

Your body is a complex mash up of different tissues, kept alive by a network of blood vessels. Building this network requires that blood vessel cells talk to each other. Cells at the tips of vessels venturing into tissues have proteins on their surface, DLL1 and DLL4, which bind to Notch receptors on the blood vessel cells that have just preceded them. These interactions tell vessels to grow. Digging deeper, researchers focused on another vessel protein MPDZ, which interacts with DLL1 and DLL4. Genetically tweaking blood vessel cells in mice to reduce their MPDZ levels interfered with Notch activity. Fluorescent microscopy of vessels in the brains of these mice (pictured) revealed more branching (right) compared with normal mice (left). Controlled Notch signalling therefore prevents excessive vessel branching – a potentially useful insight in the search for ways to prevent tumour growth, which needs new blood vessel growth.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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Earth at risk of heading towards ‘hothouse Earth’ state

Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed, according to researchers.

Earth at risk of heading towards 'hothouse Earth' state
A study published in PNAS shows that there is a risk of Earth entering “Hothouse Earth” conditions where the climate
 in the long term will stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures
and sea level 10-60 m higher than today [Credit: PA]

An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long-term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.

“Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks”, that can drive further warming – even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases”, says lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre. “Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system.”

Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1°C above pre-industrial and rising at 0.17°C per decade.

The authors of the study consider ten natural feedback processes, some of which are “tipping elements” that lead to abrupt change if a critical threshold is crossed. These feedbacks could turn from being a “friend” that stores carbon to a “foe” that emits it uncontrollably in a warmer world. These feedbacks are: permafrost thaw, loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor, weakening land and ocean carbon sinks, increasing bacterial respiration in the oceans, Amazon rainforest dieback, boreal forest dieback, reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover, loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

Earth at risk of heading towards 'hothouse Earth' state
Global map of potential tipping cascades. The individual tipping elements are color-coded according to estimated
thresholds in global average surface temperature (tipping points; 18,43). Arrows show the potential interactions
among the tipping elements, based on expert elicitation, which could generate cascades. Note that although
 the risk for tipping (loss of) the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is proposed at >5 degrees Celsius, some
marine-based sectors in East Antarctica may be vulnerable at lower temperatures
[Credit: Stockholm Resilience Centre]

“These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another. It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if “Hothouse Earth” becomes the reality,” adds co-author Johan Rockström, Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and incoming co-Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, says, “We show how industrial-age greenhouse gas emissions force our climate, and ultimately the Earth system, out of balance. In particular, we address tipping elements in the planetary machinery that might, once a certain stress level has been passed, one by one change fundamentally, rapidly, and perhaps irreversibly. This cascade of events may tip the entire Earth system into a new mode of operation.”

“What we do not know yet is whether the climate system can be safely ‘parked’ near 2°C above preindustrial levels, as the Paris Agreement envisages. Or if it will, once pushed so far, slip down the slope towards a hothouse planet. Research must assess this risk as soon as possible.”

Cutting greenhouse gases is not enough

Maximizing the chances of avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores, for example, through improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation; and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground, the paper says. Critically, the study emphasizes that these measures must be underpinned by fundamental societal changes that are required to maintain a “Stabilized Earth” where temperatures are ~2°C warmer that the pre-industrial.

“Climate and other global changes show us that we humans are impacting the Earth system at the global level. This means that we as a global community can also manage our relationship with the system to influence future planetary conditions. This study identifies some of the levers that can be used to do so,” concludes co-author, Katherine Richardson from the University of Copenhagen.

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre [August 06, 2018]




Mosquito populations give a new insight into the role of Caucasus in evolution

We know that the Caucasus is a relatively large mountainous region, situated between Black and the Caspian seas. In its turn, it is divided into three subregions: Ciscaucasia, Greater Caucasus and Transcaucasia, also known as South Caucasus.

Mosquito populations give a new insight into the role of Caucasus in evolution
The chromosomes of Chironomus ‘annularius’ sensu Strenzke (1959)
[Credit: Dr Mukhamed Karmokov]

A closer look into the chromosome structure of mosquito larvae of a curious group of species (Chironomus “annularius” sensu Strenzke (1959)), collected from the three localities, has allowed Dr Mukhamed Karmokov of the Tembotov Institute of Ecology of Mountain territories at the Russian Academy of Science to figure out how the specificity of the Caucasian region has simultaneously unified its fauna geographically, yet has divided it evolutionarily. His paper is published in the open access journal Comparative Cytogenetics.

Having collected a sufficient amount of mosquito larvae, the researcher managed to study the chromosome structure, rearrangements and possible peculiarities of the separate Caucasian populations, in order to compare them.

Additionally, he analysed their relations to earlier known populations from Europe, Siberia, Kazakhstan and North America.

Amongst the curious peculiarities Karmokov identified in the chromosome structure of the studied larvae were some rearrangements which appear unique to Caucasus. Furthermore, he found that despite the close geographic proximity, the genetic distance between the Caucasian populations is quite significant, even While not enough to determine them as separate species, it could prove them as separate subspecies.

In conclusion, the scientist notes that the obtained data confirm that the Caucasian populations of the studied species have complex genetic structure and provide evidence for microevolution processes in the region.

Source: Pensoft Publishers [August 06, 2018]




Sequenced fox genome hints at genetic basis of behaviour

For nearly 60 years, the red fox has been teaching scientists about animal behavior. In a long-term experiment, foxes at the Russian Institute of Cytology and Genetics have been selected for tameness or aggression, recreating the process of domestication from wolves to modern dogs in real time. Today, with the first-ever publication of the fox genome, scientists will begin to understand the genetic basis of tame and aggressive behaviors, which could shed light on human behavior, as well.

Sequenced fox genome hints at genetic basis of behaviour
A European red fox (V. vulpes crucigera) in an alert posture
[Credit: Peter Trimming/WikiCommons]

“We’ve been waiting for this tool for a very, very long time,” says Anna Kukekova, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois and lead author of the paper. She has been studying the famous Russian foxes since 2002.

“In our previous work, we tried to identify regions of the fox genome responsible for tame and aggressive behavior, but these studies required a reference genome and all we could use was the dog genome. For us, the fox genome provides a much better resource for genetic analysis of behavior.”

After sequencing and assembling the fox genome, the team turned to the famous Russian foxes to look for genetic regions differentiating the tame, aggressive, and conventional populations — farm-raised foxes ancestral to the tame and aggressive populations but not bred for any particular behavioral trait.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 10 individuals from each population, then compared them to the full fox genome and each other. The three populations differed in 103 genomic regions, some of which turn out to be responsible for the tame and aggressive behaviors.

“Finding genomic regions at such resolution was beyond any expectations with our previous tools. Now, for the first time, we could not only pinpoint part of a chromosome which makes foxes more tame or aggressive, but we could identify specific genes responsible for it,” Kukekova says.

The team compared the 103 genomic regions to those of other sequenced mammals and found some compelling similarities. For example, they identified matches between behavior regions in foxes with regions important in domestication in dogs and with a region associated with Williams-Beuren syndrome in humans, a genetic disorder characterized by extremely outgoing, friendly behavior.

“Oddly enough, we found the Williams-Beuren region in aggressive foxes, not tame ones. We thought it would be the opposite,” Kukekova says. The mysterious finding underscores how much more research is needed before the regions are fully understood.

But the researchers dove deeper. As a test run, they honed in on a single gene, known as SorCS1, which is involved in synapse formation, functioning, and plasticity, as well as additional functions. Although it had never before been known to contribute to social behavior, SorCS1 was clearly associated with a very specific behavior in foxes.

Human handlers at the Russian Institute of Cytology and Genetics interact with the foxes in a very controlled way as part of their videotaped fox behavioral assessments. Handlers stand near the enclosures for one minute, hold the door open for another minute, reach toward the fox for a third minute, then close the door, and stand near the enclosure for one final minute. The tamest foxes continue to clamor for human attention during the final minute of the assessment. It’s this group of foxes that has a version of the SorCS1 gene not found in the aggressive population.

“We think this gene makes foxes more tame, but we don’t want to overemphasize it — tameness isn’t associated with a single gene. The picture is definitely more complex,” Kukekova says.

The study is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Author: Lauren Quinn | Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences [August 06, 2018]




First North American co-occurrence of Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur tracks found in Alaska

An international team of paleontologists and other geoscientists has discovered the first North American co-occurrence of hadrosaur and therizinosaur tracks in the lower Cantwell Formation within Denali National Park, suggesting that an aspect of the continental ecosystem of central Asia was also present in this part of Alaska during the Late Cretaceous.

First North American co-occurrence of Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur tracks found in Alaska
An international team of paleontologists and geoscientists has discovered the first North American co-occurrence
of hadrosaur and therizinosaur tracks within Denali National Park in Alaska [Credit: Masato Hattori]

This comprehensive cross-disciplinary effort has resulted in a paper — entitled “An unusual association of hadrosaur and therizinosaur tracks within Late Cretaceous rocks of Denali National Park, Alaska” — published in Scientific Reports, an online open access scientific mega journal published by the Nature Publishing Group, covering all areas of the natural sciences.

Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ph.D., chief curator and vice president of research and collections at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, is the lead author. Co-authors are Paul J. McCarthy, Ph.D., University of Alaska, Department of Geosciences; Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Ph.D., Hokkaido University Museum, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; Carla S. Tomsich, graduate student, University of Alaska, Department of Geosciences; Ronald S. Tykoski, Ph.D., director of paleontology lab, Perot Museum of Nature and Science; Yuong-Nam Lee, Ph.D., School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, South Korea; Tomonori Tanaka, graduate student, Hokkaido University Museum, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; and Christopher R. Noto, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Fiorillo and a colleague published on a distinct single footprint in Denali National Park in 2012 that they determined to be made by a therizinosaur, an unusual predatory dinosaur thought to have become an herbivore. Therizinosaurs are best known from Asia. Upon his return in 2013 and 2014, they conducted a more detailed analysis of the area, and he and his colleagues unearthed dozens more tracks of therizinosaurs. What surprised Fiorillo and his team most was the co-occurrence of dozens of hadrosaurs, also known as duck-bill dinosaurs.

“Hadrosaurs are very common and found all over Denali National Park. Previously, they had not been found alongside therizinosaurs in Denali. In Mongolia, where therizinosaurs are best known — though no footprints have been found in association — skeletons of hadrosaurs and therizinosaurs have been found to co-occur from a single rock unit so this was a highly unusual find in Alaska, and it prompted my interest,” said Fiorillo. “From our research, we’ve determined that this track association of therizinosaurs and hadrosaurs is currently the only one of its kind in North America.”

The plant-eating therizinosaurs are rare and unusual creatures in the fossil record. The strange-looking dinosaurs had long skinny necks, little teeth, a small beak for cropping plants, and big torsos accompanied by large hind feet and long arms with “hands like Freddy Krueger.”

Though therizinosaurs are known from Asia and North America, the best and most diverse fossil record is from Asia — even up to the time of extinction — and therein is the connection. Fiorillo has long postulated that

Cretaceous Alaska could have been the thoroughfare for fauna between Western North America and Asia — two continents that shared each other’s fauna and flora in the latest stages of the Cretaceous.

“This study helps support the idea that Alaska was the gateway for dinosaurs as they migrated between Asia and North America,” said Dr. Kobayashi.

To support the theory, Fiorillo’s international team of scientists from across the U.S., Japan and South Korea worked to establish if the tracks were those of a therizinosaur and to study any unique aspects of the ecosystem. The members — including a sedimentologist, geologist, paleobotanist, paleoecologist and additional paleontologists including an expert on therizinosaurs — determined that this particular area of Denali was a wet, marsh-like environment and that one fossil in particular looked like a water lily, which supported the theory that there were ponds and standing water nearby. They suspect that both therizinosaurs and hadrosaurs liked these wetter locations.

Fiorillo believes that this Alaskan discovery may connect these animals environmentally and perhaps behaviorally to other therizinosaurs in central Asia. An Asian report of these animals being associated also came from an interval of rocks that was unusually ‘wet’ at the time, relative to rocks above and below it.

“This discovery provides more evidence that Alaska was possibly the superhighway for dinosaurs between Asia and western North America 65-70 million years ago,” added Fiorillo.

Source: Perot Museum of Nature and Science [August 06, 2018]




Chronostratigraphic framework established for fluvial valleys of the eastern Cantabrian...

For the first time, a preliminary chronostratigraphic framework has been established for three Cantabrian river basins through the direct dating of Quaternary fluvial deposits, whose results contribute to reconstructing how these basins have evolved over the last 400,000 years

Chronostratigraphic framework established for fluvial valleys of the eastern Cantabrian margin
The Oiartzun river channel today [Credit: Miren del Val]

An international team, including the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has recently published a paper in the journal Quaternary Geochronology on the first direct dating of the Quaternary fluvial deposits of three main river basins of the eastern Cantabrian margin, whose results contribute to reconstructing how these basins have evolved over the last 400,000 years.

Quartz grains extracted from sediment samples collected in the valleys of the rivers Nerbioi (in Bizkaia), Deba and Oiartzun (both in Gipuzkoa), were dated using two complementary methods: Luminescence (OSL) and Electron Spin Resonance (ESR).

With the results obtained, which yield ages of between 140,000 and 400,000 years for the fluvial terraces situated between 10 and 25 meters above the current channel, it has been possible to establish a preliminary chronostratigraphic framework for the Quaternary fluvial deposits of these Cantabrian valleys.

The dating work, performed at laboratories of the CENIEH and the University of Sheffield, has made it possible to infer that the fluvial evolution of the zone has been controlled by climate, with the alternation of relatively humid and arid climatic cycles which would have triggered erosive (fluvial incision) or agradational (fluvial deposition) processes over time.

“In line with recent similar work centering on other river basins such as those of the Miño in Galicia and the Moulouya in Morocco, these results show again the importance of combining different methods for reliable dating of Quaternary fluvial deposits,” comments Miren del Val, lead author of the study, who works at the Luminescence Laboratory of the CENIEH.

An international, multidisciplinary team

The success of this study was made possible thanks to the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team made up of geologists and geochronologists from several Spanish institutions (Universidad del País Vasco, UPV/EHU, the CENIEH and Universidad de Burgos, UBU) and international ones (Griffith University in Australia, and University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom).

This paper, titled “First chronostratigraphic framework of fluvial terrace systems in the eastern Cantabrian margin (Bay of Biscay, Spain),” helps to mitigate the scarcity of fluvial studies in the zone which could contribute to better understanding of the fluvial dynamics of the eastern Cantabrian region.

Source: CENIEH [August 06, 2018]




Discovery of copper band shows Native Americans engaged in trade more extensively than...

A research team including Matthew Sanger, assistant professor of anthropology at Binghamton University, State University at New York, has found a copper band that indicates ancient Native Americans engaged in extensive trade networks spanning far greater distances than what has been previously thought.

Discovery of copper band shows Native Americans engaged in trade more extensively than thought
These are excavations recovering copper band from site in coastal Georgia
[Credit: Matthew Sanger]

“Our research shows that Native Americans living roughly 3,5000 years ago were engaged in extensive trade networks spanning far greater distances than we had previously assumed (more than 1,500 km) and across various regions that we did not know were connected (the Great Lakes and the coastal Southeast),” said Matthew Sanger, assistant professor of anthropology at Binghamton University.

“While we still struggle to understand the nature of these trade networks, our findings suggest that they moved not only objects (such as the piece of worked copper we recovered) but may also be a pipeline through which belief systems, cultural values and societal norms were also exchanged. The possibility that information also traveled along trade networks is evidenced by the shared use of cremation found alongside the exchange of copper between the two regions.”

Sanger and colleagues found a copper band, slightly wider than a bracelet, alongside the cremated remains of at least seven individuals at a burial site in coastal Georgia. Prior to their discovery, both copper and cremated human remains dating to the Archaic period (around 3,000-8,000 years ago) were rarely, if ever, found in the Southeast United States.

The copper band and burials were located in the center of a Late Archaic shell ring–circular deposits thought to have been used by Native Americans as both residential sites and as places of ritual gatherings and feasting events. Radiometric dating using an Accelerated Mass Spectrometer indicate that the remains and band are both more than 3,500 years old. This is significant, as it pushes the practice of cremation, as well as the use of copper, in the region more than a millennium older than previously thought.

Discovery of copper band shows Native Americans engaged in trade more extensively than thought
This is a copper band revealed during excavations [Credit: Matthew Sanger]

Remarkably, the copper band was not manufactured from local materials, but rather originated in the Great Lakes region, more than 1,500 km away. Copper sources each have their own unique chemical makeup, including very small amounts of trace elements. As such, archaeologists can match manufactured objects to their sources by comparing their chemical signatures, or “fingerprints.”

Using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICPMS), researchers at Ball State, the Field Museum and the New Jersey State Museum determined the chemical makeup of the copper band was most similar to sources found near the Great Lakes. While archaeologists had long known copper was exchanged out of the Great Lakes region, the discovery made by Sanger and his colleagues extended previously documented boundaries of Archaic Period copper exchange by nearly 1,000 km.

The use of cremation is also notable, as this practice is virtually absent in the Southeast United States during the Archaic period, yet quite common further to the north, including in the Great Lakes, where the copper originated. The co-occurrence of copper use and cremation practices suggests, according to Sanger and colleagues, that these two regions were more closely linked than previously assumed. The possibility that the two regions shared cosmological worldviews or religious practices would suggest direct connections across huge amounts of space.

According to the authors, these findings lend insight on emergent patterns of hierarchical social organization in the Archaic Southeast United States.

“Defining social complexity is always difficult — but our research shows that people were organized to a degree that allowed the formation of vast trade networks spanning half of a continent more than 3,000 years ago,” said Sanger.

“Considering that these trade networks likely moved both information and objects, we argue that they were not simple “down the line” exchanges–meaning that objects would slowly move between people over large amounts of time, perhaps through trade between friends and neighbors or as inherited items when someone died. Rather, the movement of information across more than 1,500 km suggests that exchange networks were more formal and direct. Such formal and direct trade networks suggest sustained relations between diverse communities, which must have been sustained by relatively complex social institutions. We assume these social institutions were religious or ritual in nature considering that we are looking at a multiple-person cremation in the center of a circular deposit of food remains.”

Sanger and his colleagues at the University of Georgia and Northern Kentucky University have recently been granted a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study an additional 12 shell rings.

“With this grant, myself and my colleagues will begin an ambitious field program and associated analyses to determine whether our findings were unique or part of a broader pattern in the American Southeast,” said Sanger.

The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Binghampton University [August 07, 2018]




2018 August 7 Eclipsed Moon and Mars over Mountains Image…

2018 August 7

Eclipsed Moon and Mars over Mountains
Image Credit & Copyright: Clément Brustel

Explanation: There is something unusual about this astronomically-oriented photograph. It’s not obvious – it was discovered only during post-processing. It is not the Moon, although capturing the Moon rising during a total lunar eclipse is quite an unusually interesting sight. (Other interesting images also captured during last month’s eclipse can be found here.) It is not Mars, found to the lower right of the Moon, although Mars being captured near its brightest also makes for an unusually interesting sight. (Mars is visible nearly the entire night this month; other interesting images of it can be found here.) It is not the foreground mountains, although the French Alps do provide unusually spectacular perspectives on planet Earth. (Other interesting mountainous starscapes can be found here.) It is the goat.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180807.html


Roman Multiangular Tower, York, 5.8.18.Whilst there aren’t many…

Roman Multiangular Tower, York, 5.8.18.

Whilst there aren’t many surviving examples of Roman architecture in York, one of them is the multiangular tower that stands near to the Yorkshire Museum building. This was part of one of the gate towers that formed the perimeter of the Roman fort although it is modified. The basic shape and size of the tower remain the same. In later centuries, occupying Vikings would cover the Roman ruins with earth to form a raised embankment. The red brick division marks the separation between the Roman foundation level and subsequent medieval building. The open stone coffins that are now planters may well be Roman or later.

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Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 2.8.18.A…

Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 2.8.18.

A return visit to this site in the sunshine is magical. This is one of my favourite Roman sites in the UK; you can get a sense of the Romans trying to physically carve out an empire here and the inevitability and futility of it all. Plus there are some truly amazing views! 

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NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP Satellite Gets Night-time and Infrared Views of Hurricane...

NASA / NOAA – Suomi NPP Mission patch.

Aug. 6, 2018

Hector (Eastern Pacific)

Hurricane Hector was impressive in night-time and infrared imagery taken from NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite when it strengthened into a major hurricane.  Hector recently crossed from the Eastern Pacific into the Central Pacific Ocean and strengthened into a Category 4 Hurricane.

Image above: The VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite flew over Category 3 Hurricane Hector on Aug. 4 at 0300 UTC (Aug. 3 at 11 p.m. EDT) and captured this night-time image of the storm that showed a clear eye in the moonlight. Image Credits: NOAA/NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team.

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided forecasters with a night-time and infrared look at Hurricane Hector’s clouds on Aug. 4 at 0300 UTC (Aug. 3 at 11 p.m. EDT) when Hurricane Hector became a major Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Hector has maintained its strength with sustained winds of 120 mph and an estimated central pressure of 962 millibars.

William Straka III of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), Madison, made the images. Straka said, “Suomi NPP had an almost nadir overpass of Hector, which meant that one could see the features of the storm fairly well. Not surprisingly for a major storm, there was a well-defined eye that could be seen, along with the associated tropospheric gravity waves due to the intense convection in the I05, 11um channel. The last quarter moon (53% illumination) also provided enough moonlight to see convection in the feeder bands along with the cirrus blow off and the well-defined eye from the storm. If one zooms in to the eye, as seen in the images attached, one can clearly see that it is very well defined, with open ocean being seen.”

Image above: The VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite flew over Category 3 Hurricane Hector on Aug. 4 at 0300 UTC (Aug. 3 at 11 p.m. EDT). Cloud top temperatures were near 190 Kelvin/-117.7F/-83.5C in the in all quadrant except the north. Image Credits: UWM/SSEC/CIMSS, William Straka III.

At 5 a.m. EDT 11 p.m. (0900 UTC/or 11 p.m. HST time on Aug. 5), the center of Hurricane Hector was located near latitude 14.9 North, longitude 140.6 West. That’s about 1,010 miles (1,625 km) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

Maximum sustained winds are near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.  Hector is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are expected tonight and Monday, followed by gradual weakening Monday night through Wednesday, Aug. 8. The estimated minimum central pressure is 947 millibars.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) said that Hector is moving toward the west near 15 mph (24 kph) and a motion toward the west-northwest at an increased forward speed is expected through Tuesday, followed by a westward motion Tuesday night through Friday, Aug. 10.

For updated forecasts on Hector, visit the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/

Suomi NPP (National Polar-orbiting Partnership): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, by Rob Gutro.

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


Getting More Out of Microbes: Studying Shewanella in Microgravity

ISS – International Space Station logo.

Aug. 6, 2018

While cities, towns, and spaceships operated entirely from energy generated by microbial sources are still the stuff of science fiction, scientific knowledge needed for such a future can build from studies like the latest microbial investigation to arrive at the International Space Station. An experiment called Investigating the Physiology and Fitness of an Exoelectrogenic Organism under Microgravity Conditions (Micro-12) was delivered to the orbiting laboratory by SpaceX CRS-15. This study advances research for fundamental science and biotechnology applications by testing the performance of an unusual bacterial microorganism known as Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 (Shewanella) in microgravity conditions.

Image above: Shewanella uses nanowires like the ones in the imagery above to seek out metals when oxygen is scarce. Image Credit: NASA.

Normally, living organisms use oxygen to transfer electrons that power their metabolisms. As the name suggests, however, exoelectrogenic organisms can pull from their external surroundings for power. Shewanella uses metals in low or no oxygen environments to create energy for itself – a trait that could come in handy for space travel.

“For human use, Shewanella is ideal for cleaning organic waste and producing electrical power at the same time,” said John Hogan, principal investigator for Micro-12 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

As NASA looks ahead to missions beyond low-Earth orbit, life support and power systems will need to decrease in size while increasing in efficiency to make better use of limited resources. One way to do this is to use waste from one system to power others. Piggybacking off Shewanella’s process could be a step toward closing this loop.

Image above: Shewanella forms colonies as it grows, leading to the development of a thin slime known as a biofilm. Image Credit: NASA.

Reliability, however, is just as important as efficiency when planning for space. While Shewanella’s behavior on Earth is well documented, its reaction to and performance in microgravity is still unknown. To this end, Micro-12 will examine the organism’s use of biofilms, extracellular electron transport, and overall fitness and performance in microgravity.

These biofilms, which appear as a thin, slime-like substance, are critical to the bacteria’s ability to connect and grow. When oxygen is scarce, colonies growing on rocks use nanowires, small appendages from the biofilm, to seek out metal within the rocks and switch to their backup respiration system. Micro-12 tests whether the integrity of the organism’s biofilm is hindered by microgravity.

If the bacteria performs well, Shewanella could provide an answer to the larger search for elegant, self-sustaining waste-to-power systems for exploration vehicles. On Earth, Shewanella is also a strong candidate for energy production systems, especially in waste-rich environments.

How Bacteria That Make Electricity Could Help Us Colonize Mars

“To give you a specific example of how Shewanella could be used, think about wastewater treatment plants,” said Hogan. “There is a lot of energy in the waste from those plants that is just tossed out as sludge. But if electrodes and Shewanella are added as part of the treatment system, the plants could then produce a significant portion of their own electricity.”

Although it is the best known and most studied organism of its kind, Shewanella is not alone. Micro-12 stands to pave the way for many future microgravity studies of similar organisms.

To learn more about the Micro-12 investigation, click here: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/could-electricity-producing-bacteria-help-power-future-space-missions

Related links:

NASA’s Ames Research Center: https://www.nasa.gov/ames

Micro-12: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7470

SpaceX CRS-15: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/SpX-15_Resupply

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/JSC/International Space Station Program Science Office/Morgan McAllister.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


‘High status’ Roman gold ring found in Somerset field

An amateur detectorist has found what is believed to be one of the most significant archaeological finds in Somerset’s recent history.

'High status' Roman gold ring found in Somerset field
The 1,800-year-old gold Roman signet ring found by an amateur metal detectorist in Somerset
[Credit: BBC/Apex]

Jason Massey discovered a Roman gold signet ring with an engraving of the god Victory in a field near Crewkerne.

Experts at the British Museum are yet to assess the ring but it is thought to date from 200 to 300 AD.

The coin was found at the same site where Mr Massey and friends found a Roman lead-lined coffin in November.

Mr Massey, who is part of the Detecting for Veterans group, uncovered 60 other Roman coins on Sunday before he found what he thought was his first gold coin. It turned out to be the the 48g (1.7oz) ring.

Mr Massey said he believes the site may have once housed a “very high status Roman villa”.

“There’s load of figures floating about [for the value of the ring] but we’re interested in the villa, who’s lived there and where they’ve come from and who the person was that wore this ring,” he said.

Ciorstaidh Hayward-Trevarthen, finds liaison officer for South West Heritage Trust, said “There are a couple of gold rings of that sort of date from Somerset but they’re not common. Gold is… an indication that the owner is fairly wealthy.”

Source: BBC News Website [August 02, 2018]




Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire

Archaeologist Bill Perry hops out of a Parks Canada pickup truck and lifts one of the gates keeping the public out of much of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
An arrowhead unearthed during excavation of Blackfoot camp sites that were revealed after
the Kenow Fire of 2017 in Alberta’s Waterton National Park [Credit: Parks Canada]

Since a wildfire swept through this iconic mountain park in southern Alberta last September, it’s just too dangerous for tourists to go tromping around on most of the trails.

Thousands upon thousands of blackened, dead trees pepper the mountainous landscape. The damage is clear and devastating.

But CBC News was given exclusive access to see one of the positive side effects of a fire that burns hot and long.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Perry marvels. “What the fire has done for us is it’s eliminated all that vegetation on top and, wow, can we see stuff.”

Suddenly, the size and scope of more than 250 Blackfoot camps are visible.

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
The massive fire burned up to 50 per cent of the park’s ground cover, revealing large swathes
of Blackfoot camps previously unknown to researchers [Credit: Parks Canada]

Archaeologists knew most of them were here, but have never had such clear and direct access to what the Blackfoot people left behind at these camps within the last 300 years.

“We’re finding so much that we’re starting to rewrite what we thought we knew about Waterton history and Indigenous camp history,” Perry says.

At a hearth of one the sites, Perry’s team of archaeologists make a grid and start scraping with trowels, digging up dirt and putting it into plastic buckets.

When they pour those buckets of dirt through wire screens, what looks like random pieces of rock to an untrained eye are carefully bagged.

It turns out they’re debitage, the remnants left from making stone tools. And they are just the beginning of what this team has found since they started working sites in Waterton.

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
A Parks Canada archaeologist shows off ‘debitage,’ flakes and debris from the production of stone tools,
uncovered at a Blackfoot camp site [Credit: Carolyn Dunn/CBC]

There are a host of arrowheads and projectile points, undoubtedly used to hunt bison that used to roam free and were a staple of the nomadic Blackfoot people. There is skeletal evidence of bison right in the camps.

They’ve also found artefacts, like glass trading beads from the first contact period between Blackfoot and European fur traders, which would prove devastating to the former’s health and prosperity.

The fire also revealed something much older — archaeologists have the best view they’ve ever had of trails that were used by the Blackfoot people up to 7,000 years ago.

Archaeologist Kevin Black Plume steps over charred trees that have fallen on the ground. Every step is not just a highlight in his professional career, it is part of a deeply personal journey.

“I guess to walk where your ancestors walked has been very enlightening. I’m very blessed to do it.”

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
A projectile point or arrowhead excavated from a camp by Parks Canada archaeologists
[Credit: Parks Canada]

Black Plume is a member of the Kainai Nation, Blackfoot people who ended up on the Blood reserve, about 60 kilometres from Waterton.

To honour his ancestors and what the excavation sites have provided, Black Plume makes a tobacco offering at each one. He digs a small hole in the ground and buries loose tobacco in it in a silent, spiritual ceremony.

“I feel very strongly connected to most of the pre-historic sites we’re seeing today.”

And Black Plume is excited about the idea of bringing a fuller picture of the Indigenous history of Waterton Park to all of Canada.

“The coolest thing I’ve found is projectile points. The first projectile point I found was at this site,” Black Plume recalls, “I was just yelling and screaming. To see what they hunted bison with, it’s just very uplifting.”

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
The lead archaeologist Bill Perry at work in the field
[Credit: Parks Canada]

There have also been some non-Indigenous finds as well, including a Depression-era work camp. In the 1930s when jobs were next to impossible to find, the federal government hired men to build a major roadway through the park.

Aside from a rough location, very little was known about these camps — until the fire cleared the vegetation, providing a picture of what life was like in them.

Archaeologist Rachel Lindemann points out the rocks that formed the foundation of a structure in the camp, but the story takes on life when she picks up a rusty tin tobacco can.

“We’re finding food stores, we’re finding meat tins as well, things like evaporated and condensed milk was very popular and coffee sometimes would be shipped in tins as well,” Lindemann explains.

Other finds including a sewing needle case, a Boy Scout pin and cold cream jar expand the picture to indicate women and possibly even children were part of camp life.

Canadian archaeologists find treasure in aftermath of giant forest fire
Glass trading beads found at a Blackfoot camp, from the first contact period
between with European fur traders [Credit: Parks Canada]

It’s not just the artefacts that are changing the park’s history, Lindemann says,. “We’ve mapped all of these outlines three dimensionally, so they can be plotted onto maps and we’ll verify that with archival and aerial photos as well. And then kind of build up and create the story for this site.”

That more precise story will become part of the historical record. There is a narrowing window of time for all of the work they’d like to complete this season. The soil, nutrient rich after the fire, is perfect for vegetation to regrow and obscure these sites once again.

“Here we are a little bit more than halfway through our field season and we’re running out of time.” Perry says. “The vegetation regrowth is nipping at our heels as we’re recording things, but wow, what a ride.”

The team is awaiting word if they will be funded for next year. If so, the plan is to dig even deeper, going back further in time.

Author: Carolyn Dunn | Source: CBC News [August 02, 2018]




Cosmonauts Get Suits Ready for Next Spacewalk as Rest of Crew Relaxes

ISS – Expedition 56 Mission patch.

August 6, 2018

Two Expedition 56 cosmonauts are getting ready for a spacewalk set for next week as the rest of the International Space Station crew took the day off. A Russian cargo craft is also poised to take out the trash and depart the orbital lab at the end of the month.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev will put on their Orlan spacesuits and work outside the station’s Russian segment for about seven hours on Aug. 15. The duo will toss tiny satellites into Earth orbit, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and retrieve experiments that analyzed external station surfaces and observed plasma waves.

Image above: Empty Russian Orlan spacesuits are pictured in the Pirs Docking Compartment. Image Credit: NASA.

They spent Monday installing batteries that will power their spacesuits next week for the duration of their spacewalk. Artemyev and Prokopyev also ensured their suits were sized properly and conducted leak checks. Finally, they reviewed the procedures they will use next week when they exit and enter the airlock inside the Pirs docking compartment.

The rest of the crew is relaxing today after an intense week of completing crucial space science and loading the time-sensitive research samples inside the Dragon cargo craft for its return to Earth. Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean Friday and was quickly retrieved so scientists and engineers could begin analyzing the science and refurbishing the station hardware.

Image above: California Fires as Seen From the Space Station (ISS). The Earth, in all its majesty and its tragedy, is the subject of images taken aboard the International Space Station. This image of the Carr and Ferguson fires was captured by European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex), on August 3, 2018, from the station. Image Credits: NASA/Astro_Alex.

The next spacecraft due to leave the station is Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) resupply ship on Aug. 22 packed with trash and discarded gear. It launched Feb. 13 and arrived two days later loaded with over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. The 69P will deorbit on Aug. 29 after a week of engineering tests for a fiery but safe disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

Related links:

Expedition 56: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition56/index.html

Progress 69 (69P): https://cms.nasa.gov/feature/progress-launches-arrivals-and-departures/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

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Space Station Science Highlights: Week of July 30, 2018

ISS – Expedition 56 Mission patch.

Aug. 6, 2018

In addition to conducting investigations in the fields of human research, technology development, physical science and biology, the crew also prepared for the departure of the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Dragon returned to Earth from the International Space Station Friday, carrying research results and other station materials for analysis.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon was packed with more than 3,800 pounds of cargo, including a variety of science samples that are being returned to Earth for further analysis. Image Credit: NASA.

Read more details about scientific work last week aboard your orbiting laboratory:

Crew member stores samples to explore changes in vision

More than half of American astronauts experience vision changes and anatomical alterations to parts of their eyes during and after long-duration space flight. It is thought that the headward fluid shift that occurs during space flight leads to increased pressure in the brain, which may push on the back of the eye, causing it to change shape. The Fluid Shifts investigation measures how much fluid shifts from the lower body to the upper body, in or out of cells and blood vessels, and determines the impact these shifts have on fluid pressure in the head, changes in vision and eye structures.

Image above: A crew member captured this image of the Mataiva atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. Image Credit: NASA.

Last week, NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor collected saliva, blood, and urine at multiple points during the day and stored them in the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) for later analysis.

Samplers deployed in station to test for potential hazards

Aerosols are particles suspended in the air, and include soot, dust, pollen and other natural and human-made materials. Aerosols behave differently in microgravity than on Earth, posing potential hazards for crew members breathing the air inside the space station. Aerosol Sampler collects airborne particles in the cabin air and returns them to Earth for analysis using a variety of techniques including light microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy.

Animation above: NASA astronauts Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel pack science samples into a tray for Polar, a cold stowage-managed facility that provides transport and storage of science samples at cryogenic temperatures to and from the station, in preparation for its stowing in Dragon for return to Earth. Animation Credit: NASA.

Last week, aerosol samplers were deployed in Nodes 1 and 3 of the station. By flowing sampled air through a large thermal gradient in a narrow channel, these battery-powered samplers pull in air and collect particles. Data generated by this investigation could be used in the design and selection of particle detectors for future space travel, as long-duration human missions need to be able to monitor aerosol measurements to ensure crew health and comfort.

Chemical Garden investigation initiated

Chemical Gardens form when dissolvable metal salts are placed in an aqueous solution containing anions such as silicate, borate, phosphate, or carbonate. The most common solution used is sodium silicate, and when the two are combined, precipitation structures can form within minutes. The result is a vine-like array of buds, limbs and tubes. Gardens can range in color depending on the chemicals used.

Last week, the crew began operations for the investigation by removing the ampoule kit, breaking the seal between the ampoules and mixing the contents in both.

Learn more about the Chemical Gardens investigation here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/chemical_gardens_ISS

Investigation studies endothelial cells

Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are the leading causes of death in developed countries. Angiex Cancer Therapy examines whether microgravity-cultured endothelial cells represent a valid in vitro model to test effects of vascular-targeted agents on normal blood vessels. Results may create a model system for designing safer drugs, targeting the vasculature of cancer tumors and helping pharmaceutical companies design safer vascular-targeted drugs.

Space to Ground: From American Soil: 08/03/2018

Last week, crew members performed microscope, sample and therapy operations for the investigation. Auñón-Chancellor observed various cell culture modules with respect to the drug treatment to which they were exposed.

Other work was done on these investigations: CEO, Space Algae, Rodent Research-7, Story Time From Space, Micro-12, Tropical Cyclone, Food Acceptability, SPHERES, Polar, Meteor, MICS, Time Perception, ELF, STAaRS BioScience-9, SCAN Testbed, CASIS PCG-11, Micro-11, Plant Habitat-01, Sally Ride EarthKAM, ACME CLD-Flame, Lighting Effects, BEST, J-SSOD, AstroPi, and BCAT-CS.

Related links:

Fluid Shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1126

MELFI: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=56

Aerosol Sampler: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2034

Chemical Gardens: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7678

Angiex Cancer Therapy: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7502

CEO: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=84

Space Algae: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7446

Rodent Research-7: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7425

Story Time From Space: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1152

Micro-11: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1922

Micro-12: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7470

Tropical Cyclone: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1712

Food Acceptability: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7562

SPHERES: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=303

Polar: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=1092

Meteor: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1174

MICS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7658

Time Perception: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7504

ELF: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1738

STAaRS BioScience-9: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7783

SCAN Testbed: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=156

CASIS PCG-11: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7631

Plant Habitat-01: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2032

Sally Ride EarthKAM: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=87

ACME CLD-Flame: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7564

Lighting Effects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=2013

BEST: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7687

J-SSOD: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=883

AstroPi: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7534

BCAT-CS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7668

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

Expedition 56: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition56/index.html

Progress 69 (69P): https://cms.nasa.gov/feature/progress-launches-arrivals-and-departures/

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Yuri Guinart-Ramirez, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 55 & 56.

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