воскресенье, 9 июня 2019 г.

Throwback Thursday: Frequently Asked Questions about Apollo


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, we’ll be sharing answers to some frequently asked questions about the first time humans voyaged to the Moon. Answers have been compiled from archivists in the NASA History Office.

How many people worked on the Apollo program?


At the height of Apollo in 1965, about 409,900 people worked on some aspect of the program, but that number doesn’t capture it all.

It doesn’t represent the people who worked on mission concepts or spacecraft design, such as the engineers who did the wind tunnel testing of the Apollo Command Module and then moved on to other projects. The number also doesn’t represent the NASA astronauts, mission controllers, remote communications personnel, etc. who would have transferred to the Apollo program only after the end of Gemini program (1966-1967). There were still others who worked on the program only part-time or served on temporary committees. In the image above are three technicians studying an Apollo 14 Moon rock in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. From left to right, they are Linda Tyler, Nancy Trent and Sandra Richards.

How many people have walked on the Moon so far?


This artwork portrait done by spaceflight historian Ed Hengeveld depicts the 12 people who have walked on the Moon so far. In all, 24 people have flown to the Moon and three of them, John Young, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, have made the journey twice.  

But these numbers will increase.

Are the U.S. flags that were planted on the Moon still standing?


Every successful Apollo lunar landing mission left a flag on the Moon but we don’t know yet whether all are

still standing. Some flags were set up very close to the Lunar Module and were

in the blast radius of its ascent engine, so it’s possible that some of them could have been knocked down. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin both reported that the flag had been knocked down following their ascent. 


Our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took photographs of all the Apollo lunar landing sites. In the case of the Apollo 17 site, you can see the shadow of the upright flag.

But why does it look like it’s waving?

The flags appear to “wave” or “flap” but actually they’re swinging. Swinging motions on Earth are dampened due to gravity and air resistance, but on the Moon any swinging motion can continue for much longer. Once the flags settled (and were clear of the ascent stage exhaust), they remained still. 

And how is the flag hanging? Before launching, workers on the ground had attached a horizontal rod to the top of each flag for support, allowing it to be visible in pictures and television broadcasts to the American public. Armstrong and Aldrin did not fully extend the rod once they were on the Moon, giving the flag a ripple effect. The other astronauts liked the ripple effect so much that they also did not completely extend the rod. 

Why don’t we see stars in any of the pictures?


Have you ever taken a photo of the night sky with your phone or camera? You likely won’t see any stars because chances are your camera’s settings are set to short exposure time only lets it quickly take in the light off the bright objects closest to you. It’s the same reason you generally don’t see stars in spacewalk pictures from the International Space Station. There’s no use for longer exposure times to get an image like this one of Bruce McCandless in 1984 as seen Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-41B).

The Hasselblad cameras that Apollo astronauts flew with were almost always set to short exposure times. And why didn’t the astronauts photograph the stars? Well, they were busy exploring the Moon!

When are we going back to the Moon?


The first giant leap was only the beginning. Work is under way to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon in five years. As we prepare to launch the next era of exploration, the new Artemis program is the first step in humanity’s presence on the the Moon and beyond.

Keep checking back for more answers to Apollo FAQs.

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

Push Factors Putting it mildly, a woman in labour has a lot on…

Push Factors

Putting it mildly, a woman in labour has a lot on her mind. So spare a thought for several women who had MRI scans just before childbirth, to see the effects on baby’s brain. It’s well known that foetal skull bones reshape in the last stages of delivery – a temporary rearrangement to help baby navigate mum’s cervix and avoid obstruction or labour dystocia. Yet in these computer models, generated from MRI scans of babies before labour (top row) and just before pushing (bottom row), their brains have changed shape too, moulding to the skull changes as mother and baby get ready. All these children were born healthy, yet haemorrhages occur in up to 43% of vaginal deliveries. Scientists are wondering if MRI could be a useful tool to help parents and medical staff decide upon alternatives, like caesarean section, based on changes to the brain during these crucial moments.

Written by John Ankers

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link

Genetic continuity across the millennia in central Poland

Apparently, ancient DNA and anthropological research on the populations of what is now central Poland suggests strong genetic continuity in the region since the Neolithic or even Mesolithic. Science in Poland has a news feature about the soon to be published study (see here). Below are a few quotes from the article. Emphasis is mine:

How were the people in Poland changing over the centuries, from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century? Did the Slavs migrate to our territories, or are they indigenous? The 3D scanning project and digital access to skulls, skeletons and DNA from human remains from central Poland is expected to help answer these questions.

Research shows that the shape of the cerebral part of the skull has changed over the centuries — people in the early Middle Ages had more elongated heads. This interesting phenomenon has not been fully explained yet. «There are many theories on this subject, but it is not known whether this was a microevolutionary genetic change, or perhaps an environmentally conditioned one, associated with a reconstruction of the skull as a consequence of the chewing apparatus being relieved» — he adds.
Researchers are also trying to assess the level of diversity of the population living in the territory of present-day Poland during that period and whether migrants from other areas of Europe, for example from Scandinavia, appeared here. «There is the topic of participation of Scandinavian groups in the creation of the Polish State. Such groups indeed penetrated Poland, they could be hired warriors. But I think that, for example, we can probably put aside the hypothesis that Mieszko I was Scandinavian» — the researcher says.
The features, the variability of which anthropologists study, include the height of the body. We already know that, for example, people in the early Middle Ages in Poland were relatively tall, similar to Poles in the 1960s. Later there was a clear decline in body height, lasting until the 19th century.

There are already first conclusions from the research of the team from the Biobank Laboratory and the Department of Anthropology. The researchers believe that in the case of the population living in Kujawy there was a surprisingly strong genetic continuity, dating back to the time of the first farmers, 7.5 thousand years ago.
«It seems that we are dealing with an interesting genetic continuation in the population living in Kujawy from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century. The roots of these populations probably reach the Neolithic, perhaps even the Mesolithic» — the scientist suggests.

Source: 3D scans of skulls and a collection of ancient DNA will be available on the information platform e-Czlowiek.pl
See also…
They came, they saw, and they mixed


Study reveals vegetation changes since Last Glacial Maximum in southern China

Earth climate has gradually warmed up since the last glacial maximum some 20,000 years ago. With appropriate climate conditions, production mode and lifestyle of ancient people gradually changed from the early collecting, fishing and hunting to the later settled production with farming agriculture.

Study reveals vegetation changes since Last Glacial Maximum in southern China
Hindcasted past distribution of natural vegetation during (A) the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and (B) the Mid-Holocene
 (MH) and (C) the proportion (%) of each vegetation type (LGM: dark blue line; MH: orange line; modelled: dark gray
line). In (C), the proportion (%) of a vegetation type was calculated as the ratio of its distribution range
 relative to the terrestrial area of China [Credit: Wang et al. 2017]

This change in production and lifestyle was closely related to the environment variations at that time, and had a great impact on the development of human civilization.

In order to better understand the variations of vegetation with climate fluctuation since the last glacial maximum in Southern China, as well as the impact of human activities on vegetation, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) carried out a pollen study for 20 drilling cores in some of the less researched areas. They selected pollen data from 14 sites for the restoration of vegetation over the past 20,000 years.

The research team gave for the first time the vegetation zoning maps around 18 ka BP, 9 ka BP and 6 ka BP, respectively, and the distribution characteristics of plants in each zone/subzone were described.

They found that the variation of vegetation in Southern China since about 20,000 years generally coincided with the changing process of global climate after the last glacial maximum. Temperate vegetation around 18 ka BP could extend southward to the present south subtropical subzone, reflecting that the nature of vegetation still retained some climatic characteristics of the previous glacial period, although the climate had begun to warm up at that time.

«During the Holocene megathermal, the characteristics of vegetation in the study area are rather distinct, which indicates similar features around both 9 ka BP and 6 ka BP. This reflects the general trend of global warming at that time on the one hand, and the overall control of southeast monsoon and southwest monsoon in Southern China on the other hand,» said Prof. WANG Weiming from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS). It was speculated that the long-term strong monsoon climate since 9 ka might be the main reason for the dominant vegetation distribution at that time as well as its gradual convergence with the present.

High-resolution palynological study showed that although some climatic events since the last glacial maximum had been documented in some stratigraphic profiles, they had limited impact on the overall nature of local vegetation. In addition to the global climate change, the vegetation in the study area was also affected by the evolution and development of monsoon climate, said Dr. CHEN Wei from NIGPAS.

«Human activities are not clearly reflected in 9 ka BP and 6 ka BP vegetation maps, which indicates that early farming activities have little influence on the original vegetation. The impact of human activities on vegetation is generally earlier in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River than in the other areas of Southern China, and the impact is more distinct,» said LI Chunhai from the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology of CAS.

According to Dr. SHU Junwu from NIGPAS, the rise of sea level during the Holocene megathermal might also affect the distribution of vegetation at that time. Large-scale transgressions were recorded in Lake Dongqian, Lake Baima and Lake Xianghu in the early Holocene.

The study, published in Science China: Earth Sciences, was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences [June 04, 2019]



Building blocks of the Earth

Chemical analyses of meteorites allow for a better estimation of the chemical composition of the Earth and its potential building blocks. That is the result of a study conducted by a research team from the Institutes of Geology and Mineralogy at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn. The results have appeared in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

Building blocks of the Earth
Credit: Shutterstock

The study focuses on the distribution and origin of so-called volatile elements such as zinc, lead and sulphur, which have low boiling temperatures in space. The newly determined distribution of these volatile elements in the Earth shows that some of these building blocks have a chemical composition similar to carbonaceous chondrites, an aqueous group of primitive meteorites.

These meteorites come closest to the composition of the original solar nebula from which our solar system formed. Thus, the study also indirectly provides another valuable indication of the source of vital components such as water, carbon and nitrogen on Earth.

The chemical composition of the Earth is not easy to determine. Geological processes such as the formation of the metallic core and the outer crust led to a redistribution of the elements composing our planet. For example, elements attracted to iron have migrated into the Earth’s core, while elements attracted to silicate compose the rocks of the Earth’s mantle and crust.

‘Today, we only have access to samples from the silicate part of the Earth, which is why we can only estimate the chemical composition of the entire Earth through the additional analysis of primitive meteorites — the potential building blocks of the Earth,’ said Professor Carsten Münker from the University of Cologne. The recent publication makes an important contribution to understanding the chemical composition of the deeper layers of the Earth.

The research team focused on the distribution of volatile trace elements such as the rare metals indium, cadmium and tellurium. This is a particular challenge since a proportion of these metals was lost already at the beginning of the solar system due to their volatility.

Today, they are extremely rare both in meteorites and in the Earth — less than one gram per ton of rock. ‘So far, we have always assumed that the distribution of these elements decreases linearly the more volatile they are,’ said the geochemist Dr Frank Wombacher, one of the initiators of the study.

By using high-precision methods, however, the scientists arrived at a surprising result. ‘While the frequencies initially decrease linearly, contrary to expectations the most volatile elements are all equally depleted,’ explains Ninja Braukmüller, a doctoral researcher who carried out the study in Cologne. Indium and zinc, the volatile elements attracted to silicate in the Earth’s mantle, also show this pattern.

‘This seems to be unique among the potential building blocks of the Earth,’ says Dr Claudia Funk, a co-author of the study. The results allow the scientists to conclude that the building blocks that have brought volatile elements to Earth are similar in their chemical composition to that of primitive carbonaceous chondrites.

Source: University of Cologne [June 04, 2019]



World’s protected areas safeguard only a fraction of wildlife

A new analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment shows that the world’s protected areas (PAs) are experiencing major shortfalls in staffing and resources and are therefore failing on a massive scale to safeguard wildlife.

World's protected areas safeguard only a fraction of wildlife
A new analysis shows that the world’s protected areas are experiencing major shortfalls in staffing
and resources and are therefore failing on a massive scale to safeguard wildlife
[Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS]

The analysis looked at more than 2,100 protected areas around the world and found that less than a quarter report having adequate resources in terms of staffing and budget. The authors then looked at nearly 12,000 species of terrestrial amphibians, birds, and mammals whose ranges include protected areas and found only 4-9 percent are represented within the borders of the adequately resourced PAs.

«This analysis shows that most protected areas are poorly funded and therefore failing to protect wildlife on a scale sufficient to stave off the global decline in biodiversity,» said Dr. James Watson of WCS and the University of Queensland, and one of the study’s co-authors. «Nations need to do much more to ensure that protected areas fulfill their role as a major tool to mitigate the growing biodiversity crisis.»

The authors acknowledge that countries are on target to fulfill a global commitment of setting aside 17 percent of terrestrial areas and 10 percent of the marine realm as PAs by 2020 (known as Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity). However, the findings show that protected areas are grossly under-funded, and that simply measuring the amount of area protected is insufficient in conserving biodiversity.

The authors recommend the use of a restricted set of simple, robust indicators that capture the essence of effective PA resourcing and management. These indicators should be used for reporting toward international targets, prioritizing conservation actions, and achieving new PA standards, such as the IUCN’s Green List.

Said Watson: «While continued expansion of the world’s protected areas is necessary, a shift in emphasis from quality over quantity is critical to effectively respond to the current biodiversity crisis. If metrics of management effectiveness are not included in measurements of progress toward target 11 before 2020, we risk mistakenly reporting success in achieving Target 11, and sending a false message that sufficient resources are being committed to biodiversity protection.»

Protected areas provide the core of the last remaining strongholds for nature on planet Earth. If our efforts to hold on to these last intact natural areas remains inadequate, life as we know it will be threatened. Emphasis needs to be placed on building capacity, increasing and sustaining financial resources, scaling up conservation interventions, and improving overall effectiveness.

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society [June 05, 2019]



Chimpanzees in the wild reduced to ‘forest ghettos’

Urban expansion and hunting have pushed chimpanzees, humanity’s closest relative in the animal kingdom, into shrinking islets of wildness, top experts said Tuesday after a three-day meeting in Germany.

Chimpanzees in the wild reduced to 'forest ghettos'
All four sub-species of the African chimpanzee are threatened with extinction, with at least one — the western
chimpanzee — declining in number by more than 80 percent over three generations
[Credit: Rob Elliott/AFP]

All four sub-species of the African primate are threatened with extinction, with at least one — the western chimpanzee — declining in number by more than 80 percent over three generations.

Forty chimp experts from around the world — with a combined 300 years of field experience — issued a collective appeal to save the only animal whose DNA overlaps with humans by 98 percent.

«Over the decades that we have been working with wild chimpanzee communities, we have all seen our study groups become isolated,» they said in a statement. «Chimpanzees are being reduced into living in forest ghettos.»

The main threat to chimps and other large mammals is habitat loss. Africa still has large tracts of undisturbed savannah and forest, but these areas are shrinking rapidly due growing cities, mining, deforestation, and industrial agriculture.

Chimpanzees in the wild reduced to 'forest ghettos'
All four sub-species of the African primate are threatened with extinction, with at least one — the western
chimpanzee — declining in number by more than 80 percent over the last three generations
[Credit: STR/AFP]

The continent’s human population of more than 1.2 billion is expected to double by mid-century, and could top four billion by the end of the century.

Chimps number in the thousands for three of the sub-species, and about 250,000 for the eastern chimpanzee, found mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Western chimpanzees have already been wiped out in Burkina Faso, Benin, Gambia, and possibly Togo.

«Forty years ago, we drove 100 kilometres (60 miles) on a mud road to reach the park boundaries while encountering chimpanzees and elephants,» said Christopher Boesch, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, referring to the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. «Nowadays, you have to reach the park boundaries to see the first patch of forest.»

Last common ancestor

Human encroachment and the hunting of chimpanzees for «bush meat» has also altered the social life and behaviour of the animals, said Crickette Sanz, an associate professor at Washington University in Missouri who has worked for decades in the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle.

Chimpanzees in the wild reduced to 'forest ghettos'
The last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived about seven million years ago
[Credit: Guillaume Souvant/AFP]

«When we first arrived in the Ndoki forest, the chimpanzees would often approach us with curiosity,» she recalled.

Now they hide.

«It is wise that they have changed their behaviour — their survival depends on it,» Sanz added.

Compared to chimpanzees in pristine forests, those in areas disrupted by humans also showed a decrease in the diversity of learned behaviour, according to a recent study.

Scientists studying nearly 150 chimpanzee communities across 17 countries identified 31 actions — including cracking nuts, extracting termites or ants with tools, collected honey, throwing stones as a form of communication — that were done differently from one group to the next.

The more humans had carved up the environment — building roads, clear-cutting trees, setting up palm oil plantation — the more uniform these actions became.

Chimpanzees in the wild reduced to 'forest ghettos'
«We did not evolve from bonobos or chimpanzees but we share with them a common ancestry,» said Martin Surbeck,
a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, also in Leipzig
[Credit: STR/AFP]

The last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived about seven million years ago.

«We did not evolve from bonobos or chimpanzees but we share with them a common ancestry,» said Martin Surbeck, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, also in Leipzig.

The famed anthropologist Irven DeVore once marvelled at humanity’s indifference to our closest primate cousins.

«If we, in our travels in space, should encounter a creature that shared 98 percent of our genetic makeup, think of the money we would spend to study this species,» he said.

«Such creatures exist on Earth and we are allowing them to become extinct.»

Author: Marlowe Hood | Source: AFP [June 05, 2019]



Kelp DNA records destructive power of ancient earthquake

One of the most memorable and astonishing aspects of the recent Kaikoura earthquake was the sudden uplift of the sea floor, which left populations of coastal species like kelp and shellfish literally high and dry.

Kelp DNA records destructive power of ancient earthquake
Otago biologists (Professor Jon Waters and PhD student Elahe Parvizi) sampling kelp on the southern New Zealand
coast that was uplifted by the Akatore earthquake around 1000 years ago. The uplifted rocky bench visible
 in the background represents the old shore [Credit: Dave Craw]

That quake of November 2016 provided proof of the destructive power of sudden geological uplift. While such events are clearly devastating for coastal populations—at least in the short term—their potential longer-term implications are not so clear.

In a new Marsden-funded study, Otago University researchers have revealed an ancient genetic «footprint» of a similarly large earthquake that hit southern New Zealand some 1000 years ago, before humans had even reached the South Pacific nation.

This prehistoric rupture of the Akatore Fault—just south of Dunedin—uplifted a large-stretch of New Zealand’s southeastern coast by 2–3 meters, and was likely a high magnitude event. The Akatore Fault remains a bigger threat to Dunedin than the Alpine Fault which runs through the length of the South Island’s alpine zone.

The research team, led by geologist Professor Dave Craw, and biologist Professor Jon Waters, combined geological and genetic data to assess the impacts of the ancient quake.

«The old Akatore earthquake would have been similar in magnitude to the 2016 Kaikoura quake, with tens of kilometers of rocky coast affected, and the old shore lifted out of the water, well beyond the reach of the waves,» says Professor Craw.

Zoology Ph.D. student, Miss Elahe Parvizi, used DNA evidence to compare modern samples of kelp along the uplifted Akatore coast, against populations from either side of the raised region.

«We were astonished to find a modern DNA footprint of the ancient quake—with a clear genetic difference between kelp in the uplifted zone, versus stable populations outside the uplift zone,» Miss Parvizi says.

Similar to the recent Kaikoura earthquake, the ancient Akatore uplift was big enough to eliminate entire populations of intertidal species—which were subsequently replaced by genetically distinct lineages from outside the uplift zone. This DNA anomaly is still detectable today, and represents a modern trace of the ancient Akatore quake.

«These findings show that a major disturbance event—even an ancient one like the Akatore quake—can leave a lasting DNA signature. In the same way, major events happening now will leave a lasting legacy for the future,» says Professor Waters.

The team now plans to use genetic approaches to shed new light on ancient earthquake disruption events elsewhere in NZ and overseas.

The findings are published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Source: University of Otago [June 05, 2019]



Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere

One of the world’s most important plant families has a history extending much farther south than any live or fossil specimen previously recorded, as shown by chinquapin fruit and leaf fossils unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina, according to researchers.

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere
Discovery photo of the mature Castanopsis fruiting spike fossil with four nuts enclosed in scaly cupules,
showing the part and counterpart on the split surface at Laguna del Hunco
[Credit: Peter Wilf, Penn State University]

«The oak and beech family is recognized everywhere as one of the most important plant groups and has always been considered northern,» said Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences and associate in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Penn State. «We’re adding a huge spatial dimension to the history of the Fagaceae family, and that’s exciting.» The plant family also includes chestnuts and the closely related chinquapins.
Common in the Northern Hemisphere and Asian tropics, Fagaceae cross the equator only in Southeast Asia, and even there just barely. The latest study, published in Science, extends the family’s biogeographical history and suggests a Gondwanan supercontinent legacy in Asian rainforests larger than previously thought.

The researchers first found fossils resembling some oak leaves, with straight secondary veins and one tooth per secondary vein, at Laguna del Hunco, Chubut province. The leaves comprise about 10 percent of the thousands of 52-million-year-old leaf fossils, representing almost 200 species, found at the site over two decades in a long-term project between Penn State, Cornell University and Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF), Trelew, Argentina.

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere
Detail of the mature Castanopsis fruiting spike fossil with four nuts, dark and turned
to coal, enclosed in scaly cupules. Cupule at top is splitting open
[Credit: Peter Wilf, Penn State University]

For years the researchers hesitated to classify the leaves, because paleobotanist Edward Berry had assigned similar fossils to another family, and any claim of Fagaceae at so remote a location would require much more supporting evidence.
Later, the team unearthed rare fruit fossils — two fruit clusters, one with more than 110 immature fruits — at the site and compared them to living relatives. They found that these were fossils of ancient Castanopsis, an Asian chinquapin that today dominates the biodiverse, lower elevation mountain rainforests of Southeast Asia.

«One of the first clues was a little lip where the fruit is splitting open,» Wilf said. «I recognized this lip as being similar to the fruit of the Japanese chinquapin. Then I realized there’s a nut inside.»

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere
Detail of a single immature fruit of living Castanopsis acuminatissima, New Guinea, showing
scaly surface and preservation of three slender styles (pollen-receiving organs) at top
[Credit: Peter Wilf, Penn State University]

The nuts are fully encased in a scaly outer covering, or cupule, that splits open when the fruits mature. The cupules are arranged on a spike-like fruiting axis, and the young nuts retain delicate parts from their flowering stage. Their features are just like the living Castanopsis, Wilf said, and the fruits confirm that the leaves are Fagaceae.
«This is the first confirmed evidence that Fagaceae, considered restricted to the Northern Hemisphere, was in the Southern Hemisphere,» said Maria Gandolfo, associate professor, Cornell University. «This is remarkable and allows us to rethink the origins of the fossil flora.»

The fossils date to the early Eocene 52.2 million years ago. They are the only fossilized or living Fagaceae ever found south of the Malay Archipelago, the island chain just north of Australia.

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere
Large fossil Fagaceae leaf from Laguna del Hunco with well-preserved details
[Credit: Peter Wilf, Penn State University]

During the globally warm early Eocene there was no polar ice, and South America, Antarctica and Australia had not completely separated, comprising the final stage of the Gondwanan supercontinent. The researchers think animals had helped disperse the chinquapin’s ancestors from North to South America at an earlier time. The plants thrived in the wet Patagonian rainforest, whose closest modern analog is the mountain rainforests of New Guinea.
«Before the current semi-desert conditions, trees covered Patagonia,» said Rubén Cúneo, director of MEF. «Changes in climatic conditions turned it into a shrubland, and the trees were displaced.»

The chinquapins may have also ranged into then-adjacent Antarctica and on to Australia, said Wilf. Castanopsis may have survived in Australia until the continent collided with Southeast Asia, where today chinquapins are keystone species, providing forest structure and food and habitat for birds, insects and mammals.

Argentine fossils take oak and beech family history far into Southern Hemisphere
The Laguna del Hunco fossil site in Chubut, Patagonian Argentina. Paleontologists at centre
of frame are collecting diverse plant fossils, including abundant leaves of Fagaceae
[Credit: Peter Wilf, Penn State University]

«We’re finding, in the same rocks as Castanopsis, fossils of many other plants that live with it today in New Guinea and elsewhere, including ferns, conifers and flowering plants,» said Wilf. «You can trace some of the associations with Castanopsis seen in Eocene Argentina to southern China and beyond.»
Today, Castanopsis plays an important role in intercepting year-round mountain precipitation that delivers clean water for drinking, fishing and agriculture to more than half a billion people and sustains diverse freshwater and coastal ecosystems. However, humans are clearing these rainforests for timber, development and crop cultivation, and modern climate change is increasing droughts and fire frequency.

«These plants are adaptable if given time and space,» Wilf said, adding Castanopsis’ trek from Patagonia to Southeast Asia occurred over millions of years and thousands of miles. «But the pace of change today is hundreds of times faster than in geologic time. The animals that depend on these plants are adaptable only to the extent that the plants are, and we are one of the animals that depend on this system. If we lose mountain rainforests, really fast we lose reliable water flows for agriculture, clean coral reefs offshore, biodiversity and much more.»

Chinquapin fossils found in Patagonia, Argentina are 52.2 million years old and represent 

the earliest fruit of this family of trees and were found south of the tropics 

[Credit: Strategic Communications, Penn State University]

This study has implications for extinction in the face of climate change, according to Kevin Nixon, professor and L.H. Bailey Hortorium curator, Cornell University. He said Castanopsis went extinct in Patagonia due to a major extinction caused by the slow cooling and drying of the climate that occurred with the glaciation of Antarctica and the rise of the Andes.

«Those kinds of climate changes can have massive effects on biodiversity,» Nixon said. «The relevance of understanding this is we can start to look at extinction processes. The better we can understand what causes extinction, the better we can deal with it.»

Author: Francisco Tutella | Source: Pennsylvania State University [June 06, 2019]



2019 June 9 A Triangular Shadow of a Large Volcano Image Credit…

2019 June 9

A Triangular Shadow of a Large Volcano
Image Credit & Copyright: Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado (TWAN)

Explanation: Why does the shadow of this volcano look like a triangle? The Mount Teide volcano itself does not have the strictly pyramidal shape that its geometric shadow might suggest. The triangle shadow phenomena is not unique to the Mt. Teide, though, and is commonly seen from the tops of other large mountains and volcanoes. A key reason for the strange dark shape is that the observer is looking down the long corridor of a sunset (or sunrise) shadow that extends to the horizon. Even if the huge volcano were a perfect cube and the resulting shadow were a long rectangular box, that box would appear to taper off at its top as its shadow extended far into the distance, just as parallel train tracks do. The featured spectacular image shows Pico Viejo crater in the foreground, located on Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. The nearly full moon is seen nearby shortly after its total lunar eclipse.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190609.html

Roman Corbridge Fort and Town, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 31.5.19.

Roman Corbridge Fort and Town, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 31.5.19.

Source link

Roman Statue Fragment, Vindolanda Roman Fort and Vicus, Hadrian’s Wall,...

Roman Statue Fragment, Vindolanda Roman Fort and Vicus, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 31.5.19.

Source link

Corbridge Lanx 4th century CE Silver Tray (Replica), Corbridge Roman Fort and Town,...

Corbridge Lanx 4th century CE Silver Tray (Replica), Corbridge Roman Fort and Town, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, 31.5.19.

Source link

KLM wants to make its passengers travel in the wings

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines logo.

June 8, 2019

Flying V-900

A student imagined the plane of the future. The concept is developed by Dutch researchers with the support of the KLM company. It would notably save 20% of kerosene.

«Economic and environmentally friendly» aircraft are at the heart of the development of the aviation industry, which is under enormous cost pressure and is regularly criticized for its environmental impact. A student from the Technical University of Berlin has thus devised a new concept of futuristic aircraft. His craft, developed by Dutch researchers with the support of the airline KLM, was named «Flying V-900», in honor of the famous Gibson guitar of the same name.

Flying V-900

If the characteristics of this aircraft are close to an Airbus 350-900, its fuel consumption would be 20% lower than the most economical airliners currently in service. A good point in an international context in search of a cleaner and less polluting tourism. The device takes the triangular shape of a guitar, which gives it a much better penetration in the air (+ 15%) compared to conventional aircrafts, notes a site specializing in aeronautics. The weight of the aircraft, much lighter than current aircraft of equivalent size, also plays a big role.

New options for passengers

«The new shape of the aircraft offers us interesting opportunities to design the interior, making the flight more comfortable for passengers,» explains the general manager of KLM. For example, as part of the Flying-V search, we are exploring new options for resting or dining on the plane. Offering buffet food is one of the options. » The future aircraft is a «V» shaped flying wing that will integrate the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings. It will accommodate more than 300 passengers.

Flying V-900

A flying model and a full-size part of the interior of the Flying-V will be officially presented next October, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of KLM. The project will not be realized before 2040, because many tests are still necessary.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KLM

Images, Video, Text, Credits: KLM/CGA/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link

Earth’s Ocean and Beyond


Image Credit: NOAA

Earth’s ocean has been the backdrop for ancient epics, tales of fictional fish and numerous scientific discoveries. It was, and will always be, a significant piece of the Earth’s story. Most of the ocean is unexplored– about 95% of this underwater realm is unseen by human eyes (NOAA). There is only one global Ocean. In fact, the ocean represents over 70% of the Earth’s surface and contains 96.5% of the Earth’s water.

We and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research work together alongside organizations like the Schmidt Ocean Institute and Ocean Exploration Trust to better understand our oceans and its processes. While space may be the final frontier, understanding our own planet helps scientists as they explore space and study how our universe came to be.

On #WorldOceansDay let’s explore how Earth’s ocean informs our research throughout the solar system.

Earth and Exoplanets


“In interpreting what we see elsewhere in the solar system and universe, we always compare with phenomena that we already know of on Earth…We work from the familiar toward the unknown.” — Norman Kuring, NASA Goddard

We know of only one living planet: our own. As we move to the next stage in the search for alien life, the effort will require the expertise of scientists of all disciplines. However, the knowledge and tools NASA has developed to study life on Earth will also be one of the greatest assets to the quest.

The photo above shows what Earth would look like at a resolution of 3 pixels, the same that exoplanet-discovering missions would see. What should we look for, in the search of other planets like our own? What are the unmistakable signs of life, even if it comes in a form we don’t fully understand? Liquid water; every cell we know of – even bacteria around deep-sea vents that exist without sunlight – requires water.

Phytoplankton (Algae) Bloom vs. Atmosphere of Jupiter


Jupiter’s storms are mesmerizing in their beauty, captured in many gorgeous photos throughout the decades from missions like Voyager 1 and Juno. The ethereal swirls of Jupiter are the result of fluids in motion on a rotating body, which might come as a surprise, since its atmosphere is made of gas!

The eddies in Jupiter’s clouds appear very similar to those found in Earth’s ocean, like in the phytoplankton (or algae) bloom in the Baltic Sea, pictured above. The bloom was swept up in a vortex, just a part of how the ocean moves heat, carbon, and nutrients around the planet. Blooms like this, however, are not all beauty — they create “dead zones” in the areas where they grow, blooming and decaying at such a high rate that they consume all the oxygen in the water around them.

Arctic Sea Ice and Europa Ice Crust


While the Arctic (North Pole) and the Antarctic (South Pole) are “polar opposites,” there is one huge difference between the North and South Poles– land mass. The Arctic is ocean surrounded by land, while the Antarctic is land surrounded by ocean. The North Pole  is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amid waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice.

By studying this sea ice, scientists can research its impact on Earth system and even formation processes on other bodies like Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. For example, it is possible that the reddish surface features on Europa’s ice may have communicated with a global subsurface ocean layer during or after their formation. 

Aquanauts and Astronauts


As new missions are being developed, scientists are using Earth as a testbed. Just as prototypes for our Mars rovers made their trial runs on Earth’s deserts, researchers are testing both hypotheses and technology on our oceans and extreme environments.

NEEMO, our Extreme Environment Mission Operations project, is an analog mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station located off the Florida Keys, 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface. Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members, known as aquanauts, experience some of the same challenges there that they would on a distant asteroid, planet or moon.

Deep-sea Robotic Exploration and Space Robotic Exploration

Video credit: Deep Sea Robotics/Schmidt Ocean Institute and Mars Curiosity rover/NASA

From mapping the seafloor through bathymetry to collecting samples on the surface of Mars, researchers are utilizing new technologies more than ever to explore. Satellite and robotic technology allow us to explore where humans may not be able to– yet. They teach us valuable lessons about the extreme and changing environments, science, as well as provide a platform to test new technologies.

Jezero Crater and Dvina River Delta, Arkhangelsk, Russia/Mars Delta


River deltas, the point where a river meets the ocean, are sites of rich sediment and incredible biodiversity. The nutrients that rivers carry to the coastlines make a fertile place for fish and shellfish to lay their eggs.

The Jezero crater on Mars (pictured in false-color on the right) has been selected as the Mars2020 landing site, and has a structure that looks much like a river delta here on Earth! Pictures from our Mars Global Surveyor orbiter show eroded ancient deposits of transported sediment long since hardened into interweaving, curved ridges of layered rock. This is one of many hints that Mars was once covered in an ancient ocean that had more water than the Arctic Ocean. Studying these deltas on Earth helps us spot them on other planets, and learning about the ocean that was once on Mars informs how our own formed.

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


https://t.co/hvL60wwELQ — XissUFOtoday Space (@xufospace) August 3, 2021 Жаждущий ежик наслаждается пресной водой после нескольких дней в о...