понедельник, 24 декабря 2018 г.

Last light of Christmas Eve, Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, Rombald and Ilkley Moor,...

Last light of Christmas Eve, Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, Rombald and Ilkley Moor, Ilkley, Yorkshire, 24.12.18.

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Living in space

ESA – European Space Agency patch.

Dec. 24, 2018

Since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave Earth in 1961, over 500 intrepid adventurers have made the journey into space. Today, astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world visit the International Space Station (ISS), which serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory. Life on the ISS is therefore far from easy; isolated space travellers must deal with the strange sensation of weightlessness and having very little access to fresh food.

Living in space

Over the last two decades, space agencies have created more comfortable conditions on the ISS, but we need to explore the concept of ‘living in space’ much further if humans are to ever live and work on another world, such as the Moon or Mars.

The ISS orbits at an altitude of 330–435 km above Earth’s surface

ESA’s Discovery and Preparation Programme works to prepare ESA for the future of space exploration. As part of this programme, ESA has worked with academic and industrial partners on a huge number of studies that lay the groundwork for living in space.

Preparing for a space mission

For their own safety, the welfare of their crew and the security of the specialist equipment they control, every astronaut and cosmonaut must go through intensive training before going into space. Training for a mission to the ISS takes years; European astronauts must learn the science behind spaceflight, how to operate equipment, how to deal with weightlessness and even how to speak Russian. When heading further into unchartered territory, even more preparation would be required.

Virtual reality rendering of a LUNA lunar environment

One Discovery and Preparation study that explored how to prepare for a space mission is the Lunar Analogues Study (LUNA). LUNA investigated creating artificial Moon-like environments that could be used to simulate and train for lunar exploration missions. One of the lunar environments that LUNA proposed – the European Surface Operations Laboratory (ESOL) – is now being built at the European Astronaut Centre. ESOL will contain a habitat, lunar terrain, a Mission Control Centre and a communication interface.

Another study, Moondive, looked into adapting ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility (NBF) – a large pool of water in which astronauts neither sink nor float, making it very useful for practising spacewalks outside the ISS. Adapting the NBF for lunar and asteroid mission simulations would involve changing the buoyancy to mimic the gravity of the destination, simulating the terrain and introducing robotic assistance.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst training for spacewalks in the Neutral Buoyancy Facility

Staying safe in space

Living in space can be risky! Aside from the threats from space debris and malfunctioning technology, space radiation can present dangers to space explorers, lack of gravity can result in physiological issues, and psychological issues can be caused by isolation and confinement. ESA works hard to ensure that astronauts remain as strong and healthy as possible.

Equipment sent to Mars is sterilised in advance

One Discovery study, BIOSIS (BIOSafety In Space), reviewed the biological risks to crews due to biocontamination of air and water, and made recommendations for new technology developments that could minimise these risks. BIOSIS recommended engineering an automated biomonitoring system that would prepare and analyse air, water and surface samples.

Image above: Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the Sun’s radiation, but astronauts travelling in space are more exposed.

Astronauts on the ISS are exposed to more radiation from the Sun than people are on Earth as they are not fully shielded by Earth’s magnetic field. Space explorers travelling further afield will be entirely outside this field and will therefore be exposed to significant radiation. Radiation exposure can damage astronauts’ DNA and lead to cancer, cataracts, and radiation sickness. A Discovery study – IPRAM (Interplanetary and Planetary Radiation Model for Human Spaceflight) – estimated the radiation risks involved in missions to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. These estimates can be used when planning future missions to ensure that astronauts remain as safe as possible.

Building a new home

For long-term space missions, astronauts would need somewhere to live when they reach their destination. Infrastructure is important for sheltering astronauts and scientific equipment from harsh environments, which could include thin atmospheres, extreme temperatures, radiation and micrometeoroids. There are three options for building infrastructure: bringing fully functional habitation from Earth, digging the habitat under the surface, or building structures using the local soil itself.

One Discovery study, 3D Printed Building Blocks Using Lunar Soil, investigated this third option. Building with lunar soil would reduce the materials required to be brought from Earth and very thick structures could be created for efficient radiation shielding. This study used a 3D printer to print building blocks from a base material similar to lunar soil. The study verified the usability of the lunar soil as a building material, selected a suitable printing process and designed an infrastructure. Since the study was carried out, ESA has been developing the concept of the “Moon Village” – an international project to put a space-base on the Moon.

Design for a 3D-printed lunar base

Many factors need to be considered before building a home on another world. The L-DEPP (Lunar Dust Environment and Plasma Package) study designed an instrument that could investigate the dusty surface environment of the Moon for better planning of future missions. The Moon has a very weak magnetic field, meaning it is constantly bombarded with solar radiation, micrometeorites and energetic plasma particles which charge up the surface and mobilise dust. The L-DEPP instrument would investigate the lunar dust, plasma, electric field, magnetic field and radio emissions using several different sensors that each have a specific role.

The Moon can reach extreme temperatures – down to -183°C at night! Finding a way to keep potential explorers protected from heat and cold is a huge challenge. Two Discovery studies investigated how to create heat on the Moon, with one concept involving an intricate energy-channelling system of reflectors and one also bringing in processed lunar soil, a heat engine and heat pipes.

A robotic helping-hand

Life in space can be tough for humans, but robots can be built to deal better with the harsh environment. ESA has a long history of developing robots to explore Mars, including several rovers. Nowadays, robotics is entering a new era in which it works more closely with humans.

When the ESA engineer moves his gauntleted hand, the robotic hand follows in sync

Some activities are particularly difficult for astronauts, for example spacesuit gloves make it hard to perform dextrous tasks. The ADAH (Astronaut Dexterous Artificial Hand) study investigated two scenarios to improve this: one where a robotic system supports or augments grasping and manipulation capabilities, and one where a robotic hand replaces the astronaut hand entirely. In the latter case, the astronaut would operate the robotic hand from inside a spacecraft. ESA have now developed several robotic hand prototypes, and have even designed “haptic feedback” robots, where an astronaut controls a robot using a joystick or arm exoskeleton, feeling the force on the robotic hand through this piece of equipment.


Other robots can move around the surface of planetary bodies and collect data that would be time-consuming and tiring for an astronaut. The Discovery study Lunar Volatile Resources Analysis Package (L-VRAP) defined an instrument for the first European Lunar Lander to detect, identify, quantify and characterise volatiles in the lunar soil and atmosphere. Creating a robot to do such a repetitive job allows an astronaut to focus on work that requires human levels of intelligence.

The technology that exists today could easily take us to the Moon and beyond, but it is studies like those carried out under the Discovery and Preparation Programme that will make a trip resourceful, sustainable and productive.

Related links:

Preparing for the Future: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Preparing_for_the_Future

Discovery and Preparation: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Preparing_for_the_Future/Discovery_and_Preparation

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station

Radiation in space: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Lessons_online/Radiation_and_life

3D printing on the Moon: http://www.esa.int/Highlights/Lunar_3D_printing,%20https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/What_s_your_idea_to_3D_print_on_the_Moon_to_make_it_feel_like_home

ESA’s Moon Village Concept: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Ministerial_Council_2016/Moon_Village

European robotics: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESA_Permanent_Mission_in_Russia/European_Robotics_under_the_spotlight

Robotics for planetary exploration: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Automation_and_Robotics/Applications_for_Planetary_Exploration

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/A. Dowson/Guus Schoonewille/NASA/SOHO/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO/Foster + Partners/    Fernando Gandía/GMV.

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Tick Tock Tummies It takes a lot of learning before kids…

Tick Tock Tummies

It takes a lot of learning before kids figure out how to tell the time but cells in our bodies have got it down from the word go. This is because they have their own circadian clocks tuned to a 24-hour rhythm. Researchers investigate these rhythms in stem cells using fruit fly intestines as a model. They fluorescently tagged the clock genes of fruit fly intestinal stem cells (pictured) and exposed the flies to light (top) and dark (bottom) for 12 hours each. The intestines were imaged every six hours using fluorescence microscopy (left to right), revealing the changing activity of the clock genes. Digging deeper the team found clock gene activity was not only affected by light but also food intake, stress and certain signalling molecules. This reveals how the rhythm of stem cell circadian clocks is intertwined with the changing conditions the stem cells experience during their lifetime.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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The Severan Roman Fort alongside Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall,...

The Severan Roman Fort alongside Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 22.12.18.

This older fort also comprised timber elements and existed long before the larger later generations of fortification. It had a central courtyard configuration with smaller Mediterranean styled buildings around this area.

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A Roman Calendar Piece, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland,...

A Roman Calendar Piece, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 22.12.18.

This small fragment of about 5cm in length is exceptionally rare. Only three calendar devices have ever been found (others include a Celtic one in France and a Roman Menologium in France). On this fragment is written SEPTEMBER, K(alendae), N(onae), ID(us) and AE(quinoctium).

Whilst we don’t know exactly how it was used, Cicero wrote of a similar portable device that used a peg to record the date.

The piece was excavated at the space between the east granaries and the principia (headquarters) of Vindolanda. There is no similar discovery in the UK to date.

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2018 December 24 Earthrise 1: Historic Image Remastered Image…

2018 December 24

Earthrise 1: Historic Image Remastered
Image Credit: NASA, Apollo 8 Crew, Bill Anders; Processing and License: Jim Weigang

Explanation: “Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow is that pretty!” Soon after that pronouncement, 50 years ago today, one of the most famous images ever taken was snapped from the orbit of the Moon. Now known as “Earthrise”, the iconic image shows the Earth rising above the limb of the Moon, as taken by the crew of Apollo 8. But the well-known Earthrise image was actually the second image taken of the Earth rising above the lunar limb – it was just the first in color. With modern digital technology, however, the real first Earthrise image – originally in black and white – has now been remastered to have the combined resolution and color of the first three images. Behold! The featured image is a close-up of the picture that Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders was talking about. Thanks to modern technology and human ingenuity, now we can all see it. (Historical note: A different historic black & white image of the Earth setting behind the lunar limb was taken by the robotic Lunar Orbiter 1 two years earlier.)

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap181224.html

Military Bathhouse at the Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland,...

Military Bathhouse at the Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 22.12.18.

This is a later and larger bathhouse in use through the 3rd and 4th centuries.

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ALMA Gives Passing Comet Its Close-up

Side-by-side comparison shows an ALMA image of comet 46P/Wirtanen (left) and an optical image (right). The ALMA image has approximately 1000 times the resolution of the optical image and zooms in on the inner portion of the comet’s diffuse coma. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), M. Cordiner, NASA/CUA; Derek Demeter, Emil Buehler Planetarium. Hi-Res File

ALMA image of comet 46P/Wirtanen taken on December 2 as the comet approached Earth. The ALMA image shows the concentration and distribution of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules near the center of the comet’s coma. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); M. Cordiner, NASA/CUA. Hi-Res File

An optical image of comet 46P/Wirtanen taken from Chiefland, Florida, on December 4, 2018. Camera details: Canon 6D camera, MN190mm astrograph telescope. Credit: Derek Demeter, Emil Buehler Planetarium. Hi-Res File

Animation of comet 46P/Wirtanen taken from Chiefland, Florida, on December 4, 2018. Camera details: Canon 6D camera, MN190mm astrograph telescope. Credit: Derek Demeter, Emil Buehler Planetarium.

As comet 46P/Wirtanen neared Earth on December 2, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a remarkably close look the innermost regions of the comet’s coma, the gaseous envelope around its nucleus.

ALMA imaged the comet when it was approximately 16.5 million kilometers from Earth. At its closet on December 16, the comet – one of the brightest in years — was approximately 11.6 million kilometers from Earth, or about 30 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

“This comet is causing a stir in the professional and amateur astronomy communities due to its combined brightness and proximity, which allows us to study it in unprecedented detail” said NASA’s Martin Cordiner, who led the team that made the ALMA observations. “As the comet drew nearer to the Sun, its icy body heated up, releasing water vapor and various other particles stored inside, forming the characteristic puffed-up coma and elongated tail.”

The ALMA image of comet 46P/Wirtanen zooms-in to very near its nucleus – the solid “dirty snowball” of the comet itself — to image the natural millimeter-wavelength “glow” emitted by molecules of hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a simple organic molecule that forms an ethereal atmosphere around the comet. ALMA, using its remarkable ability to see fine details, was able to detect and image the fine-scale distribution of this particular molecule.

The HCN image shows a compact region of gas and an extended, diffuse, and somewhat asymmetrical, pattern in the inner portion of the coma. Due to the extreme proximity of this comet, most of the extended coma is resolved out, so these observations are only sensitive to the innermost regions, in the immediate vicinity of the nucleus.

The astronomers also performed observations of more complex molecules on Dec 9, when the comet was 13.6 million kilometers from Earth.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen orbits the Sun once every five-and-a-half years, which is remarkably brisk compared to its more famous cousin Halley’s Comet, which has an orbital period of about 75 years. Other bright comets can have periods that are on the order of hundreds and even thousands of years. The comet may yet be visible to the naked eye.

For comparison, an optical view of the comet taken by an amateur astrophotographer is shown. Though they appear to be similar, the ALMA image spans an area of the sky only about 5 arcseconds – about 1000 times smaller than the optical image – meaning ALMA is looking at the very fine-scale features in the coma.

This and previous observations of comets with ALMA confirm that they are rich in organic molecules, and may therefore have seeded the early Earth with the chemical building blocks of life.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.


Charles Blue,
Public Information Officer
(434) 296-0314
 E-mail:  cblue@nrao.edu

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).

ALMA construction and operations are led by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

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Roman Drawstring Leather Bag, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall,...

Roman Drawstring Leather Bag, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 22.12.18.

This incredible bag was preserved in the anaerobic conditions of Vindolanda soil. It was a personal possession bag and was last in use probably around the 4th century.

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Water Tanks, Drainage and Wells, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall,...

Water Tanks, Drainage and Wells, Vindolanda Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 22.12.18.

Perhaps an unusual set of photos but it is clear that drainage meant a lot to those who lived at Vindolanda, particularly as the site is quite water logged and close to a river.

The site sits on a natural hill and drainage runs through the fort and vicus. Significantly the altar for Vindolanda was found located near the main water tank and fountain. The last image is of a reconstructed drain to the military bathhouse.

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Prohodna Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #Bulgaria Prohodna is a…

Prohodna Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #Bulgaria

Prohodna is a karst cave in north central Bulgaria, located in the Iskar Gorge near the village of Karlukovo in Lukovit Municipality, Lovech Province. The cave is known for the two eye-like holes in its ceiling, known as the Eyes of God or Oknata.

Prohodna is the best known attraction in the Karlukovo Gorge (part of the Geological Park Iskar-Panega), one of the largest karst regions in Bulgaria and a popular location for speleology.

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Grossular (variety hessonite) with Diopside | #Geology…

Grossular (variety hessonite) with Diopside | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Jeffrey Mine, Asbestos, Les Sources RCM, Estrie, Québec Canada

Specimen size: 10.6 × 4.4 × 1.9 cm

Main crystal size: 2.1 × 1.6 cm

Photo Copyright © Fabre Minerals

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Pyromorphite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Mine…

Pyromorphite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Mine des Farges (Les Farges Mine), Ussel, Corrèze, Nouvelle-Aquitaine France

Specimen size: 6 × 5.1 × 4.1 cm

Photo Copyright © Fabre Minerals

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Calcite with Siderite, Dolomite and Hematite | #Geology…

Calcite with Siderite, Dolomite and Hematite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Schlema-Hartenstein District, Erzgebirgskreis, Saxony/Sachsen Germany

Specimen size: 13.3 × 10.5 × 4.8 cm

Main crystal size: 3 × 2.5 cm

Photo Copyright © Fabre Minerals

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Amazing unique bird-like agate | #Geology #GeologyPage #Agate…

Amazing unique bird-like agate | #Geology #GeologyPage #Agate #Mineral

Credit: Captain Tenneal

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SpaceX – GPS III SV01 Mission Success

SpaceX – GPS III SV01 Mission patch.

Dec. 23, 2018

GPS III SV01 Mission lift off

On Sunday, December 23rd at 5:51 a.m. PST, SpaceX successfully launched the United States Air Force’s first Global Positioning System III space vehicle (SV) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff.

GPS III Space Vehicle 01

For this mission, the satellite will be deployed to medium Earth orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. Due to mission requirements, SpaceX will not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch.

An artist’s rendition of GPS III in orbit

Due to mission requirements, SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch. U.S. Air Force’s first third-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System.

Fro more information about SpaceX, visit: https://www.spacex.com/

Images, Video, Text, Credits: SpaceX/USAF.

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