среда, 8 мая 2019 г.

2019 May 8 Jupiter Marble from Juno Image Credit:…

2019 May 8

Jupiter Marble from Juno
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS; Processing: Kevin M. Gill

Explanation: What does Jupiter look like up close? Most images of Jupiter are taken from far away, either from Earth or from a great enough distance that nearly half the planet is visible. This shot, though, was composed from images taken relatively close in, where less than half of the planet was visible. From here, Jupiter still appears spherical but perspective distortion now makes it look more like a marble. Visible on Jupiter’s cloud tops are a prominent dark horizontal belt containing a white oval cloud, and a white zone cloud, both of which circle the planet. The Great Red Spot looms on the upper right. The featured image was taken by the robotic Juno spacecraft in February during its 17th close pass of our Solar System’s largest planet. Juno’s mission, now extended into 2021, is to study Jupiter in new ways. Juno’s data has already enabled discoveries that include Jupiter’s magnetic field being surprisingly lumpy, and that some of Jupiter’s cloud systems run about 3,000 kilometers into the planet.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190508.html

Hubble spots a stunning spiral galaxy

Few of the universe’s residents are as iconic as the spiral galaxy. These limelight-hogging celestial objects combine whirling, pinwheeling arms with scatterings of sparkling stars, glowing bursts of gas, and dark, weaving lanes of cosmic dust, creating truly awesome scenes — especially when viewed through a telescope such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, this image from Hubble frames a perfect spiral specimen: the stunning NGC 2903.

Hubble spots a stunning spiral galaxy
NGC 2903 is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), and was
studied as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of roughly 145 nearby disk galaxies
[Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho et al.]

NGC 2903 is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), and was studied as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of roughly 145 nearby disk galaxies.  This study aimed to help astronomers better understand the relationship between the black holes that lurk at the cores of galaxies like these, and the rugby-ball-shaped bulge of stars, gas and dust at the galaxy’s center — such as that seen in this image.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center [May 03, 2019]



Alaska’s thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time

The first artifact — a wooden mask — was discovered in 2007 by a child who stumbled upon it while playing on the beach near his home in Quinhagak, a village in western Alaska that sits by the Bering Sea.

Alaska's thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time
Yupik Eskimo artifacts found at an excavation site near Quinhagak, a village in western Alaska
that sits by the Bering Sea [Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP]

Over the following months, hundreds of similar objects — baskets, finely carved harpoon shafts, lip plugs, wooden dolls, ivory tattoo needles — emerged from the earth as melting permafrost and erosion driven by climate change revealed a Yupik Eskimo settlement dating back to the 1600s.

Today, more than a decade after the first find, an extraordinary collection of some 100,000 prehistoric Yupik artifacts — the largest such collection in the world — sits in a small newly opened museum in Quinhagak, home to an indigenous community of about 700 people.

«This is by far the highlight of everything I’ve ever excavated in my 40-year-career — and I’ve worked on some pretty spectacular sites,» said Rick Knecht, an archaeologist with the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

For the past 10 years Knecht has led a team racing to save as many items as possible at the excavation site about three miles (4.8 kilometers) from Quinhagak and dubbed Nunalleq, which means Old Village in the Yupik language.

Alaska's thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time
Archaeologist Rick Knecht has spent 10 years racing to save as many items as possible at the Nunalleq
excavation site in western Alaska that revealed a Yupik Eskimo settlement dating back to the 1600s
[Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP]

«Almost everything we know about Yupik prehistory comes from this site,» said Knecht, an affable man with a grizzled beard, as he surveyed the area recently with an AFP team.

«If we’d lost it, the people here would have lost their past and a tangible link to that past, which would have been an unbelievable tragedy.»

But while Knecht marvels at the trove of artifacts discovered at Nunalleq and the clues these objects have provided to traditional Yupik culture, he is also horrified that similar sites across Alaska are probably disappearing as the frozen ground that has preserved them for centuries thaws and erosion sweeps them away.

«As the permafrost melts, you can see that the soil liquefies. It’s like a box of ice cream,» Knecht said, pointing to the gooey mud along the fast-eroding shoreline in Quinhagak and large clumps of earth ready to topple into the sea.»

Alaska's thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time
An extraordinary collection of some 100,000 prehistoric Yupik artifacts — the largest such collection in the world — sits
in a small newly opened museum in Quinhagak, Alaska home to an indigenous community of about 700 people
[Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP]

«We’ve only saved this one site but tens of thousands like it are being lost right now while we’re talking because of climate change,» he said. «In some places in the Arctic, the coastline has gone back more than a mile. And since I’ve been here in Quinhagak, it’s gone back 10 to 20 meters in merely 10 years.»

Knecht became involved with the excavation project in 2009 after Warren Jones, a village leader, contacted him, desperate to salvage what remains of his people’s past.

Based on carbon dating of organic material at Nunalleq, experts believe the site dates back to a time historians call the Bow and Arrow Wars, when Yupik communities were engaged in fierce warfare and before Russian explorers discovered Alaska in the early 1800s.

«This was our heritage and we had to preserve it,» recalls Jones. «We couldn’t let it get lost at sea.»

Alaska's thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time
Local Yupik Eskimo children look at artifacts from their ancestors, found at the Nunalleq
excavation site in western Alaska [Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP]

But getting village elders who believe ancestral sites should not be disturbed to agree was no easy task.

«It took Warren Jones two years to talk the village, person by person, into allowing an archaeological project,» Knecht said. «They thought long and hard about it and some of the elders who were reluctant are now our strongest supporters.»

Many village residents now volunteer every summer to join Knecht and his crew of fellow archaeologists and students as they sift through the earth to save what they can.

«You get this terrible feeling of working against time and you realize the full scope of the cultural tragedy that is part of climate change,» said Knecht. «It’s grim, it really is grim. It’s a horror show.

Alaska's thaw threatens prehistoric sites once frozen in time
Based on carbon dating, experts believe the Nunalleq site dates back to a time historians call the Bow and Arrow Wars,
 when Yupik communities were engaged in fierce warfare and before Russian explorers discovered Alaska
in the early 1800s [Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP]

«For every beautifully preserved mask lifted out of the ground, there are thousands falling to the sea in other still undiscovered sites that no one will ever see.»

But against the grim backdrop of climate change, one positive side effect has been renewed interest among the Yupik people in the practices and traditions of their ancestors.

A number of villagers in Quinhagak are carving replicas of the artifacts found at Nunalleq, students at the local school have set up a traditional dance troupe and many have started to learn the Yupik language.

Not to mention the immense pride felt by the locals at having a spectacular collection that would be the envy of world-class museums.

«This has had a lot of impact on this small community,» Jones said. «And it’s important the collection stay in Quinhagak,» he added. «These objects belong to the community. But we’re willing to share and send them out to museums on loan so that other people learn about us.»

Source: AFP [May 05, 2019]



Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes

Astronomers have just managed to take the first image of a black hole, and now the next challenge facing them is how to take even sharper images, so that Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity can be tested. Radboud University astronomers, along with the European Space Agency (ESA) and others, are putting forward a concept for achieving this by launching radio telescopes into space. They publish their plans in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes
In space, the EHI has a resolution more than five times that of the EHT on Earth, and images can be reconstructed
with higher fidelity. Top left: Model of Sagittarius A* at an observation frequency of 230 GHz. Top left: Simulation
of an image of this model with the EHT. Bottom left: Model of Sagittarius A* at an observation frequency
of 690 GHz. Bottom right: Simulation of an image of this model with the EHI
[Credit: F. Roelofs & M. Moscibrodzka, Radboud University]

The idea is to place two or three satellites in circular orbit around the Earth to observe black holes. The concept goes by the name Event Horizon Imager (EHI). In their new study, the scientists present simulations of what images of the black hole Sagittarius A* would look if they were taken by satellites like these.

More than five times as sharp

«There are lots of advantages to using satellites instead of permanent radio telescopes on Earth, as with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT),» says Freek Roelofs, a PhD candidate at Radboud University and the lead author of the article. «In space, you can make observations at higher radio frequencies, because the frequencies from Earth are filtered out by the atmosphere. The distances between the telescopes in space are also larger. This allows us to take a big step forward. We would be able to take images with a resolution more than five times what is possible with the EHT.»

Sharper images of a black hole will lead to better information that could be used to test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in greater detail. «The fact that the satellites are moving round the Earth makes for considerable advantages,» Radio Astronomy Professor Heino Falcke says. «With them, you can take near perfect images to see the real details of black holes. If small deviations from Einstein’s theory occur, we should be able to see them.»

The EHI will also be able to image about five additional black holes that are smaller than the black holes that the EHT is currently focussing on. The latter are Sagittarius A* at the centre of our Milky Way and M87* at the centre of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the Virgo Cluster.

Technological challenges

The researchers have simulated what they would be able to see with different versions of the technology under different circumstances. For this they made use of models of plasma behaviour around the black hole and the resulting radiation. «The simulations look promising from a scientific aspect, but there are difficulties to overcome at a technical level,» Roelofs says.

The astronomers collaborated with scientists from ESA/ESTEC to investigate the technical feasibility of the project. «The concept demands that you must be able to ascertain the position and speed of the satellites very accurately,» according to Volodymyr Kudriashov, a researcher at the Radboud Radio Lab who also works at ESA/ESTEC. «But we really believe that the project is feasible.»

Consideration also has to be given to how the satellites exchange data. «With the EHT, hard drives with data are transported to the processing centre by airplane. That’s of course not possible in space.» In this concept, the satellites will exchange data via a laser link, with the data being partially processed on board before being sent back to Earth for further analysis. «There are already laser links in space,» Kudriashov notes.

Hybrid system

The idea is that the satellites will initially function independently of the EHT telescopes. But consideration is also being given to a hybrid system, with the orbiting telescopes combined with the ones on Earth. Falcke: «Using a hybrid like this could provide the possibility of creating moving images of a black hole, and you might be able to observe even more and also weaker sources.»

Source: Radboud University Nijmegen [May 06, 2019]



Secrets of the ‘blue supergiant’ revealed

Blue supergiants are the rock-and-roll stars of the universe. They are massive stars that live fast and die young which makes them rare and difficult to study, even with modern telescopes. Before space telescopes, few blue supergiants had been observed, so our knowledge of these stars was limited.

Secrets of the 'blue supergiant' revealed
Blue Supergiant — a snapshot of the interior of a star three times as heavy as our sun which
shows waves generated by turbulent core convection [Credit: Dr Tamara Rogers]

Leading astrophysicist Dr Tamara Rogers, from Newcastle University, UK, and her team have been working for the past five years to create simulations of stars like these to try to predict what it is that makes the surface appear the way it does.

Modelling the interior of stars, the team predicted that gravity waves, like those we see in the ocean, could break at the surface of stars. A second type of wave had also been predicted. These coherent waves are similar to the seismic waves on earth, which are generated from deep within the star.

Now, using data collected by the NASA space telescopes, an international team of experts led by KU Leuven in Belgium, have observed the star for the first time and discovered that almost all of these elusive blue giants do in fact shimmer and ripple in brightness due to the presence of waves on their surface.

As predicted, the waves originate in their deep interior and provide exciting new prospects for studying these stars using asteroseismology, a similar technique to how seismologists use earthquakes to study the Earth’s interior. Publishing their findings in Nature Astronomy, the authors say that from observations of these waves, properties of the stars that are unobtainable from other astronomical techniques can now be studied.

Co-author Dr Rogers, based in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics at Newcastle University, said: «When we first started our simulations and predicted these waves could break at the surface we didn’t think it would ever be possible to observe them. Throughout the universe, stars come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Some stars are like our Sun and live calmly for billions of years.»

«But massive stars live significantly shorter and more active lives before they explode in what is called a supernova and expel their material into space. In line with our predictions, these latest observations have confirmed two types of wave which give us different information about the star.»

«Those which break at the surface, similar to the waves breaking on the beach, and the standing wave that just keeps on going and is similar to the seismic waves on earth. From these we can start to understand how the star is moving and rotating and the physics and chemistry of what is going on inside the deep interior, including the stellar core.»

«Although we predicted these wave patterns, until now it was just that — a simulation of what might be going on. To actually see it and prove it is really quite an incredible moment for us.»

3D movie simulation [Credit: Philipp Edelmann]

Since the dawn of humanity, the stars in the night sky have captured our imaginations. We even sing nursery rhymes to children pondering the nature of stars: «Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are».

Telescopes are able to probe far into the universe, but astronomers have struggled to ‘see’ inside the stars. It is only recently with modern space telescopes that astronomers have begun to unlock the interiors of stars by listening to the symphony of sounds that they generate.

The blue supergiants, are the metal factories of the universe before they explode as supernovae. These stars produce all chemical elements beyond helium in the Periodic Table of Mendeljev, whose 150-year anniversary will be celebrated this year.

Lead author Dr Dominic Bowman from the KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy, explains: «Before the NASA Kepler/K2 and TESS space telescopes, few blue supergiants that vary in brightness because of waves were known. But if you look at the brightness of an individual star for long enough with a very sensitive detector, you can map out how it changes over time. In asteroseismology — the study of waves inside stars — we use these variations to probe the physical and chemical processes inside the stars.»

The discovery of waves in so many blue supergiant stars was a Eureka moment, says Bowman.

«The variability in these stars had been there all along, we only had to be patient and wait for modern space telescopes to observe them. It is as if the rock-and-roll stars had been performing the whole time, but only now opened the doors of their concert hall because of NASA space missions.»

«Therefore, it appears that the nursery rhyme sung to children, «Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are» is not so far removed from the reality of modern-day space telescope observations. We are now entering a golden age of asteroseismology of hot massive stars thanks to modern space telescopes. The discovery of these waves in blue supergiants allows us to study the progenitors of supernovae from a novel perspective,» says Dr Bowman.

Source: Newcastle University [May 06, 2019]



Many more amphibian species at risk of extinction than previously thought

Frogs already knew it wasn’t easy being green, but the going just got a lot tougher for the 1,012 additional species of amphibians who have now been newly identified as at risk of extinction in a Yale-led study.

Many more amphibian species at risk of extinction than previously thought
Credit: Robert Freckleton

«Amphibians are highly threatened and are declining worldwide at an unprecedented rate,» said lead author Pamela González-del-Pliego, postdoctoral ecologist at Yale. «Unfortunately, it seems that the percentage of threatened amphibians is much higher than we previously knew.»

Until this study, less than two-thirds of all amphibian species had been assessed for extinction risk by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — the body that assigns conservation status to species on a scale from «Least Concern» to «Extinct.» This new study by a team of researchers from the United States and United Kingdom provides extinction risk predictions for an additional 25% of the world’s amphibian species, or close to 2,200 species, which had not previously been assessed by the IUCN due to a lack of data.

The team used relationships on the amphibian family tree and ecological similarities (shared habitats and habits) between species worldwide to construct a model for predicting the extinction risk of poorly-documented species based on the existing data for their better-documented cousins. The model predicted that 1,012 of these previously unassessed amphibian species are «Threatened» and that more than half are «Endangered» or «Critically Endangered.»

For frogs, the model predicted that the taxonomic families with the greatest number of newly threatened species include poison frogs, glass frogs, South American rain frogs, gladiator frogs, and harlequin toads. In terms of geographic distribution, the team found that South America and Southeast Asia contain the most newly identified threatened species.

«Our results newly pinpoint places where the right conservation actions could prevent near-certain species extinctions,» said Walter Jetz, senior author and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale.

Many more amphibian species at risk of extinction than previously thought
The distribution of frogs at risk of extinction
[Credit: González-del-Pliego et al. 2019]

«With ongoing land transformations and other threats putting an ever-increasing number of species in peril and traditional assessments inherently slow, the data-driven modelling we undertook can help speed up awareness of urgent conservation priorities,» Jetz explained.

Additional analysis of species’ data brought particularly bad news for the newly at-risk amphibians who call Southeast Asia and Central Africa home. In those regions, the recently assessed amphibians share little to no habitat with the already-identified endangered species there. But an endangered frog whose habitat overlaps heavily with many other endangered frogs — as is the case for many species in South America — is easier to save, note the researchers.

This study supports the mission of the Jetz Lab, Yale’s Center for Biodiversity and Global Change, where González-del-Pliego is based while at Yale, to advance global-scale knowledge about species distributions and threats to biodiversity in a rapidly changing world, said Jetz.

Finally, González-del-Pliego noted that the regions rich in amphibian species are also the areas currently experiencing the greatest rates of forest loss and increases in human population, as well as greater fertilizer use, agricultural production, and irrigation — all of which endanger habitats.

«We need to move quickly to consider amphibians as a high conservation priority and integrate these data-deficient species into future conservation strategies,» she said.

The paper is published in Current Biology.

Source: Yale University [May 06, 2019]



Nature’s dangerous decline ‘unprecedented,’ species extinction rates...

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April — 4 May) in Paris.

Nature's dangerous decline 'unprecedented,' species extinction rates 'accelerating'

«The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,» said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. «The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.»

«The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,» he said. «Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably — this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.»

«The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,» Watson said.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. It is the first intergovernmental Report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence.

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

«Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point,» said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) and Prof. Eduardo S. Brondízio (Brazil and USA).

«The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.»

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

«Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,» said Prof. Settele. «This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.»

To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius — with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics — impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. With good progress on components of only four of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, it is likely that most will be missed by the 2020 deadline. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80% (35 out of 44) of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14 and 15). Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.

«To better understand and, more importantly, to address the main causes of damage to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, we need to understand the history and global interconnection of complex demographic and economic indirect drivers of change, as well as the social values that underpin them,» said Prof. Brondízio. «Key indirect drivers include increased population and per capita consumption; technological innovation, which in some cases has lowered and in other cases increased the damage to nature; and, critically, issues of governance and accountability. A pattern that emerges is one of global interconnectivity and ‘telecoupling’ — with resource extraction and production often occurring in one part of the world to satisfy the needs of distant consumers in other regions.»

Other notable findings of the Report include:

— Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

— More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.

— The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and non-renewable resources are now extracted globally every year — having nearly doubled since 1980.

— Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.

— In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.

— Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.

— Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) — a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.

— Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change — due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.

The Report also presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others. It highlights the importance of, among others, adopting integrated management and cross-sectoral approaches that take into account the trade-offs of food and energy production, infrastructure, freshwater and coastal management, and biodiversity conservation.

Also identified as a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.

«IPBES presents the authoritative science, knowledge and the policy options to decision-makers for their consideration,» said IPBES Executive Secretary, Dr. Anne Larigauderie. «We thank the hundreds of experts, from around the world, who have volunteered their time and knowledge to help address the loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity — a truly global and generational threat to human well-being.»

Further Information on Key Issues from the Report

Scale of Loss of Nature

Gains from societal and policy responses, while important, have not stopped massive losses.

Since 1970, trends in agricultural production, fish harvest, bioenergy production and harvest of materials have increased, in response to population growth, rising demand and technological development, this has come at a steep price, which has been unequally distributed within and across countries. Many other key indicators of nature’s contributions to people however, such as soil organic carbon and pollinator diversity, have declined, indicating that gains in material contributions are often not sustainable .

The pace of agricultural expansion into intact ecosystems has varied from country to country. Losses of intact ecosystems have occurred primarily in the tropics, home to the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet. For example, 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost from 1980 to 2000, resulting mainly from cattle ranching in Latin America (about 42 million hectares) and plantations in South-East Asia (about 7.5 million hectares, of which 80% is for palm oil, used mostly in food, cosmetics, cleaning products and fuel) among others.

Since 1970 the global human population has more than doubled (from 3.7 to 7.6 billion), rising unevenly across countries and regions; and per capita gross domestic product is four times higher — with ever-more distant consumers shifting the environmental burden of consumption and production across regions.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900.

The numbers of invasive alien species per country have risen by about 70% since 1970, across the 21 countries with detailed records.

The distributions of almost half (47%) of land-based flightless mammals, for example, and almost a quarter of threatened birds, may already have been negatively affected by climate change.

Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and Nature

At least a quarter of the global land area is traditionally owned, managed, used or occupied by Indigenous Peoples. These areas include approximately 35% of the area that is formally protected, and approximately 35% of all remaining terrestrial areas with very low human intervention.

Nature managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities is under increasing pressure but is generally declining less rapidly than in other lands — although 72% of local indicators developed and used by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities show the deterioration of nature that underpins local livelihoods.

The areas of the world projected to experience significant negative effects from global changes in climate, biodiversity, ecosystem functions and nature’s contributions to people are also areas in which large concentrations of Indigenous Peoples and many of the world’s poorest communities reside.

Regional and global scenarios currently lack and would benefit from an explicit consideration of the views, perspectives and rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, their knowledge and understanding of large regions and ecosystems, and their desired future development pathways. Recognition of the knowledge, innovations and practices, institutions and values of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and their inclusion and participation in environmental governance often enhances their quality of life, as well as nature conservation, restoration and sustainable use. Their positive contributions to sustainability can be facilitated through national recognition of land tenure, access and resource rights in accordance with national legislation, the application of free, prior and informed consent, and improved collaboration, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use, and co-management arrangements with local communities.

Global Targets and Policy Scenarios

Past and ongoing rapid declines in biodiversity, ecosystem functions and many of nature’s contributions to people mean that most international societal and environmental goals, such as those embodied in the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achieved based on current trajectories.

The authors of the Report examined six policy scenarios — very different ‘baskets’ of clustered policy options and approaches, including ‘Regional Competition’, ‘Business as Usual’ and ‘Global Sustainability’ — projecting the likely impacts on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people of these pathways by 2050. They concluded that, except in scenarios that include transformative change, the negative trends in nature, ecosystem functions and in many of nature’s contributions to people will continue to 2050 and beyond due to the projected impacts of increasing land and sea use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change.

Policy Tools, Options and Exemplary Practices

Policy actions and societal initiatives are helping to raise awareness about the impact of consumption on nature, protecting local environments, promoting sustainable local economies and restoring degraded areas. Together with initiatives at various levels these have contributed to expanding and strengthening the current network of ecologically representative and well-connected protected area networks and other effective area-based conservation measures, the protection of watersheds and incentives and sanctions to reduce pollution.

The Report presents an illustrative list of possible actions and pathways for achieving them across locations, systems and scales, which will be most likely to support sustainability.

Taking an integrated approach

In agriculture, the Report emphasizes, among others: promoting good agricultural and agroecological practices; multifunctional landscape planning (which simultaneously provides food security, livelihood opportunities, maintenance of species and ecological functions) and cross-sectoral integrated management. It also points to the importance of deeper engagement of all actors throughout the food system (including producers, the public sector, civil society and consumers) and more integrated landscape and watershed management; conservation of the diversity of genes, varieties, cultivars, breeds, landraces and species; as well as approaches that empower consumers and producers through market transparency, improved distribution and localization (that revitalizes local economies), reformed supply chains and reduced food waste.

In marine systems, the Report highlights, among others: ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management; spatial planning; effective quotas; marine protected areas; protecting and managing key marine biodiversity areas; reducing run- off pollution into oceans and working closely with producers and consumers.

In freshwater systems, policy options and actions include, among others: more inclusive water governance for collaborative water management and greater equity; better integration of water resource management and landscape planning across scales; promoting practices to reduce soil erosion, sedimentation and pollution run-off; increasing water storage; promoting investment in water projects with clear sustainability criteria; as well as addressing the fragmentation of many freshwater policies.

In urban areas, the Report highlights, among others: promotion of nature-based solutions; increasing access to urban services and a healthy urban environment for low-income communities; improving access to green spaces; sustainable production and consumption and ecological connectivity within urban spaces, particularly with native species.

Across all examples, the Report recognises the importance of including different value systems and diverse interests and worldviews in formulating policies and actions. This includes the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in governance, the reform and development of incentive structures and ensuring that biodiversity considerations are prioritised across all key sector planning.

«We have already seen the first stirrings of actions and initiatives for transformative change, such as innovative policies by many countries, local authorities and businesses, but especially by young people worldwide,» said Sir Robert Watson. «From the young global shapers behind the #VoiceforthePlanet movement, to school strikes for climate, there is a groundswell of understanding that urgent action is needed if we are to secure anything approaching a sustainable future. The IPBES Global Assessment Report offers the best available expert evidence to help inform these decisions, policies and actions — and provides the scientific basis for the biodiversity framework and new decadal targets for biodiversity, to be decided in late 2020 in China, under the auspices of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.»

By the Numbers — Key Statistics and Facts from the Report


— 75%: terrestrial environment «severely altered» to date by human actions (marine environments 66%)

— 47%: reduction in global indicators of ecosystem extent and condition against their estimated natural baselines, with many continuing to decline by at least 4% per decade

— 28%: global land area held and/or managed by Indigenous Peoples , including * >40% of formally protected areas and 37% of all remaining terrestrial areas with very low human intervention

— +/-60 billion: tons of renewable and non-renewable resources extracted globally each year, up nearly 100% since 1980

— 15%: increase in global per capita consumption of materials since 1980 >85%: of wetlands present in 1700 had been lost by 2000 — loss of wetlands is currently three times faster, in percentage terms, than forest loss.

Species, Populations and Varieties of Plants and Animals

— 8 million: total estimated number of animal and plant species on Earth (including 5.5 million insect species)

— Tens to hundreds of times: the extent to which the current rate of global species extinction is higher compared to average over the last 10 million years, and the rate is accelerating

— Up to 1 million: species threatened with extinction, many within decades

— >500,000 (+/-9%): share of the world’s estimated 5.9 million terrestrial species with insufficient habitat for long term survival without habitat restoration

— >40%: amphibian species threatened with extinction

— Almost 33%: reef forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and >33% marine mammals threatened with extinction

— 25%: average proportion of species threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail

— At least 680: vertebrate species driven to extinction by human actions since the 16th century

— +/-10%: tentative estimate of proportion of insect species threatened with extinction

— >20%: decline in average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes, mostly since 1900?+/-560 (+/-10%): domesticated breeds of mammals were extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more threatened

— 3.5%: domesticated breed of birds extinct by 2016

— 70%: increase since 1970 in numbers of invasive alien species across 21 countries with detailed records

— 30%: reduction in global terrestrial habitat integrity caused by habitat loss and deterioration

— 47%: proportion of terrestrial flightless mammals and 23% of threatened birds whose distributions may have been negatively impacted by climate change already

— >6: species of ungulate (hoofed mammals) would likely be extinct or surviving only in captivity today without conservation measures

Food and Agriculture

— 300%: increase in food crop production since 1970

— 23%: land areas that have seen a reduction in productivity due to land degradation

— >75%: global food crop types that rely on animal pollination

— US$235 to US$577 billion: annual value of global crop output at risk due to pollinator loss

— 5.6 gigatons: annual CO2 emissions sequestered in marine and terrestrial ecosystems — equivalent to 60% of global fossil fuel emission

— +/-11%: world population that is undernourished

— 100 million: hectares of agricultural expansion in the tropics from 1980 to 2000, mainly cattle ranching in Latin America (+/-42 million ha), and plantations in Southeast Asia (+/-7.5 million ha, of which 80% is oil palm), half of it at the expense of intact forests

— 3%: increase in land transformation to agriculture between 1992 and 2015, half at the expense of intact tropical forests

— >33%: world’s land surface (and +/-75% of freshwater resources) devoted to crop or livestock production

— 12%: world’s ice-free land used for crop production

— 25%: world’s ice-free land used for grazing (+/-70% of drylands)

— +/-25%: greenhouse gas emissions caused by land clearing, crop production and fertilization, with animal-based food contributing 75% to that figure

— +/-30%: global crop production and global food supply provided by small land holdings (<2 ha), using +/-25% of agricultural land, usually maintaining rich agrobiodiversity

— $100 billion: estimated level of financial support in OECD countries (2015) to agriculture that is potentially harmful to the environment

Oceans and Fishing

— 33%: marine fish stocks in 2015 being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% are maximally sustainably fished; 7% are underfished

— >55%: ocean area covered by industrial fishing

— 3-10%: projected decrease in ocean net primary production due to climate change alone by the end of the century

— 3-25%: projected decrease in fish biomass by the end of the century in low and high climate warming scenarios, respectively

— >90%: proportion of the global commercial fishers accounted for by small scale fisheries (over 30 million people) — representing nearly 50% of global fish catch

— Up to 33%: estimated share in 2011 of world’s reported fish catch that is illegal, unreported or unregulated

— >10%: decrease per decade in the extent of seagrass meadows from 1970-2000

— +/-50%: live coral cover of reefs lost since 1870s

— 100-300 million: people in coastal areas at increased risk due to loss of coastal habitat protection

— 400: low oxygen (hypoxic) coastal ecosystem ‘dead zones’ caused by fertilizers, affecting >245,000 km2

— 29%: average reduction in the extinction risk for mammals and birds in 109 countries thanks to conservation investments from 1996 to 2008; the extinction risk of birds, mammals and amphibians would have been at least 20% greater without conservation action in recent decade

— >107: highly threatened birds, mammals and reptiles estimated to have benefitted from the eradication of invasive mammals on islands


— 45%: increase in raw timber production since 1970 (4 billion cubic meters in 2017)

— +/-13 million: forestry industry jobs

— 50%: agricultural expansion that occurred at the expense of forests

— 50%: decrease in net rate of forest loss since the 1990s (excluding those managed for timber or agricultural extraction)

— 68%: global forest area today compared with the estimated pre-industrial level

— 7%: reduction of intact forests (>500 sq. km with no human pressure) from 2000-2013 in developed and developing countries

— 290 million ha (+/-6%): native forest cover lost from 1990-2015 due to clearing and wood harvesting

— 110 million ha: rise in the area of planted forests from 1990-2015

— 10-15%: global timber supplies provided by illegal forestry (up to 50% in some areas)

— >2 billion: people who rely on wood fuel to meet their primary energy needs

Mining and Energy

— <1%: total land used for mining, but the industry has significant negative impacts on biodiversity, emissions, water quality and human health

— +/-17,000: large-scale mining sites (in 171 countries), mostly managed by 616 international corporations

— +/-6,500: offshore oil and gas ocean mining installations ((in 53 countries)

— US$345 billion: global subsidies for fossil fuels resulting in US$5 trillion in overall costs, including nature deterioration externalities; coal accounts for 52% of post-tax subsidies, petroleum for +/-33% and natural gas for +/-10%

Urbanization, Development and Socioeconomic Issues

— >100%: growth of urban areas since 1992

— 25 million km: length of new paved roads foreseen by 2050, with 90% of construction in least developed and developing countries

— +/-50,000: number of large dams (>15m height) ; +/-17 million reservoirs (>0.01 ha)

— 105%: increase in global human population (from 3.7 to 7.6 billion) since 1970 unevenly across countries and regions

— 50 times higher: per capita GDP in developed vs. least developed countries

— >2,500: conflicts over fossil fuels, water, food and land currently occurring worldwide

— >1,000: environmental activists and journalists killed between 2002 and 2013


— 70%: proportion of cancer drugs that are natural or synthetic products inspired by nature

— +/-4 billion: people who rely primarily on natural medicines

— 17%: infectious diseases spread by animal vectors, causing >700,000 annual deaths

— +/-821 million: people face food insecurity in Asia and Africa 40%: of the global population lacks access to clean and safe drinking water

— >80%: global wastewater discharged untreated into the environment

— 300-400 million tons: heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes from industrial facilities dumped annually into the world’s waters

— 10 times: increase in plastic pollution since 1980

Climate Change

— 1 degree Celsius: average global temperature difference in 2017 compared to pre-industrial levels, rising +/-0.2 (+/-0.1) degrees Celsius per decade

— >3 mm: annual average global sea level rise over the past two decades

— 16-21 cm: rise in global average sea level since 1900

— 100% increase since 1980 in greenhouse gas emissions, raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degree

— 40%: rise in carbon footprint of tourism (to 4.5Gt of carbon dioxide) from 2009 to 2013

— 8%: of total greenhouse gas emissions are from transport and food consumption related to tourism

— 5%: estimated fraction of species at risk of extinction from 2°C warming alone, rising to 16% at 4.3°C warming

— Even for global warming of 1.5 to 2 degrees, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly.

Global Goals

— Most Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 likely to be missed

— 22 of 44: assessed targets under the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, ocean and land are being undermined by substantial negative trends in nature and its contributions to people

— 72%: of local indicators in nature developed and used by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities that show negative trends

— 4: number of Aichi Targets where good progress has been made on certain components, with moderate progress on some components of another 7 targets, poor progress on all components of 6 targets, and insufficient information to assess progress on some or all components of the remaining 3 targets
Source: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) [May 06, 2019]



Genetic adaptation to climate change

New research led by the University of Southampton has shown that the threat of range losses for some species as a result of climate change could be overestimated because of the ability of certain animals to adapt to rising temperatures and aridity. The researchers have now developed a new approach to more accurately determine vulnerability, which could aid conservation efforts by ensuring they are focussed on species most at risk. Their findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Genetic adaptation to climate change
This is Myotis escalerai in flight in Soria, Spain
[Credit: Daniel Fernandez Alonso]

Current methods for assessing vulnerability ignore the potential for some animal populations to adapt genetically to their changing environment, meaning they are able to survive in warming temperatures and drier conditions better than other populations within the same species.

The international team was led by Dr Orly Razgour, lecturer in Ecology at the University of Southampton, and studied the genomic data of two species of bats native to the Mediterranean, an area which is particularly affected by rising global temperatures.

Dr Razgour said: «The most commonly used approach for forecasting the bats’ future suggests that the range of suitable habitats for them would diminish rapidly due to climate change. However, this assumes all bats within the same species cope with changing temperatures and drier climates in the same way. We developed a new approach that takes into account the ability of bats within the same species to adapt to different climatic conditions.»

By taking samples from the wings of over 300 bats living in the wild, the scientists were able to study their DNA and identify the individual bats that have adapted to thrive in hot and dry conditions and those who were adapted to colder and wetter environments. They then used this information to model changes in climatic suitability and the distribution of each group under future climate change.

Once the scientists had mapped the areas that were most populated by each group of adapted bats, they studied the landscapes in between each area to determine whether they would allow the hot-dry adapted bats to move to areas inhabited by the cold-wet adapted bats. The study’s findings showed that there was suitable forest cover — vital for these bats to move around — across most of the landscapes. Thanks to this landscape connectivity, individuals adapted to hot-dry conditions can reach cold-wet adapted populations and breed with them, which will increase the potential of the population to survive as conditions become warmer and drier.

Dr Razgour concluded: «We believe that if this model is used when assessing the vulnerability of any species to climate change we could reduce erroneous predictions and misplaced conservation efforts. Any conservation strategy should consider how individual animals can adapt locally and should focus not only on areas with threatened populations but also on making movement between populations easier. This is why it is important to look at the combined effect of climate change and habitat loss.»

Source: University of Southampton [May 06, 2019]



Space Station Science Highlights: Week of April 29, 2019

ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.

May 7, 2019

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station installed a variety of hardware and set up science experiments that arrived via a Cygnus resupply ship. Crew members also collected samples for investigations.

Space to Ground: The Droids You’re Looking For: 05/03/2019

Here are details on some of the scientific activities the Expedition 59 crew members conducted the week of April 29:

Documenting life on the space station

A crewmember performed an ISS Experience Log recording and hardware setup in the US LAB to record on-orbit operations, including an introduction prior to crew activities. The ISS Experience creates a cinematic virtual reality film documenting daily life aboard the space station. The eight-to-ten-minute videos created from footage taken during the six-month investigation cover different aspects of crew life, execution of science aboard the station, and the international partnerships involved.

Flying robots in space

Image above: NASA astronaut Anne McClain shown next to the Astrobee robot on an initial test flight inside the ISS. The Astrobee facility enables robotic free flyer technology research in microgravity and is used to test computer vision, robotic manipulation, control algorithms, and Human-Robot Interaction. Image Credit: NASA.

Crewmembers reviewed procedures and performed a test fly around of the Astrobee free flyer. Astrobee is a series of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots. The first two robots arrived on Cygnus.  The third robot will arrive this summer on SpaceX CRS-18. The robots are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

Animation above: NASA astronaut Anne McClain connects one of two Astrobee robots into a docking station for initial activation and checkout. Third robot will arrive during the summer. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and can accommodate up to three investigations. Animation Credit: NASA.

Testing immune response in microgravity

The crew restocked Rodent Habitats 3 and 4 and completed Mass Measurement Injection activities. The crew also replaced food bars in Habitats 1 and 2. Rodent Research-12, Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS), examines the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. Spaceflight has a dramatic influence on immune response, but there is little research on its effect following a challenge to the body’s immune system. Using a mouse model makes this possible since the mouse immune system closely parallels that of humans.

Other investigations on which the crew performed work:

— Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) uses a newly developed passive nutrient delivery system and the Veggie plant growth facility aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to cultivate lettuce and mizuna greens which are to be harvested on-orbit and consumed, with samples returned to Earth for analysis: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7581

Image above: Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques injects water to irrigate Veggie PONDS seedlings. PONDS units have features designed to mitigate microgravity’s effects on water distribution while also increasing oxygen exchange and providing sufficient room for root zone growth. Image Credit: NASA.

— The Fiber Optic Production investigation creates optical fibers with high commercial value aboard the ISS using a blend of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, sodium, and aluminum called ZBLAN (ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7630

— The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Educational Payload Operations (EPO) activities are intended to encourage and strengthen the teaching of science curriculum, and through this, to stimulate the curiosity of students and motivate them towards further study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=228

Related links:

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

The ISS Experience: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7877

Astrobee: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=1891

TARBIS: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7868

Spot the Station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

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), Animation (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Michael Johnson/Jorge Sotomayor, Lead Increment Scientist Expeditions 59/60.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Hubble Spots Stunning Spiral Galaxy

NASA — Hubble Space Telescope (HST) patch.

May 7, 2019

Few of the universe’s residents are as iconic as the spiral galaxy. These limelight-hogging celestial objects combine whirling, pinwheeling arms with scatterings of sparkling stars, glowing bursts of gas, and dark, weaving lanes of cosmic dust, creating truly awesome scenes — especially when viewed through a telescope such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, this image from Hubble frames a perfect spiral specimen: the stunning NGC 2903.

NGC 2903 is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), and was studied as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of roughly 145 nearby disk galaxies. This study aimed to help astronomers better understand the relationship between the black holes that lurk at the cores of galaxies like these, and the rugby-ball-shaped bulge of stars, gas and dust at the galaxy’s center — such as that seen in this image.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

For more information about Hubble, visit:




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

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

New Science Being Unpacked and Worked Aboard Orbital Lab

ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.

May 7, 2019

Six spaceships are now parked at the International Space Station and the Expedition 59 crew is working on the newest science delivered Monday. Astronauts will continue to live and work in space longer and scientists want to know how humans and a variety of other organisms adapt to support these missions.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain tended to several dozen mice delivered to the orbital lab Monday on the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The rodents’ immune systems are similar to humans and scientists are monitoring them to detect any changes caused microgravity.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is installed to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port a few hours after it was captured by astronauts David Saint-Jacques and Nick Hague with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 6, 2019. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox today to begin operations with the new Micro-14 pathogen study. Microgravity can increase the virulence of pathogens and doctors are seeking to understand the process to keep space crews safe and healthy.

Koch and McClain both started Tuesday unpacking frozen biological samples from Dragon. The duo stowed the samples into different science freezers aboard the station for later analysis and experimental work.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

McClain, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Nick Hague also explored head and eye pressure caused by upward fluid shifts due to the effects of microgravity. The long-running human research experiment seeks to reverse the upward flow and alleviate the symptoms reported by astronauts.

Related links:

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

Microgravity Science Glovebox: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=341

Micro-14: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7642

Fluid shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1126

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.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Drumtrodden Prehistoric Rock Art, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 5.5.19.

Drumtrodden Prehistoric Rock Art, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 5.5.19.

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Drumtrodden Prehistoric Standing Stones, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 5.5.19.

Drumtrodden Prehistoric Standing Stones, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, 5.5.19.

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Improved Eye Drug The macula region of the eye’s retina is…

Improved Eye Drug

The macula region of the eye’s retina is responsible for the central, finely detailed, colour vision essential for most of our everyday tasks. As such its deterioration, which occurs in conditions such as diabetic macular oedema and wet age-related macular degeneration, causes particularly debilitating vision loss. In both of these conditions, blood vessels in the macula become prone to abnormal growth and leakiness – note the haze of the fluorescent test material oozing from the blood vessels in the right-hand mouse retina here. Both of these pathological aspects contribute to the blurring and obscuring of vision, yet current drugs only tackle the abnormal vessel growth. A newly developed experimental drug, by contrast, blocks both problems – as can be seen in the non-leaking vessels of the left-hand treated mouse retina. Further testing and clinical development of this drug should hopefully lead to a more comprehensive treatment option for saving macula function and therefore vision.

Written by Ruth Williams

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