пятница, 31 мая 2019 г.

Dog Breath These Good Dogs can thank their genes for their…

Dog Breath

These Good Dogs can thank their genes for their good looks, from the Pug’s squished snout (top left) to the Collie’s long nose (bottom right). Selective breeding for certain characteristics can bring serious health problems, and flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs often have trouble breathing due to their squashed skulls and wrinkly skin. Curiously, Norwich Terriers (bottom left) also have breathing issues – even though they have longer noses than Pugs – while similar-snouted Norfolk Terriers (top right) do not. Researchers have discovered that many Norwich Terriers carry a fault in a gene called ADAMTS3, which is also found in brachycephalic breeds. This suggests that these breathing difficulties aren’t solely due to face shape and there are other genetic components at work. As well as explaining the origins of breathing problems in dogs, the findings might also shed light on lung disease in their human owners too.

Written by Kat Arney

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NASA’s Spitzer Captures Stellar Family Portrait

NASA — Spitzer Space Telescope patch.

May 31, 2019

Image above: A mosaic by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of the Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. This image combines data from Spitzer’s IRAC and MIPS instruments. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

In this large celestial mosaic taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, there’s a lot to see, including multiple clusters of stars born from the same dense clumps of gas and dust. Some of these clusters are older than others and more evolved, making this a generational stellar portrait.

The grand green-and-orange delta filling most of the image is a faraway nebula, or a cloud of gas and dust in space. Though the cloud may appear to flow from the bright white spot at its tip, it is actually what remains of a much larger cloud that has been carved away by radiation from stars. The bright region is illuminated by massive stars, belonging to a cluster that extends above the white spot. The white color is the combination of four colors (blue, green, orange and red), each representing a different wavelength of infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes. Dust that has been heated by the stars’ radiation creates the surrounding red glow.

Image above: An annotated mosaic by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of the Cepheus C and Cepheus B regions. This image combines data from Spitzer’s IRAC and MIPS instruments. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

On the left side of this image, a dark filament runs horizontally through the green cloud. A smattering of baby stars (the red and yellow dots) appear inside it. Known as Cepheus C, the area is a particularly dense concentration of gas and dust where infant stars form. The dark vein of material will eventually be dispersed by strong winds produced as the stars get older, as well as when they eventually explode and die. This will create an illuminated puffed-up region that will look similar to the bright red-and-white region on the large nebula’s upper-right side. The region is called Cepheus C because it lies in the constellation Cepheus, which can be found near the constellation Cassiopeia. Cepheus C is about 6 light-years long and lies about 40 light-years from the bright spot at the tip of the nebula.

A second large nebula can be seen on the right side of the image, with a star cluster located just above it. Known as Cepheus B, the cluster sits within a few thousand light-years of our Sun. A study of this region using Spitzer data found that the dramatic collection is about 4 million to 5 million years old — slightly older than those in Cepheus C.

In that way, the mosaic is a veritable family portrait, featuring infants, parents and grandparents of star-forming regions: Stars form in dense clouds of material, like the dark vein that makes up Cepheus C. As the stars grow, they produce winds that blow the gas and dust outward, to form beautiful, illuminated nebulas like the bright white spot at the top of the larger nebula. Finally, the dust and gas disperse, and the star clusters stand alone in space, as with Cepheus B.

Stars of Cepheus as Seen by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope

Other Sights to See

The amazing features in this image don’t end there.

Look closely for the small, red hourglass shape just below Cepheus C. This is V374 Ceph. Astronomers studying this massive star have speculated that it might be surrounded by a nearly edge-on disk of dark, dusty material. The dark cones extending to the right and left of the star are a shadow of that disk.

The smaller nebula on the right side of the image includes two particularly interesting objects. In the upper-left portion of the nebula, try to find a blue star crowned by a small, red arc of light. This «runaway star» is plowing through the gas and dust at a rapid clip, creating a shock wave, or «bow shock,» in front of itself.

Also hidden within this second nebula, a small cluster of newborn stars illuminates the dense cloud of gas and dust where they formed. This region is more obvious in the image below, which uses data from just one of Spitzer’s instruments. (The top image includes data from two instruments.) In the image below, this feature appears as a bright teal splash.

Images above: An annotated and unannotated image of the Cepheus B and Cepheus C regions by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, using data from the IRAC instrument. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

More About the Images

The two-instrument image was compiled using data from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) during Spitzer’s «cold» mission, before the spacecraft’s liquid helium coolant ran out in 2009. The colors correspond with IRAC wavelengths of 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (cyan), 8 microns (green) and MIPS at 24 microns (red).

The one-instrument image shows data from IRAC only, with colors corresponding to wavelengths of 3.6, 4.5, 5.8 and 8.0 ?m (shown as blue, green, orange and red).

In 2017 and 2016, high school students and teachers contributed to our understanding of the Cepheus C star-forming region. As part of NITARP (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program), the students and teachers combed through Spitzer data to identify the presence of young stellar objects. Over two years and with the guidance of astronomer Luisa Rebull of IPAC at Caltech, the students and teachers identified more than 100 such objects that hadn’t been identified in previous studies. Educators interested in participating in NITARP should visit the program website: https://nitarp.ipac.caltech.edu/

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

For more information on Spitzer, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/

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

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The radiation showstopper for Mars exploration

ESA — European Space Agency patch.

31 May 2019

An astronaut on a mission to Mars could receive radiation doses up to 700 times higher than on our planet – a major showstopper for the safe exploration of our Solar System. A team of European experts is working with ESA to protect the health of future crews on their way to the Moon and beyond.

Earth’s protective shield

Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from the constant bombardment of galactic cosmic rays – energetic particles that travel at close to the speed of light and penetrate the human body.

Cosmic radiation could increase cancer risks during long duration missions. Damage to the human body extends to the brain, heart and the central nervous system and sets the stage for degenerative diseases. A higher percentage of early-onset cataracts have been reported in astronauts.

“One day in space is equivalent to the radiation received on Earth for a whole year,” explains physicist Marco Durante, who studies cosmic radiation on Earth.

Space risks – Radiation

Marco points out that most of the changes in the astronauts’ gene expression are believed to be a result of radiation exposure, according to the recent NASA’s Twins study. This research showed DNA damage in astronaut Scott Kelly compared to his identical twin and fellow astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth.

A second source of space radiation comes from unpredictable solar particle events that deliver high doses of radiation in a short period of time, leading to ‘radiation sickness’ unless protective measures are taken.

Europe’s radiation fight club

“The real problem is the large uncertainty surrounding the risks. We don’t understand space radiation very well and the long-lasting effects are unknown,” explains Marco who is also part of an ESA team formed to investigate radiation.

Since 2015, this forum of experts provides advice from areas such as space science, biology, epidemiology, medicine and physics to improve protection from space radiation.

“Space radiation research is an area that crosses the entire life and physical sciences area with important applications on Earth. Research in this area will remain of high priority for ESA,” says Jennifer Ngo-Anh, ESA’s team leader human research, biology and physical sciences.

While astronauts are not considered radiation workers in all countries, they are exposed to 200 times more radiation on the International Space Station than an airline pilot or a radiology nurse.

Radiation is in the Space Station’s spotlight every day. A console at NASA’s mission control in Houston, Texas, is constantly showing space weather information.

Space risks – Fighting radiation

If a burst of space radiation is detected, teams on Earth can abort a spacewalk, instruct astronauts to move to more shielded areas and even change the altitude of the Station to minimise impact.

One of the main recommendations of the topical team is to develop a risk model with the radiation dose limits for crews travelling beyond the International Space Station.

ESA’s flight surgeon and radiologist Ulrich Straube believes that the model should “provide information on the risks that could cause cancer and non-cancer health issues for astronauts going to the Moon and Mars in agreement with all space agencies.”

Recent data from ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter showed that on a six-month journey to the Red Planet an astronaut could be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their entire career.

“As it stands today, we can’t go to Mars due to radiation. It would be impossible to meet acceptable dose limits,” reminds Marco.

Measure to protect

ESA has teamed up with five particle accelerators in Europe that can recreate cosmic radiation by ‘shooting’ atomic particles to speeds approaching the speed of light. Researchers have been bombarding biological cells and materials with radiation to understand how to best protect astronauts.

“The research is paying off. Lithium is standing out as a promising material for shielding in planetary missions,” says Marco.

ESA has been measuring the radiation dose on the International Space Station for seven years with passive radiation detectors in the DOSIS 3D experiment. ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet wore a new mobile dosimeter during their missions that gave them a real-time snapshot of their exposure.

A new particle accelerator will help make spaceflight safer

The same European team behind this research will provide radiation detectors to monitor the skin and organ doses of the two phantoms traveling to the Moon onboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

ESA has demonstrated expertise in studying Mars from orbit, now we are looking to secure a safe landing, to rove across the surface and to drill underground to search for evidence of life. Our orbiters are already in place to provide data relay services for surface missions. The next logical step is to bring samples back to Earth, to provide access to Mars for scientists globally, and to better prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet. This week we’re highlighting ESA’s contribution to Mars exploration as we ramp up to the launch of our second ExoMars mission, and look beyond to completing a Mars Sample Return mission. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #ExploreFarther.

Related links:

NASA’s Twins study: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-landmark-twins-study-reveals-resilience-of-human-body-in-space

DOSIS 3D experiment: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Proxima/Radiation_and_magnetic_fields

Mobile dosimeter: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Active_tracking_of_astronaut_rad-exposures_targeted

Participating particle accelerators:

CIMAP – Centre de Recherche sur les Ions, les Matériaux et la Photonique: http://cimap.ensicaen.fr/?lang=en

AGOR – Accélérateur Groningen-ORsay: http://www.rug.nl/kvi-cart/research/facilities/agor/

GANIL – Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds: http://www.ganil-spiral2.eu/?set_language=en

HIT – Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center: https://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/Welcome.113005.0.html?&L=1

PTC – Protonen Therapie Dresden: https://www.uniklinikum-dresden.de/de/das-klinikum/kliniken-polikliniken-institute/universitaets-protonen-therapie-dresden

TIFPA — Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics and Applications: http://www.tifpa.infn.it/

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/ATG medialab.

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Meteor Activity Outlook for 1-7 June 2019

This fireball was captured by Hermann K. from Austria on 10 May 2019, at 20:46 Universal Time © Hermann K.  Refer to IMO fireball event: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo_view/event/2019/2127

June is another slow month for meteor activity. There are no major showers active in June and only the Anthelion source can be counted on for continuous activity. Sporadic rates continue to remain slow as seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45 N) with only half the rates seen from the southern hemisphere. As seen from the southern tropics (25 S) sporadic rates continue to be strong this month with morning hourly rates exceeding 10.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Monday June 3rd. At this time the moon is located near the sun and is invisible at night. As the week progresses the moon will enter the evening sky but will not interfere with meteor observing, especially during the more active morning hours. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 for those viewing from the northern hemisphere and 4 for those located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 5 as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45N) and 10 as seen from tropical southern locations (25S). The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brightest meteors will be visible from such locations.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning June 1/2. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky. A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year. Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies at the edge and not the center. Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic. Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

Radiant Positions at 22:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 22:00 Local Summer Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 1:00 Local Summer Time

Radiant Positions at 04:00 LST

Radiant Positions at 4:00 Local Summer Time

These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week.

The tau Herculids (TAH) are an irregular shower not active every year. They are best known for being associated with comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 and the strong display seen in 1930. Due to recent activity from the comet, this shower could produce more activity in the upcoming decade. The Earth should pass closest to the particles from Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 around June 3rd. The current position of the radiant would be near 15:12 (228) +40. This area of the sky is located in northern Bootes, 2 degrees southwest of the 3rd magnitude star known as Nekkar (beta Bootis). This is not that close to the star tau Herculis, for which this shower is named. Apparently the discoverers of this display placed the radiant further east toward Corona Borealis and Hercules. It’s also possible that past displays had different radiant locations. This area of the sky is best placed near midnight Local Summer Time (LST), when it lies high overhead for observers located in mid-northern latitudes. With an entry velocity of 15 km/sec., the average tau Herculid meteor would be of very slow velocity.

The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 17:36 (264) -23. This position in extreme southeastern Ophiuchus, just 3 degrees southeast of the brilliant planet Jupiter. This position also lies 2 degrees northeast of the 3rd magnitude star known as theta Ophiuchi. Due to the large size of this radiant, anthelion activity may also appear from eastern Sagittarius, northwestern Scorpius, as well as southern Ophiuchus. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near 2 per hour as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45 N) and 3 per hour as seen from the southern tropics (S 25) . With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The first members of the Northern June Aquilids (NZC) may be seen this week from a radiant located at 18:36 (279) -14. This area of the sky is located in the dim constellation of Scutum. The exact position is 1 degree north of the dim star known as gamma Scuti. This radiant is best placed near 0200 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. With the night of maximum a month away, hourly rates at this time will be less than 1 no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 38 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of medium-slow velocity. An interesting fact about this source it that it may be related to the Northern delta Aquariids of August. Where and when this source ends coincides with the start and position of the Northern delta Aquariids.

The June mu Cassiopeiids (JMC) were discovered by Dr, Peter Brown and associates using data from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) installation. These meteors are active from May 18-June 15, with maximum activity occurring on June 8th. The radiant position currently lies at 00:36 (009) +51. This area of the sky lies in southern Cassiopeia, 6 degrees southwest of the 2nd magnitude star known as Shedar (alpha Cassiopeiae). These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour of the night when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. These meteors are better seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. Hourly rates are expected to be less than 1. With an entry velocity of 42 kilometers per second, a majority of these meteors will appear to move with medium velocities. Since these meteors were discovered by radar, they may be on the faint side and difficult to see unless one observes under optimal conditions.

The Daytime Arietids (ARI) are active from May 22-June 24 with maximum activity occurring on the June 8th. These meteors are difficult to catch as the radiant only lies 30 degrees west of the sun. Therefore the only time these meteors are visible is during the last dark hour before dawn. The radiant is currently located at at 02:36 (039) +23. This area of the sky is located in central Aries, 5 degrees east of the 2nd magnitude star known as Hamal (alpha Arietis). Current rates are expected to be less than 1 no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 41 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of medium velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 6 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 2 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 12 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 4 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

The list below offers the information from above in tabular form. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning except where noted in the shower descriptions.

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Summer Time North-South
tau Herculids (TAH) Jun 03 15:12 (228) +40 15 00:00 <1 – <1 III
Anthelion (ANT) 17:36 (264) -23 30 02:00 2 – 3 II
Northern June Aquilids (NZC) Jul 03 18:36 (279) -14 41 03:00 <1 – <1 IV
June mu Cassiopeiids (JMC) Jun 08 00:36 (009) +51 42 09:00 <1 – <1 IV
Daytime Arietids (ARI) Jun 08 02:36 (039) +23 41 11:00 <1 – <1 II

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2019 May 31 Lynds Dark Nebula 1251 Image Credit &…

2019 May 31

Lynds Dark Nebula 1251
Image Credit & Copyright: Francesco Sferlazza, Franco Sgueglia, Astro Brallo

Explanation: Stars are forming in Lynds Dark Nebula (LDN) 1251. About 1,000 light-years away and drifting above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the dusty molecular cloud is part of a complex of dark nebulae mapped toward the Cepheus flare region. Across the spectrum, astronomical explorations of the obscuring interstellar clouds reveal energetic shocks and outflows associated with newborn stars, including the telltale reddish glow from scattered Herbig-Haro objects seen in this sharp image. Distant background galaxies also lurk on the scene, visually buried behind the dusty expanse. The deep telescopic field of view imaged with broadband filters spans about two full moons on the sky, or 17 light-years at the estimated distance of LDN 1251.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190531.html

Three Ways to Travel at (Nearly) the Speed of Light


One hundred years ago, Einstein’s theory of general relativity was supported by the results of a solar eclipse experiment. Even before that, Einstein had developed the theory of special relativity — a way of understanding how light travels through space.

Particles of light — photons — travel through a vacuum at a constant pace of more than 670 million miles per hour.


All across space, from black holes to our near-Earth environment, particles are being accelerated to incredible speeds — some even reaching 99.9% the speed of light! By studying these super fast particles, we can learn more about our galactic neighborhood. 

Here are three ways particles can accelerate:

1) Electromagnetic Fields!

Electromagnetic fields are the same forces that keep magnets on your fridge! The two components — electric and magnetic fields — work together to whisk particles at super fast speeds throughout the universe. In the right conditions, electromagnetic fields can accelerate particles at near-light-speed.


We can harness electric fields to accelerate particles to similar speeds on Earth! Particle accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab, use pulsed electromagnetic fields to smash together particles and produce collisions with immense amounts of energy. These experiments help scientists understand the Big Bang and how it shaped the universe!

2) Magnetic Explosions!


Magnetic fields are everywhere in space, encircling Earth and spanning the solar system. When these magnetic fields run into each other, they can become tangled. When the tension between the crossed lines becomes too great, the lines explosively snap and realign in a process known as magnetic reconnection. Scientists suspect this is one way that particles — for example, the solar wind, which is the constant stream of charged particles from the Sun — are sped up to super fast speeds.


When magnetic reconnection occurs on the side of Earth facing away from the Sun, the particles can be hurled into Earth’s upper atmosphere where they spark the auroras.

3) Wave-Particle Interactions!


Particles can be accelerated by interactions with electromagnetic waves, called wave-particle interactions. When electromagnetic waves collide, their fields can become compressed. Charged particles bounce back and forth between the waves, like a ball bouncing between two merging walls. These types of interactions are constantly occurring in near-Earth space and are responsible for damaging electronics on spacecraft and satellites in space.


Wave-particle interactions might also be responsible for accelerating some cosmic rays from outside our solar system. After a supernova explosion, a hot, dense shell of compressed gas called a blast wave is ejected away from the stellar core. Wave-particle interactions in these bubbles can launch high-energy cosmic rays at 99.6% the speed of light.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com. 

Remnants from Bronze Age community found at Cornwall building site

Remnants from a Bronze Age society have been found at a building site in Cornwall. Two pits, thought to be graves, have been found in Crantock. They contained tree Beaker vessels dating between 2400 and 2000B.C.

Remnants from Bronze Age community found at Cornwall building site
Remnants from Bronze Age society found at Halwyn Meadows building site, in Crantock
[Credit: Cornwall Live]

One of the beakers is the most intact example of early Bronze Age pottery to be found in the county in decades. The dig was led by South West Archaeology at Halwyn Meadows, a building site developed by Legacy Properties.

It happened following a geophysical survey and archaeological evaluation, a requirement for planning, demonstrated the archaeological potential of the site. The excavation found both pits lined with slate and capped with quartz.

The first pit contained two Beaker vessels and the second contained an intact beaker, standing approximately 300mm high. They represent an era of migration and trading associated with Bell Beaker people.

From 2500B.C, an influx of migrants from Europe settled in Britain. They were called Bell Beaker Folk because of the shape of their pottery which is often to be found in their graves.

They are associated with the earliest metal working in Britain, working first with copper and gold and later in bronze, which may provide a clue as to why they appear to have settled in Cornwall, an area rich in metal minerals.

Remnants from Bronze Age community found at Cornwall building site
Two pits, thought to be graves, have been found
[Credit: Cornwall Live]

Dr Bryn Morris, director at South West Archaeology, said: “The village of Crantock is notable for its archaeological finds, particularly from medieval times when it was an important ecclesiastical centre, but this is a very rare find and provides further evidence of the cultural influence of the Bell Beaker Folk in Cornwall.”

Early Beaker settlers would have recovered metal ores from river gravels and stream beds, rather than mine mineral ores. The River Gannel and its various tributaries may well have provided the Beaker Folk with the metal ore from which they were able to work and trade.

The Beaker Folk were farmers and archers, wearing stone wrist guards to protect their arms from the sting of the bowstring. Flints were also found within some of the pits at Halwyn Meadows, indicating that whoever was buried there was buried with the items that distinguished them from other cultures in the UK.

Work on Halwyn Meadows continues, to provide a modern-day settlement of two, three, four and five bedroom contemporary homes and one of the roads will be named after the archaeological finds — Bell Gardens.

Nick Long, managing director at Legacy Properties said: “Excavating some rare finds on our site is exciting. Without the area being under development, this evidence of our history would have remained buried forever. We are delighted to be able to work with our archeological historians to uncover a historical story that would otherwise have gone untold.”

The beaker is currently being held by South West Archaeology, and it is hoped to be made available for public viewing at the Royal Cornwall Museum.

Author: Charlotte Becquart | Source: Cornwall Live [May 26, 2019]



The sun follows the rhythm of the planets

One of the big questions in solar physics is why the Sun’s activity follows a regular cycle of 11 years. Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), an independent German research institute, now present new findings, indicating that the tidal forces of Venus, Earth and Jupiter influence the solar magnetic field, thus governing the solar cycle. The team of researchers present their findings in the journal Solar Physics.

The sun follows the rhythm of the planets
A pair of active regions of the Sun, observed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory in a wavelength of extreme
 ultraviolet light. The arches above the regions consist of charged particles spinning along and revealing
the magnetic field lines [Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory]

In principle, it is not unusual for the magnetic activity of a star like the Sun to undergo cyclic oscillation. And yet past models have been unable to adequately explain the very regular cycle of the sun. The HZDR research team has now succeeded in demonstrating that the planetary tidal forces on the Sun act like an outer clock, and are the decisive factor behind its steady rhythm. To accomplish this result, the scientists systematically compared historical observations of solar activity from the last thousand years with planetary constellations, statistically proving that the two phenomena are linked. «There is an astonishingly high level of concordance: what we see is complete parallelism with the planets over the course of 90 cycles,» enthused Frank Stefani, lead author of the study. «Everything points to a clocked process.»
As with the gravitational pull of the Moon causing tides on Earth, planets are able to displace the hot plasma on the Sun’s surface. Tidal forces are strongest when there is maximum Venus-Earth-Jupiter alignment; a constellation that occurs every 11.07 years. But the effect is too weak to significantly perturb the flow in the solar interior, which is why the temporal coincidence was long neglected. However, the HZDR researchers then found evidence of a potential indirect mechanism that may be able to influence the solar magnetic field via tidal forces: oscillations in the Tayler instability, a physical effect that, from a certain current, can change the behavior of a conductive liquid or of a plasma. Building on this concept, the scientists developed their first model in 2016; they have since advanced this model in their new study to present a more realistic scenario.

Small trigger with a major impact: tides utilize instability

In the hot plasma of the Sun, the Tayler instability perturbs the flux and the magnetic field, itself reacting very sensitively to tiny forces. A small thrust of energy is enough for the perturbations to oscillate between right-handed and left-handed helicity (the projection of the spin onto the direction of momentum). The momentum required for this may be induced by planetary tidal forces every eleven years — ultimately also setting the rhythm at which the magnetic field reverses the polarity of the Sun.

«When I first read about ideas linking the solar dynamo to planets, I was very skeptical,» Stefani recalled. «But when we discovered the current-driven Tayler instability undergoing helicity oscillations in our computer simulations, I asked myself: What would happen if the plasma was impacted on by a small, tidal-like perturbation? The result was phenomenal. The oscillation was really excited and became synchronized with the timing of the external perturbation.»

Solar dynamo with an added touch

In the standard scenario of a dynamo, the rotation of the Sun and the complex motion of the solar plasma create a cyclically changing magnetic field. Two effects interact here: the plasma rotates more quickly at the Sun’s equator than at the poles. This leads to the omega effect: the magnetic field lines frozen in the plasma stretch around the Sun and convert the magnetic field into a field aligned almost parallel to the Sun’s equator. The alpha effect describes a mechanism that twists magnetic field lines, forcing the magnetic field back into a north-south direction.

What exactly causes the alpha effect, however, is a subject of dispute. Stefani’s model indicates that the Tayler instability is partly responsible for this. The researchers consider the most plausible scenario to be one in which a classic solar dynamo is combined with the modulations excited by the planets. «Then the Sun would be a completely ordinary, older star whose dynamo cycle, however, is synchronized by the tides,» summarized Stefani. «The great thing about our new model is that we are now easily able to explain effects that were previously difficult to model, such as ‘false’ helicities, as observed with sunspots, or the well-known double peak in the Sun’s activity curve.»

Besides influencing the 11-year cycle, planetary tidal forces may also have other effects on the Sun. For example, it is also conceivable that they change the stratification of the plasma in the transition region between the interior radiative zone and the outer convection zone of the Sun (the tachocline) in such a way that the magnetic flux can be conducted more easily. Under those conditions, the magnitude of activity cycles could also be changed, as was once the case with the Maunder Minimum, when there was a strong decline in solar activity for a longer phase.

In the long term, a more precise model of the solar dynamo would help scientists to quantify climate-relevant processes such as space weather more effectively, and perhaps even to improve climate predictions one day. The new model calculations also mean that, besides tidal forces, potentially other, hitherto neglected mechanisms would have to be integrated into the solar dynamo theory, mechanisms with weak forces that can nevertheless — as researchers now know — have a major impact. To be able to investigate this fundamental question in the laboratory, too, the researchers are currently setting up a new liquid metal experiment at HZDR.

Source: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf [May 27, 2019]



Exploring the origins of the apple

Recent archaeological finds of ancient preserved apple seeds across Europe and West Asia combined with historical, paleontological, and recently published genetic data are presenting a fascinating new narrative for one of our most familiar fruits. In this study, Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History traces the history of the apple from its wild origins, noting that it was originally spread by ancient megafauna and later as a process of trade along the Silk Road. These processes allowed for the development of the varieties that we know today.

Exploring the origins of the apple
The wild apples in the Tien Shan Mountains represent the main ancestral population for our modern apple.
These trees produce large fruits, which are often red when ripe and have a varying array of flavors. These
 were the ancestors of the trees that people first started to cultivate and spread along the Silk Road
[Credit: Martin R. Stuchtey]

The apple is, arguably, the most familiar fruit in the world. It is grown in temperate environments around the globe and its history is deeply intertwined with humanity. Depictions of large red fruits in Classical art demonstrate that domesticated apples were present in southern Europe over two millennia ago, and ancient seeds from archaeological sites attest to the fact that people have been collecting wild apples across Europe and West Asia for more than ten thousand years. While it is clear that people have closely maintained wild apple populations for millennia, the process of domestication, or evolutionary change under human cultivation, in these trees is not clear.

Several recent genetic studies have demonstrated that the modern apple is a hybrid of at least four wild apple populations, and researchers have hypothesized that the Silk Road trade routes were responsible for bringing these fruits together and causing their hybridization. Archaeological remains of apples in the form of preserved seeds have been recovered from sites across Eurasia, and these discoveries support the idea that fruit and nut trees were among the commodities that moved on these early trade routes.

Spengler recently summarized the archaeobotanical and historical evidence for cultivated crops on the Silk Road in a book titled Fruit from the Sands, published with the University of California Press. The apple holds a deep connection with the Silk Road — much of the genetic material for the modern apple originated at the heart of the ancient trade routes in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the process of exchange caused the hybridization events that gave rise to the large red sweet fruits in our produce markets.

Understanding how and when apple trees evolved to produce larger fruits is an important question for researchers, because fruit trees do not appear to have followed the same path towards domestication as other, better-understood crops, such as cereals or legumes. Many different wild and anthropogenic forces apply selective pressure on the crops in our fields, it is not always easy to reconstruct what pressures caused which evolutionary changes. Therefore, looking at evolutionary processing in modern and fossil plants can help scholars interpret the process of domestication. Fleshy sweet fruits evolve to attract animals to eat then and spread their seeds; large fruits specifically evolve to attract large animals to disperse them.

Large fruits evolved to attract ancient megafauna

While most scholars studying domestication focus on the period when humans first start cultivating a plant, in this study Spengler explores the processes in the wild that set the stage for domestication. Spengler suggests that understanding the process of evolution of large fruits in the wild will help us understand the process of their domestication. «Seeing that fruits are evolutionary adaptations for seed dispersal, the key to understanding fruit evolution rests in understanding what animals were eating the fruits in the past,» he explains.

Exploring the origins of the apple
Horses eating wild apples in the Tien Shan Mountains. These domesticated horses demonstrate the process
of seed dispersal that wild apple trees evolved to support millions of years ago, when large monogastric
mammals such as these were prominent across Eurasia [Credit: Artur Stroscherer]

Many fruiting plants in the apple family (Rosaceae) have small fruits, such as cherries, raspberries, and roses. These small fruits are easily swallowed by birds, which then disperse their seeds. However, certain trees in the family, such as apples, pears, quince, and peaches, evolved in the wild to be too large for a bird to disperse their seeds. Fossil and genetic evidence demonstrate that these large fruits evolved several million years before humans started cultivating them. So who did these large fruits evolve to attract?
The evidence suggests that large fruits are an evolutionary adaptation to attract large animals that can eat the fruits and spread the seeds. Certain large mammals, such as bears and domesticated horses, eat apples and spread the seeds today. However, prior to the end of the last Ice Age, there were many more large mammals on the European landscape, such as wild horses and large deer. Evidence suggests that seed dispersal in the large-fruiting wild relatives of the apple has been weak during the past ten thousand years, since many of these animals went extinct. The fact that wild apple populations appear to map over glacial refugial zones of the Ice Age further suggests that these plants have not been moving over long distances or colonizing new areas in the absence of their original seed-spreaders.

Trade along the Silk Road likely enabled the development of the apple we know today

Wild apple tree populations were isolated after the end of the last Ice Age, until humans started moving the fruits across Eurasia, in particular along the Silk Road. Once humans brought these tree lineages back into contact with each other again, bees and other pollinators did the rest of the work. The resulting hybrid offspring had larger fruits, a common result of hybridization.

Exploring the origins of the apple
Venders in every Central Asian bazaar sell a diverse array of apples. This women in the Bukhara bazaar is selling
a variety of small sweet yellow apples, which she locally cultivated in Uzbekistan. Some of the fruits sold
in these markets today travel great distances, similar to how they would have during
the peak of the Silk Road [Credit: Robert Spengler]

Humans noticed the larger fruiting trees and fixed this trait in place through grafting and by planting cuttings of the most favored trees. Thus, the apples we know today were primarily not developed through a long process of the selection and propagation of seeds from the most favored trees, but rather through hybridization and grafting. This process may have been relatively rapid and parts of it were likely unintentional. The fact that apple trees are hybrids and not «properly» domesticated is why we often end up with a crabapple tree when we plant an apple seed.
This study challenges the definition of «domestication»‘ and demonstrates that there is no one-shoe-fits-all model to explain plant evolution under human cultivation. For some plants, domestication took millennia of cultivation and human-induced selective pressure — for other plants, hybridization caused rapid morphological change.

«The domestication process is not the same for all plants, and we still do not know much about the process in long-generation trees,» notes Spengler. «It is important that we look past annual grasses, such as wheat and rice, when we study plant domestication. There are hundreds of other domesticated plants on the planet, many of which took different pathways toward domestication.» Ultimately, the apple in your kitchen appears to owe its existence to extinct megafaunal browsers and Silk Road merchants.

The findings have been published in Frontiers in Plant Science.

Source: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History [May 27, 2019]



Scientists uncover a trove of genes that could hold key to how humans evolved

Researchers at the Donnelly Centre in Toronto have found that dozens of genes, previously thought to have similar roles across different organisms, are in fact unique to humans and could help explain how our species came to exist.

Scientists uncover a trove of genes that could hold key to how humans evolved
Image depicts motif divergence between human transcription factors and their counterparts in other
species. The blue section in the pie charts represents a proportion of transcription factors,
across different classes, which are dissimilar in human [Credit: Sam Lambert]

These genes code for a class of proteins known as transcription factors, or TFs, which control gene activity. TFs recognize specific snippets of the DNA code called motifs, and use them as landing sites to bind the DNA and turn genes on or off.

Previous research had suggested that TFs which look similar across different organisms also bind similar motifs, even in species as diverse as fruit flies and humans. But a new study from Professor Timothy Hughes’ lab, at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, shows that this is not always the case.

Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers describe a new computational method which allowed them to more accurately predict motif sequences each TF binds in many different species. The findings reveal that some sub-classes of TFs are much more functionally diverse than previously thought.

«Even between closely related species there’s a non-negligible portion of TFs that are likely to bind new sequences,» says Sam Lambert, former graduate student in Hughes’ lab who did most of the work on the paper and has since moved to the University of Cambridge for a postdoctoral stint.

«This means they are likely to have novel functions by regulating different genes, which may be important for species differences,» he says.

Even between chimps and humans, whose genomes are 99 per cent identical, there are dozens of TFs which recognize diverse motifs between the two species in a way that would affect expression of hundreds of different genes.

«We think these molecular differences could be driving some of the differences between chimps and humans,» says Lambert, who won the Jennifer Dorrington Graduate Research Award for outstanding doctoral research at U of T’s Faculty of Medicine.

To reanalyze motif sequences, Lambert developed new software which looks for structural similarities between the TFs’ DNA binding regions that relate to their ability to bind the same or different DNA motifs. If two TFs, from different species, have a similar composition of amino-acids, building blocks of proteins, they probably bind similar motifs. But unlike older methods, which compare these regions as a whole, Lambert’s automatically assigns greater value to those amino-acids— a fraction of the entire region— which directly contact the DNA. In this case, two TFs may look similar overall, but if they differ in the position of these key amino-acids, they are more likely to bind different motifs. When Lambert compared all TFs across different species and matched to all available motif sequence data, he found that many human TFs recognize different sequences—and therefore regulate different genes— than versions of the same proteins in other animals.

The finding contradicts earlier research, which stated that almost all of human and fruit fly TFs bind the same motif sequences, and is a call for caution to scientists hoping to draw insights about human TFs by only studying their counterparts in simpler organisms.

«There is this idea that has persevered, which is that the TFs bind almost identical motifs between humans and fruit flies,» says Hughes, who is also a professor in U of T’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. «And while there are many examples where these proteins are functionally conserved, this is by no means to the extent that has been accepted.»

As for TFs that have unique human roles, these belong to the rapidly evolving class of so-called C2H2 zinc finger TFs, named for zinc ion-containing finger-like protrusions, with which they bind the DNA.

Their role remains an open question but it is known that organisms with more diverse TFs also have more cell types, which can come together in novel ways to build more complicated bodies.

Hughes is excited about a tantalizing possibility that some of these zinc finger TFs could be responsible for the unique features of human physiology and anatomy—our immune system and the brain, which are the most complex among animals. Another concerns sexual dimorphism: countless visible, and often less obvious, differences between sexes that guide mate selection—decisions that have an immediate impact on reproductive success, and can also have profound impact on physiology in the long term. The peacock’s tail or facial hair in men are classic examples of such features.

«Almost nobody in human genetics studies the molecular basis of sexual dimorphism, yet these are features that all human beings see in each other and that we are all fascinated with,» says Hughes. «I’m tempted to spend the last half of my career working on this, if I can figure out how to do it!»

Source: University of Toronto [May 27, 2019]



How language developed: Comprehension learning precedes vocal production

Human language and communication skills are unique in the animal kingdom. How they developed in the course of evolution is being researched, among other things, using the alarm call system of vervet monkeys. East African vervet monkeys warn their conspecifics against predators with special alarm calls that mean «leopard», «eagle» or «snake». In a recently published study, scientists from the German Primate Center (DPZ) — Leibniz Institute for Primate Research have investigated how the closely related West African green monkeys react to unknown sounds.

How language developed: Comprehension learning precedes vocal production
West African green monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) in Senegal
[Credit: Julia Fischer]

To do this, they flew a drone over a group of West African green monkeys and later played them a sound recording of the drone noise. From the reactions of the animals, the researchers were able to conclude that the animals learn very quickly what the drone noise means. However, the monkeys did not create a new alarm call, but used a call that the East African vervet monkey uses to warn against aerial predators like eagles. This suggests that the call structure is conserved and was determined long ago in the course of evolution.
There are three main predators that pose a threat to East African vervet monkeys: leopards, eagles and snakes. For each of these predators, the monkeys have developed special alarm calls to which the animals respond with appropriate strategies: When the call for «leopard» is uttered, they climb a tree, when they hear the call for «eagle», they search the sky and hide and when the call for «snake» is uttered, they stand on two legs and remain motionless.

The closely related West African green monkeys also emit alarm calls for leopards and snakes, however none for aerial predators. With these animals, the team around behavioral scientist Julia Fischer from the German Primate Center has now carried out a playback experiment in order to investigate the evolution of the alarm call system and ultimately to draw conclusions about the development of language.

The drone experiment

West African green monkeys occur near the DPZ research station Simenti in Senegal. Julia Fischer and her team have confronted these animals with a new potential threat from the air: a drone, which they flew over the animals at a height of 60 meters. The sounds of the drone were recorded and later played to the animals.

The researchers wanted to find out how quickly the animals learned the meaning of the sounds. In the playback experiment, the animals reacted to the drone sound with alarm calls, some searched the sky and hid. These alarm calls were very different from the sounds the animals made in the presence of snakes and leopards. However, the calls resembled the alarm calls that East African vervet monkeys utter when an eagle approaches from the air.

Fast auditory learning

«The animals quickly learned what the previously unknown sounds mean and remembered this information,» says Julia Fischer, head of the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory at the German Primate Center and lead author of the study. «This shows their ability for auditory learning.»

Vocal production conserved during evolution

The West African green monkeys have warned their conspecifics of the new threat from the air with a call that sounds very similar to the calls that the closely related East African vervet monkeys utter when threatened by an eagle. «The structure of the alarm calls seems to be deeply rooted in the evolution of vervet monkeys,» Julia Fischer adds.

The study is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Source: Deutsches Primatenzentrum (DPZ)/German Primate Center [May 27, 2019]



Proton-M launches Yamal-601 on the way to GEO


May 30, 2019

Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage launches the Yamal 601

A Proton-M launch vehicle, with a Briz-M upper stage, launched Yamal-601, a geostationary communications satellite, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on 30 May 2019, at 17:42 UTC (23:42 local time).

Proton-M launches Yamal-601

A Russian government Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage launches the Yamal 601 communications satellite for Gazprom Space Systems. Built by ISS Reshetnev with a communications payload from Thales Alenia Space, Yamal 601 will provide video, data and broadband services across Russia, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Artistic rendition of the Yamal-601 satellite

Yamal 601 is Russia’s most powerful telecommunications satellite. It will be operated by Gazprom Space Systems, a subsidiary of the Russian oil and gas conglomerate as part of its fleet of Yamal satellites. These spacecraft are used in part to support Gazprom’s own operations; however they are also heavily used for broadcasting. The Yamal 601 satellite falls under the Department of Television and Radio Broadcasting’s Federal Target Program.

ROSCOSMOS: https://www.roscosmos.ru/

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ROSCOSMOS/SciNews/Günter Space Page/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Light Science Duties as Crew Sleeps in After Spacewalk

ISS — Expedition 59 Mission patch.

May 30, 2019

The six-member Expedition 59 crew had a chance to sleep in the day after wrapping up a successful spacewalk on the Russian side of the International Space Station. The cosmonauts are cleaning up this afternoon from yesterday’s excursion while the rest of the orbiting crew focuses on exercise research and other light science duties.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch woke up after lunch today and strapped themselves into an exercise bike inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The duo took turns working out on the specialized bicycle attached to sensors for the experiment measuring oxygen uptake and aerobic capacity.

Image above: Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin (foreground) and Oleg Kononenko work on a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits inside the Pirs docking compartment’s airlock. Image Credit: NASA.

Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques checked on a couple of life science experiments during their relaxed afternoon. McClain updated software for the Photobioreactor study exploring how microalgae can create a hybrid life support system for astronauts and Earthlings. Saint-Jacques turned off and stowed the Canadian Bio-Monitor device that can quickly analyze human biological samples in space.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are reconfiguring the Pirs airlock, cleaning spacesuits and stowing tools following Wednesday’s six hour and one minute spacewalk. The cosmonauts also debriefed spacewalk experts on the ground discussing their hardware removal and experiment jettisoning tasks.

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

Exercise bike: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=821

U.S. Destiny laboratory module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/us-destiny-laboratory

Oxygen uptake and aerobic capacity: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=644

Photobioreactor: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7426

Bio-Monitor: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7392

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

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.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project

The Ministry of Culture and Sports has presented a comprehensive plan for the protection and enhancement of the archaeological site of Delos that is being applied on multiple levels simultaneously.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Survey with georadar as part of the study for the conservation of mosaics
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site, has been continuously excavated since the 19th century. The archaeological site which is spread out and surrounded by the untouched Cycladic landscape, faces long term problems that are related to the extreme weather conditions the monuments are subjected to and primarily the difficulties encountered during operations on a remote uninhabited island such as this.
During the last three years, The Ministry of Culture and Sports through the Cyclades Ephorate of Antiquities has devised and is realizing a comprehensive plan for the protection and enhancement of the archaeological site that is being applied on multiple levels simultaneously.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
In situ conservation of frescoes and wall coatings
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

The Ephorate planned the Overall Framework of Principles and Guidelines as well as studies for the conservation and restoration of key monuments of Delos (Temple of Apollo, House of Dionysus, architectural application study of the Philippos Stoa), studies for the mosaics, wall coatings and masonry which include: a) archival research of all 19th century operations, b) mapping of the preservation status of mosaics and wall coatings, c) physicochemical analyses and d) a geophysical survey of the mosaics.

The announcement mentioned that a proposal was submitted to the ‟Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” Operational Programme for the funding of the ‟Delos-Open Museum” project, with a €4.520.000 budget to be activated during the summer.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Conservation of frescoes in 2018: before the works
[Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

At the same time, long-term works have been designed to turn Delos into an exemplary open museum, where the monuments will stand restored in a landscape that has remained unspoiled since antiquity. The programme includes extensive restoration works.
The restoration of the Philippos Stoa is under way, and that of the Menodoros Monument was successfully completed. In the coming months, construction sites are being set up for the rebuilding of the emblematic temple of Apollo of the Delians and the impressive Granites Palaestra.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Conservation of frescoes in 2018: after the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Restoration works are scheduled for 2020 to begin on the House of Dionysus, the richest private house of Delos, and also on the ancient theatre. Some of the restored spaces will act as museum spots, abolishing the separation between the museum and its natural surroundings so the two can form a single open museum.

The Ministry of Culture is proceeding with the restoring and stabilizing of monuments by implementing a programme for their permanent conservation, in which dilapidated buildings and walls will be preserved and stabilized on an annual basis. Over the last three years rescue and stabilizing operations have been conducted on hundreds of cubic meters of masonry.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Stabilization of walls: view before the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Rescue operations were also carried out on frescoes and wall coatings (House E, House of Hermes, House of Limni, the NE of the XIIb islet, House B in the North Quarter) and on a great number of mosaic floors (Delians’ Agora, Italians’ Agora, Formion, Dolphins, Tritonis, near the Isis Temple and the Theatre, the house of Limni etc.)
At the same time, aiming to upgrade the cultural product offered to visitors, the closed wing of the museum has opened with the archaeological exhibition “Cycladic snapshots of the monuments and their people: Delos,” while the SIGHT installation by internationally acclaimed sculptor Anthony Gormley is being exhibited in the same space. High quality cultural events are also taking place there which include themes focusing on the refugees.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Stabilization of walls: view before the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

The announcement points out that to realize a project on isolated Delos, a necessary prerequisite is to ensure humane working conditions and incentives for the employees. In this context, a special Delos bonus of €300 has been passed through legislation, as an addition to the frontier allowance, so as to motivate the staff accepting to live in an uninhabited place without public social structures and having difficult access to the closest urban center of Mykonos due to extreme weather phenomena, while ensuring the regular communication of staff with the outside world by chartering special itineraries.

Aiming to maximize the time spent  by the scientific and technical staff on conserving the site, the Ministry of Culture increased the days from 60 applying to the mainland to 100 when spent on island Greece away from base.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Stabilization of walls: view before the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

To realize a project on isolated Delos, a necessary condition was improving the infrastructure. In particular, more modern security systems (CCTV) have been installed and maintenance work is being done on the museum and visitor reception buildings.
At the same time, new underground water and sewerage networks have been constructed, two desalination units and a new water reservoir rebuilt, a biological waste treatment plant  constructed, new electrical installations set up and public lavatories operated in the port for the first time.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Stabilization of walls: view before the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Maintenance work has been done on the guest houses and their equipment, while a low-cost telecommunications station with free broadband services was installed. At the same time, the fleet of construction site vehicles was modernized and an emergency vessel was purchased for transport to and from Mykonos.

Finally, in order to increase the preservation and restoration work conducted on the monuments, new, temporary construction site infrastructure is being installed that includes bridge cranes, warehouses, work platforms, the doubling of dormitories for the workers  etc.

Delos Open Museum Restoration Project
Stabilization of walls: view after the works [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports]

Numbers of visitors have steadily increased in recent years despite the cost of both tickets and boat fares having gone up. As part of the upgrading of services provided to the visitors, the dilapidated canteen was sealed and will be replaced by a new one, while the shop of the Archaeological Resources Fund acquired a wider range of merchandise.

The announcement concludes as follows: In Delos, complex and multilevel synergies are being developed for the first time in all fields: research, conservation and funding with the French Archaeological School, the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, the Municipality of Mykonos, the P.&A Kanellopoulos Foundation, the NEON Organization , COSMOTE, the “Demokritos” National Centre for Scientific Research, the Institute for Technology and Research of the Institute of Mediterranean Studies  and the Department of Conservation of Antiquities of the University of West Attica.

Source: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports via Archaeology & Arts [May 27, 2019]