четверг, 28 февраля 2019 г.

Hiding Black Hole Found

Artist’s impression of a gas cloud swirling around a black hole

Credit: NAOJ.  Hi-res image

Astronomers have detected a stealthy black hole from its effects on an interstellar gas cloud. This intermediate mass black hole is one of over 100 million quiet black holes expected to be lurking in our galaxy. These results provide a new method to search for other hidden black holes and help us understand the growth and evolution of black holes.

Black holes are objects with such strong gravity that everything, including light, is sucked in and cannot escape. Because black holes do not emit light, astronomers must infer their existence from the effects their gravity produce in other objects. Black holes range in mass from about 5 times the mass of the Sun to supermassive black holes millions of times the mass of the Sun. Astronomers think that small black holes merge and gradually grow into large ones, but no one had ever found an intermediate mass, hundreds or thousands of times the mass of the Sun.

A research team led by Shunya Takekawa at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan noticed HCN–0.009–0.044, a gas cloud moving strangely near the center of the Galaxy 25,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. They used ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) to perform high resolution observations of the cloud and found that it is swirling around an invisible massive object.

Takekawa explains, “Detailed kinematic analyses revealed that an enormous mass, 30,000 times that of the Sun, was concentrated in a region much smaller than our Solar System. This and the lack of any observed object at that location strongly suggests an intermediate-mass black hole. By analyzing other anomalous clouds, we hope to expose other quiet black holes. ”

Tomoharu Oka, a professor at Keio University and coleader of the team, adds, “It is significant that this intermediate mass black hole was found only 20 light-years from the supermassive black hole at the Galactic center. In the future, it will fall into the supermassive black hole; much like gas is currently falling into it. This supports the merger model of black hole growth.”

Aditional Information

These results were published as Takekawa et al. “Indication of Another Intermediate-mass Black Hole in the Galactic Center” in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on January 20, 2019.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (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) 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.


Valeria Foncea
Education and Public Outreach Officer
Joint ALMA Observatory Santiago – Chile
Phone: +56 2 2467 6258
Cell phone: +56 9 7587 1963
Email: valeria.foncea@alma.cl

Masaaki Hiramatsu
Education and Public Outreach Officer, NAOJ Chile
, Tokyo – Japan
Phone: +81 422 34 3630
Email: hiramatsu.masaaki@nao.ac.jp

Calum Turner
ESO Assistant Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Phone: +49 89 3200 6670
Email: calum.turner@eso.org

Charles E. Blue
Public Information Officer
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Charlottesville, Virginia – USA
Phone: +1 434 296 0314
Cell phone: +1 202 236 6324
Email: cblue@nrao.edu

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2019 February 28 Sharpest Ultima Thule Image Credit: NASA,…

2019 February 28

Sharpest Ultima Thule
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University APL, Southwest Research Institute, National Optical Astronomy Observatory

Explanation: On January 1, New Horizons swooped to within 3,500 kilometers of the Kuiper Belt world known as Ultima Thule. That’s about 3 times closer than its July 2015 closest approach to Pluto. The spacecraft’s unprecedented feat of navigational precision, supported by data from ground and space-based observing campaigns, was accomplished 6.6 billion kilometers (over 6 light-hours) from planet Earth. Six and a half minutes before closest approach to Ultima Thule it captured the nine frames used in this composite image. The most detailed picture possible of the farthest object ever explored, the image has a resolution of about 33 meters per pixel, revealing intriguing bright surface features and dark shadows near the terminator. A primitive Solar System object, Ultima Thule’s two lobes combine to span just 30 kilometers. The larger lobe, referred to as Ultima, is recently understood to be flattened like a fluffy pancake, while the smaller, Thule, has a shape that resembles a dented walnut.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190228.html

Why Do Some Galactic Unions Lead to Doom?

NASA – Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

Feb. 27, 2019

Image above: This image shows the merger of two galaxies, known as NGC 7752 (larger) and NGC 7753 (smaller), also collectively called Arp86. In these images, different colors correspond to different wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and green are wavelengths both strongly emitted by stars. Red is a wavelength mostly emitted by dust. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Three images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show pairs of galaxies on the cusp of cosmic consolidations. Though the galaxies appear separate now, gravity is pulling them together, and soon they will combine to form new, merged galaxies. Some merged galaxies will experience billions of years of growth. For others, however, the merger will kick off processes that eventually halt star formation, dooming the galaxies to wither prematurely.

Only a few percent of galaxies in the nearby universe are merging, but galaxy mergers were more common between 6 billion and 10 billion years ago, and these processes profoundly shaped our modern galactic landscape. For more than 10 years, scientists working on the Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey, or GOALS, have been using nearby galaxies to study the details of galaxy mergers and to use them as local laboratories for that earlier period in the universe’s history. The survey has focused on 200 nearby objects, including many galaxies in various stages of merging. The images above show three of those targets, imaged by Spitzer.

In these images, different colors correspond to different wavelengths of infrared light, which are not visible to the human eye. Blue corresponds to 3.6 microns, and green corresponds to 4.5 microns — both strongly emitted by stars. Red corresponds to 8.0 microns, a wavelength mostly emitted by dust.

Image above: This image shows the merger of two galaxies, known as NGC 6786 (right) and UGC 11415 (left), also collectively called VII Zw 96. It is composed of images from three Spitzer Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) channels: IRAC channel 1 in blue, IRAC channel 2 in green and IRAC channel 3 in red. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

One of the primary processes thought to be responsible for a sudden halt in star formation inside a merged galaxy is an overfed black hole. At the center of most galaxies lies a supermassive black hole — a powerful beast millions to billions of times more massive than the Sun. During a galactic merger, gas and dust are driven into the center of the galaxy, where they help make young stars and also feed the central black hole.

But this sudden burst of activity can create an unstable environment. Shockwaves or powerful winds produced by the growing black hole can sweep through the galaxy, ejecting large quantities of gas and shutting down star formation. Sufficiently powerful or repetitive outflows can hinder the galaxy’s ability to make new stars.

The relationship between mergers, bursts of star formation, and black hole activity is complex, and scientists are still working to understand it fully. One of the newly merged galaxies is the subject of a detailed study with the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, in which GOALS scientists searched for galactic shockwaves driven by the central active galactic nucleus, an extremely bright object powered by a supermassive black hole feeding on material around it. The lack of shock signatures suggests that the role of active galactic nuclei in shaping galaxy growth during a merger may not be straightforward.

Image above: This image shows two merging galaxies known as Arp 302, also called VV 340. In these images, different colors correspond to different wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and green are wavelengths both strongly emitted by stars. Red is a wavelength mostly emitted by dust. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Merging galaxies in the nearby universe appear especially bright to infrared observatories like Spitzer. GOALS studies have also relied on observations of the target galaxies by other space-based observatories, including NASA’s Hubble and Chandra space telescopes, the European Space Agency’s Herschel satellite, as well as facilities on the ground, including the Keck Observatory, the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array.

Spitzer Space Telescope. Animation Credits: NASA/JPL

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech.

More information about the GOALS survey is available at the following site: http://goals.ipac.caltech.edu/

Spitzer Space Telescope: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/spitzer/main/index.html

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Tony Greicius/JPL/Calla Cofield.

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Curiosity Drives Over a New Kind of Terrain

NASA – Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

Feb. 27, 2019

On Martian day, or Sol, 2316, the Curiosity Mars Rover traveled over a new kind of terrain on the Red Planet. This time the rover made its way over the clay of an area nicknamed Glenn Torridon, named for an area of Scotland known for its amazing vistas.

Curiosity took this image with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Feb. 10, 2019, as it was exploring a region of Mount Sharp that has lots of clay minerals.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) or Curiosity rover

Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

Image, Animation, Text, Credits: NASA/Yvette Smith.

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On its 5th Anniversary, GPM Still Right as Rain

NASA & JAXA – Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) patch.

Feb. 27, 2019

Five years ago, on Feb. 27, 2014, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, a joint satellite project by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), lifted off aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket. Since then, the cutting-edge instruments on GPM have provided advanced measurements about the rain and snow particles within clouds, Earth’s precipitation patterns, extreme weather and myriad ways precipitation around the world affects society. Among the uses of GPM data are helping to forecast disease outbreaks in developing countries, producing global crop reports and identifying endangered Amazon river basins.

Five Years of GPM Storms

Video above: On Feb. 27, 2019, we celebrate five years in orbit for the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement mission, or GPM. Video Credits: NASA Goddard/Ryan Fitzgibbons.

Unlike many NASA missions, which are research satellites with delayed data delivery, GPM was engineered to get data to scientists, operational and application users as soon as possible for societal benefits. It would help answer questions such as: Where is that hurricane? Will there be a flood? Should I water my crops?

GPM obtains data quickly using the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) 12-member satellite constellation, which serves as an information pipeline between Earth-orbiting satellites and NASA ground stations. On average, GPM can take 1 to 3 hours to get data into users’ hands, but in emergencies, the average delivery time can be pushed to between 15 and 90 minutes.

The mission’s main satellite, the Core Observatory, has two instruments: the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) and the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI).

JAXA manages the DPR, which uses two radar frequencies to measure precipitation in clouds, recording data about snow and rain particle sizes, shapes and rates. Using two radar bands, the DPR detects precipitation ranging from light to heavy, and yields a three-dimensional picture of where and how many raindrops, snowflakes or ice pellets of different sizes are distributed throughout a storm cloud.

The GMI, managed by NASA, uses 13 channels to measure microwave energy emitted within GMI’s field of view, including precipitation in the atmosphere. Like the DPR, the GMI can measure a range of precipitation types and severity. The low-frequency channels measure moderate-to-heavy precipitation, while the higher frequencies measure moderate-to-light precipitation.

The combination of the DPR and GMI gives scientists and meteorologists new insights into precipitation processes at both micro (particles within the clouds) and macro (regional to global) levels, making precipitation estimates and forecasts more accurate.

GPM’s main data source is the Core Observatory, but the mission receives data from the GPM Constellation, which consist of satellites with microwave sensors from the United States, Japan, India and Europe. Most of these satellites have unique objectives and oversight agencies, but by sharing their microwave data with GPM, they expand the mission’s global coverage and consistency.

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core satellite

The satellites’ data are combined with ground data to create the final product, the Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), which is used for predicting weather, building climate models, managing water resources and forecasting extreme weather. While the full IMERG data product takes time to clean up and prepare, a near-real-time visualization of current global precipitation is available every 30 minutes at regional scales (10 km by 10 km/6.2 x 6.2 miles).

GPM’s ground validation system provides a yardstick against which to measure the quality of its satellite-based data. Rather than relying on satellite data alone to measure precipitation and develop forecasts, the GPM team compares space-based data with information collected by ground-based radar from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), traditional rain gauges, and disdrometers, or drop size measuring tools. When the ground and space data disagree, the team investigates the differences and makes updates to the algorithm to make future data collection more accurate.

With GPM’s accurate estimates of where, when, and how precipitation falls around the world, scientists gain knowledge of the inner workings of rain clouds that improves weather and climate forecasts.

In 2017, data visualizers and scientists worked together to create one of the first 3D models of a hurricane that mapped not only precipitation amounts, but also particle sizes and types. GPM data also plays a key role in building disaster prediction models, like the Landslide Hazard Assessment model for Situational Awareness (LHASA), which warns about imminent landslides based on heavy rainfall data. GPM helps inform everyday decisions — Do I need to evacuate? — and long-term planning — How are precipitation patterns changing in a warming climate?

GPM has advanced scientists’ understanding of Earth’s water and energy cycles in its first five years, and it is just getting started. The mission is expected to last into the mid-2030s. If this forecast is correct, GPM will continue raining down valuable data for many years to come.

For more information about NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions, visit: https://pmm.nasa.gov/science/precipitation-algorithms

For more information about NASA-JAXA’s GPM, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/gpm

Image, Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sara Blumberg/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Jessica Merzdorf.

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NASA Mission Reveals Origins of Moon’s ‘Sunburn’

NASA – Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) patch.

Feb. 27, 2019

Every object, planet or person traveling through space has to contend with the Sun’s damaging radiation — and the Moon has the scars to prove it.

Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission — short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun — suggests how the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls.

Magnetic Bubbles on the Moon Reveal Evidence of “Sunburn”

Video above: Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission suggests how the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls. Video Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Sun releases a continuous outflow of particles and radiation called the solar wind. The solar wind washes over the planets, moons and other bodies in our solar system, filling a bubble of space — called the heliosphere — that extends far past the orbit of Pluto.

Here on Earth, we’re largely protected from the damaging effects of the solar wind: Because the solar wind is magnetized, Earth’s natural magnetic field deflects the solar wind particles around our planet so that only a small fraction of them reach our planet’s atmosphere.

But unlike Earth, the Moon has no global magnetic field. However, magnetized rocks near the lunar surface do create small, localized spots of magnetic field that extend anywhere from hundreds of yards to hundreds of miles. This is the kind of information that needs to be well understood to better protect astronauts on the Moon from the effects of radiation. The magnetic field bubbles by themselves aren’t robust enough to protect humans from that harsh radiation environment, but studying their structure could help develop techniques to protect our future explorers.

Image above: Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission suggests that lunar swirls, like the Reiner Gamma lunar swirl imaged here by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, could be the result of solar wind interactions with the Moon’s isolated pockets of magnetic field. Image Credits: NASA LRO WAC science team.

“The magnetic fields in some regions are locally acting as this magnetic sunscreen,” said Andrew Poppe, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who researches the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission along with simulations of the Moon’s magnetic environment.

These small bubbles of magnetic “sunscreen” can also deflect solar wind particles — but on a much smaller scale than Earth’s magnetic field. While they aren’t enough to protect astronauts by themselves, they do have a fundamental effect on the Moon’s appearance. Under these miniature magnetic umbrellas, the material that makes up the Moon’s surface, called regolith, is shielded from the Sun’s particles. As those particles flow toward the Moon, they are deflected to the areas just around the magnetic bubbles, where chemical reactions with the regolith darken the surface. This creates the distinctive swirls of darker and lighter material that are so prominent they can be seen from Earth — one more piece of the puzzle to help us understand the neighbor NASA plans to re-visit within the next decade.


Study: ARTEMIS observations of solar wind proton scattering: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017JE005313

Study: Solar wind interaction with the Reiner Gamma crustal magnetic anomaly: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103515005096

LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html

ARTEMIS: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/artemis/index.html

Video (mentioned), Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Sarah Frazier.

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Getting to the core of underwater soil…

Getting to the core of underwater soil http://www.geologypage.com/2019/02/getting-to-the-core-of-underwater-soil.html

Oldest frog relative found in North America…

Oldest frog relative found in North America http://www.geologypage.com/2019/02/oldest-frog-relative-found-in-north-america.html

A rare assemblage of sharks and rays from nearshore environments…

A rare assemblage of sharks and rays from nearshore environments of Eocene Madagascar http://www.geologypage.com/2019/02/a-rare-assemblage-of-sharks-and-rays-from-nearshore-environments-of-eocene-madagascar.html

‘Incredibly’ diverse microbial community high in Yellowstone…

‘Incredibly’ diverse microbial community high in Yellowstone http://www.geologypage.com/2019/02/incredibly-diverse-microbial-community-high-in-yellowstone.html

Aboyne Stone Circle, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 20.2.19.

Aboyne Stone Circle, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 20.2.19.

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Countdown to Calving at Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf


Cracks growing across Antarctica’s Brunt Ice

Shelf are poised to release an iceberg with an area about twice the size of New

York City, (about 604 square miles).

It is not yet clear how the remaining ice shelf will respond following the

break, posing an uncertain future for scientific infrastructure and a human

presence on the shelf that was first established in 1955.



Earth Observatory
image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S.

Geological Survey
. Story by

Kathryn Hansen, with image interpretation by Chris Shuman (NASA/UMBC).

The above image, from the Operational Land

Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8, shows the area on January 23, 2019. The crack along

the top of the image—the so-called Halloween crack—first appeared in late

October 2016 and continues to grow eastward from an area known as the McDonald

Ice Rumples

The rumples are due to the way ice flows over an underwater formation, where

the bedrock rises high enough to reach into the underside of the ice shelf.

This rocky formation impedes the flow of ice and causes pressure waves, crevasses, and rifts to

form at the surface.

The more immediate concern is the rift visible

in the center of the image. Previously stable for about 35 years, this crack

recently started accelerating northward as fast as 4 kilometers per year.

Calving is a normal part of the life cycle of ice shelves, but the recent changes are

unfamiliar in this area. The edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf has evolved slowly

since Ernest Shackleton surveyed the coast in 1915, but it has been speeding up

in the past several years.

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Astronauts Assemble Tools to Test Space Tech

ISS – Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) patch.

Feb. 27, 2019

Image above: Top: RRM3 tools (left to right) — Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot 2, Cryogen Servicing Tool, Multi-Function Tool 2 — during ground testing; Bottom: Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques pose with the corresponding RRM3 tools aboard the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.

Technology drives exploration for future human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. For spacecraft to journey farther and live longer, we’ll need to store and transfer super-cold liquids used for fuel and life support systems in space. In December 2018, the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) launched to the International Space Station to do just that — transfer and store cryogenic fuel in space for the first time.

Some Assembly Required

Last week, astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency assembled the mission’s custom transfer tools and prepared them for installation on RRM3.

RRM3 consists of two primary parts: the main payload that houses the fluid, transfer lines and tanks and three external tools mounted on a pedestal. The three tools are the Multi-Function Tool 2, which operates smaller specialized tools to prepare for the fluid transfer, the Cryogen Servicing Tool 2, which uses a hose to connect the tank filled with liquid methane to the empty tank, and the Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot 2, which uses a state-of-the-art robotic camera to make sure tools are properly positioned.

Shortly after RRM3’s arrival, the space station’s robotic arm Dextre affixed the main payload to the station. Meanwhile, the pedestal and tools made their way inside for assembly. With assembly complete, Dextre will soon attach the integrated hardware to the payload.

Looking Forward

With both parts together in one piece, RRM3 will begin operations in the next few months. Dextre will use the tools to transfer the cryogenic fuel to an empty tank and monitor the process. The technology demonstration will help make future exploration missions sustainable and prove that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

​RRM3 builds on the first two phases of International Space Station technology demonstrations that tested tools, technologies and techniques to refuel and repair satellites in orbit. It is developed and operated by the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and managed by the Technology Demonstration Missions program office within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Related links:

Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3): https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/RRM3.html

Satellite Servicing Projects Division: https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Technology Demonstration Missions: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/main/index.html

Space Technology Mission Directorate: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/index.html

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

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

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Rob Garner/Goddard Space Flight Center, by Vanessa Lloyd.

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Crew Studies How Space Affects the Mind and Heart

ISS – Expedition 58 Mission patch.

February 27, 2019

The Expedition 58 crew explored how living in space impacts perception and psychology today. The trio also studied satellite navigation and continued reviewing this weekend’s arrival of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques partnered up this morning inside Europe’s Columbus lab module for the Vection space perception experiment. The duo wore virtual reality goggles, earplugs and a neck brace to study microgravity’s effect on the vestibular system. They took turns performing a series of tasks documenting perception of motion, orientation, height and depth. Results may improve astronaut training and the design of future space habitats.

Image above: Astronauts (from left) David Saint-Jacques and Anne McClain wear a head-mounted display for the Time Perception study which hypothesizes that crews underestimate the duration of time in space. Image Credit: NASA.

McClain then spent the rest of the day in the Japanese Kibo lab module operating a pair of tiny internal satellites for the SmoothNav study. The experiment is researching how autonomous satellites may benefit future public and private space exploration.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Saint-Jacques went in to the afternoon reviewing rendezvous and docking operations when the uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 spacecraft arrives Sunday at 6 a.m. EST. He wrapped up his workday helping psychologists understand the adverse effects of living in space on an astronaut’s cognition and behavior.

Commander Oleg Kononenko participated in a Russian cardiopulmonary study before installing communications gear in the Zvezda service module. In the afternoon, two-time station commander collected radiation readings and ensured the upkeep of Russian life support systems.

Related links:

Expedition 58: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition58/index.html

Columbus lab module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/europe-columbus-laboratory

Vection: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7484

Kibo lab module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/japan-kibo-laboratory

SmoothNav: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7532

SpaceX DM-1: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

Cognition and behavior: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7537

Cardiopulmonary study: https://www.energia.ru/en/iss/researches/human/19.html

Zvezda service module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/zvezda-service-module.html

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

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

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

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Liftoff of Arianespace’s Soyuz mission with six OneWeb satellites

Arianespace – Soyuz Flight VS21 Mission poster.

February 27, 2019

Soyuz ST-B launches OneWeb F6

Arianespace VS21 mission: a Soyuz ST-B launch vehicle launched OneWeb F6, the first six OneWeb satellites, from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary, French Guiana, on 26 February 2019, at 21:37 UTC (18:37 local time). The Fregat-M upper stage will place the satellites into a circular low Earth orbit at 1000 km (close to their operational orbit).

Arianespace TV – VS21 Launch Sequence

Soyuz has lifted off from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying the first six satellites in OneWeb’s constellation – which will be deployed during a sequence lasting 1 hour and 22 minutes from liftoff to final separation.

Payload lift performance for today’s mission – which is designated Flight VS21 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – is estimated at 1,945.2 kg.

OneWeb F6 satellites deployment

OneWeb F6, the first six OneWeb satellites, were successfully deployed into a circular low Earth orbit at 1000 km (close to their operational orbit) approximately one hour after being launched by a Soyuz ST-B launch vehicle from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary, French Guiana, on 26 February 2019, at 21:37 UTC (18:37 local time).

OneWeb Pilot satellite

OneWeb, which is developing a constellation of hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit for low-latency broadband communications.

Arianespace: http://www.arianespace.com/

OneWeb website: http://www.oneweb.world/

OneWeb Satellites website: http://onewebsatellites.com/

Airbus Space website: https://www.airbus.com/space.html

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: Arianespace/Airbus Space/SciNews/Orbiter.ch Aerospace.

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среда, 27 февраля 2019 г.

Achavanich Prehistoric Stone Complex, nr Lybster, The Highlands, Scotland, 21.2.19.

Achavanich Prehistoric Stone Complex, nr Lybster, The Highlands, Scotland, 21.2.19.

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Wrapped Up Safely To ensure effective signal transmission, the…

Wrapped Up Safely

To ensure effective signal transmission, the long projections of neurons, the axons, are coated in a protective substance known as myelin. In patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, their immune system attacks this myelin sheath, damaging the neurons and disrupting neural signalling. Under normal circumstances, neural stem cells (NSCs) in the brain can mature into myelin-producing cells – oligodendrocytes (pictured, with nuclei in blue, myelin in green) – to repair any damage. Researchers investigating this process found that, in mice, a protein named Chi3l3 stimulates the production of oligodendrocytes by triggering a cascade of signals that guide NSCs towards becoming oligodendrocytes. Closely-related human proteins, CHIT1 and CHI3L1, have a similar effect on human NSCs, suggesting that they could be a promising target for future research, to ultimately boost the brain’s ability to fight diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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The Steppe Maykop enigma

Who were the Steppe Maykop people exactly? Their ancestry must surely rank as one of the biggest surprises served up by ancient DNA to date.
I always thought that they’d turn out roughly like a mixture between populations associated with the Kura-Araxes and Yamnaya cultures (mostly because their territory was located sort of in between them). Nope, that wasn’t even close. This is where they cluster compared to Kura-Araxes and Yamnaya samples in my Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of world-wide genetic variation: the Global25.

To explore the ancestry of the Steppe Maykop people in more detail I ran a couple of unsupervised Global25/nMonte tests, using basically every ancient population in the (scaled) Global25 datasheet that seemed chronologically sensible and even remotely relevant. I narrowed things down to these two mixture models.


But, you might say, Global25/nMonte isn’t a published analytical method and it doesn’t run on formal statistics, the meat and potatoes of ancient DNA papers. OK then, let’s try the same models with the qpAdm software, which is a published method and does run on formal statistics, using exactly the same samples.

Geoksiur_Eneolithic 0.100±0.032
Piedmont_Eneolithic 0.433±0.053
West_Siberia_N 0.467±0.028
chisq 19.155
tail prob 0.159096
Full output
Piedmont_Eneolithic 0.429±0.051
Sarazm_Eneolithic 0.119±0.033
West_Siberia_N 0.452±0.026
chisq 18.090
tail prob 0.202699
Full output

Basically identical. Importantly, my models must reflect reality at some level, otherwise it’s extremely unlikely that I’d be able to produce a pair of essentially identical results using two such vastly different statistical methods. So the pertinent question is what do these results actually mean?
I didn’t get a chance to put together a map for this blog post. I’ll try and do that tomorrow, because when looking at the locations of the potential mixture sources in my models, it seems unlikely to me that we’re dealing here with a highly complex three-way mixture process, including populations from such far flung locations as western Siberia and southern Central Asia. Rather, I suspect that Steppe Maykop was the result of a two-way mixture between Piedmont_Eneolithic (the population that lived before it on the steppe north of the Caucasus) and someone just a little bit more easterly. I’m guessing that the latter was the (as yet unsampled) population associated with the Kelteminar archeological culture.
Like I say, I’ll add to this blog entry tomorrow. Meantime, feel free to let me know in the comments below if there are models that more accurately capture the ancestry of the Steppe Maykop people, and I might incorporate them into my effort. See also…
On Maykop ancestry in Yamnaya
Big deal of 2018: Yamnaya not related to Maykop
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…


Ottoman edict allowing Lord Elgin to remove Parthenon Sculptures non existent say experts

According to experts, Lord Elgin plundered the Acropolis monument without the Sultan’s permission. This argument defies the British Museum’s claim that there was an Ottoman firman that allowed him to take the sculptures.

Ottoman edict allowing Lord Elgin to remove Parthenon Sculptures non existent say experts
19th century watercolour of the Acropolis by Edward-Dodwell (1767-1832)
[Credit: Benaki Museum]

According to the British Museum, Elgin removed the Parthenon Sculptures with permission from the Sultan, however this document is not saved, and what the Museum has in its archives, is a later translation into Italian, of a friendly letter from Kaimakam Pasha, authorizing Elgin to take casts of the sculptures but did not authorize him to cause any damages to the monument, says the Honorary General Director of Antiquities, Eleni Korka.
Ms. Korka also stressed the fact that the letter was not by the Sultan himself but by Kaimakam Pasha, who was in Constantinople at the time, replacing the Grand Vizier, and is not an official Ottoman document.

The British argue that they have other documents besides this, however, Iranian researcher Sarian Panahi, one of the few historians who can read Ottoman Turkish and has researched all official documents of the Ottoman Empire, underlines that there is no firman for the transfer of the sculptures.
This fact was confirmed by two Turkish researchers in an interview they gave at the Acropolis Museum. In particular, Turkish researchers Zeynep Aygen and Orhan Sakin presented the results of a long study of the Ottoman Empire’s official documents, which are related to Lord Elgin and stressed the fact that: “All the firmans as well as their contents, were written in a special book “.

Sakin rejected the British claim that Elgin’s documents gave him the permission to export the Marbles. “First of all, this was not a firman. Perhaps, it was a personal letter, but not a firman. The firman could only be signed by the Sultan, not by the Pasha. There was only a permit to visit”, said the Turkish researcher.

Source: ERT [February 25, 2019]