суббота, 11 августа 2018 г.

Indo-European crackpottery

I’m sometimes asked in the comments here and elsewhere what I think of Carlos Quiles and his Indo-European website (see here if you’re game). Discussing this topic is a waste of time and effort, so I’m writing this blog post for future reference just in case this question comes up again. In all honesty, I think Carlos is a troll and his ramblings are of no value.
Now, many of you probably think that this is a very harsh appraisal. It certainly is, and it’s unfortunate that I have to write a post like this, but let me assure you that Carlos has worked tirelessly over the last few years to deserve my scorn. Please let me explain…
Ancient DNA has revolutionized our understanding of prehistoric Europe, particularly in regards to one crucial, controversial and hotly debated topic: the origins of the Corded Ware Culture (CWC) and its people, who, during the Late Neolithic, came to dominate vast stretches of Europe all the way from the North Sea to the forest steppes of what is now western Russia.
Thanks to ancient DNA from burials associated with the CWC and those of preceding archaeological cultures, there is now a very strong academic consensus that the CWC was introduced into Northern Europe by migrants from the Pontic-Caspian (PC) steppe. It’s also widely accepted that these migrants were rich in Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a and, in terms of genome-wide genetic ancestry, shared a very close relationship with the Yamnaya people who lived on the PC steppe at around the same time.
The question of the linguistic affinities of the CWC is still a controversial issue. It has to be, because assigning languages to long dead, illiterate cultures is a tricky business. But the generally accepted view that the CWC was the first Indo-European-speaking culture in Northern Europe has certainly gained strength thanks to the ancient DNA data, which has revealed an intimate genetic relationship between the CWC people and present-day Indo-European speakers of Northern and Eastern Europe and South Asia.
There are several recent papers freely available online on the CWC and its potential linguistic affinities authored by teams of well known geneticists, archaeologists and historical linguists, all basically saying the same thing. For instance…

Massive migration from the steppe is a source for Indo-European languages in Europe
Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia
The genetic prehistory of the Baltic Sea region
Extensive Farming in Estonia Started through a Sex-Biased Migration from the Steppe
Mitochondrial genomes reveal an east to west cline of steppe ancestry in Corded Ware populations

However, for some unknown reason, and against all odds, Carlos is adamant that this is a false narrative. As best as I can discern from his barely coherent scribbles, his argument is based on the following highly questionable, if not outright false, claims that:

– the subclades of R1a most commonly associated with the CWC, namely R1a-M417 and the derived R1a-Z645, are native to Northern Europe and did not arrive there with migrants from the steppe
– the CWC was introduced into Northern Europe via elite dominance by Indo-European-speaking males from the steppe belonging to Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b
– but the CWC was actually Uralic-speaking and had nothing at all to do with the eventual formation of the Baltic, Slavic and Germanic language groups in former CWC territories
– and the CWC people weren’t really all that closely related to the Yamnaya people anyway, except maybe for some minor admixture via female gene flow, because obviously they didn’t come from the steppe.

He doesn’t appear to be at all concerned that reality is not on his side. What about the fact that there are no reliable instances in the already ample Northern European ancient DNA record of R1a-M417 or R1a-Z645 dating to earlier than the CWC expansion? Or that the earliest instance of R1a-M417 is in a sample from the PC steppe that shows a lot of Yamnaya-related genome-wide ancestry? But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at this…

The Homeland: In the footprints of the early Indo-Europeans

Oh, wait, that map is from the Copenhagen group of academics that Carlos accuses of pushing the false narrative. Maybe it’s rigged? Perhaps this is all a conspiracy, and Carlos is the only one fighting the good fight? Nah, it’s more likely that Carlos is hopelessly confused by the genetic data, which he is unable to comprehend and interpret, let alone analyze himself. Is the computer still too busy to run anything Carlos? Maybe one day, eh?
At the risk of suffering significant brain rot, let’s wrap things up with a quick look at a couple of Carlos’ somewhat comical attempts to expose and challenge the supposedly false mainstream narrative.
Back in 2017, Jones et al. authored an ancient DNA paper on the genetic prehistory of the East Baltic region titled The Neolithic Transition in the Baltic Was Not Driven by Admixture with Early European Farmers (see here). One of the key samples in this paper was Latvia_LN1, a female from an early CWC burial.
The authors noted that this individual was, in terms of genome-wide genetic structure, practically identical to the samples from the Early to Middle Bronze Age PC steppe (in other words, including those from Yamnaya burials) and logically concluded that the CWC in the Baltic region was founded by Yamnaya-related migrants coming directly from the PC steppe. But, as you can imagine, Carlos was flabbergasted by this suggestion:

I keep expecting that more information is given regarding the important sample labelled “Late Neolithic/Corded Ware Culture” from Zvejnieki ca. 2880 BC. It seems too early for the Corded Ware culture in the region, clusters too close to steppe samples, and the information on it from genetic papers is so scarce… My ad hoc explanation of these data – as a product of recent exogamy from Eastern Yamna -, while possibly enough to explain one sample, is not satisfying without further data, so we need to have more samples from the region to have a clearer picture of what happened there and when. Another possibility is a new classification of the sample, compatible with later migration events (a later date of the sample would explain a lot).

Blah, Blah…please let it be a mistake, says Carlos (see here for the full treatment if you’re game). But surely for anyone who understood all of the relevant ancient data available at the time, this was the expected outcome. It certainly was for me. That’s because the CWC samples sequenced to date showed very high genetic affinity to Yamnaya, and, on average, more than 70% admixture either from Yamnaya or a very closely related source.
Indeed, a few months later, in a paper titled The genetic prehistory of the Baltic Sea region, which I already linked to above, Mittnik et al. presented another two Baltic CWC individuals of the same exceedingly Yamnaya-like type. Again, these authors argued that the CWC in the Baltic region was established by migrants coming from the PC steppe. But Carlos wouldn’t have any of it:

If we take the most recent reliable radiocarbon analyses of material culture, and interpretations based on them of Corded Ware as a ‘complex’ similar to Bell Beaker (accepted more and more by disparate academics such as Anthony or Klejn), it seems that the controversial ‘massive’ Corded Ware migration must have begun somehow later than previously thought, which leaves these early Baltic samples still less clearly part of the initial Corded Ware culture, and more as outliers waiting for a more precise cultural context among Late Neolithic changes in the region.

Controversial? Only in his mind. As far as I’m able to understand his ramblings (see here for the full treatment if you’re still game), he attempts to explain these samples as either Yamnaya individuals who were wrongly associated with the CWC, or female Yamnaya migrants who ended up in CWC territory as a result of long range female exogamy between Yamnaya and CWC populations. What he apparently failed to notice was that one of these samples, labeled Gyvakarai1, was a male who belonged to R1a-M417. Oops.
See also…
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…



‘Horse and Foal’ Standing Stones (Former Stone…

‘Horse and Foal’ Standing Stones (Former Stone Circle), Hadrian’s Wall, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, 11.8.18.

This pair of stones lies within a few hundred metres of Hadrian’s Wall. It was once a stone circle and apparently the stone settings remain, although hard to discern. Interestingly the stones are south of the wall although the date of their construction has been suggested as Bronze Age. Up to the 18th century, records indicate a third stone although this has vanished. It would have been interesting to know what the Romans thought of the site so close to the wall.

This is the first time I have visited here. The stones stand on the crest of a small hill within view of Hadrian’s Wall and at least one milecastle or turret.

Source link


Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach

A rare set of teeth from a giant prehistoric mega-shark twice the size of the great white have been found on an Australian beach by a keen-eyed amateur enthusiast, scientists said Thursday.

Rare teeth from ancient mega-shark found on Australia beach
Fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s
famous Great Ocean Road, when he spotted a giant shark tooth [Credit: AFP]

Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country’s famous Great Ocean Road some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Melbourne, when he made the find.

“I was walking along the beach looking for fossils, turned and saw this shining glint in a boulder and saw a quarter of the tooth exposed,” he said.

“I was immediately excited, it was just perfect and I knew it was an important find that needed to be shared with people.”

He told Museums Victoria, and Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology, confirmed the seven centimetre-long (2.7 inch) teeth were from an extinct species of predator known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark (Carcharocles angustidens).

The shark, which stalked Australia’s oceans around 25 million years ago, feasting on small whales and penguins, could grow more than nine metres long, almost twice the length of today’s great white shark.

“These teeth are of international significance, as they represent one of just three associated groupings of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the very first set to ever be discovered in Australia,” Fitzgerald said.

He explained that almost all fossils of sharks worldwide were just single teeth, and it was extremely rare to find multiple associated teeth from the same shark.

This is because sharks, who have the ability to regrow teeth, lose up to a tooth a day and cartilage, the material a shark skeleton is made of, does not readily fossilise.

Fitzgerald suspected they came from one individual shark and there might be more entombed in the rock.

So he led a team of palaeontologists, volunteers, and Mullaly on two expeditions earlier this year to excavate the site, collecting more than 40 teeth in total.

Most came from the mega-shark, but several smaller teeth were also found from the sixgill shark (Hexanchus), which still exists today.

Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler said the sixgill teeth were from several different individuals and would have become dislodged as they scavenged on the carcass of the Carcharocles angustidens after it died.

“The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around,” he said.

“Sixgill sharks still exist off the Victorian coast today, where they live off the remains of whales and other animals. This find suggests they have performed that lifestyle here for tens of millions of years.”

Source: AFP [August 09, 2018]




Over 30 stone axes found at Neolithic site in Orkney

The Ness of Brodgar dig is continuing to reveal an increasingly large complex of monumental Neolithic structures together with “artwork,” over 30,000 pieces of pottery, large assemblages of bones and stone tools — including over 30 unique stone axes.

Over 30 stone axes found at Neolithic site in Orkney
The largest Neolithic stone axe unearthed at the Ness of Brodgar in situ, showing
damage to the cutting edge [Credit: The Ness of Brodgar Trust/UHI]

Last week archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and the Ness of Brodgar Trust unearthed two polished stone axes in quick succession — items that give us a glimpse into the lives of the people who constructed this stone complex 5,000 years ago.

The first axe was discovered in the closing moments of Thursday, in the new trench on the shore of Loch of Stenness. The expertly worked and polished object was the largest axe so far discovered on site, and had been heavily used and damaged at the cutting edge.

Nick Card, site director, said, “It is nice to find pristine examples of stone axes, but the damage on this one tells us a little bit more about the history of this particular axe. The fact that the cutting edge had been heavily damaged suggests that it was a working tool rather than a ceremonial object. We know that the buildings in the complex were roofed by stone slabs so this axe was perhaps used to cut and fashion the timber joists that held up the heavy roof.”

The second axe was discovered by student Therese McCormick, from Australia who has volunteered at the Ness of Brodgar. This stone axe astonished the archaeologists on site through its sheer quality of workmanship. The Gneiss stone had been chosen so that the natural coloured banding was reflected in the shape of the item, and then expertly worked and polished to create an object of beauty.

Over 30 stone axes found at Neolithic site in Orkney
The second stone axe in situ showing the natural banding in the rock reflected
in the shape of the axe edge [Credit: The Ness of Brodgar Trust/UHI]

Nick Card continued: “This axe again tells us a little more about the life of the Neolithic people who built this place. There is, in common with the large axe discovered earlier, a great deal of edge damage suggesting that this axe was used extensively as a working tool, but interestingly one of the edges has been re-worked to create a new edge and also both sides are covered in peck marks suggesting that it was also re-used perhaps as a mini anvil. This axe, in common with many of the axes found on site, was also placed in a special position within one of the structures opposite the entrance that was aligned east-west to catch the equinox sunrise and in line with Maeshowe. These polished stone axes unearthed at the Ness of Brodgar were clearly multifunctional tools that were not only ‘tools of the trade’ but were also perhaps symbols of power.”

Source: The Orcadian [August 08, 2018]




7,000-year-old skeletons discovered in Mexican cave

Archaeologists in Mexico have discovered sets of human remains from the early ancestors of the Mayan civilization that could be as much as 7,000 years old, officials reported on Tuesday.

7,000-year-old skeletons discovered in Mexican cave

Credit: INAH

According to archaeologists at a Mexico City news conference, three sets of human remains were unearthed at the Puyil cave in the Tacotalpa municipality of Tabasco state, located in southern Mexico.

One set reportedly goes as far back as the pre-classical era of the Mayan civilization, putting it at up to 7,000 years old.

7,000-year-old skeletons discovered in Mexican cave

Credit: INAH

The other two skeletons are estimated to be about 4,000 years old. These ancient Mayan remains are on show in the capital’s Anthropology Museum for an exhibition called Puyil: the Cave of Ancestors.
People can see the remains as well as find other artefacts discovered in the region, such as ceramics and pieces of jade.

7,000-year-old skeletons discovered in Mexican cave

Credit: INAH

The Maya were among the great ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, building cities with elaborate ceremonial centres and soaring stone pyramids located in parts of modern day Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

They dominated the region for some 2,000 years before the ancient civilization mysteriously abandoned its cities around AD 900.

Archaeologist Alberto Martos said the team believes the cave was used by different groups. “Clearly it wasn’t a domestic cave. In prehistoric times it was probably used for rituals and cemeteries so as to dispose of the remains of people.”

Source: Reuters [August 10, 2018]




Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily

After centuries of neglect, the Hellenistic theatre of Agrigento is the latest archaeological pearl to emerge from the Sicilian earth. In fact it had always been there, silent, waiting for the fortunate intuition of some scholar.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologists excavating the ancient theatre of Agrigento 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Although it suffered from successive despoliations over the centuries to build the city we know today, it still retained its original appearance but no one, until today, had managed to find it.

The last to try was the Veronese Pirro Marconi, in the 1920s. Marconi, however, made an unforgivable error of interpretation that put him on the wrong track. Of course, he didn’t have a georadar with which to probe the ground. Thus the theatre’s location remained a mystery for decades to come.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
View from drone of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter in the park of the Valle dei Tempi di Agrigento
[Credit: Giuseppe Grizzaffi]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Ceramic finds from the theatre area 
[Credit: Giuseppe Cavaleri]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
View from drone of the ancient theatre of Agrigento 
[Credit: Giuseppe Grizzaffi]

In 2016, after weeks of instrument-based investigations, findings, hypotheses and observations, archaeologists concluded with reasonable certainty that an unmarked limestone embankment only a few hundred metres from the Temple of Concord (the undisputed icon of the Valley of the Temples) actually concealed … the theatre.

“For months we didn’t call it the theatre”, jokes archaeologist Maria Concetta Parello, “due to both a certain reluctance on our part and because we also struggled to recognize its structure”.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Restorer cleans a fragment of red-figure ceramic 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
The follis of Costante II – Siracusa, 654-659 BC, found in the area of the Theatre of Agrigento
[Credit: Giuseppe Cavaleri]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Gorgon mask found in the area of the theatre of Agrigento 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

The only written source on the subject dates back to the middle of the 16th century. The Dominican friar Tommaso Fazello who had written the De Rebus Siculis Decades Duae, the first ‘printed’ book on the history of Sicily, after visiting Agrigento reserved only a few words for the theatre. “I barely recognize its foundations,” he wrote. A sign that at that time many blocks of stone had already been removed to build the new city.

“Yet we managed (between the end of 2017 and the first part of 2018) to identify the summa cavea and the seats for spectators,” continues Parello, as he guides us through the archaeologists who are still working to free the lower part of the structure.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologists excavating the ancient theatre of Agrigento 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Small carnelian necklace depicting a winged figure 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologists excavating the ancient theatre of Agrigento 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Structures of the ancient theatre of Agrigento already excavated, on top of the rocky embankment
[Credit: Marco Merola]

In keeping with the architectural practice of the Hellenistic period, the tiers of benches were built up on the side of a hill, while the upper part of the theatre was built above ground “with walls more than ten metres high”, explains the archaeologist.

The structure underwent a major renovation in the late third century BC, when ancient Akragas became the Agrigentum of the Romans. “But the theatre already existed a century before and only after the conquest was it enlarged, perhaps up to the remarkable size of 95 metres in diameter. Not bad for a provincial theatre.”

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Fragment from a dedicatory inscription 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Silver coin of the early Imperial Age 
[Credit: Giuseppe Cavaleri]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Element in terracotta with relief decorations 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Almost every day the excavation has yielded marvels, including very significant objects. “In the filling of the cavea we found a deposit of artefacts related to a propitiatory rite. These are vessels of daily use, utilized for drinking and for holding liquids, including a small vase with spout, a guttus (a sort of baby bottle), as well as masks, oil lamps, jewellery, effigies, all immediately entrusted to the hands of restorer Marilanda Rizzo Pinna.”

Work is now at a standstill and will resume in the spring of 2019. The aim was to bring to light the orchestra, the architectural space that stood between the koilon and the skene.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Restorer cleaning a mosaic in the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of the Valle dei Tempi di Agrigento
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologists at work in the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of the Valle dei Tempi di Agrigento
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Workers dig a Roman column in the area of the thermal baths of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter,
Valle dei Tempi di Agrigento [Credit: Marco Merola]

But the theatre was not the only surprise in the recently completed excavation campaign.

Archaeologists, in fact, have also intervened in insula IV of the nearby Hellenistic-Roman quarter, a vast expanse of buildings that had already been brought to light in the 1950s with the funds of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno.

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologist Giorgia Moscato places in storage some boxes of finds from the Hellenistic-Roman quarter
of the Valle dei Tempi di Agrigento [Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Archaeologist cleans terracotta bowl 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

Excavations of the Greek theatre and Hellenistic-Roman quarter of Agrigento, Sicily
Restorer cleans a togata terracotta figurine 
[Credit: Marco Merola]

There Parello and his team found urban baths dating back to the time of Constantine (4th century AD).

“During the Empire of Constantine very important roads were built such as Palermo-Catania and Palermo-Agrigento,” concludes the archaeologist. “Along these roads there were guest-houses and stations with thermal baths. We have a wonderful example of this here.”

“No one is prepared to relinquish trowel and shovel just yet because there is still a lot of work to be done and we will be back next year.”

Source: National Geographic Italia [August 09, 2018]




Graeco-Roman fortresses see the light in Albania

The 2018 excavation campaign carried out by the University of Macerata has wrapped up. The campaign took place in cooperation with the archaeological institute of Tirana as part of projects of the foreign ministry in southern Albania that concern the fortresses of Paleokastro and Melan and Hellenistic settlements in the Drino valley.

Graeco-Roman fortresses see the light in Albania
Credit: ANSA

In Paleokastro, excavation work focused on the western gate, the main entrance of the Graeco-Roman fortress dating back to the 4th century BC, and in the internal Byzantine church of the fortress probably built in the 5th-6th century AD.
A team from the University of Camerino registered geophysics information inside the fortification, In Melan, excavation work brought to light fortified structures from the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. The site, due to its structure and history, offers important development to research that will continue with excavation campaigns in 2019.

Graeco-Roman fortresses see the light in Albania
Credit: ANSA

A group from the Polytechnic University in the Marche made a 3D survey in the theatre of the Roman city of Hadrianopolis, for over a decade at the center of research, and the fortress of Paleokastro.

Students from Unimc, the University of Salento, La Sapienza in Rome and the University of Tirana took part in the project.

Source: ANSA [August 09, 2018]




Study claims laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus

New archaeological research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of primitive humans, went extinct in part because they were ‘lazy’.

Study claims laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus
A new study claims that Homo erectus used a single tool with a sharp edge for most jobs
and did not plan ahead [Credit: WikiCommons]

An archaeological excavation of ancient human populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Early Stone Age, found that Homo erectus used ‘least-effort strategies’ for tool making and collecting resources.

This ‘laziness’ paired with an inability to adapt to a changing climate likely played a role in the species going extinct, according to lead researcher Dr Ceri Shipton of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language.

“They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves,” Dr Shipton said.

“I don’t get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon. They didn’t have that same sense of wonder that we have.”

Study claims laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus
Dr Ceri Shipton on site at Saffaqah in central Saudi Arabia [Credit: ANU]

Dr Shipton said this was evident in the way the species made their stone tools and collected resources.

“To make their stone tools they would use whatever rocks they could find lying around their camp, which were mostly of comparatively low quality to what later stone tool makers used,” he said.

“At the site we looked at there was a big rocky outcrop of quality stone just a short distance away up a small hill.

“But rather than walk up the hill they would just use whatever bits had rolled down and were lying at the bottom.

Study claims laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus
The site at Saffaqah in central Saudi Arabia [Credit: ANU]

“When we looked at the rocky outcrop there were no signs of any activity, no artefacts and no quarrying of the stone.

“They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, ‘why bother?’.”

This is in contrast to the stone tool makers of later periods, including early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, who were climbing mountains to find good quality stone and transporting it over long distances.

Dr Shipton said a failure to progress technologically, as their environment dried out into a desert, also contributed to the population’s demise.

Study claims laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus
Dr Seri Shipton in the Arabian Peninsula [Credit: ANU]

“Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative,” Dr Shipton said.

“The sediment samples showed the environment around them was changing, but they were doing the exact same things with their tools.

“There was no progression at all, and their tools are never very far from these now dry river beds. I think in the end the environment just got too dry for them.”

The excavation and survey work was undertaken in 2014 at the site of Saffaqah near Dawadmi in central Saudi Arabia.

The research has been published in a paper for the PLoS One scientific journal.

Author: Aaron Walker | Source: Australian National University [August 10, 2018]




Space Station Science Highlights: Week of August 6, 2018

ISS – Expedition 56 Mission patch.

Aug. 11, 2018

The crew members aboard the International Space Station spent this week conducting science, helping out with student robotic competitions, and preparing for next week’s Russian spacewalk when cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev will work outside the station’s Russian segment for about six hours of science and maintenance tasks.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

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

SPHERES investigations soar through the station

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), three free-flying, bowling-ball sized spherical satellites used inside the space station to test a set of well-defined instructions for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking maneuvers, are used for a variety of investigations aboard the orbiting lab.

The SPHERES-Zero-Robotics investigation provides an opportunity for high school students to conduct research aboard the station. As part of a competition, students write algorithms for the satellites to accomplish tasks relevant to potential future missions. The most promising designs are selected to operate the SPHERES satellites aboard the station as a part of the competition.

Animation above: Two of the free-flying spherical robots used by the SPHERES investigations. SPHERES-Zero-Robotics gives students the chance to develop software
to guide robots through a virtual obstacle course aboard the space station. Animation Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew members conducted dry runs in preparation for the final competition, which occurred Friday.

The SPHERES Tether Slosh investigation combines fluid dynamics equipment with robotic capabilities aboard the station. In space, the fuels used by spacecraft can slosh around in unpredictable ways making space maneuvers difficult. This investigation uses two SPHERES robots tethered to a fluid-filled container covered in sensors to test strategies for safely steering spacecraft such as dead satellites that might still have fuel in the tank.

This week, crew members set up the hardware and cameras before executing an experiment run.

Crew members use sextant to identify stars for use in future navigation

A tool that has helped guide sailors across oceans for centuries is now being tested aboard the station as a potential emergency navigation tool for guiding future spacecraft across the cosmos. The Sextant Navigation investigation tests use of a hand-held sextant aboard the space station.

Sextants have a small telescope-like optical sight to take precise angle measurements between pairs of stars from land or sea, enabling navigation without computer assistance. Sextants have been used by sailors for centuries, and NASA’s Gemini missions conducted the first sextant sightings from a spacecraft. Designers built a sextant into Apollo vehicles as a navigation backup in the event the crew lost communications from their spacecraft, and Jim Lovell demonstrated on Apollo 8 that sextant navigation could return a space vehicle home. Astronauts conducted additional sextant experiments on Skylab.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducting a star identification session as a part of the Sextant Navigation investigation. Animation Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew calibrated the sextant and performed the second star identification and sighting session of the investigation with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor. This session placed an emphasis on position stabilization and sighting.

For more information about the investigation, click here: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Sextant_ISS

Investigation studies how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with electrical conductor; sample exchanges begin

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) MagVector investigation studies how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor. Using extremely sensitive magnetic sensors placed around and above a conductor, researchers gain insight into ways that the magnetic field influences how conductors work. This research not only helps improve future experiments aboard the station and other electrical experiments, but it could offer insights into how magnetic fields influence electrical conductors in general, the backbone of our technology on Earth.

This week, crew members performed the last set of planned sample exchanges.

Replacements completed in preparation for CLD Flames

The Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME) investigation is a set of five independent studies of gaseous flames to be conducted in the Combustion Integration Rack (CIR), one of which being Coflow Laminar Diffusion Flame (CLD Flame). ACME’s goals are to improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollutant production in practical combustion on Earth and to improve spacecraft fire prevention through innovative research focused on materials flammability.

Image above: ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst working within the CIR on the ACME CLD Flame investigation. Image Credit: NASA.

This week, the crew replaced the CIR manifold bottles and an ACME controller in support of the second part of CLD Flames.

Space to Ground: A Star to Steer By: 08/10/2018

Other work was done on these investigations: CEO, Story Time From Space, Food Acceptability, SPHERES, Fluid Shifts, ACME CLD-Flame, Angiex Cancer Therapy, Microbial Tracking-2, Barrios PCG, Chemical Gardens, MSG, SABL, Manufacturing Device, Cold Atom Lab, CASIS PCG-13, BEST, and BCAT-CS.

Related links:

European Space Agency (ESA): http://www.esa.int/ESA

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=303

SPHERES-Zero-Robotics: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=679

SPHERES Tether Slosh: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7381

Sextant Navigation: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7646

MagVector: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1070

Advanced Combustion Microgravity Experiment (ACME): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1651

Combustion Integration Rack (CIR): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=317

Coflow Laminar Diffusion Flame (CLD Flame): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7564

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

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

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

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

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

Microbial Tracking-2: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1663

Barrios PCG: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7726

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

MSG: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=341

SABL: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=1148

Manufacturing Device: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=1934

Cold Atom Lab: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7396

CASIS PCG-13: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7690

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

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

Spacewalks: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/spacewalks

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

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

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link



https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...