понедельник, 7 января 2019 г.

CubeSats joining Hera mission to asteroid system


ESA – European Space Agency logo.


7 January 2019


When ESA’s planned Hera mission journeys to its target binary asteroid system, it will not be alone. The spacecraft will carry two tiny CubeSats for deployment around – and eventual landing on – the Didymos asteroids. Each companion spacecraft will be small enough to fit inside a briefcase, as compared to the desk-sized Hera.



Hera at Didymos

CubeSats are nanosatellites based on standardised 10 cm-sized units. Hera has room to deliver two ‘six-unit’ CubeSat missions to the Didymos asteroid system – a 780 m-diameter mountain-sized main body is orbited by a 160 m moon, informally called ‘Didymoon’, about the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza.


The Hera mission received proposals for CubeSats from across Europe, and an evaluation board has now made the final selection.



CubeSat shot of Mars

“We’re very happy to have these high-quality CubeSat missions join us to perform additional bonus science alongside their Hera mothership,” explains Hera manager Ian Carnelli.


“Carrying added instruments and venturing much closer to our target bodies, they will give different perspectives and complementary investigations on this exotic binary asteroid. They will also give us valuable experience of close proximity operations relayed by the Hera mothercraft in extreme low-gravity conditions. This will be very valuable to many future missions.”



APEX CubeSat

Paolo Martino, Hera spacecraft lead engineer adds: “The idea of building CubeSats for deep space is relatively new, but was recently validated by NASA’s InSight landing on Mars last November, when a pair of accompanying CubeSats succeeded in relaying the lander’s radio signals back to Earth – as well as returning imagery of the Red Planet.”


The first CubeSat companion is called the Asteroid Prospection Explorer (or ‘APEX’), and was developed by a Swedish/Finnish/Czech/German consortium. It will perform detailed spectral measurements of both asteroids’ surfaces – measuring the sunlight reflected by Didymos and breaking down its various colours to discover how these asteroids have interacted with the space environment, pinpointing any differences in composition between the two. In addition, APEX will make magnetic readings that will give insight into their interior structure of these bodies.



Juventas CubeSat

Guided by a navigation camera and a ‘laser radar’ (lidar) instrument, APEX will also make a landing on one of the asteroids, gathering valuable data in the process using inertial sensors, and going on to perform close-up observations of the asteroid’s surface material.


The other CubeSat is called Juventas, developed by Danish company GomSpace and GMV in Romania, and will measure the gravity field as well as the internal structure of the smaller of the two Didymos asteroids.



Didymos binary asteroids

In close orbit around Didymoon, Juventas will line up with Hera to perform satellite-to-satellite radio-science experiments and carry out a low-frequency radar survey of the asteroid interior, similar to performing a detailed ‘X-ray scan’ of Didymoon to unveil its interior. The adventure will end with a landing, using the dynamics of any likely bouncing to capture details of the asteroid’s surface material – followed by several days of surface operations.



DART mission profile

Hera is set to be humankind’s first mission to a binary asteroid system. As well as testing technologies in deep space and gathering crucial science data, Hera is designed to be Europe’s contribution to an international planetary defence effort: it would survey the crater and measure orbital deviation of Didymoon caused  by the earlier collision of a NASA probe, called DART. This unique experiment will validate the asteroid deflection technique referred to as kinetic impactor, enabling humankind to protect our planet from asteroid impacts.



Hera mission

Next, the two CubeSats will have their designs refined and interfaces with their mothership finalised, in line with continuing design work on the Hera mission itself, which will be presented to ESA’s Space19+  meeting towards the end of this year, where Europe’s space ministers will take a final decision on flying the mission.


Related links:


Hera Mission: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Hera


Technology CubeSats: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Technology_CubeSats


Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESA/ScienceOffice.org/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Swedish Institute of Space Physics/GomSpace.


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Juno mission captures images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter’s moon Io

A team of space scientists has captured new images of a volcanic plume on Jupiter’s moon Io during the Juno mission’s 17th flyby of the gas giant. On Dec. 21, during winter solstice, four of Juno’s cameras captured images of the Jovian moon Io, the most volcanic body in our solar system. JunoCam, the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS) observed Io for over an hour, providing a glimpse of the moon’s polar regions as well as evidence of an active eruption.











Juno mission captures images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter's moon Io
JunoCam acquired three images of Io prior to when it entered eclipse, all showing a volcanic plume illuminated beyond
the terminator. The image shown here, reconstructed from red, blue and green filter images, was acquired at 12:20 (UTC)
on Dec. 21, 2018. The Juno spacecraft was approximately 300,000 km from Io [Credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS]

“We knew we were breaking new ground with a multi-spectral campaign to view Io’s polar region, but no one expected we would get so lucky as to see an active volcanic plume shooting material off the moon’s surface,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of the Juno mission and an associate vice president of Southwest Research Institute’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “This is quite a New Year’s present showing us that Juno has the ability to clearly see plumes.”
JunoCam acquired the first images on Dec. 21 at 12:00, 12:15 and 12:20 coordinated universal time (UTC) before Io entered Jupiter’s shadow. The Images show the moon half-illuminated with a bright spot seen just beyond the terminator, the day-night boundary.


“The ground is already in shadow, but the height of the plume allows it to reflect sunlight, much like the way mountaintops or clouds on the Earth continue to be lit after the sun has set,” explained Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, the JunoCam lead from the Planetary Science Institute.











Juno mission captures images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter's moon Io
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft captured a volcanic explosion on Io back in the late 1990s
[Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]

At 12:40 UTC, after Io had passed into the darkness of total eclipse behind Jupiter, sunlight reflecting off nearby moon Europa helped to illuminate Io and its plume. SRU images released by SwRI depict Io softly illuminated by moonlight from Europa. The brightest feature on Io in the image is thought to be a penetrating radiation signature, a reminder of this satellite’s role in feeding Jupiter’s radiation belts, while other features show the glow of activity from several volcanoes.
“As a low-light camera designed to track the stars, the SRU can only observe Io under very dimly lit conditions. Dec. 21 gave us a unique opportunity to observe Io’s volcanic activity with the SRU using only Europa’s moonlight as our lightbulb,” said Heidi Becker, lead of Juno’s Radiation Monitoring Investigation, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Sensing heat at long wavelengths, the JIRAM instrument detects hotspots in the daylight and at night.











Juno mission captures images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter's moon Io
Juno’s Radiation Monitoring Investigation collected this image of Jupiter’s moon Io with Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit
(SRU) star camera shortly after Io was eclipsed by Jupiter at 12:40:29 (UTC) Dec. 21, 2018. Io is softly illuminated
by moonlight from another of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. The brightest feature on Io is suspected to be a penetrating
radiation signature. The glow of activity from several of Io’s volcanoes is seen, including
a plume circled in the image [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI]

“Though Jupiter’s moons are not JIRAM’s primary objectives, every time we pass close enough to one of them, we take advantage of the opportunity for an observation,” said Alberto Adriani, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute of Astrophysics. “The instrument is sensitive to infrared wavelengths, which are perfect to study the volcanism of Io. This is one of the best images of Io that JIRAM has been able to collect so far.”
The latest images can lead to new insights into the gas giant’s interactions with its five moons, causing phenomena such as Io’s volcanic activity or freezing of the moon’s atmosphere during eclipse, added Bolton. JIRAM recently documented Io’s volcanic activity before and after eclipse. Io’s volcanoes were discovered by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1979. Io’s gravitational interaction with Jupiter drives the moon’s volcanoes, which emit umbrella-like plumes of SO2 gas and produce extensive basaltic lava fields.











Juno mission captures images of volcanic plumes on Jupiter's moon Io
JIRAM image showing hot temperature regions on Io [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/INAF]

The recent Io images were captured at the halfway point of the mission, which is scheduled to complete a map of Jupiter in July 2021. Launched in 2011, Juno arrived at Jupiter in 2016. The spacecraft orbits Jupiter every 53 days, studying its auroras, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
The solar-powered Juno features eight scientific instruments designed to study Jupiter’s interior structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Juno mission for Bolton. Juno is part of the New Frontiers Program, which is managed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space built the spacecraft, and SwRI provided two Juno instruments to study the massive Jovian aurora.


Source: Southwest Research Institute [January 02, 2019]




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NASA’s New Horizons mission reveals entirely new kind of world

Scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission released the first detailed images of the most distant object ever explored — the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Its remarkable appearance, unlike anything we’ve seen before, illuminates the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.











NASA's New Horizons mission reveals entirely new kind of world
This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule
 returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019,
just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an
original scale of 730 feet (140 meters) per pixel [Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute]

“This flyby is a historic achievement,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation.”
The new images — taken from as close as 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) on approach — revealed Ultima Thule as a “contact binary,” consisting of two connected spheres. End to end, the world measures 19 miles (31 kilometers) in length. The team has dubbed the larger sphere “Ultima” (12 miles/19 kilometers across) and the smaller sphere “Thule” (9 miles/14 kilometers across).


The team says that the two spheres likely joined as early as 99 percent of the way back to the formation of the solar system, colliding no faster than two cars in a fender-bender.











NASA's New Horizons mission reveals entirely new kind of world
The first color image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 kilometers) at 4:08 Universal Time on
January 1, 2019, highlights its reddish surface. At left is an enhanced color image taken by the Multispectral Visible
Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The center image taken by
the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher spatial resolution than MVIC by approximately a factor
  of five. At right, the color has been overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and
Thule lobes. Note the reduced red coloring at the neck of the object [Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute]

“New Horizons is like a time machine, taking us back to the birth of the solar system. We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time,” said Jeff Moore, New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team lead. “Studying Ultima Thule is helping us understand how planets form — both those in our own solar system and those orbiting other stars in our galaxy.”
Data from the New Year’s Day flyby will continue to arrive over the next weeks and months, with much higher resolution images yet to come.


“In the coming months, New Horizons will transmit dozens of data sets to Earth, and we’ll write new chapters in the story of Ultima Thule — and the solar system,” said Helene Winters, New Horizons Project Manager.


Source: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory [January 02, 2019]



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Study shows the Sahara swung between lush and desert conditions every 20,000 years, in...

The Sahara desert is one of the harshest, most inhospitable places on the planet, covering much of North Africa in some 3.6 million square miles of rock and windswept dunes. But it wasn’t always so desolate and parched. Primitive rock paintings and fossils excavated from the region suggest that the Sahara was once a relatively verdant oasis, where human settlements and a diversity of plants and animals thrived.











Study shows the Sahara swung between lush and desert conditions every 20,000 years, in sync with monsoon activity
A new analysis of African dust reveals the Sahara swung between green and desert conditions every 20,000 years,
in sync with changes in the Earth’s tilt [Credit: MIT]

Now researchers at MIT have analyzed dust deposited off the coast of west Africa over the last 240,000 years, and found that the Sahara, and North Africa in general, has swung between wet and dry climates every 20,000 years. They say that this climatic pendulum is mainly driven by changes to the Earth’s axis as the planet orbits the sun, which in turn affect the distribution of sunlight between seasons — every 20,000 years, the Earth swings from more sunlight in summer to less, and back again.
For North Africa, it is likely that, when the Earth is tilted to receive maximum summer sunlight with each orbit around the sun, this increased solar flux intensifies the region’s monsoon activity, which in turn makes for a wetter, “greener” Sahara. When the planet’s axis swings toward an angle that reduces the amount of incoming summer sunlight, monsoon activity weakens, producing a drier climate similar to what we see today.


“Our results suggest the story of North African climate is dominantly this 20,000-year beat, going back and forth between a green and dry Sahara,” says David McGee, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “We feel this is a useful time series to examine in order to understand the history of the Sahara desert and what times could have been good for humans to settle the Sahara desert and cross it to disperse out of Africa, versus times that would be inhospitable like today.”


A puzzling pattern


Each year, winds from the northeast sweep up hundreds of millions of tons of Saharan dust, depositing much of this sediment into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of West Africa. Layers of this dust, built up over hundreds of thousands of years, can serve as a geologic chronicle of North Africa’s climate history: Layers thick with dust may indicate arid periods, whereas those containing less dust may signal wetter eras.


Scientists have analyzed sediment cores dug up from the ocean bottom off the coast of West Africa, for clues to the Sahara’s climate history. These cores contain layers of ancient sediment deposited over millions of years. Each layer can contain traces of Saharan dust as well as the remains of life forms, such as the tiny shells of plankton.


Past analyses of these sediment cores have unearthed a puzzling pattern: It would appear that the Sahara shifts between wet and dry periods every 100,000 years — a geologic beat that scientists have linked to the Earth’s ice age cycles, which seem to also come and go every 100,000 years. Layers with a larger fraction of dust seem to coincide with periods when the Earth is covered in ice, whereas less dusty layers appear during interglacial periods, such as today, when ice has largely receded.


But McGee says this interpretation of the sediment cores chafes against climate models, which show that Saharan climate should be driven by the region’s monsoon season, the strength of which is determined by the tilt of the Earth’s axis and the amount of sunlight that can fuel monsoons in the summer.


“We were puzzled by the fact that this 20,000-year beat of local summer insolation seems like it should be the dominant thing controlling monsoon strength, and yet in dust records you see ice age cycles of 100,000 years,” McGee says.


Beats in sync


To get to the bottom of this contradiction, the researchers used their own techniques to analyze a sediment core obtained off the coast of West Africa by colleagues from the University of Bordeaux — which was drilled only a few kilometers from cores in which others had previously identified a 100,000-year pattern.


The researchers, led by first author Charlotte Skonieczny, a former MIT postdoc and now a professor at Paris-Sud University, examined layers of sediment deposited over the last 240,000 years. They analyzed each layer for traces of dust and measured the concentrations of a rare isotope of thorium, to determine how rapidly dust was accumulating on the seafloor.


Thorium is produced at a constant rate in the ocean by very small amounts of radioactive uranium dissolved in seawater, and it quickly attaches itself to sinking sediments. As a result, scientists can use the concentration of thorium in the sediments to determine how quickly dust and other sediments were accumulating on the seafloor in the past: During times of slow accumulation, thorium is more concentrated, while at times of rapid accumulation, thorium is diluted. The pattern that emerged was very different from what others had found in the same sediment cores.


“What we found was that some of the peaks of dust in the cores were due to increases in dust deposition in the ocean, but other peaks were simply because of carbonate dissolution and the fact that during ice ages, in this region of the ocean, the ocean was more acidic and corrosive to calcium carbonate,” McGee says. “It might look like there’s more dust deposited in the ocean, when really, there isn’t.”


Once the researchers removed this confounding effect, they found that what emerged was primarily a new “beat,” in which the Sahara vacillated between wet and dry climates every 20,000 years, in sync with the region’s monsoon activity and the periodic tilting of the Earth.


“We can now produce a record that sees through the biases of these older records, and so doing, tells a different story,” McGee says. “We’ve assumed that ice ages have been the key thing in making the Sahara dry versus wet. Now we show that it’s primarily these cyclic changes in Earth’s orbit that have driven wet versus dry periods. It seems like such an impenetrable, inhospitable landscape, and yet it’s come and gone many times, and shifted between grasslands and a much wetter environment, and back to dry climates, even over the last quarter million years.”


McGee and his colleagues have published their results in Science Advances.


Author: Jennifer Chu | Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology [January 02, 2019]



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Archaeological discovery yields clues to how our ancestors may have adapted to their...

During the Stone Age ancestral humans lived with a variety of animal species along what was an area of wetlands in the middle of the Jordanian desert. The site, in the town of Azraq Basin, has been excavated and has revealed an abundance of tools and animal bones from up to 250,000 years ago, leading to better understanding of how ancestral humans have adapted to this changing environment.











Archaeological discovery yields clues to how our ancestors may have adapted to their environment
Excavation of a Middle Paleolithic site at Druze Marsh in the Azraq wetlands
[Credit: Yo and Mo Adventures]

James Pokines, PhD, associate professor of forensic anthropology at Boston University School of Medicine, was a leader of the excavation with a team from the Azraq Marshes Archaeological and Paleoecological Project.


The team discovered bone and tooth specimens belonging to wild ancestors of modern-day camels and elephants, as well as horse, rhinoceros, antelope and wild cattle species, among others. Poor preservation of small and less dense bones has resulted in limited conclusions about smaller species of animals that may have inhabited the area during this time.


Prior research in the site revealed evidence of butchery, with blood proteins from multiple species appearing on Stone Age tools. “The periphery of the wetlands where large animals drank and grazed would have presented excellent hunting opportunities for ancestral humans. Humans may have also faced their own challenges from other predatory competitors such as lions and hyenas roaming the area,” said Pokines, corresponding author of the study.


The team’s discovery adds important background to a growing picture of land use over time in Azraq Basin. “There are many portions of the globe that we still know so little about in terms of how ancestral humans lived and evolved there and how they adapted to that environment … we hope to understand how different populations of ancestral humans adapted to this changing, arid environment throughout the Stone Age.”


The excavation efforts were the outcome of a successful collaboration with Jordanian authorities and according to the researchers has paved the way for future excavations in the region.


These findings appear in the journal Quaternary Research.


Source: Boston University School of Medicine [January 03, 2019]



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Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public

A 2,000-year-old building where Roman gladiators in Pompeii trained for combat has opened to the public eight years after its collapse following rainfall.











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Cesare Abbate/ANSA

The Pompeii archaeological site said the public can tour the Schola Armaturarum on Thursdays. Experts will explain their painstaking restoration of frescoes that decorated the site where gladiators trained before combat in the ancient Roman city.
Its opening was hailed by Italy’s culture ministry as the “symbolic place of Pompeii’s rebirth,” following years of dismaying news that various ruins had crumbled amid modern-day neglect of the sprawling, once-flourishing city that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii

The building, which has been previously excavated some 100 years ago, had also suffered heavy damage from World War II Allied bombing. A few years later, reinforced concrete was used to build a protective cover.


A park statement said prosecutors investigating the 2010 collapse didn’t pinpoint responsibility. But it said there were several “probable” interlaced factors that were aggravated by days of heavy rain. Those factors included probable malfunction of a drainage system, the weight of the postwar addition of cement and iron and “lack of a planned system of monitoring and maintenance.”











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Restoration work after the collapse did, however, bolster knowledge about the building’s use, with archaeologists saying it appears to have served as a home to an ancient military association, which sometimes hosted banquets there.
Excavations carried out in part to shore up the structure revealed areas, apparently used by servants, to prepare for such banquets, as well as amphorae, or storage jugs, containing oil, fine wine and fish sauce imported from Crete, Sicily, Spain and Africa, the archaeological park said.











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Several other recent finds point to better days for the popular Pompeii tourist site.


Among the more recent discoveries, the remains of a harnessed horse were found in an excavated stable of what was an ancient villa on Pompeii’s outskirts. Other excavations have found well-preserved fresco decorations.











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the archaeological park would concentrate on scheduled maintenance in hopes of preventing similar collapses.
“The time for extraordinary maintenance and restoration is over. Now the time for scheduled maintenance begins,” Osanna said.











Restored Pompeii gladiator building open to public
Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii

In 2013, Italy’s government approved the appointment of a special superintendent to ensure that millions of euros in government and European Union funds for maintenance and restoration of the archaeological marvel and tourist site would be properly spent.
A rash of collapses of structures in ancient Pompeii had sparked concern about Pompeii’s future. Days after the gladiators’ training facilities crumbled into fragments, a stretch of garden wall ringing the ancient House of the Moralist gave way after days of torrential rain.



Italy’s national budget has long skimped on funding for ordinary maintenance and protection of its vast artistic, architectural and archaeological treasures.


Author: Frances D’emilio | Source: The Associated Press [January 03, 2019]



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Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices

Archaeologists in Mexico have found the first temple to the pre-Hispanic deity Xipe Totec, a god of fertility and war who was worshipped by sacrificing and skinning captives.











Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
A skull-like stone carving and a stone trunk depicting the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned
human corpse, are stored after being excavated from the Ndachjian–Tehuacan archaeological site in Tehuacan,
Puebla state, where archaeologists have discovered the first temple dedicated to the deity
[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]

Evidence indicates that priests ritually sacrificed their victims on one of the temple’s two circular altars, then flayed them on the other and draped themselves in their skin, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement.
Historians have long known that Xipe Totec (“the flayed god”) was worshipped by numerous peoples across what is now central and western Mexico and the Gulf coast.











Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Although depictions of the god, Xipe Totec, had been found before in other cultures,
a whole temple had never been discovered 
[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]

But the discovery—made among the ruins of the Ndachjian-Tehuacan archeological site in the central state of Puebla—is the first time a temple dedicated to the god has been found, the institute said.
The artefacts uncovered at the site include three stone sculptures of Xipe Totec: two skinned heads and a torso, whose back is covered in engravings representing the sacrificial skins worn by the god.











Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Each of the stone skulls is approximately 70 centimetres tall and weighs about 200 kilograms[Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]

“Sculpturally speaking it’s a very beautiful piece. It measures approximately 80 centimeters (30 inches) tall and has a hole in the belly, which according to historical sources is where a green stone was placed to ‘bring it to life’ for ceremonies,” said Noemi Castillo Tejero, the lead archaeologist on the project.
The skulls measure about 70 centimeters tall and weigh some 200 kilograms (440 pounds).











Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Sculpted torso of the deity known as Xipe Totec [Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]

The temple would have been used from around the year 1000 until about 1260, the institute said. The Spanish takeover of Mexico began in 1519 with the arrival of the conquistador Hernan Cortes.
The institute said Xipe Totec was one of the most important gods in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and was worshipped in a ceremony called Tlacaxipehualiztli, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language means “to wear the skin of the flayed one.”











Archaeologists find Mexico temple to god of skinning sacrifices
Archaeologists work at the Ndachjian–Tehuacan archaeological site in Tehuacan, Puebla state, Mexico, where the first
known temple to the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse,
has been identified
 [Credit: Meliton Tapia Davila/INAH]

Sacrificial victims were killed either through gladiatorial combat matches or by being shot with arrows, then flayed to glorify Xipe Totec, it said.
Their skins were then buried at the foot of the altars.


Two holes filled in with earth were found in front of the altars at the Ndachjian-Tehuacan site, it said.


Source: AFP [January 04, 2019]




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Begin the New Year with a Happy Thought…! Image of the…


Begin the New Year with a Happy Thought…! Image of the Week – January 7, 2019


CIL:40238http://www.cellimagelibrary.org/images/40238


Description: Coronal section of rat brain triple-labeled with fluoromyelin (green), DiI (red), and TO-PRO3 (blue) which stain for myelin, blood vessels, and cell bodies, respectively. A maximum projection image was compiled by acquiring images across the entire rat brain section, and through 16 optical sections spanning the thickness of the section. This image has been downsampled from the raw data image which can be accessed using the link provided to the Cell Centered Database. It is also available through the Whole Brain Catalog (http://wholebraincatalog.org).


Authors: Mark Ellisman, Stephen Larson, Sarah Maynard, Maryann Martone, and Eric Bushong


Attribution Only: This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. 


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Merrivale Stone Row 2 in the fog, Dartmoor, Devon, 29.12.18.

Merrivale Stone Row 2 in the fog, Dartmoor, Devon, 29.12.18.











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Three Bronze Age Hut Circle Foundations near Grimspound, Dartmoor, 29.12.18.A collection...










Three Bronze Age Hut Circle Foundations near Grimspound, Dartmoor, 29.12.18.


A collection of three roundhouse foundations likely forming an enclosure.


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