вторник, 2 апреля 2019 г.

mostly-history: Egyptian calendar on the wall of the Temple of…


mostly-history:




Egyptian calendar on the wall of the Temple of Kom Ombo (100’s – 00’s BC).




Source


peashooter85:Gold handled flint knife, pre-dynastic Egypt, 3,500…


peashooter85:



Gold handled flint knife, pre-dynastic Egypt, 3,500 – 3,000 BC. Cairo Antiquities Museum.



Source


inthemarshes: amntenofre: SANCTUARY OF THE GODDESS ISIS AT…


inthemarshes:



amntenofre:



SANCTUARY OF THE GODDESS ISIS AT POMPEII, ITALY – III PART: ENTRANCE AND EAST PORTICO


Click here to read the full post (with more than 30 photos with full descriptions, and all the frescoes):
https://www.patreon.com/posts/21420874


From our learning theme dedicated to the Sanctuary of the Goddess Isis at Pompeii on “Amente Nofre-membership community”.
Today’s post on the Sanctuary of the Goddess Isis at Pompeii is made public, so everyone can see the informations shared. Become a patron of “Amente Nofre-membership community” and you will receive daily posts like this one in your mailbox!



For a full description with the religious meaning of the frescoes please also read the following article by Frederick E. Brenk (Classicist) -> last half of it:


https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/4822158.pdf



Source


Subaru Telescope Helps Determine that Dark Matter is not Made Up of Tiny Primordial Black...


Figure 1: The Milky Way galaxy (left) and the Andromeda galaxy (right) are separated by 2.6 million light years. Compared with the areas where stars are clustered together, dark matter is believed to be distributed over a much larger volume. (Credit: Kavli IPMU)


An international team of researchers has put a theory speculated by the late Stephen Hawking to its most rigorous test to date, and their results based on the observations using the Subaru Telescope have ruled out the possibility that primordial black holes smaller than a tenth of a millimeter make up most of dark matter.


Scientists know that 85 per cent of the matter in the Universe is made up of dark matter. Its gravitational force prevents stars in our Milky Way from flying apart. However, attempts to detect such dark matter particles using underground experiments, or accelerator experiments including the world’s largest accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, have failed so far.


This has led scientists to consider Hawking’s 1974 theory of the existence of primordial black holes, born shortly after the Big Bang, and his speculation that they could make up a large fraction of the elusive dark matter scientists are trying to discover today.


An international team of researchers, led by Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe Principal Investigator Masahiro Takada, PhD candidate student Hiroko Niikura, Professor Naoki Yasuda, and including researchers from Japan, India and the US, have used the gravitational lensing effect to look for primordial black holes between Earth and the Andromeda galaxy. Gravitational lensing, an effect first suggested by Albert Einstein, manifests itself as the bending of light rays coming from a distant object such as a star due to the gravitational effect of an intervening massive object such as a primordial black hole. In extreme cases, such light bending causes the background star to appear much brighter than it originally is.



Figure 2: As the Subaru Telescope on Earth looks at the Andromeda galaxy, a star in Andromeda will become significantly brighter if a primordial black hole passes in front of the star. As the primordial black hole continues to move out of alignment, the star will also turn dimmer (go back to its original brightness). (Credit: Kavli IPMU)


However, gravitational lensing effects are very rare events because it requires a star in the Andromeda galaxy, a primordial black hole acting as the gravitational lens, and an observer on Earth to be exactly in line with one another. So to maximize the chances of capturing an event, the researchers used the Hyper Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope, which can capture the whole image of the Andromeda galaxy in one shot. Taking into account how fast primordial black holes are expected to move in interstellar space, the team took multiple images to be able to catch the flicker of a star as it brightens for a period of a few minutes to hours due to gravitational lensing.


From 190 consecutive images of the Andromeda galaxy taken over seven hours during one clear night, the team scoured the data for potential gravitational lensing events. If dark matter consists of primordial black holes of a given mass, in this case masses lighter than the moon, the researchers expected to find about 1000 events. But after careful analyses, they could only identify one case. The team’s results showed primordial black holes can contribute no more than 0.1 per cent of all dark matter mass. Therefore, it is unlikely the theory is true./p>


The researchers are now planning to further develop their analysis of the Andromeda galaxy. One new theory they will investigate is to find whether binary black holes discovered by gravitational wave detector LIGO are in fact primordial black holes.




Figure 3: Data from the star which showed characteristics of being magnified by a potential gravitational lens, possibly by a primordial black hole. About 4 hours after data taking on the Subaru Telescope began, one star began to shine brighter. Less than an hour later, the star reached peak brightness before becoming dimmer. (Credit: Niikura et al.)



Figure 4: Constraints on the mass fraction of primordial black holes to dark matter in the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy as a function of primordial black hole mass. Shaded regions show excluded regions where existence of such primordial black holes are not consistent with various observation data. The red color indicates the area where this study has contributed to the study of primordial black holes. One-night HSC/Subaru gives the most stringent constraints for primordial black holes with masses lighter than moon mass, e.g. compared to the NASA Kepler 2-year data. (Credit: Niikura et al.)


These results were published on April 1, 2019 in Nature Astronomy (Hiroko Niikura, Masahiro Takada, Naoki Yasuda, Robert H. Lupton, Takahiro Sumi, Surhud More, Toshiki Kurita, Sunao Sugiyama, Anupreeta More, Masamune Oguri, Masashi Chiba, “Microlensing constraints on primordial black holes with Subaru/HSC Andromeda observations”) as Advance Online Publication. This research is supported by KAKENHI (15H05887, 15H05892, 15H05893, 15K21733, 23340061, 26610058, 15H03654).

Links:







Archive link


2019 April 2 Space Station Silhouette on the Moon Image Credit…


2019 April 2


Space Station Silhouette on the Moon
Image Credit & Copyright: Eric Holland


Explanation: What’s that unusual spot on the Moon? It’s the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured image was taken from Palo Alto, California, USA with an exposure time of only 1/667 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the lower left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.


∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190402.html


The Oldest Animal Painting In The World

historical-nonfiction:




On the Indonesian island of Borneo, in the remote mountains of the province of East Kalimantan, lives the world’s oldest depiction of an animal. Or rather, three animals. A painting of three cows covers a wall inside the Lubang Jeriji Saléh cave. And one cow appears to have a spear in its flank. Dating back 40,000 years, they are now considered the oldest known figurative painting. We have older paintings, but they depict abstract shapes, not real-life objects.



Source


ancient-archives: Head of Dionysus, Greek god of wine and…


ancient-archives:



Head of Dionysus, Greek god of wine and intoxication. From Pakistan or Afghanistan, circa 4th-5th century AD. 



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cosmicportal: Chakana (Inka cross) at pisaq ruins – Peru The…


cosmicportal:



Chakana (Inka cross) at pisaq ruins – Peru


The word “Chakana” can be traslated as portal door or even Bridge.



Source


It takes a team


ISS – International Space Station logo.


1 April 2019


Look again at that Space Station. That’s there. That’s home for a crew of six astronauts. That’s us too. On it every human being lives out their lives, performs science and maintains the spacecraft with the support of a whole team on Earth.



International Space Station

This week ESA is highlighting the role of the European teams that make a space mission possible ­– from preparations to launch, from continuous research to testing new equipment.


Read on for our bi-weekly update on the joint efforts between ground staff and our ambassadors in space to keep the orbital laboratory running.


Space upgrades


Two spacewalks (also called Extra-Vehicular Activity, or EVA) took place just one week apart, on 22 and 29 March, shortly after the arrival of three new astronauts to arrive at the Space Station. The full crew of six worked together to upgrade the International Space Station’s power storage capacity.


ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet was the European link to the first spacewalk to replace old nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries.


On Station, Thomas says preparation begins around two weeks ahead, with a set of procedures called the “Road to EVA”.


“Preparing for a spacewalk will take up two to three hours of your schedule every day. Many people have been involved in the preparation, and the risks are so much higher when you are outside the Space Station,” he explains.



ASIM on Columbus

Another element outside the Space Station also got an upgrade. The Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor that monitors thunderstorms and lightning phenomena from a vantage point at Europe’s Columbus laboratory received better software.


It took two days for the European teams at the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre to reset the system and equip the space-based storm hunter with higher accuracy to continue its observations of sprites, blue jets and elves in the upper atmosphere.


The science teams welcomed software upgrade that came a week after the release of a paper about the payload by a prestigious research publication.


And some downgrades two


Space takes its toll on an astronaut’s body. In weightlessness, muscles lose functionality and mass, and astronauts exercise for about two hours a day to prevent muscle wasting away. The Myotones experiment focuses on resting muscle tone.


NASA astronaut Christina Koch used a non-invasive, smart-phone-sized device to measure the health of several muscles and tendons in her body, some of them known to be affected by atrophy and loss in strength during extended inactivity periods. Results could lead to the development of alternative rehabilitation treatments on Earth.



Timing is everything

Bone loss and its recovery is another major concern not only for astronauts, but also for people affected by ageing and immobilisation. Studying what happens during long periods in space offers a good insight into osteoporosis. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin drew a blood sample for the EDOS-2 experiment to monitor how his body copes with bone renewal in orbit.


The way astronauts sense the passing of time seems to be altered in space. Nick Hague carried out his first session of the Time Perception experiment wearing a virtual reality headset and headphones hooked up to a computer. During this experiment, astronauts are asked to estimate the amount of time elapsed between two events, react to stimuli and judge the length of a minute.


Automated science


There are experiments on the Space Station running on their own, too. Besides punctual human interventions and remote teleoperations, the following research continued producing science onboard: Compacted Granulars, ICE Cubes and Matiss.


Related links:


European link: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/European_link_to_NASA_spacewalk


Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor: http://www.asim.dk/


Myotones experiment: http://blogs.esa.int/alexander-gerst/2018/07/05/testing-the-tone-with-myotones/


Time Perception: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2018/07/Horizons_science_perceiving_time_in_space


Compacted Granulars: https://www.dlr.de/dlr/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-11017/1813_read-26337/#/gallery/30236


ICE Cubes: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Research/Access_your_space_experiment_anywhere_with_ICE_Cubes


Matiss: https://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2016/09/Clean_house


European space laboratory Columbus: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Columbus


Experiment archive: http://eea.spaceflight.esa.int/


International Space Station Benefits for Humanity: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/International_Space_Station_Benefits_for_Humanity


Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/NASA.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


ancientart: Paintings from the Ajanta Caves, India, dating from…






ancientart:



Paintings from the Ajanta Caves, India, dating from about the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD. The works these caves contain are considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.


Photos courtesy of Tushar Dayal.



Source


frenchhistorian: Bastet Cat Egypt Late Period, XXVI Dynasty, c. 664 – 525 B.C....

frenchhistorian:



Bastet Cat Egypt Late Period, XXVI Dynasty, c. 664 – 525 B.C. Bronze with exceptional patina H 40 cm x W 87 cm x D 23 cm




Source


A Jaded Grin

historical-nonfiction:




This is a very ancient piece of Chinese jade. Before even the first, mythical dynasty. It comes from the Shijiahe culture 石家河 which flourished from 2500 to 2000 BCE in the middle Yangzhi valley.



Source


Researchers find that the sun’s magnetic field is ten times stronger than...

The sun’s magnetic field is ten times stronger than previously believed, new research from Queen’s University Belfast and Aberystwyth University has revealed.











Researchers find that the sun's magnetic field is ten times stronger than previously believed
Credit: Queen’s University Belfast

The new finding was discovered by Dr. David Kuridze, Research Fellow at Aberystwyth University. Dr. Kuridze began the research when he was based at Queen’s University Belfast and completed it when he moved to Aberystwyth University in 2017. He is a leading authority on the use of ground-based telescopes to study the sun’s corona, the ring of bright light visible during a total eclipse.


Working from the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma in the Canary Islands, Dr. Kuridze studied a particularly strong solar flare which erupted near the surface of the sun on 10 September 2017.


A combination of favourable conditions and an element of luck enabled the team to determine the strength of the flare’s magnetic field with unprecedented accuracy. The researchers believe the findings have the potential to change our understanding of the processes that happen in the sun’s immediate atmosphere.


Speaking about the find, Dr. Kuridze said: “Everything that happens in the sun’s outer atmosphere is dominated by the magnetic field, but we have very few measurements of its strength and spatial characteristics.


“These are critical parameters, the most important for the physics of the solar corona. It is a little like trying to understand the Earth’s climate without being able to measure its temperature at various geographical locations.


“This is the first time we have been able to measure accurately the magnetic field of the coronal loops, the building blocks of the sun’s magnetic corona, which such a level of accuracy.”


Measuring 1,400,000 kilometres across (109 times larger than Earth) and 150,000,000 kilometres from Earth, the sun’s corona extends millions of kilometres above the surface.


Solar flares appear as bright flashes and occur when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released.


Until now, successful measurement of the magnetic field has been hindered by the weakness of the signal from the sun’s atmosphere that reaches Earth and caries information about the magnetic field, and limitations in the instrumentation available.


The magnetic fields reported in this study are similar to those of a typical fridge magnet and around 100 times weaker than the magnetic field encountered in an MRI scanner.


However, they are still responsible for the confinement of the solar plasma, which make up solar flares, as far as 20,000 km above the sun’s surface.


Over a 10-day period in September 2017, Dr. Kuridze studied an active area on the sun’s surface which the team knew to be particularly volatile.


However, the telescope used can only focus on 1% of the sun’s surface at any given time. As luck would have it, Dr. Kuridze was focused on exactly the right area and at the right time when the solar flare erupted.


These solar flares can lead to storms which, if they hit Earth, form the northern lights – the Aurora Borealis.


They can also disrupt communications satellites and GPS systems, as proved to be the case on this occasion in September 2017.


Professor Michail Mathioudakis from the School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen’s University Belfast, who also worked on the project, added: “This is a unique set of observations that, for the first time, provide a detailed map of the magnetic field in coronal loops.


“This highly rewarding result was achieved due to the dedication and perseverance of our early career scientists who planned and executed the observations. The methodology used in this work and the result itself, will open new avenues in the study of the solar corona.”


Source: Queen’s University Belfast [March 29, 2019]




TANN



Archive


Mars Express Matches Methane Spike Measured by Curiosity


ESA – Mars Express Mission patch.


1 April 2019


A reanalysis of data collected by ESA’s Mars Express during the first 20 months of NASA’s Curiosity mission found one case of correlated methane detection, the first time an in-situ measurement has been independently confirmed from orbit.


Reports of methane in the martian atmosphere have been intensely debated, with Mars Express contributing one of the first measurements from orbit in 2004, shortly after its arrival at the Red Planet.



Mars Express

The molecule attracts such attention because on Earth methane is generated by living organisms, as well as geological processes. Because it can be destroyed quickly by atmospheric processes, any detection of the molecule in the martian atmosphere means it must have been released relatively recently – even if the methane itself was produced millions or billions of years ago and lay trapped in underground reservoirs until now.


While spacecraft and telescopic observations from Earth have in general reported no or very low detections of methane, or measurements right at the limit of the instruments’ capabilities, a handful of spurious spikes, along with Curiosity’s reported seasonal variation at its location in Gale Crater, raise the exciting question of how it is being generated and destroyed in present times.


Now, for the first time, a strong signal measured by the Curiosity rover on 15 June 2013 is backed up by an independent observation by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) onboard Mars Express the next day, as the spacecraft flew over Gale Crater. 



Mars Express results

The study exploited a new observation technique, allowing the collection of several hundred measurements in one area over a short period of time. The teams also developed a refined analysis technique to get the best out of their data.


“In general we did not detect any methane, aside from one definite detection of about 15 parts per billion by volume of methane in the atmosphere, which turned out to be a day after Curiosity reported a spike of about six parts per billion,” says Marco Giuranna from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology in Rome, Italy, the principal investigator for the PFS experiment, and lead author of the paper reporting the results in Nature Geoscience today.


“Although parts per billion in general means a relatively small amount, it is quite remarkable for Mars – our measurement corresponds to an average of about 46 tonnes of methane that was present in the area of 49 000 square kilometres observed from our orbit.”


Ten other observations in the Mars Express study period that reported no detections at the limit of the spectrometer’s sensitivity corresponded to a period of low measurements reported by Curiosity.


Pinpointing the source


At the time of the Curiosity detection, it was speculated that the methane originated north of the rover, because the prevailing winds were southward, and that the release likely occurred inside the crater.


“Our new Mars Express data, taken one day after Curiosity’s recording, change the interpretation of where the methane originated from, especially when considering global atmospheric circulation patterns together with the local geology,” adds Marco.


“Based on geological evidence and the amount of methane that we measured, we think that the source is unlikely to be located within the crater.”


Marco and his colleagues made two independent analyses to home in on potential source regions of the methane, dividing up a wide region around Gale Crater into grids of about 250 by 250 square kilometres.


In one study, collaborators from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy in Brussels applied computer simulations to create one million emission scenarios for each square, in order to predict the probability of methane emission for each of those locations. The simulations took into account the measured data, expected atmospheric circulation patterns, and methane release intensity and duration based on the geological phenomenon of ‘gas seepage’.


In the other parallel study, geologists from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, Italy and the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, scrutinised the region around Gale Crater for features where gas seepage is expected – these are the kind of features that might be associated with methane release.



How to create and destroy methane at Mars

This process is well known on Earth to occur along tectonic faults and from natural gas fields, with a variety of release intensities. For example, on Earth, gas emission from active mud volcanoes is typically continuous with background variations, but also with sudden strong bursts, while other seeps might release gas intermittently.


Episodic gas release, that is, generally long quiescence with no emission in between short-duration bursts, is typical of the expulsion of gas from small or ‘dying’ seeps or due to seismic events. On Mars, episodic gas expulsions could also be created during a meteorite impact, liberating gas trapped below the surface.


“We identified tectonic faults that might extend below a region proposed to contain shallow ice. Since permafrost is an excellent seal for methane, it is possible that the ice here could trap subsurface methane and release it episodically along the faults that break through this ice,” says co-author Giuseppe Etiope from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome.


“Remarkably, we saw that the atmospheric simulation and geological assessment, performed independently of each other, suggested the same region of provenance of the methane.”


“Our results support the idea that methane release on Mars might be characterised by small, transient geological events rather than a constantly replenishing global presence, but we also need to understand better how methane is removed from the atmosphere, and how to reconcile the Mars Express data with results from other missions,” adds co-author Frank Daerden from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy in Brussels.


“We will re-analyse more of the data collected by our instrument in the past, while continuing our ongoing monitoring efforts, including coordinating some observations with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter,” concludes Marco.


The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which is designed to make the most detailed inventory of the martian atmosphere yet, began its science observations in April 2018.


“Mars Express was the first to report a significant detection of methane from orbit around Mars, and now, fifteen years later, we can announce the first simultaneous and co-located detection of methane with a rover on the surface,” says Dmitri Titov, ESA’s Mars Express project scientist.


“With the spacecraft and its payload still operative, Mars Express is one of the most successful space missions to be sent to Earth’s planetary neighbour. We expect more exciting science from joint efforts by both ESA orbiters at Mars.”


Notes to editors:


“Independent confirmation of a methane spike on Mars and a source region east of Gale Crater” by M. Giuranna et al is published in Nature Geoscience: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0331-9


The Mars Express detections were made by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS). The Curiosity measurements were made by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer – Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (TLS-SAM).


Related articles:


NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/06/nasa-finds-ancient-organic-material.html


ExoMars poised to start science mission
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2018/04/exomars-poised-to-start-science-mission.html


NASA Rover Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2014/12/nasa-rover-finds-active-ancient-organic.html


Related links:


ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO): http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Exploration/ExoMars/Trace_Gas_Orbiter_instruments


Mars Express: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express


Images, Text, Credits: ESA/Markus Bauer/Dmitri Titov/Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA)/Frank Daerden/Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV)/Giuseppe Etiope/Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (INAF-IAPS)/Marco Giuranna/ESA/ATG medialab; Mars: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO./Giuranna et al (2019).


Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


Hubble Spots Flock of Cosmic Ducks


NASA – Hubble Space Telescope patch.


April 1, 2019



This star-studded image shows us a portion of Messier 11, an open star cluster in the southern constellation of Scutum (the Shield). Messier 11 is also known as the Wild Duck Cluster, as its brightest stars form a “V” shape that somewhat resembles a flock of ducks in flight.


Messier 11 is one of the richest and most compact open clusters currently known. By investigating the brightest, hottest main sequence stars in the cluster, astronomers estimate that it formed roughly 220 million years ago. Open clusters tend to contain fewer and younger stars than their more compact globular cousins, and Messier 11 is no exception: at its center lie many blue stars, the hottest and youngest of the cluster’s few thousand stellar residents.


The lifespans of open clusters are also relatively short compared to those of globular ones; stars in open clusters are spread farther apart and are thus not as strongly bound to each other by gravity, causing them to be more easily and quickly drawn away by stronger gravitational forces. As a result, Messier 11 is likely to disperse in a few million years as its members are ejected one by one, pulled away by other celestial objects in the vicinity.



Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

Messier 11 is featured in Hubble’s Messier catalog, which includes some of the most fascinating objects that can be observed from Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. See the NASA-processed image and other Messier objects at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-s-messier-catalog.


For more information about Hubble, visit:


http://hubblesite.org/


http://www.nasa.gov/hubble


http://www.spacetelescope.org/


Text Credits: ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA/Rob Garner/Image, Animation, Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Dobbie et al.


Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link


April Brings Three New Spaceships and a Third Spacewalk at the Station


ISS – Expedition 59 Mission patch.


April 1, 2019


April is shaping up to be a busy month bringing three new spaceships and another spacewalk to the International Space Station. The Expedition 59 crew has already wrapped up two spacewalks this year and welcomed the first SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the latest Soyuz MS-12 crew ship in March.


Roscosmos, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman are all readying their resupply ships to blast off this month and replenish the six orbital residents. A pair of astronauts will also go on another spacewalk, this time to provide secondary power for the Canadarm2 robotic arm.



Image above: NASA astronaut Christina Koch participates in her first spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power storage capacity. She and fellow spacewalker Nick Hague (out of frame) of NASA worked outside in the vacuum of space for six hours and 45 minutes to continue swapping batteries and install adapter plates on the station’s Port-4 truss structure. Image Credit: NASA TV.


At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russia’s Progress 72 cargo ship, loaded with more than 3 ½ tons of food, fuel and supplies, rolled to its launch pad Monday for final preparations for launch Thursday, April 4 at 7:01 a.m. EDT. The launch will send the unpiloted Progress on a 2-orbit rendezvous trajectory — the second ever — for an automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment three hours later. NASA TV will broadcast live the express cargo delivery to the orbital complex.


On Monday April 8, two astronauts will go on the third spacewalk of 2019. Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will set their spacesuits to battery power around 8:05 a.m. and exit the Quest airlock. The duo will install truss jumpers on the Unity module and the Starboard truss structure to ensure the Canadarm2 stays powered in the event one of its other power units fail.



Image above: Astronaut Nick Hague performs a spacewalk on March 29, 2019. He and fellow astronaut Christina Koch (out of frame) successfully connected three newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries to replace the previous six nickel-hydrogen batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the International Space Station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations. Image Credit: NASA TV.


Finally, two U.S. spaceships will blast off toward the station this month from two different launch pads on the U.S. east coast. The orbital lab will be host to six different spacecraft, including two Russian Progress space freighters and two Russian Soyuz crew ships, by April 28.


Northrop Grumman will launch its 11th Cygnus cargo craft atop an Antares rocket April 17 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and take a two-day trip to the station. SpaceX is readying its 17th Dragon cargo mission for an April 25 lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida and a three-day ride to the orbital lab.


Related links:


Expedition 59: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition59/index.html


Canadarm2 robotic arm: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/mobile-servicing-system.html


Pirs docking compartment: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/pirs-docking-compartment


Quest airlock: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/joint-quest-airlock


Unity module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/unity


Starboard truss structure: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/truss-structure


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


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


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


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/Yvette Smith.


Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Mass amphibian extinctions globally caused by fungal disease

An international study led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a fungal disease has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions, over the past 50 years.











Mass amphibian extinctions globally caused by fungal disease
Survey by researchers in 16 countries is published in Science. Authors say chytrid fungus is responsible for heaviest
biodiversity loss ever caused by a single pathogen [Credit: Brian.gratwicke/WikiCommons]

The disease, which eats away at the skin of amphibians, has completely wiped out some species, while causing more sporadic deaths among other species. Amphibians, which live part of their life in water and the other part on land, mainly consist of frogs, toads and salamanders.


The deadly disease, chytridiomycosis, is present in more than 60 countries—the worst affected parts of the world are Australia, Central America and South America.


Lead researcher Dr. Ben Scheele said the team found that chytridiomycosis is responsible for the greatest loss of biodiversity due to a disease.


“The disease is caused by chytrid fungus, which likely originated in Asia where local amphibians appear to have resistance to the disease,” said Dr. Scheele from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU.


He said the unprecedented number of declines places chytrid fungus among the most damaging of invasive species worldwide—similar to rats and cats in terms of the number of species each of them endangers.


“Highly virulent wildlife diseases, including chytridiomycosis, are contributing to the Earth’s sixth mass extinction,” Dr. Scheele said.


“The disease we studied has caused mass amphibian extinctions worldwide. We’ve lost some really amazing species.”


Dr. Scheele said more than 40 frog species in Australia had declined due to the fungal disease during the past 30 years, including seven species that had become extinct.


“Globalisation and wildlife trade are the main causes of this global pandemic and are enabling the spread of disease to continue,” he said.



“Humans are moving plants and animals around the world at an increasingly rapid rate, introducing pathogens into new areas.”


Dr. Scheele said improved biosecurity and wildlife trade regulation were urgently needed to prevent any more extinctions around the world.


“We’ve got to do everything possible to stop future pandemics, by having better control over wildlife trade around the world.”


Dr. Scheele said the team’s work identified that many species were still at high risk of extinction over the next 10-20 years from chytridiomycosis due to ongoing declines.


“Knowing what species are at risk can help target future research to develop conservation actions to prevent extinctions.”


Dr. Scheele said conservation programs in Australia had prevented the extinction of frog species and developed new reintroduction techniques to save some amphibian species.


“It’s really hard to remove chytrid fungus from an ecosystem—if it is in an ecosystem, it’s pretty much there to stay unfortunately. This is partly because some species aren’t killed by the disease,” he said.


“On the one hand, it’s lucky that some species are resistant to chytrid fungus; but on the other hand, it means that these species carry the fungus and act as a reservoir for it so there’s a constant source of the fungus in the environment.


Co-researcher Dr. Claire Foster, who is also from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, said the ANU-led study involved close collaboration with Professor Frank Pasmans and Dr. Stefano Canessa at the University of Ghent, Belgium, alongside 38 different amphibian and wildlife disease experts from around the world.


“These collaborators enabled us to get first-hand insight into what has been happening on the ground in those countries,” she said.


The study is published in the journal Science.


Source: Australian National University [March 29, 2019]



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Study finds white sharks with high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead in their blood

Researchers found high concentrations of mercury, arsenic, and lead, in blood samples obtained from Great white sharks in South Africa. The samples had levels that would be considered toxic to many animals. However, the study found no apparent negative consequences of these heavy metals on several health parameters measured in the sharks, including body condition, total leukocytes, and granulocyte to lymphocyte ratios, suggesting no adverse effects on their immune system.











Study finds white sharks with high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead in their blood
Inset: Dr. Pieter Koen from the State Veterinary Services in South Africa draws blood from a white shark in South Aftrica.
 Background: Great white shark, South Africa [Credit: Inset: OCEARCH Background: Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D.]

“The results suggest that sharks may have an inherent physiological protective mechanism that mitigates the harmful effects of heavy metal exposure,” said Liza Merly, study lead author and senior lecturer at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.


“As top predators, sharks bio-accumulate toxins in their tissues via the food web from the prey they eat,” said Neil Hammerschlag, study co-author and research associate professor at UM’s Rosenstiel School and Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy. “So by measuring concentrations of toxins, such as mercury and arsenic, in the blood of white sharks, they can act as ‘ecosystem indicators’ for the health of the ecosystem, with implications for humans,” he said. “Basically, if the sharks have high levels of toxins in their tissues, it is likely that species they eat below them will also have toxins, including fishes that humans eat.”


For the study, 43 great white sharks were captured and sampled in South Africa, as part of Ocearch’s 2012 expedition to the area. “To collect the samples, white sharks were carefully raised on a specialized platform, while blood samples and body measurements were taken by biologists before the sharks were tagged and released,” said Chris Fischer, expedition leader and founding chairman of Ocearch.


The shark’s blood was screened for concentrations of 12 trace elements and 14 heavy metals. This study provides the first published account of blood concentrations of heavy metals in wild sharks. The data is instrumental in creating a baseline and reference for levels of heavy metals present in the blood of white sharks in South Africa. Considering many populations of large sharks are experiencing declines across the globe, it is important to understand the impact of toxic metals, if any, in this population.


The possibility that white sharks could have a physiological mechanism that protects them from the harmful effects of metal exposure offers new opportunities for future shark research.


The study has been published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.


Author: Diana Udel | Source: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami [March 29, 2019]



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Sweeping census provides new population estimate for western chimpanzees

A sweeping new census published in the journal Environmental Research Letters estimates 52,800 western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) live in eight countries in western Africa, with most of them found outside of protected areas, some of which are threatened by intense development pressures.











Sweeping census provides new population estimate for western chimpanzees
Credit: Kimberley Hockings

The authors used IUCN’s Ape Populations, Environments and Surveys (A.P.E.S.) database, collating 58 survey datasets (three-quarters of which were unpublished) for the entire range of western chimpanzees. Using these data, the authors created a density and distribution map to look at trends and to identify drivers of those trends. Effort expended in the field totaled almost 11,000 kilometers of foot-surveys between 2001 and 2016.


Similar to results published last year by WCS on central chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas, the vast majority (estimated at around 52,000 individuals) live outside protected areas, and 10 percent of those live in areas that will be highly modified in the near future for “development corridors.”


The development corridors are large infrastructure projects aimed to promote economic integration and agriculture expansion, but are likely to cause further habitat loss and reduce population connectivity.


One way to reduce this environmental damage would be that developers of new infrastructure projects use these data to plan well ahead to avoid the most critical areas for these species and then take determined actions to minimize, restore, and offset any remaining impacts following guidance suggested by the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP).


The study is led by Stefanie Heinicke of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and included WCS coauthors Terry Brncic and Boo (Fiona) Maisels. Brncic ran a wildlife survey of an entire country (Sierra Leone) while Maisels co-wrote the IUCN Best Practices Guidelines for surveying great apes, which were used in many of the surveys included in this paper.


The authors say the collation, curation, and long-term nature of taxon-specific databases is vital to studying and understanding trends in wildlife populations. The A.P.E.S. database is just such a tool, but the conservation world needs more of them, and for them to be well-funded in perpetuity.


Said Maisels: “This paper is a good example of how a well-designed taxon-specific database (in this case the IUCN’s A.P.E.S. database) is a powerful tool for drawing together numerous datasets in order to assess the status, distribution, and trend of an entire subspecies. Very few such databases exist and the paper makes a call for more of them to be created, and, importantly, for these new ones and the existing ones to be better funded.


Source: Wildlife Conservation Society [March 29, 2019]



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More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica

A team of Inrap archaeologists is currently excavating an Etruscan tomb in Aleria-Lamajone (Corsica). This excavation, curated by the State (DRAC Corsica), first uncovered two road sections and an Etruscan and Romain necropolis. The discovery of a hypogeum—an underground burial chamber dug into the rock—led to a prescription for further excavation. This unusual research undertaken by the State contributes to our knowledge of Etruscan funerary practices, the Antique occupation of Corsica, and the diversity of its exchanges with the Mediterranean world.











More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Discovery of a Roman and Etruscan necropolis in Aleria-Lamajone in Corsica. Here, anthropologists
and archaeologists search various types of graves (adult, youth, cremation)
[Credit: Pascal Druelle, Inrap]

A few hundred meters from the Antique city, the excavation of the necropolis, surrounded by circulation routes, extends across one hectare. The state of preservation of the Antique burials is remarkable despite the acidic soil in Corsica, which usually destroys bones. Several funerary practices are represented: inhumation in pits, masonry coffins, studded wood coffins, funeral pyres, etc. Prestigious artifacts (ornaments, vases, etc.) are associated with these graves: more than two hundred artifacts have been recorded, including around one hundred complete vases dated from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD.
Within this funerary group, among the tangle of burials, the Inrap archaeologists have just revealed an Etruscan tomb in a hypogeum. This type of tomb is an underground burial chamber usually reserved for high-status individuals. A flight of stairs leads to a six-meter-long corridor leading to the burial chamber. At more than two meters in depth, this chamber is still intact, being sealed with a mass of clay, pot sherds, rocks and charcoal. The archaeologists think that this seal was opened and filled-in again several times to deposit new grave goods, and perhaps new deceased individuals, into the chamber.











More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Necropolis of Aléria – Lamajone. In the centre a pit tomb with tegulae (Greek solenes) and imbrex (Greek kalupter) cover
(ie. overlapping roof tiles) cuts through the corridor of the exposed hypergeum thanks to the more orange colour
 of the sediment that fills it [Credit: Roland Haurillon, Inrap]










More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Etruscan tomb in hypogeum during clearing [Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]

Due to the position of the hypogeum within the necropolis, it was necessary to excavate the contiguous burials first. The natural collapse of the ceiling and the filling of the chamber through time required the archaeologists to excavate it from the top.
The excavation of this 1m2 rectangular grave has thus far yielded several artifacts, including three black varnished goblets and the handle of a probable oenochoé. Two skyphoi, a type of goblet with large handles, were discovered near the skull of an individual. All these remains are currently above the ground level of the staircase. Based on these artifacts, this burial can be attributed to the 4th century BC, but the continuing excavation and studies will shed light on as yet unanswered questions. This is the first discovery of this unusual type of funerary structure in France in over forty years.


More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica










More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Etruscan tomb, with the steps and corridor leading to the burial chamber initially
dug into the rock in the foreground [Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]

Aleria is a reference site for the ancient history of Corsica and the western Mediterranean. The research conducted by Jean and Laurence Jehasse in the 1960s on the Masselone Butte in Aleria uncovered the Roman city surrounding a forum and an amphitheater. Further south, the exceptional Etruscan Casabianda necropolis (between c. 500 to 259 BC) was listed as a Historic Monument. It is one of the richest Etruscan funerary sites known outside of Italy.
Some of the remarkable artifacts collected there (4510 objects, including 345 Attica vases, Etruscan military equipment, etc.) are displayed at the Aleria site museum. After many years of interruption, new research programs are being undertaken under the aegis of the State (DRAC) and the Collectivité de Corse, such as the development of a new collaborative research project on Aleria and its region, involving more than 70 researchers (Universities, CNRS, Ministry of Culture, Inrap, etc.).


More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica










More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Pottery, bronze objects and mirror being excavated in an Etruscan tomb
[Credit: Denis Gliksman]

Due to its central position in the Tyrrhenian Sea along the maritime routes between Liguria and southern France, Corsica has been the object of Greek, Etruscan and Carthaginian commercial interests. At around 540 BC, the battle of Alalia (the Greek name for Aleria), radically changed the political relationships in the western Mediterranean (cf. Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus). Maritime commerce shared between the Etruscans, Phoceans and Carthaginians closed inside exclusive zones, from then on regulated. According to historical sources, the eastern façade of Corsica seems to have fallen under the Etruscan influence.
Between 500 BC and the Roman conquest of the island (259 BC), Aleria attests not only to privileged relations with Etruria but also to the stable presence of an Etruscan population. The site of Aleria contains exceptional archaeological evidence of these events in its necropolis.











More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Bezel ring showing a small animal (squirrel?) playing with a ball. It was discovered on the pubis of the deceased.
A coin had also been deposited there. End of the 1st century – beginning of the 3rd century
[Credit: Pascal Druelle, Inrap]










More on Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Earrings discovered in a brick tomb and placed at the individual’s feet in a rectangular space (possibly
 a wooden box  cist) the elements of a necklace of glass beads and two tubular gold beads
[Credit: Pascal Druelle, Inrap]

The heritage represented in the archaeological archives (of “the ground”) of Corsica are highly emblematic and vulnerable. Their study and preservation justify the adapted conservation measures implemented over many years. The human and financial resources currently devoted to this work are unprecedented. These resources also contribute to renewing our knowledge of the island from the distant past to the modern era.


Under the responsibility of the State (DRAC), preventive archaeology in Corsica, in association with regional development, is comparable to that in some metropolitan regions. It contributes new elements to our knowledge of the history of the island and its transmission to the public via its four archaeology museums listed among the Musées de France.


Source: Inrap [March 29, 2019]



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