среда, 31 июля 2019 г.

Trembling Legs Brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and…

Trembling Legs

Brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and spinocerebellar ataxia affect people’s movements, causing problems with walking and creating characteristic trembling shaking known as tremors. In order to understand more about what’s going on as these diseases develop and how best to treat them, researchers have turned to tiny genetically-modified fruit flies, which recreate the underlying biological problems that cause these diseases. And it turns out that these insects also have the same movement problems seen in patients. Using clever image analysis software, researchers can now automatically track and compare leg movements in flies that mimic different brain disorders. They’ve found that flies simulating Parkinson’s disease (right) and spinocerebellar ataxia (middle) have distinctive but different movements patterns compared with normal insects (left), providing a useful tool for studying these diseases in greater depth to understand what’s gone wrong, and providing a new way of testing the effects of novel therapies.

Written by Kat Arney

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A satellite to measure light pollution

NOAA & NASA — Suomi NPP Mission patch.

July 31, 2019

An ETH Zurich researcher came up with the idea of ​​analyzing data from an American satellite to determine nocturnal light pollution in Switzerland.

Suomi NPP satellite. Image Credits: NOAA / NASA

Analyzing the data of an American satellite to determine nocturnal light pollution in Switzerland: this is the idea of ​​a Swiss researcher. The result is a map that compares with previous years.

Every morning early, the Suomi NPP (Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership) dedicated to environmental monitoring measures light sources around the world. This US satellite meticulously carries out its tasks day after day since April 2012. NOAA, the US ocean and atmospheric observation agency, collects this data «to monitor and understand the dynamics of our planet,» according to its website.

Member of Dark-Sky Switzerland

A biochemist who graduated from the ETH Zurich and is a member of the organization Dark-Sky Switzerland, which campaigns against nocturnal light pollution, Lukas Schuler came up with the idea of ​​creating a map based on these surveys.

Light pollution in Switzerland last year. (Photo: Darksky.ch)

His work, published in the journal Environmental Science & Policy, allows to visualize the night light load in all Switzerland, according to a scale of colors. Comparisons with previous years are possible, as well as trend analysis, according to a statement from Dark-Sky Switzerland published Wednesday.

Shipyards and tourism

Significant increases in luminous intensity are therefore attributable in most cases to large construction sites and new infrastructure, as well as to winter tourism. The decreases are due to the switch to LEDs with anti-scattering protection and better lighting strategies.

This progress is important in light of the growing light pollution and its impact on the fauna and flora. In particular, it is suspected of contributing to the disappearance of pollinating nocturnal insects, without forgetting its disturbing potential for humans.

The authors have examined various aspects of this problem, for example possible links between a decrease in light intensity and criminal acts or road accidents. They found no correlation.

They also analyzed the habitats of crayfish populations in the canton of Zurich. Result: these crustaceans clearly prefer dark areas, corresponding to a maximum brightness of 4.5 full moons, according to a measurement unit developed by the researchers.

Related links:

Dark-Sky Switzerland: https://www.darksky.ch/dss/fr/

Article Dark-Sky Switzerland: https://www.darksky.ch/dss/fr/2019/07/la-suisse-est-anormalement-lumineuse-la-nuit/

EPFZ (ETH Zürich): https://ethz.ch/en.html

NOAA & NASA Suomi NPP: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/main/index.html
and  https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/tags/suomi-npp

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: ATS/NOAA/NASA/Orbiter.ch Aerospace/Roland Berga.

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‘17 Degrees South’ by Linda Watson, Grizedale Forest, Lake District, 31.7.19.

‘17 Degrees South’ by Linda Watson, Grizedale Forest, Lake District, 31.7.19.

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2019 July 31 IC 1795: The Fishhead Nebula Image Credit &…

2019 July 31

IC 1795: The Fishhead Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Alan Pham

Explanation: To some, this nebula looks like the head of a fish. However, this colorful cosmic portrait really features glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds in IC 1795, a star forming region in the northern constellation Cassiopeia. The nebula’s colors were created by adopting the Hubble color palette for mapping narrow emission from oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur atoms to blue, green and red colors, and further blending the data with images of the region recorded through broadband filters. Not far on the sky from the famous Double Star Cluster in Perseus, IC 1795 is itself located next to IC 1805, the Heart Nebula, as part of a complex of star forming regions that lie at the edge of a large molecular cloud. Located just over 6,000 light-years away, the larger star forming complex sprawls along the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. At that distance, this picture would span about 70 light-years across IC 1795.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap190731.html

‘The Hunted’ Sculpture and Mixed Media Exhibition by Sally Matthews at...

‘The Hunted’ Sculpture and Mixed Media Exhibition by Sally Matthews at Grizedale Forest, Lake District, 31.7.19.

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From Earth to the Moon: How Are We Getting There?


More than 45 years since humans last set foot on the lunar surface, we’re going back to the Moon and getting ready for Mars. The Artemis program will send the first woman and next man to walk on the surface of the Moon by 2024, establish sustainable lunar exploration and pave the way for future missions deeper into the solar system.

Getting There


Our powerful new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft a quarter million miles from Earth to lunar orbit. The spacecraft is designed to support astronauts traveling hundreds of thousands of miles from home, where getting back to Earth takes days rather hours.

Lunar Outpost


Astronauts will dock Orion at our new lunar outpost that will orbit the Moon called the Gateway. This small spaceship will serve as a temporary home and office for astronauts in orbit between missions to the surface of the Moon. It will provide us and our partners access to the entire surface of the Moon, including places we’ve never been before like the lunar South Pole. Even before our first trip to Mars, astronauts will use the Gateway to train for life far away from Earth, and we will use it to practice moving a spaceship in different orbits in deep space.

Expeditions to the Moon


The crew will board a human landing system docked to the Gateway to take expeditions down to the surface of the Moon. We have proposed using a three-stage landing system, with a transfer vehicle to take crew to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to land safely on the surface, and an ascent element to take them back to the Gateway. 

Return to Earth


Astronauts will ultimately return to Earth aboard the Orion spacecraft. Orion will enter the Earth’s atmosphere traveling at 25,000 miles per hour, will slow to 300 mph, then parachutes will deploy to slow the spacecraft to approximately 20 mph before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Red Planet 


We will establish sustainable lunar exploration within the next decade, and from there, we will prepare for our next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars!

Discover more about our plans to go to the Moon and on to Mars:

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

NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

NASA logo.

July 30, 2019

NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.

Image above: Commercial landers will carry NASA-provided science and technology payloads to the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024. Image Credit: NASA.

The newest announcement calls for companies to push the boundaries of current technology to support the next generation of lunar landers that can land heavier payloads on the surface of the Moon, including the South Pole, as part of the agency’s Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, setting the stage for future human exploration of Mars.

NASA anticipates the need for both small and mid-size lunar landers to enable a variety of science investigations and larger technology demonstration payloads that will meet science objectives and human exploration goals. Future payloads could include rovers, power sources, science experiments, and technology to be infused into the Artemis program.

“Our commercial partners are helping us to advance lunar science in an unprecedented way,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. “As we enable broader opportunities for commercial providers through CLPS, we’re enlarging our capabilities to do novel measurements and technology development scientists have long wanted to do at the Moon.”

Any companies newly selected under this call will join the nine CLPS providers already contracted to provide services to the lunar surface to support NASA exploration priorities and use the Moon as a proving ground for systems and technologies that will enable humans to explore Mars. The CLPS project focuses on a speedy return to the Moon and advances scientific and technical goals on many fronts, with selected companies able to compete for delivery task orders.

“The Artemis program integrates our science and human exploration goals, and we are using our commercial partners to help meet those goals with an innovative and cost-effective approach,” said Steven Clarke, NASA deputy associate administrator for exploration in science. “The capability to land heavier payloads on the lunar surface is a service that NASA has a keen interest in. We’re looking forward to innovative proposals and possibly more partners to advance what we’ve already started with CLPS.”

The CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion with performance through 2028.

Related article:

NASA Selects 12 New Lunar Science, Technology Investigations

Related links:

Artemis: https://www.nasa.gov/artemis

Commercial Space: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/index.html

Moon to Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/

For more information about Commercial Lunar Payload Services, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/clps and https://procurement.jsc.nasa.gov/clps

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Sean Potter/Grey Hautaluoma/JSC/Jenny Knotts​.

Greetings, Orbiter.chArchive link

They mixed up Huns with Tocharians (updated)

I don’t yet have the genomes from the recent Ning et al. paper on the Iron Age nomads from the Shirenzigou site in the eastern Tian Shan. But I do have most of the previously published data featured in the paper, including the Damgaard et al. 2018 Hun and Saka samples from the western Tian Shan.
After reading the Ning et al. paper between the lines and running a few analyses of my own, it’s clear to me that most of the supposedly Tocharian-related Shirenzigou individuals actually share a very close relationship with the Tian Shan Huns, and indeed may have been their ancestors.
For instance, Ning et al. found that a large part of the ancestry of the Shirenzigou ancients could be modeled with the Tian Shan Huns, which was an anachronistic approach because the former are older than the latter. They also found that Ulchi-related ancestry was a key part of the genetic structure of eight out of the ten Shirenzigou individuals, and this likewise appears to be an important part of the genetic structure of the Tian Shan Huns.
Note the strong statistical fits in the Global25/nMonte and qpAdm mixture models below, respectively, which characterize these Huns as a two-way mixture between the Ulchi and the earlier Tian Shan Saka. And keep in mind that the Saka also harbor significant Ulchi-related ancestry.


Saka_Tian_Shan 0.928±0.009
Ulchi 0.072±0.009

chisq 4.409
tail prob 0.992464
Full output

Moreover, the Shirenzigou males belong to Y-haplogroups Q1a and R1b (two instances of each), and they share the latter with one of the Tian Shan Huns. Judging by the data from the relevant BAM files, it’s also possible that the Shirenzigou males share a very rare subclade of R1b with the Hun, defined by the PH155 mutation (see here). The Y-haplogroup assignments for the other Tian Shan Huns end at R and R1, but that’s almost certainly due to missing data.
On the other hand, two Tian Shan Sakas belong to Y-haplogroup R1a but none to R1b, which fits with the pattern from currently available ancient DNA that R1a was more common than R1b in Saka-related groups, such as the Scythians and Sarmatians (see here).
This is all very interesting, because the Huns replaced the Saka in the western Tian Shan, and, considering their R1b and excess Ulchi-related ancestry, very likely moved into the region from the direction of Shirenzigou. Indeed, in my opinion a strong argument can now be made that the Iron Age population from the Shirenzigou region took part in the formation of the Hunnic confederacy.
So where does that leave the theory presented by Ning et al. that the Shirenzigou ancients may have been closely related, and perhaps even ancestral, to the Tocharians, simply because they packed a lot of Yamnaya-related and possibly proto-Tocharian Afanasievo ancestry, and were living close to the Tarim Basin, where Tocharian languages were subsequently first attested?
I’m not sure, but I now find it difficult to reconcile this theory with the fact that they were closely related, and probably ancestral, to the Tian Shan Huns. As far as I’m aware, Huns cannot be linked to Tocharians in any meaningful way.
Of course it’s possible that different Afanasievo-derived groups were living in the Tarim Basin and surrounds, and, as some merged with new populations pushing into the region from the east and adopted non-Indo-European languages, others retained their Tocharian speech and eventually split into communities speaking Tocharian A, B and apparently also C (see here).
But this has to be demonstrated directly with ancient DNA from archeological sites where Tocharian languages were attested. Till then, I’ll keep thinking that Ning et al. wrote a paper about Tocharians that really should’ve been a paper about Huns.
Here’s a famous wall painting of Tocharian princes from the cave of the sixteen sword-bearers in the Tarim Basin, dated to 432–538 AD. They don’t look like guys with a lot of Ulchi-related admixture to me, but I might be wrong. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Update 31/07/2091: I still don’t have the Shirenzigou genomes. So I had a closer look at the ancestry of the Tian Shan Huns, because in a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) in Ning et al. the most western of the Shirenzigou individuals basically clustered with these Huns.

RUS_Lokomotiv_N 0.312±0.011
TJK_Sarazm_En 0.165±0.021
UZB_Kashkarchi_BA 0.523±0.019

chisq 10.007
tail prob 0.615365
Full output
RUS_Afanasievo 0.091±0.079
RUS_Lokomotiv_N 0.308±0.011
TJK_Sarazm_En 0.149±0.023
UZB_Kashkarchi_BA 0.452±0.065

chisq 9.490
tail prob 0.576744
Full output

My aim was to test with qpAdm whether this was a population with significant Afanasievo-derived ancestry, and, as far as I can tell, it’s not. It appears to be mostly a mixture of local Andronovo culture groups, recent migrants from Siberia and East Asia, as well as early Central Asian farmers, proxied in my models by Kashkarchi_BA, Lokomotiv_N and Sarazm_En, respectively.
In fact, based on these results it’s likely that the Tian Shan Huns didn’t harbor any Afanasievo ancestry whatsoever, which, for now, suggests to me that neither did the Shirenzigou nomads.
See also…
Almost everything you ever wanted to know about the Xiaohe-Gumugou cemeteries
The mystery of the Sintashta people
Late PIE ground zero now obvious; location of PIE homeland still uncertain, but…


Strange bacteria hint at ancient origin of photosynthesis

Structures inside rare bacteria are similar to those that power photosynthesis in plants today, suggesting the process is older than assumed. The finding could mean the evolution of photosynthesis needs a rethink, turning traditional ideas on their head.

Strange bacteria hint at ancient origin of photosynthesis
Credit: mehdimido/Shutterstock

Photosynthesis is the ability to use the Sun’s energy to produce sugars via chemical reactions. Plants, algae, and some bacteria today perform ‘oxygenic’ photosynthesis, which splits water into oxygen and hydrogen to power the process, releasing oxygen as a waste product.

Some bacteria instead perform ‘anoxygenic’ photosynthesis, a version that uses molecules other than water to power the process and does not release oxygen.

Scientists have always assumed that anoxygenic photosynthesis is more ‘primitive’, and that oxygenic photosynthesis evolved from it. Under this view, anoxygenic photosynthesis emerged about 3.5 billion years ago and oxygenic photosynthesis evolved a billion years later.

However, by analysing structures inside an ancient type of bacteria, Imperial College London researchers have suggested that a key step in oxygenic photosynthesis may have already been possible a billion years before commonly thought. The new research is published in the journal Trends in Plant Science.

Lead author of the study, Dr Tanai Cardona from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: «We’re beginning to see that much of the established story about the evolution of photosynthesis is not supported by the real data we obtain about the structure and functioning of early bacterial photosynthesis systems.»

The bacteria they studied, Heliobacterium modesticaldum, is found around hot springs, soils and waterlogged fields, where it performs anoxygenic photosynthesis. It is very distantly related to cyanobacteria, the main bacteria that performs oxygenic photosynthesis today.

It is so distantly related that it last had a ‘common ancestor’ with cyanobacteria billions of years ago. This means that any traits the two bacteria share are likely to also have been present in the ancient bacteria that gave rise to them both.

By analysing the structures that both H. modesticaldum and modern cyanobacteria use to perform their different types of photosynthesis, Dr Cardona found striking similarities.

Both structures contain a site that cyanobacteria and plants exclusively use to split water — the first crucial step in oxygenic photosynthesis.

The evolution of cyanobacteria is usually assumed to also be the first appearance of oxygenic photosynthesis, but the fact that H. modesticaldum contains a similar site means that the building blocks for oxygenic photosynthesis are likely much more ancient than thought, as old as photosynthesis itself, and therefore could have arisen much earlier in Earth’s history.

Dr Cardona also suggests that this might mean oxygenic photosynthesis was not the product of a billion years of evolution from anoxygenic photosynthesis, but could have been a trait that evolved much sooner, if not first.

Dr Cardona said: «This result helps explain in fantastic detail why the systems responsible for photosynthesis and oxygen production are the way they are today- but for it to make sense it requires a change of perspective in the way we view the evolution of photosynthesis.

«Under the traditional view — that anoxygenic photosynthesis evolved first and was the only type for about a billion years or more before oxygenic photosynthesis evolved — these structures should not exist at all in this type of bacteria.»

Author: Hayley Dunning | Source: Imperial College London [July 25, 2019]



Menhirs and dolmens point to major prehistoric necropolis in Kerala

The sighting of new menhirs, perhaps the largest-ever recorded in Kerala, on the Pothamala hills in Udumbanchola taluk on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, has thrown light on the possible existence of a major prehistoric necropolis there.

Menhirs and dolmens point to major prehistoric necropolis in Kerala
Credit: Times of India

The menhirs were identified by a team of historians led by Rajeev Puliyoor, assistant professor at the Government Teachers’ Training College, Elanthoor, near here, during a visit to Shanthanpara village on Tuesday.
Mr. Puliyoor told The Hindu that the Pothamala hills housed hundreds of cobbled stone structures, pointing to the existence of a structured graveyard of a prehistoric civilisation. He added that the largest menhir found was 20 ft tall and 6 ft wide with a thickness of 5 ft.

Harikrishnan M., Jomon Jose and M.S. Jayan, assistant professors at the Nedumkandam B.Ed College, were the other team members.

Menhirs and dolmens point to major prehistoric necropolis in Kerala
Credit: The Hindu

The menhirs were planted in a specific geometrical pattern on a cluster of hills, Mr Puliyoor said. He said the exquisite natural settings of the hills and dales at Pothamala made the yet-to-be explored megalithic site different from similar sites spotted in other parts of the State. Most of these structures were oriented in the east-west direction.
The megalithic stone sentinels at Pothamala might hold the key to hitherto unexplored facets of a civilisation that dated back around 3,000 years, said Mr. Puliyoor. He urged the Archaeological Survey of India and the Archaeology Department to conduct a full-scale excavation and detailed study of this megalithic site without delay.

Seventy megalithic sites have already been identified in different parts of Idukki by researchers and historians, including 40 megalithic sites in Udumbanchola taluk itself. But no serious attempts have been made to understand their distribution pattern.

Author: Radhakrishnan Kuttoor | Source: The Hindu [July 25, 2019]



New Space Research Kicks Off Ahead of Wednesday Cargo Launch

ISS — Expedition 60 Mission patch.

July 30, 2019

Microgravity research is ramping up aboard the International Space Station with brand new science payloads and an expanded Expedition 60 crew. July will see one more mission going up to the orbiting lab as a Russian cargo craft counts down to a Wednesday launch and docking.

The Cell Science-02 experiment is underway on the station to explore bone-healing therapies. Astronauts Nick Hague and Luca Parmitano activated the Life Sciences Glovebox this morning to conduct the new bone research. Hague then retrieved bone cell samples to observe healing and tissue regeneration properties to promote human health on Earth and in space.

Image above: NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured working inside the Unity module which connects the International Space Station’s U.S. segment with the Russian segment. Image Credit: NASA.

Parmitano then photographed samples inside the Kubik incubator for the new Biorock space-mining study. Harnessing the power of microbes could help future astronauts extract precious minerals from the surface of the Moon and Mars.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan completed setting up habitats housing mice shipped aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. Scientists are comparing the space rodents to a sample of mice back on Earth to understand biological changes caused by microgravity.

International Space Station (ISS). Image Credit: NASA

Russia’s Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft is standing at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a liftoff Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. EDT. It will take a three-and-a-half-hour trip to the station’s Pirs Docking Compartment carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew. NASA TV is broadcasting the fast-track launch and docking activities live starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be monitoring the 73P’s automated approach and rendezvous Wednesday. Today, the veteran station residents split their time between human research, computer maintenance and hardware inspections.

Viewing the Mediterranean Coasts of Tunisia and Libya from the Space Station

Image above: Orbiting about 260 miles above the Earth, the crew of the International Space Station snapped this image of the Mediterranean coasts of Tunisia and Libya and the Italian island of Sicily, as the station flew over North Africa. Image Credit: NASA.

Related links:

Expedition 60: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition60/index.html

Cell Science-02: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1676

Life Sciences Glovebox: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=7676

Kubik: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?#id=894

Biorock: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7566

Space rodents: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/search.html?#q=rodent+research&i=&p=&c=&g=&s=

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

Launch and docking activities: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-tv-to-air-launch-docking-of-russian-space-station-cargo-ship

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

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

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

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NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

NASA logo.

July 30, 2019

As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 12 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space.

NASA centers will partner with the companies, which range from small businesses with fewer than a dozen employees to large aerospace organizations, to provide expertise, facilities, hardware and software at no cost. The partnerships will advance the commercial space sector and help bring new capabilities to market that could benefit future NASA missions.

Image above: Illustration of a human landing system and crew on the lunar surface with Earth near the horizon. Image Credit: NASA.

“NASA’s proven experience and unique facilities are helping commercial companies mature their technologies at a competitive pace,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “We’ve identified technology areas NASA needs for future missions, and these public-private partnerships will accelerate their development so we can implement them faster.”

The selections were made through NASA’s Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO) released in October 2018. They will result in non-reimbursable Space Act Agreements between the companies and NASA. The selections cover the following technology focus areas, which are important to America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

Advanced Communications, Navigation and Avionics

— Advanced Space of Boulder, Colorado, will partner with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to advance lunar navigation technologies. The collaboration will help mature a navigation system between Earth and the Moon that could supplement NASA’s Deep Space Network and support future exploration missions.

— Vulcan Wireless of Carlsbad, California, also will partner with Goddard to test a CubeSat radio transponder and its compatibility with NASA’s Space Network.

Advanced Materials

— Aerogel Technologies of Boston will work with NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to improve properties of flexible aerogels for rocket fairings and other aerospace applications. The material can result in 25% weight savings over soundproofing materials currently used in rocket fairings.

— Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, will work with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to test materials made from metal powders using solid-state processing to improve the design of spacecraft that operate in high-temperature environments.

— Spirit AeroSystem Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, will partner with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to improve the durability of low-cost reusable rockets manufactured using friction stir welding. This welding method, already being used for NASA’s Space Launch System, results in a stronger, more defect-free seal compared to traditional methods of joining materials with welding torches.

Entry, Decent and Landing

— Anasphere of Bozeman, Montana, will partner with Marshall to test a compact hydrogen generator for inflating heat shields, which could help deliver larger payloads to Mars.

— Bally Ribbon Mills of Bally, Pennsylvania, will perform thermal testing in the Arc Jet Complex at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The facility will be used to test a new seamless weave for a mechanically deployable carbon fabric heat shield.

— Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, will collaborate with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Goddard to mature a navigation and guidance system for safe and precise landing at a range of locations on the Moon.

— Sierra Nevada Corporation of Sparks, Nevada, will work with NASA on two entry, decent and landing projects. The company will partner with Langley to capture infrared images of their Dream Chaser spacecraft as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere traveling faster than the speed of sound.

— For the second collaboration, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Langley will mature a method to recover the upper stage of a rocket using a deployable decelerator.

— SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, will work with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to advance their technology to vertically land large rockets on the Moon. This includes advancing models to assess engine plume interaction with lunar regolith.

In-Space Manufacturing and Assembly

— Maxar Technologies of Palo Alto, California, will work with Langley to build a breadboard – a base for prototyping electronics – for a deployable, semi-rigid radio antenna. In-orbit assembly of large structures like antennae will enhance the performance of assets in space. Such capabilities could enable entirely new exploration missions that are currently size-constrained and reduce launch costs due to improved packaging.


— Blue Origin will partner with Glenn and Johnson to mature a fuel cell power system for the company’s Blue Moon lander. The system could provide uninterrupted power during the lunar night, which lasts for about two weeks in most locations.

— Maxar will test lightweight solar cells for flexible solar panels using facilities at Glenn and Marshall that mimic the environment of space. The technology could be used by future spacecraft to provide more power with a lower mass system.


— Aerojet Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, California, and Marshall will design and manufacture a lightweight rocket engine combustion chamber using innovative processes and materials. The goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing costs and make the chamber scalable for different missions.

— Blue Origin, Marshall and Langley will evaluate and mature high-temperature materials for liquid rocket engine nozzles that could be used on lunar landers.

— Colorado Power Electronics Inc. of Fort Collins, Colorado, will partner with Glenn to mature power processing unit technology that extends the operating range of Hall thrusters, which are primarily used on Earth-orbiting satellites and can also be used for deep space missions. By integrating their technology with NASA and commercial Hall thrusters, the company expects to provide a propulsion system that can significantly increase mission payload or extend mission durations.

— SpaceX will work with Glenn and Marshall to advance technology needed to transfer propellant in orbit, an important step in the development of the company’s Starship space vehicle.

Other Exploration Technologies

— Lockheed Martin will partner with Kennedy to test technologies and operations for autonomous in-space plant growth systems. Integrating robotics with plant systems could help NASA harvest plants on future platforms in deep space.

Through ACO, NASA helps reduce the development cost of technologies and accelerate the infusion of emerging commercial capabilities into space missions. As the agency embarks on its next era of exploration, STMD is focused on advancing technologies and testing new capabilities for use at the Moon that also will be critical for crewed missions to Mars.

Related links:

Artemis: https://www.nasa.gov/artemis/

Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO): https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary!init.do?solId=%7b60A4A72B-CAD1-69B7-1B23-3D7D7A7585AF%7d&path=open

Moon to Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

Deep Space Network: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/services/networks/dsn

Space Network: https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/services/networks/sn

Flexible aerogels: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/aerogels.html

Space Launch System (SLS): https://blogs.nasa.gov/Rocketology/tag/friction-stir-welding/

Arc Jet Complex: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/thermophysics-facilities/arcjet-complex

Hall thrusters: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasa-glenns-hall-thruster

Commercial Space: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/index.html

For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

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‘The Pipers’ Stone Setting at The Hurlers Stone Circle, Minions, Dartmoor,...

‘The Pipers’ Stone Setting at The Hurlers Stone Circle, Minions, Dartmoor, 24.7.19.

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Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Two more rostrums have been recovered from the bottom of the Egadi. The precious artefacts were found thanks to the collaboration between the Superintendence of the Sea of the Sicilian Region, the Rpm nautical foundation and the divers of the Global underwater explorer.

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Credit: RPM Nautical Foundation

During the research, which this year was also conducted with the oceanographic ship Hercules, further targets were discovered that enrich the rich database compiled in recent years. In the three weeks of investigation, sixty-eight Graeco-Italic amphorae, two Dressels, four Punic amphorae and four plates were identified.
To date, sixteen Roman and two Carthaginian rostrums have been found. In addition, two helmets of the Montefortino type, of the highest quality, have been identified and recovered, again in the same area, at a depth of eighty metres, by the divers of the Gue.

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Credit: RPM Nautical Foundation

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Rostrums, helmets and sword recovered at the Battle of the Egadi Islands site

Credit: RPM Nautical Foundation

The two bronze helmets have a distinctive decoration in the shape of an animal at the top, which certainly belonged to the Roman army. Two pairs of paragnatids or metal cheek pieces have also been recovered. These two helmets, together with another of the Montefortino type recovered in recent days, are to be added to the twenty-two already recovered in previous campaigns.
But the real novelty of this year’s research is the discovery made three days ago of an iron sword, about seventy centimetres in length with a blade five centimetres wide, which probably belonged to the soldiers of one of the two armies.

After study and restoration, the finds will enrich the exhibition at the Museum of the «Battle of the Egadi» in Favignana where, in a room set up with spectacular multimedia elements, the rostrums and helmets recovered in previous campaigns are displayed.

Source: TP24 [trsl. TANN, July 25, 2019]