пятница, 16 ноября 2018 г.

Daily life at Hadrian’s Wall Models, Segedunum, Newcastle upon Tyne

Daily life at Hadrian’s Wall Models, Segedunum, Newcastle upon Tyne

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The dance of the small galaxies that surround the Milky Way

An international team led by researchers from the IAC used data from the ESA satellite Gaia to measure the motion of 39 dwarf galaxies. This data gives information on the dynamics of these galaxies, their histories and their interactions with the Milky Way.

The dance of the small galaxies that surround the Milky Way
Credit: Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

Around the Milky Way, there are many small galaxies (dwarf galaxies), which can be tens of thousands of times or even millions of times less luminous than the Milky Way. In comparison with normal or giant galaxies, dwarf galaxies contain fewer stars and have lower luminosity.

These small galaxies have been the subject of the study of an international team of astronomers led by Tobias K. Fritz and Giuseppina Battaglia, both researchers of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). Thanks to the data acquired by the ESA Gaia space mission, which became available in a second release in April 2018, the researchers have been able to measure the on-sky motion of 39 dwarf galaxies, determining direction and velocity.

Before the second release of data from the Gaia satellite, it was not possible to perform such measurements for 29 of the galaxies analyzed by the team. The researchers found that many of them are moving in a plane known as the vast polar structure. “It was already known that many of the more massive dwarf galaxies were found in this plane, but now we know that also several of the less massive dwarf galaxies might belong to this structure,” says Fritz, main author of the scientific article .
Battaglia highlights that the origin of the vast polar structure is still not fully understood, but its characteristics appear to challenge cosmological models of galaxy formation. Also, the Large Magellanic Cloud is found in this planar structure, which might imply the two are connected.

By analyzing the data concerning the motions, the team found that several of the dwarf galaxies have orbits that bring them close to the inner regions of the Milky Way. The gravitational attraction that the Milky Way exerts on these galaxies can be compared to the action of tides. It is likely that a few of the dwarf galaxies studied are perturbed by these tides, which stretch them like a stream.

“This could explain observed properties of some of these objects, such as Hercules and Crater II,” says Fritz.

On the other hand, new questions arise. “Over the years, some galaxies have been observed to have peculiar characteristics that could have been potentially due to tidal perturbations by the Milky Way (e.g. Carina I),” says Battaglia. “However, their orbits do not appear to confirm this hypothesis. Perhaps we should postulate that encounters with other dwarf galaxies might have been the culprit.”

The researchers found that the majority of the galaxies studied are close to the pericenter of their orbit (the point closest to the Milky Way center). Nonetheless, basic physics explains that they should spend most of their time close to the apocenter of their orbit (the point farthest from the Milky Way center). “This suggests that there should be many more dwarf galaxies that have yet to be discovered and that are hiding at large distances from the Milky Way center,” states Fritz.

Dwarf galaxies, besides being interesting in their own right, are one of the few tracers of dark matter that can be used in the most external parts of the Milky Way. It is thought that this kind of matter accounts for about 80 percent of the total mass of the universe. However, it cannot be observed directly, and detection is difficult. The movements of celestial bodies such as dwarf galaxies can be used to measure the total mass of matter within a volume. This is determined by subtracting the mass of those luminous objects that are detected to obtain an estimate of the amount of dark matter. From this data, the researchers could infer that the amount of dark matter in the Milky Way is high, about 1.6 trillion solar masses.

The findings are published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Source: Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias [November 13, 2018]



Washboard and fluted terrains on Pluto as evidence for ancient glaciation

A letter authored by SETI Institute scientist Oliver White was published by Nature Astronomy. Co-authors included researchers Jeff Moore, Tanguy Bertrand and Kimberly Ennico at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

Washboard and fluted terrains on Pluto as evidence for ancient glaciation
Figure 1. Sputnik Planitia along its northwest margin [Credit: SETI]

The letter “Washboard and Fluted Terrains on Pluto as Evidence for Ancient Glaciation” focuses on these distinctive landscapes that border the vast nitrogen ice plains of Sputnik Planitia along its northwest margin (Figure 1), and which are amongst the most enigmatic landforms yet seen on Pluto. These terrains consist of parallel to sub-parallel ridges that display a remarkably consistent ENE-WSW orientation, a configuration that does not readily point to a simple analogous terrestrial or planetary process or landform.

The aim of Dr. White’s research is to use mapping and analysis of the morphometry (the process of measuring the external shape and dimensions of landforms) and distribution of the ridges to determine their origin and to understand their significance within the overall geologic history of Pluto.

The work used imaging data returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto in 2015, as well as topographic maps generated from this data. Washboard and fluted ridges are defined primarily by their topographic context: washboard ridges occur in level settings within valley floors, basins and uplands, whereas fluted ridges are seen on steeper spurs, massifs (or compact group of mountains) and crater walls that separate basins and valleys.

The washboard and fluted terrain is seen up close in Figure 2, in which illumination is from the top. They occur at the location on Sputnik Planitia’s perimeter where elevations and slopes leading into the surrounding uplands are lowest, and also where a major tectonic system coincides with the edge of Sputnik Planitia. The low elevation of the area makes it a natural setting for past coverage by nitrogen ice glaciers, as indicated by modeling of volatile behavior on Pluto performed by Dr. Bertrand at Ames.

Washboard and fluted terrains on Pluto as evidence for ancient glaciation
Figure 2. washboard & fluted terrain [Credit: SETI]

Through comparison of the washboard and fluted texture with parallel chains of elongated sublimation pits (depressions in the surface formed where ice turns directly into a gas) seen in southern Sputnik Planitia, the ridges are interpreted to represent water ice debris liberated by tectonism of underlying crust. This water ice debris was buoyant in the denser, pitted glacial nitrogen ice that is interpreted to have formerly covered this area, and collected on the floors of the elongated pits. After the nitrogen ice receded via sublimation, the debris was left as the aligned ridges, mimicking the sublimation texture – washboard ridges where deposited on flat terrain, and fluted ridges where deposited on steeper slopes.
Crater surface age estimates indicate that the washboard and fluted ridges were deposited early in Pluto’s history, after formation of the Sputnik basin by a giant impact ~4 billion years ago. Acting as a giant cold trap, it was to this basin that surface nitrogen ice across Pluto migrated over some tens of millions of years, thereby causing the recession of nitrogen glaciers from upland areas such as that now occupied by the washboard and fluted terrain. The precise mechanism that elongated the sublimation pits and defined their strikingly consistent orientation regardless of latitude or location relative to Sputnik Planitia is elusive, but is consistent with a global-scale process.

A constraint is that true polar wander solutions for Pluto (provided by co-author Dr. James Keane of Caltech) indicate that the ridges can never have all been oriented N-S at any time in Pluto’s history. This suggests a cause for the alignment that is not exogenic (i.e. the orientation is likely not governed solely by solar illumination, which would cause all the sublimation pits to align N-S).

Dr. White summarizes the findings as follows: “These terrains constitute an entirely new category of glacial landform that is unique to Pluto, and represent geological evidence that nitrogen ice glaciation was more widespread across Pluto in its early history prior to the formation of the Sputnik basin. The dense spacing of the ridges allows us to precisely map out the past coverage of the glaciation that deposited them, which extended across at least 70,000 km2 of Pluto’s uplands (larger than the state of West Virginia)”.

Source: SETI Institute [November 13, 2018]



Gaia spots a ‘ghost’ galaxy next door

An international team of astronomers, including from the University of Cambridge, discovered the massive object when trawling through data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite. The object, named Antlia 2 (or Ant 2), has avoided detection until now thanks to its extremely low density as well as a perfectly-chosen hiding place, behind the shroud of the Milky Way’s disc. The researchers have published their results online today.

Gaia spots a 'ghost' galaxy next door
What Antlia 2 would look like if you could see it from Earth [Credit: G. Torrealba (Academia Sinica, Taiwan),
V. Belokurov (Cambridge, UK and CCA, New York, US) based on the image by ESO/S. Brunier]

Ant 2 is known as a dwarf galaxy. As structures emerged in the early Universe, dwarfs were the first galaxies to form, and so most of their stars are old, low-mass and metal-poor. But compared to the other known dwarf satellites of our Galaxy, Ant 2 is immense: it is as big as the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and a third the size of the Milky Way itself.

What makes Ant 2 even more unusual is how little light it gives out. Compared to the LMC, another satellite of the Milky Way, Ant 2 is 10,000 times fainter. In other words, it is either far too large for its luminosity or far too dim for its size.

“This is a ghost of a galaxy,” said Gabriel Torrealba, the paper’s lead author. “Objects as diffuse as Ant 2 have simply not been seen before. Our discovery was only possible thanks to the quality of the Gaia data.”

The ESA’s Gaia mission has produced the richest star catalogue to date, including high-precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars and revealing previously unseen details of our home Galaxy. Earlier this year, Gaia’s second data release made new details of stars in the Milky Way available to scientists worldwide.

The researchers behind the current study – from Taiwan, the UK, the US, Australia and Germany – searched the new Gaia data for Milky Way satellites by using RR Lyrae stars. These stars are old and metal-poor, typical of those found in a dwarf galaxy. RR Lyrae change their brightness with a period of half a day and can be located thanks to these well-defined pulses.

“RR Lyrae had been found in every known dwarf satellite, so when we found a group of them sitting above the Galactic disc, we weren’t totally surprised,” said co-author Vasily Belokurov from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. “But when we looked closer at their location on the sky it turned out we found something new, as no previously identified object came up in any of the databases we searched through.”

Gaia spots a 'ghost' galaxy next door
Antlia 2 is a giant, but low mass, dwarf galaxy. As Antlia 2 orbits around the Milky Way, it is likely that stars are torn from
the dwarf galaxy and deposited throughout the outskirts of the Milky Way. The orange stars show the results of a computer
model of Antlia 2. The background shows the Gaia satellite’s view of the entire night sky. The Large Magellanic Cloud
(LMC) is visible below the Milky Way disc — although similar to Antlia 2 in size, the LMC is 10,000 times brighter
[Credit: J. Sanders (Cambridge, UK) based on the image by Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC);
 A. Moitinho/A. F. Silva/M. Barros/C. Barata, University of Lisbon, Portugal; H. Savietto, Fork Research, Portugal]

The team contacted colleagues at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) in Australia, but when they checked the coordinates for Ant 2, they realised they had a limited window of opportunity to get follow-up data. They were able to measure the spectra of more than 100 red giant stars just before the Earth’s motion around the Sun rendered Ant 2 unobservable for months.

The spectra enabled the team to confirm that the ghostly object they spotted was real: all the stars were moving together. Ant 2 never comes too close to the Milky Way, always staying at least 40 kiloparsecs (about 130,000 light-years) away. The researchers were also able to obtain the galaxy’s mass, which was much lower than expected for an object of its size.

“The simplest explanation of why Ant 2 appears to have so little mass today is that it is being taken apart by the Galactic tides of the Milky Way,” said co-author Sergey Koposov from Carnegie Mellon University. “What remains unexplained, however, is the object’s giant size. Normally, as galaxies lose mass to the Milky Way’s tides, they shrink, not grow.”

If it is impossible to puff the dwarf up by removing matter from it, then Ant 2 had to have been born huge. The team has yet to figure out the exact process that made Ant 2 so extended. While objects of this size and luminosity have not been predicted by current models of galaxy formation, recently it has been speculated that some dwarfs could be inflated by vigorous star formation. Stellar winds and supernova explosions would push away the unused gas, weakening the gravity that binds the galaxy and allowing the dark matter to drift outward as well.

“Even if star formation could re-shape the dark matter distribution in Ant 2 as it was put together, it must have acted with unprecedented efficiency,” said co-author Jason Sanders, also from Cambridge.

Alternatively, Ant 2’s low density could mean that a modification to the dark matter properties is needed. The currently favoured theory predicts dark matter to pack tightly in the centres of galaxies. Given how fluffy the new dwarf appears to be, a dark matter particle which is less keen to cluster may be required.

“Compared to the rest of the 60 or so Milky Way satellites, Ant 2 is an oddball,” said co-author Matthew Walker, also from Carnegie Mellon University. “We are wondering whether this galaxy is just the tip of an iceberg, and the Milky Way is surrounded by a large population of nearly invisible dwarfs similar to this one.”

The gap between Ant 2 and the rest of the Galactic dwarfs is so wide that this may well be an indication that some important physics is missing in the models of dwarf galaxy formation. Solving the Ant 2 puzzle may help researchers understand how the first structures in the early Universe emerged. Finding more objects like Ant 2 will show just how common such ghostly galaxies are, and the team is busy looking for other similar galaxies in the Gaia data.

Author: Sarah Collins | Source: University of Cambridge [November 13, 2018]



The dawn of a new era for genebanks

Biodiversity goes beyond species diversity. Another important aspect of biodiversity is genetic variation within species. A notable example is the immense variety of cultivars and landraces of crop plants and their wild progenitors. An international research consortium led by the of the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK Gatersleben) and supported by the iDiv research centre has now characterised at the molecular level a world collection comprising seed samples from a total of more than 22,000 barley varieties. In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the scientists usher in a new era for gene banks that transform from museums of past crop diversity into bio-digital resource centres.

The dawn of a new era for genebanks
Permanent storage of different barley accessions in the cold storage room of the genebank
[Credit: IPK Gatersleben]

Genebanks store samples of cultivars, landraces and wild relatives of crop plants from all over the world to safeguard our agricultural heritage and exploit it for future crop improvement. The German federal ex situ gene bank at IPK in Gatersleben hosts one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of cultivated plants, including 22,000 barley seed samples.

Under the leadership of the IPK Gatersleben, researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI, German Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants) in Quedlinburg and the University of Göttingen collaborated with colleagues from Japan, China, and Switzerland.

This international cooperation revealed how well the IPK collection represents global barley diversity. A single plant was genotyped for each of more than 22,000 seed samples, enabling the scientists to identify duplicate samples within the collection. Opening up new ways for genetically informed quality management, this comprehensive dataset also guides the effective use of the collection in research and breeding by pinpointing lines for further in-depth characterization.

Prof Dr Nils Stein (IPK Gatersleben and University of Göttingen) says: “This publication enables us to fully describe the wide range of morphological diversity of a worldwide genebank in terms of molecular genetics.”

The dawn of a new era for genebanks
Growing of accessions of the barley collection of the federal ex situ genebank at the IPK in Gatersleben
[Credit: IPK Gatersleben]

To do this, Stein and his team used a method called “genotyping by sequencing” (GBS). The complete DNA sequence of the barley variety ‘Morex’, which was released in 2017, forms the basis of the present work. It serves as a high-quality sequence anchor for the GBS information. To characterise genetic diversity between cultivated and wild barley forms throughout the whole genome, the researchers searched for so-called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms).

In total, they found more than 171,000 of these small DNA variants in the huge barley genome consisting of 5 billion base pairs. Stein adds: “This density is sufficient to find even very small differences between samples, but also to confidently flag pairs of duplicated samples in our collection.”

“We can now draw conclusions about the origin, distribution area and relationship between the barley populations hosted in our collection. All digital genetic data are publicly accessible and targeted queries can be submitted on-line. A state-of-the art database combines traditional passport records with the new molecular data to inform research and breeding applications,” explains Dr Martin Mascher of the IPK and iDiv, who co-led the study.

The combination of historical field data of the genebank with modern molecular analyses is an impressive showcase for the opportunities that still lie dormant within gene banks around the world. New research methods and international collaborations have paved new ways for the preservation and use of this valuable genetic diversity.

The dawn of a new era for genebanks
Illustrated variety of different barley accessions
[Credit: IPK Gatersleben]

Prof Dr Frank Ordon from the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) points out: “Detailed knowledge about genetic variability and its use are prerequisite for breeding new varieties adapted to a changing environment. In the future, plant breeders will have to cope with heat, drought stress and new pathogens and also must adapt to changes regarding the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Genes that code for key properties can thus be detected in native species or related wild species more quickly and be used in breeding.”
In the past, the lack of genetic data at the level of whole collections limited practical applications of genetic diversity in breeding and research. Thanks to the new analysis and open research data, it will now be possible to search across 22,626 barley seed samples. To host this unique resource, the researchers developed the BRIDGE “Data Warehouse” as a first steps towards a bio-digital resource centre.

Source: German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig [November 13, 2018]



Climate change likely caused migration, demise of ancient Indus Valley civilization

More than 4,000 years ago, the Harappa culture thrived in the Indus River Valley of what is now modern Pakistan and northwestern India, where they built sophisticated cities, invented sewage systems that predated ancient Rome’s, and engaged in long-distance trade with settlements in Mesopotamia. Yet by 1800 BCE, this advanced culture had abandoned their cities, moving instead to smaller villages in the Himalayan foothills. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found evidence that climate change likely drove the Harappans to resettle far away from the floodplains of the Indus.

Climate change likely caused migration, demise of ancient Indus Valley civilization
Mohenjo-daro is an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city built around 2600 BCE
that was abandoned after 1900 BCE [Credit: Shutterstock]

Beginning in roughly 2500 BCE, a shift in temperatures and weather patterns over the Indus valley caused summer monsoon rains to gradually dry up, making agriculture difficult or impossible near Harappan cities, says Liviu Giosan, a geologist at WHOI and lead author on the paper published in the journal Climate of the Past.

“Although fickle summer monsoons made agriculture difficult along the Indus, up in the foothills, moisture and rain would come more regularly,” Giosan says. “As winter storms from the Mediterranean hit the Himalayas, they created rain on the Pakistan side, and fed little streams there. Compared to the floods from monsoons that the Harappans were used to seeing in the Indus, it would have been relatively little water, but at least it would have been reliable.”

Evidence for this shift in seasonal rainfall–and the Harapans’ switch from relying on Indus floods to rains near the Himalaya in order to water crops–is difficult to find in soil samples. That’s why Giosan and his team focused on sediments from the ocean floor off Pakistan’s coast. After taking core samples at several sites in the Arabian Sea, he and his group examined the shells of single-celled plankton called foraminifera (or “forams”) that they found in the sediments, helping them understand which ones thrived in the summer, and which in winter.

Once he and the team identified the season based on the forams’ fossil remains, they were able to then focus on deeper clues to the region’s climate: paleo-DNA, fragments of ancient genetic material preserved in the sediments.

Climate change likely caused migration, demise of ancient Indus Valley civilization
The Indus civilization was the largest—but least known—of the first great urban cultures that also
included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Named for one of their largest cities, the Harappans relied on river
floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses. Today, numerous remains of the Harappan settlements are
located in a vast desert region far from any flowing river [Credit: Liviu Giosan, Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution; Stefan Constantinescu, University of Bucharest;
James P.M. Syvitski, University of Colorado]

“The seafloor near the mouth of the Indus is a very low-oxygen environment, so whatever grows and dies in the water is very well preserved in the sediment,” says Giosan. “You can basically get fragments of DNA of nearly anything that’s lived there.”

During winter monsoons, he notes, strong winds bring nutrients from the deeper ocean to the surface, feeding a surge in plant and animal life. Likewise, weaker winds other times of year provide fewer nutrients, causing slightly less productivity in the waters offshore.

“The value of this approach is that it gives you a picture of the past biodiversity that you’d miss by relying on skeletal remains or a fossil record. And because we can sequence billions of DNA molecules in parallel, it gives a very high-resolution picture of how the ecosystem changed over time,” adds William Orsi, paleontologist and geobiologist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, who collaborated with Giosan on the work.

Sure enough, based on evidence from the DNA, the pair found that winter monsoons seemed to become stronger–and summer monsoons weaker–towards the later years of the Harappan civilization, corresponding with the move from cities to villages.

Climate change likely caused migration, demise of ancient Indus Valley civilization
Weakened monsoons and reduced run-off from the mountains tamed the wild Indus and its Himalayan
 tributaries enough to enable agriculture along their valleys. During the early and mature phases
of the Harappan civilization, settlements bloomed along the Indus from the coast to the hills fronting
the Himalayas and along the most likely course of the mythical River Sarasvati, in what is now a waterless
 region, part of the Thar Desert. With continued aridification, the population moved eastward toward the
 Ganges basin, where summer monsoon rains remained reliable, and winter monsoon rains increased
marking a shift toward small farming communities and the decline of cities during late Harappan times
[Credit: Liviu Giosan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]

“We don’t know whether Harappan caravans moved toward the foothills in a matter of months or this massive migration took place over centuries. What we do know is that when it concluded, their urban way of life ended,” Giosan says.

The rains in the foothills seem to have been enough to hold the rural Harapans over for the next millennium, but even those would eventually dry up, likely contributing to their ultimate demise.

“We can’t say that they disappeared entirely due to climate–at the same time, the Indo-Aryan culture was arriving in the region with Iron Age tools and horses and carts. But it’s very likely that the winter monsoon played a role,” Giosan says.

The big surprise of the research, Giosan notes, is how far-flung the roots of that climate change may have been. At the time, a “new ice age” was settling in, forcing colder air down from the Arctic into the Atlantic and northern Europe. That in turn pushed storms down into the Mediterranean, leading to an upswing in winter monsoons over the Indus valley.

“It’s remarkable, and there’s a powerful lesson for today,” he notes. “If you look at Syria and Africa, the migration out of those areas has some roots in climate change. This is just the beginning–sea level rise due to climate change can lead to huge migrations from low lying regions like Bangladesh, or from hurricane-prone regions in the southern U.S. Back then, the Harappans could cope with change by moving, but today, you’ll run into all sorts of borders. Political and social convulsions can then follow.”

Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [November 13, 2018]



Late Miocene ape maxilla discovered in western India

An ape maxilla (upper jaw) from the Late Miocene found in the Kutch basin, in western India, significantly extends the southern range of ancient apes in the Indian Peninsula, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ansuya Bhandari from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, India, and colleagues.

Late Miocene ape maxilla discovered in western India
WIHG WIF/A 1099, right maxilla preserving Canine-M2
[Credit: Bhandari et al, 2018]

Apes, or hominoids, are a group of primates from Africa and Southeast Asia that includes the gibbons and the great apes: chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and humans. Ancient ape remains from Miocene deposits in the Siwaliks of India and Pakistan have been key for understanding the evolution of great apes and humans.
In this study, the researchers examined an ape jaw fragment excavated from the Kutch basin, in the Gujarat state of western India, about 1000 km south of the Siwaliks deposits.

X-ray computed-tomography revealed details of the preserved canine and cheek teeth, such as the tooth enamel and root structure. The ape mandible belonged to an adult individual of the Sivapithecus genus, but the species could not be identified.

The authors dated the specimen to the basal Late Miocene, around 11 to 10 million years ago based on previous mammalian fossil findings in the site. The new finding is the first Miocene ape fossil to be discovered so far south in the Indian peninsula, and extends the southern range of ancient apes in the subcontinent by about 1000 km.

Source: PLOS [November 14, 2018]



Fireball Caught on Camera over Texas

Over 70 fireball reports from 3 states

The AMS has received over 70 reports so far about of a fireball event seen above Texas on November 15th, 2018 around 21:25am CDT (November 16th 3:25 Universal Time). The fireball was seen primarily from Texas but was also seen from Louisiana and Oklahoma.

If you witnessed this event and/or if you have a video or a photo of this event, please

Submit an Official Fireball Report

If you want to learn more about Fireballs: read our Fireball FAQ.

AMS Event #4922-2019 – Witness location and estimated ground trajectory


The preliminary 3D trajectory computed based on all the reports submitted to the AMS shows that the Fireball was traveling from East to West and ended its flight somewhere South East of Johnson City, TX.

AMS Event #4922-2019 – Estimated 3D Trajectory


The event has been caught on a dashcam by Christopher Cato from in the Killeen area.

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Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Poggio…

Fluorite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Poggio Balate, Termini Imerese, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Size: 6 × 4.8 × 4.3 cm

Photo Copyright © Viamineralia /e-rocks.com

Geology Page



Crossed Wires These colourful structures are human nerve…

Crossed Wires

These colourful structures are human nerve cells, growing and connecting inside a brain. But it’s not a human brain – this a mouse brain, into which human nerve cells have been transplanted. Studying nerve connections inside a living human brain is extremely difficult, but animal models don’t accurately reflect the complexity and molecular makeup of human cells. Researchers have now developed a clever technique to solve the problem: human skin cells are reprogrammed into stem cells, then converted into nerve cells that will grow inside a mouse’s skull. Comparing nerve cells grown from people with the developmental disorder Down syndrome with those from unaffected individuals is providing important new insights into what happens in a healthy brain as it grows and develops and what might be going wrong in Down syndrome. Hopefully, the discoveries from this ingenious approach will lead to future treatments to improve life for people with the condition.

Read more about this research from the MRC LMS

Written by Kat Arney

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Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters

Abell 1033

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Leiden Univ./F. de Gasperin et al; Optical: SDSS; Radio: LOFAR/ASTRON, NCRA/TIFR/GMRT

Enterprise NCC 1701 USS Enterprise NCC 1701 

Credit: Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Hidden in a distant galaxy cluster collision are wisps of gas resembling the starship Enterprise — an iconic spaceship from the “Star Trek” franchise.

Galaxy clusters — cosmic structures containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies — are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Multi-million-degree gas fills the space in between the individual galaxies. The mass of the hot gas is about six times greater than that of all the galaxies combined. This superheated gas is invisible to optical telescopes, but shines brightly in X-rays, so an X-ray telescope like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is required to study it. 

By combining X-rays with other types of light, such as radio waves, a more complete picture of these important cosmic objects can be obtained. A new composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033, including X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio emission from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) network in the Netherlands (blue), does just that. Optical emission from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is also shown. The galaxy cluster is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth. 

Using X-ray and radio data, scientists have determined that Abell 1033 is actually two galaxy clusters in the process of colliding. This extraordinarily energetic event, happening from the top to the bottom in the image, has produced turbulence and shock waves, similar to sonic booms produced by a plane moving faster than the speed of sound.

In Abell 1033, the collision has interacted with another energetic cosmic process — the production of jets of high-speed particles by matter spiraling into a supermassive black hole, in this case one located in a galaxy in one of the clusters. These jets are revealed by radio emission to the left and right sides of the image. The radio emission is produced by electrons spiraling around magnetic field lines, a process called synchrotron emission.

The electrons in the jets are traveling at very close to the speed of light. As the galaxy and its black hole moved toward the lower part of the image, the jet on the right slowed down as it crashed into hot gas in the other galaxy cluster. The jet on the left did not slow down because it encountered much less hot gas, giving a warped appearance for the jets, rather than the straight line that is typically seen.

This image of Abell 1033 also provides an example of “pareidolia“, a psychological phenomenon where familiar shapes and patterns are seen in otherwise random data. In Abell 1033, the structures in the data create an uncanny resemblance to many of the depictions of the fictional Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

In terms of astrophysical research, a detailed study of the image shows that the energy of the electrons in the “saucer section” and neck of the starship-shaped radio emission in Abell 1033 is higher than that found in the stardrive section towards the lower left (see labels). This suggests that the electrons have been reenergized, presumably when the jets interact with turbulence or shock waves in the hot gas. The energetic electrons producing the radio emission will normally lose substantial amounts of energy over tens to hundreds of millions of years as they radiate. The radio emission would then become undetectable. However, the vastly extended radio emission observed in Abell 1033, extending over about 500,000 light years, implies that energetic electrons are present in larger quantities and with higher energies than previously thought. One idea is that the electrons have been given a further boost in energy by extra bouts of shocks and turbulence.

Other sources of radio emission in the image besides the starship-shaped object are the shorter jets from another galaxy (labeled “short jets”) and a “radio phoenix” consisting of a cloud of electrons that faded in radio emission but was then reenergized when shock waves compressed the cloud. This caused the cloud to once again shine at radio frequencies, as we reported back in 2015.

The team who made this study will use observations with Chandra and LOFAR to look for further examples of colliding galaxy clusters with warped radio emission, to further their understanding of these energetic objects.

A paper describing this result was published in the October 4th, 2017 issue of Science Advances and is available online. The authors of the paper are Francesco de Gasperin, Huib Intema, Timothy Shimwell (Leiden University, the Netherlands), Gianfranco Brunetti (Institute of Radio Astronomy, Italy), Marcus Bruggen (University of Hamburg, Germany), Torsten Enblin (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany), Reinout van Weeren (Leiden), Annalisa Bonafede (Hamburg), and Huub Rottgering (Leiden). 

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.

Fast Facts for Abell 1033:

Scale: Image is about 7.4 arcmin across (about 3.3 million light years)
Category: Groups & Clusters of Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000): RA 10h 31m 33.70s | Dec +35° 04´ 33.96″
Constellation: Leo Minor
Observation Date: 19 and 21 Feb 2013
Observation Time: 17 hours 35 min
Obs. ID: 15084, 15614
Instrument: ACIS
References: de Gasperin, F et al., Sci. Adv. 2017, 3, 1701634; arXiv:1710.06796
Color Code: X-ray (Pink); Optical (Red, Green, Blue); Radio (Blue)
Distance Estimate: About 1.62 billion light years (z=0.1259)

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2018 November 16 The Hill, The Moon, and Saturn Image Credit…

2018 November 16

The Hill, The Moon, and Saturn
Image Credit & Copyright: Tamas Ladanyi (TWAN)

Explanation: Last Sunday when the Moon was young its sunlit crescent hung low near the western horizon at sunset. With strong earthshine it was joined by Saturn shining in the early evening sky for a beautiful conjunction visible to skygazers around our fair planet. On that clear evening on a hill near Veszprem, Hungary mother, daughter, bright planet, and young Moon are framed in this quiet night skyscape taken with a telephoto lens. Of course the Moon ages too quickly for some, and by tonight the sunlit part has reached its first quarter phase. This weekend skygazers spending quality time under Moon and stars might expect to see the annual rain of comet dust otherwise known as the Leonid meteor shower.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181116.html

HiPOD (15 November 2018): Monitoring Frost in Raga Crater   –…

HiPOD (15 November 2018): Monitoring Frost in Raga Crater

   – We’re watching frost up-slope from known new gully flows in Raga. These appear to be distinct from recurring slope lineae we’ve seen in other craters. (Alt: 251 km. Black and white is less than 5 km; enhanced color is less than 1 km.)

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The Most Luminous Galaxy Is Eating Its Neighbors

NASA – Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) patch.

November 15, 2018

Image above: This artist’s impression shows galaxy WISE J224607.55-052634.9, the most luminous galaxy ever discovered. A new study using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows that this galaxy is syphoning dust and other material from three of its smaller galactic neighbors. Image Credits: (NRAO/AUI/NSF) S. Dagnello.

The most luminous galaxy ever discovered is cannibalizing not one, not two, but at least three of its smaller neighbors, according to a new study published today (Nov. 15) in the journal Science and coauthored by scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The material that the galaxy is stealing from its neighbors is likely contributing to its uber-brightness, the study shows.

Discovered by NASA’s space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) in 2015, the galaxy, called WISE J224607.55-052634.9, is by no means the largest or most massive galaxy we know of, but it radiates at 350 trillion times the luminosity of the Sun. If all galaxies were positioned an equal distance from us, WISE J224607.55-052634.9 (or W2246-0526 for short) would be the brightest.

New observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile reveal distinct trails of dust being pulled from three smaller galaxies into W2246-0526. The trails contain about as much material as the smaller galaxies themselves, and it’s unclear whether those galaxies will escape their current fate or will be completely consumed by their luminous neighbor.

Image above: This image, created using radio data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), shows W2246-0526 as it syphons material away from three smaller galaxies. W2246-0526 and one of its companions are in the center; the second galaxy is above them; the third is to the lower left. Image Credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); S. Dagnello (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

Most of W2246-0526’s record-breaking luminosity comes not only from stars, but also a collection of hot gas and dust concentrated around the center of the galaxy. At the heart of this cloud is a supermassive black hole, recently determined to be 4 billion times more massive than the Sun. In the intense gravity, matter falls toward the black hole at high speeds, crashing together and heating up to millions of degrees, causing the material to shine with incredible brilliance. Galaxies that contain these types of luminous, black-hole-fueled structures are known as quasars.

Like any engine on Earth, W2246-0526’s enormous energy output requires an equally high fuel input. In this case, that means gas and dust to form stars and to replenish the cloud around the central black hole. The new study shows that the amount of material being accreted by WJ2246-0526 from its neighbors is enough to replenish what is being consumed, thereby sustaining the galaxy’s tremendous luminosity.

“It is possible that this feeding frenzy has already been ongoing for some time, and we expect the galactic feast to continue for at least a few hundred million years,” said Tanio Diaz-Santos of the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, lead author of the study.

In the new study, the scientists used images from ALMA – a collection of individual radio antennas that work together as single telescope – to identify the dusty trails of material. The position of the accretion trails strongly suggests they contain material flowing between W2246-0526 and the other galaxies. In addition, the trails exhibit the right morphology – that is, the shape of the trails is consistent with how the material should flow if it is being pulled from one galaxy into another.

Image above: This annotated image made using radio data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows how W2246-0526 is being fed by three companion galaxies (C1, C2, and C3). A large tidal tail connects C2 with the main galaxy; dust bridges connect the other two galaxies to W2246-0526. Image Credits: T. Diaz-Santos et al.; N. Lira; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

This kind of galactic cannibalism is not uncommon. Astronomers have previously observed galaxies merging with or accreting matter from their neighbors in the nearby universe. For example, the pair of galaxies collectively known as “the Mice” are so named because each has a long, thin tail of accreting material stretching away from it.

W2246-0526 is the most distant galaxy ever found to be accreting material from multiple sources. The light from W2246-0526 took 12.4 billion years to reach us, so astronomers are seeing the object as it was when our universe was only a tenth of its present age of 13.8 billion years. At that distance, the streams of material falling into W2246-0526 are particularly faint and difficult to detect. The study relies on 2.5 hours of observation time using 40 of ALMA’s 12-meter radio dishes.

“We knew from previous data that there were three companion galaxies, but there was no evidence of interactions between these neighbors and the central source,” said Diaz-Santos. “We weren’t looking for cannibalistic behavior and weren’t expecting it, but this deep dive with the ALMA observatory makes it very clear.”

W2246-0526 falls into a special category of particularly luminous quasars known as hot, dust-obscured galaxies, or Hot DOGs. Astronomers think that most quasars get some of their fuel from external sources. One possibility is that these objects receive a slow trickle of material from the space between galaxies. Another is that they feed in bursts by eating up other galaxies, which appears to be occurring with W2246-0526. It’s unclear whether W2246-0526 is representative of other obscured quasars (those with their central engines obscured by thick clouds of dust) or if it is a special case.

“This galaxy may be one of a kind, because it’s nearly twice as luminous as any other galaxy we’ve found with WISE and it formed very early in the universe’s history,” said Peter Eisenhardt, JPL project scientist for WISE and a coauthor on the new paper. “But we’ve discovered many other galaxies with WISE that are similar to this one: distant, dusty and thousands of times more luminous than typical galaxies are today. So with W2246-0526, we may be seeing what goes on during a key stage in the evolution of galaxies and obscured quasars.”

Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Ultimately, the galaxy’s gluttony may only lead to self-destruction. Scientists hypothesize that obscured quasars that gather too much material around them end up vomiting gas and dust back out through the galaxy. This onslaught of material halts the formation of new stars, essentially pushing the galaxy into retirement while other galaxies continue to renew themselves with the birth of new stars.

A companion study about W2246-0526, published on Nov. 14 in the Astrophysical Journal, provided the mass measurement for the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center – 4 billion times the mass of the Sun. This mass is large, but the extreme luminosity of W2246-0526 was thought to require a supermassive black hole with a mass at least three times larger, according to the paper authors. Solving this apparent contradiction will require more observations.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan and by NINS in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed and operated WISE for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft operated until 2011. In September 2013, WISE was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and assigned a new mission to assist NASA’s efforts to identify potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

Related links:

Science: https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/aae88f

Astrophysical Journal: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/aae698

ALMA: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/alma/

Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/JPL/Calla Cofield/NRAO/Charles Blue.

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

Finding an Elusive Star Behind a Supernova

NASA – Hubble Space Telescope patch.

Nov. 15, 2018

Located 65 million light-years away ia a blue supergiant star that once existed inside a cluster of young stars in the spiral galaxy NGC 3938, as shown in this artist’s concept. It exploded as a supernova in 2017 and Hubble Space Telescope archival photos were used to locate the doomed progenitor star, as it looked in 2007. The star may have been as massive as 50 suns and burned at a furious rate, making it hotter and bluer than our Sun. It was so hot, it lost its outer layers of hydrogen and helium. When it exploded, astronomers categorized it as a Type Ic supernova because of the lack of hydrogen and helium in the supernova’s spectrum.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:


Image, Animation, Text, Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith/ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI).

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

Alpine ice shows three-fold increase in atmospheric iodine

Analysis of iodine trapped in Alpine ice has shown that levels of atmospheric iodine have tripled over the past century, which partially offsets human-driven increases in the air pollutant, ozone.

Alpine ice shows three-fold increase in atmospheric iodine
Iodine trapped in Alpine ice has given scientists data to use in climate models
[Credit: University of York]

The study showed, however that, although iodine can destroy ‘bad’ ozone, there isn’t enough to counter all of the production. Researchers say it is now important to include iodine data in climate models that predict future global environmental outcomes.

Analysis of the Alpine ice, by scientists at the University of York, Université Grenoble Alpes, and Desert Research Institute, shows that iodine concentration began to increase after the Second World War following the growth in motor vehicles and electricity generation.

Nitrogen oxide emissions from vehicles and power plants since the 1950s increases surface ozone, and this reacts with chemicals in seawater to release more iodine into the atmosphere, which partially, but not completely, destroys some of these harmful gases.

Professor Lucy Carpenter, from the University of York’s Department of Chemistry, said: “Iodine’s role in human health has been recognised for some time – it is an essential part of our diets.

“Its role in climate change and air pollution, however, has only been recently recognised, and up until now, there have been no historical records of iodine in populated regions such as Europe.

“Due to the difficulty in accessing this kind of data, the impact of iodine in the atmosphere is not currently a feature of the climate or air quality models that predict future global environmental changes.”

The study in the European Alps has now provided new long-term insight into the delicate balance of ozone in the atmosphere.

Ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as an air pollutant and greenhouse gas, but ozone is also the main driver of iodine emissions from the ocean. Once released into the atmosphere iodine acts to destroy this ‘bad’ ozone.

The more ozone humans produce, the more iodine is released from the ocean which can then help destroy the ozone produced by humans. This means that iodine levels in the ocean can, at least partially, act to keep ozone gases in the lower atmosphere in check, but there isn’t enough to counter all of the production.

Dr Tomás Sherwen, from the University of York’s Department of Chemistry, said: “When we look at the concentrations of iodine over time, we can see that it was fairly steady during the industrial revolution.

“However as more cars appeared on the roads in the post-war period, we get more emissions of nitrogen oxides causing more ozone in the atmosphere and therefore more iodine.

“Surface ozone concentrations have stabilised over much of Europe and the Atlantic ocean, although are still growing over other regions.

“We can now start to think about factoring in our knowledge of iodine chemistry into climate and air quality models to help us better predict what the future of our atmosphere will look like around the globe.”

The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: University of York [November 12, 2018]



Burial urn of Megalithic era unearthed in Kerala

A huge burial urn dating back to the Megalithic era that was unearthed while clearing a private road to a house at Hydermettu, near Nedumkandam, recently is believed to be one of the major findings that would shed light on life in the pre-historic era on the western side of the Western Ghats.

Burial urn of Megalithic era unearthed in Kerala
The burial urn unearthed at Hydermettu, near Nedumkandam in Idukki district,
is believed to be the largest one found in the region
[Credit: The Hindu]

The urn is said to be the largest one unearthed from the region so far. It is 3-ft wide at its mouth and its shape is a variant of other ones explorated in the district. Moreover, there are art works on it — a pointer to the cultural awareness of a society that belonged to the pre-historic period.

A large number of burial urns have been unearthed from Ramakkalmedu, Mundieruma and Puzhpakandam nearby in the recent past. However, they were comparatively small in size and do not have notable decorative works, said V.M. Safeer, Head, Department of History, MES College, Nedumkandam.

Mr. Safeer said the burial urns unearthed from the region belonged to 1,00 BCE and 500 BCE. Some of the urns have remains of iron weapons and pieces of bones. “Their period can be known only through carbon dating,” he said adding that some might be aged only a few hundred years.

The importance is that the findings in the hinterland of the erstwhile Muziris port is valuable evidence of a culturally-oriented society. The new finding is on the hill area bordering Tamil Nadu and believed to be linked to a settled life there. Burial urns, dolmen and hero stones are spread over a large area on the western side of the Western Ghats

Though individual studies were conducted in the past, specific studies and research are needed to throw light on the importance of these historical remains, he added.

Kerala Council for Historical Research chairman P.K. Michael Tharakan told The Hindu on Sunday that small-sized burial urns were unearthed from different areas in the State. However, it needed a study connected to the other ones unearthed in the region. It pointed to the need for a surface exploration there. On the basis of the evidence, further explorations could be taken up and it may lead to valuable conclusions with regard to the lengthy history of human habitation in the district. The Archaeological Department was undertaking excavations at historically important sites, he said adding that the district, especially the Anchunadu valley, was a treasure trove for historical studies.

At present, the KCHR was on a project to explore the historic importance of Kottappuram, he said adding that the High Range area on the Western Ghats needs a comprehensive exploration of its past. It was also the hinterland for moving hill produce to Muziris port and had a civilised society from the early period.

Author: Giji K. Raman | Source: The Hindu [November 12, 2018]



Archaeologists believe this is where Edinburgh began

Archaeologists believe they have found the remains of a 12th century house in the Cowgate which was built before Edinburgh itself.

Archaeologists believe this is where Edinburgh began
Archaeologists working in the Cowgate have uncovered what they believe is a 12th century house
[Credit: © The Edinburgh Reporter]

The building lies alongside what the archaeologists believe would have been the town wall, offering the first evidence of occupation in an area away from the castle where most people at that time would live.

John Lawson, archaeologist for the City of Edinburgh Council, describes the discovery: “This is a building roughly dating back to the first half of the 12th century. We are suspecting, and hoping, that it predates the formation of the burgh in the mid 12th century by David 1.

“We suspect that because it’s cut through by a large ditch which dates to the late 12th century/early 13th century.”

“The pottery is of a type that dates from that period. We will do a lot more analysis later on with carbon dating. But the good thing about the building is that it has these large posts so hopefully we can get Dendro dates telling us when the timber was felled to give us a bit more of an accurate spot date.”

“But because we have this ditch – this ditch looks like a boundary ditch. The boundary ditch  in this area and of that period, we would normally expect that would be the town ditch so that goes along with the formation of the burgh in the 12th century.”

A town ditch was usually built on the edge of any town. The archaeologists had already uncovered a tiny sliver of a building at the bottom of West Port at the other end of the Grassmarket about ten years back. They dated that to around the 11th century, but thought that was a one-off.

He also explained that the Holy Grail for medieval archaeologists is to find out how Scottish towns grew. In places like Perth and Dunbar there might have been earlier settlements, and they know that not everyone could have lived in the castle itself. But this is now exciting evidence that there was a bigger settlement here in Edinburgh than just the castle and St Cuthbert’s Church.

Source: The Edinburgh Reporter [November 12, 2018]



New investigations in Germany’s oldest cemetery

The hill “Weinberg” near Groß Fredenwalde is the site of an archaeological sensation: 8,500 years ago, Mesolithic people created a burial site on the hill. The universities of Göttingen and Kiel, and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, are exploring the site, together with the Landesarchäologie Brandenburg. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) is supporting the two-year research project at the University of Göttingen with a total of around 250,000 euros.

New investigations in Germany's oldest cemetery
In 2014 this burial was uncovered in Groß Fredenwalde. This spectacular discovery was the reason that the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) decided to finance a project for the further exploration of this important site
[Credit: T. Terberger]

The first graves were discovered as early as 1962 during construction work on the hill, but the tremendous importance of the site only became clear during post-excavations just a few years ago.
A team led by Professor Thomas Terberger from the Department of Prehistory and Early History at the University of Göttingen uncovered, among other things, the tomb of a young man who had been buried in an upright position with offerings such as bone tips and flint knives.

The researchers also found the grave of an infant whose body had been ritually strewn with red ochre when laid to rest – the oldest grave on the hill to date.

New investigations in Germany's oldest cemetery
The profile of the grave pit of the grave documented in 2014 on the Weinberg leaves no doubt: the young man was originally
buried in an upright position, but only the leg bones are still approximately in an anatomically correct position
[Credit: B. Jungklaus/A. Kotula/T. Terberger]

“So far, only a few individual graves or small groups of graves of mobile hunter-gatherers from the Mesolithic period have been found in Central Europe,” says Terberger. “The burial ground in Groß Fredenwalde was apparently deliberately laid out by a community and used for centuries”.
The skeletal remains on the burial ground are so well preserved that they can be examined with scientific methods. The majority of the graves belong to the time around 6,000 B.C.; one dates back to around 5,000 B.C., when the first farmers of the Linearband pottery colonised Uckermark.

The cemetery therefore offers the opportunity to study the late hunter-gatherers before and after the beginning of the “Neolithic Revolution” in Northern Germany and to examine environmental changes through pollen analyses.

New investigations in Germany's oldest cemetery
It was only in the laboratory of the HTW Berlin that the grave of a small child was uncovered.
The body had been ritually strewn with red ochre when laid to rest
[Credit: B. Jungklaus]

Genetic analyses, supported by the Max Planck Institute for Human History in Jena, will clarify whether there had already been breeding between indigenous people and these first farmers during this period.

Source: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen [November 12, 2018]



US Cargo Mission Slips a Day; Station Tests Free-Flying AI Assistant

ISS – Expedition 57 Mission patch.

November 15, 2018

The launch of the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman has slipped another day due to inclement weather at the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Atlantic coast. Cygnus is now scheduled to launch atop the Antares rocket Saturday at 4:01 a.m. EST with a much improved weather forecast.

The U.S. resupply ship will deliver approximately 7,400 pounds of food, fuel and supplies to the station two days later. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus Monday at 5:20 a.m. Commander Alexander Gerst will back her up and monitor telemetry from the vehicle during its approach and rendezvous.

Image above: Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor practices on a computer the maneuvers she will use with Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the U.S. Cygnus space freighter on Monday. Image Credit: NASA.

The Progress 71 (71P) cargo craft from Russia is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan ready to blast off Friday at 1:14 p.m. EST. Prokopyev will be monitoring the Russian resupply ship when it arrives Sunday for an automated docking to the rear port of the Zvezda service module at 2:30 p.m.

The International Space Station Program is testing the use of artificial intelligence today to contribute to mission success aboard the orbital laboratory. Meanwhile, the space residents from the U.S., Germany and Russia continued more human research and prepared for the upcoming U.S. and Russian space deliveries.

CIMON, or Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN, is a free-flying robotic assistant based on artificial intelligence currently being tested on the station. The astronaut support device from ESA (European Space Agency) was powered up and commissioned today by the station commander inside the Columbus lab module. The CIMON technology seeks to demonstrate astronaut-robot interaction by answering crew questions, assisting with science experiments and navigating autonomously in the lab.

Image above: Flying over South Pacific Ocean, seen by EarthCam on ISS, speed: 27’569 Km/h, altitude: 418,00 Km, image captured by Roland Berga (on Earth in Switzerland) from International Space Station (ISS) using ISS-HD Live application with EarthCam’s from ISS on November 15, 2018 at 19:46 UTC. Image Credits: Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and fellow crewmates Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor started Thursday with ongoing eye checks. Gerst and Serena swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer scanning each other’s eyes including Prokopyev’s using an ultrasound device with guidance from a doctor on the ground. The data is downlinked to Earth real-time and helps scientists understand how microgravity affects astronaut vision as well as the components and shape of the eye.

Related links:

Expedition 57: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition57/index.html

Cygnus space freighter: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/northrop-grumman-cygnus-launches-arrivals-and-departures/

Progress 71 (71P) cargo craft: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/progress-launches-arrivals-and-departures/

NASA TV: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

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/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


    Солнечное затмение 14 декабря 2020 года  — полное  солнечное затмение  142  сароса , которое лучше всего будет видно в юго-восточной час...